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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. Shawn

    Many of these posts have made me feel hopeful and optimistic, ie. many of the posts have doubted god, questioned religion, and criticized the bible.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  2. Daniel

    .................My Favorite religious quote " Now what would Jesus do " I'm not sure where thats in bible or who said it.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Dee

      I think it came from a story I read 30+ years ago – maybe that was the name of a book? A homeless person walked into a church and went up to the front to ask people for help. He collapsed and died and I think the preacher began to wonder if ministry was too snobbish to really help people.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  3. Janet

    The Bible, the original Wikapedia.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • pithymcgee

      Wikipedia is WAY more accurate than the bible.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • IAMDAN

      "Wikipedia is WAY more accurate than the bible"
      And subject to far less interpretation.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    “Genesis mentions nothing but a serpent,” says Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

    The serpent was demonized in an effort to supplant the pre-Christian Druid practices, which included the serpent/snake as a symbol of strength and renewal.

    Christianity is filled with this kind of "poetic license" when it comes to the revisions of the Bible – all in an effort to further the political, cultural and monetary goals of the Church.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • justme

      it was jesus that later referred to satan as the original serpent and for all the trinitarians didn't jesus also refer to satan as the "god of this world" "the ruler of this world" and the god of this system of things? where does he fit into your trinity. that pagan belief just downgrades our creator and is one of the most disgusting beliefs that man has thought up with satan's help.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • ThinkAgain ThinkAgain

      The Druids were located around in the northwestern European continent. Julius Caesar was Western Civilization's first contact with the Druids. By then, the books of the Old Testament were well established in the Jewish faith. I cannot see how the Druids interest into snakes could have possibly affected the writings of Genesis.

      June 5, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  5. JoetheHalfWit

    Things that make you say; Hmm...

    June 5, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  6. Mickey

    " A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word,'darkness' on the walls of his cell." - C.S. Lewis

    June 5, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  7. Jack

    Once again, CNN doesn't fail to produce a plethora of hateful, spiteful, bullying people who come into an article about religion, that they already know they hate, just so they can feel good by spouting off their nonsense, stupidity and hate. You see, most sensible people avoid articles about topics they don't like. The people commenting here actually THRIVE on hate and bullying. Gee, but don't do it towards them or gays! They DEMAND tolerance! So much for THEIR belief in political correctness and equality (in people and rights) for ALL. (Just for those who believe what they do, please!) Hypocrites!

    June 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Colin

      Jack, expressing incredulity with the Bible in an article about the Bible is neither hateful, spiteful nor bullying. That is what the comment section is for, robust debate about the topic of the article.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Faux Paws

      What Colin said.
      If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
      Sorry you were FORCED to read this article.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Jack

      Where were people debating sincerely? All I see is the bullying and hate speech. Why then, would those people come into the article then? These are the people I'm talking about. The majority of the comments here are insensitive, intolerant and bullying.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Jack

      Colin, you yourself think that just saying "God doesn't exist, Adam and Eve never existed, the Garden of Eden never existed, etc.," makes it true and factual. That's not a debate. A debate requires evidence and support. The Christian belief requires faith, yes. It's what atheists belittle us for. But, at the same time, they (and you) hypocritically forget that your own views require the same kind of faith.

      Like I said, there is no debating here. Only hate speech and bulling.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Colin

      Jack, at one level, that is a fiar criticism – I did make those factual assertions and provided no evidence to back them up. You are correct to call me on that if you disagree, then the onus is on me to support what I said. Once again, I do not consider you rude, hateful or bullying for doing so – I consider you to have made a relevant point.

      To answer your challange, 2,000 years of scientific progress have proved ow old and large the World and Universe are. They could not have possible started 6,000 years ago with one man and one women. Evolution, geology, astronomy, DNA testing all independently prove this.

      June 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Jack

      Colin, thank you. That's one of the first times I've seen anyone online at least address my points. If people do not believe in God, or that the Bible is true, I can live with that. It hurts my heart but I realize that every person is free (even from God's viewpoint) to either accept or reject Him. And I love discussing why I believe what I do.

      Part of who I am has an innate sense of justice and fairness. I loathe hypocrisy. People who DO bully and spout non-factual hate speech in comment sections know that they're being hypocritical and hateful. Yet, when I see them demand tolerance and equality for others, and for agendas they believe in, I can't help but call them out on it. And STILL they refuse to address any points I made even though I address all of theirs. They just continue their hate speech. Yes, I get more frustrated than I should but that's that innate sense of justice and fairness in me.

      When people are committing the same "societal crimes" that they claim to be against (and hold others to), it gets me going.

      June 5, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Jack

      Colin, to answer your view on DNA, the age of the earth and a world starting with just one man and one woman, here's the Christian response: Being a Christian doesn't equate with knowing all the answers, just as science doesn't know all the answers. Christians are fallible, just like science is fallible. Both require faith.

      Suppose, for an moment, that God is real. He created everything and everyone. Given the wonders of the universe, let alone complexities of people and nature, I'm sure you understand the immense awe and wonder of it all! Now think, how can we, as finite, limited people every fully understand and know completely, THE God who knows absolutely everything? If we could understand and explain Him fully, would He, then, really be God? That's why faith is important. It's not a blind faith. It's a trusting faith. Same as with science. (God and science are not incompatible.)

      In the end, it won't matter if the earth is 6,000 or 600 billion years old. Many people, even in the field of science, disagree on the age of the earth and how it was formed. Whether the human race grew out of one man and one woman isn't even priority, life changing knowledge. No one person knows it all. The most important thing is this – Before we draw our last breath and all chances and opportunities are through forever, are we sure we're making the right decision regarding the faith we have in our belief system?

      From the Christian viewpoint, it all comes down to what each person decides to do with Jesus. Either accept or reject Him. THAT is THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT decision every person on earth faces because the consequences of that decision will never change and the effects are eternal – without end. It's like the saying goes, "If non-believers are right, then none of us have anything to lose, no matter how we live or what we believe. But, if Christians (and the Bible) are right. Each person is risking their entire eternity and gambling with hell." But, you see, fear won't bring anyone to Jesus authentically. Each person has to know their need for Him. Looking at it that way, can you blame any Christian for actively working to show that to others? If it's true, and Christians DIDN'T try to help save others, wouldn't THAT make them horrible and detestable?

      Now, if a person doesn't believe that and can live with the ramifications and consequences of their own personal belief system and decisions, then what else can be done? Why rage against Christians and their silly beliefs? It doesn't change a thing anyway. That person can just live with the satisfaction that they're "right" and believing some people just never get beyond the Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy mentality. The age of the earth and Adam and Eve don't make a hill of beans of difference, even in the long run of a non-believer.

      June 5, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Samantha

      The bible never actually spells out the 6000 years. That number came from a calculation based on the lives of all the people in the bible. In Genesis it says that God did specific acts such as create light and darkness in one day. For a God that lives eternally what is one day to him? The men who wrote the bible were not men of science, but the message of Genesis for me goes much deeper than God created the world in six days. The message that I get from this paasage is that God created the world with a purpose and created humans with a purpose. I throughly believe in evolution and the big bang theory. Science is the how things work, and religon is the who makes things work.

      June 6, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  8. Mari

    IF you all don't believe in God ,why read this artcle and then post your opinion not experince with GOD!!
    Ask Him for his presence and he shall come

    June 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Jack

      Because they hypocritically thrive on hate speech and bullying those who don't believe what they do. Just don't do it to them or it's hate speech and bullying and that makes the rest of us intolerant, extremists and evil.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  9. Woody

    The bible is full of man made stories .

    June 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  10. Karen Flanders

    Here are some wonderful quotes by Mahatma Ghandi–

    “There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever”

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    “Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love.”

    “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

    “An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

    “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”

    June 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  11. Hedley

    Scripture is the unchanging word of God that’s been around for thousands of years. No one has a monopoly on its interpretation.
    When “John the Baptist saw Christ he said, “Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” We would hardly expect anyone to look and see a four-footed animal. Jesus used many description for Himself, The Good Shepherd, The Light of the World, The Gate, The True Vine, The Resurrection and the Life, The Way, the Truth and the Life, etc.

    The story of the Fall also uses an animal symbolically to communicate Satan’s evil deceptive character. As intelligent people we should hardly expect a “talking snake.”
    John Blake misses the point though. It doesn’t matter where the conversation between Eve and Satan actually took place, what is important is that Satan came to her and convinced her to eat the forbidden fruit. As you can see from humanity mess today “forbidden fruit created a lot of jam.”
    Also the command not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was actually given to Adam. We assume he communicated God wishes to Eve since according to chronological order of the creation story in Scripture, Eve had not been created yet.

    Revelation 12: 9 clarifies that “The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan who leads the whole world astray.”
    Is it any doubt then that Satan was the one who tempted the first couple Adam and Eve?

    If God can speak through an “ass” (or donkey) to Balaam, imagine what He can do with His Bible in speaking to us.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Jason

      Thanks Hedley! Good to see that there are people around that have more common sense than those ignorant scholars.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • MDiMC

      Yes His book... which was written and edited by man, multiple times...

      June 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  12. Jason

    The serpent in the garden of Eden was controlled by Satan, who else was in opposition to God? Revelation 12:9 tells us about that "serpent", so its reasonable to conclude that the serpent in the garden of Eden was one of Satans "crafty acts".

    Revelation 12:9 : "So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him."

    June 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • hristian or otherwise) exists.Colin

      Hey Jason, there are just a few small problems with that

      The garden of eden never existed
      Adam and Eve never existed
      The devil does not exist
      Dragons do not exist
      Pixies, fairies and angels do not exist
      No god (C

      June 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Colin

      Hey Jason, there are just a few small problems with that

      The garden of eden never existed
      Adam and Eve never existed
      The devil does not exist
      Dragons do not exist
      Pixies, fairies and angels do not exist
      No god (Christian or otherwise) exists.

      Apart from that, the sayings you quote are spot on.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Donna

      Jason,

      I am curious, did you feel what I felt when reading this article?
      I agree with you about the serpant and the scripture you provided.
      wolves can be deceptive, but Praise the Lord, His sheep hear HIS voice and not the voice of another.
      My advice to anyone is READ the bible for yourself, than a wolf will be easy to recognise

      June 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Ogre

      Donna: "His sheep hear HIS voice and not the voice of another..."

      Killed by a wolf... or cooked for dinner, or sold at market by the shepherd = same result = dead.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  13. Bazoing

    The theologians and some ministers who fancy themselves especially educated wish to become like medieval bishops. They do not want common lay persons interpreting the Bible. As often as not they are people who went to theological school without even believing. That is a bit weird if you ask me!

    June 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  14. jasonda

    Really CNN, this is what you have on your front page? Soaring gas prices, enormous unemployment, 14 trillion dollar debt, and this is what you think is "news-worthy?" Never mind that it is unimportant– it also isn't even "news;" it is a biased assessment based on a presumptive premise.

    Except this to be a long next 1.5 years til the election. Racism is going to be the big go-to for the liberal CNN and other Obama water-toters out there.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • jeff

      CNN – liberal? Water toter for Obama–where? CNN is closer to FOX LiTE I just love the wingnuts, they barely know day from night...

      June 5, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  15. RichardSRussell

    The Bible is the world's longest-running, most widely respected, and least reliable Rorschach Test. You can look in it and see anything you want to see, find anything you want to find, justify any pre-ordained conclusion you prefer - because the Bible has it all!

    June 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  16. Matt

    To quote the Bible in English is to misquote it. If you're not reading it Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, you 're reading someone else's interpretation.

    – mm

    June 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  17. PeaceKeeper

    Who ever thought that one day we could hold a thousand songs and pictures in our pockets and talk to someone from the other side of the earth? 100 years ago this idea would have been crazy and unbelievable but it did happen. No more crazy than believing that an ultimate supreme being created us and the earth and gave us instructions on how to live here and make it back home. Have faith because in due time, all will be revealed.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Bob

      What yo udescribe is what science has given the world, not religion, nor belief is silly sky-fairies.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • PeaceKeeper

      How do you know God isn't the world's greatest scientist and that man isn't his best invention?

      June 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Colin

      Peacekeepr – because, if that were the case, it would not have given us stories that we now know, beyond doubt, are sheer nonsense. Talking snake, huge flood, men living in a big fish's belly. I mean, come on man, how many free passes do you have to give this stuff before you write it off.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  18. Jehovah's Witness

    IIn response to the serpent bit in the article, the first book of the Bible tells of an opposer of God who showed up in the garden of Eden. He is described as "the serpent," but he was not a mere animal. The last book of the Bible identifies him as :the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth." He is also called "the ORIGINAL serpent."(Genesis 3:1;Revelation12:9) This powerful angel, or invisible spirit creature, used a serpent to speak to Eve, even as a skilled person can make it seem that his voice is coming from a nearby doll or dummy. That spirit person had no doubt been present when God prepared the earth for humans(Job 38:4,7) Since all of Jehovah's creations are perfect, however, who made this "Devil," this "Satan"? Put simply, one of the powerful spirit sons of Gos turned himself into the Devil. How was this possible? Well, today a person who was once decent and honest may become a thief. How does that happen? The person may allow a wrong desire to develop in his heart. If he keeps thinking about it, that wrong desire may become very strong. Then if the opportunity presents itself, he may act upon the bad desire that he has been thinking about.(James 1:13-15) This happened in the case of Satan the Devil. He apparently heard God tell Adam and Eve to have children and to fill the earth with their offspring.(Genesis 1:27,28) 'Why all the humans could worship me rather than God!' Satan evidently thought. So a wrong desire built up in his heart. Eventually, he took action to deceive Eve by telling her lies about God. (Genesis 3:1-5) He thus became a "Devil," which means "Slanderer." At the same time, he became "Satan," which means "Opposer."

    June 5, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • justme

      who told you what the bible really teaches ?

      June 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Jehovah's Witness

      "What the Bible really Teaches" (publication) taught me what the Bible really teaches.

      June 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • justme

      that's what i thought my brother or sister. keep up the good work.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  19. Lavosier22

    Not only do many interpretations exist, but part of the problem with many translations themselves are due to faulty interpretations. Many people do not realize, for example, that although John 1:1 in many translations says: ". . . and the word was God" was a Greek to English translation of what is referred to as anarthrous predicate noun. Also, there were no indefinite articles in Greek at the time of writing of the Biblical passage by John. Translating that scripture was up to the interpretation of the translator, who were and almost always are trinitarians. There are translations of this verse that read "a god" and some translations that read ". . . the word was godlike" and the word was "possessing qualities of God." Most people believe in the trinity because they have been told to do so by "learned men" who have also been influenced by the doctrine of the trinity, as well as by other faulty translations and interpretations. Very few translations actually get this right. The word trinity does not appear in any translation of any Bible either by the way. Singular Anarthrous Predicate Nouns Preceding the Copulative Verbs EIMI
    and GINOMAI in the Gospel of John Occurring as Indefinite (*),
    Qualitative (**), or Definite (***)

    Joh 1:1 * and the Word was with God, and the Word was _a god_
    KAI hO LOGOS HN PROS TON QEON KAI _QEOS_ HN hO LOGOS

    Other examples:
    Joh 4:9 * despite being _a Jew_
    _IOUDAIOS_ WN

    Joh 4:9 * when I am _a_ Samaritan _woman_?
    _GUNAIKOS_ SAMAREITIDOS OUSHS

    One has to insert the indefinite article because it did not exist in the language. If one's interpretation was as a trinitarian, then one would naturally leave it out, yet this is the big scripture trinitarians love to quote, although very, very few even understand how the translation actually got it wrong.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Faux Paws

      Please don't confuse us with the facts.

      (Thanks!)

      June 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • One Who Knows

      Consider that even the Greek is a translation. So English is twice removed from the original language. And in some cases, three. Biblical interpretations based solely on any English language translation is faulty in any case.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Ogre

      This only goes to show that this "God" is not all-knowing nor all-powerful... if it spoke only ancient Hebrew, and didn't know that all of this mistranslation, misinterpretation and misunderstanding would occur.

      June 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Lavosier22

      Well, to some extent there is some truth about the original Greek text being handed down from somebody who copied it. I think one should keep in mind that the term "scribe" was used for one who carefully duplicated texts and such ones were mentioned in all translations of the Bible. Such scribes were known for very high quality duplications and this was verified when the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and passages of Isaiah were compared to Hebrew texts in use today. There was virtually no error in their duplication, although thousands of years had passed between the compared texts. Keep in mind, such scribes were highly trained. That being said, There are two codices used today as the oldest known original Greek texts. One is the Codex Vaticanus, which dates back to the 3rd century. It was copied by scribes as well, which tells me it is high quality with few duplication errors. So although statistically there are probably some errors in it, the errors are considered statistically negligible when it is looked upon as one of the original Greek writings of the New Testament. What this means is, John's words, at least in the Codex Vaticanus are 99.99966% exactly what the Apostle John wrote down as his Biblical accounts, which are considered inspired. That is the codex to which I am referring when I say the English translations got the Greek translation wrong.

      June 5, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Opie

      For Lavosier 22. You are correct in saying that that the word "Trinity" does not appear in Scriptures. It is merely a single English word that refers to a characteristic of God taught throughout Scriptures. It is much easier to say "trinity" than to say something like "God eternally exists in three persons, the Father, Son, and Spirit, who each have different roles but all three of which are equally God." Yes, that is a systematic theological conclusion, but one based on the clear teaching of Scripture (see: the rest of John chapter one not including verse 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1, and numerous other Old and New Testament passages). Even the New World Translation cannot remove all the Scriptures that teach about the Trinity. The primary problem with trinitarian teaching is that man cannot logically reconcile how God could also be fully man (Jesus) (Col. 1:9 For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell; Heb. 1:8 But of the Son he says "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever"). So a Muslim would say that Jesus was just a good man, for God would never humble himself to become what he created. That is an abomination to say that God would take on flesh. Another common argument is how could men kill an all powerful God. Well known Atheist Christopher Hitchens says that if Jesus was actually crucified as the Bible records, it would be the ultimate injustice. Jesus, if he is who he said he is, would have been the only truly holy person to die that did not deserve it. How could an infinitely just God allow this kind of injustice? The fact of the matter is, the crucifixion of Jesus was the ultimate injustice. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen. It was the only way for God to redeem sinful people. The only way Jesus could have lived a life completely free from any sinful actions or thoughts was to be fully God incarnate. The popular conception of God is that he lives above and apart from his creation. Like a kind of divine clockmaker who set everything in motion and stepped away. Actually, God is very interested in the lives of the people he created. So interested, in fact, that although all mankind has rebelled against his rule he made a way for us to have fellowship with him through the sacrifice of his perfect Son. There is no logical explanation for the incarnation other than God willed to love us. The Holy Spirit is the person of the Godhead now at work in all those who have put faith in Christ. He is the one who brings about the fruit of the spirit spoke of in Galatians (love, joy, peace, longsuffering...). Without the work of the Spirit in the lives of believers, it is impossible for any man to do true righteousness not corrupted by wrong actions or motives. The point is that all three persons of the Godhead are active in the plan of redemption and to deny the existence or deity of any member of the Godhead is to deny the clear teaching of Scripture about salvation. Does it make sense completely? No. I don't claim to have a handle on the doctrine of the Trinity. But, we must be careful to not dismiss what the Bible says because we don't completely understand it. There are many things I did not understand about God that I understand now because I have grown to know him better through study of the Bible, prayer, and his work in my heart through the Spirit. The main problem people have with trinitarian doctrine is the deity of Christ. You have two options when it comes to Jesus. You can accept him for who he said he was, the God-man who came to redeem mankind; or you can say he was just a good teacher. If all he was a good teacher then he was also a liar. Jesus said in John 10:30-33 "'I and the Father are one.' The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, 'I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?' The Jews answered him, 'It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.'"

      June 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      If he were to be "almighty" and "omniscient", and "all loving", why not just release, (reveal) cell phone technology, internet, fax, radio, and televisions when the "events" were happening, it would have been a lot more effective PR ?

      June 5, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  20. matt

    I live my life in accordance to Yan Can Cook's Cook Book. Everyday is delicious.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
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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.