Eugene Peterson – Influencer

I never met Eugene Peterson, who died Monday at age 85, but I was well aware of his influence. You can find an outpouring of affection and appreciation online, and I am not going to add to that.

I do think it fitting though that I re-post this piece, which ran April 16, 2016. When I first watched the video I was the 45th person to watch it. If you click the link below you will see that you are one of more than 750,000 people who have watched it since.

A new short documentary film was released on the internet yesterday. By happenstance I was one of the first to watch it. Today I’m sharing it with you.

The theologian in question in Eugene Peterson. He’s a pastor, author and teacher who a few years ago published his own translation of The Bible, which he called The Message.

That work was an attempt to breathe new freshness into the ancient text for those not able to read Greek and Hebrew. The Message has sold 17 million copies since it was first published.

The rock star is Bono, front man for the Irish group U2. I have written about them before.

The twenty minute film, The Psalms, is a snapshot of the interaction between the two as they discuss the Biblical book of the same name.

As someone who has actually recorded a psalm or two, Bono brings a musician’s perspective to scripture, especially “The Psalms,” which were originally written to be sung. As a theologian Peterson’s take is perhaps a bit less emotional – but it is evident both men have a love for the text under discussion.

When Eugene Peterson was first told by his students that Bono had declared himself a Peterson fan, he had never heard of the singer. He knows now; he’s seen U2 in concert. I got the impression however that he may not fully comprehend just how influential the band is. He’s of a different generation.

I think the filmmakers hope to generate discussion about this particular segment of scripture, to remind people again of its timeless message. Who better to help spread the word than Bono? The hope is to get you excited about the psalms. If you haven’t read them and don’t have a Bible handy, Peterson’s publishers are offering a free sample for download here.

Twenty minutes is about 19 minutes longer than I am usually willing to watch a video on YouTube. This one I will watch again. Check it out for yourself and tell me what you think.

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