The Message‘s rendering of today’s text.
We’ve been strolling along at ground level all week, so today I’m going to take the elevator to the top floor of a sky scraper and look back at our passages from 1000 feet. To do so, I’ll be reading from The Message, which is what we call “a paraphrase,” meaning the way it was translated is from thought to thought, rather than word for word. Paraphrases aren’t useful when we want to know what God actually wrote, but they can help give us new insight as the thoughts are presented using modern, creative language and metaphors.
I’ll read it now and then add a few reflections. [dramatic pause]
To be honest, I struggled in reading this today. I think that through this discipline of studying the text in such detail (including analyzing shades of meaning in the Greek) I’ve come to value the actual words of God so much more than I used to. Reading The Message I wondered at times if I was reading the right passage at all! So much is glossed over and lost. For example in The Message God tells Pharoah “I have made you a bit player in this drama of salvation power.” That changes the point completely from that of God “hardening Pharoah’s heart.”
Yet there were some good points too: I like his wording in 9:30ish– “They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them.” That’s something I can relate to as a pastor for sure!
However, I found the metaphor that Eugene Peterson (the author of The Message) uses for the idea of being zealous for God to be distracting to me. He says, somewhere around 10:2:
“They don’t seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God’s business, and a most flourishing business it is. Right across the street they set up their own salvation shops and noisily hawk their wares.”
But yet, I liked the summary in 10:12ish, “It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” That’s very understandable and clear.
So those are my reflections today. Overall, I’m finding The Message more distracting than illuminating–perhaps because I’ve invested so much these past weeks in digging for God’s message. That made this version seem sloppy to me.
Some of you have been strolling with me on ground level through this series–I’d be curious what you think of all this. Am I being too nit-picky?
Those are my thoughts for today. If you have time, share yours as well!
Off to read my “Seek The City” Prayer guide now!