The Message Suffers




The Message:
The Bible In Contemporary Language

by Eugene H. Peterson
NavPress; 2002
ISBN: 1576832899



Matthew 6:9-13

“Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”
.

“Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best --
As above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you
and forgiving others.
Keep us safe
from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!”

Telling how this book came to begin, The Message author says,
“Who was I to produce another version of the Bible? I didn't think I could do it. My first few chapters of Matthew just plodded along… But when I hit the Sermon on the Mount in chapter five, it kicked in, and I just let loose. I got excited. I could do this!” --from Mature Living Magazine
Those inspired to write and transmit the Scriptures are being led by the Holy Spirit, not personal imagination.
The Message emerges as one man's Bible commentary.

The message suffers…

  …after being molded through idiomatic paraphrase.

      sample: Confusing, mystic, new age references:
      from The Message…
Abram said, “Master GOD, how am I to know this, that it will all be mine?”
Genesis 15:8
When the High God gave the nations their stake, gave them their place on Earth, He put each of the peoples within boundaries under the care of divine guardians.
Deuteronomy 32:8
Light, space, zest--that's GOD! So, with him on my side I'm fearless, afraid of no one and nothing.
Psalm 27:1
Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God's people, Joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil.
Psalm 97:11
Shepherd, O GOD, your people with your staff, your dear and precious flock. Uniquely yours in a grove of trees, centered in lotus land. Let them graze in lush Bashan as in the old days in green Gilead.
Micah 7:14
“Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what's best -- as above, so below.”
Matthew 6:10
At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, "Who touched my robe?"
Mark 5:30
When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person.
Luke 6:28
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
Romans 15:13
All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven,
Ephesians 1:20
That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
Philippians 2:13
Write this to Ephesus, to the Angel of the church. The One with Seven Stars in his right-fist grip, striding through the golden seven-lights' circle, speaks:
Revelation 2:1
The Four Animals were winged, each with six wings. They were all eyes, seeing around and within. And they chanted night and day, never taking a break: Holy, holy, holy Is God our Master, Sovereign-Strong, THE WAS, THE IS, THE COMING.
Revelation 4:8


      sample: Additions, deletions, substitutions
      from The Message…
The Father is greater than I.
from John 14:28
The Father is the goal and purpose of my life.
from John 14:28
He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
Acts 19:2
The first thing he said was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?” “We've never even heard of that--a Holy Spirit? God within us?”
Acts 19:2
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Romans 1:26-27
Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn't know how to be human either - women didn't know how to be women, men didn't know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men - all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it - emptied of God and love, Godless and loveless wretches.
Romans 1:26-27
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
Romans 8:35-37
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
Romans 8:35-37
Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
Romans 16:19-21
And so while there has never been any question about your honesty in this matters - I couldn't be more proud of you! - I want you also to be smart, making sure every “good” thing is the real thing. Don't be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this, and before you know it the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt. Enjoy the best of Jesus!
Romans 16:19-21
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders [sodomites] nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:9-11
Don't you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don't care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it don't qualify as citizens in God's kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I'm talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you've been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.
I Corinthians 6:9-11
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
I Corinthians 6:18-20
There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.
I Corinthians 6:18-20
Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
I Corinthians 11:10
Don't, by the way, read too much into the differences here between men and women.
I Corinthians 11:10
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
II Corinthians 5:20
We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you.
II Corinthians 5:20
The deeds of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
from Galatians 5:19-21
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictionsl ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
from Galatians 5:19-21
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.
from Ephesians 2:1-3
It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat.
from Ephesians 2:1-3
For in Him all the fullness of Diety dwells in bodily form.
Colossians 2:9
Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don't need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him.
Colossians 2:9
But the Spirit explicitly sayd that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.
I Timothy 4:1
The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars.
I Timothy 4:1
I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. so I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.
Revelation 2:20-23
But why do you let that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet mislead my dear servants into Cross-denying, self-indulging religion? I gave her a chance to change her ways, but she has no intention of giving up a career in the god-business. I'm about to lay her low, along with her partners, as they play their sex-and-religion games. The bastard offspring of their idol-whoring I'll kill. Then every church will know that appearances don't impress me. I x-ray every motive and make sure you get what's coming to you.
Revelation 2:20-23




  MEASURING THE MESSAGE
-- from http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0176a.html
So how are we to view The Message? It is an expansive paraphrase that is not so labeled, as is The Living Bible. Beset with inconsistencies, its idiom is not always “street language”; its terminology is often idiosyncratic to its author. Compared by noted literary figures to the groundbreaking translation of J. B. Phillips, I believe The Message often lacks Phillips's creativity and conciseness.
In the introduction, Eugene Peterson compares his pastoral ministry to his work as a translator: “I stood at the border between two languages, biblical Greek and everyday English, acting as a translator, providing the right phrases, getting the right words so that the men and women to whom I was pastor could find their way around and get along in this world” (p. 7). Much of The Message reads like a sermon: text plus interpretation and application. Unlike a sermon, however, the reader does not know where the text ends and the sermon begins.
--from Ron Julian; Gutenberg College, Eugene, OR. USA
Let me illustrate how this approach can go terribly wrong. Imagine that a verse in the Bible speaks of a “great battle.” A modern paraphrase wants to jazz it up and make it more powerful, so it translates the phrase “great battle” as “the mother of all battles.” Now imagine an author comes along and quotes the translation: “The Bible often uses the imagery of motherhood, as for example in the verse which speaks of the mother of all battles.” Do you see the problem? This fictional author quotes “the Bible” by quoting this paraphrase, and then makes his argument based on the part the translator added for effect.