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Eugene Peterson, author of ‘The Message,’ Dies at 85

Photo by Cathleen Falsani/Sojourners.
Photo by Cathleen Falsani/Sojourners.

Eugene Peterson, acclaimed author and pastor, died today at age 85.

While Peterson wrote more than 30 books during his life, he is perhaps best known for authoring The Message, a para-translation of the Bible with more than 17 million copies in print.

“I didn’t feel it was anything special when I was doing it,” Peterson said of the influential translation in 2012. “I can’t believe I did this. Reading it now I think, ‘How did I do this?’ It truly was a work of the Holy Spirit.”

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Despite his literary claim to fame, Peterson insisted he was a pastor, not a writer.

“There is a way we can preach without being bullies, or being in a hurry … and without having everything tied down,” Peterson said. “I think sermons suffer greatly for a lack of ambiguity.”

Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Peterson founded Christ Our King Presbyterian in Maryland where he served as the pastor for 29 years.

In 2016, Peterson gained even more international attention after appearing in a video with U2 star, Bono.

“He brings the musicality to God’s Word that I’m sure was always there,” Bono said of Peterson at the time.

Author Winn Collier was first to share the news of Peterson’s death on Twitter.

“I’m grateful we walked the earth while Eugene Peterson was alive,” tweeted Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, shortly after. “His life and work changed my life, bringing me to Jesus, over and over again.”

According to a statement from his family, among Peterson’s last words were, “Let’s go.”



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