About the Teacher

Reverend Dennis W. Spence

The Reverend Dennis W. Spence is a United Methodist minister who retired from active pastoral ministry in 2018. With a career spanning forty-three years, he served as an ordained elder within the Arkansas Conference. His journey into ministry began after graduating from Hendrix College in 1974. Rev. Spence pursued further academic preparation at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1977. In the early 1980s, he engaged in postgraduate studies at St. Paul School of Theology, focusing on Apocalyptic Literature under the guidance of Professor Lindsay Pherigo. Despite being assigned to a distant region of the state for clerical duties, Rev. Spence remained dedicated to his scholarly pursuits and continued to nurture his passion for learning.

In retirement, Rev. Spence found himself isolating due to the Covid pandemic, prompting him to seize the opportunity to deepen his biblical knowledge. He’s completed over forty short courses at the Israel Bible Center, led by professors who are Jewish followers of Jesus. Each course, comprising approximately five hours of online training, enabled Rev. Spence to actively engage with professors. He participated in roundtable discussions involving Jewish, Christian, and academic scholars from institutions like Asbury, Berkeley, Duke, Vanderbilt, and others worldwide.

Retirement and the pandemic provided the opportunity for Rev. Spence to undertake Dr. Robert Alter’s three-thousand-page translation and commentary of the Hebrew Bible. Dr. Alter’s commentary, published in 2018, is academic-based rather than faith-based, quietly guiding readers to the literary and historical dimensions of the text. Additionally, Rev. Spence, never one to shy away from research and study, read the writings of the late and renowned Jewish scholar, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Rabbi Sacks served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. His five-volume work, Covenant and Conversation, is a two-thousand-page commentary that offers numerous modern Jewish insights into the Torah. The works and devotion of Dr. Alter and Rabbi Sacks have extended Rev. Spence's knowledge and appreciation of the Hebrew Bible.

Not every book in the Bible contains narrative, but a core story runs throughout from Genesis to Revelation, as wonderfully described in Sandra Richter’s Epic of Eden. For several years, Rev. Spence has been diligently working on his own summary of the Bible's overarching narrative. In each of his Bible study classes, he provides a verse-by-verse narrative and commentary to guide students in their biblical study and exploration.

Rev. Spence approaches his work with a faith that is heavily influenced by the United Methodist Church, Wesleyan theology, Protestant principles, and a deep love for the sacred literature of Christianity. Rev. Spence generously shares his knowledge and love of scripture to extend his ministry in retirement.