When I started studying religion, I realized there were A LOT OF TERMS. In particular, it took me a while to get all of the “-ologies” straight. How many sub-sets of theology can there be?! Turns out, there are quite a few. So, I thought I’d do you a solid this week and give you this handy little cheat sheet of all of them, defined. You’re welcome.
Theology: the study of God
Christology: the study of Christ
Soteriology: the study of salvation (as in, discussing how salvation happens, what it is, what happened on the cross, etc.)
Pneumatology: the study of the Holy Spirit
Ecclesiology: the study of the Church
Missiology: the study of the mission of the Church
Eschatology: the study of last things (or, what will happen in the end)
Bibliology: the study of the Bible
Hamartiology: the study of sin
Mariology: the study of all things pertaining to Mary, the mother of God
Patrology: the study of the early church fathers (also and more commonly known as patristics)
…we also continually bump into Anthropology: the study of the nature of humanity
Within theology, of course, there are numerous subsets. I’ve listed the main ones below.
Sytematic theology: the study of theology that seeks to give a coherent, comprehensive account of the whole. (Systematics usually follow the pattern of beginning with the doctrine of God, to the doctrine of Christ, to the doctrine of the Spirit, and then the doctrine of the Church.)
Biblical theology: studying theology in the context of the entire biblical story (specific to texts, but also broadly including themes, patterns, etc.)
Exegetical theology: the study of theology as it pertains to a biblical text (not all of them, in contrast to biblical theology)
Historical theology: the study of how theology developed over time throughout history
Practical theology: the study of theology as it relates to Christian practice
Moral theology: the study of theology and ethics
Pastoral theology: the study of theology in the context of pastoral ministry to individuals and communities
Then, there is theology done within a specific paradigm/community: African American theology, liberation theology, process theology, Latino/a theology, feminist theology, narrative theology, LGBTQ theology, dispensationalist theology, fundamentalist theology, postmodern theology, postliberal theology, etc. etc. This list just keeps growing, but you see how it works.
Whew. I’m certain I’ve left out plenty. What did I miss?