18 June 2007

The Message

And now for something completely different.

While browsing through Barnes & Noble with Father Jason we discovered a little work by Eugene H. Peterson entitled, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 1995). Maybe you've see it.

It is a "translation" of the New Testament, the Psalms and the book of Proverbs because the rest of the Old Testament apparently is not important any longer.

Flipping through this little wonder we laughed hysterically and were quite surprised that we were not tossed out of the store. What made us laugh so much, you ask. Have a read for yourselves:

Mark 15: "They offered him a mild painkiller (wine mixed with myrrh), but he wouldn't take it."

Luke 1: "Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: 'Good morning! You're beautiful with God's beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.' ... Mary said to the angel, 'But how? I've never slept with a man.' ... And Mary said, 'Yes, I see it all now: I'm the Lord's maid, ready to serve.'"

Luke 9: "Jesus was curt: 'Are you ready to rough it? We're not staying in the best inns, you know.'"

John 6: "They waffled: 'Why don't you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what's going on?' ... Jesus said, 'I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don't really believe me.' ... 'Don't bicker among yourselves over me. You're not in charge here.' ... But Jesus didn't give an inch."

Psalm 6: "Please, GOD, no more yelling, no more trips to the woodshed. Treat me nice for a change, I'm so starved for affection."

Psalm 15: "GOD, who gets invited to dinner at your table? How do we get on your guest list?"

Psalm 22: "GOD, GOD ... my GOD! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere?"

And, for my favorite one, Psalm 38: "I've lost twenty pounds in two months because of your accusation."
You think I'm making this up, but I assure you that I'm not. I'm not nearly creative enough. We students here at the Liturgical Institute laughed over these - and other - "translations" for a good two hours the other night.

I would give you the verses from which these quotations are culled, but the verses are mysteriously absent, as are good parts of the Scriptures. I went looking to see how The Message translated what we know as "Surely there will be a stench" only to discover that they apparently just rolled the stone away without complaining at all.

The next time you lament the current quality or accuracy of our liturgical texts simply remember that it could be worse, much worse.


  1. Anonymous9:26 PM

    If you are feeling truly adventurous you should for one week double your experience by praying Vespers twice. Pray the approved text first.... then pray it again replacing the psalms, canticles, and readings with that from The Message. It works even better if you chant it while you recite the office.

    The Message's Magnificat is the most amusing.

    Of course you would have to render:
    "O God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be...." something like
    "Yo G, get up my way. Big Mighty Dude, light a fire under it. Word do the Dadz, and his Kid, and to the Very Good Force, from the store's opening to the going out of business sales. Ohhh yea. Raise the roof."

  2. Once I suggested you see "Spamalot" because of it's medieval theme and you said you were not a Monty Python fan. However you started this post with a direct quote from MP - "And now for something completely different." Are you sure you are not a closet Python fan?

    Sorry you couldn't make it to Assisi, but with airfare like you were quoted, I don't think many people would go unless it was a family emergency. You would think that at the last minute, they would offer discounts just to fill the seats and pay for the fuel. I guess that would make sense and why would big business want to do that.

    Glad you are blogging a little more. I missed your insight on current events.

  3. That was hysterical! I think I'm going to go out and get myself a copy and read myself silly....haha

  4. I know now why Father J. hasn't returned my call. He's probably still ill.

    You should definitely forward that to the ICEL. Maybe it's not too late to squeeze it in. ;-)

  5. Ellen, you are right that I don't enjoy Monty Python. However, a skit or two are amusing outside of the overall productions. For instance, the "I'm not dead yet" bit. I like it outside of the movie but within the movie I do not. I'm glad to be blogging again as well.

    It comes in a pocket size, Andrew, so you'll never be without it.

    I don't think the new ICEL would like it, Thom. They have a new cast, as it were.

  6. "Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: 'Good morning! You're beautiful with God's beauty, Beautiful inside and out!"
    That is my personal favorite. Would make saying a Hail Mary or praying the Rosary difficult any time after noon. And I like how the Angel had to reaffirm Mary's inner AND outer beauty! classic.

  7. I had considered the Rosary element, Peter. Perhaps if we did change "Hail" to "Good morning" not as many people would forget to pray their rosary?

  8. Anonymous2:14 PM

    Laughing out loud, Father. That's great stuff. The "mild painkiller" that our Lord was offered -- I'm surprised there's no less of contra-indications or side effects in parentheses. I'm mean, if they really want to take things to the limit... Thanks for the laugh!


  9. That's what I'm here for, Steve!

  10. Well, I'm trying to imagine Psalm 23:

    God's my boss and I have everything. He gave me a bed in the grass beside a gentle stream and I got some sleep. Bad things can't happen to me because He's got me covered. He set up a nice picnic for me in front of guys who don't dig my scene. He washed my hair and filled my mug to the rim. Good stuff will happen to me forever and I will get to move into his place.

  11. You aren't far off, Beez:

    God, my shepherd!
    I don't need a thing.
    You have bedded [???] me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.
    True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

    Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side [God must wander away from time to time].
    Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.

    You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
    You revive my dropping head; my cup brims with blessing.

    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.

  12. Yikes! I wasn't far off. That scares me. :)

  13. Anonymous6:46 PM

    I still cannot get over the Magnificat:

    And Mary said,

    I'm bursting with God-news;
    I'm dancing the song of my Savior God.
    God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
    I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!
    What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
    the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
    His mercy flows in wave after wave
    on those who are in awe before him.
    He bared his arm and showed his strength,
    scattered the bluffing braggarts.
    He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
    pulled victims out of the mud.
    The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
    the callous rich were left out in the cold.
    He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
    he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
    It's exactly what he promised,
    beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

    I mean really:
    God took one good look at me, and look what happened......

    It is just wow...