Review of Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best – Commemorative Edition, by Eugene Peterson

Run with the Horses is Eugene Peterson’s commentary on selected passages from Jeremiah. Peterson, best known for his paraphrase of the Bible into modern language – The Message, uses that text as his platform. I say platform instead of starting point, because in many instances in Run with the Horses Peterson returns to scripture’s original language to tease out not just the definition of a word, but the intent of the meaning as it is used in a passage.

The book’s title comes from the twelfth chapter of Jeremiah. Jeremiah starts by complaining that the wicked have it better than the righteous. In verse 5 God begins his answer to Jeremiah:

So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses?

It reminds me of when my daughter was in middle school, whining about the difficulty of her homework.  I nonchalantly said, “Oh. I thought you could do it,” as if to imply she couldn’t.

This made her angry and she started telling me she could do anything she wanted; she could become a doctor if she wanted to. I told her that doctors don’t get there by whining and saying, “This is too hard.” That stopped the whining, mostly.

Things were about to get a lot worse for Jeremiah, and I think God was challenging him, asking if he would be up for the task ahead.

This is the Commemorative Edition released not long after Peterson’s death. This newer version uses The Message for scripture quotations, and it contains the text of Peterson’s funeral homily delivered by his son Eric Peterson.

Peterson was a great communicator. Even so, one pass through this book left me just skimming the surface. I believe that’s owing to the complexity of the Book of Jeremiah. I wouldn’t recommend Run with the Horses as this summer’s beach read, but if you are a serious Bible scholar, it should be on your list!

By the way, my daughter is now entering her third year at a top college in their honors program. **SPOILER ALERT** Jeremiah was faithful to God until the end.

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