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Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers

(Spiritual Theology #4)

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  519 ratings  ·  56 reviews
In this work, Peterson explores how Jesus used language--he was earthy, not abstract; metaphorical, not dogmatic. "Tell It Slant" promises to deepen Christians' understanding of Jesus' words, strengthen their awareness, and nurture their efforts to make all speech a blessing.
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published 2008)
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Start your review of Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers (Spiritual Theology #4)
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Tell It Slant takes it's title from the famous Emily Dickinson poem:

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —

This sets the stage for Eugene Peterson’s argument that the parables of Jesus are told exactly this way. It’s connected to Peterson’s translation of Matthew 13:11-14:

He replied, “You’ve been given
Trish Hermanson
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thoughts so deep I had to read and reread about the communication methods of Jesus, the master storyteller.
Oct 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: bible-study
I read this as an in-depth study over the course of 8 or 9 months with a group. I found that it gave us some new perspectives on the way we looked at Jesus, and provided some interesting discussion topics for us to evaluate our faith.

I found some of his assertions to be a bit "out there," and didn't quite agree with everything he said, especially in a few of the more difficult parable chapters. It almost felt like reaching, at some points, for an interpretation that just wasn't there. Also, I pr
Brian Eshleman
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fcl
It is more biblical exposition than "How to Enrich Language". I felt a little misled, but his exposition is skillful and engaging.
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-audio-books
Eugene reminds us that Jesus' prayers start in heaven and finish on earth. They are distinct but are organically and persistently paired in unity. His emphasis on narrative is also there, as ever, and allows him to follow the main scriptural motifs up and down the mountain.
“This kingdom of God life is not a matter of waking up each morning with a list of chores or an agenda to be tended to, left on our bedside table by the Holy Spirit for us while we slept. We wake up already immersed in a large
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was my first time reading Eugene Peterson, and although I found the book a little difficult to get through at times, I am completely captured by his thoughts and understanding of words and Jesus and the sacred and secular. AMEN.
Dorothy Greco
Exactly what you might expect in a book on language and prayer written by the man who translated the entire Bible. Insightful. Revelatory. Challenging. Encouraging. I'm so grateful for Peterson's legacy.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Better than the earlier two volumes in this series, this book examines the parables and prayers of Jesus. It reads like an eloquent thoughtful sermon series. Eugene Peterson has a generous spirit, guiding us with his wisdom and experience, noting the pitfalls of the spiritual life without ever attacking straw-men or sounding cranky. He is at his best when writing about prayer and language - two of his favorite topics which makes this a great, accessible work.
Nancie Carmichael
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Language is powerful. Too often we reduce the deepest truths to platitudes, formulas and cliches. Tell it Slant by Petersen takes us back to the sometimes inscrutable, convicting words of Jesus. I recommend this book highly for all who deal in words--especially us religious types. "Truth must dazzle gradually..."
Amy Riccio
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love how much Eugene Peterson values words and how he so simply uses the words of Jesus to give me a whole new, simplified take on prayer and on the parables. I really liked this book a lot, but only gave it four stars because there were a few portions that were really dry.
Brian White
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another great volume from Peterson. These are always slow books for me. Each page can be savored. He makes me think and draw near to Jesus. I want to soak in these truths.
Michele Morin
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The recent biographical movie featuring the life of J.R.R. Tolkien captures him saying, “After all, what’s language for? It’s not just the naming of things, is it? It’s the life blood of a culture, a people.”

Language and the way we use it reveals our thinking and our character. The structure of a language reveals what’s important to the people who speak it. In Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers, pastor and author Eugene Peterson argues that language
Summer Sattora
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
There's almost nothing more disappointing than when a friend recommends a book to you that they love and you...don't. (Maybe when the opposite happens: you recommend a book and the other person doesn't like it.) I almost DNF'd this so many times, but I stuck with it because I thought maybe it would get better. It didn't. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, although I have some clues. It felt like Peterson couldn't decide if he wanted the language he used to be on the scholarly level of N.T. Wr ...more
Tabitha McDuffee
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Peterson walks through Jesus' parables and his prayers as a framework for discussing the importance and sacredness of language. Each chapter can almost stand on its own, so this is great for devotional reading as well.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I don't know if you could ever go wrong by reading Eugene Peterson. It took me a couple tries to get going into this books, much to my discredit. His works have so much depth.
Diane Chang
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Definitely requires multiple read. I was blessed to have a book group that would meet and discuss monthly. Changed and greatly impacted my prayer life and redefined what prayer is.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I read Peterson because he makes me think. I don't tend to get as much out of his stuff some others, but I get a few good nuggets, and I know my mind has been challenged by his views and style.
David J. Harris
Inconsistently helpful, but really shines in some spots.
Andy Gore
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? This is Peterson's usual heartfelt and pastoral passion for prayer. Read, digest, be inspired and encouraged Jesus is praying for you.
Ryan Koenig
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
2nd favorite in the series after “Christ Plays...”
Oct 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
I’ve been reading the fourth book in Eugene Peterson’s Spiritual Theology series called Tell It Slant (borrowing the title from an Emily Dickinson poem). Peterson, like ususal, has a gift for expressing the depths of Christ in ways that are quite ordinary, relatable, livable — much like Jesus in his ministry.

So far in the read, Peterson has been writing about the gift of language and how Jesus used language to inspire life and relationship with God the Father. We live in several genres of langua
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the fourth volume in Peterson's Spiritual Theology series, the others are:

1. Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (Christian theology lived out in the day to day)
2. Eat This Book (reading Scriptures from a fresh perspective)
3. The Jesus Way (The Way of sacrifice, failure, and holiness)
4. Tell It Slant
5. Practice Resurrection (on Christian maturity and character formation)

I read these books out of order and "Tell It Slant" is sadly the final book in the series for me. The series is ve
Jason Kanz
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers (2008) by Eugene Peterson is the 4th book in his 5-volume spiritual theology series. As the subtitle says, Peterson uses the first part of this book to explore the stories and parables of Jesus and the second half to explore Jesus' way of praying.

The first section the book was centered around the journey to Samaria described in Luke 9 to 19. On his journey, Jesus used the opportunity to teach his disciples, typica
Al Gritten
Nov 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The fourth book in Peterson's Pentateuch of spiritual theology, this one explores the narratives that Jesus tells on the road to Jerusalem. Jesus spent his early ministry in Galilee (according to the 3 synoptics) and when it was time for his passion he told his disciples that they must travel to Jerusalem. To get to Jerusalem from Galilee they had to pass through Samaria - a land where Jews were reluctant to go, a place where Jesus would be an alien. All 3 synoptic texts explore this "travel nar ...more
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bible
Peterson loves language. He is very attentive to the way things are said and written. Just read his Bible paraphrase, or anything else he has authored!

In Tell it Slant, Peterson turns his attention to Jesus' language in two particular areas: casual encounters, and prayer. The casual encounters occur in His "Samaritan journey," between His departure from Galilee, and His arrival in Jerusalem. This period of time was characterized by meandering, non-task-oriented conversations, and Peterson draws
This is the fourth book in a series, although each book can be read by itself as they do not really build on one another. I have greatly enjoyed each book in the series. Reading Eugene Peterson is a delight. His books give the feel that he is speaking right to you, having a conversation with you. The first half of this book focuses on Jesus' stories, all lifted from his encounters while traveling to Jerusalem in the middle section of Luke's gospel. These stories arose in everyday life as a respo ...more
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Peterson addresses the use of language, and it's importance in Christ's parables and prayers, as well as in how we as Christians communicate today.

Having read The Message, I thought Peterson's text would be easy to follow - do not be fooled into thinking that. Peterson is a fantastical linguist, and he definitely lets you know it in Tell IT Slant. After trudging through the first chapter of strangely punctuated paragraphs and digressing thought, I was able to follow him more once he actually sta
Blake Chenoweth
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Tell It Slant is Eugene Peterson's 4th volume in his conversations on spiritual theology series. This book is one of my favorites and I must admit I didn't think it would be. It's subtitle is on the language of Jesus in stories and prayers, and I am not a huge lover of languages as many of my friends are, but this book was spectacular. It inspired a couple of sermon series for us next year. One on the parables of Jesus and one on the prayers of Jesus. Two big themes that Peterson shares and chal ...more
May 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Eugene Peterson is one of those mentors-from-a-distance for me. His depth, insight, and amazing mastery of language always feeds my soul and informs how I live, pastor, and write. This fourth book in his spiritual theology series is every bit as good as the ones that came before it. In this study of the parables and prayers of Jesus, Peterson draws out the way that Jesus talks about God with non-religious people. In addition to the insights he draws from the parables and prayers themselves, Pete ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
I wanted to be able to give this book more stars. I had really high expectations, which were partly met but partly not. I found places in this book where I felt Peterson spoke with great insight and poignancy, but at other times I felt like he lacked focus. This is probably his writing style, which is quite different from many pastors/theological writers. I like his emphasis on how the language of Jesus was everyday, ordinary speech and not some special, divine "talk" that he used to speak about ...more
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Eugene H. Peterson was a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. For many years he was James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also served as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. He had written over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language ...more

Other books in the series

Spiritual Theology (5 books)
  • Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (Spiritual Theology #1)
  • Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Spiritual Theology #2)
  • The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way (Spiritual Theology #3)
  • Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (Spiritual Theology #5)

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