Normally, for off the shelf, I talk about one of the books that I read in the previous week. This week’s review may seem a little bit different—because I am reviewing the Bible. Specifically, I want to talk a little bit about Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the Bible called the Message. Over the last 4 weeks, I set aside my other typical reading and read straight through the pages of The Message.
Typically, I am ESV guy. I do the majority of my reading from the English Standard Version, which tries to retain the richness of the biblical language while translating word for word. Other faithful translations employ what might be described as thought for thought translations, like the New International Version or the New Living Translation. In fact, if you are ever bored on a Saturday afternoon, spend some time reading about translation philosophies and the histories of the dozens of translations available.
The Message is at the other end of the spectrum from the ESV in that it is a paraphrase of the Bible. In fact, Peterson never really started out with the goal of translating the whole Bible in to contemporary language. It began because when he was a pastor he was leading his church through Bible studies and they seemed bored, so beginning with Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he began to rework the language in a way that was faithful to the text, but engaging to modern hearers. In his book “Eat this Book” he actually spends several chapters describing how it came about.
Though I am an ESV guy, I wanted to read through The Message because I have a great respect for Eugene Peterson. He is one of my favorite authors, one who appreciates the beauty of language. I also wanted to see God’s word with fresh eyes. The decision to read straight through also allowed me to see God’s redemptive story in a glorious panorama.
I would definitely recommend The Message, perhaps not as your primary translation, but as a way to see God’s word with fresh eyes.