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Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading Hardcover – July 29, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Peterson is a retired pastor and popular author best known for The Message, a paraphrasing of the Bible into modern idiom. In this slender book, he invites Christian readers to encounter the Bible anew. Drawing on language in Ezekiel and Revelation, Peterson says that we ought not read the Bible the same way we read a cookbook, a textbook, or even a great novel. Rather, Christians are to absorb, imbibe, feed on and digest Scripture. Peterson recommends a type of Bible-based prayer called lectio divina, in which the person praying meditates on a short passage of Scripture and listens for God to speak through the text. Peterson's exposition of lectio divina is one of the fullest to appear in recent years. Throughout, he cautions that lectio is not a systematic way of reading, but a "developed habit of living the text in Jesus' name." The last chapter, in which Peterson ruminates on his own experience translating the Bible, will be fascinating to Peterson's devotees, but is more myopic than the rest of the book. However, this is a worthy sequel to Peterson's 2004 hit Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places.
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Lauren F. Winner
— author of Girl Meets God and Real Sex
"Deep, stirring, luminous, even profound — if you are going to read one book about reading Scripture, it should be this one."
— author of A Grace Disguised
"Eugene Peterson has written a magnificent book about how to read the Bible. As any editor would say, a book must 'show,' not just 'tell.' Peterson's book does exactly that. The book itself has a biblical quality to it. Peterson uses vivid language; he tells and then reflects on wonderful stories; he invites readers to read their own stories in light of the story. This book is the fruit of decades of reading, pondering, conversing about, praying over, and living this story. Peterson encourages us to read the Bible as if we were dogs gnawing on a bone. Eat This Book made me lick my chops."
Church & Synagogue Libraries
"Peterson explores the ancient discipline of lectio divina and how its elements of reading, meditating, praying, and living can help us receive Scripture as 'formative for the way we live our lives, not merely making an impression on our minds or feelings. ' . . . Recommended."
"Peterson's exposition of lectio divina is one of the fullest to appear in recent years. . . A worthy sequel to his 2004 hit Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places."
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Top customer reviews
Unlike any other profession in the world, preachers have the privilege to shape people's lives with Scripture. This book teaches us how to be moved and how to move others, how to enter the text ourselves and import the text into others. The unique insights here will drive you to make the study of Scripture your paramount priority for preaching and for personal growth. Like Nouwen's writings, it is the type of book that every sentence must be read and contemplated. I believe there is no higher calling than the call to transform lives through the framing of consonants, vowels, nouns, and verbs of the Bible. I highly recommend this book for every Evangelical preacher.
This book redresses the mistake that readers often have by trying to interpret the book for themselves rather than let the book speak for itself. He argues strongly for the form impacting the reader. The Scripture intends mould. Hence Peterson says, "It is the very nature of language to form rather than inform". Impact, change; isn't that what God did to the universe albeit nonexistent? Is that not what GOD expects from His word? “Is not my word like a sledgehammer?” His word was effectual on nothing to create everything. There is a chapter in which he does give the nod to and moreover encourages exegesis (grammatical study) in English, Greek or other Biblical language. But that is not at the expense of understanding the grand sweeping storyline, the Message. Reading should impact you. Its Message should change you. We have learned layers of theological and scholastic gloss which has often kept us from listening and being changed by that same word. What better tool that the source itself. However, if we don't understand what we read (Old English) or improper approaches to any book, then the book ceases to have the intention of the author realized. The intention or motive of the reader triumphs and the Scripture are effectively silenced. Peterson says, of some Bible-readers, “you will be using the Bible for YOUR purposes, and those purposes will not necessarily require anything of you relationally. “God is what the book is about. C. S.. Lewis, in the last book he wrote, talked about two kinds of reading, the reading in which we use a book for our own purposes and the reading in which we receive the author’s purposes. The first ensures only bad reading; the second opens the possibility to good reading.” This is reminiscent (to me) of Lewis’ the Abolition of Man in which he argues for the sublimity of the subject over against the readers reinterpreting the subject by his or others views about the capacity of the subject to change us.
Many have written of the dangers snatching content from context. Peterson labors to distinguish content from form (Gehalt from Gestalt) and the proper use of both in favor of the importance of form. Peterson argues…” the way the Bible is written is every bit as important as what is written in it: narrative - this huge, capacious story that pulls us into its plot and shows us our place in its development from beginning to ending. It takes the whole Bible to read any part of the Bible. Every sentence is embedded in story and can no more be understood accurately or fully apart from the story than any one of our sentences spoken throughout the course of the day can be understood apart from our relationships and culture and the various ways in which we speak to our children and parents, …. And our God.
Read Eat This Book and then Eat the Bible. It will be tastier than ever.
There's 3 essays here:
Eat this Book - John the Revelator, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah all ate God's message on command. What does the gastronomic lesson teach? Consuming God's message goes beyond the typical scriptural read.
Lectio Divina -Christ asked "How do you read?" in Luke 10:26 ... God only talks with you ... not through someone else. You can only hear him when you are addressed. Here's a discipline for creating the opportunity.
The Company of Translators - A great walk through the back alleys of translating the Good News for contemporary consumers through the ages. Is the 16th century King James hard to digest? Unless you read ancient Hebrew or vernacular Greek bolstered by late 19th and 20th century linguistic revelation, it makes sense to try to understand the message as close to the dirty, dusty streets of the gospel writers as you can get with words alone. The language of place and time needs transport into terms we can grasp. We recognize the limitations of the written word ... words don't capture body language, the emotional state of the participants, the state of mind of the listener, the smells, the backdrop ... all things that make for understanding beyond words. The job of the translator is indeed a challenge to strangle the most complete sense of the words into contemporary context. The job of the message consumer is no less challenging .
This can be an easy read or a study. It depends on your appetite I guess.