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.”
Wow. First time I've ever seen the truth on how preachers con people out of their money. Make it up to fit the mark. Spread the word.
your an idiot I don´t need a bible to tell me that .
Eye Luv Yew!!! ;) :D
This isn't proof of anything unless it is proof that you're a crummy little spam-meister, ya dweeb.
I encourage the viewing of this video. Also go look at his, (Gerald Schroeder) other things on the web. He is the distinguished recipient of the Moron of the Month Award, (9/08). He SHOULD be given the "Most Non Sequiturs in a Half Hour" award, and the "Let Me Show You What's Wrong with Intelligent Design" award.
Much of his astoundingly illogical and incorrect presentation could be forgiven him, as he claims to be an (MIT) trained biologist and physicist, (and obviously not a theologian or philosopher), but his statement that "A Brief History of Time", (which is supposedly his OWN field) was written by Stephen "Dawking", and that Mcluhan's "The Medium is the mAssage",
leaves one to wonder how far, exactly, he is out from being in touch with reality.
Interesting article but the article got some things wrong such as saying the serpent was not Satan. According to John in Rev. 12:9; 20:2 and Paul in 2 Cor. 11:3 the serpent was a manifestation of Satan. I also find it interesting for some reason they did not bring up "Money is the root of all evil" which is a misquote of 1 Timothy 6:10 which says, "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (In other words it is the inordinate LOVE, worship if you will, of money not money itself that is the root of evil.
In any event it is also interesting that only one person was sited in regards to the Genesis passage in question. Its clear this person assumes the Bible is not the Word of God and also did not read all of the Bible either, otherwise they would have noticed the passages I sited. Of course I imagine there presupposition that the Bible is "just a story" also had something to do with their interpretation and understanding of the verse.
Must be John and Paul got it wrong, then. Either that, or the New testament references you cite are just another example of how translations of the New Testament got it wrong.
You have to keep in mind that "the Bible" was written over a period of 1500 years by at least 40 different authors using three different languages , the content ranges from 66 to 81 books depending on the denomination involved. That's not counting the Nag Hammadi codices. There is also the matter of multiple translations and politically influenced interpretations.
Expecting and looking for internal consistency is really pretty silly.
So you don’t think it’s possible that john and paul could have read genesis and decided to make their stories tie in with the old one? Maybe trying to get a little more credibility? It’s pretty easy to make a new story tie into an old one.
There's no innkeeper in the Bible either. If you find one, let me know.
If there an inn, we assume it wasn't deserted, especially when it was crowded. Got to be kept by someone...
Putting the bible in your library's fiction section (please paste on the outside cover of your copy)
The prayer that should have been handed out to all the graduates, parents and friends:
THERE WAS AND NEVER WILL BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY
ABRAHAM AND MOSES PROBABLY NEVER EXISTED.
No Christianity??? Where are you at every Sunday? You've never seen a Christian before?
No Christianity? Then what the heck are you complaining about?
Saving Christians from the Great Resurrection Con:
From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."
Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.
From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:
"Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.
Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.
Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.
The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.
Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "
"In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:
o An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,
o "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."
p.168. by Ted Peters:
Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "
o So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.
That's right...because the Pope is the ultimate interpreter of the Bible, and Catholicism has the market on Christianity cornered... All of which is, oddly enough, in contradiction with Bible.
"Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that... "
Yeah...it's called speculation...not evidence.
by Ted Peters: "Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "
It's necessary for the fulfillment of Messianic Prophecies. Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled those, and we use the New Testament as our evidence.
"So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.
Because he was there, right? I mean, Professor Crossan was alive during those times...he was witness to all of it, right? Or...maybe he has supporting evidence, and not just speculation based on the standard at that time...?? Oh, that's right...it's pure conjecture.
Please, one more time....save me from the Resurrection Con... you were *sooooooo* close. That was sarcasm, for those that couldn't pick up on it.
Boy, it must have sucked to be a snake back then. Especially if they got caught under an apple tree.
Abe Lincoln popularized the saying "This too shall pass" in an 1859 speech at the Wisconsin state fair, but he didn't invent it. He attributed it to a story about some wise men who had been asked to come up with an expression that was appropriate in all times and situations; they offered: "And this, too, shall pass away." The story, usually referring to King Solomon, appeared frequently in the 1800s. But Abe hoped the sentence was not true in all cases, saying:
"Let us hope, rather, that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us; and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away."
That's Abe for ya: always the optimist.
Spoil the rod and spare the child.
Actually it is, the King James version of the bible reads in Luke 21:33 and Mark 13:31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. This is the origin of the common saying all things shall pass. Similarly Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame is paraphrased as "spare the rod and spoil the child" and Proverbs 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
That is very good. When God judges us, some won't be feeling anything but God's wrath. i like that idea.
"This too shall pass" is an old Sufi saying.
You cannot presume that simply because the statements "This too shall pass" and "Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" share two words in common that one is based upon the other. There are a finite number of words in the English language, after all.
In addition, as you've just pointed out, "Spare the rod, Spoil the Child" isn't in the Bible word for word. So the article is, in fact, correct. I'm already an extreme skeptic when it comes to religion and Christianity as a whole, but it is a very dangerous thing indeed when we start to accept paraphrasing as the literal word of God (which is what the bible is SUPPOSED to be... right?).
The Bible is complicated. And God does things mysteriously. Who would trust a carpenter's son from a small village?
Who is to say that individuals studying the bible are wrong?
Can one not hear the voice of God? Or get a message from God?
Or, while studying His Word, get a much deeper meaning than just from the words that are written?
This book is Alive!
You can read the same passage on different days and get different things from it.
How else could the Bible be so important for so long?
Yes, it can be mis-interpreted. It can contradict itself. But the Bible can also soften hearts and bring much wisdom.
a chinese fortune cookie offers the same thing
Don't knock fortune cookies. Some are eerily accurate ; )
Oh yes, Leviticus and Deuteronomy are full of soft hears and wisdom.
Only YOU can prevent burning bushes.
"And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden."
"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."
There's more wrong with this than merely the location; in fact, that's probably the least of it. It was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, not the Tree of Life. Additionally, nowhere does it say it was an apple, it was simply a fruit.
Thought you would enjoy this bit of information
Man who thump bible has no drum
Actually it is in the bible, the King James version of the bible reads at Luke 21:33 and Mark 13:31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. This is the origin of the common saying all things shall pass. Similarly Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame is paraphrased as "spare the rod and spoil the child" and Proverbs 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die, further reinforces this.
Well he's right. My mother did not spare the rod and I did not die. And each mother's day I visit her grave... and pee on it
In response to the article,
"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.
“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."
This may be the case, but that is why the Bible is meant to be read holistically- allowing it to interpret itself.
Revelation 12:9 does interpret Genesis 3 for the reader and explicitly calls the serpent Satan. "And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world-he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."
Most people read the good book and ascribe to it just that- that it's only a good book. But history and evidence points the thirsty reader to find that the Bible can be trusted for more than just a book of morals but as God's revealed plan for mankind's redemption and restoration with Him or ultimate rejection and separation from God.
We must be careful not to impose our own presuppositions when reading any text, otherwise our predespositions lead us to invalidate something we have not thoroughly examined. I myself was once and am prone to being guilty of that.
Isn't it great how much we think alike? ;)
MMR, you are correct. We have the only brains around here, it seems. :D
I'm with you guys. We should do this more often. :D
@Unapologeticapologetic- One can also look at the Book of Job and it's version of Satan. There he seems more like an agent of God.
There ahve been some that feel that in Judeo-Christianity there are actually 2 Satans. One is the advarsary (prosecutor) from Job and the other from the NT.
NO, NO, NO!!! The bible was not meant to be read holistically. Each book was a separate book. None of the authors ever intended their book to be in a compilation and the bible wasn’t compiled until about 300 years AD.
"NO, NO, NO!!! The bible was not meant to be read holistically. Each book was a separate book. None of the authors ever intended their book to be in a compilation and the bible wasn’t compiled until about 300 years AD."
I as-sume that you had a good chat with God and He divulged this to you, right? The original authors may never have intended it to be holistically read, but again, they weren't the ones *inspiring* the work. God had the bigger picture, and still does. Who is to say that God never intended it to be read holistically?
I agree the scriptures have been skewed. I grew up in an Assembly's of God Church and I was frequently told "God will for give your sins and cast them in the Sea of Forgetfullness." There is no such thing in the Bible as the sea of forgetfulness. It says i will cast your sins in the deep depths of the sea
I agree. God cannot just simply forget our sinfulness. If God just "forgot," then He would fail to be just. God's mercy is not his ability to forget but His ability to forgive. Forgiveness defined as "an act of absorbing the cost to oneself." That's precisely what Christ did on the cross. 2 Cor 5:21, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Without Christ and his cross, we would all deserve the rightful condemnation from a perfectly holy and perfectly just God. But because of Christ, who is both God and man, God now throws your sin and mine into a sea of forgiveness called the cross of Calvary.
It seems that those who thump the bible the loudest understand it the least.
AMEN! I am a Christian but I have a strong distrust of people who do not live their lives with mercy yet they can quote the Bible backwards and forwards. I mean, I could memorize the Gettysberg Address but that would not make me Abraham Lincoln. It wouldn't even make me worthy of being president or a good American... it would simply make me someone with a good memory. Actions speak louder than words.
I am one who thumps the bible as loudly as I can. And I live my life so as to leave this world a better place for my having been here. Just as you say, you can memorize the bible and not be a good person; but, you don’t need it to be humane
Why is it so important for some people to prove that there is no God? What does that get you? My faith isn't hurting you, any more than your lack of faith hurts me. I
Actually, most free thinkers are not interested in proving that there is no God. And, that's not really the issue here – the issue is that many people of faith attribute messages to the bible that actually aren't there. But since you're interested, the evangelical movement to politicize and legislate religion has been the impetus for the increase of non-religious (and even some religious) challenges to beliefs heralded by "social conservatives." The strong desire to pit personal belief against history, science, ethics, and some very basic tenants established by the nation's founders has put approximately half of this country (believers or not) on the defensive. A "live and let live" philosophy on both sides would be great. Unfortunately, social conservatives have decided to strong arm the rest of the nation, and nobody likes a bully.
Oh I wish that what you say is true, but religion is wielded as a social weapon more than comfort, I'm afraid.
Why is it so important for some people to prove that there is no God? What does that get you? My faith isn't hurting you, any more than your lack of faith hurts me.
You haven't noticed your group (American Taliban) trying to get more and more power to impose their agenda and views on others?????????? It is not enough for the Christians to live in peace and let people live as they wish. Have you been under a rock
Karen, they do it because the demon in them forces them to. Let's face it, if you do not believe in my God, then it is foolishness to you and there is no rational reason for you to waste your time thinking, talking or arguing about Him.
But the demon inside you becomes infuriated every time the sweet name of Jesus is mentioned and you can not control it and he spews forth with all manner of bile and filth to show his hatred for God Almighty!.
But, before you leave this earth, you really should examine your soul. Feel as you will about God and Jesus, Allah and Buddah – but do not allow that filth to use you so mercilessly.
I imagine that a lot of you even ask yourself after a particularly nasty attack against God, "Now why on earth did I do that? Why did I waste my time like that?" If you have had occasion to ask yourself that question, you now have your answer.
May God forever bless and keep you.
Lynee, you say that you "imagine" people think these things and that's exactly what it is. A product of your imagination.
Don't listen to them, Karen. They only know what Satan has put into their childish minds. ;)
It is up to you believers to prove that a god exists.........you are the one making the claim that gods exist. I cannot believe in claims that have no facts to back them up. You prove there is a god and I will change my mind!
Your own personal faith may not be hurting me; but, millions of people of faith want to pass laws to force me to live by their beliefs and not my own. How about if atheists tried to pass laws to force evolution to be taught in churches as an alternate theology kind of like creationism?
Actually, "God helps those..." is from The Canterbury Tales; and this is considered among the first canonical texts in something resembling English-as-we-now-know-it.
And it's used sardonically! So this seems to indicate that the expression goes w-a-a-a-a-y back, and the reader of the times would get a dark chuckle out of the reference!
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