More than 11 million copies of The Message have sold since 1991, making it one of the most popular modern translations of the Bible. Now, NavPress is introducing the first annotated edition of The Message with special excerpts, contemplations, sermons and essays from the translator Eugene Peterson. Conversations: The Message With Its Translator (NavPress, September 2007) combines the full text of The Message with annotations mined from the richness of Peterson’s experience as translator, pastor and lifelong Christ-follower.
Conversations: The Message With Its Translator varies dramatically from other study Bibles and annotated Bibles. Rather than encouraging readers to methodically study God’s Word, this new edition of The Message teaches readers how to read the Bible contemplatively. Kent Wilson, NavPress Bible Publisher, explains, “Many Christians have been taught to dissect and examine scripture, but this is not the best or only way to read the Bible. Eugene Peterson has always encouraged readers to engage with the biblical story, to walk inside it, to consider its meaning. Now Conversations offers Peterson’s notes and a unique glimpse into his own contemplative style of reading scripture. Readers are invited to view God’s Word from his unique, fresh perspective.”
Many of the excerpts and essays have not been published anywhere else but in Conversations. Throughout Conversations, there are contemplative devotional sections, called “Contemplations,” containing specific thematic scripture readings, contemplative questions and an extensive, open-ended prayer. Each section is designed to illuminate the truth of the scripture and the application of the Bible story. Every book has an introduction with its historical and theological importance. In the back of Conversations, there is an extensive index to all the notes within the Bible. Readers will also find a bibliography of Peterson’s writings.
“Our conversations with each other are sacred,” writes Peterson in the foreword to these Conversations. “Those that take place in the parking lot after Sunday worship are as much a part of the formation of Christian character as the preaching from the sanctuary pulpit…The conversations I would like to have with you are more casual than formal-the kinds of conversations we would have if we walked through the mountains together, stopping here and there to catch our breath. We’ll travel a lot of terrain together, some of it breathtakingly scenic, some of it ploddingly plain, and some of it precariously uncertain. Here and there along the way I’ll point out details in the biblical landscape, drawing attention to a particular word, pointing out a pertinent piece of historical background, pausing a moment to talk with you and to lead you in prayer.”
Adding to the richness of Conversations is the wealth of experience, education and wisdom that Peterson provides through his notes. For more than 35 years, Peterson has been in pastoral ministry, actively leading a congregation in Maryland for 29 years. Peterson has also taught numerous courses at New York Theological Seminar, Pittsburgh Seminary, and most recently at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.
NavPress Project Editor Ken Gire explains that Conversations provides insight into what it is like to sit under Eugene’s preaching and teaching as he opens the Word of God to others. “Since most of us have never had the opportunity to hear Eugene preach at his church in Maryland, or take one of his classes at Regent College in Canada, or to converse with him on the mountain trails he hikes in Montana, the next best thing to being with him in those ways is to be with him in this way-through the words he has written, which come from a lifetime of conversations with God, so many of which were prompted by his time in the Scriptures.”
“It’s my personal joy to come alongside you in the wondrous and perilous journey that is your life, and my pastoral privilege to walk with you through the Scriptures,” writes Peterson. “I come as a guide as well as a fellow traveler.”
Peterson wrote the first draft of what eventually became The Message for a Sunday School class at the church he founded in Bel Air, Maryland. The Message New Testament was released in 1991 and immediately caused a stir for its unique, earthy tone and fresh use of language. The Message has won praise from diverse readers-from the Protestant contemplative Richard J. Foster to football coach Bill McCartney, and from theologian J. I. Packer to rock star Bono.
Eugene Peterson is an author, scholar, poet and ordained minister. He has written more than 20 books including A Long Obedience in the Same Direction and Leap Over A Wall; but he is most known for his modern language translation of the Bible, The Message. Peterson lives with his wife in rural Montana. The Petersons have three children and six grandchildren.