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CHTH305 The Roots of Public Theology

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 CHTH305
Subject Christian Thought and History
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Semester 1 (Distance learning)
Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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One 200-level CHTH or CHTX paper
CHTH 405, CHTX 405
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
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 (1,500 words) 20%
  • Assignment 2 (2,500 words) 40%
  • Assignment 3 (2,500 words) 40%
Teaching Arrangements

This Distance Learning offering of this paper is a combination of remote and in-person teaching.

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


There is no compulsory textbook for this paper.

Course outline
View the course outline for CHTH 305
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Lifelong learning, Critical thinking, Ethics, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete this 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'

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Semester 1

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

Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 10:00-11:50 9-14, 16-22