[Unedited] Eugene Peterson with Krista Tippett

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“Prayers are tools not for doing or getting, but for being and becoming.” These are words of the late legendary biblical interpreter and teacher Eugene Peterson. At the back of the church he pastored for nearly three decades, you’d be likely to find well-worn copies of books by Wallace Stegner or Denise Levertov. Frustrated with the unimaginative way he found his congregants treating their Bibles, he translated the whole thing himself and that translation has sold millions of copies around the world. Eugene Peterson’s literary biblical imagination formed generations of pastors, teachers, and readers. His down-to-earth faith hinged on a love of metaphor and a commitment to the Bible’s poetry as what keeps it alive to the world.

Eugene Peterson wrote over 30 books including Answering God, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology, and The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. In 2021, a Lenten sermon series of his was published posthumously with the title: This Hallelujah Banquet: How the End of What We Were Reveals Who We Can Be. He served as the pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church for 29 years. He spent the last years of his life with his wife, Jan, at the home his father built in Lakeside, Montana, just outside Glacier National Park. That’s where he was when he spoke with Krista in 2016, two years before he died at the age of 85.
This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode “Eugene Peterson – Answering God.” Find the transcript for that show at onbeing.org.
This show originally aired in December 2016.

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