The Rev. Eugene Peterson, author of Gold Medallion Book Award-winning The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, has been named recipient of the David Steele Distinguished Writer Award by the Presbyterian Writers Guild (PWG).

The biennial award — named after the late poet, essayist and humorist the Rev. R. David Steele — will be presented at the PWG’s General Assembly July 8 luncheon during the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 219th General Assembly in Minneapolis.

In a prolific career spanning more than 30 years, Peterson has written more than 30 books, including three series — five volumes on pastoral theology and five volumes on spiritual theology for Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company and the six-volume Praying With the Bible series for Harper San Francisco.

Peterson is probably best known for The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Navpress Publishing Group, 2002), which was written to make the original meaning more understandable and accessible to the modern reader.

He explains: “When Paul of Tarsus wrote a letter, the people who received it understood it instantly. When the prophet Isaiah preached a sermon, I can’t imagine that people went to the library to figure it out. That’s the basic premise under which I worked. I began with the New Testament in the Greek — a rough and jagged language, not so grammatically clean. I just typed out a page the way I thought it would have sounded to the Galatians.”

Peterson was born in East Stanwood, Wash., and grew up in Kalispell, Mont. He graduated from Seattle Pacific University and New York Theological Seminary and earned a master’s degree in Semitic languages from Johns Hopkins University.

He was founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Md., where he served for 29 years. He is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he taught until retiring in 2006 Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia until retiring back to Montana in 2006.

Previous winners of the David Steele Distinguished Writer Award include Katherine Paterson, Frederick Buechner, the late Vic Jameson, Ann Weems, Kathleen Norris, Doris Betts, Gustav Niebuhr, Jack Rogers, Bill Tammeus, Eva Stimson and Marj Carpenter.