Robert Wilson ‘67 B.D., ‘72 Ph.D.

2021Distinction in Theological Education

One of the finest traditions of YDS is its commitment to excellence in all dimensions of theological education. This award recognizes alumni whose scholarship, teaching or leadership and contributions to vocational formation for ministry reflect the best of YDS and its distinguished faculty. 

It’s no exaggeration to say that Dr. Bob Wilson is a YDS legend. 

For five decades, he has served as a professor and advisor on the Old Testament faculty. 

He has also spent five decades helping this School through growth, turmoil, renewal, and rededication to its mission of training leaders and scholars. 

Dr. Wilson has served (or outlasted) six deans and has directed the dissertations of more than sixty doctoral students who became scholars themselves.

But this boundless legacy almost didn’t happen.

Bob Wilson grew up in Louisville with plans to be a Kentucky minister in the Disciples of Christ, until a teacher at his college, Transylvania University, suggested he apply to YDS. 

Once here, Bob found his interest in archeology, antiquity, and scholarship awakened. Yet his fondness for church life did not wane. As a graduate student, he served for a time as minister in Stratford, and ever after reminded students to keep the real-world problems of local churches in mind.

Dr. Wilson has produced books on Israelite prophecy, Deuteronomistic history and sociology of Old Testament religion. He has been active in leadership in the Society of Biblical Literature and did two stints as chair of Yale’s Department of Religious Studies.

Yet his proficiency doesn’t end there. 

Bob has played kettle drums since middle school and was the principal timpani player in the Civic Orchestra of New Haven from 1975 until just last year.

In 2009, affectionate colleagues produced a festschrift in Bob’s honor, in which the editors write: 

“Divinity School students see Dr. Wilson as simply brilliant. His graduate students literally follow his every word. As for his colleagues, they see him as a cornerstone of the institution.”