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

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,868 Ratings  ·  127 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, 200 pages
Published July 29th 2009 by Eerdmans (first published 2006)
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I deeply love language. There's no denying Eugene Peterson is a fantastic writer - gorgeous and clear prose. This was truly a book I wanted to take in as a fine meal. So much practical wisdom and contemplative inspiration.

But what really made the book shine for me, was his third section on The Company of Translators. While I appreciate his translation/paraphrase The Message as a devotional tool, I have always been firmly in the a word-for-word camp when it comes to translating the Scriptures. I
Jun 29, 2013 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
James Korsmo
Aug 03, 2011 James Korsmo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Heather Neroy
Oct 29, 2015 Heather Neroy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is pretty dry & reads like a text book for most chapters. I'm a very literal person so the metaphors really took a certain part of my imagination to somewhat grasp. (I say somewhat because I'm still not completely sure I could explain to you, in a convincing way, how we are to "eat" the Word of God). However over my head it seemed, I'm taking away the key message. Lectio Divina is a totally different way of scripture study then I'm used to but since practicing it these past few mon ...more
Aug 29, 2015 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aside from the occasional mystical flair, this is Eugene Peterson at his best. Reading the Bible is more than academic exercise, an information download; it's entering into the live of the text in communion with the living God.
Feb 28, 2016 Elaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I admire Eugene Peterson. I visited with him once backstage at a U2 concert, not realizing at first who I was talking to. Later, when I found out who it was, I was more excited to have met him than the possibility of meeting Bono. Peterson was there because Bono had been reading The Message and wanted to spend time with this man who put the Bible in a language any American (or in Bono's case, Irishman), could understand.

The final portion of Eat This Book describes why Eugene Peterson decided to
Mark Thomas
Jul 16, 2015 Mark Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 04, 2014 Connor Searle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 03, 2014 Jkanz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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
Jan 10, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 15, 2016 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: textbooks
Eugene Peterson ( author of the Message translation of the bible) wants us to “eat up” the bible much the way John did on Patmos. To take it and ingest it so it works it’s way through us, maybe even “bothers us” but in the end is “sweet as honey” (Rev 10:9-10). How do we do this? As he argues in the last line of the first chapter “These words need rescuing”. Or rather how we read the word needs rescuing.

Peterson proposes we develop a discipline of Spiritual Reading which involves seeing and rea
Jan 12, 2016 Kyle rated it really liked it
This is an insightful book on the goals and practice of reading Scripture. Using the vision of John's revelation where he eats the scroll, Peterson argues that spiritual reading (lectio divina) must lead to not only reading but also living the text. Although some practices are less clearly outlined from a practical approach, Peterson's overall framework and exhortation to practice spiritual reading are helpful and encouraging. One of the central claims of the book is that spiritual reading goes ...more
Timbrel Jacknitsky
A LOT to chew!
This book will almost certainly be deeply satisfied to most readers in search of fresh ways of thinking about the work of Bible reading. I enjoyed the first four chapters, and learned some things in The last two chapters. To this reader, The best of the book comes in Chapters 3 and 4--which offer a vision of language and form as spiritually formative. "It is the very nature of language to form, rather than inform," Peterson reminds his readers. "When language is personal, which it is at its best ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Graham rated it really liked it
A wonderful guide to reading the bible for the purpose of living the bible. Peterson gives a solid foundation for a doctrine of Scripture which makes the text not an object of study and dissection, but a story into which we are drawn and our living the text in response is expected.

The final two chapters dealing with translation are interesting, but don't really advance the point of the book. They feel more like an apologetic for Peterson's "The Message" paraphrastic translation of the bible. Thi
Jul 23, 2014 Chad rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 25, 2013 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 12, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 09, 2013 Grant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 27, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith, library-has-it
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
Oct 24, 2011 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it  ·  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
Apr 25, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 17, 2010 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2013 Leonard Layne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 12, 2014 Misti rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 26, 2011 Joey Reed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: discipleship
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
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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)

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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.” 8 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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