THEMESSAGE//REMIX: The Bible in Contemporary Language
What is it? What is its purpose?
The Message is a modern translation of the Bible by Eugene H. Peterson. The introduction states that the purpose of this translation "isn't to water down the Bible... The idea is to make it readable--to put those ancient words that their users spoke and wrote every day into words that you speak and write every day" (The Message). This version of the Bible was translated directly from Greek and Hebrew (the languages in which the Bible was originally written), removing many inaccuracies and mistranslations (it is not watered down). Additionally, The Message lacks in text verse numbers, as Peterson wrote it to be read from cover to cover (though the publisher did include verse numbers for each paragraph in the margins). Note that The Message includes a disclaimer that it is meant to be a reading Bible for people who wouldn't otherwise read it, not a replacement for a study Bible. Peterson urges users of his translation to "Read. Think. Pray. Live," to put the Word to practice in their own lives.
The Message versus NRSV:
To illustrate how different The Message is from any Bible you have ever read before, I have included a side by side (well its not really side by side) comparison of two versions of Romans 12.1-2:
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God--what is good and acceptable and perfect" (NRSV).
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you" (The Message).
Why I like it:
The Message is readable. It removes the unfamiliar words, the awkward syntax and still retains the meaning. Furthermore, this translation will not put you to sleep (maybe you haven't had that problem... I have). There are several books that will put me to sleep (when reading at night) before I read more than 7 pages, including several by James Joyce and of course the Bible (various translations and editions). This Bible is fresh, it feels like the text itself has been renewed, given a new chance to reach out to those who might otherwise dismiss it or pass it by. I am excited about reading this Bible (if you had talked to me last year, I'd have bet a fair sum of money that those words would never have come from my mouth).