A provocative challenge to read the Scriptures on their own terms---as God's revelation---and to live them as we read. Countering the trend toward subjective personal interpretation, Peterson suggests an alternative approach, offering fascinating insights on the nature of language, the ancient practice of lectio divina, and the role of translations, including The Message.
Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading
I wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt recommend
I recently read this book for a class on orthodoxy and hermeneutics. And while I could offer a very critical review of the book, I would much rather explain its potential weight and value.
Ã¢ÂÂEat This BookÃ¢ÂÂ is PetersonÃ¢ÂÂs second installment of a five part series on spiritual theology. More of a conversational journal, the book centers around the importance of reading and reviewing a text in order to internalize itÃ¢ÂÂs meaning. Peterson is a very eloquent author who is extremely gifted in articulating words in a picturesque way. After reading it, I was inspired and hungry to get into the Bible. But while Peterson is a passionate writer, I wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt recommend his book without certain warning.
How you read a book is certainly important and plays a major role in what you get out of it. Many people do not know how to read the Bible. Furthermore, many people do not approach the Bible without a certain set of presuppositions. Peterson is not exempt. He tells the story in the book about what led him to paraphrase the Bible and how it came about that he wrote Ã¢ÂÂThe MessageÃ¢ÂÂ (A complete paraphrase of the whole Bible in common, everyday language). The problem is that Peterson would consider his paraphrase a translation, but if it is a translation, we obviously have two different opinions on accuracy.
The risk with any translation is adding, subtracting, or narrowing a particular meaning from the original authorÃ¢ÂÂs intent. While PetersonÃ¢ÂÂs intentions may be pure, his process does not make proper provision for his own limitations. In the end, PetersonÃ¢ÂÂs premises bypass proper syntax in translating the text. This does not mean that there is nothing of value from PetersonÃ¢ÂÂs book or paraphrase, but it should be perceived with awareness of itÃ¢ÂÂs limitations and not accepted as a spiritual authority.
Where you begin matters. If you think of the Bible allegorically, your paraphrase will reflect personal identity more than contextual accuracy. With that said, I think there is a good deal of valuable take-aways from the book, but I wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt recommend it to anyone without a clear understanding of orthodoxy and hermeneutics.
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April 18, 2012