The Pastor by Eugene Peterson, a review

the pastor coverThis reflection has been a long time coming; not because I finished the book months ago and am just getting around to it, but because I started the book months ago and just finished it. Last night.

The Pastor is one of those books I felt I should read as soon as it was released. It wasn’t one of those personal “must reads”, but I had a sense it would be excellent and formational. After all, Eugene Peterson wrote the Bible, so his memoir has to be pretty solid.

A number of my colleagues in div school–especially those hoping to pursue a ph.D in Old or New Testament– didn’t look so kindly upon The Message. It’s not a “real” translation of the Greek and Hebrew texts, etc. etc.

But, a dear friend (who was in this camp of Message naysayers) read The Pastor as an assigned text and it transformed his view of Peterson. That was enough encouragement to get me to crack the spine of The Pastor.

You have only to skim a couple chapters of this meditative work, part memoir part theological framing, to gain a sense of the rich reflection that pervades every move in Peterson’s life.

Peterson traces his journey from childhood in Montana, to work as a pastor in Maryland, and finally toward a “good death” out west again.  His depth of insight and scriptural imagination are evident at every turn.

He doesn’t come across as a heavy handed bible thumper, but as if he couldn’t see each transition and decision apart from the story God began “In the beginning” and continued to tell through Peterson’s life and the life of his congregation.

The Pastor is no page turner. It won’t move you to tears or laughter (though I was close at points).

But, if read in the right spirit, it will begin to shape the way you view your own life. Less a series of required tasks, more “Every step an arrival.”


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