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Actually, that's not in the Bible
Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden right? Nope. That's one of many phantom passages that people think are in the Bible.
June 5th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Actually, that's not in the Bible

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.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Evangelical • Faith

soundoff (8,604 Responses)
  1. Eric Jostad

    As an Atheist, I do not believe in God or Jesus or any other deity. However, I can appreciate the Bible and church services for what they are. They are simply telling people how they should live to be decent human beings. The ideas of being nice, don't steal other peoples' stuff, and help those in need if you can, among others. No matter what your belief, if you act decently and adhere to common sense, you will go to heaven if you believe in it and if you don't, you will be remembered as a decent human being and hopefully no one will spit on your grave.

    August 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Fred1

      Ok then here’s a story from the bible telling us how we should live as decent human beings

      And Moses said unto them “Have ye saved all the women alive?... Now therefore Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him, but all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” Num 31:1-2, 9-11, 14-18

      September 3, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  2. Mike

    "He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) and "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14)

    August 29, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  3. James

    I would just like to say that even though this article has sparked a good debate and points out flaws in peoples quotations of the bilbe your all really missing the point of the story by focusing on little almost unimportant aspects of GOD's word. what you really need to know and understand is that man is fallen, jesus is holy, and the attonement for our sins, and that believing Jesus was resurected for humanity but more specifically you and the cofessing that with your mouth saves you. From that point you become sanctified, and lifes goal becomes to understand GOD's word and to walk with him just as Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus did

    August 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • AAE

      James you mentioned "jesus is holy, and the attonement for our sins, and that believing Jesus was resurected for humanity but more specifically you and the cofessing that with your mouth saves you. From that point you become sanctified, and lifes goal becomes to understand GOD's word and to walk with him just as Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus did"... Just to maybe add to that.. I'm not too sure if you were implying that all you need to do is believe in God and his son Jesus Christ and you will be saved but if that is what you were saying its not accurate believing and doing is 2 completely different things. Many people have so call faith in God and the scriptures and the fully believe the Bible front to back but they are unwilling to live their lives by the laws and principles of Gods word. James 1:22-26 states " However, become doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves with false reasoning. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, this one is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, and off he goes and immediately forgets what sort of man he is. 25 But he who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in [it], this [man], because he has become, not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, will be happy in his doing [it].
      26 If any man seems to himself to be a formal worshiper and yet does not bridle his tongue, but goes on deceiving his own heart, this man’s form of worship is futile." There is so many religions out there but who really is the doers of Gods word, which one actually follow all the laws and principles set out in the Bible? God always dealt with one nation, one set of people so today it is the same. But which organization do you see truly doing this. This don't include just the organization as a whole but each individual within that organization.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • John

      "Jesus is Holy" is derived from Jesus being declared as "divine" by a council of MEN nearly 300 years after he died. You might was well declare Gandalf holy, or James Dean, or Martin Luther King. I completely understand your need to worship something because you were told to do that at a very young age. But had you never learned about religion of any sort, and today you were given a book from each religion, could you make an honest prediction of what you might decipher from reading all of those books? Would one person stick out, or would an entire belief system rise to the top? Or might you think it was all rubbish? I doubt you could give an honest answer. You're too bound by your beliefs to be objective. But believing that you "should be good" is a great basis for any religion or belief system. Or you can believe in what I believe in, "When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad. That is my religion" – Abraham Lincoln.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • AAE

      James if you properly read my statement I said the New World Translation is one... let me repeat O N E of the most accurate bible renderings. It wasn't to challenge another Bible considering they all say the same thing, but with different languages... It would also be a good idea for you to read the newer forms of the KJV and the older form of KJV.. you will notice they have been making changes over time... Im not saying its inaccurate or accurate you will have to judge for yourself. But all in all you should make a comparison between all Bibles if you can.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  4. veggiedude

    "thou shalt not kill" is not one of the ten commandments, a fact ignored by everyone. Oh, sure, it's listed as one of the original commandments – but Moses destroyed them, and went back for new ones. The new ones omitted this and others. One of the new ones declare: "You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk".

    August 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • BC

      Only unlawful killing...lol.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Dannyp

      John Blake . maybe you need to read the Bible before you open your Government controlled pie-hole as half the things you posted ARE IN FACT IN THE BIBLE ...LOL

      August 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Mike

      Thout shalt not murder is the proper translation.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  5. AAE

    Yes there is many other accurate Bible translation but this is the one I use considering I know it to be sound and true and sticking to the original writings.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Karen

      la grafica e rfteepta per le potenzialit del Wii speriamo un gameplay ben fatto questo gioco sar proiettato nella cima della classifica!Xpino be x i giochettini fumettosi un p ai ragione ma alla fine un gioco puo avere anche il personaggio che una caccola ma se fatto bene bello lo stesso! logico che non a la grafica next gen come il 360 e la play3 ma per essere Wii notevole!!e poi le altre non anno il sensore di movimento!

      April 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  6. AAE

    For anyone that was actually interested in what Bible I was stating information from, it was from (NWT) New World Translation published by Jehovah's Witnesses. Which is known to be one of the most accurate Bible not tainted by man made traditions and ideas but sticking to the original text.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • James

      actually KJV (King James Version) is the most accurate version of the bible followed by the NIV (New International Version)

      August 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Adam

      The Bible is a man made tradition! Let me guess, you think God wrote it and dropped it from a cloud...

      August 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  7. Todd

    In essence at least 2 of these DO exist:
    God helps those who help themselves is here:
    Philippians 4:13
    New International Version (NIV)
    13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

    Spare the rod spoil the child is here:
    Proverbs 13:24
    New International Version (NIV)
    24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
    but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

    Look it up before just spouting it off!

    August 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Dannyp

      Thanks I was gonna correct these "educated" people my self , but you did a fine job

      August 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Hippo

      I've some advice for you. It's your own: "Look it up before spouting off." The writer agrees that spare the rod IS in the Bible. It's right there in the article, if one bothers to read it.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  8. AAE

    John Blake,

    The idea you are presenting as far as people not really reading the Bible for themselves and just taking misleading information is very true. In the scriptures it never did say anything about an apple. It only refer to it as a "FRUIT" so I can definitely agree with the misleading information that many have received due to lack of study of the scriptures. (Genesis 3:3 & Genesis 3:6) But there is just one of many things I wanted to touch on that you mentioned in your article. Which was when you mentioned "the story in the book of Genesis never places Satan in the Garden of Eden"... which may seem true but if you let scripture interpret scripture you will see why it the serpent is Believe to be Satan. In John 8:44 it states "You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie." So from that we know he originated lying and in Revelation 12:9 & 20:2 It refers to Satan as "the original Serpent" so from just these three scriptures it shows some of the traits of Satan. So this is why we can be sure it was Satan who spoke to Eve through a snake.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  9. Robert

    Definition of theory has changed, eh, i dont really care if people dont really believe any way.

    August 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  10. Robert

    Uhhhhh.....why are the comments here like the ones in /b/?

    lets just keep this real: God is a theory and so is evolution

    August 29, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • KM

      I'll take the evidence for evolution as proof for its existence before I accept what religious whack-jobs (all religious people) call evidence for a deity.

      August 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Tim

      Theory, definition: A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
      Evolution seems to fit this definition. God does not.

      August 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Robert

      Yeah, the more i think about christianity, the more i feel if it's really real. like for example: How is God involved with Natural disasters? and nobody better use the old "because of man's sin". Nope, thats just an excuse to "Hurr durrr i dunno but this is what i believe."

      What if evolution was God's creation. lol thats a good theory.
      huh...i guess everybody needs to believe in something, whether or not it's real or not

      Dang i dont know if i made any sense.

      August 29, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • AAE

      Robert I would like you to consider a couple questions. But before I ask you those I just wanted to let you know I do agree that God is not responsible for any disaster that plagues mankind whether man made or natural. The Bible says "God is Love", so of course a God of love wouldn't cause such disaster to happen to hurt individuals which will in turn cause them pain and in worse case a death of a love one. But now to the questions I would like you to ask yourself due the statement that "God is a theory" mostly in part of the fact that we cannot see him. Just consider air (wind) is all around but we cannot see it or touch it but we know its there, why? Well because we see its powers and what it can do. God may be invisible but we know he exist because of the creation that exist around us. The way our solar system is perfectly designed, etc. If you came across a house in the middle of a forest you would automatically assume someone built it cause we know it cannot build itself. Take this reasoning to human beings and other form of life. How can it not be designed by someone? How can it just have evolved from nothing to something. When you take God the chief designer out of the picture nothing makes real sense. Even Charles Darwin you brought this question of evolution to light thought it was foolish to truly believe in evolution just because of observing the eyes and to see the complexity of it knew that it couldn't have just happened or just came about by chance but was designed. If you just observe our body you can see the careful thought that was put into the human form. Imagine our eyes was in our legs or hands as our feet and feet as hands it would be crazy but thought was put iin to creating humans which proves there is definitely a creator. But just observe creation there is alot you can learn just from observing these things...

      August 29, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • AAE

      Robert I would like you to consider a couple questions. But before I ask you those I just wanted to let you know I do agree that God is not responsible for any disaster that plagues mankind whether man made or natural. The Bible says "God is Love", so of course a God of love wouldn't cause such disaster to happen to hurt individuals which will in turn cause them pain and in worse case a death of a love one. But now to the questions I would like you to ask yourself due the statement that "God is a theory" mostly in part of the fact that we cannot see him. Just consider air (wind) is all around but we cannot see it or touch it but we know its there, why? Well because we see its powers and what it can do. God may be invisible but we know he exist because of the creation that exist around us. The way our solar system is perfectly designed, etc. If you came across a house in the middle of a forest you would automatically assume someone built it cause we know it cannot build itself. Take this reasoning to human beings and other form of life. How can it not be designed by someone? How can it just have evolved from nothing to something. When you take God the chief designer out of the picture nothing makes real sense. Even Charles Darwin you brought this question of evolution to light thought it was foolish to truly believe in evolution just because of observing the eyes and to see the complexity of it knew that it couldn't have just happened or just came about by chance but was designed. If you just observe our body you can see the careful thought that was put into the human form. Imagine our eyes was in our legs or hands as our feet and feet as hands it would be crazy but thought was put iin to creating humans which proves there is definitely a creator. But just observe creation there is alot you can learn just from observing these things

      August 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Robert

      @AAE

      "Robert I would like you to consider a couple questions. But before I ask you those I just wanted to let you know I do agree that God is not responsible for any disaster that plagues mankind whether man made or natural. The Bible says "God is Love", so of course a God of love wouldn't cause such disaster to happen to hurt individuals which will in turn cause them pain and in worse case a death of a love one. But now to the questions I would like you to ask yourself due the statement that "God is a theory" mostly in part of the fact that we cannot see him. Just consider air (wind) is all around but we cannot see it or touch it but we know its there, why? Well because we see its powers and what it can do. God may be invisible but we know he exist because of the creation that exist around us. The way our solar system is perfectly designed, etc. If you came across a house in the middle of a forest you would automatically assume someone built it cause we know it cannot build itself. Take this reasoning to human beings and other form of life. How can it not be designed by someone? How can it just have evolved from nothing to something. When you take God the chief designer out of the picture nothing makes real sense. Even Charles Darwin you brought this question of evolution to light thought it was foolish to truly believe in evolution just because of observing the eyes and to see the complexity of it knew that it couldn't have just happened or just came about by chance but was designed. If you just observe our body you can see the careful thought that was put into the human form. Imagine our eyes was in our legs or hands as our feet and feet as hands it would be crazy but thought was put iin to creating humans which proves there is definitely a creator. But just observe creation there is alot you can learn just from observing these things"

      you hit it right on the money. thanks AAE,

      I feel that God is "The Creator" in our world, but my views become, I dunno how to say it in terms, more alert and wide. I'm more of a realistic type of person, but still believe that there is a God out there. One thing that I think, is that what if God did create evolution.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  11. KM

    This article could've been just a few short sentences :

    Most people who claim to be Christian don't have a clue what it means and don't understand what they claim to be divine scripture. Ignorance and stupidity seem to be ideals in Christianity and will continue to be because religion doesn't place value on actual knowledge and understanding. Christians are mostly lip service hypocrites who can't be bothered to read the book they pick and choose parts of to pass judgment on people who's behavior doesn't fit their ideal mold.

    August 29, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  12. Andrew

    The phrase "and this too shall pass" is an ancient Chineseproverb. It made its way into American vernacular from an Abraham Lincoln speech. (He was quoting it from its actual origin, not trying to ascribe it to the Bible.) The story surrounding it is as follows:

    An (take your pick) emporer commissioned his wise men to craft a phrase that could be prominently displayed in the palace that would apply to any situation or event. After careful deliberation, they chose the phrase "And this too, shall pass." It is a phrase that is deeply consoling in times of misery, tragedy, and failure. It is also a phrase that is scathingly humbling in times of prideful success and excess. Sorry, but I don't have a citation readily available. Feel free to comment if you find it.

    August 29, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • physics-lite

      Physics-lite-To all Atheist;
      It is all in One’s Description and Everyone Else’s
      Interruptions over the Millennium.
      ==========================================================
      Here are six peer reviewed “Nobel Prize winners”, no less.
      Atheist you can pick one or all,
      Sheldon Glashow, Steven Weinberg, Abdus Salam, Carlo
      Rubbia, Simon van der Meer, and last but not least Richard P. Feynman.
      =======================================================
      All of the above “Nobel Winners” describe and illustrate their findings of
      millions of particle collisions in the same way.
      ------------------------------------–
      All of the elementary particles divide up into packets of photonic energy
      [light energy ] that Turns [or ferments,] into two or more sub-particles and
      some of the photonic energy [ light energy ] returns [or ferments,] back into
      the original elementary particles.
      ------------------------------------–
      It is called quantum electrodynamics/or QED

      The EM-fields of each particle defines the amount of light particles /or the total energy
      that is within each particle or sub-particle. As the EM-fields collapse back.

      Atheist, you do know about “Nobel Winner” QED?

      BIG BANG
      &
      “Let there be Light and let the light ferment and the light became fermented”& there was the Heavens and the Earth.
      GOD’s Word!

      August 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  13. Joseph

    . 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.

    Not to say that the Bible isn't misquoted...a lot, but the serpent in the Garden of Eden WAS the Devil. It might not say so in Genesis, but it's very clearly elsewhere in the Bible. I'm kinda surprised this "professor of religion" wouldn't have known that.

    August 29, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • Bob Dobbs

      The book of Revelation was written 1500 years after the book of Genesis.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Chad

      Can't really use a book that was written so long after the original because anyone can infer or opinionate by that time what or who the serpent was.

      August 29, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  14. Michael

    John, when was the last time you read the Bible? Spare the rod, spoil the child is in the Bible. And if you had actually read the Bible in length and not just here and there, God would reveal things to you. Writing this article just to get attention is not cool. People do stuff, just like you're doing regarding your article, to get attention and to stir up some sort of controversey. God is Real. His Word is real. Get into a car accident and let's see who name you call on. Let one of your children get hurt and let's see who you pray to, or call upon for help.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • BarbaraT

      Michael, Believe me (no pun intended) I will not be praying to some fictional character when I am in a car accident or my child is hurt. I'm not suddenly going to become one of the true believers. It doesn't work that way. I am as stalwart and consistent in my worldview as you are. If impending death could change that, then my integrity right now wouldn't count for much.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Joe-Almighty

      I've read the bible beginning to end more times than I can count. Why? Because, I was led to believe it's "THE WORD". It's a book that's all it is. A very old ficticious BOOK. You believe in it, because it's all you know. It's all you were taught or led to believe. Stop wasting your time and live life. Be happy for what you have and what you've accomplished. Until I see something to believe in, it's all stories to me just like Jack and the Beanstalk.

      August 29, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Drew

      Michael,
      If you had actually read the article instead of hopping on your high horse, you would have seen that the author mentions that while "spare the rod, spoil the child" does not appear word for word in the Bible, it is a popular paraphrase of verse that does. You just proved the article's point of Biblical "scholars" who can't be bothered with actually reading a text before forming a misguided opinion of it.

      August 29, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Jan

      Yeah Michael and Yeah Joseph! In fact, all of the supposed "phantam" quotes he mentioned truly are in the Bible. I've read them all myself! What a deceiver the writer of this article truly is. What a joke! Obviously he hasn't read the Bible and yet pretends to be an expert. He actually proves to me how truly real Satan is in our day....and is certainly one of his followers as he works so hard to sway many away from God's word.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Josh Martinez

      We shouldn't only go to God in prayer when life start to get rough. What about saying a prayer before a meal simply to thank God for the meal you have? What about the roof over or head, the beautiful things we see in creation, or the good friends you most likely have? All glory and praise belongs to God.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Fred1

      So, my child is laying on the ground, unconscious and bleeding out of her ears. If I had to choose, The religious way: stand there and pray to your god and wait for your god to do something or the worldly way call 911, get the paramedics and wait for technology to do something what would I choose? Me, I would go the worldly way and I would bet everything I own that you would too

      September 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  15. josiah

    i like to quote from the book of fleshilonians!!

    August 29, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Romeo

      You must meet a work requirement in adtidion to being disabled to get Social Security Disability (SSD). There is another program called Supplemental Security Disability Income (SSDI) which is based on need. Your household income and resources must be under the Social Security limits. You do not need to have worked and contributed to the Social Security system. When you reach age 62, you will be eligible for a spousal benefit from your husband's work record if he is eligible for disability or retirement benefits.

      April 3, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  16. Dave

    In regards to Satan tempting Eve, check out this article: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/02/09/satan-the-fall-good-evil-wasnt-satan-the-serpent

    August 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  17. Scott

    John,
    Perhaps before writing this article you should have read the entire bible front to back. If you would have made it to the last book, Revealations, you would have found a reference to the "ancient serpent" being Satan himself. Revealations 12:9

    August 28, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • C. Andrews

      Yeah, except that there is no such book in the Bible. It's Revelation, not Revelations.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Tyler

      Scott, you should realize that Genesis came first and Revelations is describing Satan with the serpent imagery and not saying that the serpent is Satan. Satan is a deceiver. The Genesis account stands on its own and even the rest of the Torah has no talk of Satan.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • Bob Dobbs

      The book of Genesis predates the book of Revelation by 1500 years.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  18. tony

    Our time bible is wrong to follow no more Gods word.people change the bible as time goes. give or show me one original Bible I will be christain tommorow. at the moment Iam study Quran to me this a book look like God send after bible.take your time and study you will understand what I said. I pray that God show us all right path.

    August 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Josh

      Wait. What makes you say that the bible is changed? Yes, the translations and the wording change, but the basic meanings of the passages remain the same. The only version that omits/adds anything is the King James version. There's actually a 98% consistency rate from the old bibles to the new ones today – you just have to understand the times in which the Bible, both Testaments, were written to really get everything.

      August 29, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  19. Nigel

    This is why we need to ignore that book for anything other than fiction. Who is to say that the actual writings haven't been embellished as well in translation? Lazy people who can't think for themselves are always saying, "its important that we look to the word." Whatever, just stay away from me and keep your mythical beliefs to yourselves and off of my laws.

    August 28, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Bridget

      Beautifully said Nigel. I wholeheartedly agree--sadly you and I are in the serious minority on this.

      August 28, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Thuggish Nuggets

      Unfortunately, history has a.. history.. of being biased in favor of those that prevail. History as we know it might well have been written differently if empires did not rise and fall as they have. I'm not saying "hey, let's take everything that's in the Bible as fact!" I'm just saying that we can't really take "fiction" as 100% fact either in many cases.

      My biggest problems with religion is how God is supposed to be love, but yet doesn't seem to grasp some human concepts or how anything we could do in our short fragile lives could possibly be equal to an eternity in torment as punishment (that's not balanced) since even if we killed someone, that person would have just been resurrected again. I'm not condoning murder, it's wrong and you don't need a deity to tell you that.

      In addition, the vast majority of religious people that I've encountered can't seem to understand that evolution does exist. We can see evolution unfold before our eyes in just a few generations of some species of fly. These creatures didn't just BECOME flies from single-celled organisms, they went through these slight modifications over a vast amount of time. Similar to the way that a sculptor would start with a block of clay/stone and shape the piece bit by bit. They don't just form the entire piece all at once, it's an evolutionary process that takes place. Likewise we didn't just form from monkeys, if we were to have evolved from monkeys (apes) it would have been a slow, gradual process taking a very long time.

      Science shows that this planet (and indeed the universe) is a lot older than we originally figured. If God or another deity had created planet Earth in just 7 days (1 day of resting), who's to say that the very slow sculpting of the planet via erosion or other geological events was not part of this "creation?" Or that the forming of humans was indeed done over the course of millions of years? Oh right.. It says just 7 days right? Hmm.. That doesn't make sense, or does it?

      The passage of time is affected by the amount of time that we have experienced. When you are 5 years old waiting for your birthday 1 year seems like forever because 1 year is 20% of the total time that you have experienced. Conversely when you are 50 years old, time is starting to literally feel as if it is flying by; a year no longer seems like a year or even half a year. A year at age 50 is only 2% of the total time you've spent living and feels even smaller than that.

      We as humans understand these concepts and we understand the value of time. Our lives are limited after all. If the Bible was truly the "word of God" and written for man's benefit, would it not be plausible that the Earth was not really formed in just a week, but rather that it took millions of years to form? But why then would the Bible say a week when it was really much longer? Well.. our perception of time is affected by how much time we have experienced. If God, who is supposed to have existed since before time was time, has experienced all time then maybe millions of years feels like a week to God? Maybe that was the only way he was able to get the point across to mankind? We all know what a long hard week of work is, we can relate to that. We also can relate to the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, a week is nothing. A week is an insignificant amount of time just as, if there is a creator, the act of creating the Earth over millions of years may have been an insignificant show of power condensed down into man-sized bites of knowledge for us to digest in our primitive brains.

      Or things could have simply just formed, over time, very slowly. The Earth is not the distance it is from the Sun because life exists or would have existed, it is much more likely that the Earth just is that far from the Sun and that happened to be the right conditions for life to have evolved past the primitive unicellular forms that we see in comets and other inhospitable places throughout the solar system.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  20. Teddi

    Well.. there are other scriptures than the bible, so when someone says: Scritpture says this to shall pass", they may not refer to the bible at all. ;)

    August 28, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.