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September 21, 2007



Check out the huge debate putting believers of the bible aganst those who say it is a piece of twisted fiction. It's happening right now a RiledUp:

We need more christian points of view. Some of the comments are actually a little frightening.


For those of us that like a larger print edition, the Remix and Numbered editions just can't match the font and size of the original editions. And if you find versification to be a lot more trouble than it's worth, you can't help but love the verse-free format of those old ones. There's some good deals to be had on the older editions too if you shop around on the 'net. I accidentally ordered two of the NTs, one with Psalms, and a newer one that had Ps & Proverbs. They both were bonded burgundy leather, which I'm perfectly happy with, even if bonded leather makes Mark cringe. When I quickly compared the two, the pagination and layout were identical so I put the older one away since I figured why not get something (Proverbs) for nothing. But I noticed on closer inspection that the earlier one had the pages smyth-sewn in signatures, whereas the newer one (with Proverbs) just had side-sewn stitching. Although the newer one had a more flexible (and redder) cover, I knew the older one would break in much nicer so that's become my favorite NT, albeit some of the Peterson-isms, particularly in the Gospels, can be a bit unsetttling. I'm surprised there really isn't much available in a 10-point paragraphed NT, regardless of translation, in a convenient 5x7 size (sub-octavo). Again, The Message just "gets it" when it comes to format and layout.


Check out this blog:



As Peterson himself admits and is acknowledged at the top of that site, the Message is an extremely free paraphrase so yes, use with discretion. I find his treatment of Paul refreshing and his treatment of Christ abysmal, but to each his own. But that's the point of a paraphrase...Peterson is "treating" the words of Scripture, not directly translating them. Use like a commentary.

But whoa, horses. This ain't the place for translation bashing nor promotion. Let's stick with the physical design and layout of the Bible only.

Fernando Villegas

The Message is a paraphrase: a specialized form with a specialized purpose. To judge a paraphrase as if it were a translation is really to miss the point! It's like judging a banana for not tasting as "citrus-y" as an orange--they're not the same fruit!

By the way, if one really want to give a fair evaluation of The Message (IN ANOTHER FORUM, BY THE WAY!), I would recommend the person first read Peterson's Eat This Book, where he explains in detail how The Message came to be written. Then read through the ENTIRE Message (if you haven't read the entire thing, you have no business judging it). THEN you evaluate the book for what it was.


Bit of a random request, but can you (or anyone) tell me what the paraphrase is for I Corinthians 9:22 in the Message Remix? I'm after the bit that reads "I've become just about every sort of servant there is" in the original Message bible.


I think the Remix is just a format change (the biggest being the addition of verse numbers) as compared to the original, not a modification of the text. Still, to be sure, I went to Amazon for the Remix ISBN 9780157683431, did a Look Inside, and searched for "experience". The ~70th entry (on page 2041) does indeed read the same as my 1994 Message NT, which is the same as what Bible Gateway has for "The Message".

So all 3 complete I Co 9:22-23 thusly..."I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!" with the final "in" being italicized (by Peterson) for emphasis.

Hope this helps.

Frank McManus

Mark, you might want to re-examine The Message Remix. I think later editions, or perhaps just different editions, have different typography. I have 9781600060021, which has a different cover to yours, but is also a smallish hardcover. It has 1850 pages. To me the font seems smaller than it should be and the line of text too long. But the "preview" pages on amazon show a quite different book: shorter lines of text, a seemingly larger font, and many more pages (as shown in the table of contents, not amazon's listing of page numbers).

I remember when the first Message NT was published. I liked Peterson's other work and was anticipating The Message ... but I hated it from the first minute I opened the first edition. It seemed absurdly affected, like an old guy trying to use slang to impress his grandchildren, and never quite getting it right. "Hey guys, remember God? He's phat!" Uh, no thanks.

Now it's what? Twenty years later? I've hardly glanced at The Message again until reading this review, but now as I look into this Message Remix, I find myself liking it. Somehow it no longer seems affected. Makes me wonder if some of the weirder slang has been edited out in more recent editions. Or maybe I'm just an old guy myself now.


Yeah, Frank. We're all getting older.
If there are ANY textual changes between the Remix and the original, un-versified Message, they're very few and far between. And if anything, the more modern typeface in the Remix would psychologically enhance the "absurdly affected" tone that you note and that I've felt as well with The Message. (But other times I'll pick it up and find the experience fresh and appropriate.)

There have been some profound changes in Christianity in the last 20 years. The grandeur of altars and steeples have largely given way to stages and auditoriums. Sermons have shifted from your appropriateness for God to God's appropriateness for you. In words and practice, we've adopted the "God's phat" tone that you note.

So was Peterson's work a cause of effect? Too much for me.


uh, that should say cause OR effect

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  • J. Mark Bertrand is the author of Back on Murder, Pattern of Wounds, and the forthcoming Nothing to Hide, crime novels featuring Houston homicide detective Roland March. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and lived in the city for fifteen years. After one hurricane too many, he and his wife moved to South Dakota. Mark has been arrested for a crime he didn't commit, was the foreman of a hung jury in Houston, and after relocating served on the jury that acquitted Vinnie Jones of assault. In 1972, he won an honorable mention in a child modeling contest, but pursued writing instead.

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