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The Book For Bono

The Book For Bono

There’s a section in the U2 DVD, The Elevation Tour: Live in Boston, when the rock show turns into church. Somewhere in the middle of U2’s performance of “Bad,” you can feel the tone beginning to change, but when Bono begins to sing lyrics from “40” and the band transitions into “Where The Streets Have No Name,” it very much feels as though “God walks into the room.” To top it off, Bono recites what sounds like a prayer to the Almighty before the band erupts into the song.

Actually, according to, the lines Bono recites during “Where The Streets Have No Name” are actually from Psalm 116:

What can I give back to God for the blessings He’s poured out on me?

I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!

I’ll pray in the name of God;

I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,

and I’ll do it together with his people.

Of course, good luck finding that exact wording in your NIV, NAS, NRSV or KJV translation of the Bible. Actually that exact translation of Psalm 116 can be found in The Message Bible, a new, modern English translation by Eugene Peterson, a poet, a professor (at Regent College in Vancouver), and sometimes pastor.

Bono has been very vocal in his support of Peterson and his translations of the Bible. In Rolling Stone magazine Bono spoke of, “a translation of scriptures—the New Testament and the Books of Wisdom—that this guy Eugene Peterson has undertaken.” Bono even went on to say, “It (the translation) has been a great strength to me.” The front man apparently, according to to, has gone on record saying he had been reading Peterson’s translation of the New Testament to his dying father.

How has Eugene Peterson, a regular contributor to publications like Christianity Today, responded to news that Bono regularly quotes his translation in concert? His response in an interview conducted recently was, “My reaction? Pleased, very pleased. Bono is singing to the very people I did this work for. I feel we are allies in this. He is helping get me and The Message into the company of the very people Jesus spent much of His time with.”

When asked about whether people have complained about a Bible translated into such modern language, Peterson answered, “Maybe there has been a shift in our population from a Bible-reading people who knew their Bibles well and have no reason to want something different, to a non-Bible reading country with a huge population of people who go to U2 concerts who didn’t even know that anything like this Bible even existed. And when they learn about it they are ready to read.”






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