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Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers Paperback – September 21, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 297 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Reprint edition (September 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080286886X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802868862
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,275,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Continuing his series of "conversations" in spiritual theology, prolific author, pastor and theologian Eugene H. Peterson (most familiar for his Bible paraphrase The Message) provides an intimate look at Jesus' words. Arguing that the Fall created a "language catastrophe," Peterson contends that people of faith need to "eliminate the bilingualism" they use to talk about religion and everyday life: "There is no 'Holy Ghost' language used for matters of God and salvation and then a separate secular language for buying cabbages and cars." To this end, the author explores Jesus' prayers across the Gospels and parables that are unique to the Gospel of Luke. Using poet Emily Dickinson's dictum to "tell it slant," Peterson ably shows that "personal, metaphorical, particular, relational, local" language can convey profound religious ideas. His meditations on prayer ask universal questions about its efficacy; most moving are reflections on Jesus' last brief words, which form a "prayer mosaic from the cross." Peterson's greatest gift is his ability to write about such ideas as sin, repentance, grace and glory in masterfully simple-and concrete-ways.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Taking his theme from a famous Dickinson poem, Peterson searches the New Testament not for magisterial statements but rather for the “slanted” language of Jesus’ seemingly casual speech. In the first part of this inquiry, readers relive Jesus’ journey through Samaria to Jerusalem (as recounted by Luke), hearing again the resonant voice that punctuates that journey with 10 parables, so slanted that only intense listeners will tease out their inner meaning. Only the attentive will perceive, for instance, the full message Jesus delivers about the dynamics of hypocrisy in his story of the Pharisee and the taxman. Peterson then shifts his focus to examine the words Jesus speaks in his prayers. But readers soon realize that even in his prayers, Jesus speaks words slanted by the human needs of those around him. By interweaving relevant stories from his own life, Peterson helps readers recognize times when the Holy Spirit carries slanted sacred meanings into their own lives. Valuable to Christian readers striving to make faith more than a Sunday ritual. --Bryce Christensen --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Peterson, now retired, was for many years James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also served as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. In addition to his widely acclaimed paraphrase of the Bible, The Message (NavPress), he has written many other books.

Customer Reviews

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This is a book to be savored and chewed slowly.
Bookworm
As someone who has been involved in Christian education and formation I'd recommend this book for everyone.
M.A Belmares II
Peterson took these stories that I was very familiar with and presented them to me as...stories.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Dan on November 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While Christian writers like Eugene Peterson, and Dallas Willard, and Richard Foster, and others are teaching us compehensively about what Jesus taught, along with how he lived, died, rose, and ascended, there are still many Christians who think the only important thing is to know what He did on the Cross, which gets us to heaven. I think all Christians will appreciate Peterson's book, Tell It Slant. The question is whether the reader has ears to hear. Jesus' purpose was not to get people into heaven. It was to get them into the Kingdom of God. And the difference between those two ideas is huge. The first is non-transformative and ego-serving. The second is radically life-altering, unto eternity. Eugene Peterson is an author who reliably guides us into understanding what it means to Repent -- change how you think -- and live in the present and eternal Kingdom. His use of Jesus' own words in stories and prayer guide us to an accurate understanding of the Kingdom and what it means to be a citizen of that Kingdom. In other words, what it means to be a disciple of Jesus (not just a convert who has the password to heaven's gates). If you're familiar with Willard, Foster, et al., why read this book? Preconceptions affect perceptions. The clearer your preconceptions are about the Kingdom of God, the more easily you will recognize it when you run into it. The less you know about the Kingdom, the less you will live according to its order and reality, and the less your life will truly work. Read Peterson to prepare yourself for the daily, moment to moment encounter with God and His Kingdom.
As an aside, I would disagree very slightly with Peterson's portrayal of these words of Jesus as just common talk.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By robert johnston on November 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the 4th book in Peterson's conversation series. "Tell It Slant" is focused on the "conversational Jesus". The conversational Jesus is revealed in two parts ... along a long walk ... and through Jesus in prayers. Peterson tasks the reader to go beyond the words and engage the mind in the Jesus discussion.

Part one follows Christ through Luke's travel narrative of the final walk from Galilee, through troubled Samaria, to arrive in Jerusalem for His final days. Peterson reanimates and brings life to the words of the traveling Messiah as he teaches, considers, and observes along this final journey. The Jesus dialogue is intensely considered through 11 distinct, but interlaced conversations along the road. Part one alone is worth the price of the book. As I write 2 weeks after completing the book, I'm thinking that part one is a standalone masterpiece. Each conversation, as Peterson guides our minds, is a timeless, living metaphor that immerses the modern reader in the calm thoughts and considerations of the Master on the road to crucifixion. I found that I had to limit my reading to only one of 11 conversations per day ... so compelling is the Peterson contribution.

Part two shifts away from the "casual" travel narrative to the praying Jesus through 6 prayers ... 6 praying conversations, between Christ and God, about us, in increasing situational intensity. We have rote memory of these prayers. Therein lies a problem as Peterson considers them. Peterson does a superlative job in pointing the reader to the conclusion that there is much more to these well known prayers than our memories can evoke. The patterns of a life with Christ through, prayer dialogue, is compelling.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By FaithfulReader.com on March 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
TELL IT SLANT. Huh? The phrase is a not-quite-grammatical derivative of the clichéd "tell it straight." It isn't original to author Peterson; it's from a line of poetry by Emily Dickinson: "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant." Peterson sees the idiom as descriptive of Jesus' mode of communication, especially as portrayed in 10 parables that are unique to the Gospel of Luke --- found between Luke 9 and 19, sometimes known as Luke's "Travel Narrative."

Peterson notes that Luke doesn't emphasize Jesus the teacher or the preacher; rather, "Luke has a particular interest in immersing us in the conversational aspects of Jesus' language." He's engaging the imagination and telling stories. These parables are told when Jesus is "on the road"; he has left his home territory in Galilee and is traveling with disciples, through Samaria, toward Jerusalem and his final days. "A kind of intimacy develops naturally when men and women walk and talk together, with no immediate agenda or assigned task except eventually getting to their destination." Here's where Jesus tells the story called the "prodigal son" and a story about an unfruitful fig tree that is given fertilizer and another year to prove itself.

The second part of the book moves from Luke's parables to six prayers of Jesus, as recorded primarily in Matthew and John. We've seen how Jesus talks with his friends and followers. How does he talk with God, whom he calls Father?

Peterson's "language" schema is most evident in the book's opening and closing chapters. In the scriptural discussion, it's easy to get delightfully lost in the textual insights --- which must be chewed and savored.
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