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Systematic Theology (Revelation, Tradition, and Doctrine): Getting Started

Systematic theology undertakes the task of a comprehensive and synthetic understanding of the Christian faith as mediated through the Scriptures and the Catholic Tradition and as interpreted by Church Councils and Papal Magisterium.


The emphasis in this guide is on Christian theology, and more specifically on Catholic theology.  The guide provides a number of useful resources. Use the tabs above to explore these resources.

  • Finding Books--search for print or electronic books, located in a library or online
  • Finding Articles--good places to start when searching for journal articles
  • Websites--links to websites that may provide supplementary material

Note: Many of the resources listed here are limited to use by members of  The University of St. Thomas community (faculty, staff and students). If you are using the Guide off-campus, it will ask for a brief login to identify yourself as a member of The University of St. Thomas community before you can use these resources.


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Kathryn Burke
O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library | LIB 117
651 962-5027

Library of Congress Call Numbers

BT10-1480 Doctrinal Theology.
19-30 Doctrine and Dogma
98-180 God
119-123 Holy Spirit, The Paraclete
198-590 Christology
595-685 Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mariology
695-748 Creation
750-810.2 Salvation
819-891 Eschatology
899-950 Future Life
1095-1255 Apologetics, Evidences of Christianity
1313-1480 History of Specific Doctrines and Movements

Off Campus Access


Online databases and electronic journals subscribed to by the UST Libraries are licensed for use by the St. Thomas community ONLY.  Because of this restriction, we need to verify that anyone accessing these databases is a current member of the St. Thomas community.

Subdivisions of Systematic Theology


Systematic Theology is "a branch of theology concerned with summarizing the doctrinal traditions of a religion (as Christianity) especially with a view to relating the traditions convincingly to the religion's present-day setting." (In Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary.

Roman Catholic  Systematic Theology undertakes the task of a comprehensive and synthetic understanding of the Christian faith as mediated through the Scriptures and the Catholic Tradition and as interpreted by the conciliar and papal magisterium. This area of theology reflects on questions of hermeneutics and method, especially about the relationship among theology, philosophy, history, and the modern sciences and focuses on theological questions about anthropology, revelation and faith, dogma and the development of doctrines, Christology and soteriology, Trinity, ecclesiology, eschatology, comparative theology, and theology of religions.

The purpose of this guide is to give you some resources to jumpstart your reading or your research and is not intended to be an exhaustive resource. Remember that in the case of religion, recent publication dates do not necessarily mean that the content is "inferior" or "insignificant."

SCRIPTURE, TRADITION AND MAGISTERIUM: Catholics hold both scripture (the accounts in the Bible) and tradition (the living transmission of the truth through Church teaching) to be sacred.

Scripture:  Several centuries passed before Church authorities evaluated a variety of scriptural writings and established a definitive canon of authoritative texts known as the New Testament.

Tradition: Dogmas? Doctrines? Teachings? Authority? What's the difference?  See definitions below....

Magisterium: The Magisterium is the teaching office of the Church. It consists of the Pope and Bishops.


Doctrine. The word doctrine comes, by way of the Latin doctrina, from the Greek word doxa, meaning belief. The doctrine(s) of the Church, therefore, are those teachings which must be believed by the faithful. These include 1) dogmas, teachings which the Church has solemnly defined as formally revealed by God, and, 2) other teachings definitively proposed by the Church because they are connected to solemnly defined teachings. The first (dogmas) can be called doctrines of divine faith, the second doctrines of catholic faith. Together they are said to be "of divine and catholic faith." Both kinds of doctrine require the assent of faith. Both are infallibly taught by the Church. Dogmas require it because they are formally revealed by God. Doctrines definitively proposed by the Church require it, because the infallibility of the Church in matters of faith and morals is itself divinely revealed. A side note, doctrine shares the same root as orthodox, meaning correct belief. Those who hold the Church's doctrines faithfully are thus orthodox.

Dogma. Dogmas, therefore, are those doctrines solemnly proposed by the Church as formally revealed in Scripture or Tradition. This may have been done by papal pronouncement (Pius IX: Immaculate Conception), by a General Council (Chalcedon: Christ is two natures in one Divine Person), or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (killing an innocent human being is gravely immoral).

By Colin B. Donovan, STL on 3/10/2009 via EWTN website


P.S.: “Sensus Fidei: A supernatural appreciation of the faith (sensus fidei) shown by the universal consent in matters of faith and morals manifested by the whole body of the faithful under the guidance of the Magisterium."

From the Glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 


Catholic Systematic Theology

General and Ecumenical Introductions to Systematic Theology

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225?-1274) - The Summa Theologica