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Donald Arthur Carson (born December 21, 1946) is a Canadian-born evangelical theologian and professor of New Testament.

Background and education

Carson was born in Ottawamarker, Canadamarker, to Thomas Donald McMillan Carson and Elizabeth Margaret (née Maybury), but grew up in Drummondvillemarker. He earned his B.S. (1967) in chemistry and mathematics from McGill Universitymarker, his M.Div. from Central Baptist Seminary (Toronto), and his Ph.D. (1975) in the New Testament from the University of Cambridgemarker. Carson married Joy (née Wheildon) on August 16, 1975.


Carson served as pastor of Richmond Baptist Church in Richmond, British Columbiamarker from 1970 to 1972. Following his doctoral studies, he served for three years at Northwest Baptist Theological College (Vancouver) and in 1976 was the founding dean of the seminary. In 1978, Carson joined the faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he is currently serving as research professor.

Selected publications

Carson has written or edited 57 books, many of which have been translated into Chinese. These include major commentaries on Matthew in the Expositor's Bible Commentary (ISBN 0310499615) and John (ISBN 085111749X), commentaries on parts of the Bible, such as 1 Corinthians 12-14 (ISBN 0801025214) and the Sermon on the Mount (ISBN 0801024803). He has also written books on prayer, suffering, and free will and predestination from a generally compatibilist and Calvinist perspective.

His 1996 book The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (ISBN 031024286X) won the 1997 ECPA Christian Book Award for the "theology and doctrine" category.

Other publications include:
  • The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism (1979) ISBN 0801024277
  • Exegetical Fallacies (1984) ISBN 0801024994
  • How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil (1990, 2006) ISBN 0801031257
  • The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians (1993, 2004) ISBN 0801091683
  • 'The Inclusive Language Debate: A Plea for Realism (1998) ISBN 0851115845
  • The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (1999) ISBN 1581341261
  • For the Love of God, 2 volume devotional commentary based on Robert Murray M'Cheyne's system for reading the Bible through in one year (1998, 2006) ISBN 1581348150
  • Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (2005) ISBN 0310259479
  • Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns (2000, 2002)
  • Justification And Variegated Nomism, 2 volumes which deal with the New Perspective on Paul issues that have arisen in recent years from people such as N. T. Wright (2001, 2004) ISBN 0801027926
  • Christ and Culture Revisited (2008) ISBN 0802831745
  • Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, Editor, along with Beale, G. K.. (2008) ISBN 0-80-102693-8
  • Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson (2008) ISBN 1433501996

Carson's Adage

In connection with reading the Sermon on the Mount, Don Carson advises: "Start with the structure of the sermon, and thus how it fits together. My father used to tell me that a text without a context becomes a pretext for a proof text, so when I was still quite young I learned to look at the context." ("One Way (Matthew 7:13-27)", in Richard D. Phillips, editor, Only One Way?: Reaffirming the Exclusive Truth Claims of Christianity, Crossway Books, 2007, pp. 127–142, at pp. 133–134.) In Biblical criticism, a proof text is the scriptural text that proves, or is claimed to prove, a particular doctrine. As a result of frequent overuse and occasional abuse of proof texts, the term has acquired a negative and sometimes even pejorative connotation.

Carson has quoted this adage in his lectures for several decades, before it gained popularity as a result of being quoted out of context by Jesse Jackson: "Text, without context, is pretext." (Sheldon R. Gawiser & G. Evans Witt, A Journalist's Guide to Public Opinion Polls, Praeger, 1994, p. 111.)


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