Is the message translation diluting the Message? 

I don’t know if any of you have thought of this before but I was doing a research on marriage a while ago when I stumbled upon this famous “girls should cover their hair while praying” passage. Of course, I checked it out in the message translation which simply said we all should live in a way honorable to God. Like what’s the correlation? Is the message translation telling us what we want to hear just like most preachers these days – false preachers I mean? I decided to do a little digging to investigate since I have all this free time now that’ll be gone in a couple of weeks. 

I got this excerpt explaining the translation from the Msg Bible itself. 

Why was The Message written? 

The best answer to that question comes from Eugene Peterson himself: “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.'”

Peterson’s parishioners simply weren’t connecting with the real meaning of the words and the relevance of the New Testament for their own lives. So he began to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original ancient Greek— writing straight out of the Greek text without looking at other English translations. As he shared his version of Galatians with them, they quit stirring their coffee and started catching Paul’s passion and excitement as he wrote to a group of Christians whom he was guiding in the ways of Jesus Christ. For more than two years, Peterson devoted all his efforts to The Message New Testament. His primary goal was to capture the tone of the text and the original conversational feel of the Greek, in contemporary English.

Language changes. New words are formed. Old words take on new meaning. There is a need in every generation to keep the language of the gospel message current, fresh, and understandable —the way it was for its very first readers. That is what The Message seeks to accomplish for contemporary readers. It is a version for our time —designed to be read by contemporary people in the same way as the original koine Greek and Hebrew manuscripts were savored by people thousands of years ago.

That’s why NavPress felt the time was right for a new version. When we hear something over and over again in the same way, we can become so familiar with it that the text loses its impact. The Message strives to help readers hear the living Word of God— the Bible— in a way that engages and intrigues us right where we are.

Some people like to read the Bible in Elizabethan English. Others want to read a version that gives a close word-for-word correspondence between the original languages and English. Eugene Peterson recognized that the original sentence structure is very different from that of contemporary English. He decided to strive for the spirit of the original manuscripts—to express the rhythm of the voices, the flavor of the idiomatic expressions, the subtle connotations of meaning that are often lost in English translations.

The goal of The Message is to engage people in the reading process and help them understand what they read. This is not a study Bible, but rather “a reading Bible.” The verse numbers, which are not in the original documents, have been left out of the print version to facilitate easy and enjoyable reading. The original books of the Bible were not written in formal language. The Message tries to recapture the Word in the words we use today.

Have you ever wondered about the message translation like me? I’ll give you an advise. What I’m going to do as well. Just like when we go novel shopping, the best sellers are those by authors who have proven themselves over and over again. Eugene Peterson is a pastor and author of many books so check his track record to see if he truly knows God. If he does, then there’s a higher probability that the Scripture is God-breathed than it being a sham. Then you can go to God to inquire too. He’s all knowing. You can actually do just this though but the reason I said to read his books and listen to messages is to know what kind of a guy he is for yourself. Tell me how your research goes. I believe in the message translation. I personally go to it just for understanding and not for bible study or during my devotional. I think its like having a preacher at my beck and call because it explains scriptures to me and relates it to this time and age emphasizing that the bible is not just for the people that lived in the time of old.

What’s your favorite bible translation? Mine is the NKJV. I used to have three bibles in that version (coincidence though and now I have just two. Anyone need a bible?). After NKJV is the Msg though, so I would really love to know your thoughts. I know NIV leaves out some bible verses so I don’t use it for study purposes. I just use it to see a bible verse from another perspective. I use the Amplified version some times too and even KJV. I like the thees and thous. Enough of me. What Bible verse do you read and for what reason? Things like bible translations have no black and white areas so your thoughts could help a lot.

How are you enjoying the weekend?


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