The MSG; Psalm 23:5- “You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. v.6- “Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.” And of course most of us know Psalm 23 by heart, or are at least familiar with “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...” You can compare any other translation to the MSG, and none of them say anything like the MSG. I’ve read so many comparisons side-by-side with that translation and I am very bothered with this so-called bible. Words are added to and taken away from verses all the time, and replaced with new, almost made up words. I read an article about the MSG- it was an interview with the author of it, Eugene Peterson, the man behind that translation. Mr. Peterson said that the MSG is dumbed-down. In other words, he said, when it was being written/translated (I cringe to even say that it was translated) they dumbed it down so that younger people can better understand the Bible. I was in shock. So I guess my question is also, what are your thoughts on this “translation”? Is it sinful that they add and take away so many words? And is it sinful that Mr. Peterson chose to create a bible translation tailored to young people, to make it easy for them to read? Thank you taking the time to read this long winded message.
Psalms 23:1 - 6
ESV - 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
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There are many different types of translations. They generally range on a spectrum from a exact word for word translation to a thought for thought translation. Every translation falls somewhere on this spectrum. The only true word for word translations are called inter linear and line the Greek and Hebrew up with English words underneath. There are no translations that translate Greek or Hebrew exactly word for word in the same order. This is because these languages use different structures and the translations would sound very strange. Take John 3:16 for example, a direct translation would be “thus for loved God the world, that the Son the only one He gave, in order all the believing ones in Him would not die but have life eternal.” It would hard to read the entire Bible this way (Hebrew’s word order is a little more closely related to English than Greek is). The closest to this is the NASB and it can be very wooden at times. The other thing to consider is that most Bibles are translated by committees. They are generally not done alone. Either scholars will translate one book and they will compile them or they will all be translated in committees. This is good because when a single person has translated their theological stance it can generally be seen in the translation. So where does Peterson’s message fall in this? First, Peterson is an excellent scholar. He was trained by the best, holding degrees from NY seminary and John’s Hopkins. His works are world renowned, and he has exceptional command of the original languages. So his work should not be dismissed as frivolous or inaccurate. That being said, the message translation is meant to be read more like a novel. He writes in a common tongue and takes liberty with details to add emotion and detail that Scripture does not have. Now some of this does help to enhance the translation because Greek and Hebrew are extremely rich languages and it is many times impossible to grasp the full meaning of a word or phrase when translated to English. But it does make the translation seem a little over the top. One last note, there is a movement in modern scholarship to reword scripture and theology to make it more accessible to the masses. People that have never been in a church don’t understand words such as “righteous,” “justify,” and “sanctify.” The Message is trying to work under this presumption. For a better understanding of this movement check out “(re)Aligning With God” by Brian Russell. Over all Peterson’s MSG translation is not inaccurate, just written differently.
My opinion is the the MSG is okay. From the original languages that all Bible's are translated from they are often times not using the correct words either because it doesn't exist in our current language. I feel that any way you can relate the Word to a generation then go for it. As long as the basic truths are there that God wanted in His book a seeker will find salvation. If an ancient Greek was to read any current translation of the Bible I'd imagine they may feel the same way. Their culture was different than the cultures of today. I for one like some of the perspectives in the book but like you read it side by side with non paraphrased translations.
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