BIA Benedict XVI Institute for Africa
Agbaw Ebai

Agbaw Ebai Ashley


Master of Arts in Theology: Ratzinger Studies


God is the real central theme of my endeavors. I have never tried to create a system of my own, an individual theology (…) The point of departure is first of all the Word. That we believe the Word of God, that we try really to get to know and understand it and then, as I said, to think it together with the great masters of the faith. This gives my theology a somewhat biblical character and also bears the stamp of the Fathers, especially Augustine.

Joseph Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth the Church at the End of the Millennium An Interview with Peter Seewald (p. 66)

This program has as its purpose theunderstanding of the person and theologicalcorpus of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.

The program is open to those who possess a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in philosophy, theology, or related studies.

The program prepares students for doctoralstudies in theology, specifically, DogmaticTheology.

Participation in the program requires attendance of all the courses of a five-semester durationand a thesis directed by one of the program’s professors.

Course Goals

  1. To familiarize students with the person andtheology of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.
  2. To expose students to the theologicalcontours and figures that marked theecclesial landscape of the Second Vatican Council, especially highlighting Ratzinger’s contributions.
  3. To engage the question of theologicalhermeneutics from the Ratzingerian point ofview.
  4. To acquaint students with the magisterial works by Benedict XVI regarding the Church in Africa.
  5. A scientific engagement of Ratzinger to theTheology of Culture.
  6. A study of the symbols of the religiousexpressions in Africa, from the perspectiveof a natural theology of revelation.

Learning Outcomes

  1. A clear understanding of Ratzinger as a major player in the drama of twentieth and twenty- first century Christianity.
  2. An increased facility with thinking through the theological positions of the Second VaticanCouncil.
  3. A more exact understanding of the influence of Ratzinger’s thought on contemporary secularization of society.
  4. A deeper appreciation of the relationship between faith and reason from the Ratzingerian perspective.
  5. A greater appreciation of the interaction between Christian faith and African cultures and Traditional Religions, from the dialectic of Ratzingerian Inculturation and Inter-culturality.
  7. First Semester Ratzinger’s Philosophical Context
  8. The Person of Ratzinger
  9. Ratzinger’s Life’s Story Ratzinger, Augustine:
  10. The Hermeneutic of Love: Amor Meus, Pondus Meum The History of the Human Being: De Confessiones The History of the World: De Civitate Dei
  11. The History of God: De Trinitate
  12. Ratzinger and Aquinas: On Faith and Reason
  13. Joseph Ratzinger: “Man between Reproduction and Creation”, COMMUNIO, International Catholic Review, Washington D.C. (1989).
  14. 2.   Ratzinger and German Idealism: Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Feuerbach
  15. German Idealism: Principal Features Kant: Critique of Pure Reason
  16. Kant: Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason
  17. Hegel: Life of Jesus
  18. Hegel: Phenomenology

1.   Scientific Research Methodology:

Intellectual Integrity and Plagiarism Chicago Manual Style of Writing Citations and References: Books

Citations and References: Journals and Articles Online Research

Structure of a Research Paper

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Chicago Style for Students & Researchers, Eight Edition, Chicago: TheUniversity of Chicago Press, 2013.

Lucretia B. Yaghjian, Writing Theology Well, A Rhetoric for Theological and Biblical Writers, New York: Continuum, 2006.

Second Semester

  1. Ratzinger and Theological Method – Donum Veritatis:

The Vocation of the Catholic Theologian

Professor and participant in the Second Vatican Council Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Magisterium: Teaching and Authority, Vatican II: Hermeneutics of continuity

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Joseph Ratzinger, The Nature and Mission of Theology: Approaches to Understanding Its Role in the Light of Present Controversy, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 1995.

          . Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, Donum Veritatis, 1990.

  • Ratzinger and the Church – Sacramentum Salutis

The Church as the Sacrament of salvation The Church as the People of God

The Charisms and Holiness of the Church The Church and Ecumenism

The Church and the Eucharist

Papal Primacy, Episcopacy and the Priesthood

  1. Nietzsche: The Genealogy of Morals Nietzsche: The Joyful Wisdom Nietzsche: The Anti-Christ
  2. Feuerbach: The Essence of Christianity
  3. 3.   Ratzinger and Modernity: Pascal, Newman, Lonergan
  4. Pascal: Les Pensées
  5. Newman: An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent and An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
  6. Lonergan: Method in Theology and Understanding and Being

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Joseph Ratzinger, Ministers of Your Joy, Scriptural Meditations on Priestly Spirituality,Redeemer Books, 1989.

          . Credo for Today: What Christians Believe, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2009.

          . Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987.

          . Called to Communion, Understanding the Church Today, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996.

          . Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith, The Church as Communion, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005.

          . Theological Highlights of Vatican II, New York: Paulist Press, 2009.

          . Church, Ecumenism & Politics, New Endeavors in Ecclesiology, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008.

Benedict XVI, Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Ceotibus Providing for Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans Entering Into Full Communion with the Catholic Church,November 4, 2009.

  1. Ratzinger and the Church Fathers – Ressourcement

The People and House of God in St. Augustine’s Doctrine of the Church The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure

The Hermeneutic of Creative Fidelity

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Joseph Ratzinger, The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure, Franciscan Herald Press, 1971.

          . Volk und Haus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche, Munich 1954.

          . The Unity of the Nations, A Vision of the Church Fathers, Washington D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2015.Benedict XVI, Jesus, The Apostles, and the Early Church, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007

  1. Ratzinger on Faith and Reason – Fides Quaeres Intellectum

Christianity and the Logos

Subiaco, Regensburg, Westminster and Bundestag

1959 Inaugural Lecture: God of Faith, God of the Philosophers Fides et Ratio: Credo Ut IntellegamIntellego Ut Credam

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004.

          . Faith and the Future, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2009.

Handing on the Faith in an Age ofDisbelief, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006.

  . The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006.

Benedict XVI, The Regensburg Lecture, South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2007.

Third Semester

  1. Ratzinger on Law and Politics – Ius Naturale

Natural Law and the Moral Order Religion and Politics

Justice, the Goal of Politics Secularization, relativism and politics Law and conscience

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and Politics, San Francisco: Ignatius Press: 2018.

          . Church, Ecumenism & Politics, New Endeavors in Ecclesiology, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008.

          . On Conscience, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007.

          . Values in a Time of Upheaval, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2006.

           and Jügen Habermas, The Dialectics of Secularization On Reason and Religion, Ignatius Press, 2006.

        and Marcello Pera, Without Roots, TheWest, Relativism, Christianity and Islam, Basic Books, 2007

Edited by Marta Cartabia & Andrea Simoncini, Pope Benedict XVI’s Legal Thought, A Dialogue on the Foundation of Law, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate On Integral Human Development in Christy and Truth, June 29, 2009.

  1. Ratzinger and Christology – Dominus Iesus

The Christological controversies Jesus Christ, Person and Office Jesus the Savior: Soteriology

The Christology of the Sermon of the Mount

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Volumes I-III, New York: Doubleday, 2007; San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011; 2012.

 Behold the Pierced One, An Approach to a Spiritual Christology, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986.

On the Way to Jesus Christ, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005.                  

 Introduction to Christianity, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004.

 Journey to Easter, New York: A Crossroad Book, 1987.

CDF, Declaration Dominus Iesus, 2000.


  1. Ratzinger and Mariology – Maria Mater Ecclesiae

Mary Church at the source

Mary, Image and Model of the Church Mary, Daughter Zion

Mary and the Communio Sanctorum

Marian Apparitions

Recommended Primary Bibliography

Joseph Ratzinger, (with Hans Urs Von Balthasar) Mary, the Church at the Source, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007.

    Daughter Zion: Meditations on the Church’s Marian Belief, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983.

   Theological Highlights of Vatican II, New York: Paulist Press, 2009.

   The Message of Fatima: Theological Commentary, Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000.

Benedict XVI Homilies

  • Ratzinger, Liturgy and Eucharist – Via Pulchritudinis

The Sacramental Foundation of Christian existence Liturgy and Symbolism

Beauty: Theology of sacrifice and Liturgy Tradition as foundation of Catholic Liturgy Sacred Music: Encounter with the Divine African Religious Expressions and Symbolism The Development of Rites/Rituals

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Joseph Ratzinger: The Spirit of the Liturgy, San Francisco: Ignatius Press,

 The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993.

The Feast of Faith, Approaches to a Theology of the Liturgy, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986. 

Heart of the Christian Life, Thoughts on Holy Mass, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010.

A New Song for the Lord, Faith in Christ and Liturgy Today, New York: A Crossroad Book, 1996.

Benedict XVI: Behold the Lamb of God: Kennington, Oxford: Family Publications, 2010.

   Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, 2007.

ourth Semester

  1. Ratzinger and Inculturation – Quaerere Deum

Interculturality and Inculturation

Christ, faith and the challenges of culture

Jesus Christ, universale concretum et personale

The Sacred in African Culture

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Joseph Ratzinger, Many Religions – One Covenant, Israel, the Church and the World, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999.

          . Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006.

          . Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004.

  • Ratzinger and Biblical Hermeneutics – Donum Veritatis

Revelation, Scripture and Tradition Exegesis and Theology

Patristic and Medieval Exegesis

Modern Exegesis and the Historical-Critical Method The Relationship between Dogma and Preaching

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Word of God in the Life of the Church, Verbum Domini, 2010.

Joseph Ratzinger, Dogma and PreachingApplying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011.

In the Beginning…” A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, Grand Rapids, MI: William Eerdmans, 1995.

God’s Word, Scripture, Tradition, Office, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2008.

  1. Ratzinger and Eschatology – Vita Mutatur Non Tollitur

The Four Last ThingsTheFinitudeofHistory

The Christian understanding of the BodyTheResurrection

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Joseph Ratzinger, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life: Washington DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1988.

  Introduction to Christianity, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter On Christian Hope, Spe Salvi, 2007.

  • Ratzinger and Christian Spirituality: Deus Caritas Est

Theological Anthropology: The Human Being, Created for LoveThe Human Search for Meaning

The Human Being, Known and Loved: Encyclical Deus Caritas Est

The Human Being, Called to Hope: Encyclical Spe Salvi

The Essence of Christianity: Faith, Hope and Love

Recommended Primary Bibliography:

Joseph Ratzinger, Behold the Pierced One, An Approach to a Spiritual Christology, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986.

 The Yes of Jesus Christ, Spiritual Exercises in Faith, Hope and Love, New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1991.

Edited By: Robert Moynihan, Let God’s Light Shine Forth the Spiritual Vision of Pope Benedict XVI, New York: Doubleday, 2005.