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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 • Faith

soundoff (8,604 Responses)
  1. Blogson

    The Greek word "ketous" (this keyboard is not set up for Greek) in Matthew 12:40 is more properly translated as "sea monster" rather than "whale" as some English-language versions have it. Since Jesus spoke Aramaic rather than Greek, it is possible that there is a problem with Hebrew of Jonah-Aramaic of Jesus- Biblical Greek-English Bible situation.

    June 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  2. human#3,123,001,498

    "Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense." – Voltaire

    June 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • E.

      You do know when Voltaire was dying he wrote down "I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies..."

      June 5, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  3. Allan Mormann

    They dropped the word "love"

    Money is not the root of all evil
    1 Timothy 6:10: The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil"

    June 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Oso

      Tell it to the "christian conservatives" who love money more than God himself. They'll probably laugh at you afterwards.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  4. Josh

    The writer of this article has a lot of things wrong. These phantom sayings are paraphrases of different passages in the bible. As for the serpent tempting eve, yes that is in the bible. Read Genesis 3. Theres more the author has gotten wrong but im sure other readers have corrected him.

    June 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Josh

      I just read Genesis 3. It does not even imply that the serpent was actually Satan.

      Quote the exact verse that proves your point.

      Cheers!

      June 5, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  5. LordhaveMercy

    The majority of it is fantasy and myth for the weak and vulnerable to swallow and help them tolerate all that doesn't make any sense to them. I myself stopped believing in fairytales at the age of 6. I have raised 2 healthy kids, mentally and physically, and have done the humane thing whenever confronted with any dilemmas. My wife and I are both happy and volunteering with the people (many who do believe) in Joplin, MO. I look forward to the end of my life (without any fairy tale afterlife ending to soothe or make sense of my tribulations here on Earth) with dignity and courage, knowing that I have lived fully and raised to wonderful children to live on this bountiful planet which we should all preserve and protect for future generations. I love my fellow believers, but I am an atheist and that in itself does not make me any better or worse than any of them. Love, Greg.

    June 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • someguy

      You're right when you say that you're no better or worse than anyone else. Unfortunately, what many fail to understand - and will find out some day - is that God does judge, even if we are not to. That's not a Christian judging anyone. That's a scary truth that a loving person wouldn't wish on anyone.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Hmmm

      "Scary Truth". You base this on what evidence? Oh right, your babble.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • someguy

      @Hmmm: Do you have any proof to disprove it?

      June 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • someguy

      @Hmmm: The Bible is the ultimate source of truth. I don't follow men - who are greedy, deceitful, fallible, lacking real wisdom, etc. I follow a God who is the opposite of all of those things.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Hmmm

      Well, I could point out the massive contradictions, the historical inaccuracies. The evil deeds attributed to your god, and many more but there is no sense in disproving a negative.

      But logic isn't a creationists strong point. I tell you what, you can disprove leprechauns and if you are unable to, then that means that they exist and you must believe in them. GO!

      June 5, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Hmmm

      Ugh, it's just my luck to stumble upon an extreme delusional babble thumper. Don't worry, I'm sure you're babble is correct. God was sure to make sure you were born into the right family to believe it. Congrats.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • AustinTony

      @someguy: He doesn't need proof to disprove it. He's not the one making the ridiculous claims. If I claimed that a teapot was orbiting the Earth, it wouldn't be up to you to disprove it. It would be up to me to prove it. Otherwise I could say that we are all under the watch of the 23 timelords and I'm right because you can't disprove it. So when you CAN prove the existence of god and the events that supposedly occurred in the bible, then we will listen.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @someguy

      You said: "The Bible is the ultimate source of truth. I don't follow men – who are greedy, deceitful, fallible, lacking real wisdom, etc. I follow a God who is the opposite of all of those things."

      The bible was written by men of antiquity. It reflects their morals and knowledge.

      Christians do not believe in Christianity because it is true. To them Christianity is true because they believe it.

      Cheers!

      June 5, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Sean

      Very nicely said, Greg.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  6. Dustin

    You're story leads people to believe that some of the stories, that have basis in truth, didn't really happen at all. For example, you say that Jonah wasn't swallowed by a whale. The Bible says that Jonah was swallowed by a "great fish." Admittedly, whales are mammals, but your statement is very misleading, as I'm sure you intended it to be. You need to tell the WHOLE story. This is one of the many reasons why Fox News is watched by so many more people than CNN.

    June 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • pithymcgee

      Dustin, please don't breed.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Omelord

      Sorry to burst your bubble Dustin, but Fox News is watched my so many, because there are soooooo many morons just eager to be told what to believe because they don't have any capacity for critical thinking or simple logic. They would much rather have an angry anchorman deciding for them. Enough said!

      June 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Ray

      Fox is watched because people have a hook stuck in their nose, put there by idots posing as jounalists. I agree that you shouldn't breed, Dustin. We need to maintain some kind of dignified IQ average in this nation.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  7. Steven Gordon

    Many verses in the Bible contain something like this: "Yea, yea, verily, verily I say unto you..."

    Jesus did NOT speak Elizabethan English either.

    I quote 2 Hesitations 6:9 on that as well.

    June 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Steven Gordon

      Oops...my bad. Wrong chapter and verse.

      2 Hesitations 6:9 correctly states: "Man shall service woman, and woman shall service man." ;-)

      June 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Deep North

      2 Hesitation 6:9 Thou shalt not be stupid. Amen.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  8. Laura Runkle

    Surprising accurate article except for one thing: Satan was the serpent of Genesis. We know this because in Revelation [12:9], the last book of the Bible, it specifically calls Satan "the original serpent". Other than that, the article was superb and very well researched. Nice job! Love it!

    June 5, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • pithymcgee

      The author says it is not in Genesis. It isn't. You just said it's in Revelations.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  9. A to the Ezzle

    The most outwardly conservative Christians are the ones least likely to act like Christ.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  10. MB

    Revelations 20:2

    2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • pithymcgee

      Revelations, NOT GENESIS. READ THE ARTICLE. Seriously, your skull must be a foot thick.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Drew

      Thank you for posting this. Just because the book of Genesis does not say that the serpent = satan, does not mean that they are not the same.

      In Genesis 3:15 it says "(to the serpent) And I will put enmity between you [serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.

      In Romans 16:20 it says "the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."

      June 5, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  11. DingleBerry

    Who the hell cares whether a statement was in the bible or not?! The bible is 100% mythological, and utterly worthless in any practical sense. C'mon people, stop living your lives by the words (or non words) of a poorly written fairy tale.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • MB

      who cares? When you quote from a text, be it fictional, scholarly, etc. it doesn't matter. If you quote from it and someone calls you out on misquoting, they should be correct in their assertion.

      June 5, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • pithymcgee

      MB – you're misquoting the author of this article he didn't say the bit about the serpent isn't in the bible, he said it isn't in GENESIS.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • someguy

      Words of wisdom from someone who called themselves "DingleBerry", ladies and gentlemen ....

      June 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • jacob

      Could you provide textual historical evidence to back up your claim that "the bible is fairytale"? If not, then you're just repeating what you heard someone say. I think the deeper meaning behind your comment is that because you don't like what the bible says then therefore it must be "fairytale". Just because you don't like something doesn't make it untrue. I suggest you look at the evidence for the historicity of the bible and THEN try commenting again.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Ray

      Well Jacob, can you prove it ISN'T a fairytale?. Where's your evidence for ANY of it? Most people need evidence for their beliefs.

      The bible was written at a time when people thought the Earth was flat, when the wheelbarrow was high tech. Are its teachings applicable to the challenges we now face as a civilization? —Sam Harris

      Men of simple understanding, little inquisitive and little instructed, make good Christians. - Michel de Montaigne

      My friends, no matter how rough the road may be, we can and we will, never, never surrender to what is right. —Dan Quayle

      Science is the record of dead religions. - Oscar Wilde

      The world is flat. It’s in the Bible:
      [Isaiah 11:12
      12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH. (KJV)

      Revelation 7:1
      1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. (KJV)

      Job 38:13
      13 That it might take hold of the ENDS OF THE EARTH, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? (KJV)

      Jeremiah 16:19
      19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ENDS OF THE EARTH, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. (KJV)

      Daniel 4:11
      11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the ENDS OF ALL THE EARTH: (KJV).]

      June 5, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  12. Lilly

    I'm not religious and I don't believe in a god, but this is an interesting story and it must drive bibical scholars and preachers crazy – especially when the phantom verse contradicts biblical teaching.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Sean

      Nah, they just make up more quotes to prove they're right.

      June 6, 2011 at 7:18 am |
  13. RxCello

    You can take three key words from this article to summarize the United States today: religion, ignorance, confusion. They go together like bread and butter. I long for the day when the mists will rise and atheism will enlighten the world.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Doomsayer

      Sure,then people will continue killing each other over stupid things like who has the best car, the best wife, the most money, ect, ect. If that's an atheist's vision of a utopia, then I sure as Hell want no part in it

      June 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • AustinTony

      doom: you got it all wrong. People throughout history haven't been killing in the name of atheism and rational thought. they have been killing in the name of religion. I think we can put this little god theory to bed now. Enough with the nonsense.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Doomsayer

      People kill because killing has always been part of human nature. Even before religion shaped human history. Atheism is outdated, and atheists are just bitter towards people who believe in the supernatural. Christian knights killing other Christians in Constantinople for treasure. Muslims fighting each other over who should lead Muhammad's people after he dies. Human nature. Not religion is the cause of all the blood that has been spilled

      June 5, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Ray

      RxCelo\lo
      Good thought. I'm with YOU!

      June 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  14. Sonofthemorning

    The people defending the bible so vehemently are merely proving the point of the article.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Mike Haines

      Personally, the problem I have with the article is that the author did exactly what he is accusing others of: he is second hand criticizing. His point appears to be that many people quote things that sound good but aren't actually scripture and therefore have no business being applied to the bible. I AGREE. Now the problem, some of what he says is not in the bible, actually is. My issue with the author is not the point of the article, but rather the article itself.

      I am all for holding people accountable for the passages they quote.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Doomsayer

      The Old Testament events foreshadow the events of the New Testament

      June 5, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Ray

      Well Mike if you don't agree with the author, instead of telling us he's wrong, give us the evidence.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  15. Terra

    I seriously doubt that many atheists have read the Bible. Maybe they have read selective passages, but the entire Bible is not an easy read even for devout Christians. I have read a lot of the Bible, but have been stymied somewhat in lengthy prophetic books like Ezekiel and Jeremiah. What I take from the entire Bible–most of the Old Testament and all of the New–is that it is one story, the story of mankind's need for redemption–starting in Genesis–and leading up to the redeemer sent by God, Jesus. There are passages in the Old Testament that predict that God would send a sin-bearer–Isaiah 53–and that he would be a light not just to the Jews but to all the nations. I can see how someone could have tried to masquerade as the Messiah based on the prophecies, but how would someone have known that Christianity would spread throughout the world. The redemption that Christianity promises, by the way, is for everyone, Jew and Gentile and everyone else.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • pithymcgee

      If you doubt that atheists have read the Bible, then why does study after study prove that atheists know more about religion than the followers of that religion?

      June 5, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Alex

      Reading the bible is what creates atheists. The more you read the less sense it makes.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Doomsayer

      What study? Results? Why are atheists so hateful?

      June 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Ray

      Terra,

      If you know how to Google, do a search of atheists knowledge of the bible compared to Christians. PEW research as conducted polls on this question, and I'm sorry, but you don't know what you are talking about. Thirty-two key questions were asked in the poll and atheists outscored Christians, like yourself. That points to arrogance and ignorance among people like you, among other things, but I'll let you fill in the blanks!

      June 5, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  16. MB

    Whoever wrote this needs to do some fact checking. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent is Satan. That's in the Bible. Do your homework.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • pithymcgee

      READ THE ARTICLE. The author says it's not in GENESIS. No wonder you believers are all so lost, you don't have a strong reading comprehension ability.

      June 5, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • AustinTony

      Hahaha! No it's not. NOW who has to do homework?

      June 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • mt

      Uhm, no it isn't. There is no mention at all of "satan" in Genesis whatsoever. Now if you want to interpret the serpent as a metaphor for satan that is a different story, but don't say that the word "Satan" is used when it isn't. That's not true. And the author is right, people misuse, abuse, and obviously, as you clearly demonstrate, misquote the Bible all the time.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  17. sarah

    Some of those quotes are truely not in the bible,yes, but as for the accounts of the Garden of Eden and Jonah etc for example, YES they are in the bible. The problem with this article is that the author is trying to take certain well known accounts of the bible and put doubt in people's minds as to wether it is true or not, (Is that what it REALLY said?) Ironically, that is EXACTLY what the "serpent" in the Garden of Eden is doing to Eve. Put doubt in her mind and make her start questioning God and what she knows to be true. If you read and study the bible, you will find out that Satan is referred to in the bible many times as a serpent, just as Israel is often called an olive tree. Also, there are parables in the bible, but not everything is a parable. With literally thousands or millions of people reading the bible there are bound to be thousands or millions of different interpretations on what something means, so with that in mind, how do you determine who is right or who is wrong? There is only ONE true authority and that is God who sent the Holy Spirit to us to help us have understanding of the scriptures so that we dont need a "biblical scholar" to tell us what the bible says and what they think it means. It is good to have guidance in the scriptures from people who are truely led by the Holy spirit, but you dont NEED it if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Thats why so many people are confused by what they may hear when they go to their churches and listen to a pastor or whoever teaching their version of what the bibles says. Anyways, it's pointless to focus on wether or not it was a whale or a great fish because that isnt the point of that account anyways so that is pretty much a non-issue. The bible isnt meant to be read without the Holy Spirit guiding you. Besides, when someone tells you something or you read something and then you in turn go and tell someone else, do you recount it word for word or do you pretty much sum everything up and gt the point across...just sayin

    June 5, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Ray

      Get a life, Sarah!

      June 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • AustinTony

      You do realize that you only worship god and not Odin or Ra because you were told to as a child? When you realize this, you can get on with the rest of your life.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • KCF

      And what are you doing out of the kitchen?

      "Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (I Timothy 2:11-14)

      June 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • sarah

      What i wrote is what th bible teaches, not from my own interpretation. If you dont believe the bible, why do you care what I believe? The reason I belive in Jesus Christ is because of personal experiences not because someone told me what to believe. As for "staying in the kitchen", I do have to "contend for the faith" which is also what the bible commands. Im not trying to be a pastor which is what that was referring to it the passage you quoted.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sarah, you should take some time out from reading the bible to look at a dictionary. It's "truly". I didn't even bother to read the rest of your post, because anyone so uneducated and/or careless is not worthy to attempt to 'educate' me.

      June 5, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Ogre

      sarah: "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

      That is some kind of pop-psychology-evangelism pap, started in the late 20th century. It is the delusion that someone is listening to you and is talking back to you. There is no evidence that anyone is really there.

      June 5, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  18. Larry Moniz

    Near the bottom of the article, the author says Bible readers ask ‘What does this text mean to you?’’’ Hazen says. then adds:
    “Not only do they get the interpretation wrong, but very often end up quoting verses that really aren’t there.”
    If the question is as he stated, asking when the Bible means to them, then how can the answer be wrong? It is their opinion of what the Bible means.
    There are even deeper questions that could be asked, including: As the New Testament's contents weren't written for many decades after the death of Jesus Christ, by people who never knew the man, should the New Testament be considered as Fiction or Non Fiction when classified by libraries and booksellers. Thus, the Bible seems to be an unverifiable account of things that allegedly occurred in an era when few people could read or write. Using those parameters, in any similar situation today, such a book would more likely be classified as fiction or folklore rather than accurate reporting of historical events and facts.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Ray

      If they've never read a book, how can they have an opinion of what's in it?

      June 5, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Matthew

      'who never knew the man'. Another example of baseless choice of interpretation. How exactly do you figure, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Jude.. never knew the man? How exactly does a group of people who never knew the man, become so established and revered as apostles in the entire early Christian movement? Jesus friends, his Apostles would have been celebrities of sorts, well known, well heard about. I put it to you, that not only do these writers include themselves in some of the events, they were also privy to events that only his friends would have had full knowledge of, as they traveled with him. To state so suredly 'they never knew the man', is as foolish as quoting misheard scriptures.

      Another misquote : 'Money is the root of all evil'... When really it is closer to (baring in mind translations ) : 'Money is the root of all sort of injurious things'

      June 5, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  19. Violinner

    Why do we need an old text to tease out a moral and ethical code? Why can sound principles of society and of relationship not stand alone, where we can agree and/or grow with them without the semi-historical obfuscation?

    June 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  20. BB

    What about the verses wrongly interpreted, such as "Judge not, lest ye be judged" or "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" which people wrongly believe is to tell people not to judge others?

    I guess it's not as bad as the misinterpretation by many (but not all) Muslims of the "abrogation" in the Koran which makes it easy for Muslim heretics to pick and choose what they want to believe in (notably the more violence-oriented chronologically later suras).

    June 5, 2011 at 4:50 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.