I was educated at a small Southern Baptist liberal arts college in the deep south (Mississippi College, Clinton, Mississippi, 1958) and a Southern Baptist Seminary (Golden Gate, Mill Valley, California, 1962). After seminary, I was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Needles, California for three years, resigning to return to my studies in 1965. I worked as a Deputy Probation Officer in Los Angeles County (Juvenile Probation) for 13 years while I completed an M.A. at the University of Southern California (1968) and a Ph.D. at Claremont Graduate School (1977).
I retired as a U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain (Colonel) after 30 years' service. My highest award was the "Legion of Merit." I have served as pastor of churches in Mississippi, California, and New York City. In December 2004, I retired from teaching in the Religious Studies Department at Southwest Missouri State University, where I taught classes related to Christian Origins.
My research interests are Christian Origins. I taught classes in that subject at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri from 1980-2004 (viz., Jesus of Nazareth, New Testament Introduction, Parables, Gnosticism, etc.). My publications have been primarily in the areas of Gospels, Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism, the Graeco-Roman world, and related topics.
My first book on parables, Parables as Poetic Fictions, raises what I regard as substantive significant issues for the study of the parables, which is the backbone of the Jesus tradition. Another book, The Gospel of the Savior is the first publication of a fragmentary gospel manuscript, written in Coptic, whose composition dates before the latter half of the second century C.E. I found in fragments languishing in the West Berlin (Germany) Egyptian Museum.
When History and Faith Collide is an inductive study for students that describes the problems of describing Jesus of Nazareth as a historical human being. The book is intended to help students engage the problems for themselves.
My second book on parables, Many Things in Parables establishes a consistent theory for a literary approach to Parables and is written for the non-specialist.
Four recent books stumble into the subject of what to do with the earliest Jesus traditions. House of Faith or Enchanted Forest? is a collection and revision of newspaper articles I published in the local newspaper critiquing unreflective Christian belief. When Faith Meets Reason is an edited work in which I challenged
contributors to be completely honest about what they really believed. Unlocking the Secrets of the Gospel according to Thomas shows the remarkable way the Jesus traditions were understood at the end of the first century in one early Christian text. The Wisdom of Jesus. Between the Sages of Israel and the Apostles of the Church sets out my understanding of Jesus of Nazareth.
If you are interested in more information on my research, publications, or activities look at the Curriculum Vitae.