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 got it, let's just take a look at the FIRST Autographed copy, oh wait......
How is the wether? Here in Germany we have a stifling heat.
If America is so biblically dumb, the parents are to blame for they failed to teach their children about the Only True God who made this country such a great country. That is why the gays and the lesbians are so popular and welcome in America. This saying is true, "ignorance kills and wisdom saves." America is on the path to destruction and only a few see it coming. As Jesus said in Matthew 11:23-24, "For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. 24 I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you.”
#wimanf That's the problem, we don't know what Jesus said. We just know what a bunch of guys say Jesus said. And what agenda did they have? Someone says it's the "word of Jesus" and people blindly believe them. That's power!
Here's a question...how do I get to heaven? I'll be real curious to hear all the different versions of the answer to this question.
Great Article Folks... Interesting read...
Thanks for pointing that out..
I think people just sum up a phrase in "their" own sentence/word of that they believe the bible's message is.
Well the bible speaks about not spoiling children.. Proverbs 23:14 If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.
It's true lots of people, form idea's and base their opinion around the bibles basic principle without really reading the bible in full. And then their are those who read in in full and take it out of context too. Balance is an essential really. I mean look when you buy an appliance for your home. How many people read the complete manuals or a manual for your new computer. These are "just" basic phrases people have come up with in their own words referencing the teachings of the Bible. Well there .. how many books made up the Bible?
How many people know how to fix their cars? Some just know how to drive them.. How many people follow the rules of the road when they drive. I mean they text & drive these days. It's just that simple. "The more we know the less we know for sure." Balance is an essential. We have to remember to not forget that we need common sense back once again.
We must embrace common sense once again. We are humans and the more distractions we have the more congested we become. Sad state of affairs.
Now lets find a Star Bucks and grab a coffee and relax.
I find it very disturbing that the "CHAIR" of a "SCHOOL OF RELIGION" would go record as say that the "the devil was not in eden". Kevin Dunn is right in saying that the word "devil or satan" was not mention in Genesis but if Mr. Dunn is "BIBLICAL SCHOLAR" then he should be familiar with the "BOOK OF REVELATIONS" which equates "THE SERPENT, DEVIL & SATAN" as one and the same: Revelations 12:9 "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world:". And you wonder where people get the wrong impression about things that are "IN" the Bible. Mr. Blake, apparently you did not know your Bible well enough to call Mr Dun on that one.
Well said! This is going to happen more and more until the Lord comes! Ezekiel 28 tells of Lucifer in the garden before he fell and no doubt the serpent in Genesis 3 is the devil! You cannot expect unsaved men to get the context right in the Bible.
Actually, it is called the book of Revelation. And second, it does not say that Satan or the Devil was in the Garden of Eden, only the serpent. Now, while John (author of Revelation) points out that they are all one and the same, technically in the book of Genesis it only mentions the serpent.
The book of Revelation has no 's'
I can't believe the author, nor anyone else I have read in the comments realize what passage(s!!!) Ditka was referring to. This is incredible to me! It's actually in the Bible 3 TIMES!!! Matthew 24:35. Luke 21:33, and Mark 13:31 as well as not much of a stretch in about 10 other verses like 2 Peter 3:10 . I know this subject matter always provokes all the surrounding conversations, but how on Earth do you justify writing and responding to such a poorly researched article?! And who were these professors they were speaking to?!! As far as all the commenters, I will commit to pray for all the self-righteous ones, on both sides of the coin, and hope that a few of you will commit to pray for me. Love
and to be clear, almost every one of the phrases he discusses, except for the one about cleanliness, are either directly from the Bible or are based on a clear foundational teaching from the Bible. Really, really amateur, and poor article. Shame on you.....
John Blake, when can we expect your article on your view of the misguided teachings and misquotes from the Koran? Or are you committed only to undermining those that will, at worst, pray for you and your soul, as opposed to the violence that may occur with some other religions?
Which translation? There are many translations of the bible that seeking to support fools like yourself, add these phrases even though they are not in the original greek or aramaic.
Actually Bret – none of your references say 'This too shall pass'. All your verses (Matthew 24:35, Luke 21:33, & Mark 13:31 in fact say, in the King James Version:
‘Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.’
There is a world of difference in both the quotes and the context.
You are making the same error so many christians do – decreeing something to be so because you want it to be so.
This too shall pass isn't what the author was referring to. Mike Ditka, in reference to "All things shall pass away" said, this too shall pass. Good reading though.
Wait a second, "at worst" Christians will pray for my soul? No no no. That's not even close to their worst. Things like infiltrating my secular government with religious hogwash is far more infuriating and "worse" than innocuous prayers. Go back a few centuries and their "worst" was even more extreme, killing people for heresy and blasphemy. Prayers that I don't have to hear are in fact the best that Christians will do. Their worst is extremely destructive.
umm, I keep reading how all the Atheists and Agnostics leave us Christians in the dust when it comes to brain power, but why do I keep getting comments all night long from people that can't read or comprehend simple English? What I said, was obviously in reference to the direct retribution Mr Blake could expect as a result of his article. I wasn't referring to the Crusades or any other "atrocities" performed in the name of Christianity.
Infiltrated your government? Dear Alyssa, it is the secular humanists that have invaded a traditionally Christian government, leaving very few Christian notions or beliefs in present day. You are silly.
NO! NOT THE NEVER ENDING POSTING OF THIS VIDEO AGAIN!
Really, someone wrote a whole article out of this. People make up scripture all the time. The examples listed here are not in the bible in terms of exact scripture verses but in principle you will find all of these in the pages of God's word. Scripture can "say" something without literally saying it word for word.
..the Bible NEVER said that Eve ate an APPLE either....it says "fruit"
The fruit also wasn't eaten from the tree of life. After the fall, God protected the tree of life with angels so they could not eat from it as well causing our condition to become unchanging...
Actually, "Spare the rod..." came from a later poem, but was stated in the Bible as: Proverbs 13:24, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes".
Which translation? Did you read the rest of it or have you just picked out a pithy comment that you like – from whatever translation. A lot of translations are in the business of selling books and actually tell people what they want to hear.
Oh, my goodness. I do not want or need the Good Book, the Bible, to tell me when I can talk or represent myself to my higher power, GOD. I do it alone. Just me. Have a great day.
I encourage you to read just one book in the Bible. I suggest Luke. I guarantee you will like it! It starts with Christmas and ends with easter. It is available on line for free.
I sugest deuteronomy. Has some create quotes.
Such as kiling those who disobey the priests
Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)
What is the sole purpose of man?
Im expecting some great answers here.
To make more men
And the answer is... NO PURPOSE. We are not created by a being so we have no purpose. We just survive cause that is how we evolved
Man has no "purpose". There is no "reason" for existence. That's why we must try our best to improve the world as best we can during our short stay here. Some people think the "purpose" is to worship an omniscience, omnipotent being. However, a being that demands or even needs worship cannot, by definition, be perfect and therefore is not god or a god.
negative. animals do that fine. the original purpose of man was to fellowship with God. Thats still man's purpose today.
Spoiler alert. Mankind is an animal as well.
The purpose of life is to create more life.
man wasnt created to worship God alone. thats pretty shallow dont you think? man was created to walk with God just like in the garden of eden.
Wake up call for Trewth! We are just animals! Why do we share over 95% of the genes of chimpanzees?
To worship God. To live our lives according to his commandments.
No one here is claiming "man wasnt created to worship God alone".
Who are you responding to?
Our purpose is simple and amazing: To know God and to make Him known. That's it! He loves you so much and wants a relationship with you. The gift of grace is FREE through His son, Jesus Christ. We have to DO nothing to receive it; just believe in Him and trust Him with all your heart, soul and mind.
Hope that helps you on your journey to find answers.
Your ignorance is simply breathtaking. Sounds like you just discovered this new fangled Internet machine. Did they just run a phone line out to your trailer?
Very well said Jim
FACTS, FACTS, FACTS. dont give me so called 'purposes' without FACTS to back them up!
To say that man has a "sole" purpose is ridiculous. Its all possiblities of conciousness. We all serve many purposes, be it to ourselves or others. You can change a persons life in an instant by geniunely giving a crap about them and their life. The world in general is self involved because they are lacking in certain aspects of their life, some choose religion as an anchor some science, some recreation, some family and friends. We all need something to guide us, I let intuition do it, seeing as how that is all I was born with, I figure it should be the staple of my life.. we let others cloud our judgement with their fears, funny thing is we all have about the same fears, obviously in general. Life is compliation of your experiences be them good, bad or whatever inbetween. The purpose of anyones life can't be picked from a dang hat. The only way to know and accept your purpose in life is to understand what it is that makes you happy and start simply with small things and work your way to bigger things. It all starts with the individual, but we are all too scared to look in the mirror and analyze that completely, so we look at everyone else and compare. Not saying comparison isn't useful in society, but it should dictate your life. Analyze and stand in awe both. To appreciate life you have to experience it, through yourself or vicariously, but it is a combination of both that I have found the most useful. Biologically our purpose, procriate, other than that we can't all choose our lives, meaning we can't all have everything we want. We can choose to be happy with what we have and work towards the rest. Having great friends and family to help and share my life with is the only purpose I need, the rest is just gravy.
The sole purpose of man is to glorify God, our creator. We do that by winning souls for His kingdom.
Let me add: for those who think Christians are trying to shove something down your throats, please believe me, God will not take you kicking and protesting into heaven. If you don't want to go, there is an alternative, but trust me you will not like it. Not one bit. Heaven is a free gift – it cannot be earned, nor is it deserved.
The sole purpose of any man is what he decides is his purpose. Existence and life to not come ready made with meaning. It is in the living of life that we create our own meanings. The abdication of responsibility for the meaning of our lives to an external group of "divine" being is called religion.
Many of these phrases many not be in the bible verbatum, but thier intent is vermuch contained in it, specifically "Spare the rod spoil the child". This phrase is a direct distilation of Prov 13:24 & 23:13-14 "He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) and "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14).
I find it disingenuaously nit-picky to state that a faithful paraphase of a verse is "not" in the bible.
David, why are you getting your panties all in a knot. Most of it is made up anyway, so who cares if people make up sayings and attribute them to the bible?
You actually supported the article with your quote because, as you pointed out, the phrase is not accurate and only a fragment of a sentence. I wish people would site what translation they use too because they do not agree and vary widely in some cases. Translations support particular sects of christianity or simply seek to sell books. I know of no translation to English that is completely accurate.
Jim, There are a couple David's posting on this article the above is (my) only post. Firstly, I rekognize that this aretical is basically moot due to the fact that the Christian Bible is soley the work of politico-religious fanatics. However, I don't think anyone would belive that the persons at the time of the writing of Proverbs or the [KJV] translation saw any problem with corproral punishement. Corparal punishment has only recently, well withing my life time recieved mainstream rejuction. Iterpreting "Rod" as a metaphore is not historically accurate. Corproral punishment is an effective deturent, it's humanity is debatable. Therefore I maintain that "Spare the Rod..." is an accurate summation of the intent of the authors of these passages in Proverbs, regardless of thier mandate (Divine or Popular).
So why is it again we should not spare the rod, I have found without a doubt that violence is unecessary in parenting. I will assume, that is the rod in the bible is that of logic and reasoning and beat my children senselessly with it.
Rod – as in a shepherd's rod – to lead and direct. Never ever does the Bible say that violence towards a child is appropriate.
The idea isn't to beat the child with it, it is to offer corrections. The Shepperd's crook (for example) is designed to extend the reach of the user to *GUIDE* the herd of sheep, not as a tool of violence. I believe the same applies to that passage, the rod is merely a tool to *GUIDE*.
Physical Discipline ≠ Violence. Not always.
Also, you must not have children. :D
the bible is a book, written and rewritten, by the hand of man, not to mention it's not even the complete version. why the fuss about what it says and doesn't? It's a grand work of fiction, and a dangerous compilation of words. Naked people, talking serpants, burning bushes big fishes, and lots of violence. Makes a super collection of short stories
you forgot killing of virgin daughters so the Lord could smell her burning flesh, 2 female bears killing 42 children..... covering up dung at night so God wouldn't step in it..... hahahahhahhahaha..
Funny how the most logical answers are the hardest ones for people to swallow. They would rather believe in fairy tales than to just say, "I am not sure where all of this began or where all of this may or may not be going...nobody truly does...how could they?"
The Bible is written by men inspired by God. I am a Christian and my God is real. I am sorry for you that you are so empty. It is doubtful you have spent any time in church. I recommend you find a church that speaks to you. Instead of making foolish comments about something you seem to know nothing about you should immerse youself in finding out what Christ and Christianity is all about. It may feel cool now to be so flippant about God and the faith of others, expecially since Christians and Christianity do not promote vengence as some other religions do, but eternity is a long time to gamble your soul.
Your god is real, but the Muslim god isn't? Well, that's good because if the Muslim god were real then that would mean you're going to hell. How fortunate you chose the right religion.
You forgot to mention that it's the story of God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit and His offer to you of eternal salvation in heaven. You can choose to describe it as you have and accept the alternative. But I'd much rather see you accept Him and spend your eternity in heaven. Try reading the book of John for yourself before making any more statements. You'll learn how the Word became Flesh. You'll learn that the men (and woman) who wrote the Bible actually were inspired by God to write every word ("All Scripture is God breathed", 2 Tim 3:16). Everything in the Bible stands up without contradiction. In fact, God knew that man will struggle with this, and He says this in Romans, "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace". His offer is there for you to take. Accept Him, and your life will be transformed forever. Deny Him and you willl suffer His judgment.
All the World will know that Jesus is Lord!!!!
Lord of what? Certainly not God because there is only one God. The idea of Jesus as something more than a prophet came hundreds of years after his death. No record of the idea at the time he lived. In fact, though Romans and Jews were passionate about writing down events – there is not one mention of Jesus in his own time. 70 years later there was a false Jewish prophet and a war ensued. This resulted in the Romans violently supresssing the Jewish population. Again ... no mention at that time of Christians from either side.
So where can I purchase a real Bible? So I know my quotes are correct.
any bible as long as its a direct translation and not a transliteration
The entire Bible is written by men, compiled by men, edited by men, and translated by men. As long as you know that, you'll have a more realistic perception.
@bb. You forgot to mention that "All Scripture is God breathed." (2 Tim 3:16). So although it's written by many men (and a woman) over hundreds of years, EVERY SINGLE word is inspired by God. That's the only way that it has stood up without contradictions for two thousand years. Think about it, millions of scholars have studied it for thousands of years, and yet it is still the most widely discussed book in the world. Don't you think if the naysayers had a legitimate claim, then all this would be put to rest and no one would believe in God any more. But that hasn't happened. God is eternal. Accept Him and live with Him forever in heaven.
The One True GOD
1 Thessalonians 1:10
This article says over and over that "people" quote these things as being from the Bible. I've heard all of these phrases hundreds of times and don't recall a single person claiming they came from the Bible. We have exactly one concrete example of a person actually making such a claim, and it uses reported speech- "Scripture tells us that all things shall pass," is not the same as, "Scripture tells us, 'All things shall pass.'" Can we get some citations aside from "people" and "most people"?
As Aristotle said, "This article is mostly based on a straw-man fallacy."
Thank you for saying this. That point was what bothered me the most about this article. Most of us use these phrases but not all of us assume they are scripture. Also, there are many things that come from the Bible (eg. 10 commandments) but are not in the Bible (numbered and listed).
Are you really claiming that no one but Mike Ditka misquotes the bible? I've heard Shakespearean passage mistaken for bible passages.
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