The Message: Psalms
The writer, whose The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary English (NavPress, 1993) is a paraphrase of the New Testament, now applies the same method to the Old Testament book of Psalms. In a few places, the technique works; some of the rougher passages recover their harshness in the contemporary idiom, and the act of paraphrasing itself underscores the devotional value of putting the Psalms in one's own words. But too often Peterson uses paraphrase for its own sake, as when Psalm 19 turns "gold" and "honey" into "diamonds" and "strawberries," as though the former terms were unclear to the reader. He also imposes Christian categories on what is patently a Hebrew text. The writer's lack of skill at reproducing the poetry of the Psalms is evident everywhere; Stephen Mitchell's A Book of Psalms (LJ 6/1/93) is far preferable to this volume. The whole endeavor makes one understand why some people long for the days of the King James version. A marginal purchase.
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