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Biblical Scholar Eugene Peterson Dies at 85

  • Kayla Koslosky

    Kayla Koslosky is the former Editor of She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper…

  • Updated Oct 22, 2018

American author, biblical scholar and pastor Eugene Peterson died Monday, October 22, at 85 years old.

About one week ago it was announced that Peterson was admitted into hospice care due to his declining health. The Message writer’s son, Eric, made an announcement via email to the family’s friends and loved ones to inform them of the move. 

In the email, Eric explained that Peterson was admitted into the hospital for his declining health which “took a sudden and dramatic turn” in the wrong direction caused by an infection. Peterson was suffering from heart failure and dementia and according to his son, both were “advanced and progressing.”

Peterson was a well-respected member of the Presbyterian Church, biblical scholar and author of over 30 books. Relevant Magazine even called Peterson “one of the most recognized Bible scholars in America.”

The pastor was most famously known for the writing of his contemporary translation of the Bible, The Message. 

Peterson is also known for founding Maryland’s Christ Our King Presbyterian Church where he was the pastor for nearly 30 years before he retired in 1991. 

Peterson was born in Washington state but grew up in Montana where he attended a Pentecostal church. The pastor attended university at Seattle Pacific University where he received a B.A. in philosophy. He went on to get an S.T.B. from NY Theological Seminary before getting his Master’s in Semitic languages from Johns Hopkins and then becoming a pastor.

Peterson went on to serve as a professor of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia until retiring from there in 2006.

As many in the Christian community mourn the loss of the beloved scholar some are taking to social media to share their condolences and memories with Peterson. 

Christian author and journalist Johnathan Merritt took to Twitter to say, “The world is far poorer today than we were yesterday. Eugene Peterson has died.”

Pastor and Author Nate Pyle wrote, “‘That's the whole spiritual life. It's learning how to die. And as you learn how to die, you start losing all your illusions, and you start being capable now of true intimacy and love.’ -Eugene Peterson. May you know, now intimately, as you are fully known.”

Peterson’s friend Winn Collier took to Facebook to say, “The lantern is out. My friend and pastor Eugene Peterson died this morning. Eric says his joy, his smile, was full to the final breaths. I have tears. Eugene knows only gladness.”

Photo courtesy: Clappstar/Wikimedia Commons