What is Theology?

Essay by smohan73University, Bachelor'sA-, April 2004

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If you were to ask most people in our modern world what they thought or knew about theology, I believe very few would have a great deal of confidence in giving an adequate response. The discipline itself is dominated by words such as faith, revelation, eschatology and redemption. Such terms may offer even more difficulties for individuals. Theology is often looked upon by people as a very diverse and complicated subject. There are so many aspects and systems within theology that people may feel overwhelmed. Protestant or Catholic, liberation or feminist, positive or speculative, the list just goes on and on. As theology is such an immense subject, in this essay I will attempt to simply define the word itself, give a brief history of its development and outline some of the major areas of relevance in theology. To attempt to do any more than this would be an impossible task to complete within a project of this size.

The word theology is derived from two Greek words, Theos, and logos. (1) The word logos is often translated as meaning "study of." The term Theos is interpreted as "God". We are therefore left with the translation, "the study of God." This interpretation, I feel is not completely accurate and a more apt translation of the word would be; "God talk," or "talk of God." However, this definition of the word theology does not totally define the term either. I feel theology would be more satisfactorily described as the study of belief in God, as individual faith is essential for method of study.

The word theology has been used in writing since the time antiquity. Both Plato and Aristotle used the phrase theologia in their works and others such as Panaetius of Rhodes also commonly used the term. The...