Eugene Peterson, best known for authoring the Contemporary Language Translation of the Bible called “The Message” has died at age 85.
In one of his first television interviews ever granted, he spoke with Context’s Lorna Dueck about his reason for writing The Message.
“What I was hoping to do was to get people into the story. I say, ‘Don’t study the Bible, read it.’ Read it like you’re reading a letter or a novel. Let the Truth of the Book shape your life. But don’t ask too many questions, you’re not looking for information, you’re looking for relationship.”
With over 22 million copies of The Message sold worldwide, this modern-day translation of the Scriptures has inspired people to read God’s word in a fresh way. U2’s frontman Bono who shared the impact of Peterson’s translation on his own life said, “It has been a great strength to me. He’s a poet and a scholar, and he’s brought the text back to the tone in which the books were written.”
When Context asked if The Message translation is the inspired Word of God, even after its modernization, Peterson shares, “The principle I had in my mind when writing as I did this is, when people read Isaiah in the Hebrew times, they didn’t need a dictionary to find out what he said or a handbook to explain things. When people read the Gospel of John in New Testament times, they didn’t have to have a teacher to explain it, so if the language at that point was understandable without a lot of learning, I think we can do it again. I don’t want to oversimplify this, but language is sacred. Language is a gift of God that distinguishes us from other plant or animal life on the planet. And when that begins to be experienced as revelation, as love, as forgiveness…there’s something going on there that is the Spirit of God. So yes, it is inspired.”
Peterson was a Presbyterian pastor in Bel Air, Maryland for nearly three decades. He passed today (October 22nd, 2018) one week after entering hospice care for complications related to heart failure and dementia.