One-on-One with Elmer Towns on His New Paraphrase “The Bible by Jesus”

An extended sermon in the words of the Savior


Elmer Towns has a new book that will raise some questions and spark some discussion. He spoke with The Exchange about “The Bible by Jesus” recently and this is what he had to say.

The Exchange: So how did this book come about?

Elmer Towns: About 15 years ago I was having devotions in Psalm 37 in the Hebrew text and I decided to pray through it using the first person. So, instead of saying, Fret not yourself because of evildoers, I prayed, I will not fear… It was so refreshing to look at each psalm, including those like Psalm 23 which is, of course, a first-person psalm: The Lord is my Shepherd…

So, the next day I repeated it with Psalm 27 and the day after that, Psalm 1. Well, it turned into a 150-day program that I had no idea would turn into a book. But when a friend heard what I had written, he insisted that we publish it. And we did. And it was received very well.

The Exchange: So that was a book on the Psalms, but how did this one about Jesus come about?

Elmer: It didn’t happen immediately. I next covered Proverbs. And then Job. My friend, Lee Fredrickson, got the idea about the Gospels going. We worked on his idea until the present volume came about.

The Exchange: And it is a paraphrase?

Elmer: Yes. People know about Ken Taylor’s Living Bible and Eugene Peterson’s Message. This is the Bible as studied by Towns/Fredrickson in the original languages and then paraphrased as if it were Jesus himself talking. So, for example, John 1:1 begins, I am God the Son, who is from the beginning.

The Exchange: You come from a pretty traditional background—will some think that you are changing the Word of God?

Elmer: Yes. I knew Ken Taylor for many years, since the 1960s. When he first started ...

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