Over the last several months I have been doing a lot of research and comparison of Scripture and my mind is overwhelmed with information. Far too much for me to possibly include all of it in this post. With my study of the Names of God and this study of Bible translation coming together at the same time I have discovered a greater love for and interest in preserving The Word of God.
In the process of Bible translation we have learned that it is a process that involves many people and many checks and balance systems even to the point of translating the new revision back into the original language by and independent translator to ensure accuracy. No Holy Bible is authored by a person. But there is a book on the market, authored by one man, that is being marketed as a Bible. It has sold billions since it was introduced and Christians are rapidly and abundantly replacing the Holy Scriptures with quotes from this book. Stay with me here as I provide verifiable facts and not opinion about this book. If you want to hear my opinion then I will be glad to write a separate post for that. :)
The book The Message written by Eugene Peterson is not the Holy Bible, it is a very loosely paraphrased version of the Bible with many additions and subtractions from the original Word of God. Before we go any further lets look at some definitions.
A translation is a rendering of the same ideas in a different language from the original.
A paraphrase is a free rendering of the sense of a passage in other words, usually in the same language.
A version is a translation, esp. of the Bible, or else an account of something illustrating a particular point of view.
Here is what Eugene Peterson has said about his own book The Message. These quotes are taken from Wikipedia.
"I just kind of let go and became playful. And that was when the Sermon on the Mount started. I remember I was down in my basement study, and I did the Beatitudes in about 10 minutes. And all of a sudden I realized this could work."
"When I'm in a congregation where somebody uses it [The Message] in the Scripture reading, it makes me a little uneasy. I would never recommend it be used as saying, 'Hear the Word of God from The Message.' But it surprises me how many do."
"When Paul of Tarsus wrote a letter, the people who received it understood it instantly, When the prophet Isaiah preached a sermon, I can't imagine that people went to the library to figure it out. That was the basic premise under which I worked. I began with the New Testament in the Greek --- a rough and jagged language, not so grammatically clean. I just typed out a page the way I thought it would have sounded to the Galatians."
In an interview with U2, Peterson says "Paul is an extravagant, inventive poet. His syntax is sometimes wild. It's an adventure to enter into his imagination and get the same sounds and meanings in American."
Peterson doesn't consider his book to be The Word of God, but has made millions off the sale of it being marketed as a Bible, The Word of God, and is doing nothing to change the marketing perception but is in fact helping to promote it as such. He does not state that he "interpreted" from the original Holy Scriptures. What he does say is that Greek is a jagged language that is not so grammatically clean so he typed it out the way he thought it would have sounded. He makes the assumption that people can't understand the Bible as it is written, but that we must all go to the library to find out what it is really saying as though it is written is secret code or that we are not intelligent enough to understand English and use a dictionary when necessary. He also assumes that God cannot speak to the hearts of those who read inerrant Word of God.
Aside from the fact that this book is a one-man show and points to a man as the author, Peterson states that this writing began because his congregation was bored with the Bible and he wanted to bring it to life for them. He states that it wasn't until after he began this work of re-writing the Bible in his own words that the Bible began to come alive to his congregation and for the first time they understood the it.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) (emphasis mine)
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 (NLT) (emphasis mine)
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) (emphasis mine)
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NASB) (emphasis mine)
"God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey." Hebrews 4:12 (MSG)
The Holy, God-breathed Bible is the Living Word of God does not need man to make it come alive. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we teach others using the Scriptures but we dig into God's Word going back to the original text to learn what it is saying. We don't re-write the Bible to make it come alive or because people are bored with how it reads.
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)
Compare the scripture of Hebrews 4:12 above from four Bible translations considered trustworthy in their translation, to the quoted paraphrase from Peterson's book The Message. The four trustworthy translations agree in meaning, are all very specific, AND easy to read and understand, while The Message is both vague and different in its interpretation. The words soul and spirit have been changed to everything, the words joint and marrow have been defined doubt or defense. Clearly God breathed the words "soul and spirit" intentionally and for a purpose. Since when do those words mean "everything"? Notice the idea that the Word of God judges the heart is lost in The Message. This touches on the very core of the problem with this book.
I have to ask the question what makes us believe Peterson alone can interpret the true and accurate meaning of the Holy Bible better than the numerous scholars that translated these other four trustworthy Bibles.
This information alone should be sufficient to give us cause for concern. In his own words it took him only 10 minutes to paraphrase the Beatitudes, he is uneasy when his book is used in place of the Word of God (I would be too), and he claims to have entered into Paul's imagination to draw out the meaning.
We will look into what Peterson's word says versus what God's Word says in more depth in another post. Please know that everything I have said here is verifiable and I have provided links to help you look into it yourself and not just accept my word alone. For in depth information on Bible translation see Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you. Deuteronomy 4:2 (NIV)
"A girl needs to be so lost in God, that the guy is going to have to seek HIM to find her!" ...Maya Angelou