Denis Zhernokleyev ’10 M.Div.
B.A. Fresno Pacific University 2006

HelmiereThis fall, I will start a doctoral program in literature at Princeton University to pursue my interest in the religious and philosophical aspects of Russian literature. More specifically, I plan to focus on Fyodor Dostoevsky, a deeply theological and philosophical mind as well as a brilliant novelist. Examining Dostoevsky’s religious thought offers an important challenge because his work draws on the ideas of many different theological and philosophical systems—Orthodox Christianity, German pietism, Roman Catholicism, Idealism, etc. Any balanced study of Dostoevsky’s thought, therefore, requires a significant degree of insight into all these areas, and Yale Divinity School provided me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge in this regard.

During my three years at YDS, I concentrated my effort on studying historical theology, working with texts in the major periods of theological development. In my seminars on the theology of the Early Church, for example, I studied Christology and its use in early Christian mysticism. Similarly, in my work with medieval and Byzantine theology, I examined the work of Pseudo-Dionysus, whose thinking is central for understanding the nature of both Western and Eastern mysticism. In addition to this wealth of resources available at the Divinity School itself, I also made use of the opportunity to take a number of courses in the larger university, among them literature and philosophy seminars. All of this provided me with an excellent education in the development of the basic elements of the Western theological and philosophical tradition, without which I would not be prepared for my future scholarship.