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For more than 35 years, beloved author, professor, and pastor Eugene Peterson has used his expertise in the original language of the Bible and his passion for God's word to re–create the informal, earthy immediacy of Scripture in expressive, contemporary English. Just as the writers of the New Testament used everyday language to convey God's message to their readers and listeners, Peterson's conversational translations and graceful insights into Christian life speak powerfully to the concerns of today's men and ...
For more than 35 years, beloved author, professor, and pastor Eugene Peterson has used his expertise in the original language of the Bible and his passion for God's word to re–create the informal, earthy immediacy of Scripture in expressive, contemporary English. Just as the writers of the New Testament used everyday language to convey God's message to their readers and listeners, Peterson's conversational translations and graceful insights into Christian life speak powerfully to the concerns of today's men and women and offer timeless wisdom for every day of the year.
The Word Was First
The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God 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 the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn't put it out.
There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn't even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn't want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
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 pointed him out and called, "Thisis the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word."
We all live off his generous bounty,
gift after gift after gift.
We got the basics from Moses,
and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
This endless knowing and understanding—
all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
No one has ever seen God,
not so much as a glimpse.
This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
who exists at the very heart of the Father,
has made him plain as day.
Attending to Language
Anyone of us, waking up in the morning and finding ourselves included in that part of the creation called human, sooner or later finds ourselves dealing with language, with words. We are the only creatures in this incredible, vast creation doing this. Language is unique to us human beings. Turnips complete a fairly complex and useful life cycle without the use of words. Roses grace the world with an extraordinary beauty and fragrance without uttering a word. Dogs satisfy tens of thousands of us with faithful and delightful companionship without a word. Birds sing a most exquisite music to our ears, lifting our spirits, giving us happiness, all without the capability of words. It is quite impressive really, what goes on around us without words: ocean tides, mountain heights, stormy weather, turning constellations, genetic codes, bird migrations—most, in fact, of what we see and hear around us, a great deal of it incredibly complex, but without language, wordless. And we, we human beings, have words. We can use language. We are the only ones in this stunning kaleidoscopic array of geology and biology and astronomy to use words. We share a great deal with the rest of creation. We have much in common with everything around us, the dirt beneath our feet, the animals around us, the stars above us, and we recognize links in this family identity. But when it comes down to understanding our humanity, who we are in this vast scheme of things, we find ourselves attending to language, the fact that we speak words, and what happens to us when we do.
My heart bursts its banks,
spilling beauty and goodness.
I pour it out in a poem to the king,
shaping the river into words . . .
My allies are the novelists and poets, writers who are not telling me something, but making something.
Novelists take the raw data of existence and make a world of meaning. I am in the story-making business, too. God is drawing the people around me into the plot of salvation; every word, gesture, and action has a significant place in the story. Being involved in the creation of reality like this takes endless patience and attentiveness, and I am forever taking shortcuts. Instead of assisting in the development of a character, I hurriedly categorize: active or inactive, saved or unsaved, disciple or backslider, key leader or dependable follower, leadership material or pew fodder. Instead of seeing each person in my life as unique, a splendid never-to-be duplicated story of grace, unprecedented in the particular ways grace and sin are in dramatic tension, I slap on a label so I can efficiently get through my routines. Once the label is in place I don't have to look at him and her anymore; I know how to use them.
Then I read Fyodor Dostoyevsky, William Faulkner, Anne Tyler, or Walker Percy and see how an artist committed to creative work approaches the most ordinary and least promising human: the unexpected depths in the ordinary, the capacities for good and evil in the apparently conventional!
Living the Message
Do you know how I feel right now, and will feel until Christ's life becomes visible in your lives? Like a mother in the pain of childbirth.