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Episode 194 How We Got Our New Testament with Lee McDonald

Episode 194 How we got our New Testament with Lee McDonald

One of the questions I often get is “How did we get our Bible?”  As you’re going to hear on this podcast, there is not a quick, easy answer. 

It’s an important historical question that had a few questions marks around it.  Dr. Lee McDonald has given a lifetime to the question and has authored more than a dozen books on the topic.  You can find a link to those later in these shownotes.

Dr. McDonald joined David Capes on the Stone Chapel Podcasts to talk about this question.

Who Is Lee McDonald?

Lee McDonald earned his PhD at the University of Edinburgh.  Prior to that he earned his masters at Harvard. 

Today he is retired.  But he spent many years as professor of New Testament Studies and President of Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia. 

He has written a number of books on the canon of the Bible.  See the show notes below for some of those.  In retirement he lives in southern California. 

How We Got Our New Testament

McDonald is interested in the question of how we got our Bible.  But this podcast deals only with part two of the Bible, the New Testament. 

The issues are challenging.  We have minimal historical sources that discuss the canon.  The presence of manuscripts themselves help us somewhat. 

Canon is a technical term for the list of inspired books referred to today as the New Testament.  There are historical forces and factors that led to the development of the canon. 

Capes and McDonald outline a few of these in the podcast.   But there are also theological factors and concerns at the same time.  Geographically, the church was scattered.  So, practices in Ethiopia were different than those in Italy. 

Early Christians were a very bookish people.  They wrote a lot of books.  I suppose you could say they also read a lot of books Some of those books were included in the canon, but many were excluded.  In this podcast Capes and McDonald discuss the criteria for apostolic authorship. 


Click here for a transcript of today’s podcast.

A key book on the question which he wrote with interested lay people in mind:

Formation of the Bible: The Story of the Church’s Canon (Hendrickson, 2012).

A bit more technical is:

The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority (Baker Academic, 2006)

To see a lecture by Dr. Lee McDonald at the Lanier Theological Library click here.

More Resources

Want more Stone Chapel Podcasts on some great topics? Just click here.

You can get information on upcoming lectures at Lanier Theological Library by clicking here

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