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Celebrating the life of Eugene Hoiland Peterson, the author of The Message Bible

The stated goal of The Message Bible was to make the original meaning more understandable and accessible to the modern reader. It was published in segments from 1993 to 2002 and uses an idiomatic translation of the original languages of the Bible. The Message was translated by Eugene Hoiland Peterson from the original languages. It is a highly idiomatic translation, using contemporary slang from the US rather than a more neutral International English, and it falls on the extreme dynamic end of the dynamic and formal equivalence spectrum.

Eugene Peterson. Screenshot from Youtube

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, an idiom is a group of words in a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word on its own:

For example, to “have bitten off more than you can chew” is an idiom that means you have tried to do something which is too difficult for you.

Eugene Hoiland Peterson (November 6, 1932 – October 22, 2018) was an American Presbyterian clergyman, scholar, theologian, author, and poet. He wrote over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award Winner The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Navpress Publishing Group, 2002), a paraphrase of the Bible.

Peterson in explaining the reasons for this translation stated that, “When Paul of Tarsus wrote a letter, the people who received it understood it instantly, When the prophet Isaiah preached a sermon, I can’t imagine that people went to the library to figure it out. That was the basic premise under which I worked. I began with the New Testament in the Greek — a rough and jagged language, not so grammatically clean. I just typed out a page the way I thought it would have sounded to the Galatians.


Praised as the “shepherd’s shepherd”, he pastored Christ Our King Presbyterian Church, a Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation he founded in Bel Air, Md., for 30 years while also writing widely to encourage and develop other pastors. He passed away Monday morning (Oct. 22, 2018) at age 85.

We celebrate you Eugene H. Peterson here on tCW.


CREDITS: Eugene H. Peterson,

                The Message (Bible),

                Cambridge English Dictionary,



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