Frequently Asked Questions


Confused by all the Bible versions out there? We’ve answered the most frequently asked questions to help you understand how The Message was created and how it is kept up to date.

Who Translated The Message?

Eugene Peterson translated The Message. A pastor, theologian, poet, and bestselling author, he is most well-known in theological and pastoral circles. He has been a regular contributor to magazines read by pastors and scholars as well as popular religious publications and was a highly regarded guest lecturer and speaker throughout the world. But he is not an ivory-tower intellectual. Eugene Peterson's heart is with people.

Eugene’s immersion with people as a pastor—in hospitals, at kitchen tables, in parking lots, and from the pulpit—is what qualified him to translate The Message. He knows how people think and talk, how they express feelings, how they transmit their urgency, their frustration, their joy and their hope. And out of this context, coupled with his lifetime of familiarity with the original biblical languages, Eugene Peterson offers us The Message.

When was The Message first published?

The Message was originally published in pieces over the course of nine year. The New Testament was published in 1993. The Hebrew Bible Wisdom Books were published in 1998. The Hebrew Bible Prophets were published in 2000. The Hebrew Bible Pentateuch was released in 2001. The Books of History came out in 2002. The entire Bible was released the same year (2002) and follows the traditional Protestant Biblical canon.

Is there a Catholic version of The Message?

Yes! You can find The Message Catholic/Ecumenical Edition wherever books are sold. It includes a translation of the Deuterocanonical Writings translated by William Griffin and approved by Eugene Peterson. William is a lifelong Catholic with a history of working ecumenically and is especially aware of and sensitive to the various Christian traditions.

What texts were used when translating The Message?

Since Eugene Peterson worked with the text in its original Hebrew and Greek languages, he did what a translator does: choosing contemporary English words that best express the original meaning. And, as do all translators, he used interpretative skill in choosing those English words. He also “paraphrased” the original languages by choosing word that communicate the style and flavor of common conversation in Bible times—rather than trying to achieve word-for-word correspondence, which can be more difficult to understand and respond to in our own experience today.

To which translation philosophy does The Message adhere?

The Message exhibits what we call “contemporary equivalence.” It stands between two approaches to translation: paraphrase and “dynamic equivalence.” Paraphrases of ancient works tend to be created by individuals, rather than translation committees; they often work not from the original languages but from contemporary translations, with a goal of making sometimes arcane content and often complex sentence structures more understandable to modern readers. Dynamic equivalence translation is often done by committee and works from the original languages with a goal of matching the tone and intent of the original writers. Where, for example, ancient idioms have fallen out of contemporary understanding, dynamic equivalence translations will offer parallel idioms that are more decipherable to modern readers.

Eugene Peterson is the sole translator of The Message, two teams of biblical scholars (in Old and New Testaments, respectively) carefully vetted his translation . In that respect, it bears similarity to a paraphrase. But his philosophical approach to creating The Message is more in line with dynamic equivalence, working from the original languages to yield a vivid, contemporary, and highly readable Bible that is faithful to the original texts. It has produced what we call “contemporary equivalence.”

What makes The Message accurate and faithful?

Eugene Peterson came to this project with a heart full of passion for the gospel, a lifetime of familiarity with the Greek Scriptures, and scholarly credentials that include a Masters degree in Semitic Languages from Johns Hopkins University. He served as a pastor for 35 years, and he approaches the biblical text with the kind of pastoral compassion the New Testament writers had for the people they were writing to.

When Peterson embarked on The Message project, he had before him only the Scriptures in their original languages—no commentaries, no English translations. Since then, Biblical scholars who have looked at his work recognize that he has a truly intimate understanding of Greek and Hebrew. Moreover, they have observed an authenticity and freshness of insight in The Message that successfully sidestepped biases influenced by other English translations. This tendency is all too common among Bible students and scholars who are not intimately familiar with the original languages.

Five other New Testament scholars—experts in Greek—served as exegetical consultants in this project. They acted as a system of checks and balances to ensure the faithful integrity of the final translation. These experts are:

  • Dr. William W. Klein (Chairman), Denver Seminary
  • Dr. Darrell L. Bock, Dallas Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Donald A. Hagner, Fuller Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Moisés Silva, Westminster Theological Seminary
  • The Rev. Dr. Rodney A. Whitacre, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry

Fifteen Old Testament scholars reviewed The Message as well. These experts are:

  • Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., North Park Theological Seminary (chair)
  • Richard E. Averbeck, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
  • Bryan E. Beyer, Columbia International University
  • Lamar E. Cooper, Sr., Criswell College
  • Peter E. Enns, Eastern University
  • Duane A. Garrett, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Donald R. Glenn, Dallas Theological Seminary
  • Paul R. House, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
  • V. Philips Long, Regent College
  • Tremper Longman III, Westmont College
  • John N. Oswalt, Asbury Theological Seminary
  • Richard L. Pratt, Jr., Reformed Theological Seminary
  • John H. Walton, Wheaton College
  • Prescott H. Williams, Jr., Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
  • Marvin R. Wilson, Gordon College

How does The Message compare to other translations?

Like most Bibles, The Message is a faithful translation of the original texts of the Scriptures into contemporary language. Translation philosophies range widely: from word-by-word rendering that supports deep, scholarly study but can be difficult to read; to paraphrasing that is very readable but sometimes obscures some nuances of the original writings. The Message stands somewhere in between, translating from the original writings not just specific words but also the ancient concepts and cultural idioms into highly readable, contemporary language. While Eugene Peterson never considered The Message to be a study Bible, it is a valuable “second Bible” for anyone wanting surprising clarity and insight into the heart of a particular passage.

Why is The Message a good translation for new believers?

The Message has value for all believers at any stage in their spiritual walk, but it has been often celebrated as a “first Bible” for people new to Christian faith or Bible reading. It’s known for being highly readable, with helpful contemporary language that is nevertheless faithful to the original texts. We’ve found that people who start reading The Message keep reading it!

I’ve read other translations, why should I consider reading The Message?

A wide range of excellent Bible translations are available today. The Message offers a distinct contribution to Bible reading for new and mature Christians alike—even those who have never considered the Christian faith. Its “down-to-earthiness” is welcoming and disarming to people who have found other Bible translations difficult to understand or connect with. But even more so, The Message has served to disrupt readings of Bible passages that have become overfamiliar with time: You’ll discover surprises in passages that you hadn’t noticed before because of Eugene Peterson’s careful translation of “the world of Scripture into the world of Today.”

What makes The Message good for use in teaching and preaching?

Eugene Peterson did not envision The Message as a primary resource for deep scriptural study. But in his pastoral work, he saw his congregation getting lost in the language and missing the great themes of Scripture . Much of his preaching was effectively translating “the world of Scripture into the world of Today.” The Message itself grew out of that insight. The Message offers pastors a turn of phrase that further illuminates a biblical passage or brings the Bible closer to home for the congregation.

The Message text was updated in 2018. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the update.

Why were updates made to The Message?

Language changes over time—often faster than we realize! A particular challenge for a “Bible in contemporary language” is to regularly review phrases that have become outdated or unhelpful. Our review of The Message was constrained by a commitment to not fix what wasn’t broken, to retain Eugene’s original vision for his distinct translation, and to faithfully reflect the Bible’s timeliness and timelessness. The result was an “aesthetic revision” of The Message, with spot-specific changes that would support ongoing readability over time. These changes were made with the oversight of biblical scholars and authorized by Eugene Peterson himself.

Have verses been removed from the 2018 edition of The Message?

No verses were removed from the Bible during the 2018 revision of The Message.

Which editions of The Message contain the 2018 text?

Online editions of The Message now reflect the 2018 revisions. You can determine whether your edition includes the 2018 text by looking at the copyright page in the front of the Bible. It will include this line: “The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.”

FAQ’s about the publisher of The Message.

Who is responsible for maintaining The Message text?

Since 1993 Eugene Peterson has partnered with NavPress to publish The Message. In 2014, NavPress entered into a publishing alliance with Tyndale House Publishers. Together, they ensure all The Message products maintain text which Eugene and his translation consultants have approved.

Who is NavPress and how does NavPress relate to The Navigators?

NavPress is the book-publishing division of The Navigators, an evangelical ministry whose mission is to know Christ, make Him known, and help others to do the same.

What is the relationship between NavPress and Tyndale House Publishers?

Since 2014 NavPress and Tyndale House have worked together in a publishing alliance. NavPress remains a ministry of The Navigators and acquires and develops books, Bibles, and Bible studies and discipleship resources under the guidance and leadership of The Navigators. Tyndale House serves NavPress by providing a range of publishing services, from design, copyediting, and typesetting, to sales, marketing, and distribution.

Where can I find a complete list of all the latest editions of The Message?

NavPress offers many different editions of The Message including large print, compact, as well as journaling and note-taking Bibles. The complete list is available at

Where can I read a sample of The Message?

Read the entire text of The Message on this site. Search by book of the Bible, verse, phrase, or keyword.

The Message is also available to read and download on the YouVersion app as well as many other Bible text apps.

Is it possible to print a custom edition of The Message for our church, camp, or ministry use?

On behalf of NavPress, Tyndale House Publishers can create a special edition for your ministry group. Contact customer service at 1-800-323-9400 for more information.