Is The Message sending the wrong message?

Eugene Peterson is a retired pastor/scholar/author who wrote The Message:The Bible in Contemporary Language. We own a copy of Peterson’s popular work and have found it somewhat helpful in our studies.

There has been concern regarding the way Peterson has done his translating, especially from the folks who believe that the King James Version is the only version that is divinely inspired (I suppose we are all entitled to an opinion).

I currently am going through Paul’s first letter to Timothy and in studying verse 12 of Chapter 1,

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service…

Peterson’s translation says the following,

I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry.

Huh? “He went out on a limb?” How does a Being who is sovereign and outside of His Creation, ‘go out on a limb’? I do not have Peterson’s vast education and experience but frankly this theological point is not present in the literal translation.

Anyone else noticed doctrinal quirks like this in The Message?


5 Responses to Is The Message sending the wrong message?

  1. Ha Tikvah says:

    Reminds me of a group called Salvation Singing (I think – or maybe that was the album) who sung a song called “Yay God” – while I absolutely loved the beat and rhythm of the song, the lyrics just made me go cold as I thought who on earth in their right mind would ever, ever say to Him “Yay God….”?? Sometimes in our quest to try and bring God down to our level we go one step way too far, and for me that’s always been the problem with the Message Bible too. I fail to see why anyone felt the need to bring Holy scripture down to the level of the barely capable of speaking English masses that are this current generation. There’s a continual trend to change God’s Word to fit the times, but His Word is eternal – His Word is thus relevant in its original translation now as it was when it was written – while I do tend to favour the KJV for its better adherence to the original Greek, I recognise that the Olde Worlde Englishe can put many off. But there are plenty of other equally sound modern English translations that are just as acceptable without having to resort to the Message. Blessings, TKR 🙂 .

  2. Kelsey Hough says:

    Yes, I’ve noticed “quirks” in with The Messange as well. I actually know a family who plays “guess the verse” by reading a common verse in the The Message and then trying to guess what it is. Sadly, it’s actually a pretty hard game.

    I recently stumbled across a short post on the blog The Great Apostasy about The Message that you might want to check out.


  3. kimita says:

    Some of the verbiage in the message can be a bit questionable…but a number of passages i enjoy including proverbs 31:10-31. as long as christians don’t make the message their primary translation for Bible study (i prefer the nasb) then i think having the message as a supplemental tool isn’t bad.

  4. Lyndon says:

    It’s a paraphrase for devotional purposes not a translation intended to be a pew bible.

  5. bpb says:

    I recommend the Saint Joseph version.

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