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.”
[37:139] Jonah was one of the messengers.
[37:140] He escaped to the loaded ship.
[37:141] He rebelled and thus, he joined the losers.
[37:142] Consequently, the fish swallowed him, and he was the one to blame.
[37:143] If it were not that he resorted to meditation (on God),
[37:144] he would have stayed in its belly until the Day of Resurrection.
[37:145] We had him thrown up into the desert, exhausted.
[37:146] We had a tree of edible fruit grown for him. (Pumpkin)
[37:147] Then we sent him to a hundred thousand, or more.
[37:148] They did believe, and we let them enjoy this life.
[68:47] Do they know the future? Do they have it recorded?
[68:48] You shall steadfastly persevere in carrying out the commands of your Lord. Do not be like (Jonah) who called from inside the fish.
[68:49] If it were not for his Lord's grace, he would have been ejected into the desert as a sinner.
[68:50] But his Lord blessed him, and made him righteous.
[68:51] Those who disbelieved show their ridicule in their eyes when they hear the message and say, "He is crazy!"
[68:52] It is in fact a message to the world.
my favorite... is how many people quote the koran, thinking it's the bible.
before 9/11, islamic quotes were quite popular (see the movie "Aladdin" by disney, and "The Living Daylights" by MGM.)
"But often the milkmaid, the cobbler – and the NFL coach – start creating biblical passages without the guidance of biblical experts, he says."
Another ridiculous statement. If Gods word is supposedly HIS word and therefore what everyone needs to know, why is expert study required? It seems that the Almighty messed up during the final draft and forgot to make it easy to understand and be understood by anybody reading it. Not only that, it should be understood completely after the very first time read.
Ditka's comment was most likely a misquote of Ecclesiastes 3:1
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"
This only adds to my belief that most religions teach you to stay stupid. You are not to question-only obey. Since memorizing that ridiculously inconsistent, hypocritical, and just plain stupid book takes a very long time, many faithful don't and just obey whatever their clergy or elder tells them.
Very well put comment but just never understand why they have to listen rather than read;
[6:9] Had we sent an angel, we would have sent him in the form of a man, and we would have kept them just as confused as they are confused now.
[6:10] Messengers before you have been ridiculed. It is those who mocked them who suffered the consequences of their ridiculing.
[6:11] Say, "Roam the earth and note the consequences for the rejectors."
[6:12] Say, "To whom belongs everything in the heavens and the earth?" Say, "To GOD." He has decreed that mercy is His attribute. He will surely summon you all on the Day of Resurrection, which is inevitable. The ones who lose their souls are those who disbelieve.
[6:13] To Him belongs everything that dwells in the night and the day. He is the Hearer, the Knower.
[6:14] Say, "Shall I accept other than GOD as a Lord and Master, when He is the Initiator of the heavens and the earth, and He feeds but is not fed?" Say, "I am commanded to be the most devoted submitter, and, `Do not be an idol worshiper.' "
[6:15] Say, "I fear, if I disobeyed my Lord, the retribution of an awesome day.
[6:16] "Whoever is spared (the retribution), on that day, has attained His mercy. And this is the greatest triumph."
[6:17] If GOD touches you with adversity, none can relieve it except He. And if He touches you with a blessing, He is Omnipotent.
[6:18] He is Supreme over His creatures. He is the Most Wise, the Cognizant.
[6:19] Say, "Whose testimony is the greatest?" Say, "GOD's. He is the witness between me and you that this Quran has been inspired to me, to preach it to you and whomever it reaches. Indeed, you bear witness that there are other gods beside GOD." Say, "I do not testify as you do; there is only one god, and I disown your idolatry."
[6:20] Those to whom we have given the scripture recognize this as they recognize their own children. The ones who lose their souls are those who do not believe.
[6:21] Who is more evil than one who lies about GOD, or rejects His revelations? The transgressors never succeed.
Maybe the folks that discredit the bible should just read it and if you have any questions ask the Lord God Almighty im sure there you will find your answer to any question you have for his Spirit knows all even more than man or the Devil or any other fake Gods.GOd bless you all in Jesus name Amen
Congratulations on mastering cut and paste.
You must be new didn't you know that before today..;-)
[7:11] We created you, then we shaped you, then we said to the angels, "Fall prostrate before Adam." They fell prostrate, except Iblees (Satan); he was not with the prostrators.
[40:64] GOD is the One who rendered the earth habitable for you, and the sky a formidable structure, and He designed you, and designed you well. He is the One who provides you with good provisions. Such is GOD your Lord; Most Exalted is GOD, Lord of the universe.*
[64:2] He is the One who created you, then among you there is the disbeliever, and the believer. GOD is fully Seer of everything you do.
[64:3] He created the heavens and the earth for a specific purpose, designed you and perfected your design, then to Him is the final destiny.
[64:4] He knows everything in the heavens and the earth, and He knows everything you conceal and everything you declare. GOD is fully aware of the innermost thoughts.
Finally these verses of the Quran;
[95:4] We created man in the best design.
[95:5] Then turned him into the lowliest of the lowly.
It could be saying that Monkeys and Apes come out of mankind when they were turned him into the lowliest of the lowly.
Meaning that Mankind was not a result of evolution of Monkeys & Apes...rather the other way round on reversed evolution...!
[82:6] O you human being, what diverted you from your Lord Most Honorable?
[82:7] The One who created you, designed you, and perfected you.
[82:8] In whatever design He chose, He constructed it.
[82:9] Indeed, you disbelieve in the religion.
[82:10] Oblivious to the fact that there are (invisible) keepers around you.
[82:11] They are honest recorders.
[82:12] They record everything you do.
[82:13] Surely, the pious have deserved bliss.
[82:14] While the wicked have deserved Hell.
[82:15] Will incur it on the Day of Judgment.
[82:16] They never leave it.
[82:17] Awesome is the Day of Judgment.
[82:18] What a day; the Day of Judgment!
[82:19] That is the day when no soul can help another soul, and all decisions, on that day, will belong to GOD.
I made up this one about losing your hair:
"In baldness ye came, in baldness ye shall return."
Jerzegurl, Dennis and Robert you three are true to God’s Word! We know from God’s Word that Satan WAS in the Garden with Eve. We also know that Satan is the great counterfeiter and he does attack God’s Word. He’d rather lull people to hell from a church pew than a bar stool.
He is doing that today with the confusion of the modern translations.
Many of the men and women on these translation committees are not godly, holy and walking the narrow & high way. They are blinded by the light of Belial. (Do a word study on Belial in the KJV, I promise you it will blow your mind. Then try the same thing in a modern translation. BTW Belial’s stronghold is education and his mode of warfare is pride) Many of these “biblical” scholars hold a very low view of scripture and do not view it as the Holy and Inspired Word of God. From the start, their basis for Textural Criticism is flawed and their approach to translation man-centered rather than God led.
Paul taught that the stewards of the mysteries of God must be found FAITHFUL!
1Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. Corinthians 4:1-2 (KJV)
He also taught that as believers we must all SPEAK THE SAME THING!
10Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10 (KJV)
Re-read these two verses in a copyrighted version of The Holy Bible then reflect on this verse:
17For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:17 (KJV)
bro ken now made whole in Jesus Christ…
I think it may partially be that people hear something Bible-ish and make the assumption that it came from the Bible – and then are stuck with that assumption. Others involve 'evolution' of a phrase/story across tellings, picking up other messages/interpretations along the way (The serpent tempted Eve. The serpent was bad -> evil. Satan is evil. Satan influenced the serpent. Satan was the serpent.). Think of the game 'Telephone' that kindergarteners play. And then there are the people who will just make something up and say it's biblical to trick people into thinking it is legitimate (which the idea might actually be to begin with). Think of '76.4% of statistics are made up', or something along those lines.
"Imagine there's no heaven, its easy if you try. No hell below us, Above us only sky....
Imagine all the people Living for today, Imagine there's no countries, It isn't hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too!
Imagine all the people, Living life in peace... You may say I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one, I hope someday you'll join us, And the world will be as one
Are saying that he was killed for saying that "Imagine" poor soul he was even if he had sang the opposite he would have been killed....Never can you please all..."Reality is sore".
"All things must pass" George Harrison
The bible is to jews and christian what sand it to the ostrich.
Maybe because ostrich have long,very strong Legs & Feets !? Oh and they said the myth of it burying it's head in the sand as false...!?
[10:3] Your only Lord is GOD; the One who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then assumed all authority. He controls all matters. There is no intercessor, except in accordance with His will. Such is GOD your Lord. You shall worship Him. Would you not take heed?
[10:4] To Him is your ultimate return, all of you. This is GOD's truthful promise. He initiates the creation, then repeats it, in order to reward those who believe and lead a righteous life, equitably. As for those who disbelieve, they incur hellish drinks, and a painful retribution for their disbelieving.
[32:4] GOD is the One who created the heavens and the earth, and everything between them in six days, then assumed all authority. You have none beside Him as Lord, nor do you have an intercessor. Would you not take heed?
[32:5] All matters are controlled by Him from the heaven to the earth. To Him, the day is equivalent to one thousand of your years.
[32:6] Knower of all secrets and declarations; the Almighty, Most Merciful.
[6:69] The righteous are not responsible for the utterances of those people, but it may help to remind them; perhaps they may be saved.
[6:70] You shall disregard those who take their religion in vain, as if it is a social function, and are totally absorbed in this worldly life. Remind with this (Quran), lest a soul may suffer the consequences of its evil earnings. It has none beside GOD as a Lord and Master, nor an intercessor. If it could offer any kind of ransom, it would not be accepted. They suffer the consequences of the evil works they earn; they have incurred hellish drinks, and a painful retribution because of their disbelief.
[6:71] Say, "Shall we implore, beside GOD, what possesses no power to benefit us or hurt us, and turn back on our heels after GOD has guided us? In that case, we would join those possessed by the devils, and rendered utterly confused, while their friends try to save them: `Stay with us on the right path.' " Say, "GOD's guidance is the right guidance. We are commanded to submit to the Lord of the universe.
[6:72] "And to observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and to reverence Him – He is the One before whom you will be summoned (for the reckoning)."
[6:73] He is the One who created the heavens and the earth, truthfully. Whenever He says, "Be," it is. His word is the absolute truth. All sovereignty belongs to Him the day the horn is blown. Knower of all secrets and declarations, He is the Most Wise, the Cognizant.
[6:50] Say, "I do not say to you that I possess the treasures of GOD. Nor do I know the future. Nor do I say to you that I am an angel. I simply follow what is revealed to me." Say, "Is the blind the same as the seer? Do you not reflect?"
[6:51] And preach with this (Quran) to those who reverence the summoning before their Lord – they have none beside Him as a Lord and Master, nor an intercessor – that they may attain salvation.
[6:52] And do not dismiss those who implore their Lord day and night, devoting themselves to Him alone. You are not responsible for their reckoning, nor are they responsible for your reckoning. If you dismiss them, you will be a transgressor.
"Now the SERPENT was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"” (Genesis 3:1)
"But I fear, lest somehow, as the SERPENT deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. " (2Corinthians 11:3)
You do realize a serpent is a snake, right?
It was Satan and not a Snake or Serpent;
[7:19] "As for you, Adam, dwell with your wife in Paradise, and eat therefrom as you please, but do not approach this one tree, lest you fall in sin."
[7:20] The devil whispered to them, in order to reveal their bodies, which were invisible to them. He said, "Your Lord did not forbid you from this tree, except to prevent you from becoming angels, and from attaining eternal existence."
[7:21] He swore to them, "I am giving you good advice."
[7:22] He thus duped them with lies. As soon as they tasted the tree, their bodies became visible to them, and they tried to cover themselves with the leaves of Paradise. Their Lord called upon them: "Did I not enjoin you from that tree, and warn you that the devil is your most ardent enemy?"
By the way the Bible does not say snake so this article writer should banned from commenting on the Bible unless he knows it.. It states a serpent... came into the Garden of Eden.. Geesh.... what a fool this guy is..
Figures of speech are used thoughout the Bible, serpent is not to be taken literally. One has to just read Revelation 12:9 to understand "that old serpent called the devil, Satan". Serpent ("Nachash" in original manuscripts hebrew) means "the shining one" – Satan is referred to as "the angel of light" in 2 Corinthians 11:14.
Yes, Satan was in the Garden of Eden, for explanation and understanding read Ezekiel 28:11-19, the king of Tyrus is Satan. Let's remember the true meaning of the Garden of Eden story – the serpent beguiled ("wholly seduced" – Greek manuscripts – 2 Corinthians 11:3) Eve which created the Kenite race (sons of Cain) as described by Jesus in John 8:44, "You are of your father the Devil".
Remember, there are no scholars of the Bible, only students, ask God for understanding as you read His Word and if it's His will He will open your eyes.
Gee I've read the bible many times. Whoever wrote this article doesn't know what they are talking about...there are various translations of the Bible. What is use in everyday sayings like mentioned.. the spirit of the scriptures not the letter. Yeah it was a great fish. As far as Satan being in the garden of Eden.. any Christian knows that the snake is symbolic of Satan. I think this the way the media erodes the beliefs of Christians.
The fool Steve on CNN is clearly ignorant of the Bible and its words and teaching from God. He said the bible does not say jonas/Jonah was in a Whales belly but this is also incorrect. True that in the Old Testament the book of jonah says Great Fish or Fish but read further into Matthew in the new Testament and WOW reading does help education, low and behold Gods only Son Jesus said himself that Jonas was in the Whale's belly for three days and three nights. Matthew 12 Verse 40. (King James )
People, especially so called Bible professors need to read on and study more. This is why Pastors usually know more about the Bible.
That verse in my bible says, "A great fish." Perhaps you're too quick to be critical of others.
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