The Message: Where I actually review a Bible translation

 

ThemessageI feel almost sacrilegious writing a book review on the Bible. I’m just waiting for the lightening to come down. But I’d like to remind everyone, I’m commenting on a translation of The Book, not The Book itself.

The Message is a valuable addition to the dozens and dozens of translations in existence. Peterson, a Prebsyterian pastor with a substantial background in Biblical languages, wanted to write a translation of the Bible for those too timid to pick up other translations. The Message is “the Bible in contemporary language.” Reading it, some of the slang is already out of date (but not unintelligible). I worry that the imprecise language is at times inappropriate. It is a very, very strange feeling to read familiar passages in a new language. Take for example Psalm 23:

The Message:

God, my shepherd!

I don’t need a thing.

You have bedded me down in lush meadows,

you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word,

you let me catch my breath

and send me in the right direction.

 

Even when the way goes through

Death Valley,

I’m not afraid

when you walk at my side.

Your trusty shepherd’s crook

makes me feel secure.

 

You serve me a six-course dinner

right in front of my enemies.

You revive my drooping head;

my cup brims with blessing.

 

Your beauty and love chase after me

every day of my life.

I’m back home in the house of God

for the rest of my life.

New American Bible:

The LORD is my shepherd;

there is nothing I shall lack.

 

In green meadows he makes me lie down;

to still waters he leads me;

he restores my soul.

He guides me along right paths

for the sake of his name.

Even though I walk through the valley of the

shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff comfort me.

 

You set a table before me

in front of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

 

Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me

all the days of my life;

I will dwell in the house of the LORD

for endless days.

 

Peterson says, quite explicitly, that The Message is meant to be a stepping stone to a real study Bible. My only other comment, as a Catholic, has to be that this translation is thoroughly Protestant in it’s interpretation of texts.

But now that I have made all of these criticisms, let me throw everything I just said out the window. Reading the Bible is so important, so fundamental, if this easy-to-read volume gets people to pick it up, more power to it. Warts and all, if this Bible gets people to read the Bible, there is nothing wrong with that. None of my criticisms are bad enough to negate this translation’s value.

This translation is by far the easiest one to read. I read a substantial amount of it aloud to my son. I don’t know how much he understood (he isn’t quite 4-years-old) but it was that easy to read.

If other translations scare you, pick this up regardless of your denomination. Use it as a springboard to learn more and to get closer to our Lord.

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