Author and pastor Eugene H. Peterson, whose prolific works include The Message Bible translation and, most recently, Every Step an Arrival, passed away on October 22. He was 85.
The Message, published by NavPress in 2002, has sold several million copies to date, according to the publisher. Don Pape, the publisher of NavPress, reflected on his friendship with Peterson and his family in a statement. “Eugene was more than The Pastor. He was more than The Author. Truly this man lived and breathed and smiled Jesus,” he said.
Tina Constable, senior v-p publisher of WaterBrook and Multnomah, issued a statement on behalf of the publisher, which released his past two books: As Kingfishers Catch Fire (2017) and the aforementioned devotional, Every Step an Arrival (Oct. 2).
“It has been our honor to publish Eugene’s most recent books and bring his warm pastoral writing of authentic Christian spirituality to readers around the world,” Constable said. “Eugene’s legacy as an author will continue as we work with his family to publish his rich archive of writings for several years to come.”
Peterson was contracted with WaterBrook for four to five more books, which will be finished and published posthumously between 2019 and 2022, according to the publisher.
InterVarsity Press, which published Peterson’s first book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (1980) as well as many others, also released a statement following the author’s death. “His voice was one of great wisdom, his life an example of Christian fidelity, and his witness of obedient discipleship a challenge to us all,” said IVP’s publisher, Jeff Crosby.
The author also had several books published at Eerdmans, including Tell It Slant (2008), Eat This Book (2006), and Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (1999), which PW called “rich, generous, and wise” in its starred review.
“We will always be grateful that Eugene Peterson entrusted us with so many books in his long and prolific writing career,” said Anita Eerdmans, president and publisher. “For him, religion of the heart and religion of the mind were inseparable.”
In addition to writing over 30 books, Peterson served as pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Md. from 1962-1991. He made headlines last year after saying he would be willing to conduct a same-sex marriage in an interview with Religion News Service, prompting LifeWay Christian Stores to threaten to pull his books from its shelves. He later retracted the statement, citing “a biblical view of everything” including marriage in The Washington Post, and his books remained at LifeWay.
His death arrives almost two weeks after he entered hospice care, according to a Facebook post by Peterson’s friend and fellow pastor, Robert Creech.