The Message Gets What Right?

I still contend that the only good part about the Message is the back cover, but in interest of fairness, I am ‘borrowing’ Jeff’s post today for others to see:

Sometimes the Bible translation The Message gets it right when most or all others don’t in the opinion of a couple of bloggers. Here are two examples:


I do not want to be a biblioidolater so I encourage you to make up your own mind. I am not against paraphrasing in translation (as the KJV does as well, and in fact only a literal word for word translation would not) but I am just not for the loose paraphrasing of the Message.

I could be wrong – maybe, just maybe – but I am not going to claim absolute authority on this issue.

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22 Replies to “The Message Gets What Right?”

  1. Out of curiosity; do you have a background in Bible translation, by chance?

    A lot of people who pick up the Bible-inerrancy or no paraphrasing debate do so without having barely any knowledge about the original language, textual criticism or source criticism of the Scriptures. I was wondering if you were among this group.

  2. I do have a background in such an enterprise – do you? Does it matter?

    As I said, I have no problem with paraphrasing, as near about all translations do so in one way or another. I just don’t like the Message. I like Philips, and Moffet, somewhat, and even Barclay, just not a fan of the Message.

  3. I think if you try to compare it to standard translations, it comes up short. It’s not meant to be that. But if you compare it to other paraphrases (Phillips, the Living Bible) it’s incredible. And unlike most paraphrases, Peterson used the Hebrew and Greek texts as his starting point rather than an already produced translation.

  4. When I first looked at a copy of The Message I randomly chose three verses to look at. They all made me laugh. Since none of them were supposed to be humorous I thought I better just give this away because I shouldn’t be laughing at the Bible.

    Mike Aubrey and a few others encouraged me to take a second look. I still don’t like the vast majority of it. He even uses brand names like Band-Aid which I would think he would need permission for. Some of the idioms are so currently narrow that they either sound trite or they will be outdated in ten years.

    But I still use it as a paraphrase for comparison purposes and sometimes it’s very enlightening. I also don’t like to malign it because I have to have some respect for the person behind it. (not saying that you don’t)

  5. I used to also not like the Good News Bible but have gotten to see its value and like it better than The Message. Gordon Fee likes it so it must be good. Although the NEB and REB aren’t really paraphrases they’re pretty idiomatic and those are really nice to read. F.F. Bruce often referred to the NEB.

    One of the best exercises I’ve done in studying a shorter passage is to print it out in 6-7 translations in a variety of translation styles and mark it up as suggested in Fee’s NT Exegesis. I include the GNB and The Message for the paraphrases.

    I am not an expert in any of this stuff and a noobie exegetor so take all this with a grain of salt (whatever that means).

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