For more than two years, Eugene Peterson devoted all his efforts to The Message® New Testament. His primary goal was to capture the tone of the text and the original conversational feel of the Greek, in contemporary English. He hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people. The first group were those who hadn't read the Bible because it seemed too distant, irrelevant, and antiquated. The second group were those who had read the Bible all their lives but now found it "old hat," so familiar that they were no longer startled by the truth of its message.
Language is always changing. When we hear something over and over again in the same way, we can become so familiar with it that the text loses its impact. The Message® strives to help readers hear the living Word of God the Bible in a way that engages and intrigues us right where we are. The Message® is designed to be read by contemporary people in the same way as the original koiné Greek and Hebrew manuscripts were savored by people thousands of years ago.
Some people like to read the Bible in Elizabethan English. Others want to read a version that gives a close word-for-word correspondence between the original languages and English. Eugene Peterson recognized that the original sentence structure is very different from that of contemporary English. He decided to strive for the spirit of the original manuscripts to express the rhythm of the voices, the flavor of the idiomatic expressions, the subtle connotations of meaning that are often lost in English translations.
The goal of The Message® is to engage people in the reading process and help them understand what they read. This is not a study Bible, but rather "a reading Bible." The verse numbers, which are not in the original documents, have been left out to facilitate easy and enjoyable reading. The original books of the Bible were not written in formal language. The Message® tries to recapture the Word in the words we use today.