The Message

Out of curiosity, what do you guys think of the The Message version of the bible?  My attention was recently called to it by a good friend of mine, and I was wondering what the general consensus is.

Also, randomly when looking up information on it, the name Julian of Norwich came up, who was a female Christian mystic and religious writer.  I found that interesting because in Holy the Firm the little girl who gets her face burned off is named Julie Norwich.  I vaguely remember someone talking about the use of the name, but I had totally forgotten.  I just love how Annie Dillard weaves allusions to other people in her writing!

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  1. I don't think much of these translations that in an attempt to be "noob friendly" get far away from the underlying Greek or Hebrew.For example , "son of man" is a common Hebrew and Aramaic phrase that in some cases means "human being" but it also gets into the whole idea of how sonship was viewed in ancient times (more legal than biological). It also becomes a term for the messiah in Daniel as "one like a son of man." Then is become a term for Jesus as the "Son of Man"Also this translation has bad grammarGod, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from."drink from" … ACK, GAG!.

  2. It definitely has bad grammar, and shouldn't be used for serious Bible study. But it does a good job in explaining the basic ideas and principles contained in the Bible. My best friend's Grandpa got saved very late in life, and didn't know how to read. He found The Message and was able to actually begin to read the Bible, so in cases like that it's a good thing.

  3. I dont' know, I really like the message, because it brings back some of the poetry and the 'storied' quality of the Bible. I know the guy who worked on it did take the ancient greek and hebrew into context in the translation process, plus it is easier to read, for some. Every translation has some things lacking, and I tend to read from several, but I appreciate very much the spirit of "the message" things like "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" becomes "figure out exactly what it is that you want, then go do that for someone else" or "do not be conformed to the patterns of this world" becomes "don't become so well adjusted to your culture that you blend in without even realizing it". I especially love the book of James in The Message.The thing I find the most enjoyable about it is that people who are new to the faith find it much easer to engage with. It is very conversational. I also like the way it does away with more of the verses, as they are fairly arbitrary to begin with.

  4. I'm with Ginger_sister when it comes to The Message – I think it serves a purpose. For me, a born and bred Christian who grew up with and does love the traditional language of most translations, The Message provides me with a freshness I really appreicate; it helps pull me from any potential stupor or numbness to hearing the 'same old thing.'But I do think that, with Amanda, that it should never be used in isolation – other translations are important. And yeah, it has poor grammar, but so does the rest of the world! [English teacher throws up her hands after just having marked some seriously poor compositions, trying to resist the notion that poor grammar is here forever, and ever, and ever…] 😉

  5. I don't know much about Juilan of Norwich, but I do like this quote I've heard attributed to her:And all will be well, and all will be well and all manner of thing will be well.

  6. The Message is radically refreshing and poignantly relevant. It uses the vernacular–which is also characteristic of the early NT manuscripts–to meet people on the level on which they live. It is irreligious and down to earth. Not for scholarly use, The Message is a kick in the butt to people who idolize dogma and/or who deify the Bible. Generally speaking, the more one leans toward fundamentalism the more one is apt to disdain The Message. This is sad because they might benefit more than anyone else from an attitude adjustment that could be provided by the tone and voice in which The Message speaks. When I read The Message, it's very easy to close my eyes and imagine sitting on an Israeli hillside listening to Jesus conversing with the people.

  7. I think The Message is okay for some, but on many issues it just takes too much liberty with translation, especially on hot-button issues. For example, in The Message's version of Romans 1, a picture is painted that makes it seem like homosexual desire is a result of an individual person's ignorance of God.
    Obviously, any gay or ex-gay Christian knows that homosexual feelings start at puberty, long before any true rebellion against God can take place. I usually interpret Romans 1 to mean that mankind's fallen state gives rise to homosexuality and a host of other temptations. The Message, however, tries to make things so simple that nothing is left to interpretation, and that is a real shame in my opinion.

  8. Thanks everyone for your feedback!I myself hunted down a lot of the criticism sites, and the more I read about what people hated about it, the more I liked it! 😉 Now, I've only read scattered verses, but from what I've read, I agree w/ many of you here. It seems like a very refreshing version to read, and something that might put a little fuel on the fire to get you interested again in Christianity.I also agree with Jay though. It's presented in such plain and straightforward language that there are areas which do not seem to be open for interpretation…or at least it seems that some of the layers of meaning have been removed. Nevertheless, it's very interesting! Thank you everyone for your input!

  9. Yeah that's pretty much everything I knew about her too. I did some digging though, and she sounds pretty cool."Although she lived in a time of turmoil, Julian's theology was
    optimistic, speaking of God's love in terms of joy and compassion as
    opposed to law and duty. For Julian, suffering was not a punishment
    that God
    inflicted, as was the common understanding. Julian's ground-breaking
    theology was that God loved and saved us all. Popular theology
    magnified by current events including the Black Death
    and a series of Peasant Revolts assumed that God was punishing the
    wicked. In response, Julian suggested a far more optimistic theology,
    universal salvation. Because she believed that beyond the reality of hell is yet a greater mystery of God's love, she has also been referred to in modern times as a proto-universalism. Even
    though her views were not typical, local authorities did not challenge
    either her theology or her authority to make such faith claims because
    of her status as an anchoress.""She was Roman Catholic, as was all of Europe, but her work is a clear
    precursor to Martin Luther and other Reformation writers which gives
    her honored staus in both churches. The Roman Catholic Church canonized
    her and she is honored by both the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Anglican Church."Very cool.

  10. Very cool indeed.Do you happen to know what an 'anchoress' is? It's the first time I've come across that term. I don't imagine it has to do with bringing us the day's news!

  11. Haha! "Anchorites are usually considered to be a type of religious hermit,
    living a solitary monastic life, but it is important to retain a clear
    distinction between the two: whereas a hermit normally withdraws into a
    truly remote place and shuns most daily contact with other people,
    anchorites tend to withdraw to cells closely connected to public
    churches and are often available for religious counsel while still
    maintaining a solitary style of life."Julian of Norwich was walled into a small apartment behind the altar of a church…almost like an anchor for the Church/God in the world and in humanity.Interesting concept!

  12. I guess I'm jumping in late here, but The Message is mostly a paraphrase rather than a translation. (Much like a good deal of the Catholic liturgy in English is paraphrase.) Paraphrase leads to idioms, which leads to slang, which leads to gross imprecision, which leads to annoyance, which leads to anger, which leads to the Dark Side.This of course is a problem if you believe in any kind of divine inspiration of Scripture, in which case the paraphrase would be seen as putting words in God's mouth. But even on a purely literary level, any scholar would have apoplexy at something like this, however much the vulgar reader might enjoy it. (One of my teachers recently chastised me for reading a translation of Homer that made too many concessions for unlearned American readers. If Homer is that important, then surely the Bible is even more so.)

  13. Actually, with everyone talking about it being a paraphrase, i did some checking. I had always thought that peterson had gone back to the hebrew/greek. I came across this quote from him, and found it interesting."While I was teaching a class on Galatians, I began to realize that the
    adults in my class weren't feeling the vitality and directness that I
    sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek.
    Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring
    into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew
    that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged
    by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the
    same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different
    types of people: those who hadn't read the Bible because it seemed too
    distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it
    had become 'old hat.'"This was really cool, kinda seeing his heart, and also realizing that for sure, this is different from other paraphrases, being that it is written by a hebrew/greek scholar, and rooted in those copies, not just based off of another translation.

  14. "I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn't read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become 'old hat.'"
    I dunno, I have a hard time finding a translation like this to be relevant: "GOD, you're my last chance of the day, I spend the night on my knees before you. Put me on your salvation agenda, take notes on the trouble I'm in. I've had my fill of trouble, I'm camped on the edge of hell" (Psalm 88:1-3). It's such cheap English that I'm offended at the thought of being in the same room as it. Say what you want about the unreadability of older translations like the King James or Douay Rheims, but at least those had a noble level of language you could grow into, whereas most modern translations use what could charitably be labelled baby talk.

  15. Wow, that *is* pretty bad.Although, there are nuggets in there that seem to be really cool too, like this from Romans 8:5-8:"Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with
    measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it
    in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's
    Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in
    these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the
    open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite
    of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God,
    ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God
    is and what he is doing.."

  16. The problem with that translation is that it totally ignores the mysterious dichotomy St. Paul sets up between the flesh and the spirit, rendering it rather as "self" and "God." It's too interpretive, proposing to show what St. Paul meant when it should just be presenting what he had to say. What Peterson is saying here is true… it's just not the same as what St. Paul is saying.

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