By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – NFL legend Mike Ditka was giving a news conference one day after being fired as the coach of the Chicago Bears when he decided to quote the Bible.
“Scripture tells you that all things shall pass,” a choked-up Ditka said after leading his team to only five wins during the previous season. “This, too, shall pass.”
Ditka fumbled his biblical citation, though. The phrase “This, too, shall pass” doesn’t appear in the Bible. Ditka was quoting a phantom scripture that sounds like it belongs in the Bible, but look closer and it’s not there.
Ditka’s biblical blunder is as common as preachers delivering long-winded public prayers. The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches - all types of people - quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say.
These phantom passages include:
“God helps those who help themselves.”
“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”
And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden.
None of those passages appear in the Bible, and one is actually anti-biblical, scholars say.
But people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive that it even reaches groups of people who should know better, says Steve Bouma-Prediger, a religion professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
“In my college religion classes, I sometimes quote 2 Hesitations 4:3 (‘There are no internal combustion engines in heaven’),” Bouma-Prediger says. “I wait to see if anyone realizes that there is no such book in the Bible and therefore no such verse.
“Only a few catch on.”
Few catch on because they don’t want to - people prefer knowing biblical passages that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs, a Bible professor says.
“Most people who profess a deep love of the Bible have never actually read the book,” says Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who once had to persuade a student in his Bible class at Middle Tennessee State University that the saying “this dog won’t hunt” doesn’t appear in the Book of Proverbs.
“They have memorized parts of texts that they can string together to prove the biblical basis for whatever it is they believe in,” he says, “but they ignore the vast majority of the text."
Phantom biblical passages work in mysterious ways
Ignorance isn’t the only cause for phantom Bible verses. Confusion is another.
Some of the most popular faux verses are pithy paraphrases of biblical concepts or bits of folk wisdom.
Consider these two:
“God works in mysterious ways.”
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
Both sound as if they are taken from the Bible, but they’re not. The first is a paraphrase of a 19th century hymn by the English poet William Cowper (“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform).
The “cleanliness” passage was coined by John Wesley, the 18th century evangelist who founded Methodism, says Thomas Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University in Texas.
“No matter if John Wesley or someone else came up with a wise saying - if it sounds proverbish, people figure it must come from the Bible,” Kidd says.
Our fondness for the short and tweet-worthy may also explain our fondness for phantom biblical phrases. The pseudo-verses function like theological tweets: They’re pithy summarizations of biblical concepts.
“Spare the rod, spoil the child” falls into that category. It’s a popular verse - and painful for many kids. Could some enterprising kid avoid the rod by pointing out to his mother that it's not in the Bible?
It’s doubtful. Her possible retort: The popular saying is a distillation of Proverbs 13:24: “The one who withholds [or spares] the rod is one who hates his son.”
Another saying that sounds Bible-worthy: “Pride goes before a fall.” But its approximation, Proverbs 16:18, is actually written: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
There are some phantom biblical verses for which no excuse can be offered. The speaker goofed.
That’s what Bruce Wells, a theology professor, thinks happened to Ditka, the former NFL coach, when he strayed from the gridiron to biblical commentary during his 1993 press conference in Chicago.
Wells watched Ditka’s biblical blunder on local television when he lived in Chicago. After Ditka cited the mysterious passage, reporters scrambled unsuccessfully the next day to find the biblical source.
They should have consulted Wells, who is now director of the ancient studies program at Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. Wells says Ditka’s error probably came from a peculiar feature of the King James Bible.
“My hunch on the Ditka quote is that it comes from a quirk of the King James translation,” Wells says. “Ancient Hebrew had a particular way of saying things like, ‘and the next thing that happened was…’ The King James translators of the Old Testament consistently rendered this as ‘and it came to pass.’ ’’
When phantom Bible passages turn dangerous
People may get verses wrong, but they also mangle plenty of well-known biblical stories as well.
Two examples: The scripture never says a whale swallowed Jonah, the Old Testament prophet, nor did any New Testament passages say that three wise men visited baby Jesus, scholars say.
Those details may seem minor, but scholars say one popular phantom Bible story stands above the rest: The Genesis story about the fall of humanity.
Most people know the popular version - Satan in the guise of a serpent tempts Eve to pick the forbidden apple from the Tree of Life. It’s been downhill ever since.
But the story in the book of Genesis never places Satan in the Garden of Eden.
“Genesis mentions nothing but a serpent,” says Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
“Not only does the text not mention Satan, the very idea of Satan as a devilish tempter postdates the composition of the Garden of Eden story by at least 500 years,” Dunn says.
Getting biblical scriptures and stories wrong may not seem significant, but it can become dangerous, one scholar says.
Most people have heard this one: “God helps those that help themselves.” It’s another phantom scripture that appears nowhere in the Bible, but many people think it does. It's actually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, one of the nation's founding fathers.
The passage is popular in part because it is a reflection of cherished American values: individual liberty and self-reliance, says Sidnie White Crawford, a religious studies scholar at the University of Nebraska.
Yet that passage contradicts the biblical definition of goodness: defining one’s worth by what one does for others, like the poor and the outcast, Crawford says.
Crawford cites a scripture from Leviticus that tells people that when they harvest the land, they should leave some “for the poor and the alien” (Leviticus 19:9-10), and another passage from Deuteronomy that declares that people should not be “tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor.”
“We often infect the Bible with our own values and morals, not asking what the Bible’s values and morals really are,” Crawford says.
Where do these phantom passages come from?
It’s easy to blame the spread of phantom biblical passages on pervasive biblical illiteracy. But the causes are varied and go back centuries.
Some of the guilty parties are anonymous, lost to history. They are artists and storytellers who over the years embellished biblical stories and passages with their own twists.
If, say, you were an anonymous artist painting the Garden of Eden during the Renaissance, why not portray the serpent as the devil to give some punch to your creation? And if you’re a preacher telling a story about Jonah, doesn’t it just sound better to say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, not a “great fish”?
Others blame the spread of phantom Bible passages on King James, or more specifically the declining popularity of the King James translation of the Bible.
That translation, which marks 400 years of existence this year, had a near monopoly on the Bible market as recently as 50 years ago, says Douglas Jacobsen, a professor of church history and theology at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.
“If you quoted the Bible and got it wrong then, people were more likely to notice because there was only one text,” he says. “Today, so many different translations are used that almost no one can tell for sure if something supposedly from the Bible is being quoted accurately or not.”
Others blame the spread of phantom biblical verses on Martin Luther, the German monk who ignited the Protestant Reformation, the massive “protest” against the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church that led to the formation of Protestant church denominations.
“It is a great Protestant tradition for anyone - milkmaid, cobbler, or innkeeper - to be able to pick up the Bible and read for herself. No need for a highly trained scholar or cleric to walk a lay person through the text,” says Craig Hazen, director of the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University in Southern California.
But often the milkmaid, the cobbler - and the NFL coach - start creating biblical passages without the guidance of biblical experts, he says.
“You can see this manifest today in living room Bible studies across North America where lovely Christian people, with no training whatsoever, drink decaf, eat brownies and ask each other, ‘What does this text mean to you?’’’ Hazen says.
“Not only do they get the interpretation wrong, but very often end up quoting verses that really aren’t there.”
What are you people talking about?! Gen 3:2
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,"
Gen 3:3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
Not only is eve talking to the serpent in the garden she says that the tree from which she is not to eat, is in the middle of the garden.
I stopped reading your blog there, WARNING other reader, research for yourself the claims made here.
While Genesis may not mention that Satan (the Devil) was the Serpant, the Bible does: "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Revelation 12:9 KJV). The phrase, "that old serpent," is a clear reference to the Eden story.
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"Faith only" believers no not agree that purpose of water baptism is 1. For the forgiveness of sins. 2. So that men can be saved. 3. That it is a baptism into Christ.
The purpose of water baptism according to "faith only' believers.
1. Baptism is a testimony of your faith.
2. Baptism is in order to become a member of a denomination.
3. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace that took place the minute you believe. It could have been that you were saved 2 days ago, 2 months ago or 2 years ago.
4. Baptism is just an act of obedience and has nothing to do with forgiveness of sins.
Here is a list of Scriptures that "faith only" believers use to support their doctrines for the purpose of water baptism
THAT IS CORRECT "FAITH ONLY " BELIEVERS USE NONEXISTENT SCRIPTURES TO SUPPORT THEIR DOCTRINES ON WATER BAPTISM.
SCRIPTURES THAT DO EXIST ARE AS FOLLOWS.
Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 3:27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Ephesians 5:25-28... as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or any wrinkle; but that she would be holy and blameless.
Acts 22:16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.
Colossians 2:12-13 having been buried with Him in baptism, .........13.....He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
1 Peter 3:20-21...through water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-
Romans 6:3-4 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism int death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Before being baptized in water you were not walking in newness of life.
Before being baptized in water you were not saved.
Before being baptized in water your sins were not forgiven.
Before being baptized in water your sins were not washed away.
Before being baptized in water you transgression were not forgiven.
Before being baptized in water you were not in Christ.
Before being baptized in water you were not clothed with Christ.
Before being baptized in water you were not sanctified, you were not cleansed,
and you were not holy and blameless.
THE DOCTRINES THAT SUPPORT WATER BAPTISM AS BEING ESSENTIAL FOR SALVATION ARE ALL SUPPORTED BY SCRIPTURE!
THE SCRIPTURES THAT SUPPORT THE "FAITH ONLY" POSITIONS ON THE PURPOSE OF WATER BAPTISM ARE IMAGINARY, MAKE-BELIEVE, THE DOCTRINES OF MEN, THEY ARE NONEXISTENT SCRIPTURES!
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I love what you guys are up too. This sort of clever work and reporting! Keep up the amazing works guys I’ve added you guys to our blogroll.
I'm surprised you didn't mention one that I've heard used already by Rush Limbaugh: "Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you'll feed him for a lifetime." He thought he was quoting the Bible.
No its not biblical but that is a Chinese proverb.
Thanks for the info.
I have a T.V. Show. and one of the segments of the show Is called "Bible or Man" phrases, scriptures, things people say, are they really in the bible???? I have used most of these, Thanks; Barb Strange, if that is your actual name, I have heard that for years, so I will be using that in my 3rd episode.... If anyone have anymore please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark, your show sucks, and no thanks for the blogspam.
Jesus mentioned Whale
Mt 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
So, he (or someone writing under the name "Matthew") heard that old Hebrew fantasy story. So?
And after the whale excreted Jonas, Matthew sprouted leaves and went off into the enchanted forest to have a torrid affair with Hagrid. Gandalf and Bugs Bunny were awarded a Nobel Prize for their joint discovery of massive quantum leaps, and Snow White sued the NSA for illegally reading her private lesbian love letters to the Wicked Witch of the South Pole.
not a bibical quote God said you take one step and he'll make two . God said, when the praises go up , the blessings come down. These are not bibical quotes.
It's puzzled me how there's not supposed to be any evil,sin,hate,etc in heaven. Heaven knows no sin. Yet lucifer, gods favored angel who was filled with hate and evil intent, waged war with god and tried to take over heaven. How can this be?
Good point. I used to wonder about it myself. The answer given to me was that Lucifer as well as Adam and Eve were created with free will. After Lucifer’s fall due to his pride, free will was suspended for angels. In any case, the Bible speaks of the “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thes 2:7), also the “mystery, Babylon the Great” (Rev 17:5) and the “mystery of the woman (Rev 17:5). One of the greatest mysteries of life is how God’s perfect creation turned out so wicked and imperfect.
Sparing the Rod
The following quotations come from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible:
Prov 13:24: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently)."
Prov 19:18: "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying."
Prov 22:15: "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."
Prov 23:13: "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die."
Prov 23:14: "Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Shoel)."
Prov 29:15: "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."
Pride and the fall
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."
Read the Bible then read it again and again. I find something new each time.
Yeah, in the Christian book of nasty AKA the bible, you can also find fine guidances like these:
17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.
Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”
Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.
Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.
And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.
So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.
Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
You have taken so much out of context.. The whole picture has been ripped apart. Yes! You have made accurate quotes but you do not realize the points being made with those quotes. I would love to talk more and get a bigger idea of your perspective.
Valuable information. Fortunate me I discovered your website accidentally, and I'm surprised why this twist of fate didn't came about earlier! I bookmarked it.
I realize this article is old, but I just came across it. I am baffled by some of the claims, specifically it's claim that Satan did not tempt Eve in the Garden of Eden. I am unfamiliar with Kevin Dunn and his research. He is correct that Genesis "mentions nothing but a Serpent," but other passages give a clear indication the serpent was indeed either Satan himself or indwelled by Satan. David Guzik writes a good commentary linking all the verses, but a sampling: Ezekiel 28:13-19 tells us Satan was in the Garden, Job 26:13 and Isaiah 51:9, et al, associate Satan as a snake-like creature, and Revelation 12:9 and 12:20 speak of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan.
As to Jonah and the whale, yes it was a "great (huge) fish," so whale is technically not accurate to the text. It is also true that the Bible does not specify "3" Wisemen. It merely says "Wise Men" in Matthew 2. The point is "wise men" did indeed travel from afar to visit Jesus, which is still the core of the story whether you use the number "3" or not.
You read the Scriptures quoted in interesting ways. I fail to see how any of these say that the serpent in Genesis was Satan or the devil. BTW, "Satan" was originally "ha-satan," not a proper name at all. It was a noun that meant "the adversary." Ha-satan was not the devil but one of the Sons of God in Job, a member of the heavenly council whose job it was to tempt mankind into straying from God's way. The use of Satan as a name for the devil came much later.
Anyway, here are the passages cited:
Ezekiel 28:13-19 – Very long passage that I won't quite here, but I see nothing about Satan or anything resembling a devil. It seems to be addressing "son of man," a common Old Testament term for humanity.
Job 26:13 By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. [How does this connect to Eden?]
Isaiah 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon? [Again, what is the connection?]
Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. [The fact that it calls Satan a serpent doesn't mean that he is the serpent in Eden.]
Revelation 12:20 – There is no Revelation 12:20.
Your interpretation of these passages seemed to be quite a stretch. Or did you perhaps think no one would look them up?
I’m sure Donny meant to say Rev 20:2. There’s no need to impugn bad intent.
Gen 1:31 says, “God saw everything that he had made [which includes serpents!], and behold, it was very good.” Therefore, the serpent couldn’t have been doing the tempting for two reasons: One, a serpent is an animal, and an animal can’t talk to humans by nature. Two, all of the serpents in the Garden of Eden were “good” and not evil. Therefore it had to be a being, both a supernatural being and an evil being who used and possessed the serpent.
Spiritual beings using, possessing, and even speaking through animals (and humans) for their own purposes is clearly taught in the Bible (Num 22:21-31=the angel of the Lord using an ass to make an ass out of Balaam; Mk 5:12-13=evil spirits using a man and then allowed to possess pigs).
You say, “The fact that [Rev 12:9; 20:2] calls Satan a serpent doesn't mean that he is the serpent in Eden.” Who says so? Why else would John, the author of Revelation, call Satan a “serpent” if he didn’t mean to make that obvious connection? Is it because he couldn’t think of another word to use? Let’s be reasonable here. There is no doubt among sensible people that he is certainly connecting Genesis with Revelation so as to show the whole unity of Scripture. Certainly, the very “Serpent” behind the serpent who started it all in Eden, the Father of all lies (Jn 8:44), is the very serpent who is hurled down and will be destroyed once and for all.
The only real question that remains is why did Satan use a serpent to tempt Eve rather than some other animal. We have a clue in Gen 3:1: “Now the serpent was more subtil that any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” Apparently this particular animal made quite an impression on Adam and Eve in the way it moved about and responded to them, and the Tempter knew this. Isn’t it just like the Devil to tempt people with things they find flashy and impressive? It fits Satan’s modus operandi.
According to my 1986 Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (page 952), it’s true that the Hebrew word from which “Satan” is derived is used in various ways, but “whenever this word is used as a proper name in the Old Testament, it refers to the great superhuman enemy of God, man , and good (I Chr 21:1; Job 1-2). This use of the word also occurs frequently in the New Testament.”
Yeah, there's some fine stuff like this in both testaments of that Christian book of nasty, AKA the bible:
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WARNING! Revelation is about to be fulfilled
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