Publication History of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity

C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity originated as a series of radio talks delivered in the 1940s in Great Britain. This article provides information about the original broadcast talks and their publication history up to Mere Christianity.

BBC Radio Talks: First Series
“Right or Wrong: A Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.”

Except for the Saturday, September 6 broadcast, this series was carried on the BBC Home Service on Wednesday evenings between 7:45 and 8 p.m. (The titles for the BBC radio talks are from the broadcast scripts.) A large number of letters from listeners resulted in Lewis doing a broadcast on September 6 to answer questions. The talks were first published in Britain in 1942 as Broadcast Talks and in 1943 in the United States as The Case for Christianity. There were only a few revisions between the broadcasts and the published versions. (Each of the two internal `books’ were titled, but individual chapters were untitled.) The entire four broadcast series and three books were published in 1952 as a single book, Mere Christianity.

BBC Radio First Series: “Right or Wrong: A Clue to the Meaning ofthe Universe”Broadcast Talks and The Case For Christianity, Book 1:Right or Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.” Mere Christianity Book 1: “Right or Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe”
1. “Common Decency,” Aug. 6, 1941 I. 1. “The Law of Human Nature”
5. “Answers to Listeners’ Questions,” Sept. 6, 1941 II. 2. “Some Objections”
2. “Scientific Law and Moral Law,” Aug. 13, 1941 III.3. “The Reality of the Law”
3. “Materialism or Religion,” Aug. 20, 1941 IV.4.  “What Lies Behind the Law”
4. “What Can We Do About It?” Aug. 27, 1941 V.5. “We Have Cause to Be Uneasy”

BBC Radio Talks: Second Series
“What Christians Believe.”

This series was carried on the BBC Home Service on Sunday afternoons between 4:45 and 5 p. m. There were only a few revisions between the broadcasts and the published versions.

BBC Radio Second Series: “What Christians Believe”Broadcast Talks and The Case for Christianity, Book 2:”What Christians Believe”Mere Christianity: “What Christians Believe”
 “First Talk,” Jan. 11, 1942 I.1. “The Rival Conceptions of God.”
 “Second Talk,” Jan. 18, 1942 II.2. “The Invasion”
 “Third Talk,” Feb. 1, 1942 III.3. “The Shocking Alternative”
 “Fourth Talk,” Feb. 8, 1942 IV.4. “The Perfect Penitent”
 “Fifth Talk,” Feb. 15, 1942 V.5. “The Practical Conclusion”

BBC Radio Talks: Third Series
“Christian Behaviour”

The third series was carried on the General Forces Programme to the armed forces on Sunday afternoons between 2:50 and 3 pm. Lewis originally wrote them to be 15 minutes long like the previous two series, so they had to be quickly cut down to 10 minutes. The cuts were restored in the first published version, Christian Behaviour (1943) with some further revisions for Mere Christianity. The broadcast on “Sexual Morality” was published without the permission of Lewis or the BBC in the Daily Mirror on October 13, 1942 under the sarcastic title: “This Was a Very Frank Talk–Which We Think Everyone Should Read.”

 BBC Radio Third Series: “Christian Behavior” Christian Behavior Mere Christianity, Book 3: “Christian Behavior”
 “First Talk,” Sept. 20, 19421. “The Three Parts of Morality.”1. “The Three Parts of Morality.”
 2. “The ‘Cardinal Virtues'”2. “The ‘Cardinal Virtues'”
“Second Talk,” Sept. 27, 19423. “Social Morality”3. “Social Morality”
“Third Talk,” Oct. 4, 19424. “Morality and Psychoanalysis”4. “Morality and Psychoanalysis”
“Fourth Talk,” Oct. 11, 19425. “Sexual Morality”5. “Sexual Morality”
 6. “Christian Marriage”6. “Christian Marriage”
“Fifth Talk,” Oct. 18, 19427.  “Forgiveness”7.  “Forgiveness”
“Sixth Talk,” Oct. 25, 19428. “The Great Sin”8. “The Great Sin”
 9. “Charity”9. “Charity”
 10. “Hope”10. “Hope”
“Seventh Talk,” Nov. 1, 194211. “Faith”11. “Faith”
“Eighth Talk,” Nov. 8, 194212. “Faith”12. “Faith”

BBC Radio Talks: Fourth Series
“Beyond Personality: The Christian View of God”

The Fourth Series was carried on the BBC Home Service and published two days later in the BBC’s magazine, The Listener. The BBC preferred to do live broadcasts, but because of travel difficulties the second, sixth and seventh were recorded for broadcast later. Only the recording of the seventh broadcast has survived. The series was published with major additions and revisions as Beyond Personality (Britain, 1944 and United States,1945) and became the last book in Mere Christianity.

BBC Radio Fourth Series: “Beyond Personality: The Christian Viewof God.”The Listener: “Beyond Personality” Beyond Personality    Mere Christianity, Book 4: “Beyond Personality”
 1. “Making and Begetting,” Feb. 22, 19441. “The Map and the Ocean,” Feb. 24, 19441. “Making and Begetting”1. “Making and Begetting”
 2. “The Three-Personal God,” Feb. 29, 1944. 2. “God in Three Persons,” March 2, 19442. “The Three-Personal God”2. “The Three Personal God.”
  3. “Time and Beyond Time”3. “Time and Beyond Time”
3. “Good Infection,” March 7, 1944 3. “The Whole Purpose of the Christian,” March 9, 19444. “Good Infection”4. “Good Infection”
4. “The Obstinate Toy Soldiers,” March 14, 19444. “The Obstinate Tin Soldiers,” March 16, 19445. “The Obstinate Toy Soldiers”5. “The Obstinate Toy Soldiers”
  6. “Two Notes”6. “Two Notes”
5. “Let’s Pretend,” March 21, 19445. “Let us Pretend,” March 24, 19447. “Let’s Pretend”7. “Let’s Pretend”
6. “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?” March 28, 19446. “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?” March 30, 19448. “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?”8. “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?”
  9. “Counting the Cost”9. “Counting the Cost”
  10. “Nice People or New Men”10. “Nice People or New Men”
7. “The New Man,” April 4, 19447. “The New Man,” April 6, 194411. “The New Men”11. “The New Men”

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