Devotional Reading with The Message

Recently, I have been utilising The Message paraphrase version of the Bible for devotional reading. I have been in Matthew’s Gospel and I must say it has been a refreshing read.

I know that those who of a more theological bent might not recommend this version of Scripture, seeing it as an extremely contemporary, even erroneous, paraphrase of the Bible. Many see it as failing to hit close to the meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek. I agree this is true at times. But there is no doubt it has been a refreshing cup of water for me over the holidays as I have been reading through Matthew’s Gospel. Lo and behold, I even sense the God-breathed nature of Scripture even with this paraphrase-translation of Eugene Peterson.

So, while my normal study and devotional reading is based in the ESV text, I have truly enjoyed dipping back into The Message over recent days. And I might continue it for a while.

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11 thoughts on “Devotional Reading with The Message

  1. I have just finished reading Peterson’s book; Eat this Book”. In it he makes the point that the Bible is basically written in the rough language of the day so all could understand it.

    He makes the point that Tyndale’s version was translated so that the sheep herder could understand it; where as the KJV became an elitist book and written by the kings men in a polished language that few people actually spoke; even in that day.

    I think the Message has a worthwhile place within the Christians reading and I for one am not ashamed to read it.

    • I would challenge this assessment of the KJV, note Alister McGrath’s fine book: In The Beginning, The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and A Culture.

      And people need to realize also that the Message is a paraphrase and hardly a translation! And what a contrast between the ESV and the Message. The one is a conservative literal translation of the Bible, the other certainly one man’s paraphrase.

  2. Robert; I have been reading through the sermon on the mount in Matthew the last week.

    Have you ever noticed how Jesus says in Mat 7:12 about how it sums up the law and the prophets? Jesus was the master of the paraphrase.

    • Craig,

      Since Christ is the WORD Incarnate, He can speak as He chooses & pleases, but note 5:17-19. Righteousness according to the Law is a unified whole. Also note Jesus use of “amen” or assuredly, which means “truly” or “confirmed”, “so be it.” I don’t see any “paraphrase” here, only “fulfillment”!

  3. Craig-

    I have read Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places and would like to read the other four in the series. I saw a few of them in Barnes & Noble when I was there the other day, including Eat This Book. I thought about buying it but decided to wait for now.

    • Scott,

      I am old enough to remember, and had an early copy of the J.B. Phillips NT. He was always one who maintained the reality that his was a paraphrase. And I even have the NT work of William Barclay (2 vol.), which he called a ‘new translation’. But reads more like a good paraphrase. You should check these out? If you can find used copies? Btw, I love Barclay’s version of the Beatitudes:

      ‘O the bliss of those who realize the destitution of their own lives,
      for the blessings of the Kingdom of Heaven are theirs here and now.’ (Matt. 5:3)

    • It started out from his taking a year to preach / study the book of Galatians with his church. 2 years later after much pressuring from his publisher and others; he agreed to the writing of the Message.

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