Gary D. Collier

 

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Overview

Gary Dean Collier (born August 31, 1950) is an American New Testament scholar focusing on the topics scripture and canon, midrash, and intertextuality of the New Testament. Related to these interests, he has proposed a “conversational model” for understanding biblical interrelationships. He has written and edited books and articles ranging from academic studies in Paul to popular level study books for church groups. He is the founder and current CEO of the not-for-profit Institute for the Art of Biblical Conversation.

Contents

 

 1 Early Life

The sixth of nine children (four girls, five boys), Collier grew up on a farm near Cloverdale, Indiana.[1] His father, Albert L. Collier (a heavy equipment operator, a timberman, and a carpenter), emphasized the importance of combining high quality tools with a strong work ethic.[2] His mother, Trillis Nolene McKamey (a homemaker who never took a driver’s licence or held a job outside the home), was an avid student of the Bible.[3] Collier’s maternal grandfather and great-grandfather (Ira and Joseph B. McKamey) were each long-time elders and Bible teachers (40 years each man) at the West Unity Church of Christ (existed mid 1800’s-1948) and the Cloverdale Church of Christ (1841-present, said to be among the oldest continuously meeting Churches of Christ in the state of Indiana).[4] This heritage greatly influenced Collier’s interests in Bible study from a young age.  Baptized at age 10, he preached his first sermon at age 15. He attended Cloverdale High School where he was the president of the chorus, set the school record in pole-vaulting, was high school ping pong champion, and was voted “most popular” in his senior class.[5]

 

 2 Education

Collier was the first from his immediate family to attended college.[6] He entered as a Bible and Biblical languages major at Freed-Hardeman College (A.A.,1970) and continued at David Lipscomb College (B.A., 1972) and Harding Graduate School of Religion (M.Th. 1977). At Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, CA), Collier graduated summa cum laude (4.0 grade average) studying with Drs. Donald A. Hagner, Ralph P. Martin, and Robert A. Geulich. Upon graduation Collier received the Everett Harrison, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Award as top graduating student (Th.M., 1991).[7]

While attending Fuller Seminary, Collier also studied Comparative Midrash with James A. Sanders at the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center in Claremont, CA., and also attended regularly (for two years) the New Testament Graduate Seminar at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity (of the Claremont Graduate School) directed at that time by James M. Robinson of the Nag Hammadi Library fame.[8]

Upon entry to the University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology (1991, Denver, CO.), Collier was awarded the Gerald L. & Florence M. Schlessman Graduate Fellowship (Highest Academic Award for entering doctoral studies) where he studied especially with Drs. Gregory Robbins and Dennis R. MacDonald,[9] and where he received two awards:  Rocky Mountain/Great Plains regional award for best student paper for the Society of Biblical Literature (1993) and the Christian Scholarship Foundation Graduate Student Award (1995).[10] After completing his coursework and qualifying exams, a family crisis led to an extended leave.[11] Collier then completed his Ph.D. in 2014 with the Graduate Theological Foundation through its association with Oxford University. His dissertation defense was held at Christ Church before a mixed American/Oxford faculty committee.[12] Professor Donald A. Hagner served as the supervisor of the dissertation entitled Engaging Paul: Shades of Conversation in 1Thessalonians (2014), which has since been thoroughly revised and expanded for a wider audience.[13]

 

 3 Career

Collier was appointed as Teaching Fellow at Fuller Theological Seminary for both Hebrew and Greek languages, and he became a Teaching Assistant for professor Donald A. Hagner, serving as the initial (unlisted) proof-reader for the Word commentary on 1 Thessalonians by F. F. Bruce.[14] He also taught Greek as an adjunct faculty member (from 1992-1995) at the Iliff School of Theology while in residence during doctoral classwork.[15] From 1997-2003, Collier joined the faculty at Martin University in Indianapolis, IN., where he taught biblical literature and languages on both undergraduate and graduate levels.[16]

Noting the changing landscape of higher education to an increasingly “distance model,” Collier resigned college teaching in 2003 to found a new venture for the pursuit of academic biblical studies: The Institute for the Art of Biblical Conversation  (called at first, The Coffee With Paul Classroom),[17]a biblical-text-focused, online education program for non-degree students to bring academic biblical studies to people of all backgrounds.  As the CEO and Director of the Institute, Collier remains active in the Society of Biblical Literature (especially the Intertextuality group, the Philo Seminar, and the Pauline studies Groups), the Institute for Biblical Research, and the Stone-Campbell Journal Conference where he is a co-chair of the Pauline Studies group.[18]

In addition to his academic career, Collier recounts in his first published book, The Forgotten Treasure (1993), and also in other works[19], that during his school years, he served churches in various capacities in New York, Tennessee, Arkansas, California, Colorado, and Indiana. He also spoke at a variety of conferences: Greater St. Paul Prayer Conference (2004); Heartland in Indianapolis (1998), Jubilee in Nashville (1995), Pepperdine University (1979, 1993, 1994), and Lubbock Christian University (1990); Church speaker in Nashville, TN, and Los Angeles, CA; and Youth retreats.  In 2003, he was the chief speaker on a radio program, “The Online Bible Class,” on WREB Greencastle, IN, and coordinated the radio program with a monthly newspaper column in Christian Matters, a Christian newspaper with a circulation of about 50,000 covering a 27 county area in central Indiana.[20]

Collier hails from conservative roots, but he experienced a gradual transformation to a more moderate position as a result of his studies in the New Testament use of the Old Testament, midrash, the canonical process, and intertextuality of the Bible, which were formative for his views on intra-biblical conversations.[21]

 

 4 Works and Conversational Model

Collier has written numerous books and articles about New Testament, earliest Christianity (especially Paul), and the nature of canon, both on an academic and popular level (see bibliography). He claims that he has increasingly focused on articulating a “Conversational Model” for understanding the interplay of Biblical Texts,”[22]  and that this interest arose from an article in 1990 for the Christian Scholar’s Conference at Pepperdine University:  “Bringing the Word to Life: Biblical Hermeneutics in Churches of Christ.”[23] [24] The article charted two divergent schools of methodology and thought within the publications of a particular religious group and calls for developing a more engaging approach to biblical texts and current audiences.

Gary D. Collier
Born Gary Dean Collier
August 31, 1950 
Cloverdale, Indiana, United States
Residence Cloverdale, Indiana
Nationality American
Education

Ph.D., 2014: Graduate Theological Foundation in association with Oxford University

Ph.D. coursework, 1991-1995
University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology

Th.M., 1991: Fuller Theological Seminary

M.Th., 1977: Harding Graduate School of Religion

B.A., 1972: David Lipscomb College

A.A., 1970: Freed-Hardeman College

Career Founder and CEO of the Institute for the Art of Biblical Conversation
Known for

New Testament

Scripture and Canon

Intertextuality

Midrash

Conversational Reading of the New Testament

Authentic Paul

Notable work

Graphē in Biblical and Related Literature (2018)

I, Paulos(2017/2018)

Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration (2012)

The Forgotten Treasure (1993)

Title CEO and Director
Websites GaryDCollier.com; BiblicalConversation.COM
 

Gary D. Collier
Terre Haute, IN
2005

Click pic to watch 1 min excerpt

 

1993, The Forgotten Treasure:  Reading the Bible Like Jesus contrasted how Jesus and the Pharisees in Matthew interpreted and applied the Jewish scriptures, showing that the phrase “scribes trained for the Kingdom of Heaven” (13:52) promotes an agenda for reading the Torah like Jesus.[25]

1994, the now oft cited article for the Journal for the Study of the New Testament “‘That We Might Not Crave Evil’:  The Structure and Argument of 1 Corinthians 10:1-13” focused specifically on Paul’s intertextual/midrashic interpretation of Exod. 32:6, Num. 11:4, 32, and other texts to produce a warning for the Corinthians.

1995, also cited often is the article “Rethinking Jesus on Divorce” in Restoration Quarterly. Collier looks at the Synoptic divorce texts within the literary context of each Gospel, comparing and contrasting how each divorce logion functions within each Gospel. He warns against reading any of the Gospel texts casuistically (as a law for the sake of law) and argues that Jesus in Matthew is now often read by Christians as then current Jewish interpreters read Moses.

2012, Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration: Faith in Pursuit of Conversation used the term conversation to describe biblical intertextual interactionCollier says the biblical canon was an “act of faith by people of faith in search of a conversation with God.”[26]  

2017, updated and corrected edition 2023, I Paulos:  Shades of Conversation in 1Thessalonians (revised and expanded from Collier’s dissertation) pursues an authentic Paul (“a Paul that rings true to his own writings”[27]) and distinguishes three shades of conversation in biblical texts:[28]

Shades of Biblical Conversation

(S1) Shade 1
People talking to each other


(S2)Shade 2
People praying to or interacting directly w/ God


(S3) Shade 3
People midrashically/intertextually engaging authors & texts to see/hear God

 

For Collier, Shade 3 conversations describe biblical texts which are “in conversation” with each other, showing that when Paul engages his sacred texts and their authors, he puts himself in conversation with them for the sake of his centuries-old community." 

2018, Graphē in Biblical and Related Literature is a text focused model for students doing word studies. He traces the word graphē (most often translated in English Bibles as “Scripture”) in Classical Greek literature, Old Testament, Letter of Aristeas, Philo, Josephus, the Pseudepigrapha, the New Testament, and the Apostolic Fathers.  

2019 (August), Scribes Trained for the Kingdom: A Pre-Grammar for New Testament Greek as a Spiritual Discipline provides a kind of "guided commentary" through Mt 13:52 for why to study Greek.

2021 (January), The Art of Biblical Conversation: Stop merely reading the Bible; take its authors out for coffee instead, offers a practical, and quite readable, introduction to biblical conversation, defining what it both is and is not, and how to engage in it on a practical level.  Collier also places biblical conversation within the context of current discussions about the nature of biblical literature and how to read that today.

For numerous articles, see bibliography below.

       5 Reception

Response to Collier’s writings to date have been mostly positive. Those who disagree with him feel he is denying and/or undermining the authority of the Bible. Statements in this respect range from strongly worded disagreement[29] to outright rebuke for apostasy.[30]  Mostly, Collier’s works have been reviewed favorably, including the The Forgotten Treasure. Andre Resner called this book

a bold attempt to interpret Scripture as a believer and follower of Jesus and as one committed to Jesus’ community of faith which is manifested historically in the Restoration tradition of Churches of Christ. Collier’s very manner of presentation models what to me is a refreshing approach to biblical studies—reading the canonical texts with one’s own commitments to God and church always on the table.[31]

Collier’s other works have also been received positively. The articles on “Rethinking Jesus on Divorce” (RQ) and “That We Might not Crave Evil” (JSNT)  are often cited for authoritative reference in commentaries, other books, articles, and websites.[32]

 

       6 Working With Gary D. Collier

Collier maintains an active open-door relationship with those who study and work with him. The following excerpt is typical of other posts by those who work with him: 

A few months back I began to listen again to Gary’s 40 Things Everybody Should Know About the Bible. I don’t recall how long ago it was when I made my way through this video series for the first time but I decided that I wanted to take another run through these. In doing so I am once again reminded of the depth of what Gary has on offer. I have been attempting a fairly close walk with Gary’s teaching for quite a number of years already and am pleased to say that I still find him running out there somewhere ahead of me. It has been my frequent experience over the years that I will buddy up to some scholar or another for a period of time, reading their books, seeking to get to know them while trying to incorporate into my own life and thinking what I admire in theirs. What I typically discover is that after a year or two with one of these scholar friends I find myself wanting more. Not that I, in that span of time, have learnt all they have to offer but that I have learned enough that I find myself yearning for something beyond what they are offering. My experience with Gary is unlike that. He has from the first time I engaged him stretched me and blessed me, and he continues to do so down to this very day.

Lee Patmore,
Preacher in Canada
Sunday, June 9, 2019 11:32 PM    

 

       7 Bibliography

  • (2023) "Tested Through Fire: Paul, Jeremiah, and 1Th 2:4" (+ Handout). Zenodo and Academia.  DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7850905

  • (2021) "Breathless: Paul’s Long Sentence in 1Th 1:2-10." Zenodo and Academia.   May 7, 2021;  DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.4743300
  • (2021) "Hiding in Plain Sight: 'Simon Barjona' as Wordplay and Theology in Mt 16:17." Zenodo and Academia.   May 7, 2021;  DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.4742949
  • (2021) The Art of Biblical Conversation. The Dialogē Press, January 2021. ISBN: 978-0-9983230-9-1 
  • (2020) Scribes Trained for the Kingdom: A Pre-Grammar for New Testament Greek as a Spiritual Discipline. Cloverdale, IN: The Dialogē Press, November 2020 (Originally published 2017). ISBN: 978-0-9983230-7-7
  • (2019) Scribes Trained for the Kingdom: A Pre-Grammar for New Testament Greek as a Spiritual Discipline. Cloverdale, IN: The Dialogē Press, November 2019. ISBN: 978-0-9983230-7-7
  • (2018) Shades of Biblical Conversation: The Art of Conversing with Biblical Authors. Cloverdale, IN: The Dialogē Press, 2018. ISBN: 978-0998323046.
  • (2018) Graphē in Biblical and Related Literature: Is the Term Scripture an Appropriate Translation in English Bibles? Cloverdale, IN.: The Dialogē Press, 2018. ISBN: 978-0615536484
  • (2017/2018) I, Paulos: Shades of Conversation in 1 Thessalonians. Cloverdale, IN.: The Dialogē Press. Original edition, 2017; Updated, 2023. ISBN: 978-0998323060
  • (2015b) Unrelenting Faith. 1: What Really Matters? Vol. 2: Rising above Struggle, Walking in Hope. 1Thessalonians, Conversations 1-20. Cloverdale, IN.: The Dialogē Press, 2015 (with Journal). Vol 1: ISBN: 978-0692396483; vol. 2: ISBN: 978-0692396124
  • (2015a) and Brian Casey, eds. Engaging Paul in 1Corinthians: A Celebratory Volume in Honor of John and Diana Eoff. Cloverdale, IN.: Cloverdale, IN: CWP Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-0692332689
  • (2012a) Review of James P. Ware (ed), Synopsis of the Pauline Letters in Greek and English (Baker Academic, 2010) for Stone Campbell Journal 15 no. 1 (2012): 150-152.
  • (2012) Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration: Faith in Pursuit of Conversation. Cloverdale, IN: CWP Press, 2012. ISBN: 978-0615536484
  • (1995) “Rethinking Jesus on Divorce.” Restoration Quarterly 37:2 (1995) 80-96.
  • (1994) “‘That We Might not Crave Evil:’ the Structure and Argument of 1 Cor 10:1-13” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 55 (1994) 55-75.
  • (1993) The Forgotten Treasure: Reading the Bible Like Jesus. West Monroe, LA: Howard Publishers, 1993. ISBN: 1-878990-25-X
  • (1990) “Bringing the Word to Life: Biblical Hermeneutics in Churches of Christ.” Christian Studies 11:1 (October, 1990): 18-40.
  • (1983) “The Problem of Deuteronomy: In Search of a Perspective.” Restoration Quarterly 26:4 (1983): 215-33.
  • (1980) Review of James G. D. Dunn. “Unity and Diversity in the New Testament,” in Restoration Quarterly 23:2 (1980): 121-126.
  • (1978) with Donald A. Hagner. A Guide to Writing Research Papers in New Testament Studies. Fuller Theological Seminary, 1978.
  • (1972-1981) Numerous devotional articles in popular religious journals.

 

       8 External Links

 

       9 References

[1] Gary D. Collier, “We Are Brothers and Sisters” Twentieth Century Christian (October 1980): 24-25.

[2] Private Papers of Gary D. Collier.

[3] She is quoted six times in Raymond Muncie’s, Filling the Ancient Measure, (Cloverdale, IN: published by Church of Christ) pp. 134, 139, 147, 153, 214, 235 as a Bible teacher and memoir source for the Churches of Christ at West Unity and Cloverdale, IN.

[4] Muncie, Filling the Ancient Measure, p. 28.

[5] “Hi-Lites” 1968 Cloverdale High School Yearbook, pp. 14, 35, 47, 79, 85, 90

[6] Private Papers of Gary D. Collier.

[7] Private Papers of Gary D. Collier.

[8] For the ABMC: The ABMC was founded in 1978 at the Claremont School of Theology by philanthropist Elizabeth Hay Bechtel, who also endowed the faculty chair. James A. Sanders, who was that same year president of the Society of Biblical Literature, served as the first director. With the last issue of the ABMC Bulletin (running from 1981 to Spring 2015 "Farewell to the ABMC"), the ABMC is now administered as part of the library of the Claremont School of Theology. For the IAC: James M. Robinson was director of the IAC from 1968 to 1999, and president of the Society of Biblical Literature in 1981. For more about the origins of the IAC, see James M. Robinson, "Foreword", Institute for Antiquity and Christianity: Bulletin 3 (1972) ii; and also "The Institute for Antiquity and Christianity", in New Testament Studies 16 (1969-1970) 178-195. Collier formally studied Comparative Midrash with Sanders at the Center in 1979, but only informally with Robinson from 1978-80. In 1990, Collier was formally accepted into the Claremont Graduate School's PhD program for New Testament Studies with Robinson as his mentor, but he chose instead to attend the University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology in Denver to study with Dennis MacDonald and Greg Robbins (from the Private Papers of Gary D. Collier). MacDonald would later become director of IAC 1999 to 2010.

[9] Private Papers of Gary D. Collier.

[10] Private Papers of Gary D. Collier.

[11] Private Papers of Gary D. Collier.

[12] http://blog.gtfeducation.org/oxford-week-doctoral-defense/ --- with an upside down picture!  See also Private Papers of Gary D. Collier.

[13] Collier, I Paulos: Shades of Conversation in 1 Thessalonians. The Dialogē Press, 2018 updated edition, p. 10.

[14] Private Papers of Gary D. Collier. cf. also Collier with Donald A. Hagner. A Guide to Writing Research Papers in New Testament Studies. Fuller Theological Seminary, 1978.

[15]  Private Papers of Gary D. Collier. cf. also https://www.linkedin.com/in/gary-d-collier-56b06015/

[16] https://www.linkedin.com/in/gary-d-collier-56b06015/

[17] “Gary Collier Of Cloverdale Publishes ‘Controversial’ Book About The Bible,” Hoosier Topics, June 19, 2012. Article states:  “A former college teacher of Biblical literature and languages, Collier left college teaching to found and direct The Coffee with Paul Classroom, an Internet based educational program head-quartered in Cloverdale. The program is in touch with people from every state in the U.S. and from 92 countries around the world, offering some free educational classes online, as well as other classes and materials.”

[18] Private Papers of Gary D. Collier.

[19] Collier, I Paulos, and also Private Papers of Gary D. Collier.

[20] Private Papers of Gary D. Collier.

[21] Private Papers of Gary D. Collier. Also Collier, Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration, pp. 114ff.

[22] Collier, I Paulos, pp. 16, 18.

[23] Collier, The Forgotten Treasure, p. viii.

[24] Private Papers of Gary D. Collier.

[25] Collier, The Forgotten Treasure, p. 82-84, 180-185

[26] Collier, Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration, p. 38f.

 [27] Collier, I Paulos, p. 597.

[28] Ibid., p. 354.

 [29] Blog by Mark Dunagan 11/21/1999. Other examples can be found under google searches.

[30] Contending for the Faith April 2011 “Profiles in Apostasy #2“ under “Books Exposed”:  The Forgotten Treasure is described along with other books as “one of the tools of Satan” and is given a full, live one hour session for review. See also criticisms by LaGard Smith in Image Magazine  9:3 (1993) 22-23

[31] Resner, Restoration Quarterly 36:3 (1994) 189f.

[32] “Gary D. Collier” scholar.google.com. Retrieved November 2018.  The following list references a variety of Collier’s writings:  John Paul Heil, The Rhetorical Role of Scripture in 1 Corinthians. Brill, 2005, p. 150;. Richard Briggs, “‘The Rock Was Christ’: Paul’s Reading of Numbers and the Significance of the Old Testament of Theological Hermeneutics.” in Orizons in Hermeneutics: A Festschrift in Honor of Anthony C. Thiselton. Edited by Stanley Porter. Eerdmans. p. 99;  Roy Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner,  The First Letter to the Corinthians. The Pillar New Testament Commentary.  Eerdmans, 2010, pp. 452-63;  Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Revised Edition. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Eerdmans, 2014; and other commentaries. Also dissertations and other studies, e.g., the substantial review of the article by Sanned Lubani, The Role of the Exodus Motif in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13: An Intertextual Study. Thesis for Master of Theology, University of Stellenbosch.  April, 2014;  Moses Oladele Taiwo, Paul’s Apparent Reversal of Concern for the Weak Brother in 1 Corinthians 10:29b-30: An Examination of the Text in Light of Greco-Roman Rhetoric. Andrews University Ph.D. Dissertation, September 2002, p. 120; Thomas H. Olbricht, “Women in the Church: The Hermeneutical Problem” in Essays on Women in the Earliest Christianity, Volume 2. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2007, p. 549.   Richard Thomas Hughes, Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America, Eerdmans, 1996, p. 369; and many other citations.

Gary D. Collier Teacher-Bio

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