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.”
My grandfather used to tell a story about a man who lived in his hometown. They were discussing how God gives power to those who believe, and the man said to my Grandfather, "You know it says in the Bible that David took the jaw bone of a horse's ass and slew ten thousand." My grandfather, being the gentleman he was, said that he was doing all he could not to laugh in the man's face, because the man was so sure he was quoting the Bible correctly.
I have an idea for the fair ones at cnn – "Actually, that is in the Koran". And then you can list all the hateful, violent and ignorant teachings of the "holy" koran for all of us ignorant americans to learn.
Pride was one of the sins, So if not for that one reason alone, don't take pride in your ignorance
One thing I always find fascinating is of all the books in the world why is it that people choose to pick on, pick apart, and make fun of the Bible the most? Any ideas? Think about that one. When growing up in church I would hear of a time when in this country Christians would start to be hated and made fun of. I remember thinking not in this Country I can't see that happening. It's happening right here in the good ole US of A. I liken it to someone riding your tale as you hit your brakes and watch them in your rearview mirror as their butt puckers right before they hit you. It got here sooner than I thought. It's scary but we knew it was coming just like we know someone else is coming, just not when.
"why is it that people choose to pick on, pick apart, and make fun of the Bible the most? Any ideas?" Lots.
1. Because the bible has been the most abused book in history with its adherents laying claim to all they see and saying "Look, our God has given us this unoccupied land!" Funny how anyone who didn't believe in their book didn't count as people.
2. Because people have and still do use the bible to push political agendas that have nothing to do with the book and everything to do with their forcing their own perception of morallity on everyone else.
3. Because even from one "faithful" Christian to the next, each has a different version of what the bible is telling them to do and what it means to them, so there is no biblical constant Christians can agree upon.
4. Because what you morons think of as the bible is likely the greatest scam ever perpetrated on mankind by a handful of greedy politicians attempting to consolodate power back in the 4th century when they discarded many other "holy" letters and chose those that fit their own agendas.
5. Because people like you constantly push the idea that not only do Christians know "truth" but that you have a patent on it and that anyone who doesn't believe in your intangible God is either stupid, evil or a combination of the two.
Will that do?
BY THE POWER OF GOD TO HAVE THE TORAHS ALL OVER THE WORLD TO BE OPENED FOR THE FULL SERVICES AT ALL THE SYNAGOGUES TEMPLES IN THE WORLD. GOD WILL REACH THE JEWISH PEOPLE WITH THE DOORS OPENED TO THE TORAH. GOD WILL SHOW THE JEWISH PEOPLE HIDDEN IN A OLD TORAH THAT THE DOORS TO BE OPENED THROUGHOUT THE JEWISH SERVICE BY THE POWER OF GOD.
Saint Michael already overcame the devil (all devils).
Or do they envy mankind for what God hath given them of his bounty? but We had already given the people of Abraham the Book and Wisdom, and conferred upon them a great kingdom. (Quran 4:54)
….and to David We gave the Psalms (Quran 4:163)
And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear God. (Quran 5:46)
There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (As they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, "That is from God," but it is not from God: It is they who tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it! (Quran 3:78)
Most of you people have no idea what you are talking about. The "Good Book" as FifthApe calls it does have allot of tragedies in it, but this is life not a fairy tale, people are good, and they are evil. It's clear that most of you have had no exposure to what the Bible tells us or is really in existence for so you just disregard it. It's not just floating on the surface as many of you seem to think, so dig into it and maybe just maybe it will grab you back from the world. I'm not syrupy religious but I am Christian and aquainted with the "Good Book":)
It is true that in the book of Genesis the deceiver is mentioned as a serpent. I will add though in regards those persons especially a renown or self acclaim theologian or pastor would make a case on the interpretation of a scripture standing alone is nothing short of poor scholarship.
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. (KJV)
Below are additional supporting scriptures found in the bible.
2 Corinthians 11:3
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (KJV)
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. (KJV)
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, (KJV)
This same serpent is receiving a judgement from God in the following verse.
14And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (KJV)
Even more supporting scripture below that help identify who the serpent is in Genesis 3.
4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (KJV)
20And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (KJV)
17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (KJV)
Thank you for submitting the verses. There is a lot wrong with this article. The fact that Craig Hazen, director of the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University in Southern California says that "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?’’ is quite sad. He's supposed to be a christian. The bible is intended to be read by everyone. It's our instructions manual and its purpose is to enlighten us.
“Not only do they get the interpretation wrong, but very often end up quoting verses that really aren’t there.” you have to pray and medidate that you are getting what God intends you to get from His word. Scolars are no longer necessary to interpret the bibile because most of us can read.
What kind of a sadistic jerk would put the tree in the MIDDLE of the garden and threaten your newly-created beings with eternal punishment for partaking of it? That's like putting a cookie jar in the middle of the living room with your 2 year old and then beating them for sneaking a bite. Who wants a god like that?
I challenge any of you that believe The Bible to just be some piece of crazy fiction to read "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell (I think that's how his last name is spelled), Or read the book "The Case For Christ". Bible = Fact
There's not a shred of evidence for any god(s) and without at least one god, all religion falls apart.
They had the power to resist the TEMPTATION. God did that to see if they would obey him in tough times, not to make them sin! God Bless
Wow, HotAIrAce. That is a sweeping statement. It's also factually wrong. The Bible itself is evidence for God's existence, because it claims to have direct statements from God. So you can say they are not true, but you can't say there is no evidence. Other evidences include the orderliness in creation, Man's belief in a higher power, the fact that society works best when biblical commands are obeyed, etc., etc. Are these "proofs?" Maybe, maybe not. But you said there is no "evidence," and clearly you are wrong.
peick, how is the bible "evidence" for God? Evidence is something that would aid in convincing someone that something is valid. To an unbeliever there is nothing in the bible that would indicate that it is anything other than a story book or that God exists. Just because a book says there is an almighty God, doesn't make it true.
This IS in the bible (aka the good book).
31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
31:18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
21:11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
21:12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
21:14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.
The bible is one of the most evil books in all fiction.
You forgot to name the book of the bible you are quoting.
I am very surprised that this article didn't point out that the idea of the 'Rapture' is not in the Bible, either. It is an invention of 19th century American revival preachers intent on raising a few more bucks from the gullible masses.
Aye, aye! An omission, indeed.
yup! with out question, there is no rapture! period!
The word rapture is not used in the Bible, but the following verse is the basis on which some believe in the rapture: "The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thes. 4:17.
Adam and Eve are figurative characters that represent mankind turning its back on a hunter gatherer lifestyle in favor of an agricultural one.
"Spare the rod, spoil the child" is in fact scriptural. It is one of king Solomons great quotes. Look it up people.
Actually, no it's not.
New International Version (NIV)
24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
Please read above.. it is from the bible
It is principle and not the literal translation that is what is the key of this verse.
Okay CNN, so just so everyone is aware, this article is a repeat. I have read this article before. I remember reading this several months ago. Not that I care that much that it's a repeat but not very professional to say the least.
Uhm, read the date. It's not a repeat, its the same article.
I enjoyed the article.
Another thing that is taught to be in the bible is "free will." That seems to be an American concept to me. They did not seem to have free will in the Middle Ages or the Crusades. If you have free will to choose Jesus but will be tortured in Hell if you do not chose the right path, does that mean that the Taliban allows free will even though they will torture you if you do not chose their path?
The God (who were actually plural in the story, so Gods) has been made omniscient by Its followers.
So, we have this omniscient God who knows before he puts the tree in the garden what his creatures are going to do with the fruit. The God knows that it's a foregone conclusion what his beings are going to do.
Just ponder that one for a minute. The true believers will defend their God by saying things like "who are you to Judge God" and "Adam and Even still had free will".
I only intended to skim through the content of this article when I noticed the author must be referring to a different bible LoL.
Unless of course he or she was referring to the Quran in Chapter 7/ Al aaraf where neither Adam nor Eve were blamed on their own but rather both took the wrap for the sin then asked forgiveness & God forgave them but did kick them out of heaven down to earth to earn their ticket back home through good deeds (being decent human beings).
So for the author who says there's no such thing in the bible (old testament) that says Satan tempted Eve , well then let's let the bible talk shall we?!
[Genesis:3:1-6] there is what is supposed to be a whole conversation that takes place between the Serpent (Satan in disguise) & Eve until he convinces her to take a bite in [Genesis:3:6] LoL.
What is this author high on crack?! LoL
Adam and Eve definitely posessed free will. Had they not had the right and ability to choose man would not have fallen from Gods grace. DUH!
Well, if we're getting nitty-gritty, the Old Testament is clearly 100% fables, perhaps based in some truth. We know, clearly, there was no flood that covered the whole of Earth, we know that there is no way that 2 people could have populated an Earth with such a diverse genetic population, etc etc. Who cares if the Bible is slightly misquoted, as long as it's being used towards bettering people.
Thank Gods that SATAN helped Mankind get the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Thanks, SATAN!!
Duh??? When I see this I always wonder how old the person is...and hope they are not older than 12.
A truly superfluous article at best. Wait – is THAT in the Bible?
Superfluous or superficial?
Not only was it a serpent, not Satan, who did the tempting, but MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY, it wasn't an apple OR the tree of life. It was the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That is, it was not only disobeying God but also *knowing what was good and what was evil*–a knowledge most of us think is a good thing–that got them kicked out of the garden. That story–about the price of knowledge, about never being able to go back to the way things were before you knew–is much more complex, powerful, and interesting than "curiosity makes God angry."
The fruit was a desire, and sin was about not obeying God. Surely you die means your relation with God become far away.
Well Hazel, it has to do with Adam & Eve disobeying god and a rebellous spirit. And yes they like the angles have free will to choose. It's also Satan's challenge in Job to God about his right to govern. Satan (which is described several places in the bible as a serpent, dragon etc..) as always mixed some truth with a lie to get Eve to sin. Yes partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge did make her know the difference between good and bad. But it did not make her like god as the scripture also points out. Studying the bible is what we should do. Not just read but study. And yes a bible study with someone who has a firm understanding of the scriptures is better than the "what do you think" comment. But no understanding of the scriptures doesn't have to be reserved for clergy.
God set them up to take a fall. Before they had eaten from the tree of knowledge they did not know about good and evil. They did not know disobedience was bad (didn’t comprehend bad). So god punishes them for doing bad when they didn’t know what bad was.
Ditka was paraphrasing scriptures that talks about....things shall come to pass. Leave it to a writer to misconstrue what was being said by someone and used as a direct quote within a story.
You mentioned "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. " Well just to give you a background on myself at one time in my life I didn't believe in God at all that he didn't exist. But then I started observing the way things are 'CREATION' it didn't make sense. Big bang theory, evolution just doesn't have any conclusive evidence to prove it. So after believing there is a God without having to read a Bible I started noticing all the different forms of religion. Muslim, Hindu's, Jews, Christianity etc. But from the further observation of the torah, Koran and other books I have studied they all reference one book.. THE BIBLE.. of course there is many different forms of christianity but so which one is right that was my next hurdle. So the only way to find out is to see what the Bible really teach and when I saw all the traits that Gods true followers would have I can definitely say for sure I have found that one religion. So it does exist. In the end I feel sorry for you if you choose to continue to not know and never find out for yourself because when this system comes to an end or in your case I should say if it comes to an end, what would YOU do considering you found out you were wrong. Also, another reason I have such strong belief in the Bible is because it spoke about the conditions today and we are living it.... so is it just rubbish or is it real?... Either way I'll always believe in God... I don't need something to believe I just know he exist from what I have seen and been through so considering he has done alot for mankind, giving up his son well I can only repay by giving him the honor and glory he deserves.
So your point is your brain reverted to a 500 year old notion of our world? Did you suffer trauma of some kind to your head?
You talk about how there is "Just No evidence for the Big bang theory or evolution" and then tell us you have found God? Does religious Hypocrisy know no limits?
Dude, what you mean they all refer to the bible... the bible is only older than the Koran!!! i mean... you are ready to be a christian in america when you think the Torah came from the bible. What about the Vedas, did you know that the vatican holds knowledge that "Jesus" went to india when he was 14.... no... because you think that all the religions some how relate to the bible.. the bible is only 1700 years old. sheep!
I bet you are a "Born Again" which 90% of the time means "i used to do crack but had to find help in a large group of followers that can take control of my brain, so i could solve my issues"... you might be the 10% that truly found God, not Jesus, GOD, and now understand that there is no reality... but i doubt it...
“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"
Gee. Does this surprise anyone who's watched televangelists? LOL Sorry, had to bring that up ;)
Sorry Kait... why you are absolutely right but that is why each person should test the things these televangelists are saying. Do there on research..
Just a word of caution to all. Bible Translations are very important. Due to the change of times and change of how we speak we can sometimes misunderstand certain things said in older Bibles considering we speak modern English. But while using Bible translated into modern English it is also good to make sure these new renderings are not omitting original text to suit ones religion. So always do your research on the Bible you use and see what are the changes and why it was change. Once again its just a word of caution to all. (Food for Thought)
A good example of this is when well intended people go telling others that when salt looses it's saltiness, it is worty to be tread under the feet of men. But the scripture REALLy states when salt looses is "Savior",i.e.the Holy Spirit who hovered over the waters before he concieved of Jesus (not savor, as in saltiness).
Please pray for these poor people who think the Holy Spirit's name is Yahweh or Jehovah, so that they don't loose their savior. Jesus paid a price for them. For if that were the name of the Father, what would be the name of the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:2? The Lord Almighty is his name! He will save me!
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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.