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The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language Hardcover – September 8, 2005
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From the Publisher
Experience the Surprise and Wonder of God's Word
The powerful clarity of The Message Bible makes understanding simple, so even first-time Bible readers will sense the deeper truths stirring in God's Word. The unexpected passion and personality awakens long-time Bible Readers from their sleepy routines, renewing the desire to hear God's voice.
There is much in the Bible that is hard to understand especially when consumed a verse at a time. The Message is a reading Bible, meant to be read as a story, chapter by chapter. Virtually anyone can read this Bible with understanding. You are going to hear stories that will take you out of your preoccupation with yourself and into the spacious freedom in which God is working the world's salvation. You are going ot come acrss words and sentences that stab you awake to a beauty and hope that will connect you with your real life.
From the Heart of a Pastor
Eugene H. Peterson is a pastor, scholar, writer, and poet. After pastoring for thirty years, Peterson spent ten more creating The Message - a Bible brimming with the life God has for today's readers. Transforming the ancient languages into modern English, Eugene's mission remained clear: help his congregation enjoy the Bible and draw people closer to their creator and redeemer.
Praise for The Message
'The Message offers vibrant language that awakens my heart to the wonders of God's Word again and again.'
Margaret Feinberg - author of Fight Back with Joy.
'There's a translation of Scriptures that this guy Eugene Peterson has undertaken. It has been a great strength to me. He's a poet and a scholar, and he's brought the text back to the tone in which the books were written.'
Bono - lead singer of the music group U2.
'Seems like forever since I've picked up a Bible that made the stories so fresh and new. My name is on that long list of folks who love to read The Message. What a friend this Bible has become.'
Max Lucado - pastor and best-selling author.
'Wonderfully alive. The Message is full of surprises, excitement, and the ring of authentic human speech and feeling.'
Frederick Buechner - author of The Son of Laughter and Godric.
From the Back Cover
About the Author
It took him a full 10 years to complete. He worked not from any English text but from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts, to guarantee authenticity. At the same time, his ear was always tuned to the cadence and energy of contemporary English.
Peterson and his wife, Jan, now live in his native Montana. They are the parents of three and the grandparents of six.
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Now, for this particular Bible, the large print is just that, large and easy on the eyes. The text is layed out in normal book format, not two column like most Bibles, and the verses are numbered, although more in groups rather than individual verse numbers. Even so, it is quite simple to find a passage. The cover is soft and pliable, feels great in my hands, is attractive, and best of all, lays flat open. There is no gilding, which I prefer, and it comes with one ribbon marker. I would have preferred two or three, but that's a very minor issue. There are some maps and chronology things in the back that are useful. I'm very particular about my Bibles, and this one is a definite keeper.
Being a Christian for 34 years and a student of biblical/political history, Greek and Hebrew I'd previously shunned all the "NFG's" (the new-fangled-versions) as I call them, because of reasons that would be a thesis here on it's own. Enter the Message Bible just before Christmas 2017. "Oh," I said to myself, "I'll just read some for the heck of it (since some people in my prayer group, life group, etc read from it way back when) and try to keep my mind from being too judgmental until after one book of the bible," . I read Romans in one sitting: " Well, that was kind-of interesting. Sure sounded different" I said. I purposely did NOT put any of my other bibles next to it and compare them verse by verse in order to give it a fair shake -- to better get a "flavor" rather than conduct a critical review. One of my friends did just that and blasted it for verse after verse translation "deficiencies" as he thought of them.
I had a different aim -- and I think it might have been Dr. Peterson's aim from reading (later) the introduction. I then read Hebrews the next day. Hebrews usually takes me at least 5 days to read without skimming because of the language and depth of subject. It only took me one this time. On to Luke, Acts, Galatians, Ephesians, the little Johns and Revelation. I thought, "This is interesting. I'm getting a snapshot view of whole books more easily framed in timeline organizational mind-pictures and I'm walking away with the same overall understanding I already have from my years of study of my "regular versions." So, I just thought I'd start at the beginning - Genesis and read the whole thing through. I'm in Psalms now in mid March and it usually takes me a year for a read-through with individual study in other areas for classes, meetings. etc.
While Greek is a language with many differences from English requiring not only a translator with an excellent grasp of the language itself, but also the codex from which he is translating, AND a thorough grounding and communication in/with the Holy Spirit before one can figure out which English word(s) to use for the Greek one(s) and the Greek sentence construction to actually be forming the right thoughts God wants communicated to his children/bride/warriors/ambassadors.That's all hard enough. When the [109-156 depending on sources] writers of the King James undertook the task of the King James bible they prefaced the undertaking with a 40 day fast to make sure their flesh was in subjection, during which several [13-36, again depending on sources] prospective translators dropped out . And we're only talking about the Greek so far as to the translation difficulty. Quadruple that difficulty for Hebrew.
The writers doctrinal beliefs WILL shade his/her translations. There's no way around it now. It is just a psychological fact. That's why you must know what any author believes before you know how to read between their lines -- Interlinears, concordances, whole codex translation into Greek or Hebrew texts, textbooks, books, even "fact-novels," commentaries, etc. There was no way around it in political history: even when monk scribes copied under the auspices of their political masters - hence differences in codexes, in phraseology to purport one view or another, missing passages (with spaces deliberately left showing where they were forced to leave it out, etc.) "Good translation" is not just hard because of the original nature of the Greek and Hebrew languages AND because of the nature of the Old Testament writers, but because of what we've been accustomed to read as translations of that NT & OT which attempted to make it majestic because evidently the translators might have thought it would be irreverent to translate more literally since the original language was so often just, sort of ... well, common, inelequent. As if God deserved to be talked about with more befitting reverent-sounding language.
Eugene Peterson thought nothing of the kind. He evidently sought to attempt to convey the writers' message (as inspired by the Holy Spirit) in just the sort of uneducated manner in which they spoke it in the first place.
I find Peterson's choice of words forming gut feelings that are very much in agreement with the thoughts I form when studying through entire passage groups in preparation for a message to prisoners, or a life group, a men's meeting or writing bible studies. I struggle with sentence structure in my notes - then decide to skip the detail and just jot down short scripture notes and let the Holy Spirit take the lead in giving the lesson to the group. When a recording is available and I listen to it later I find the examples of scripture in action I brought out to "bring it home" to the listeners tended to take the form of many of the phrases that Peterson seems to use. Not word-for-word, but like minded.
So, what you have here is a former skeptic of such things as The Message Bible because I saw them as unfaithful to the transliterated Greek or Hebrew word-for word when, in fact the Message Bible is effective at doing what I, myself, under the Holy Spirit's guiding hand was bringing out in my own teaching. That's humbling -- and instructional.
If you are a well-seasoned Christian challenge yourself to try the Message Bible on for size without a chip on your shoulder, all the preconceptions and without your other bibles side by side for passage critique until you've read each book through - and maybe not even then. Continue to use your favorite version for your regular word studies, passage studies etc. You still need it. But I think you'll really benefit in using the MB in a way only you will be able to see in hindsight.