Support for the Message?

As many of you know by now, although I prefer the King James Version of the Bible, it is not my only translation in use. At times, you will find me using the New King James, the New Revised Standard Version, and even the old Jerusalem Bible. Of course, my favorite is the Greek itself. Of course, I like these versions because of the literalness of the translation. I prefer the King James because it the language that our organization uses. On the other hand, I understand the need for paraphrasing and for translating culture. By this I mean that there are times that a free translation as to be made in order to bring out the true sense of the verse. This too has it’s place, especially for reaching the lost who have never even read the Bible. (Think of talking to Eskimos about sheep and lambs.)

With that said, let me say that a translation like the Message is a horrible disgrace to the work of the Apostles and Prophets. Although a common vernacular is acceptable for a translation, at times you can muddy the waters so much that the Bible looses it’s sacred status. A ‘slang’ Translation, or a ‘novel’ approach should be avoided. Granted, Eugene Peterson was not attempting to create a Translation, but merely a companion; however, even with that goal in mind, he fails horribly. I am not going to take apart the Message piece by piece, because frankly, it is not worth the time and energy. I will say this though, if you care about the very words of God, you will stay away from this.

And of course, Eugene Peterson, as a person, does not hold much standing for me, as he has endorsed The Shack.

The following article professes use of the King James, stating his distaste for modern translations, but he goes on to greatly praise the Message. For me, this man has two minds about the Bible, approaching it only on it’s readability, preferring poetry, but settling for a loose and vulgar paraphrase. As one can see from Eugene’s take on the Lord’s Prayer, he misses the theology of it. And of course, this is not the worse part of the translation.

From an article here.

Generally speaking I am not a person who likes modern translations of the Bible. Somehow, most of them seem to lose something that is found in the more poetic, even though archaic, translation that is most widely used: the King James Version of the Bible.

Personally, I have always stuck to good old King James and always used that one, referring only rarely to any modern version, except to clarify some verse or section.

But that has changed!

At a conference for ministers recently conducted by my own denomination, I was introduced to The Message. It’s a translation of the Bible by Eugene Peterson, who is a pastor himself.

The work took him 10 years to complete and he worked from the original Hebrew and Greek languages, having taught Hebrew and Greek for a number of years in theological seminary. His principal intent was to make the Bible readable in the language of today.

“The Message is a reading Bible,” Peterson says. “It is not intended to replace the excellent study Bibles that are available.”

But it is intended, Peterson insists, “to get people reading it who don’t know that the Bible is readable at all” and those who long ago lost interest in the Bible to get them reading it again.

He does a magnificent job of this. It is so readable it grips you like a novel and reads as easily as any modern-day book.

“We don’t have to be smart or well-educated to understand it,” insists the introduction to the book, “for it is written in words and sentences we hear in the marketplace, on school playgrounds, and around the dinner table.”

This is so true. I am constantly amazed at the modern language used and how it sheds new light on what is being said.

Let me give you an example. In the book of Ezekiel, a hard book to read and understand, there are phrases like, “Sing the blues over the princes of Israel” — which is his rendering of “Moreover take thou up a lamentation for the princes of Israel.” And the phrase, “You crisscrossed the seas with your products,” surely makes “thy wares went forth out of the seas” a lot clearer!

But I think the greatest part of the scripture that came to light for me was Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Here is Matthew 5:1-10 for you to see for yourself.

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you have lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are — no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world — your mind and heart — put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”

When you take all three chapters together that make up Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, it reads just as if you are sitting listening to Jesus teach in your own everyday language.

But I think that perhaps my most favorite portion of that sermon is the part where Jesus talks about prayer. This is Matthew 6:5-13:

“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers hoping for stardom! Do you think God has a box seat?

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for this nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

“Our Father in heaven,

Reveal who you are,

Set the world right;

Do what’s best —

as above, so below.

Keep us alive with three square meals.

Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.

Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.

You’re in charge!

You can do anything you want!

You’re ablaze in beauty!

Yes. Yes. Yes.”

I am personally grateful to have been introduced to this version. For me, it will never replace the King James Version of the Bible, but I do have to admit that The Message is exciting reading. Constantly I find myself checking back in the good old King James Bible, with which I am so familiar, just to see how the verses compare.

And yes, this has been a book report. I would encourage anyone and everyone, Bible student and non-religious person alike, to get The Message and delight in it.

Scripture taken from The Message. �1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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