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CHTH405 The Roots of Public Theology

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Biblical and patristic roots of public theology; the contribution to public theology by thinkers and activists from the 16th-20th century.

This paper explores the contribution made to 'public theology' by thinkers and activists from the Reformation to the end of the 20th century, from roughly the 1520s to the 1990s. The writings and activities of important figures and movements from this period will be studied in detail and attention paid to their respective milieux and their contribution to the wider development of theological, philosophical and political thought.

Paper title The Roots of Public Theology
Paper code CHTH405
Subject Christian Thought and History
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period(s) Semester 2 (Distance learning)
Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,154.90
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,801.79

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One 300-level CHTH or CHTX paper
CHTX 305, CHTH 305
Any student can study Theology, whether they are of the Christian faith, another faith or of no religious faith at all. Theology is an examination of the scriptures, history, content and relevance of the Christian faith, but it presupposes or requires no Christian commitment from students. All it requires is an inquiring mind and an interest in those skills that can be gained through the study of any subject in the Humanities.

Professor David Tombs

Teaching staff

Course Coordinator and Lecturer: Professor David Tombs

Paper Structure
Assessment comprises written work only. There is no final examination.
  • Assignment 1 (3,000 words) 40%
  • Assignment 2 (2,000 words) 20%
  • Assignment 3 (3,000 words) 40%
Teaching Arrangements

Campus: There will be one 2-hour lecture each week.

Distance: There will be one teaching day, plus a one-hour introductory videoconference, and four two-hour class videoconferences during the semester.  Recordings will be available on Blackboard for students who cannot attend live.


There is no compulsory textbook for this paper.

Course outline
View the course outline for CHTH 405
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to
  • Describe what scholars mean by 'public theology' and show how it draws upon the central tenets of the Christian faith
  • Construct an argument to show that theology has an inherently 'public' dimension
  • Construct an argument to show that the mission of Jesus, as recorded in the gospels, had a strong 'public' dimension
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some of the key writings by the individuals and movements covered in this paper and an ability to critique their thinking
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the impact that these individuals and movements had on their own cultures and on the wider development of theological, political and philosophical thought
  • Demonstrate an awareness of how these individuals and movements contribute to our understanding of 'public theology'
  • Demonstrate an ability to make connections between - and identify tensions between - the ideas of the people and movements covered in this paper
  • Demonstrate how the study of the individuals and movements in this paper enriches our understanding of what it means to do public theology today

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system

Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 14:00-15:50 28, 31-34, 36-41