The Message Bible vs. the King James Version (KJV)

The Message Bible and the King James Version of the Bible are two distinct translations that cater to different audiences.

The Message Bible is a paraphrase that uses contemporary, conversational English to make the text more relatable and accessible to modern readers.

In contrast, the King James Version is a formal equivalence translation known for its poetic language and literary beauty.

While The Message Bible is best suited for devotional reading and personal study, the King James Version is ideal for formal study, liturgical use, and readers who appreciate the literary qualities of the Bible.

Holy Bible
When was The Message published? See below

Comparing The Message and King James Bible: At a Glance

“The Message” aims to make the biblical message accessible to modern readers. The “King James Version” is named after King James I of England, who commissioned the translation in 1611. It is known for its poetic language and literary beauty.

FeatureThe MessageKing James Version
Translation ApproachParaphraseFormal equivalence
Language StyleContemporary, conversational EnglishEarly Modern English
Target AudienceModern readers seeking an easy-to-understand, relatable version of the BibleReaders who prefer a more traditional, poetic version of the Bible
Publication Date20021611
Author/TranslatorEugene H. PetersonA committee of 47 scholars appointed by King James I of England
Theological PerspectiveEvangelical ChristianProtestant Christian
Notable FeaturesUses everyday language and idioms to make the text more relatable and accessibleKnown for its poetic language and literary beauty
Best Suited ForDevotional reading, personal study, and understanding the overall message of the BibleFormal study, liturgical use, and readers who appreciate the literary qualities of the Bible

Who Was Eugene Peterson?

Eugene Peterson was a renowned American pastor, scholar, author, and poet.

Born in 1932, he served as a pastor for over 30 years before turning to writing and academia.

In addition to “The Message,” Peterson authored numerous books on theology, pastoral ministry, and spiritual formation.

His writings have been widely acclaimed for their depth, insight, and practical application.

Eugene Peterson passed away in 2018, leaving behind a lasting legacy in the world of Christian literature and ministry.

Who Was King James I?

King James I was a significant figure in British history, reigning as King of England and Ireland from 1603 until his death in 1625.

He was also King of Scotland as James VI from 1566.

Born in 1566, he was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots. King James I is best known for commissioning the King James Version of the Bible, a translation that remains influential to this day.

He was a strong advocate for the divine right of kings and worked to centralize royal power.

His reign saw the unification of the crowns of England and Scotland, and he is remembered for his contributions to literature, politics, and Protestantism.

Christian Bible
What is an example of The Message and the KJV? See below

Old Testament Example: Psalm 23 in The Message and the KJV

The Message uses contemporary, conversational language to convey the meaning of the passage, while the King James Version uses more formal, poetic language.

The Message (Psalm 23:1-4)

“God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.”

King James Version (Psalm 23:1-4)

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

New Testament Example: John 3:16 in The Message and the KJV

The Message (John 3:16)

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”

King James Version (John 3:16)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Bible Study
What manuscripts did each translation use? See below

What Original Manuscripts Did The Message Use?

The Message Bible, translated by Eugene Peterson, is based on the original languages of the Bible – Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

Peterson consulted various biblical manuscripts and scholarly texts in these languages to create his paraphrase.

He aimed to capture the tone, rhythm, and idioms of the original texts while making the language more accessible and relatable for contemporary readers.

The Message is not a word-for-word translation but rather a paraphrase that seeks to convey the original meaning of the Scriptures in a fresh and engaging way.

It is a valuable resource for readers seeking to understand the Bible in modern, everyday language.

What Original Manuscripts Did the KJV Use?

The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, commissioned by King James I of England in 1604, is based on several original manuscripts and earlier translations.

For the Old Testament, the translators primarily used the Masoretic Text, a Hebrew and Aramaic text of the Jewish Bible.

For the New Testament, they mainly relied on the Textus Receptus, a Greek text compiled by Erasmus.

Additionally, the translators consulted the Latin Vulgate, the Septuagint, and other earlier English translations such as the Tyndale Bible and the Bishop’s Bible.

The KJV, completed in 1611, is known for its poetic language and literary beauty, and it has had a significant impact on the English language and Christian theology.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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