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The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon [Paperback]

By Lee McDonald (Author)
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Item description for The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon by Lee McDonald...

How did the Bible come to be? Why does it have 66 books, and why those books? In this extensive study, McDonald examines the history and traditions surrounding the formation of the Old and New Testament canons. He also introduces the recent scholarly work of others to give you a fuller understanding of how the Bible began.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Hendrickson Publishers
Pages   340
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 31, 1995
Publisher   Hendrickson Publishers
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  1565630521  
ISBN13  9781565630529  

Availability  0 units.

More About Lee McDonald

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Lee Martin McDonald was professor of New Testament studies and president of Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, Canada (now retired). He is also the author of The Biblical Canon and coauthor of Early Christianity and Its Sacred Literature.
James A. Sanders is professor of religion and president of the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center for Preservation and Research at Claremont Graduate University in California.

Lee Martin McDonald was born in 1942.

Lee Martin McDonald has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Guides for the Perplexed

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
2Books > Special Features > Substores > jp-unknown2
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Canon Law

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Church History

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon?

Overall, fair and balanced  Jun 5, 2008
There seems to be a tendency toward anachronistic uses of terms such as "canon," "scripture," and "tradition." It seems a particular malady from the perspective of the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (scripture alone). So eager are they to hold fast to their views that they find it difficult to accept any historical evidence that would weaken that view. Professor McDonald seems to have avoided most of those anachronisms. But his honest and detailed study may raise the ire of some fundamentalists who seem to favor pet doctrines over objective truth.

Though one should supplement this work with others like, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger: The Untold Story of the Lost Books of the Protestant Bible or the work of another Protestant scholar, A High View of Scripture? The Authority of the Bible and the Formation of the New Testament Canon (Evangelical Ressourcement: Ancient Sources for the Church's Future). In addition, the astute student should also take the time to study two works from Dr. Scott Hahn: Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy for an overview of the importance of liturgical use in the formation of the canon, and The Bible Alone for the most biblically sound treatment of the sola scriptura doctrine. In addition, the classic work, The Meaning of Tradition would be very highly recommended.

Overall a fair and balanced study.
Excellent!  Jul 2, 2006
McDonald's "The Formation of Christian Biblical Canon" should be on every bookshelf. McDonald has provided a well-documented history of how several OT and NT canons were filtered before the presently accepted canons came into being after several centuries. Many will be surprised to learn there were several different canons in use by early Christians, and that the Scriptures of the apostolic era were more inclusive than those ultimately selected for inclusion in modern Bibles.
Very well written  Sep 17, 2004
Very well written. Indepth, with plenty of references.
May be a hard read for the novice though.
Doubters guide to the bible  Feb 13, 2004
Perhaps the book might be more aptly named "Doubter's Guide to the Bible". He not only puts forward many of the more radical modernist theories, he basicly puts his stamp of approval on most of them. For example, that Paul didn't write the Pastoral epistles, and many of his other epistles like Colossians, Ephesians and others are also doubtful. That John didn't write all the books in his name. That neither did Peter write 2 Peter, or James write James, perhaps Jude either.

Furthermore, that the bible does by no means present a coherent consistant theology. Rather every book has a somewhat different theology that can't be reconciled. Rather we have to prioritise the more important ones. Furthermore, we need to read the gnostic writings to really get as close as possible to what Jesus actually taught.

I suppose if you want to know what the modernists are thinking, this gives some insight, but is this the Christian point of view?

Even-handed, scholarly, thought-provoking  Jun 22, 2003
McDonald's book provides an excellent overview of the topic at hand. Reads a lot like a textbook, which I suppose is how it's often used. He does a very good job of bringing in all appropriate evidence, but staying very methodical in his assessments and in getting his points across. You'll probably wish for more depth in some areas, less in others, but this book should at the very least point you in the right direction toward more in-depth research.

Perspective is always important when you're talking about books on this subject. The field seems to be dominated by highbrow apoligists (like Metzger and Bruce), whose glossing over of problematic (to the orthodoxy) canonical issues makes for limpwristed scholarship, or by the more deconstructionist liberal school of the Jesus Seminar and such. Motives and scholarship often become difficult to differentiate. McDonald, however, is a Baptist minister, and a scholar, and, in my opinion gleaned from this book, he wears both hats with aplomb and distinction. Hard core fundamentalists (like a previous reviewer) may find his conclusions troubling. I'll let McDonald respond in his own words, from the last paragraph of his "Final Thoughts":

"My aim in this study has not been to destroy the church's Bible, as if that could be done, but to bring some light to the often dimly lit corridors that led to the formation of our Bible and, in that process, to remind the reader of the true canon of faith for the church: our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible is still the church's book without which the Christian faith would be a blur. I believe that a careful study of the biblical message in its historical environment and in the community of faith where it was first acknowledged as scripture and canon will prove invaluable to the church. Lessons learned from this approach will not only free the church from inappropriate loyalties but also will help the church to focus more clearly on the true object and final authority of its faith: Jesus Christ."


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