• A Burning in My Bones

  • The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson, Translator of The Message
  • By: Winn Collier
  • Narrated by: Richard Poe
  • Length: 9 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Biographies & Memoirs, Religious
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (336 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

This essential authorized biography of Eugene Peterson offers unique insights into the experiences and spiritual convictions of the iconic American pastor and beloved translator of The Message. 

“In the time of a generation-wide breakdown in trust with leaders in every sphere of society, Eugene’s quiet life of deep integrity and gospel purpose is a bright light against a dark backdrop.” (John Mark Comer, author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry)

“This hunger for something radical - something so true that it burned in his bones - was a constant in Eugene’s life. His longing for God ignited a ferocity in his soul.” 

Encounter the multifaceted life of one of the most influential and creative pastors of the past half century with unforgettable stories of Eugene’s lifelong devotion to his craft and love of language, the influences and experiences that shaped his unquenchable faith, the inspiration for his decision to translate The Message, and his success and struggles as a pastor, husband, and father.

Author Winn Collier was given exclusive access to Eugene and his materials for the production of this landmark work. Drawing from his friendship and expansive view of Peterson’s life, Collier offers an intimate, beautiful, and earthy look into a remarkable life.

For Eugene, the gifts of life were inexhaustible: the glint of fading light over the lake; a kiss from Jan; a good joke; a bowl of butter pecan ice cream. As you enter into his story, you’ll find yourself doing the same - noticing how the most ordinary things shimmer with a new and unexpected beauty.

©2020 Winn Collier (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Winn Collier captures Eugene Peterson’s sense of wonder over the presence of God and the radiance of Scripture. Through A Burning in My Bones, you’ll learn to experience life through Eugene’s eyes: dig deep, look for what is real, find the sacred in the rough and ordinary, and live like God is real.” (Mark Batterson, New York Times best-selling author of The Circle Maker and lead pastor of National Community Church)

“How do you reduce into words the vital reality of this man, scholar, searcher, teacher, and faithful friend? Eugene was a man who brought Scripture to fresh life for me and millions of others—who else would invite the phrase Holy Luck into a retelling of the Beatitudes? Winn Collier’s skilled storytelling weaves the threads of Eugene’s life into something fitting, like the prayer shawl he wore in his study every day.” (Luci Shaw, Regent College writer in residence and author of The Generosity poems) 

“I knew Eugene Peterson for thirty years, or at least I thought I did. He didn’t talk much, especially about himself. I knew nothing about his mouse tattoo, his Pentecostal mother’s radio program, the abysmal failure of his first church plant attempt, his friendship with a young Pat Robertson, or his square dancing prowess. Somehow Winn Collier ferreted out the little known facts about Eugene that, taken together, complete the picture of a humble, gentle giant who brought the Bible to new life for millions and became an inspirational model for beleaguered pastors everywhere.” (Philip Yancey, author of What’s So Amazing About Grace) 

What listeners say about A Burning in My Bones

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Thank you

Though I didn't know Eugene Peterson personally, I have long considered him to be a sort of pastor, mentor and father to me. I have devoured many of his books and listened to several of his classes from Regent College on audio. Thank you to Winn Collier, to Eugene Peterson and to the Peterson family for sharing a life that encourages me in this long obedience. It is a well-written book that doesn't shy away from the ups and downs of his life, that in turn encourages me to continue in prayer, reading and living out the Scriptures and focusing on love and charity.

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Now I know him...

I cried at the end.... a brilliant telling of a complicated, controversial and brilliant man. You will be blessed to finsh this book.

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A joy!

This is a man that I have loved learning about, and whom I want to share time with.

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Inspiring, Moving & Thought Provoking

it started a little slow but that was all very important for the entirety of the story. I had a hard time putting it down. Crazy how much influence he ended up having in our world. A great read for everyone, especially those in pastoral ministry.

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Powerful story about a gifted man.

This is a unique story about a man who has many talents but chooses to focus on one of his gifts moving forward. He disciplines himself to try and become a writer and also a man of God. He succeeded but life also became challenging towards the end. Good people he surrounded himself with were helpful.

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Inspiring, Convicting, Enthralling

This book left me missing a person whom I never had the pleasure of meeting. The way the author traces thoughts through Eugene Peterson’s life and shows his passion and fervor for connecting with God leaves me mesmerized and convicted to move towards this life myself. Viewing the trajectory of his life from early childhood through gives me hope for myself that in latter years I myself might “become a saint”, if I walk the long slow road as Eugene did.
I will revisit this book many times through my pastoral career, a reminder to stay on path.

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Inviting.

My first introduction to Eugene Peterson who came recommended by a friend. Have never read The Message or any of his (other) books, but I really appreciated this biography. It is well done, and maybe this is presumptive (certainly unnecessary) of me, but I think I can now be very comfortable recommending him and this biography to others (if not also to myself). It was a joy and very refreshing to enter in to his spirituality, his passion, his prayer life, his patience and long-suffering, his willingness to sit with others, listen and wait with them (rather than be expected—or anticipated—to have ‘answers’ to their problems) through trials, and his candid favor for unity in Christ over—even if perhaps sometimes wrong—rancor and division. I appreciated what seemed like his recurring angst, much needed among God’s people including myself to get alone with God. It is tempting to chalk this up to ‘personality’, and while there may be some truth to this, I think we would all do better to admit what ought to be our own desperation before such a holy and gracious God. Many times I just wanted to weep. To laugh. To celebrate. To pray. Enjoy!

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Amazing!

My soul was encouraged, challenged, refreshed and inspired! excellently written and read! grateful for this beautiful telling of his life story.

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This was a second reading.

On my second reading of A Burning of My Bones, I am not sure how to say something new or roughly the same things without making it seem like there was no value in rereading. But after sitting with the second reading for a little while, my thoughts are pretty similar and I finished reading the book deeply encouraged.

I still am not really fond of the start of the book, and I don't really find myself drawn in until the chapters on seminary and early ministry. I am honestly not sure what it is about the early chapters that do not speak to me, but I suspect it is related that there is just less material for Winn Collier to draw on. I re-read this again as part of the Renovare book club. And one of the reasons I enjoy the book club is that they have resources to give background and understanding to the book. Most of the time, there are multiple interviews with the author, a couple of essays, and then a message board for readers to discuss. In one of those interviews, Winn Collier talked about reading Peterson's journals and letters and sermons and books, and I have to imagine that the resources that Collier could draw on for Peterson's early life were limited.

But again, in this reading, I settled into the pastoral years, and I was encouraged both by Peterson's growth as a pastor, his love and orientation toward the people in the parish, and his limitations. Limitations are so important to recognize and embrace. And it is not that we embrace our limitations as an excuse or as a way to overcome them, but we embrace them because we are human, and part of what it means to be human is to have limitations. Those limitations are part of why I personally turn to God. I think the denial of human limitations is what is spiritually dangerous about wealth and much of our culture of autonomy.

I read Wendell Berry's novel Jayber Crow soon after finishing A Burning in My Bones, and part of what I felt about the parallels in that novel and the story of Eugene Peterson is that they both pointed to the reality of the community as part of what is essential for a human-focused life. So much of our culture, whether in the 2020s or the 1950 and 60s that was the focus of Jayber Crow, is the orientation toward progress as a way to overcome our human limitations. I am not against tools or modern conveniences, I am highly dependent on them, and I love them. But as so many have pointed out, we often become dependent upon them in ways that make us the servant of the tool and not the other way around.

Eugene Peterson pushed back against culture in ways that were not for everyone. His resistance to email and the internet was part of his time; you could resist email and the internet differently in the 1990s to the early 2010s than you can now. It isn't about the particularities of his push against dehumanizing tools as much as that his example reminds us that we, too, should be pushing back against our dehumanization. And not just for ourselves, but for others as well.

After my first reading, Eugene Peterson's weaknesses were the most encouraging part of the book for me. Of course, I know that will not be true for everyone. But when the weaknesses of many spiritual leaders are being revealed regularly, I appreciate that there is space to see weaknesses that are not rooted in the abuse of others. And that Eugene tried to grapple with in spiritually healthy ways. And that he didn't stop struggling to be who God wanted him to be when he turned 50, but in many ways, it was more of a struggle as he aged because he because more aware of himself and God over time.

I do not want to idealize Eugene Peterson, which would be easy for me to do. However, the particulars, I think, really help add nuance and humanity to my view of him in ways that still allow him to be human.

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Author should have narrated

Loved listening to this biography, but the narration was more suited to a dramatic fiction book, not a story about a humble man like Eugene Peterson. The last chapter, read by the author, felt much more fitting for the book.

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  • Mark
  • 04-23-21

Superb

A thoroughly enjoyable insight into a soul seeking to live a holy life. Highly recommended.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Annie Pal.
  • 01-08-22

Wonderful

Absolutely loved every word. I have long loved The Message and read it for more than twenty years . This wonderful account beautifully read has only enhanced my high regard for its author. Usually listen again. Dr Annie 8/1/22.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-11-21

Pure inspiration.

Fantastic to follow the story of his life and family both triumphs and regrets. What a presence and integrity lived.

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  • Philip Trouse
  • 03-12-22

Deeply moving and inspirational

I enjoyed the intimacy of this story. Eugene’s life of prayer and holiness inspired me and encouraged me to renew my own faith and seek to walk closer with God. Beautifully told, brought tears to my eyes as I felt I was welcomed in to this man’s life. Thankyou.

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  • John Jacobson
  • 10-07-21

Inspirational

Eugene Peterson was a saint. I don't read/listen to many biographies but this one made me want to read more. it was well written with valuable access to journals and personal letters that allowed the reader into the inner life of this great saint.

I was also disgusted at the way the evangelical church reacted to his comments in an interview late on his life on same sex marriage. it demonstrates how far this institution has fallen. Eugene loved the church with all its failings and had no time for detractors, but for me this collection of institutions that represent white evangelical America look more like Pharisees than Jesus.

It's time for a new reformation, and to have more people follow Jesus in the way that Eugene Peterson did, with grace, unconditional love and no judgement.

I highly recommend this book to inspire you to walk this path.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-11-21

Impacting.

The story of Eugene Peterson has such a great impact on me. His sincerity, integrity and passion for the word of God. Love his journey to becoming such a great writer. Thank you.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-07-21

An inspiring life, highly recommend this book.

A beautifully told story of a life well lived. Really enjoyed this book, particularly the second half and the description of spiritual life and marriage. A great way to get to know this author.