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Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Spiritual Theology #2)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,573 ratings  ·  108 reviews
Eat This Book challenges us to read the Scriptures on their own terms, as God's revelation, and to live them as we read them. With warmth and wisdom Peterson offers greatly needed, down-to-earth counsel on spiritual reading. In these pages he draws readers into a fascinating conversation on the nature of language, the ancient practice of lectio divina, and the role of Scri ...more
Paperback, 186 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published 2006)
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James Korsmo
In Eat This Book, Peterson continues the work he began in his masterful Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places to construct a "spiritual theology." And in this book, he takes up "spiritual reading." Peterson guides into an intentional encounter with the Bible by focusing not just on the fact that we read the Bible, but in focusing on how.

Peterson's focus can be summed up by the guiding metaphor that gives the book its title: eat this book. The metaphor comes from the book of Revelation, where an an
To write a review of this book is a difficult job for me, for as much as I loved the first half, I couldn't really stand the second.

The first two sections were hands down incredible. Peterson's directives to read meditatively and full of adoration and wonder were amazing. What he says of the scriptures could be said of any piece of literature, of course, but the Bible demands it particularly because of its content and style. While Homer and Virgil will drag the wonder out of you, demanding it bu
The chapter "Scripture as Script:Playing Our Part in the Spirit" is some of the BEST writing I've read. Peterson does a great job of provoking his readers to actually engage their identity as children of God, created in His image, to be part of the ongoing story of good that God is writing at every moment of every day in the hearts of those who are willing to meet Him and join in.

Very inspiring chapter...dig this..." Our imaginations have to be revamped to take in this large immense world of God
Connor Searle
In his typical conversational narrative, Eugene Peterson (Presbyterian pastor and author of the Message) challenges followers of Jesus to stop simply reading the Bible and start chewing on it, letting it move from our mouths to our stomachs to our bloodstreams until it comes out in words and deeds of love. One time tested method of meditating on scripture like this is called lectio divina (spiritual reading). Elsewhere, Peterson has summarized the four stages of reading this way with four words: ...more
Eugene Peterson, the author of the Message paraphrase of the Bible is a prolific author. He has also authored several other books, including a 5 volume spiritual theology series. Eat This Book (2006) is the second book in the series. Peterson informs the reader about the importance of how we read the Bible and not just that we read it. Too often, evangelicals come to the Bible with a desire to parse and master the word rather than have the word master them. In the first section, he makes a stron ...more
Delightfully challenged me to read Scripture more than analytically. Really good background on translation, the Message, and even on Aramaic. Strong arguments for the importance of relating the Story currently and contextually for each generation and people. So many good things and ideas to reflect upon.
The only thing I've read by Eugene Peterson is The Message and I've been working my way through his companion devotional The Message: Solo - An Uncommon Devotional, which is founded on the exegetical method of lectio divina, although after reading Eat This Book I hesitate greatly to call lectio divina a "method". For eating the book that is the bible is a truly beautiful metaphor that Peterson pulls right out of the bible itself, out of the book of Revelation, to help us understand a different a ...more
Peterson is an extremely eloquent writer, stirring the reader to embrace the depth of the scriptures through his own use of powerful phrases and imagery.

Peterson puts a huge emphasis on "scripture as story." He believes that the only way to "enter into" the scriptures is to understand the big picture narrative and to understand how our lives fit into God's narrative rather than forcing the story into our own lives.

This idea, along with Peterson's other main points, are repeated throughout Eat T
Peterson uses "eat" as a metaphor for consuming the Word so that it literally nourishes and becomes part of us intrinsically through reading, praying, living it in its entirety.

Key quotes:

By keeping company w/ the writers of Holy Scripture we are schooled in a practice of reading & writing that is infused w/ an enormous respect - more than respect, awed reverence - for the revelatory & transformative power of words.

There is only one way of reading that is congruent w/ our Holy Scriptures
Honestly, I was disappointed after reading this book. There were definitely some great points made by Peterson, and parts of the book had a very solid flow, easy to follow and understand. Peterson does write in a very conversational way (hence the title is very appropriate) but as a result at times it comes across as very flighty and off-focus - or off message. In my opinion this placed a haze around the overall central message of what I felt Peterson was trying to capitalize on.
The main messag
Ian Callahan
Quick, useful, and, in places, awfully deep. The discussion of the Oxyrhynchus and Ugarit discoveries, and their profound influence on Biblical translation, will really stick with me.

The basic idea is that for a long time, Bible scholars and translators assumed that the Bible was somehow rigidly otherworldly in its style and content. The Oxyrhynchus discovery in Egypt (late nineteenth century) of everyday writing from ancient Greece (bills, notes, shopping lists, etc.) revealed that the New Tes
Adam Johns
This book really increased my understanding of The Message and put to rest the echoes of dissension that were in the back of my mind from people who would rather be right than listen to what might be right. Eugene Peterson is a man who has given his life to the work of The Lord and with this work he can rest his case for the translation of The Message!

I plan to finish reading The Message this year after reading the Bible in a few other translations, and I'm also reading 6 other books by this aut
Why do we read Scripture?

Is it to absorb information? Perhaps we are intellectual sponges soaking up the liquids that authors have pooled together and bound up in paperback volumes.

We are not interested in knowing more but becoming more.

This is Peterson’s answer to my opening question. He calls it participatory reading, reading in order to live. Peterson approaches reading in the same way he approaches theological truth generally; he is not interested so much in abstract ideas or disembodied fac
I read this right after reading "The Year of Living Biblically." It was a fascinating contrast of approaches to the Bible. Both aim to "live the Bible" but A.J. Jacobs attempts to interpret and follow the Bible literally while Eugene Peterson stresses that the Bible is "chock full of metaphor" and "the metaphor treated literally is simply absurd".

I found the first sections of "Eat This Book" difficult to get through. I'm not sure if it was the writing or just my being tired but I had to push my
In the first half of this book Peterson discusses the practice of Lectio Divina as a model for engaging actively with the biblical text. I had heard of this approach but had not read much about it prior to reading this book. I appreciate Peterson's description, but would have liked more examples or detail to help me practically apply it. Peterson's description created a strong interest in me to "eat the text" but nevertheless left me still somewhat uncertain as to how to really do that. This may ...more
May 03, 2007 Ken rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any serious Christian
Eugene Peterson, author of The Message (Bible translation), goes to great lengths to describe the way a believing person can and should approach and use the Bible. Peterson tells about the way his pet dog occasionally finds a deer carcass in the wilds of the Northwest U.S. where his family vacations and returns to the cabin proudly managing a large and savory bone. His dogs initially places it on display and later carries it to a more solitary place for gnawing, caressing and enjoying. Evenutall ...more
I have been savoring Eugene Peterson’s passionate and thoughtful book “Eat this Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading.” In the chapter on prayer and praying in and through the word and the world of scripture, he says of the reality of living in the world:

“It is not easy. It was not easy for Jesus those nights on the mountain, that night in Gethsemane, those hours on the cross. Nobody ever said it would be easy. God didn’t say it would be easy. But it’s the way things are–this is t
Eat This Book: The conversation in Spiritual Reading (Lectio Divina)

Eugene Peterson has once again reminded his audience why they love reading him: because he holds a mirror up and asks the question: Why are you so impressed with yourself? Instead, he shows them how incapable they are at doing anything good on their own. Instead, he reminds his audience how big, gracious loving and merciful God is and to be joyful about the work that the Father, Son and Spirit are doing among the community of be
Leonard Layne
How often are the scriptures used for debate?
One can carry or memorize or read the Bible and not be changed by it. Like Jesus said to religionists of his day, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me," Peterson elucidates on the sublimity of Scripture, it's ability to transform, "It is the very nature of language to form rather than inform." His translation theory and recommendations on how to approach The Book can
Quick Over View: Peterson gives the background of his walk with God and his understanding of Scripture leading up to his 10 year task of writing The Message along with a detailed explanation to the importance of 'how' we read Scripture. Lectio Divina, the practice of approaching the Bible to increase in knowledge and communion with God, the opposite of approaching the Bible as a text, is explained in depth.

Joey Reed
What if you read the Bible and actually understood it? Or, what if you read the Bible and consumed it to the point that you actually digested and incorporated the gist of what you read?

Peterson's book teaches the simple method of reading the Bible as a means of communing with God. Spiritual Reading has nothing to do with talking to dead people. It is a way to bring a dead faith to life.

Eat This Book challenges us to read the Scriptures on their own terms, as God’s revelation, and to live them as
Mike Fox
This is a nice work. Peterson's writing is top notch. I do it that, for a book about reading the Bible, it doesn't have much Bible in it. Sort of weird, right? Also, the last two chapters seem alien to the first several. And the last one in particular is really just an apologetic for the Message translation, which is absolutely terrible (read Psalm 1 in The Message and you'll agree with me).
I was not the only person in the study group with whom I read this who felt angry, hurt, annoyed, baffled, and/or put off--all intermittently and variably, some more than others--as we read and discussed the first seven chapters of this book. Very often I felt like Peterson was telling me I could never get it right, and very often his assertions seemed facile and ignorant of the kind of spiritual/emotional abuse I and many other people have been subjected to. Are we simply out of luck if Bible v ...more
Nathan Metz
Oct 10, 2013 Nathan Metz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nathan by: Hubert Harriman
After the decade long process of creating his now famous ‘The Message’ interpretation of the Bible, Eugene Peterson wrote this short book as a description of the purpose, process and importance of such a work. I found this book to be chock full of memorable statements and quotes. Peterson emphasises the necessity of living the Word while we read it, contemplating on the words and understanding them in a spiritual sense. He urges things that are often forgotten or ignored in our fast-paced Americ ...more
Kind of a cheeky title for a rather scholarly book. While Peterson is usually not hard to read, he has taken a rather intellectual/professorial approach here. This small (186 pgs) book nevertheless has a strong message that Christians need to work harder to actually read the Bible with understanding. He admonishes Christians for quoting verses without understanding how they were meant to be used in larger contexts saying they do a lot of damage that way. He advocates using concordances and conte ...more
Even if you read the bible daily, are you truly "living" it? Peterson shares with us how to read the bible-- by LECTIO DIVINA (sacred reading) which is divided into 4 ways:
(1) LECTIO -- read, listen to what God is saying.
(2) MEDITATO -- listen to what God is personally saying to you.
(3) ORATIO -- reply to God personally through prayer.
(4) CONTEMPLATIO -- live the bible everyday
and at the end of the book, which I really found so interesting, Peterson talks about translations and the history of
I loved it, and then I got bored with it. By the time I got to the second half, I started skimming, and I almost skipped the final two chapters. The last two chapters almost have nothing to do with the book, and they read more like a defense of his Bible translation, The Message. Go ahead and read it, but skip the last two chapters if you get bored with them like I did.
Eugene Petersen is himself an artist and has a splendid way of conversing about what spiritual reading is all about. Emphasis is on the application of the Word to daily life and the transformation that results. In his last section, The Message, he recounts how the KJV came about with a focus on poetic language rather than an earthy translation for the people which resonates closer to the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. It's a pity that even today many people are still buying the KJV. The Word of Go ...more
Jacob Sweeney
Read This Book!

One of the best and most balanced treatments of the "devotional" life of the believer! If your devotional life is struggling, this will breathe new life into your time in prayer and the Word.
“Eat this book,” Peterson implores his readers. We cannot simply approach the Bible searching for facts and self-help tips; rather, we must devour the text for the spiritual nourishment so essential to our life of faith – read prayerfully and personally, looking to live and obey. Peterson’s work here does not offer ‘five simple steps to reading the Bible right,’ but instead explores the rhyme and reason of scripture: its spirit, its world, its theology, its story, its reading. Under-girded by so ...more
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Eugene H. Peterson is a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. For many years he was James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College. He also served as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. He has written over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language a contemporary translation of t ...more
More about Eugene H. Peterson...

Other Books in the Series

Spiritual Theology (5 books)
  • Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (Spiritual Theology #1)
  • The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way (Spiritual Theology #3)
  • Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers (Spiritual Theology #4)
  • Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (Spiritual Theology #5)
The Message Remix (Bible in Contemporary Language) A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (Spiritual Theology #1) The Pastor: A Memoir The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (The Pastoral series, #4)

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“Christians don't simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus' name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son.” 7 likes
“Spirituality means, among other things, taking ourselves seriously. It means going against the cultural stream in which we are incessantly trivialized to the menial status of producers and performers, constantly depersonalized behind the labels of our degrees or our salaries.” 1 likes
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