If you don't think of the Bible for "casual listening" or "pleasure listening", this version of "The Message" will challenge that opinion. "The Message" has to be among the best - if not the best - English version for listening. The prose is contemporary and engaging and Eugene Peterson does an exceptional job providing continuity of the text where other, more literal versions do not. He captures the spirit of the text well, unafraid to use emotional terms and colloquial phrases to express the points. I have found myself laughing and smirking on multiple occasions at his choice of words - well-capturing the emotional tone (funny, serious, sarcastic, etc.) of the original authors.
While I would never use "The Message" as my exclusive study Bible, it is exceptional for my lengthy daily commute and I find it easier to track with than the New International Version to which I have listened. And it makes the Bible very approachable to anyone who considers it intimidating or too complicated. Peterson makes it clear in the introduction that he's aiming at a thought/sense translation, not a literal one. He absolutely hits the mark.
Kelly Ryan Dolan's reading is exceptional and nearly right-on; I have found few phrases or sentences that I would have emphasized differently. (He is consistently good with his reading of John Eldredge's "Waking the Dead".)
I would recommend this version to those who have never considered the Bible approachable; this version will change your mind. I can also recommend it to those who have read the Scriptures for years as this version will give you a fresh perspective. And for those who are convinced there is only one "real" version? Please remember that God expressed them through men in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek - not English - and that same Holy Spirit works to interpret the Scriptures for people of all tongues today - even contemporary English! God bless all who seek the truth.
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