The Message

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The Message is a modern translation (or more accurately, a paraphrase) of the Holy Bible created by Pastor Eugene Peterson. The purpose of the translation was to capture what Peterson calls the "vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek." Seeking to translate the Bible in a way that would read to English speakers as it would have read to Greek speakers, he wrote much of it in an informal fashion.[1]

For example, the famous line from Psalm 23 "The Lord is shepherd, there is nothing I shall want" is translated in The Message as "God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing."[2] Some passages have been changed substantially in order to appear more exciting, such as in James 4:7, where "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" becomes "Yell a loud "No" to the devil and watch him scamper."[3]

Though sometimes a refreshing read, it is, on balance, a liberal rendition. On the positive side, it translates silent aftermath of the Apostles' argument about which of them was the greatest as "the silence was deafening." The Message is more conservative than the NIV with respect to describing the unborn child, as in Romans 9:10.[4] But an illustration of its liberal bias can be found in the all-important John 3:16: "... by believing in him anyone can have a whole and lasting life" (rather than "eternal life").


  4. See Disputed Bible Translations.