When it comes to picking which translation or version of the Bible, it is an important decision that many people may know little to nothing about. We tend to gravitate towards what our churches use or what we grew up reading, but may not realize the differences between each. While some may choose a Bible based upon how easy it is to read and uses more modern language, others choose one that sticks to a more word-for-word translation from the Hebrew and Greek. But not all Bible versions or translations are good and beneficial.
Back in 1993, Eugene Peterson finished a New Testament paraphrase. In between 1993 and 2002, he completed his paraphrase of the rest of the Bible.
As The Message became more popular, people began using this “Bible” as just another version, seemingly equal to others, when quoting or preaching. And although it continued to gain in popularity, it then seemed to disappear in many circles. But more recently, The Message appears to be showing up everywhere and has caught my attention once again. It might just simply be that the use hadn’t really died down, but maybe there is a growing resurgence.
Without going into much detail about Eugene Peterson or focusing on the differences between Bible versions and translations, I want to bring our attention to why this so-called “Bible” is something that should be avoided at all costs.
I try to make it a point to stay away from quoting older articles, except in cases when they shed light on current issues. This is one of those times. At the bottom, you will find some articles outlining the history of The Message, a Bible Translation Guide that gives a spectrum and overview about the differences, as well as some other articles that expose the serious errors with this paraphrase. It is critical that we understand the dangers and bring them to light.
That being said, it is important to have a bit of an overview of the background of Eugene Peterson so you can understand more about The Message he wrote. Peterson has been widely associated with those in the Emergent, Liberal, and Contemplative Mystic camps for some time. Therefore, his “Message” is filled with such theology. These beliefs and associations play a major role as you will begin to notice that some passages are so drastically different than what is said in more trusted word-for-word translations. Some passages you can’t even see how they could be from the same passage.
By all accounts it seems the intent in writing The Message was to give a paraphrased version of the Bible to connect with more modern times; especially for those that grew up with the “thee’s” and “thou’s” of the King James Version. But from even a cursory reading of The Message compared to the more middle of the road, New International Version, one would have to notice that there are majors areas of concern.
When going from a word-for-word translation to a paraphrase, it is quite easy to change the meaning, add, or take away from the original wording, context, and intent. Paraphrasing opens the door to interjecting one’s personal agendas and theology rather than carefully communicating the exact words into a native language. It ends up trying to take the supposed meaning and then seeks to re-tell the broader idea of what is being said. Instead of an individual reading and studying the Bible themselves to get to the clear meaning, the trust and responsibility lies with those giving their interpretation or “message” of what they think a passage presents. Now, while it can be said that everything is commentary outside of the Bible itself, we must be careful not put our own spin into the context and change what God has given us in order to accommodate what we “think” the Bible means or what we “want” the Bible to say. The Message does just that.
Time and time again, Peterson takes great liberties with the text. Not only changing, adding, and taking away parts of Scripture, but often times misses the point completely. There are so many errors all the way through, it is downright blasphemous!! Without rehashing the many examples, you can find some of them throughout the selections of articles below.
As believers, we must be careful that we check everything out thoroughly. The Message is not a “Bible” in any sense of the word. Rather it is a worthless perversion that should not be used in any way by believers or the Church.
http://www.mardel.com/bible-translation-guide.aspx (Bible Translation Guide)
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16449 (Lighthouse Trails Booklet)
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=10403 (Lighthouse Trails – New Age Implications)
http://apprising.org/2009/06/10/contemplative-eugene-peterson-discourages-reading-the-bible/ (Apprising Ministries – Eugene Peterson Lectio Devina)