The Mendenhall J. Dennis Manuscript Collection

Collection Summary

Creator: Dennis, Mendenhall J., 1833-
Dates: 1875-1892, bulk undated
Extent: 3 boxes (1.3 linear feet)
Language(s): English, Hebrew
Repository: Princeton Theological Seminary Libraries. Special Collections.

Biographical Information

Mendenhall J. Dennis was born Mendel Diness in Odessa, Ukraine in 1827. Trained as a watchmaker, Diness went to Jerusalem in 1848 and accepted baptism, first as an Anglican Christian, then as a Campbellite, and his name was changed to Mendel John Diness. He learned photography from Scottish missionary James Graham and became the first Jewish photographer in Jerusalem.

Around 1859 Diness and his wife emigrated to the United States, settling in Ohio and opening a photography business. He changed his name again, to Mendenhall John Dennis, and traveled throughout the Midwest giving illustrated lectures on the Holy Land with his photos. He relocated to Port Townsend, WA, where he died in 1900.

In 1989, more than 100 of Dinnes’ glass plates were discovered at a Minnesota garage sale, along with some of his notebooks and prints, all of which were thought to have been lost. Researchers consulted PTS Archivist William O. Harris and other archivists and pieced together the biography behind the images. In 1993 the Semitic Museum of Harvard University held an exhibition of Diness’ works.

Some of these papers might be notes for Diness’ illustrated Midwest lectures.


Scope and Content

This collection of nineteenth century papers was unidentified in the archives for many years. Certain items in this collection suggest that Rev. Mendenhall J. Dennis, D.D. was their creator. A book labeled "Exercises," is signed "M.J. Dennis." Other manuscripts in this collection exhibit similar handwriting and subject content to this piece. An "Estimate Book," from the Job Room at the United Brethren Publishing House, as well as other papers, place the provenance of the collection in Dayton, Ohio. Few dates are given, with the exception of 1875 and 1888.



Dennis, Mendenhall J.

Old Testament scholars--United States

Hebrew language--Translating into English.


Administrative Information

Processing Information

This collection of papers was discovered in the archives backlog in December of 2007. These materials had been marked as unidentified, and were not organized. It is unclear how or when these papers came to the Seminary. They have been foldered and labeled according to prominent titles. New information has been added to the revised biographical note above.


There are no special restrictions to the access of this collection. It may be examined by library patrons under the normal rules and conditions of Special Collections. Many of the manuscripts are on brittle paper, so care should be taken when handling.

Use of Materials

The following is the acceptable citation for publication:

The Mendenhall J. Dennis Manuscript Collection. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.



Box 1
1 "Acts. XVI. 29-31" (October, 1875)
2 "Baptist Praise Book"
3 "The burning Bush" (Jan. 25)
4 "The captivities of Israel"
5 "Christ as viewed from the Gospels: Text: Matt. XII 22.."
6 "Christ's view of sin: Luke xii. 34 & xix. 28-38"
7 "The Divine Tragedy: Luke xvi. 19-31"
8 "The Duty of the Church towards ancient Israel"
9 "Estimate Book: Job Room U.B.P.H" (United Brethren Publishing House) Contains notes on Hebrew circa 1888
10 "Evidences of Christianity" Lecture Nov. 6, 1892
11 "Exegesis: How to interpret the scriptures"
12 "Exercises" Cover signed by "M.J. Dennis"
13 "Exodus III. 9-10"
14 "Gen. I. 27"
15 "The Gospel in conflict with the world"
16 "The Gospel of mercy preached by Isaiah"
17 Hebrew notes
18 "Hebrew Vocabulary"
19 "Heb. X. 12, 13"
Box 2
1 "Higher Criticism: Introductory Note to a Critique on the Prophecies of Isaiah," translation by Dr. Jeduha Leob Benzew. 1816
2 "The higher life: Matt. vi. 33"
3 "How to use the Bible"
4 "Introduction to the Pentateuch (Thora)"
5 "Luke IV. 16. 21"
6 "Mark IV: 26-29"
7 "Matthew xiii. 1-9"
8 "The mercy of God towards Israel"
9 "New Translation"
10 "Notes from which to write the preface of the forthcoming work: the translation of Moses Mendelssohn's works into English"
11 Notes on Occultism
12 Notes on Paul
13 "The obligation of the Church to preach the Gospel to Israel"
14 "Passages in the O.T. where the doctrine of immortality and eternal life is of a doubtful import"
15 "The present political and religious state of the Israelites"
16 "Redemption as preached from the Cross"
17 "Rev. xxii. 16-18"
18 "St. Paul's idea of salvation"
19 "The separation of Israel from the rest of the nations"
20 "The Subject of Versions"
21 "Titus III. 3-9"
22 Unknown work
23 Unknown work
24 Unknown work
25 Unknown work
26 Unknown work
27 Unknown work
28 Unknown work
29 Unknown work (on General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America stationary)
30 "When I consider the heavens as a work of thy hands.. Ps. 8. 3-6"
Box 3 (Legal-sized papers)
1 "Confessions: Romans X. 8-11"
2 "Commentary on Ecclesiastes"
3 (I.) "Gen. Chapter I"
4 (II.) "Chapter II from ver. 1 to 18"
5 (III.) "Second Chapter from 18th to the end, 3rd chapter to the end, 4th chapter to the word [in Hebrew] in the 4th v."
6 (IV.) "IV chap.. V chap., VI chap.."
7 (V.) "VI. chapter.. VII Chap., VIII ch., IX.."
8 (VI.) IX. chapter from the part of the 13th verse, X. chapter to the part of the 16th verse"
9 (VII) "Chapter X from part of the 16th verse to the end. Chapter XI to the end.
10 (VIII.) "Chapter XII to the end. Chapter XIII.
11 "The military laws of the Bible"
12 "The Mosaic Code"
13 Unknown work
14 Unknown work


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