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.”
Matthew 24: 6-8: (King James) "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."
From Psalm 90: "The days of our age are threescore years and ten; and though men be so strong, that they come to fourscore years : yet is their strength then but labour and sorrow; so soon passeth it away, and we are gone."
Hi John Blake,
You should read the WHOLE Bible and not just certain verses.
Satan was in the Garden in the form of the snake.
The link is in:
Revelation 12:9 KJV
(9) And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Serpent = Snake
The rest of the article is good and thought provoking.
I often find that people misquote scriptures and even add their own.
I always find it interesting when Christians tell the Jews what their book means. The stories of Satan were invented five hundred years after the Garden story. Didn't you read the article?
Legalism has become a relative conversation about this and that. There is a verse for us all...Luke 21:34 "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighted down with dissipation, (and other stuff)..."
If we put religion to the side and dealt with REAL matters, maybe things wouldn't be so f***** up! Look at the amount of post when it comes to religion...it's sad. We have much greater issues in this world and for religion to dominate every topic is absurd. This is why our country failed!
So we're supposed to take YOUR lame advice over God's Word? Think again. Think real hard.
There is no god...who is the fool?
Robert.................that is because religion has caused many wars and we have three of them going on right now..........religion and the differences in religion can be a very terrible thing.............chances are if there were NO religions......there would be FEWER wars and fewer dead innocents............
as i posted on page 59 here......EXTERMINATE ALL RELIGIONS! this world would be a better place!
This was a great article until they threw in the jab at small group Bible studies. One does not need a doctorate in theology to know that the Bible is not a spanx garment you can stretch into any shape you want. "What does this mean to you" indeed! While I appreciate the expertise of the Biola professor, the whole premise of the Reformation is that the Holy Spirit provides the guidance and authority necessary for every Christian to read and understand Scripture. We certainly benefit from theologians and experts in biblical languages, but there is no reason why a small group study can't do their own research and reading and help each other with the real purpose of Bible study – living out the principles that the Bible teaches.
Religious interpretations are always guesses on someone's part. No authority can be given to guesses at any time.
Your whole religion fails when you are unable to keep to one interpretation.
They are no better than guesses and no better than lies. No proof can be given for lies or guesses.
Your "faith" is a sham. Maybe you are sincere, but your religion is not. You have been fooled. Not necessarily your fault.
Despite the phrase "SPARE THE ROD, SPOIL DE CHILD" isn't in the bible, I have no doubt that the lack of we follow this command is the cause of pandemonium we're living today, with our childrens obeying not anyone, without rules. And here in Brasil, being not punished by law if under 18, the problem is worst, very much worst.
I am a poud 100% christian and I love being one because it has helped/ seen me through my whole life.. The funny thing is when i see 'debates' like these i wonder why non christians are always so defensive. we were all given the right to choose. I chose christianity ad am fullfilled and happy because i see work thfrough my faith. God is real too real for that matter. Fear isnt because it pushes you away from experiencing so mch love. christianity is love and Christ is love. Its all about love and theres something called phrophesy because the wars between nations and rebelions and all the things going on today are recorded in the Bible.
Non-Christians are VERY defensive....wouldn't you be if you were convicted of your sin daily? Non-believers are rotting in their own self-styled religion....and here's the best part (WORST), they are their own god. That's right....everything is relative. "If it feels good, do it". No morals, no boundaries, no compass. When they face a Living God at the end of their pathetic life, the King of Kings will judge them harshly. One question for you non-believers: WOULD YOU RATHER DENY THE EXISTENCE OF GOD....ONLY TO FIND OUT THERE REALLY IS A GOD AND YOU ARE PUNISHED IN ETERNITY FOR YOUR UNBELIEF......OR....WOULD YOU RATHER BELIEVE THAT GOD EXISTS AND THEN FIND OUT HE DOESN'T REALLY EXIST?
Answer: Believe there is a God, because there is.
The reason atheists speak out is because religious people try to force their beliefs into law and into school systems. Keep your belief out of public policy and most non-believers would leave you alone. Give verifiable evidence of the existence of your god, prove the veracity of the bible, and I'm certain that most atheists would believe. We simply wish for proof, but there has never been any proof of any higher power.
What if that god was Zeus or Osiris? What good would your fervent belief in the god of the bible do you then?
The truth is that there is no evidence of a higher power. When I die, I'll be dead. What is so bad about that?
Dee, you have no proof that we were "given the right to choose". All you have is your religious dogma and delusional fantasies.
its that way because most christians wont read the bible and those that do read with their head not their heart. Paul told Timothy to sturdy... And also the scripture is of no private interpretation It means what it said. I have heard people say that the bible said " money is root of all evil " , which is wrong, so most times its in their head.
To understand the Bible, you first must realize how God uses WORD PICTURES. Jesus compares himself with a serpent in John 3:14. " As the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up." Both cases dealt with healing, one with physical and the other with spiritual healing. Moses was not allowed into "the promised land", because he disobeyed God by striking (death) the ROCK (Christ), a second time and ruining the word picture because the ROCK was to be struck once. I Cor 10:4. "that rock was Christ.". The fish that swallowed Jonah is a WORD PICTURE of the tomb. Matt 12:40. "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.". The serpent in GENESIS, is described in Genesis 3:15. "And I will put enmity (Christ) between you (Satan) and the woman,and between your seed and her seed: He will bruise your head, (destroy) and you will bruise His heel. (suffering). This book is true. Keep the faith brothers.
The Teachings of Islam
"Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!" (2/201)
"Our Lord! Pour forth on us patience and make us victorious over the disbelieving people." (2/250)
"Our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maula (Patron, Supporter and Protector, etc.) and give us victory over the disbelieving people." (2/286)
"Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower." (3/8)
"Our Lord! We have indeed believed, so forgive us our sins and save us from the punishment of the Fire." (3/16)
"O my Lord! Grant me from You, a good offspring. You are indeed the All-Hearer of invocation." (3/38)
"Our Lord! We believe in what You have sent down, and we follow the Messenger; so write us down among those who bear witness." (3/53)
"Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our transgressions (in keeping our duties to You), establish our feet firmly, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk." (3/147)
"Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! (Exalted be You above all that they associate with You as partners). Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire. *Our Lord! Verily, whom You admit to the Fire, indeed, You have disgraced him, and never will the Zaalimoon (polytheists and wrong-doers) find any helpers. *Our Lord! Verily, we have heard the call of one (Muhammad p.b.u.h.) calling to Faith: 'Believe in your Lord,' and we have believed. *Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and remit from us our evil deeds, and make us die in the state of righteousness along with Al-Abraar (those who are obedient to Allah and follow strictly His Orders). *Our Lord! Grant us what You promised unto us through Your Messengers and disgrace us not on the Day of Resurrection, for You never break (Your) Promise." (3/191-194)
"Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers." (7/23)
"Our Lord! Place us not with the people who are Zaalimoon (polytheists and wrong doers)." (7/47)
"Our Lord! pour out on us patience, and cause us to die as Muslims." (7/126)
"Allah is sufficient for me. Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne." (9/129)
"Our Lord! Make us not a trial for the folk who are Zaalimoon. And save us by Your Mercy from the disbelieving folk." (10/85-86)
"O my Lord! I seek refuge with You from asking You that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have Mercy on me, I would indeed be one of the losers." (11/47)
"O my Lord! Make me one who performs As-Salaat (Iqaamat-as-Salaat), and (also) from my offspring, our Lord! And accept my invocation." (14/40)
"Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and (all) the believers on the Day when the reckoning will be established." (14/41)
"My Lord! Let my entry (to the city of Al-Madinah) be good, and likewise my exit (from the city of Makkah) be good. And grant me from You an authority to help me (or a firm sign or a proof)." (17/80)
"Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Yourself, and facilitate for us our affair in the right way!" (18/10)
"O my Lord! Open for me my chest. * And ease my task for me. * And make loose the knot from my tongue, that they understand my speech." (20/25-28)
"My Lord! Increase me in knowledge." (20/114)
"None has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allah), Glorified (and Exalted) are You. Truly, I have been of the wrong-doers." (21/87)
"O My Lord! Leave me not single (childless), though You are the Best of the inheritors." (21/89)
"My Lord! I seek refuge with You from the whisperings (suggestions) of the Shayatin (devils). And I seek refuge with You, My Lord! lest they may attend (or come near) me." (23/97-98)
"Our Lord! We believe, so forgive us, and have mercy on us, for You are the Best of all who show mercy!" (23/109)
"My Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for You are the Best of those who show mercy!" (23/118)
I'm pretty sure "This too shall pass" is the punchline to a quote attributed to Lincoln among others: A sultan/king/whatever once asked his wise men for a gift that would make him happy when he was sad and sad when he was happy... and so they gave him a ring/charm/etc. inscribed with "This too shall pass"
Laughable. This Board is LOADED with non-believing trolls who follow their "instincts" instead of the Holy Word of God.
Very judgmental for someone to claims to be religious.
If God sent a religion, how would people who do not know of the religion believe in it? What means did God put in the human beings by which they can decide right from wrong? Surely the religion was not revealed to the whole of humanity at once. It must have started from one point. How would others know of it and more so accept it and believe in it? What is that one faculty that is shared by all human beings by which a message can be analyzed and determined to be right?
The answer is quite simple; it is the human mind and the faculty of reasoning. It is the mind that helps us judge things and decides between right and wrong in every matter of our lives. The word of God, if it is to be transferred to other people who are foreign to it, must conform to the faculty of reasoning that God put in all of us. This is why in Islam faith in God is not the outcome of dogmas and doctrine but rather the product of reasoning and deep scrutiny of revelation.
God want a relationship, not a religion based on what humans have made up.
Deep North is right on! Also, I think the tenets of Christianity will hold up quite well under the scrutiny of reason. Aquinas, Chaucer, Milton, Michelangelo, Newton, Paschal, Descartes, Francis Collins, et al. – many of the finest and most creative minds of Western Civilizations were devout, practicing Christians.
stained, all those men were demonstrably wrong as regards their religion. They were pretty clever in spots, but the taint of mysticism and assertions without proof inevitably destroy anything they had to say about their religious beliefs from a reasoned point of view, which you cannot seem to muster on your own behalf.
Pointing at other people's words just means you cannot come up with anything like that and don't even want to try.
You are right God wants relationship....and we learn that relationship wordings and practice from our holy books that teach us how to do that and what to say....you can learn that from all the heavenly books known with out the need to become a member of any organized religion....all that is that you please God worshiping him discreetly rather than pleasing men by worshiping God publicly....could such thing be so much to ask in the love of God? There are many resources for same example;
Islamic Dua (disambiguation).
In the terminology of Islam, Duʿāʾ (دعاء) is the act of supplication. The term is derived from an Arabic word meaning to 'call out' or to 'summon', and Muslims regard this as a profound act of worship. This is when Muslim people from all over connect with God and ask him for forgiveness and favors. The Islamic prophet Muhammad is reported to have said "Dua is the very essence of worship," while one of Allah's commands expressed through the Qur'an is for them to call out to Him:
"And your Lord says: "Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer)!" 
In the Qur'an, Allah says: "When My servants ask about Me, I am indeed close to them. I listen to the prayer of every supplicant, when he calls on Me. Let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me, so that they may walk in the right way" (Qur'an 2:186).
The word du'a in Arabic means "calling" – the act of remembering Allah and calling upon Him.
Aside from the daily prayers, Muslims are encouraged to call upon Allah for forgiveness, guidance, and strength throughout the day. Muslims can make these personal supplications or prayers (du'a) in their own words, in any language, but there are also recommended examples from the Qur'an and Sunnah. Some samples are found in the pages linked below.
Supplication prayers are such as those from the Holy Quran;
This too shall pass is a popular Hebrew saying. As far as I know Jews have been saying forever, The Israeli politicians say it all the time, "Gam Ze Yaavor" It probably comes from a history of living in countries where unfavorable edicts were passed on a regular basis, and often with regime change all of these laws would be wiped out. Shortly after though that favorability also passed as news laws were enacted...etc
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_too_shall_pass ... apparently its popular in other countries languages and cultures
Eat, Drink and Be Merry, For Tomorrow We'll Die!.......Dave Matthews Band said that!
Actually, that IS in the Bible! LOL
No Conspiracy...It is not!
God that sucks.
Why OH Why are there so many naysayers commenting about a book they don't believe in? If you don't believe and don't want to consider what the Bible says, that is your choice. But why try and take away from the Faith of those who do? What do you gain by trying to disprove what someone else believes in?
We stand to gain a more reasonable world.
PithyMcGee. You think the conversation you are reading are going to make this a more reasonable world! Most of these folks would rather shove the other off a cliff, unfortunately!
"What do you gain by trying to disprove what someone else believes in?"
We get your myths and delusions and superst.itions out of our government, out of our public education and out of our bedrooms.
Well I think the article isn't trying to take away 'Faith" but merely point out that some things people quote aren't actually in their book of Faith. Atheist aren't out to take away from faith, they are trying to inject a little reason into the radical. Plus, if you are so faithful, then one article shouldn't sway you from your beliefs. :)
When the time comes, they get to say to those they persuaded to follow them into everlasting torment:
"Uh .. gee .. I guess I was wrong."
That should rile the crowd up into a froth. The book itself proves what we see on forums .. few will make it. Let all who have ears ..
Because if we keep it up, maybe, just MAYBE, the believers will just SHUT UP!
Kris. Nowhere did you see me mention my faith being swayed or any such nonsense.
Why are you complaining about nonbelievers' comments? Is your faith so weak that it's threatened by those who don't share it?
Many of these are not so much "miss-attributed" as they are "misquoted" Bible verses; while others are nothing more than idioms that arose from Biblical text. – I think one would be hard pressed to attribute "Spare the rod, spoil the child" to anything but that biblical text...
The sharing of knowledge on the internet killed your favorite religion! Future history will declare "The internet killed religion".
video killed the radio star.
And, for the record – this forum is absolutely atrocious. How about a nested view or something?
Very few understand what teh reply button is for.
The fallacy of the article is that misquoted, or quoted correctly, the bible is a poor source for specific advice. More like a magic 8-Ball when used that way. It is a great way to assure oneself of the correctness of one's course, no matter what that course may be however.
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.