Another post gently slamming The Message for not getting it right.  Feel free to avoid reading, since I have already delivered the punch line.

The Message is a paraphrase, not a translation.  In other words, the author is trying to get across the concepts rather than trying to be faithful to the original languages.  It’s not a bad thing, but it is very hard to be true to the words of God, even when you’re trying to be exact.  When you’re communicating a feeling or an impression, there’s lots of room for failure.  Others have documented places where The Message falls short.  This is one of my more recent findings.

Micah 4:3 talks about a coming time of peace (NASB first)

And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they train for war.

That’s solid.  The Message softens it:

He’ll establish justice in the rabble of nations
and settle disputes in faraway places.
They’ll trade in their swords for shovels,
their spears for rakes and hoes.
Nations will quit fighting each other,
quit learning how to kill one another.

Going back to a more neutral (but less readable) version, Young’s Literal Translation has

And He hath judged between many peoples, And given a decision to mighty nations afar off, They have beaten their swords to ploughshares, And their spears to pruning-hooks, Nation lifteth not up sword unto nation, Nor do they learn war any more.

The part that I think The Message misses is that if you’re only trading in weapons for tools, you can just as easily trade back again.  If you believe in peace so strongly that you are willing to crank up a fire and destroy your weapon (NASB and YLT), that’s a one-way road.

Kudos to The Message for nailing “learning war” vs. the NASB’s “train for war”.  You can learn without training, a point the NASB misses.

If I had to choose just one version, though, it would still be the NASB.  I want God as pure as I can get, not loaded with somebody else’s baggage.  Got enough of my own, thanks.

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