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The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs) Paperback – February 15, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 520 customer reviews

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In this contemporary English version of the New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs, Eugene Peterson strives to convey the earthy truths of the original Greek and Hebrew texts. As he explains in his introduction, there were two levels of language in the Greek-speaking world, "formal" and "informal". The one was for use in official documents, epic poetry, and philosophy, the other for shopping lists and personal letters--the common idiom of everyday speech. "This is the language used throughout the New Testament ... a rough and earthy language that reveals God's presence and action where we least expect it, catching us when we are up to our elbows in the soiled ordinariness of our lives and God is the furthest thing from our minds."

It is in the spirit of this "soiled ordinariness" that Eugene Peterson translates John 1:14 (NIV: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us") to "The word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood." Likewise, in Romans 8:3 where the NIV renders "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering," The Message reads, "God went for the jugular when he sent his own son.... In his son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all." Peterson offers no pretense of elevated language or intellectualism, only the insistence that God is relevant in 20th-century work-week and weekend lives.

This kind of translation is not a new enterprise, however. Tyndale--the man singularly responsible for our English translations of the Bible--is purported to have said in a dispute with opposing clergy, "If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost." We're simply glad someone of our own generation chose to do the same. --Benjamin Gebhardt --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"In this crowded world of Bible versions, Eugene Peterson's blend of accurate scholarship and vivid idiom make this rendering both distinctive and distinguished. The Message catches the logical flow, personal energy, and imaginative overtones of the original very well indeed. It's a landmark and a triumph. Don't miss it!" -- J.I. Packer, author of Knowing God and professor of theology, Regent College. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 606 pages
  • Publisher: NavPress; New edition (July 1, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600061354
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600061356
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (520 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Bradley Morehouse on November 16, 1999
Format: Leather Bound
A couple of reviews back a reader from Sioux City asked some questions about the translation of this book. I felt it might be appropriate for me to respond.

I worked for NavPress when this project was proposed and saw it come to fruition. At the time I had access to some of the initial drafts, and also had the opportunity to interact with the editor on a daily basis.

During the planning stages of The Message NavPress was very sensitive to the accuracy of the translation largely because their parent organization (The Navigators) is relatively influential within the evangelical community. Also, while I can't comment on Eugene Peterson's qualifications as a translator (I am unaware of his credentials), I do know that he reads the Bible in its original languages.

An interesting note: when the drafts were circulated around the office many of us were blown away. We simply couldn't put them down. Unfortunately many of the original passages were considered too inflamatory, so they were toned down prior to publication.

Personally speaking, The Message has helped me through some very tough times. Were it not for the voice that spoke to me from its pages, I would have in all likelyhood walked away from the Christian faith bitter and hateful.

Take up and read!
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Format: Paperback
Okay, let me just say this now: I LOVE this book and I highly recommend it.I recommend it to people who read The Bible often and have 87 other versions on their shelves. But I also (highly) recommend it to those who never read the Bible and don't know much about it.
Sure, I agree with what a lot of the reviewers are saying, that the Bible is poetry, and Peterson's translation utterly destroys that poetry. Well, okay, I'll go with that. But, look, the King James and the NIV and all the other (closer to original, "poetic") versions of the Bible aren't going anywhere. I'm not about to throw those versions out and neither, probably, is anyone else. The Message, however, gives me a different look at what I already know, (and also at that which I don't yet know!), a fresh perspective, a second glance. It brings scripture down-to-earth for me, and helps me understand. It may sound blasphemous but sometimes the language of the Bible gets in my way.
Sometimes I enjoy just opening my Bible at bedtime and reading whichever Psalm the page falls to. The Message has brought the Psalms (and Proverbs) to life for me. I relate much better, now, to David. It's not beautiful poetry, and I wouldn't trade it for the eloquence of the original, but there are evenings when I can completely understand his crying out, "Take my side, God-- I'm getting stomped on every day. Not a day goes by but somebody beats me up; They make it their duty to beat me up" (Psalm 56). There are times when I, too, would like to yell, "Don't turn a deaf ear when I call you, God! All I get from you is deafening silence!" (Psalm 28.) And, gloriously, there are days when I also understand, "Hallelujah! Thank God! And, why? Because He's good, because his love lasts" (Psalm 106.)
The Message helps me relate to the writers (and characters) of the Bible on a more personal level, which keeps me reading. I'll read from The Message when I can't bear to read any of the other versions.
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By A Customer on July 24, 2000
Format: Bonded Leather
I grew up in a fundamentalistChristian home, and -- dare I say this! -- the Bible has often bored me. It was stuffed down my throat as a child, and now as an adult I feel, "Wow, I've read this so many times. Can there actually be something relevant in here for me, now?" Yes, there is, and this book helps me see that clearly. Don't be misled, though -- this isn't a "version" of the Bible, it is one man's paraphrase. Serious, scholarly research couldn't, of course, be done with this book. But how many of us need the scholarly research in our daily lives? Not me, not usually. What I do need is to be reminded that God is alive and real and right here, right now, and "The Message" does that for me.
I will point out that this is a very "Americanized" book, and that is unfortunate because it is limited only to an American audience. People in other countries, even those who speak good English, would have difficulty with so many idioms. But putting that aside, this book has helped me feel God's reality in my life once again.
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Format: Bonded Leather
THE MESSAGE is a great addition to the Bible translations commonly accepted today. His writing is enjoyable and the common language used really lets the reader see the text in the light that it was written in.
The back of the book jacket says that the Bible was not written in scholarly Greek, but in a common, conversational tone -- in the language of the streets and the marketplace. The way The Message was written makes the New Testament infinitely more accessible.
I believe Eugene Peterson _did_ translate directly from the Greek, and not from another English translation of the New Testament, therefore, I think this translation rings very true to the original text. (I'm not a Bible scholar, however).
One characteristic that occasionally bothers me is the overabundance of idioms -- English cliches. Phrases like "you can't see the forest for the trees" distract rather than inspire me. It should also be noted that verses are not numbered, as in traditional translations, although the chapters are designated. This isn't a complaint, but an interesting feature.
I highly recommend THE MESSAGE -- it's a revolutionary way to read the Bible. You can read it on its own, or with another translation of the Bible as a companion. If you know someone who is having trouble "getting into the Word," then definitely let them know about The Message.
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