Online Course in Spiritual Theology

OCST15 Anthropological Insights and Spirituality in Edith Stein

Teacher: Prof. Christof Betschart, OCD CHRISTOF BETSCHART 



Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, is increasingly known and loved in the Carmelite Order, in the Church and by many seekers of truth. Her contribution is not only philosophical, but also theological and spiritual. In particular, her reflection on the anthropological conditions of the spiritual life merits further study and offers a renewed understanding of other Carmelite saints.


The most basic aim of this course is to offer an approach to Stein’s life and writings, with special emphasis on her anthropological insights into the person’s capacity for empathy and the person’s singularity. The course then shows how these insights are linked to Stein’s way of conceiving the spiritual journey.


After a biographical and bibliographical introduction, the first part of the course considers the relationship between theological anthropology and spirituality (with respect to empathy and the singularity of the person). The second part presents two themes of Steinian spirituality (its Jewish roots and the mystery of the Cross), and continues with a meditation on Stein’s The Prayer of the Church. In conclusion, the course refers to Stein’s use of the metaphor of the hand to speak about the spiritual journey, hand in hand with the Lord.


The course (12 lessons in 6 sessions) is offered partly in live Zoom sessions with the possibility for interaction, and partly in pre-recorded lessons, accompanied by various documents available on the Moodle platform.

Criteria for evaluation

The final assessment consists in

    • a written paper (4-6 pages)
    • an oral exam (10-15 minutes) on Zoom.

Further details will be communicated on the Moodle platform.

Time distribution

The twelve lessons are accompanied by personal reading and the preparation of the written paper or the oral examination.

Essential bibliography

  • Stein, E., The Hidden Life: Hagiographic Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, Collected Works of Edith Stein 4, Washington, D.C. 1992.
  • Stein, E., Knowledge and Faith, Collected Works of Edith Stein 8, Washington, D.C. 2000.
  • Stein, E., The Science of the Cross, Collected Works of Edith Stein 6, Washington, D.C. 2002.
  • Stein, E. Selected Writings, ed. by M. Maskulak and S. Borden Sharkey, The Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press, New York 2016.
  • Borden, S., Edith Stein, Outstanding Christian Thinkers, Continuum, London – New York 2003.
  • Haney, K., ed., Listening to Edith Stein: Wisdom for a New Century: A Collection of Essays, Carmelite Studies 12, ICS Publications, Washington, D.C. 2018.
  • Posselt, T.R., Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, Text, commentary and explanatory notes, compilation and commentaries by S.M. Batzdorff, J. Koeppel, J. Sullivan in collaboration with M.A. Neyer, ICS Publications, Washington D.C. 2005.