Sep  2017 16
On the Passing of Beloved Colleague and Professor Dennis E. Smith

It is with sadness that Phillips Theological Seminary shares the news of the passing of Dennis E. Smith, Professor of New Testament Emeritus.

Smith died Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Galveston, Texas, of complications from cancer. He joined Phillips in 1986, retiring as the LaDonna Kramer Meinders Professor of New Testament Emeritus in 2015. Smith was the last faculty member who also taught in the Graduate Seminary of Phillips University. He was also the longest-serving faculty member of the seminary.

“The thoughts and prayers of the seminary community are with Dennis’ family, especially his wife, Barbara McBride Smith, and son, Adam,” said Phillips President Gary Peluso-Verdend.

Smith was an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Westar Institute, where he was co-chair of the Acts Seminar. That seminar’s work has led to a rethinking of the dating and construction of the Acts of the Apostles.

“His groundbreaking scholarship on meals in the Greco-Roman world and the role they played in the early Christian movement brought new attention to this ancient practice,” said Dean Nancy Claire Pittman. “But most of all we will miss Dennis’ passion for the Phillips community and its mission and his delightful sense of humor.”

He was also well known, along with his wife, Barbara, for communicating biblical texts through the art of storytelling.

“Dennis and Barbara brought the biblical text to life in new ways for Phillips students through their narrative storytelling,” said Peluso-Verdend. Smith edited five volumes of The Storyteller's Companion to the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996-2006).

Smith received BA and MA degrees from Abilene Christian University, his MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a ThD from Harvard University Divinity School.

Last year, his colleagues celebrated Smith’s value as an internationally renowned scholar in his field of study with a Festschrift in his honor. The collection of writings, Stones, Bones, and the Sacred: Essays on Material Culture and Ancient Religion in Honor of Dennis E. Smith, was published by SBL Press, the publisher for the Society of Biblical Literature.

“Phillips was blessed to have Dennis teach a generation of students,” said Peluso-Verdend. “His major contributions to the church and the academy serve as a wonderful legacy and model for all of us involved in graduate theological education.”

Phillips will conduct a special service in memory of Smith later this fall.

Browse more posts by: Seminary Relations Staff, Phillips Admin/Staff
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