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.”
I'm trying to understand why, in all that discussion and these comments about the Garden of Eden, the author is allowed to get away with talking about the snake offering Eve an apple.
The book of Genesis never says the fruit is an apple. A famous painting shows an apple, but the Bible never names the fruit, which could have been (and probably was?) something totally different.
Maybe it doesn't matter, but do you suppose that maybe the author just doesn't know the Scriptures? Oh well, "as the Bible says," 'To each his own!'
Preachonit – I think that the 72 experst in Hebrew, Latin, Aramaic, etc, that King James had working on the available texts know a bit more about the languages involved than you do.
James – various parts of The Bible refer back, and forth, to other parts. In fact that is how The Bible tells you to read it..."here a little, and there a little" (Isaiah 28:10).
Rick's Real – The article writer was attacking people who allegedly believe things they think to be in The Bible which are allegedly NOT in The Bible. Then he makes a claim about something he says is NOT in The Bible, when it-in fact-IS in The Bible.The Bible DOES place satan in Eden. Furthermore, it also places the serpent in Eden, and elsewhere identifies that serpent as Satan.The writer knows less about what he is talking about than do the people he is attacking. Can you spell 'H-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e'? the article writer can't.
Kevin B – explain the ancient knowledge about stars singing, treasures existing in the snow, etc, which The Bible reveals thousands of years before there were microscopes, radio telescopes, etc...if not for Divine inspiration. You see...stars DO emit sound waves...which sound-when stepped down to be within the range of human hearing-very like a choir singing. Snowflakes DO form around microscopic bits of diamond dust, gold dust, etc...so there ARE treasures in the snow...as The Bible says. Explain the knowledge that Orion has bands-which it does-mentioned in The Bible thousands of years before telescopes existed. I could go on, but won't. There is too much such scientific knowledge contained in The Bible for it to all be lucky guesswork on the part of totally uneducated shepherds, fishermen, and the like. That leaves either Divine inspiration, or space alien visitation.
And can you read? The author is citing a source, specifically "Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University."
I'm guessing Dr. Dunn knows more about biblical scholarship than you do.
Also, in Scripture the word Lucifer is never used to refer to Satan or the devil. Wikipedia has an intelligent explanation. Lucifer means morning star or light bearer and these attributes can be applicable to Jesus. Lucifer is not the devil. The Devil only brings darkness.
Lucifer is the angel, the devil is the fallen angel once known as Lucifer.
The God you know as eternal, cannot be named.
Naming the unknowable is only prolonging the inevitable.
I believe the correct quote is:
"Dao ke dao, fei chang dao. Ming ke ming, fei chang ming."
Proverbs , 13:24. Well, It is in the bible (old Testiment). Actually, the writer should have done his homework better. I doubt if he has courage to post a correction.
Actually, that's not the same passage at all. Its vastly paraphrases. Spare the rod and spoil the child is the exact opposite of what the bible says – the bible says you SHOULDN'T spare the rod.
Maybe you should work on your reading comprehension.
Did you READ this article? The Author DID mention that passage specifically. LOL, you embody the author's argument in this article
Jon O, twice you have left snarky comments about an incorrect inference. Since spoiling a child is widely accepted as negative (though you seem to accept it as a desired result), we have always read it as a warning. "Don't spare the rod or you will end up with a spoiled child!" You seem to think it's a command for a desired result: "Spare the rod so you can have a spoiled child!" Spoiled means ungrateful, demanding, and self-centered. Why would the Bible command us to raise that type of child?
I personally don't think 'the rod' has to be a rod, it could be any type of discipline. Spare the discipline, and you'll end up with an ungrateful, demanding, self-centered child. But that's just my humble interpretation.
Jon O, you keep questioning everyone's reading comprehension, but you're failing to see that "Spare the rod, spoil the child" is not an imperative phrase. It's an If-then statement, if you spare the rod, then you will spoil the child. Anyone who has raised a snotty spoiled child will tell you how annoying that can be.
You evolutionist kill me but I have some questions to ask you.
Question #1. If man evolved from apes how long will it take before we see more apes evolve into man and will it happen to a individual ape or a group of apes at one time?
Question #2. If it happens to only one ape at a time how long will it take before it will happen to another one and what if it is two males or two females and not a male and a female. How will they mate seeing that two male or two females cannot produce children?
You see that is the problem with evolutionist they have theories and no facts to support them or they come up with the craziest ideas like the big bang or the primeordial muck theory because they have no answers for anything Yet every year I bet they go to the stores to do there christmas and easter shopping. They are like the greeks on mars hill that the apostle Paul spoke to. These me had no clue of what was going on so they were whorshiping any god that they could find even an unknown god just incase they had made a mistake and worshipped the wrong god. The Bible talks about people like you and how thinks like you. Professing to be wise they became fools. HELLO FOOLS!!
Lmao, its so sad, but also hilarious when our schools fail someone this badly.
Oh Good Lord.
Would read again.
Humans and Apes share common ancestors...we did not descend from apes.
This is the problem with so many creationists; a total lack of understanding of how evolution works.
1. Today’s monkeys evolved from a common ancestor of man on a different branch so it’s not likely that they will be evolving into humans but even if...
2. There is no predetermined outcome to evolution meaning that today’s primates though they may evolve into something different from their current form are not necessarily going to evolve into something human-like.
3. Evolution takes a long time, are you thinking that there perhaps there should have been a physical change in monkeys over the last 100-300 years?”
Sorry about 3, it's obvious you don't think.
Evolution doesn't say that humans are descended from apes. The reason you can't get answers to your questions is that they are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of evolutionary theory.
Who says we evolved from apes!? Do a little research dumb azz! Then again it's not possible for you to read more than ONE book is it?
1. Apes have a similar gene make up as humans, but it is not human. They may evolve to look similar, i.e. less body hair, gain intelligence, and walk fully upright, but will never become us, we will never cross breed with them.
2. Again, there can never an ape that turns into a human. There would need to be a series of mutations over time passed along generations. Also the mutations would need to be an advantage to help the ape to adapt to it's environment. Evolution is not a ladder system but a branching one, one thing does not lead to the other.
You clearly do not understand the way evolution works, I suggest you correct you ignorance and educate yourself.
ROTF right along with ya.
(..........speaking of fools),
He is so frickin ignorant that he actually thinks it takes such an infinitesimally short time that he would actually "see" it happening. Hahaha.
He actually thinks he would "see more apes evolve into man and will it happen to a individual ape or a group of apes at one time?" Hahaha.
He actually thinks "it happens to only one ape at a time". Hahaha.
He actually thinks this is a sensible question : "how long will it take before it will happen to another one and what if it is two males or two females and not a male and a female. How will they mate seeing that two male or two females cannot produce children?" LMAO ! Hahaha. My head is going to EXPLODE !
"These me had no clue of what was going on so they were whorshiping any god that they could find even an unknown god just incase they had made a mistake and worshipped the wrong god. The Bible talks about people like you and how thinks like you."
He actually thinks that sentence makes sense, in English, (including his grammar and spelling). Hahaha
My, we are having a jolly time this morning.
".You evolutionist kill me". We can only hope !
so, BELIEVER, how different is a weasel from an otter? or an otter from a sea lion? or a sea lion or a hippo from a manatee? or a manatee from a dolphin? or how different an octopus from a squid? or an alligator from a crocodile? how different is a regular lemur from a flying (gliding) lemur? or a flying lemur from a flying fox (bat)? how different is an okapi from a giraffe? or a tapir from a rhinoceros? or a deer from a moose or an antelope? or a llama from a vicuna or camel? or a sea turtle from a river turtle from a turtle? or a sea snake from a land snake? or a dinosaur fossil with clawed, feathered wings and teeth from bird embryos with teeth, or from a juvenile hoatzin bird with clawed wings? or a flying, non-swimming bird from a flying/swimming bird, to a non-flying swimming bird (example: penguin) or a non-flying, non-swimming bird (example: ostrich)? or a fish from a tadpole? or a fish from a lungfish? or a lungfish from an Axolotl? or an axolotl from a salamander? or a salamander from tropical lizards? or lizards with only two legs or no legs from snakes with two legs? or some rodents from lemurs? or lemurs from tarsiers? or tarsiers from monkeys? or monkeys from gibbons? or gibbons from orangutans or chimpanzees? etc., etc. it is not difficult to see that with only small modifications these creatures, or creatures similar to them that were their ancestors, could have changed over time, with some changing relatively rapidly through generations while others would stay basically the same. study the facts. study the fossil forms. study the living forms. study the dna. saying god magically created from dirt (or a rib!) all these organisms separately at the same time without any process or development or interrelatednesss does not qualify as a factual explanation, but rather only a denial of facts and an evasion of explanation.
I don't know how Pop-Tarts are made, but I know it's not by magic.
Human beings and the other hominids still alive today shard a common ancestor. We did not evolve from each. However that doesn't explain which of the microscopic creatures in the belly of the "big fish is a common ancestor of me and a snake so we could eradicate it thereby preventing it from evolving into more bad people and deceptive snakes in the future. That is what we should be most worried about, don't ya' think?
To quote an inspired from God song in my personal "God's Word's Books> "You believe in one god and you believe in three. I'll believe in any God if he believes in me!"
As a believer who believes that God gave us the intellectual capacity to develop the means to discover the true nature and workings of his creation (the theory of evolution being a key to our actual scientific, biological origins) – your objections to evolutionary theory hold no water. The actual theory of human origins is not that we descended from apes, but that humans and apes share a common ancestor. Every species of animal is just as evolved in their own way, and along their own lines as humans are. Apes and non-human primates will never evolve into humans, period.
The mistake that you and other creationists make is in the belief that the Bible is meant to be a scientific text book. It's not. It's the record of God's self-revelation to humanity, and the history of our developing relationship with Him. In that sense, Genesis is more of a parable than a history. If you actually look at the order of the act of Creation, it actually does follow fairly accurately what science has discovered, and is discovering about the origins of the physical universe and of the human race (nothingness becoming light, water preceding any land, animal life originating in the oceans, humans being last on the scene). But the main point is to illustrate the fact that humanity was created by God (evolution thereby being a mechanism of Divine Providence, and not sheer accident), and that we (as a race and as individuals) have fallen from God's purpose. To read Genesis literally is to discount the divine gift of reason with which we have been endowed, and to miss so much of the point of what that book is teaching us.
@Jean – God does believe in you. Why would you think differently? And, Christians don't believe in three gods. One God, Three Persons sharing that one divinity – but we're getting technical.
The correct quote is, "God helps them that help themselves." Franklin wrote at a time when the rules of English grammar were understood well and applied correcly.
Sorry, "JED" I wanted to reply but hit report abuse instead....This is my shout out to CNN web hosts. "my mistake"
I actually appreciate this comment very much...good stuff.
Proverbs 13:24 NKJV
He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
Yeah! Its in the Bible.
Thanks for pointing that out. And that's not the only flaw in this article.
This write-up is just another attempt by CNN to try and put down Christ and indirectly promote islam. The second agenda had taken a back seat for some time after OBL got knocked off.
Anil – You have the zeal of the convert who sees threats to your religion everywhere. Not much different that Faraz, both primed with intolerance for any other faith but theirs. If you truly believe that CNN is trying to malign Christianity and promote Islam then why are you logged on to this "satanic" site?
While the writer is busy quoting everybody else's misquotes, he is caught unawares in a very basic misquote. It is the Tree of Knowledge and not Tree of Life. Even a Sunday school child knows that.
To paraphrase from Biblical texts, God indeed works in mysterious ways to demonstrate the frailty of man's intelligence on which he places so much confidence.
It's actually both trees..
New International Version (NIV)
9 The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life AND the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
But it was the Tree of Knowledge that was the one in question, not the Tree of Life as this author states.
Regarding the "Tree of Life" segment, the author was referring to a popular quote, implying that it was not accurate. In your haste to congratulate yourself on your knowledge of the Bible, you did the very thing that you are criticizing, you misquoted and misrepresented out of pure laziness.
Read the article carefully vs101. The mistake is as clear as day :)
There is a new book in town called "The Holy Quran" . 1 million dollar reward if one can find me any discrepancy .
If you really have a million dollars with you, i know many arabs who would gladly show you many discrepancies in it.
You would be poor real quick especially if someone like Ravi Zacharias who is a well known apologetics expert took your bet.
sure...how about the fact that Allah is a false god. We'll start there. Jesus is the one true God.
In the words of marilyn manson "Im not a slave to a god, that doesnt exsist"
No, he is a slave to Satan that does exist....
it' supposed to be the Tree of Knowledge, not the "Tree of Life". even I know that, and I gave up church twenty years ago.
Well, it's not the Tree of Knowledge either. It's the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. A specific kind of Knowledge.
Brainwashed? Really? Who are you to say that there is or isn't a God. That is merely your opinion. I'm not saying that I agree w/ Shannon but seriously, all you can pick at is her punctuation? Damn, seems like you're the one that needs to be more openminded. A close minded person can't be telling other people to be openminded, thats hypocritical. Do me a favor, go look up the word openminded, go read what the Bible is about, better yet, go read the Bible, it may do you some good.
I was thinking the same thing. The only argument they have is punctuation or how to spell words.
Being open minded doesn't mean believing every thing that passes my vision as a reality.
If I see a glint of silver in the sky I don't rush out and say it's aliens do I?
Sometimes an open mind is is simply gullibility.
Reading comprehension and literacy are, in fact, the core of the issue. Read the original article. If those who proffess to 'know' something can't even convey their thoughts coherently, how can they profess them accurately? Imagine if your religious delegate (pator/priest/whatever) got up in front of his/her congrgation and said something like the post above. They would quickly lose any influence they may have had.
Sometimes I wander if Satan is controlling more than snakes........What do you think John Blake?
After all Satan is a slanderer, meaning 1. Orally communicates false statements injurious to a person's reputation. 2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone. Hits a little close to home doesn't it.
Your not the first to try to erode people's trust in God or His word by using clever means.
According to your comment, Satan is apparently a Republican and a Tea Bagger...
Callmeishmael is a complete idiot. May God have mercy on you in your unbelief.
Rev. 12:9 identifies Satan as "the original serpent," evidently a reference to him in the garden being the voice behind a puppet snake, an act designed to deceive Eve.
"But God's Word will remain. His Word bears repeating."
Jon, when you first "learned" the Bible someone regurgitated EVERYTHING you learned to you.
And yes 'the word' will remain due to regurgitation; we as Humans need "The Word" especially those of us who can't think for themselves. And by the way how did you know those are "His words?" Again Regurgitation.
Point is NO ONE knows anything except what been told to them.
So, your blind life experiances have reavealed no comprehension ?
Its all a fairy tale...the weak and freightened need it to survive....BTW...what about the Torah or the Koran etc? oh thats right, just christians have and the bible are the real thing
Whats your distination ,
Atheists are so funny, I seriously get such a kick out of them. Seriously, take every rant about how much more logical Atheism is, only add the word "Christianity". We're an ignorant species, some more than others. But the ultimate form of stupidity is not realizing your own ignorance, and assuming it's just "everyone's problem but mine."
Christians are so funny, I seriously get such a kick out of them. Seriously, take every rant about how much more logical Christianity is, only add the word "Atheism". We're an ignorant species, some more than others. But the ultimate form of stupidity is not realizing your own ignorance, and assuming it's just "everyone's problem but mine."
Read the bible, Drink a glass of Milk, Go to bed !
Why looking for the truth and lies? ass-holes !
Relax...have a glass of milk, take your pills and just....relax.
You have got it wrong that is the second greatest commandment.
Matt 5:37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38This is the first and great commandment.
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