One of the most common questions I hear is one regarding which version of the Biblical text is best to use and study. Perhaps the most common translation I am questioned about would be the controversial version written by Eugene Peterson called, “The Message”.

So the question presents itself: is The Message a viable translation of the Biblical text, and if not, what is the fuss about?

“The Message was paraphrased over a period of ten years, straight from the Bible’s original languages (Greek and Hebrew). The idea of The Message isn’t to water down the bible, making it easier to digest. The idea is to make it readable- to put those ancient words that their users spoke and wrote everyday into words that you speak and write every day.”

From this introduction there are several things to notice. First, The Message claims to be a “paraphrase”, NOT a translation. This is extremely significant. In simple terms, a translation takes the original language and transports it to english in its entirety while a paraphrase is basically a restated version of the original. A paraphrase of the Bible is dangerous because it can certainly be prone to removing scripture, changing meanings, and inserting bias. Another thing to notice from this introduction is that a goal of The Message is to modernize the scripture with common words. This is also dangerous because there is a very good chance the original meaning can be lost. Unfortunately all the dangers mentioned above seem to occur frequently in The Message.

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