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Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading

(Spiritual Theology #2)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  3,062 ratings  ·  244 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 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 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
Melody Schwarting
I've been using this post-seminary time in my life to explore the spiritual disciplines and traditions I first encountered in the classroom: Ignatian spirituality and the examen, Celtic spirituality, and so forth. Lectio divina has long been on my list, and my dad refers to his practice of it nearly every time we talk. So, I started with Eat This Book, having enjoyed Peterson's Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places.

Peterson, author of The Message, loves and inhabits the Christian Scriptures more t
Tyler Collins
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reflection on Part I (Eat this Book) and Part II (Lectio Divina) of "Eat This Book" by Eugene Peterson (written for Professor Dean Flemming for my Biblical Interpretation course):

I have been an avid reader most of my life. It was around fifth grade when my teacher, Ms. Weis, a wonderful woman who remained curiously unmarried—in my opinion—scraped her zest against the flint of literature, kindling something inside of me. Looking back on this, I realize that what she had ignited was a love for the
Dan Glover
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Probably a 3.5. This is a great vision for the formative nature of Scripture, effectively communicated via the biblical metaphor of eating a book (or scroll). Scripture is not a selective information transfer but meant to be ingested and metabolized and then lived out by Christians in every nook and cranny of life. There is also a section at the end which deals with Scripture translation (should be into common vernacular, Peterson argues), as well as a justification/description of his reasons fo ...more
Katie Bowman
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Eat This Book is a wonderful read!

Peterson passionately persuades us to read Scripture the way we were meant to: “chew them, taste them, walk and run in them.”I love the reminder that eating the good book will give us a stomachache because it is “difficult to digest.” I was convicted by the truth that as a believer, I submit my life to the book. I don’t merely read; I eat.

The last few chapters make me love Peterson more as he writes about the origin of his labor of love as God’s secretary in pa
Justin Lonas
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Catching up on this series, a couple of decades late.

An excellent work on the devotional reading of Scripture that also shares some of Peterson's rationale and process of producing the Message Bible paraphrase. Spoiler: you can't love the Bible and not practice careful reading. Good exegesis is how you love it.
Porter Sprigg
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As I read, I would put this book down and pick up my Bible because I was excited to meditate and pray on it. Which means Peterson did exactly what he set out to do.
Tim Pollock
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I did not want this book to end. What an amazing read. Recommended to anyone who appreciates reading or the Bible.
James Korsmo
Aug 03, 2011 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 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 months, ...more
Part exhortation to "eat" the Bible versus just funneling it into your brain and letting it rust there, and part apology (in the original sense) of Peterson's Message translation, Eat This Book is a short but provocative exploration of how the Bible is meant to be read. This is a huge and important topic and I want to read more books on it, but this is a great place to start. It is especially convicting for me, who tends to feel content in my head knowledge while forgetting that "meditate" means ...more
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I want to like this book. I want to love it. Peterson is a superb writer, amongst the best, evocative, warm, with soaring prose, vivid illustrations, and no-nonsense application. There is substance here for driving people, including me, to read the Bible and read it deeply, “eating it” as the title hints.

But Peterson has a problem—a big one—which is that his theology is, if not heretical, then fuzzy-headed, ambiguous, and out of step with orthodoxy. I’m thinking of his identification of the per
Alicia Snyder
Despite a few doctrinal and denominational quirks, this book is worth reading. Full of rich metaphors and word pictures, Eugene Peterson encourages us to read the Bible for what it is, not for what we would like it to be.
The Bible is not "disembodied fragments of truth and insight, dismembered bones of information and motivation." Instead, it is a meta-narrative, an overarching story that gives meaning to our daily, down-to earth lives.
"You can’t reduce this book to what you can handle; you ca
Jodie Pine
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting I found this book to be. And I loved the insight at the end of how Eugene Peterson came to write the Message paraphrase of the Bible.

"Reading the Scriptures is not an activity discrete from living the gospel but one integral to it. It means letting Another have a say in everything we are saying and doing. It is as easy as that. And as hard."

"Exegesis is the discipline of attending to the text and listening to it rightly and well."

"Eat this book" is m
Frank Peters
This book was good but also strange. The first part of the book was what was expected from the title – a discourse in the importance of reading the bible spiritually. The author kept going back to the title phrase “eat this book” to better describe how it should be done. To describe a historical method of eating the text, he moved on to Lectio Divina and how one should read, pray, meditate and live the text. Then the book turned an expected corner, which didn’t seem all that relevant to the firs ...more
Sarah Buelow
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think I heard about this one from Lisa Hensley and the blurb + Lore Wilberts praise for Eugene Peterson in general were enough for me to pick it up. And I'm so glad I did. So many wise insights and reflections on Scripture. 4.5 stars rounded up.

"Exegesis is an act of love. It loves the one who speaks the words enough to want to get the words right. It respects the words enough to use every means we have to get the words right. Exegesis is loving God enough to stop and listen carefully to what
Natalie Herr
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
I so appreciated Peterson’s zeal for God’s Word in this book! The first section was full of fist pumping the air for me- I love the way he describes our relationship to the Word as something we take in, ingest and allow to become part of us. He spends some time talking about Lectio Divina- he says it’s the premier way to take in Scripture, which I don’t necessarily agree with, but I enjoyed the way he described the different parts of Lectio. I also appreciated the last section on translation and ...more
Amy Kannel
Probably 4.5 stars, but because I underlined something on nearly every other page, I'm rounding up. So much beautiful food for thought here. Also, I'm recommending this to the next person I hear mocking The Message. You don't have to love what he did with that, but after reading the last two chapters, the story of how it came about and his heart and thinking behind it, I think you have to respect and admire him for it. And I think it has its place even if it's not your favorite. ...more
Laurel Hicks
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
As usual, I stand amazed by Paterson’s writing. There is much wisdom here. I agree with most of it.
Elizabeth Turnage
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Peterson is so good at stirring passion for the Word of God, at bringing complex matters down to earth. Not only does he help us understand how to read Scripture with heart and mind, he also passes on his love for language.
Alisa Wilhelm
I really liked hearing Peterson's approach to reading the Bible. Of course I know and love his work with The Message, and in this book he lays out his framework and justification for paraphrase translations. Count me aboard. As someone who works professionally with translation, his logic rang true to me.

I'm trying very hard not to be petty about the ESV, so I'll leave it that.
Aug 17, 2015 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
Michele Morin
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you want to live well and to share wisdom with your children and your neighbors about how they can also live well, the Bible will chart a sound course.

If you are looking for inspiration or comfort or if you are preparing a speech, you will certainly want to lift some of the soaring phrases from the Psalms or a stirring descriptive passage from Isaiah to adorn your thinking.

If you are curious about the future or have strong ideas about politics, you’ll find gasoline-words in the Bible to suppo
Dan King
Mar 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read my full review here:

Every once in a while I come across something that drastically alters my thinking.

And I love it because I hate being stagnant, believing that I’ve got it all figured out. I’ve heard somewhere that the moment we stop growing is the same moment that we start dying (the Dan King paraphrase). When that thing alters my thinking about how I read the Bible, then it’s life-changing factor is magnified exponentially.

That’s what happened to me
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and only knocked off a star because the focus of the book was so broad. While every element of focus was excellent in and of itself, I was continually taken off balance by the huge shifts in topic.

I think part of the issue for me was expectation gap. I was expecting a book full of reflection on and tips for being an eater of Scripture rather than a skimmer or checklister. That is certainly in there, but there's also a section on archaeological discoveries and various o
Jan 02, 2014 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 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. ...more
Nov 01, 2011 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, writin
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Eugene Peterson's "Eat This Book" is more like two booklets than one seamless book. Part I is a remarkable reflection on experiencing the transformative work of God through his Word. Part II is Peterson’s journey and his defense of writing The Message.

In Part I Peterson takes on modern skepticism. Peterson believes that modern hermeneutics have created a posture of suspicion. Marx and Freud have punctured our confidence in the written word. We narrow our eyes when we read, not trusting anything
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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)
  • 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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If you've got an overflowing Want to Read shelf of books that you keep meaning to get to (one day!), you're in good company. Our company, that...
117 likes · 41 comments
“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.” 16 likes
“The task of liturgy is to order the life of the holy community following the text of Holy Scripture. It consists of two movements. First it gets us into the sanctuary, the place of adoration and attention, listening and receiving and believing before God. There is a lot involved, all the parts of our lives ordered to all aspects of the revelation of God in Jesus.

Then it gets us out of the sanctuary into the world into places of obeying and loving ordering our lives as living sacrifices in the world to the glory of God. There is a lot involved, all the parts of our lives out on the street participating in the work of salvation.”
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