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

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  2,071 Ratings  ·  143 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
Hardcover, 186 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
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Jan 02, 2016 Elaine rated it it was amazing
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
May 04, 2016 Ginger rated it really liked it
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
James Korsmo
Aug 03, 2011 James Korsmo rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 06, 2015 Heather Neroy rated it really liked it
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 17, 2015 Leslie rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 02, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 19, 2016 Ivan rated it really liked it
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.
Timbrel Jacknitsky
Aug 12, 2012 Timbrel Jacknitsky rated it it was amazing
A LOT to chew!
Nov 01, 2011 Laurie rated it really liked it
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 14, 2013 Grant rated it really liked it
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
Jan 13, 2014 Chad rated it it was ok
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
Mar 12, 2016 Andy rated it really liked it
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
Alyssa Wohlever
Mar 01, 2017 Alyssa Wohlever rated it really liked it
Great historical context for the Scriptures. This book was great for understanding the heart behind "why read the Bible?" Also enjoyed reading about dr. Peterson's personal journey with scripture in his congregation. A couple of the final chapters were hard to get thru (lots of history that I'm just not as familiar with) but a more academic mind may have loved those parts!
Feb 23, 2017 Mark rated it it was amazing
Good reminder that reading the words of God is not about interpreting them but allowing them to interpret you. The digestion process includes obedience, transformation, and living them out interdependently within the context of a community. One star off for verbosity and over-emphasis upon The Message, but still very good.
Adam Johns
Jan 01, 2013 Adam Johns rated it it was amazing
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
May 03, 2007 Ken rated it really liked it
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
Nov 15, 2008 Josh rated it really liked it
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
Jennifer Grosser
Jan 08, 2017 Jennifer Grosser rated it it was amazing
Oh, my word—I loved this book! I’ve been a fan of lectio divina for ages, and also the Bible, as it happens. Since seminary, I’ve spent (and continue to spend) a lot of time thinking about the relation between Jesus the Word and Scripture the Word. I love that Peterson discusses this, and discusses lectio divina in this context.

I still feel like I am not sure how to articulate this idea myself (in my own words—maybe ironically enough), although I’d like to teach a whole class on it, but I think
Dec 02, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 27, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked 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
Apr 21, 2013 Graham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mark Thomas
Jul 16, 2015 Mark Thomas rated it really liked it
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
Ian Callahan
Jul 13, 2010 Ian Callahan rated it liked it
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
Dec 01, 2014 Jkanz rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, 2016
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
Connor Searle
Oct 04, 2014 Connor Searle rated it really liked it
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
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
May 22, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok
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
Jul 21, 2011 Andrea rated it liked it
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
Leonard Layne
Sep 02, 2013 Leonard Layne rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 21, 2016 Fred rated it really liked it
This is classic Eugene Peterson. He brings together many of his convictions about "reading the Bible" that he has published elsewhere along with pastoral observations and personal stories. His driving image is reflected in the title: "Eat this Book." It is the best picture of how we should not only read scripture but consume it and allow it to become a part of us. Peterson walks a fine line here. He starts by talking about the importance of exegesis, of understanding the time, place and purpose ...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)

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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.” 12 likes
“the Bible, all of it, is livable; it is the text for living our lives. It reveals a God-created, God-ordered, God-blessed world in which we find ourselves at home and whole.” 2 likes
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