Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eat This Book

a conversation in the art of spiritual reading
By Eugene H. Peterson
Publishes by Wlliam B. Eerdmans 2006.

I actually listened to this book rather than read it which seems a bit ironic for a book about how to read the Bible.  If you are just interested in reading it "lightly," audio is a fine way to go but if you are like me and and enjoy taking notes, underlining and rereading passages, then this book needs to be "eaten" in its printed form.
    The author, Eugene Peterson, is responsible for The Message, considered to be a paraphrase of the Bible,  mostly a translation, but putting Biblical scripture in vernacular or "everyday" English.  In Eat This Book a conversation in the art of spiritual reading, Peterson now teaches how to go about reading the Bible, no what translation you choose.
   The book, to me could be divided into three main parts. The first section explains how to read scripture  and could be applied to most other spiritual material.When we read the Bible, Peterson urges us to do more than just read the words, even to go beyond reading. The author uses a wonderful analogy to help us understand what he means by "eat this book." He wants us to read the Bible as a dog chews on a bone.  The dog holds the bone closely and gnaws it from every angle. He licks, chews, slobbers on and utterly relishes the bone, turning it in all directions to be sure that nothing is missed.  The dog chews the bone with its whole being, completely involved in the endeavor.
    The second part of the book delves into how the came Bible was written originally, translated into latin then  it touches on various translations and their translators.  Being a lover of history, especially history of language, I particularly enjoyed this section of the book.
    Peterson next explains to us how and why he came to write his own translation, The Message. While I don't necessarily disagree with with his reasoning, at times it does seem that, at this point, he is mostly promoting his own translation. I could have easily skimmed over this part if I were reading a printed book rather than listening to the audio version.
    The title of the book comes from the tenth chapter of The Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible where the angel tells John, (its author) to "take it and eat it." when talking about the book the angel is writing.
   Peterson returns to the theme of "eating the book" with a good wrap up of what he has written. Once I had finished Eat This Book I was glad I had read it and I have found that I have quoted it several times. Whether you are experienced with Biblical scripture or are a novice, just discovering the Word, then you can get inspiration from Peterson's book.

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