Eugene Peterson’s The Message offers a fresh reading of Scripture that is intended not for study, but for hearing Scripture in a way intended to be comparable to those originally hearing it.* In many ways he has done a marvelous job of this. He is a remarkable scholar and author (one of my favorites) and I am often delighted by his perspective on things.
However, recently I received a newsletter that quoted from Ezekiel and I was struck by the alteration to the Hebrew text. The most recurring statement…indeed THE theme of Ezekiel…is the revelation of YHWH as YHWH (Israel’s God). This is signified in every translation I’ve seen (with the strangely lacking use ANYWHERE in the Amplified version) and well conveys the intent of the message to and through Ezekiel for Israel (Judah) and the nations.
The Message, instead, states that they (Israel, nations) will “know that I am God.” While the referent is still the God of Israel whose intent is to reveal that indeed He is God…this falls short of conveying the original hearing which emphasized the Name (with all its connections to the revelation and covenant with Abraham and Israel at Sinai). I was sorely disappointed by this reading, because it seems to me to diminish the very center of Ezekiel’s theology.
* It was NOT intended for preaching or study, which sadly it has been used for by far too many a preacher. It is important we understand original intent…including that of a translation.