The: The Message
Exodus 20:1-17

God spoke all these words: I am God, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of a life of slavery.
  1. No other gods, only me.
  2. No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.
  3. No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name.
  4. Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town.

    For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.
  5. Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you.
  6. No murder.
  7. No adultery.
  8. No stealing.
  9. No lies about your neighbor.
  10. No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s.
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Eugene H. Peterson


This version, otherwise known as The Message, is the work of Eugene H. Peterson. He was a pastor of a Presbyterian church in Maryland and is a professor of spiritual theology at a college in British Columbia and is a writer.

A feature of the original writings of the New Testament is that it was done in the street language of the day. At that time in the Greek-speaking world, there were two levels of language: formal and informal. Formal language was used to write philosophy, history, government decrees, and epic poetry. Some people suppose that language dealing with a holy God and holy things should be elevated -- stately and ceremonial. However, Jesus preferred down-to-earth stories and easy association with common people.

The followers of Jesus in their witness and preaching, translating and teaching, have always tried to get the Message -- the "good news" -- into the language of whatever street they happened to be living on. In order to understand the Message right, the language must be a rough and earthy one that reveals God's presence and action where we least expect it.

This version is in a contemporary idiom that is current, fresh, and understandable in the same language that we use in all of our activities. The goal was not to render a word-for-word conversion of Greek into English, but rather to convert the tone, the rhythm, the events, and the ideas into the way that we actually think and speak. There is an introduction to each book. Verses are not numbered, except at the top of the page where the range for that page is given.

A later version contains, in addition, the Old Testament books of Psalms and Proverbs.

The translator states that most Christians have learned to pray by praying the Psalms. In his pastoral work of teaching people to pray, he started paraphrasing the Psalms into contemporary rhythms. The Psalms in Hebrew are earthy and rough. They are not the prayers of nice people, couched in cultural language.

The book of Proverbs concentrates on matters of everyday practicality more than any other book of the Bible. This book distills it all into riveting images and sound bites that keep us connected in holy obedience to the ordinary.

NavPress (1993, with Psalms/Proverbs 1995)

[Tyndale House, Cambridge, United Kingdom]