Friday, December 02, 2005

Review: The Message Remix

I picked up The Message Remix, a thought for thought translation for the Bible by Eugene Peterson, because it was on sale. My wife already had The Message, but I thought Remix would have a new hip-hop, wazzup style or something. It turns out the only difference between The Message and Remix is that Remix has verse numbers in the margins.

Peterson's translation approach was an attempt to capture in every-day English the style and impact of the every-day Hebrew and Greek the writers of the Bible used. The product is a very readable devotional Bible that is acclaimed by many, including U2's Bono. I like it because Peterson's insights into the text come out in his translation using language I wouldn't have anticipated.

The major draw-back of this approach is the assumption that the Bible was written in a single, accessible style. True, some parts were, but there are variations in style between the writers of the Bible, and some of there styles were easier to understand than others. When reading The Message you don't feel like you're reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; but just Peterson. I would have preferred that he attempt to reflect in English the different styles of writing in the Bible with the ambiguities that attend them.

But, of course, this isn't the point of a thought for though translation, which attempts to convey and idea and not just language. And, with Peterson is a scholar acting in a pastoral role, explaining the text and smoothing out difficulties. What we have in The Message is a record of how the Word of God has impacted on man's understanding of the Bible.

Here's one example of Peterson's style and (in my opinion) one of his better efforts.
The Word was first,
the Word was present to God,

God was present to the Word.

The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.

Everything was created through him,
nothing--not one thing!--

came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and that Life was Light to live by.

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness,
the darkness couldn't put it out....

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.

We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,

like Father, like Son,

Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

(John 1:1-5,14 The Message)

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