Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 09:2 (Autumn 1996)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The Message: New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs. By Eugene H. Peterson. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995. Pp. 940. Paper, $17.00.

All Scripture quotations in this publication (review) are from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

The author—I feel “translator” would be a misnomer—says that the NT was written in “street language—not a refined language that appeals to our aspirations after the best but a rough and earthy language that reveals God’s presence and action where we least expect it” (p. 9). The Rev. Peterson’s goal is “to convert the tone, the rhythm, the events, the ideas, into the way we actually think and speak” (italics added).

As a Bible translator and editor myself, I must disagree. Yes, God did use the koine or common Greek dialect of the first century. However, it was written by men whose minds were saturated with the truth and beauty of the OT Scriptures. Also, who would say that the Sermon on the Mount, the Upper Room Discourse, Romans 8, First Corinthians 13, the Book of Hebrews, or Revelation 5—to choose a few famous texts—are in “street language”?

Since I have personally been vilified in print for my work on the NKJV as (among other things) a communist, a “practical atheist,” and a “fundamentalist apostate,” I don’t wish to impugn the motives of the Presbyterian minister who wrote this book. I believe he wants to reach the masses, and so uses colorful, racy, and slang-peppered language. A Christian friend who works in prison ministries asked me to “check out” Hebrews, since she felt parts were, to use her word, “blasphemous.” That’s going too far, but the samples I have chosen, I think, will illustrate that this book is often inaccurate, overly idiosyncratic, and even irreverent in places.

Regarding inaccuracy: “They ditch their parents when they get in the way” seems pretty strong for “disobedient to parents,” p. 362, first full paragraph. (No verse numbers exist in the text, so it’s hard to find things.)

The aorist passive participle in Rom 5:1 (“being,” or better “having been justified by faith”) turns out “what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with Him …” (italics added). This reviewer says: It’s done!

I have read that Peterson is a poet. He...

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