Dentan Scholarship Honors Old Testament Studies

Our ability to admit seminarians of academic excellence and gifts for ministry, without regard to their financial resources, is critical to the mission of The General Theological Seminary. We are eternally grateful for the generosity of those who make gifts to our scholarship fund, and particularly the benefactors who have established endowed scholarships.

In 2007, alumnus the Rev. Bartlett “Andy” McCarthy (Class of 1970) and Samara Kline, Esq. established the Robert Dentan Scholarship in Old Testament studies to honor the much-beloved former professor. Dr. Robert C. Denton was elected to the Trinity Church Chair in Old Testament Learning and Interpretation in 1954 and held it until he retired in 1974, at which time he was made an Honorary Alumnus of the Seminary. Dr. Dentan was known for his scholarship, his exacting standards, and in particular for the central importance he placed on the need to learn biblical languages in order to interpret scripture.

In keeping with his legacy, the Dentan Scholarship was established to enforce the deep and powerful connection between Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, and the importance of understanding what the Hebrew Scriptures teach us about Jesus the man and the Christ. It is therefore awarded each year to a student who demonstrates outstanding ability in Old Testament studies, and will commit to writing an honors thesis and to the study of Hebrew.

robert_dentan1_Smiling_200
Robert Dentan

McCarthy remembers Dentan as a devoted teacher and scholar “in a very quiet way.” At one time, early in his ministry, McCarthy was training people for lay ministry on an Indian reservation in northern Minnesota. He called Dr. Dentan to ask if he would travel up for a few days to teach them about the Old Testament. “All I could afford him was the transportation monies to get there and back,” recalls McCarthy. “It still brings tears to my eyes now, that without the slightest hesitation he said he would–and he did. This internationally known scholar sat before my people and talked with them beautifully about Old Testament Scripture.”

Our two current Dentan Scholars are Richard Pike, Class of 2014, from the Diocese of New York, and James Miller, a Lutheran from NY Metro Synod. Pike is from England and moved to New York from London in the Summer of 2004. He graduated with honors in Art History from St. Andrews in Scotland in 1997. Miller, Class of 2015, was a professional musician for several decades before entering seminary. He is a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church (NYC) where he is on staff singing in the choir, playing trumpet and cornetto, and co-directing the children’s choir. At GTS he is a member of the Schola Cantorum and often plays trumpet in the brass ensemble.

Dentan Fellows_200
Richard Pike and James Miller

Last semester Pike completed the course, “Creation in the Hebrew Bible,” and is now finalizing his thesis topic with Prof. Robert Owens. Finding his Hebrew Bible studies “eye-opening, revelatory and quite rewarding,” Pike is thankful that the Dentan Scholarship had given him “the opportunity to further develop Old Testament theological themes and ideas that fundamentally fortify my preaching, pastoral care and attitudes toward theodicy.”

Miller is similarly passionate about the power of the Old Testament. “The scripture for the Church in the first century was the Hebrew Bible,” he enthused. “When Jesus taught, he referred to that scripture.” In preparing for writing his thesis next year, Miller hopes “to surround myself with the words of Moses and the prophets, and apply my knowledge of Greek under Prof. Deirdre Good, and growing knowledge of Biblical Hebrew under Prof. Robert Owens, to gain a deeper understanding of the Word of God.”

If you have had the good fortune of being touched by the Old Testament, we strongly urge your consideration of a gift to the Robert Dentan Scholarship Fund. If you are interested in creating a similar philanthropic legacy for yourself or others, please contact Jonathan Silver, Director of Development, at (646) 717-9705, or send an email to silver@gts.edu.