Eugene H. Peterson

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Eugene H. Peterson
Eugene Peterson (cropped).jpg
Peterson speaking in Seattle, 2009
Born(1932-11-06)November 6, 1932
East Stanwood, Washington
DiedOctober 22, 2018(2018-10-22) (aged 85)
Lakeside, Montana, U.S.
EducationB.A. Seattle Pacific University
S.T.B. New York Theological Seminary
M.A. Johns Hopkins University
Notable workThe Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language

Eugene Hoiland Peterson (November 6, 1932 – October 22, 2018) was an American-born clergyman, scholar, theologian, author, and poet. He wrote over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language[1] (Navpress Publishing Group, 2002), a paraphrase of the Bible.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Peterson 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.[3] He also held several honorary doctoral degrees.[4] In 1962, Peterson was a founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Bel Air, Maryland, where he served for 29 years before retiring in 1991. He was the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia from 1992-1998.[5][6] He lived in Montana until his death on October 22, 2018 at the age of 85, a week after entering hospice care for complications related to congestive heart failure and dementia.[7]


Peterson created controversy when he was reported to have expressed support for religious same-sex marriage, who had been endorsed by his denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), in an interview published in Religion News Service, on 12 July 2017. The following day, he denied it and further clarified his position by stating: "Recently a reporter asked me whether my personal opinions about homosexuality and same-sex marriage have changed over the years. I presume I was asked this question because of my former career as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which recently affirmed homosexuality and began allowing its clergy to perform same-sex weddings. Having retired from the pastorate more than 25 years ago, I acknowledged to the reporter that I “haven’t had a lot of experience with it.”/ To clarify, I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything."[8]

The Message[edit]

Peterson is probably best known for The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language.[3] Although The Message has received criticism from some Bible scholars, many people read Peterson's paraphrased Bible because they find it accessible. The stated goal of The Message was to make the original meaning more understandable and accessible to the modern reader. Peterson explains:

Selected works[edit]

  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society (1980)
  • Run With the Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best (InterVarsity Press, November 1983)
  • Traveling Light: Modern Meditations on St. Paul's Letter of Freedom (Helmers & Howard Publishing, 1988)
  • Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination (HarperCollins Publishers, 1988)
  • Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer (Harper San Francisco, 1991 reprint)
  • Where Your Treasure Is: Psalms that Summon You from Self to Community (Wm. B. Eerdman Publishing Company, 1993)
  • Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up with Your Teenager (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994)
  • Subversive Spirituality (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish Publishing Group, 1994, reprinted in 1997 and 2006)
  • Take and Read: Spiritual Reading, An Annotated List (Eerdmans-Regent College Publishing, 1996)
  • Leap Over a Wall: Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians (HarperCollins Canada / Religious, 1997)
  • 1 and 2 Samuel - Westminster Bible Companion (Westminster John Knox Press, 1999)
  • The Wisdom of Each Other: A Conversation Between Spiritual Friends (Zondervan, 2001)
  • The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Navpress Publishing Group, 2002)
  • The Christmas Troll (Navpress Publishing Group, 2005)
  • Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in an Everyday Life (Navpress Publishing Group, 2006)
  • The Pastor: A Memoir (HarperOne, 2011)
  • As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God (WaterBrook, May 2017)
  • Every Step an Arrival: A 90-Day Devotional for Exploring God's Word (WaterBrook, Oct. 2018)

Pastoral Theology series

  • Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980)
  • The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980)
  • Working The Angles: The Shape Of Pastoral Integrity (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, May 1987)
  • Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992)
  • The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call (co-authored with Marva Dawn) (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000)

Praying with the Bible Series

  • Praying with Jesus: A Year of Daily Prayer and Reflection on the Words and Actions of Jesus (Harper San Francisco, 1993) ISBN 0-06-066566-1 ISBN 978-0060665661
  • Praying with the Psalms: A Year of Daily Prayer and Reflection on the Words of David (Harper San Francisco, 1993) ISBN 0-06-066567-X ISBN 978-0060665678
  • Praying with Moses: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words and Actions of Moses (Harper San Francisco, 1994) ISBN 0-06-066518-1 ISBN 978-0060665180
  • Praying with the Early Christians: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of the Early Christians (Harper San Francisco, 1994) ISBN 0-06-066517-3 ISBN 978-0060665173
  • Praying with Paul: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words and Actions of Paul (Harper San Francisco, 1995) ISBN 0-06-066433-9 ISBN 978-0060664336
  • Praying with the Prophets: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words and Actions of the Prophets (Harper San Francisco, 1995) ISBN 0-06-066431-2 ISBN 978-0060664312

Spiritual Theology series

  • Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Group, 2005)
  • Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, January 2006)
  • The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Group, 2007)
  • Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Group, 2008)
  • Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Group, 2010)


  1. ^ 2006 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners - Bibles category
  2. ^ "Introduction to the New Testament, from The Message". Retrieved 2008-06-03.
  3. ^ a b "Eugene Peterson, pastor and author of layman's version of Bible, dies at 85". The Spokesman-Review. October 22, 2018. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  4. ^ Regent College faculty page
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ McFadden, Robert. "Eugene H. Peterson, 85, Scholar Turned Homespun Pastor, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Eugene Peterson Is Now Living the Resurrection". 22 October 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  8. ^ Actually, Eugene Peterson Does Not Support Same-sex Marriage, Christianity Today, 13 July 2017
  9. ^ Clint Kelly. "Eugene Peterson: The Story Behind The Message". Lifeway. Retrieved 2008-03-28.

External links[edit]