"As for the souls of the just, they're in the hands of God; the torment of death never lays a finger on them. In the eyes of the not-so-just, the just seem to have died and gone to hell; but such affliction as they may have suffered was merely their exit fee from this world to the next. Their departure was misinterpreted as their demise; in reality they're at peace. Yes, the just suffer as much as the unjust during the death process; but their passage is full of hope and the promise of immortality." --Wisdom 3:1-4 (The Message)
I was very excited to finally receive a hardcover copy of ACTA's newly released The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition. I have reported on this publication since it was announced earlier in the year. If you would like to read an interview I did with Gregory Pierce, President and Co-Publisher of ACTA Publications, go here. I am sure you will find many of your questions answered in that interview.
Now for the first time and exclusively from ACTA Publications, The
Message features the deuteroncanonical books translated by William
Griffin in The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition. Including the
books of Judith, Tobit, Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and
additions to Esther and Daniel, all translated in the same
contemporary American-idiomatic paraphrased style as the other
editions of The Message.
Eugene Peterson's The Message is a fresh, compelling, insightful,
challenging, faith-filled translation of the Bible into contemporary
idiomatic American English and is first and foremost a reader's Bible.
Eugene Peterson and William Griffin (translator of the
deuterocanonical books) have made the Scriptures come alive again by
translating them in a way that people can understand what God is
trying to say to us today.
This Bible is meant to be read. The Message is not meant to be a
substitute for your other bible translations. It is meant to sit next
to them where you can pick it up and simply start reading. We hope it
will send you back to your other translations with new insight and
William Griffin translated the Deuterocanonical portions straight from the Nova Vulgata, which might makes it one of the only English translations from that Latin text. I am working on getting connected with Mr. Griffin to talk to him about that process, so stay tuned. Of course, Eugene Peterson's translation is what is found, unchanged, for the remainder of the books.
In regards to the product itself, as with almost all editions of The Message that I have seen in the past, this text is arranged in a single-column format. For a more idiomatic Bible like this, it really has to be. Each page is very readable and the verse numbering, arranged by paragraph, are placed on the margins of the text. The text looks and feels like The Message, which is a good thing. Each biblical book is preceded by a short introduction, including the Deuterocanonical books. The Deuterocanonical books are placed in their proper Catholic order, as oppose to having them all bundled together between the Old and New Testaments. This volume also begins with new introductions from the translators Eugene Peterson and William Griffin. Peterson concludes his introduction by saying: "I am immensely grateful to my Catholic friends and colleagues for their encouragement to 'complete' The Message. I hope that it will lead to increased ecumenical use and dialogue."
There are two short sections called "The Story of the Bible in Five Acts" and "The Drama of the Bible" placed in the appendix that give an overall guide to reading the Bible as a whole. In regards to size of the book, itself, it isn't meant to be portable. The size of the book comes in at 9.1 x 6.1 x 2.3 inches. So, it is a bit bulky, but not in the same way as found in the rather large New Jerusalem Bible standard edition. In the future, I would really like to see this Bible available in a more portable edition, much like the Remix editions which are currently available in the Protestant canon and are very popular.
I am truly excited that this edition is now available for Catholics. The people at ACTA have maintained throughout that this is not meant to replace your favorite Catholic translation, but rather to be an aid to understanding and discovery. I think it succeeds in this quite well. The content and format of this edition is conducive to reading the Bible in large chunks. The Message remains popular in Protestant circles, and I know of a number of Catholics who take great comfort in reading from it. So, I am glad that there is finally a complete Catholic edition available for them and for all who are interested in seeing a rendering of the Bible in a fresh, unique way. As of now, you can purchase The Message in hard or soft cover editions, as well as in an E-book edition for your Kindle or Nook. Also, ACTA has keyed The Message into their handy This Transforming Word resource which provides a commentary on the readings for Sundays and Feast Days written by Alice Camille. The Year A edition is currently available for purchase.
"A final comparison. One can drink wine as it is and swallow hard or one can drink it mixed with water and enjoy it; hence, a book is good when it's written, but better when it's read. And so it is with mine." -2 Maccabees 15:39 (The Message)
Thank you to ACTA for providing me a review copy of this product.