Saturday, March 14, 2009

#17 The Message

White Christians enjoy informality in church. From casual attire to contemporary worship, the more laid back the worship service, the better (and the more relevant). This informality also extends to reading the Bible, making versions like the New International Version and the New American Standard Bible insufficiently casual.

These popular versions got rid of the thee's and thou's long ago, but in 1993, Eugene H. Peterson recognized that they were not nearly hip enough for the young people of the day. Complete sentences? No contractions? Proper grammar? No references to Mountain Dew or the X-Games? Clearly something had to change.

After abandoning his work on a pig-latin Bible, Peterson wrote the Message, a version that is, like, way more relevant. Why would you want to read some boring text like "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"? The Message takes this tired old verse and makes it relevant for today: "Then Jesus totally said, 'It's cool if you're having a really crappy day. The crappier your life is, the sweeter God's crib will be when you get there.'"

However, today's young white Christian has already begun to tire of the Message. In the age of texting, Twitter, and Facebook, white Christians will soon demand a version of the Bible for a new generation, a version replete with LOL's, status updates, and an RSS feed so the author can constantly update it with new slang and new meaning in order to keep up with the times.

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Luther Zwingli said...

I'm bracing for emoticons in future Bible versions...

"God saw all that he had made, and it was good ;)"

masbury said...

Actually, Peterson's translation is not always less formal. One of his goals is to accurately represent the tone of the speaker - is Paul writing in a scholarly tone, or a fatherly one? We got used to thinking non-literal translations were simplifications and dumb-downs; Peterson's language is sometimes more difficult - but usually more vivid - than the NIV.

Poetry, for instance, would need to be poetic to pass muster with Peterson. For without it, an element of translation is omitted in favor of less-accurate literalism. Part of its truth is gone.

Peterson supplies implications of the text that more literal translations often obscure. He has made a pretty valuable - and pretty brainy - tool.

Joanna said...

The lol bible is already here

Anonymous said...

I have been reading some of these for a while now. I have to say though, this one hits the nail on the head!