Important things to know about
our Fall 2023 seminar:
(Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration)
This live seminar is now underway!
Each class is being recorded live.
Never too late to enroll
Gold Track has access to past videos.
(Members of Silver, Gold, or Platinum Tracks may attend)
Or scroll down for more.
What do biblical texts
about the three concepts:
And what if we discovered that
the answer to this question
requires more than
finding a few texts,
adding them together,
and forcing them onto
all biblical texts?
And by the way . . .
Whose idea was "canon" in the first place?
If we truly believe that the Bible is the most important book in the history of the world,
questions like these won't scare us or make us defensive or angry.
In fact, we'll eagerly want to engage
in conversation about
When we refuse to engage, we set ourselves up to fall.
Some of the recommendations made about our text-book, Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration (2012) by Gary D. Collier, are given in the dark blue sections that follow.
Lee Martin McDonald, Ph.D.
Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University,
Nova Scotia, Canada
The most prolific author on the formation of
the biblical canon of the 21st century.
See his Amazon author page.
Collier has provided an engaging discussion of several critically important discussions going on among biblical scholars and leaders in churches today, namely, how did the Bible come to be and how should its inspiration be understood? He treats the subject matter seriously and fairly and is clear in his presentation. He is aware of the major issues related to his topics and presents them in a clear and convincing manner. While he will no doubt encounter opposition to several of his conclusions, he nevertheless makes reasonable arguments on the most important matters. I believe that those who read the Bible as the Word of God will gain many insights from this book. Collier wants his readers to consider carefully the issues he raises and those who do will gain a greater understanding of their Bible.
William J. Abraham, Ph.D.
Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies,
Southern Methodist University,
Editor of Canonical Theism (2008)
and author of
Canon and Criterion in Christian Theology (1998).
Gary Collier has written a book that tackles the classical issues related to canon and inspiration with amazing simplicity and earthiness. He moves on two levels. First, he takes the reader on a guided tour of the terrain; second, he drills deep into the history. His style is user-friendly; there is not a hint of aggression or bad faith. Yet he does not run away from the hard questions or settle for cheap answers. Through it all there is a vibrant Christian faith that is intoxicated with a love for Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of the World. This is a splendid contribution to the debate about canon: accessible, deep, and truly invitational.
The first two books are the text-books for this seminar. However there are no "required" texts. All of the following are highly recommended. The first two will provide some direct and indirect content for the seminar, and the others provide a deeper and broader exposure to the topic." These are provided as extra reading. The seminar will not be a review of views or scholarship on the topic.
No one is required to read anything! However, since we have a range of people in our group, this list will help address the various interest and skill levels. I highly recommend all of these books: they come from a variety of perspectives.
A Conceptual Approach
2012 (326 pages): Not a historical review of "how we got the Bible," this book focuses on the nature of biblical texts and collections, and on the meaning and distinctions between the words "Scripture, Canon, and Inspiration." Asks probing questions like, "Who's idea was canon anyway?"
A Textual Approach
2016 (174 pages): Looks at every text in biblical and related literature which includes the word "graphe" and asking how the word functioned in each instance. This study uncovers a few surprises and challenges contemporary uses of the term which make particular canonical assumptions.
Best Academic Study
2007 (548 pages): This is a must read for all serious Bible readers, including preachers and other church leaders. A complete historical analysis of the idea, emergence, and growth of biblical canons. See now the costly 2021 replacement by the two volumes The Formation of the Biblical Canon.
2017 (337 pages): Excellent and comprehensive collection of "canon lists" in original language and translation through the 4th century. Helpful introductory chapters. This a "primary" resource—one that does not just talk about lists, but actually gives the lists.
2022 (288 pages): This is a conversation in the best sense. Perspectives are written by representatives of that view: (1) conservative and (2) progressive Evangelical; (3) liberal Protestant; (4) Roman Catholic; and (5) Orthodox. Afterwards, responses are given.
2013 (256 pages): This book addresses five major questions--all of them similar to this one: "Must we make a sharp distinction between the definitions of Canon and Scripture?" This should provide an interesting contrast to the first book in this list.
1988 (349 pages): A classic. Winner of two 1990 Christianity Today Awards: Readers' Choice (1st place; theology doctrine) and Critics' Choice (1st place; theology doctrine). A 1989 ECPA Gold Medallion Award winner
2022 (258 pages): Explores topics like ancient writing practices, book production and publication, letter writing in antiquity, and also the origins and reception of Christian texts in a context of apostolic authority.
More Could be Listed
Obviously, many other books could be listed. The ones included are intended to be representative and helpful.
Each of these will have a bibliography of more books.
The majority of the books listed are focused strictly on "canon."
Or scroll down for more.
More comments about our text-book,
Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration (2012)
William “Chip” Kooi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Theology,
Oklahoma Christian University
No topics are more vital to the future of the church in America than those addressed by Gary Collier in this book. Positions on issues of canon and inspiration are frequently formulated a priori and then imposed onto the Biblical text—Collier's treatments clarify the issues and help the reader see and consider evidence typically ignored or glossed over, either for lack of knowledge or out of fear of the implications. If all truth is God's truth, then Christians should have no fear of honest inquiry. Scripture, Canon and Inspiration opens the inquiry and offers us an entry into conversations that we absolutely must have if Christian faith is to continue to be a significant voice in our culture.
Dawn Gentry, M.Div.
Executive Director of Adult Ministries
Christ Community Church
As Christ followers, whether or not we acknowledge the fact, how we view the Bible impacts every other theological decision we make. Collier’s conversational approach engages the reader while his academic depth provides plenty of challenge for scholars. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversational style all through the book, and Collier’s joy of God’s word comes through loud and clear. I was not surprised or disappointed by anything I found. I also especially resonated with the ‘what if’ section at the end of chapter 9, and I agree with constantly asking ‘what can we do to make things better?’ Those who are willing to read without assumptions will find a conversation partner worthy of our time and respect. If you can imagine a faith community that values dialogue as we pursue Christ above all, begin here.
Carson E. Reed, D.Min.
Associate Professor and Dean,
Graduate School of Theology
Abilene Christian University
Fans of the Coffee With Paul Classroom website will not be disappointed with Gary Collier's new work, Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration. Collier does what he does best; he provokes active thought and conversation through his engaging, conversational style. Relying on his own extensive textual work in biblical materials as well as more broadly with other ancient sources such as Philo, the author draws the reader into important, current conversations about the Bible by looking at the texts themselves.
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More comments about our text-book,
Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration (2012)
Bible student and teacher, Houston, TX.
Hailing from a tradition that boasts a high view of scripture, it was hard to imagine the possibility of an even higher view—but Gary Collier proposes exactly that. And if Gary is correct about the canon of the earliest Christians, we are recovering something not of mere tradition but of sheer beauty. Whether slightly or radically, all careful and objective readers of Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration will be compelled to adjust their thinking about this crucial topic.
Beverly L. Watkins M.A.
Pastor of New Members Ministry,
Promise Land Christian Community Church, Indianapolis, IN.
Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration is a powerful book. It is so awesome that I had to read some and digest it before I could continue. I strongly recommend that every serious Christian, student of the Bible or any other interested person read the book. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. I found myself being challenged in my belief system quite a bit more than was comfortable, however, it was extremely profitable to me Spiritually. It is a powerful tool for any study group or individual who wants to understand what the Bible is and is not, and much more. This book will cause you to engage in conversations with it and raise questions that you probably would not have thought of before reading it. It is a must read for everyone, whether you are serious about the Bible, curious about the Bible, or just want to know. I challenge you to pick it up and begin to read, you won’t be able to stop until you have finished.
[Pic = Beverly with Gary, Joe, Fred, Ben
at Hebrew Union College.]
Michael Wilkinson, M.D., F.A.C.P.
Internal Medicine Associates
of Palestine, TX.
Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration is not written for scholars. Gary Collier is a scholar and is capable of discourse on that level, but this book is written for the rest of us. If you are a student of scripture, a church leader, a Bible teacher, or simply a committed but curious follower of Jesus, then this book is for you. I highly recommend it. Your faith will be strengthened and you will never read the Bible the same way again.