Eugene H. Peterson (b. November 6, 1932), is a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. He has written over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language(Navpress Publishing Group, 2002), a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible.
Peterson was was born in East Stanwood, Washington and grew up in Kalispell, Montana. He earned his B.A. in philosophy from Seattle Pacific University, his S.T.B. from New York Theological Seminary, and his M.A. in Semitic languages from Johns Hopkins University. In 1962, Peterson was a founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland, where he served for 29 years before retiring in 1991. He was Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia until retiring in 2006. He now lives in Montana.
Peterson is probably best known for The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, which was written to try to make the original meaning of the Bible more understandable and accessible to the modern reader. The translation has received criticism by some for being too much of a paraphrase, thus making the final product too far removed from the original Greek and Hebrew. Others defend Peterson's work; it was not meant to be a literal word-for-word translation but rather a rewording of the text in modern language with the meaning and teaching of the original texts still intact. Peterson explains:
"When Paul of Tarsus wrote a letter, the people who received it understood it instantly, When the prophet Isaiah preached a sermon, I can't imagine that people went to the library to figure it out. That was the basic premise under which I worked. I began with the New Testament in the Greek --- a rough and jagged language, not so grammatically clean. I just typed out a page the way I thought it would have sounded to the Galatians".