Eugene was born in E. Stanwood, Washington, on November 6, 1932. He soon moved to Kalispell, Montana, where he grew up. He was married to Janice Stubbs, and had three adult children: Karen, Eric, and Leif. Eugene wrote and contributed to more than thirty books, including The Contemplative Pastor and Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity.
After graduate study at Johns Hopkins University, Eugene returned to New York Theological Seminary where he taught biblical languages and English Bible. Concurrently, he was associate pastor at the Presbyterian Church in White Plains, New York. In 1962, Eugene came to Bel Air, Maryland, as the organizing pastor of a new church, which became Christ Our King Presbyterian Church. In 1991, after twenty-nine years pastoring at Christ Our King, he felt God was calling him to devote more time to writing and teaching. He spent one year at Pittsburgh Seminary as writer-in-residence, and in January of 1993, he became professor of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Although Eugene was best known in theological pastoral circles, several of his books, such as A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, have extended his influence to a much broader audience. He was a regular contributor to magazines read by pastors and scholars as well as popular religious publications. He was often in demand as a guest lecturer and speaker, but he was not an ivory-tower academic, nor does he write merely from the mind. Eugene Peterson’s heart was with people.
When Eugene began work on The Message New Testament, he had only the Greek text before him, no commentaries or English translations. Biblical scholars recognize his intimate knowledge and understanding of Greek and Hebrew languages. These scholars have observed an authenticity and freshness of insight in The Message that comes only when a translator is not biased by the influence of English translations. He approached the biblical text with the kind of pastoral sensitivity the New Testament writers had for the people to whom they were writing.
In addition to The Message, Peterson was the author of several other books including the Christian Basics Bible Studies Series, Answering God, Reversed Thunder, Sayings of Jesus, Subversive Spirituality, and Where Your Treasure Is.
In addition to being ordained in the United Presbyterian Church, USA, in 1958, Eugene held the following academic degrees:
- B.A. in philosophy from Seattle Pacific University
- S.T.B. from New York Theological Seminary
- M.A. in Semitic languages from Johns Hopkins University
- D.H.L. (honoris causa) from Seattle Pacific University
Eugene passed away on October 22, 2018.