As I continue to think about my late Mother, Kaye Gillespie, I’ve decided to use The Message as my sole Bible translation for the next year. This was my Mom’s favorite translation and she even gave a copy of it to my daughter on her 9th birthday. I have to be honest, though…I’ve never really been a fan of The Message. And to be honest ever further, I’ve never really given it a proper reading, either. While I enjoy a good dynamic equivalent translation (the Common English Bible and the New Living Translation are my current favorites and have been for awhile), I’ve never really considered a “paraphrase” as a go-to Bible. But The Message really isn’t a paraphrase as it’s more of an idiomatic translation from the original languages into contemporary English.
For those of you who don’t know, The Message is a Bible written by Eugene H. Peterson, an awarding winning author, pastor, poet, and scholar. Peterson decided to create this work because of a class he was teaching on Paul’s letter to the Galatians. He said—
“I began to realize that the adults in my class weren’t feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek. Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become ‘old hat’.”
I remember seeing a copy of The Message on a bookshelf at my parent’s home and thought of it more as a novelty than a “serious” Bible (whatever that means). But then I started hearing more about it from Bono and U2 (if you don’t know, I’m a huge U2 fan). And sometimes I’d check it’s version of a passage for my Lectionary Reflection series. More often than not, though, I’d go with a different Bible translation.
And then I stumbled upon this conversation between Bono and Peterson.
I was really taken aback and thought I’d give The Message another look.
But I didn’t.
That is, until I wrote that recent piece about my Mom. It struck me then that she really liked this version of the Bible and that I should give it a proper go. So, my pledge is not to use any other translations, not even for reference, for an entire year—just use The Message as my only text.
So, there you go. For a year (at least), as a pledge to my Mom, I’ll only be using The Message. How it will affect you, dear reader, is that’s the version you’ll see quoted on my blog. While I may reference other texts (as I do from time to time), The Message will be the version you read for all of my main Bible quotes.
I hope you enjoy this journey and I’m glad you’re taking it with me. Perhaps you, too, will find out why it’s called a “reader’s Bible.”
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC