John Marvin

University of Chicago, MA Divinity

I am an (aspiring) scholar primarily interested in taking seriously the philosophical implications of religious phenomena and thought; broadly I would characterize my project as an attempt to understand how it is that we apprehend un-reifiable concepts (like subjective values: aesthetics and morality, etc), and a critical reconsideration of religious phenomena with this aim. The main case studies for this are the way humans use language (both in religion and in mathematics) to discuss infinities, transcendence, ineffability, and so forth, and the way that human experience of meaning and knowledge (both in hermeneutics and in science) is based around aporia, intuition, leaps of understanding, etc. My work primarily focuses on apophatic language, deconstructionism, and their relationships to aesthetics/ethics, the problem of induction, set theory, etc.

At Boston College I focused my studies on phenomenology and other continental philosophy, literary and critical theory, contemporary theological discourse, and broad yet rigorous knowledge of the world’s religions and of comparative religion theory. I started my undergraduate career as an advanced science student, and have kept up with teaching myself mathematics and scientific theory.  Now, at the University of Chicago, I have continued as a student of theology and the philosophy of religion.



Academics in Brief

  • University of Chicago – M.A. Divinity, 2020
  • Boston College, Gabelli Presidential Scholar – B.A. Theology (Honors), 2018
  • Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Prof. Pamela Berger, 2016-2017
  • Research Assistant, Prof. Stephen Bush (Brown University), 2017
  • Advanced Study Grant, 2015
  • Sophomore Scholar, 2016
  • Dean’s Scholar, 2017
  • Stotzky Prize, 2017
  • Cardinal O’Connell Prize, 2018
  • McCarthy Prize and Scholar of the College designation, 2018
  • Finalist for Lilly Graduate Fellowship, 2018
  • Univ. GPA 3.787 (Major GPA 3.958)
  • GRE Scores: 170 Verbal, 168 Quantitative, 5.0 Writing

Experiences in Detail

Undergraduate Research Fellowship, 2016-2017

Working for Prof. Pamela Berger in Boston College’s Art History Department, I have scoured various Greek church fathers’ not-yet-translated commentaries on the Psalms in an exhaustive search for what (in this case, has not) inspired the peculiar illustrations of the Utrecht Psalter.

St. Petersburg, summer of 2016

With funding from the Gabelli Presidential Scholarship, I spent the summer of 2016 in St. Petersburg, studying Russian intensively while working full-time at the State Hermitage Museum as an intern.

Advanced Study Grant, summer of 2015

I used one of the university’s Advanced Study Grants to travel to Wales, where I took an intensive Ancient Greek course at Swansea University.  After this, I travelled to Mt. Athos in Greece, where I a week and a half hiking between the Holy Mountain’s monasteries, gaining insight into an ancient way of life still practiced today and learning from the monks.

Service Work, summer of 2015

Living in Boston, I commuted to the Suffolk County House of Corrections, an urban prison, to teach mathematics as a volunteer.  I also spent two days a week at St. Francis House by the Common, working in the soup kitchen.

Other Travel

Through the Gabelli Presidential Scholarship I have traveled to Milan and the surrounding areas in Italy, and to Nicaragua, where we met with political activists, government officials, business owners, and others to try to better understand the process of so-called development.

Other Skills

Work Experience

  • Technician, UNH Interoperability Lab, 2013-2014
    • Programmed conformance tests for AVnu (Audio-Video Bridging) consortium, primarily regarding its embedded PTP (IEEE 1588) framework.
  • Programming Languages: Tcl, Python, Bash, Haskell (basic)


  • English (native)
  • Russian (reading, writing, moderate speaking)
  • Spanish (reading, writing, moderate speaking)
  • German (reading)
  • Ancient Greek (basic reading)
  • Middle English (reading)
  • Esperanto (reading, writing, speaking)


  • The Philosophical Society of Boston College, Vice President
  • WZBC (student-run radio station), DJ and former NCP Director
  • Quiz Bowl Team, Director
  • MIA (students against Mass Incarceration), organizer and participant
  • Liturgy Arts Group, former bell choir conductor