The Passing of David Dorsey

I just received word today that Dr. David Dorsey passed away recently and I wanted to draw that to the attention of those who knew Dave.  He was a beloved Professor at Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, PA.  He is survived by his wife Janet and three children.  A summary of his life accomplishments and interests can be found here.

Others will write a more complete memorial for this fine man but I just wanted to mention that in the scholarly world he is well-known for two very creative and well-used/respected books:

Dorsey, David A. The Roads and Highways of Ancient Israel. Baltimore: John Hopkins University, 1991.
Dorsey, David A. The Literary Structure of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.

I first met Dave and Jan when he was studying in Jerusalem at The Institute of Holy Land Studies (now the Jerusalem University College).  Throughout his life he was mentored by the late Professor Anson Rainey—who considered him a “son.”

One short Dave Dorsey story!  In the 1970’s I was Dean of the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem and Dave was scheduled to go on a field trip with me (and other of my students) to the Galilee.  The day before the trip I took a colleague up to visit Hazor.

A few years previously I had prepared a clay cuneiform valentine tablet—in Ugaritic—for my wife.  On one side it said something like “Happy Day of Hearts” and on the other “May God Guard and Protect You—Love Carl.”  I pierced a hole in the tablet and glazed and fired it in my parents’ kiln.


Pillared Israelite Structure at Hazor
The Valentine was “discovered” in a loose surface stone between the columns

Well, I took the “Valentine Tablet” up to Hazor the day before our trip and hid it under a rock in the large pillared Israelite storage facility.  The next day, when I was there with Dave we accidentally discovered this “tablet!”  Well, we were all excited.  As we were traveling in the mini-van to the next site, Dave was in the front trying to decipher the tablet—he had just taken Ugaritic (I had secretly let the other students know what was up).  About 20 minutes into our ride he exclaimed: “I think it’s a love letter!!”  I finally let him in on the secret discovery and we had a great laugh together.

Dave was a beloved colleague and friend!  He will be missed!!

HT: Ginger Caessens


2 responses to “The Passing of David Dorsey

  1. What a wonderful story, Carl! Thanks for including the laughs as well as the memories of scholarship—an essential combination.

  2. Dave shared that story quite a few times. Telling it always brought a big smile to his face.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s