MTH 425 Theology of the Body

Fall 2017

Joan Morris Gilbert, S.T.D.

Email: jgilbert@holyapostles.edu Phone: 203-266-7709 Cellphone 203-217-3343

Course Description:

        This course will study the “Theology of the Body” as it was taught by Saint John Paul II in a series of General Audiences in which he offered a catechesis on human love and sexuality, based in Sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Church. The text of John Paul II’s audiences will be closely studied, with emphasis on the key points and concepts of this teaching, as well as consideration of their philosophical and theological foundations. In addition, a brief study will be made of Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, of Benedict XVI’s Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, and of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, as each relates to the “Theology of the Body.”

Envisioned Learning Outcomes: 

Students will demonstrate:

Required Texts:

John Paul II. Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology Of The Body.

Translation, Introduction, and Index by Michael Waldstein. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2006.

The Holy Bible. Any version is acceptable, but the RSV, Catholic edition is suggested.

Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae. Any publisher copy or vatican.va download.


Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, God is Love.  Any publisher copy or         vatican.va download.        

Class Schedule of Topics and Required Readings:

(Unless otherwise noted, readings are from John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them:

A Theology of the Body):


Week 1        Aug 29                Introduction and Review of Syllabus

        Aug 31                Audiences 1-8, p. 131-158

                                Part One: THE WORDS OF CHRIST

                                Chapter One: Christ Appeals to the “Beginning”

                                        1. What is Meant by “Beginning”?

                                        2. The Meaning of Original Solitude


Week 2        Sept 5                Audience 8-10 p. 156-169

                                        3. The Meaning of Original Unity

Sept 7                By this class: Audiences 11-13.1, p. 169-178

                                        4. The Meaning of Original Nakedness


Week 3        Sept 12        Audiences 13.2-16.2, p. 178-191

                                        5. Man in the Dimension of Gift

                                                A. The Spousal Meaning of the Body


                 Sept 14        Audiences 16.3-19, p.. 191-204                                

                                                B. The Mystery of Original Innocence


Week 4        Sept 19        Audiences 20-23 p. 204-223

                                        6.“Knowledge” and Procreation (Gen 4:1)

7. Conclusion of Chapter One: An Integral Vision

                Sept 21        Audiences 24-33 p. 225-63

                                Chapter Two: Christ Appeals to the Human Heart

                                        1. In Light of the Sermon on the Mount

                                        2. The Man of Concupiscence

Week 5        Sept 26        Audiences 34-43 p. 264-301

                                        3. Commandment and Ethos


                 Sept 28        Audiences 44-48 p. 301-21:

                                        4. The “Heart”—Accused or Called

                                AND: Benedict XVI, Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, #1-18


Week 6        Oct 3                Audience 49 p. 321-26        

                                        5. The Ethos of the Redemption of the Body


                Oct 5                Audiences 50-57 p. 326-55

                                        6. Purity as “Life according to the Spirit”


Week 7        Oct 10                Audiences 58-63 p, 355-78

                                        7. The Gospel of Purity of Heart—Yesterday and Today

                                        Appendix: The Ethos of the Body in Art and Media        


                Oct 12                Summary and Review of Chapter One and Two

Week 8        Oct 17                MID-TERM EXAM

                Oct 19                Audiences 64-72 p. 379-412

                                Chapter Three: Christ Appeals to the Resurrection:

                                        1. Resurrection of the Body: “Reality of the Future World”

Week 9        Oct 24                Audiences 73-86 p. 412-462

                                        2. Continence for the Kingdom of Heaven

                                        Conclusion of Part One: The Redemption of the Body

                Oct 26                Audience 87-93 p. 465-91

                                Part Two: THE SACRAMENT

                                Chapter One: The Dimension of Covenant and Grace

                                        1. Ephesians 5:21-33

Week 10        Oct 31                Audiences 94-99.3 p. 491-515

                                        2. Sacrament and Mystery

                Nov 2                Audiences 99.4-102 p. 515-29

                                        3. Sacrament and “Redemption of the Body”


Week 11        Nov 7                Audiences 103-107 p. 531-47

                                Chapter Two: The Dimension of Sign

                                        1. “Language of the Body” and the Reality of the Sign


                Nov 9                Audiences 108-113 p. 548-93

                                        2. The Song of Songs


Week 12        Nov 14                Audience 114-117 p. 592-615

3. When the “Language of the Body” Becomes the Language of the Liturgy: Reflections on Tobit


                Nov 16                Audiences 118-125 p. 617-39

                                Chapter Three: He gave Them the Law of Life as Their Inheritance

                                        1. The Ethical Problem

                                AND: Paul VI, Encyclical Humanae Vitae: #1-18, p. 7-22

Week 13        Nov 21                Audiences 126-130 p. 639-652

                                        2. Outline of Conjugal Spirituality


                                AND: Paul VI, Encylical Humanae Vitae: #19-31, p. 22-30

                Nov 23                Thanksgiving Holiday: No Class                        


Week 14        Nov 28         Audiences 131-132 and Conclusion, p. 653-63.

                Nov 30                Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia (Excerpts)


Week 15        Dec 5                Summary and Review

                Dec 7                 FINAL EXAM

Course Requirements:



Grading scale:

        A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73; D 60-69; F 59 or below        

Disabilities Accommodations Policy

        Students in this course seeking accommodations to disabilities must first consult with the Disabilities Resource Center in the Registrar’s Office and follow the instructions of that office for obtaining accommodations.

Academic Honesty Policy

Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

        In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

        Students, where applicable:

---Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.

---Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.

---Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.

---Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl/resources).

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.

Attendance policy

        It is expected that students will attend all classes. Sickness for either on campus or off campus students is a legitimate excuse for absence. Seminarians are to communicate to the instructor through a fellow seminarian before class begins. Sickness, inclement weather or traffic are possible excuses for off campus students. Students are asked to communicate by phone or e-mail directly to the instructor. Students should see the instructor upon return to class.

Incomplete Policy

        An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.To request an incomplete, students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

        Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

        A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.


About Your Professor

        Joan Morris Gilbert, S.T.D. received the Doctorate in Sacred Theology, as well as the Licentiate in Sacred Theology, from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, through the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family (Washington, D.C. Session). She received the M.A. in Theology and the B.A. in Humanities from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. She is sacramentally married, and has seven children and seven grandchildren. She is a life-committed Benedictine Oblate.

Contact Information:

Telephone 203-266-7709

Cellphone: 203-217-3343 (Texts only please: include your full name in text.)

email: jgilbert@holyapostles.edu