SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION

A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene Peterson, Translator of the Message

WaterBrook. Mar. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780735291621. $28. REL
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One thing that author Collier can’t be accused of is skimping on his research. His latest book details the life of Eugene Peterson (1932–2018), whose greatest fame came from translating the Bible into idiomatic English with The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. The writing reflects Collier’s access to a plethora of personal interviews, journal entries, and papers that comprise this narrative of the famed theologian’s life. Collier traces Peterson’s journey from his Pentecostal roots to his post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins, through his pastorships, and into his prolific writing career. At times, this can be too much of a good thing. Such a detailed picture is painted for readers that occasionally we learn what Peterson had for dinner. Overall, however, Peterson and his family are presented as real people, from time to time beset by the usual trials of the human condition. Insight is given into his relationship with his wife Jan and his children. Sometimes exhibiting a tendency to overwrite, the author, while mostly penning a flowing narrative, does a disservice to his subject—veering close to equalizing the trivial and the momentous.
VERDICT For those who desire an in-depth look at Peterson’s life.

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