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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. Mrs. Michael Trane Cloudrider Gold

    Actually, God is here....right now.

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php

    June 6, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  2. MCB1979

    Are the scholars, mentioned in this article, actually debating if Satan is the one that caused the serpent to speak in the Garden of Eden? Satan is referred to as the serpent in other books of the Bible.
    I find it very weird that the people pointing out other's people's ignorance about the Bible are choosing to be ignorant themselves.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Free

      The serpent in the garden is clearly just a talking snake. Remember that God saw fit to curse it to crawl on it's belly and to be enemies with humans for what it did. That's a curse on all snakes, and not a description of Satan's fall, right? John calling the Devil a snake is no different than you calling your lying boyfriend one. Snakes are hated, which is why the Hebrews had a myth describing why this was the case in the first place.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Shadow

      I totally agree. Although I applaud the work these scholars go through and the long studying they must go through (this will hopefully help others actually do some research as to what the Bible actually says), I do think that sometimes they do it to be more...argumentative. The Bible is littered with alternate names, metaphors , and other passages that are not to be taken literally. Just look at Revelations. There are plenty of literal prophecies, but I would say the number metaphors exceed them. I'm glad that they're studying the BIble, but I think that making such conclusions should be left to Christians who can not only point out things like this, but they also have a greater understanding of the Bible as a whole, and can connect the verse to another point in the Bible (like the serpent being explained later on).

      June 6, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Free

      Shadow
      "I do think that sometimes they do it to be more...argumentative."

      Yet, if what they find is the truth, would you rather it remain hidden for the sake of not disturbing the false beliefs that people would continue to hold without it coming to light?

      June 6, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • MCB1979

      @Free, do you believe snakes possess their own power to speak when they want?
      Revelations 12:9 refers to him as the ancient or original serpent.
      Genesis does actually start to explain the fall of Satan the Devil, which actually means the opposer and slanderer. God told Eve that she would die the day she took fruit from the tree and the serpent told her she wouldn't. Therefore the serpent called God a liar. I'm sure God would not have named one of his angels Satan the Devil without a fair reason.
      So ask yourself, how this serpent talked and if snakes alone called God a liar how come we don't call them Satans and Devils. Opening this door actually gives you insight into why the world is full of hate and evil today and why Jesus had to die for our sins.
      Many people probably would say if God is real and so great how come he didn't stop this from happening and the answer is angels have free will as do we. God is perfect in Justice so just like in court Satan has his chance to prove his challenge which is humans don't need God's rule. The court case will soon be over and the whole world even the angels in heaven are the jury. It's blatantly obvious Satan was wrong. You don't have to believe in God if you don't want to. But there are many rewards for those that do follow him. If you truly want to know God understanding the Bible becomes easier.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Free

      MCB1979
      Isn't there a talking donkey in the story of Balaam in the OT? Besides, if the fall of humanity caused the normally vegetarian T-rex and Great White Shark to become carnivores, as many Christians believe, then maybe all animals talked in the Garden, but lost that ability when they were all kicked out. Eve wasn't surprised that the snake talked. She didn't say "Holy C–p! A talking snake!" did she? Face it, it's an inference just like the Trinity and Jesus being God's actual son, and not just another 'son of God' like David.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • MCB1979

      @Free, yes there is a talking donkey in Numbers Chapter 22, and in verse 28 it actually tells you how the donkey was able to talk – God did it. So we can gather that the serpent was able to talk because someone with power caused it to do so. We know that God wouldn't call himself a liar so who else had the power? Well, Angels have powers and which Angel turned against God by calling him a liar?

      The slippery slope you're going down is throwing in "maybe". You don't have to believe the Bible is special so why are trying to change the story? Does it really matter that the Bible doesn't say Eve freaked out and said this? If it did would that make you a believer, most likely not.

      By the way I don't believe in the Trinity. I don't believe a lot of things "Main Stream Christianity" teaches. I understand why people turn against religion and I don't bash them for it. It's very sad actually. There are a lot of messed up things people have done in the name of religion. Regardless though I found what comforts me in this world and I hope you have found or find what gives you comfort.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  3. BobZemko

    Jesua, save me from your followers!!

    June 6, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Rev. B

      Amen. If us "Christians" were called "Christ-like" the standard and the world would perhaps be a better place.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  4. Eric

    Instead of taking other people's words for what the Bible does and doesn't say, join thousands of others who have found this site useful. http://www.BibleUniverse.com

    June 6, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  5. Texan86

    Christ was wrong. "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Matthew 16: 28. The key is the verse before, "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done." Matthew 16: 27. He is obviously talking about the second coming. Father's glory, angels, rewarding of deeds... Judgement day! Well it never came. And for those who will say he meant 'spiritual death' ... it's clear he meant physical death, no twisting of the words! Enoch and Elijah did not die but ascended to heaven but they were way before Christ. John did see a 'vision' of the judgement day in his life time but the kingdom of heaven definitly did not come.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Jimbo

      He was referring to the transfiguration which occurred just a few verses later... Nice try though

      June 6, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • GE

      you really need to look at the context of that situation my friend and clean this mess of a statement you made up

      June 6, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Texan86

      Wrong. He did not repay their deeds at the transfiguration. sorry. nice try though.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Jimbo

      @ Texan- He said that they would see him coming in his kingdom and they did in the very next verse. The author of the book was clearly drawing the parallel. Keep looking though, I'm sure you'll find something that 2000 years of biblical scholars haven't thought of yet.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Festus

      Your that guy that wanders around on the 5th Ave. and 53rd St. subway platform, aren't you?

      June 6, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Texan86

      But he is clearly talking about judgement day. You cannot deny that. coming with angels, rewarding deeds. Judgement day only. Im really wanting a good christian response here, not trolling.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • GreenieInPA

      "Coming with angels" – now that's what I'm talkin' about.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Jimbo

      @Texan- If you want an in-depth look at the passage, check Matthew Henry's commentary. Its free online if you google for it

      June 6, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Texan86

      10 4 Jimbo. I will check it out. but im not optimistic. Ive heard all the arguments before (I studied at seminary way too long!) and they can not make a match between the repaying of deeds and the transfiguration.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Texan86

      Yep. Its as i thought. The commentary does not match it. Henry says that the first part is in reference to the Transfiguration but the 'Repaying of deeds' is reference to the Judgement day. Its illogical to seperate the verse in that manner! Its either one or the other!

      June 6, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  6. Mills

    Who is claiming that these phrases came out of the bible? They're just phrases and I doubt anyone is is arguing that these can be found in there. What a stupid article

    June 6, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Vahid

      One flaw of many in the way we think. ;)

      June 6, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  7. GE

    Its better to be a confused born again believer in Christ than to be a biblically astute non believer that's for sure.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • GreenieInPA

      So in other words, those of us who are smart enough not to believe in this rubbish, should at least fake belief to save our souls? You don't think your god would see through that? Weird.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • GE

      Smart enough not to believe in Christ huh? I don't know that I would call that smarts I sincerley hope you acceot Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour

      June 6, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • GreenieInPA

      Rational thinking trumphs fear – ALWAYS!

      June 6, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Ed

      You are wrong.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • GE

      When it comes to Jesus Christ there is nothing "rational" about a man born of a virgin who is all man and all God, who healed the sick, raised dead poeple among the many miracles performed, was falsely arrested and crucified and died, and got up from the grave and is sitting at the right hand of the Father waiting on Him to dispatch Him back to come get all who accpet Him as Lord there is nothing "rational" about that at all but its true whether you believe it or not. I believe it and I encourage you to believe it and "fear" not being a child of God.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  8. Fred

    I don't get it... most of the phrases are simply paraphrased from the bible instead of direct quotes... so I'm not really seeing the problem. As far as the snake goes, serpents are often portrayed as servants of the devil, so I'm still not seeing the problem...

    Sounds like someone out bible-bashing. I've got no problem with that, there's plenty of things in the bible to complain about (famous Ned Flanders line "I’ve done everything the Bible says... even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!"), but people bashing other people over such minor things as paraphrasing instead of using direct quotes is just plain petty.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  9. Rob

    RichWa
    You either believe that God is real, or you don't believe God is real. Either way you believe in something. Even if you believe in nothing.
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Josh

      I don't believe either, god is irrelevant in my mind, there are more important things to fret about

      June 6, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • JP

      i hate rush

      June 6, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  10. humbly

    Actually the serpent tempted Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – not the tree of life. On a story about biblical literacy I would hope the author would at least do their diligence to make sure he/she was literate.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  11. Vahid

    Indeed, either are we created equal.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  12. Rev. B

    And to further educate, there was NO Bible in Jesus' time. There was the Torah (Old Test.) but nothing more. If Jesus picked up a modern Bible he would not know what it is nor would approve of us worshipping him, for Jesus did not come to this world to be worshipped. Not once in the entire Bible does Jesus say "Worship me." or "Let me be the focus of your attention."

    The majority of people, icluding Jesus, were more likely illiterate. The wealthy and powerful knew how to read not the poor or oppressed. If we must quote from the Bible let us quote about "love" and "acceptance" not "hate" or "intolerance."

    June 6, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • steve

      I love it when non-Christians try to tell Christians what their faith is REALLY about. Such lies.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Rev. B

      Interesting post.

      @steve

      What are we missing here...?

      Respectfully,

      Peace...

      June 6, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • vernon

      Actually, I've heard it said that Israel was the only nation with a 90 percent literacy rate at Jesus' time. He is also portrayed as reading from the scriptures in the synagogue, so one may assume that he could read.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Gayle

      Christ was no more illiterate than you are.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Dr Jim

      you are part of the problem rev. b. how can you say that Jesus is illeterate? because He was born poor in a stable? who gave you the authority to assume that? God will punish you for saying that..... you are not part of he solution. you're as ignorant as they come. you add toxic misture into what you quote in the pulpit. a "wanna be" preacher misquoting biblical passages. " surely, surely I say unto you, you don't know jack....mister..... or miss..... better yet... missed..... "

      June 6, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • ThereisMoretoTheStory

      Jesus is taken to be killed for blasphemy by religious authorities due to their understanding of his statements. He say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me." At multiple times is the gospels people fall down and worship Jesus and he accepts this as right (he does not tell them to stop).
      Your statements are built on modern reinterpretations of what 'really happened' -but they do not reflect the story told by the gospel writers. Your expressed ideas make it clear that you've not read the gospels... or at least not for a long time.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Dr Yess

      you are part of the problem rev. b. how can you say that Jesus is illeterate? because He was born poor in a stable? who gave you the authority to assume that? God will punish you for saying that..... you are not part of he solution. you're as ignorant as they come. you add toxic misture into what you quote in the pulpit. a "wanna be" preacher misquoting biblical passages. " surely, surely I say unto you, you don't know jack....mister..... or miss..... better yet... missed..... "

      June 6, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Rev. B

      @ steve, I am Christian just trying to be as "Christ-like" as possible.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Bane

      I believe Rev. B is just quoting what most scholars think. And being born in a manger, the trintiy, etc are modern interpretations of the Bible.

      Everybody is guilty of wronging Jesus and what he stood for. He shall punish all of you including me. We will never know God and his intentions to the fullest.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Jesus of Nazareth

      I love you.

      PS- This article is irrelevant.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Scott

      Hi steve, I wouldn’t dream of trying to tell you what your faith is really about; but, I will point out that your book has some problems:
      14. God is warlike
      Ex 15:3/ Is 51:15
      God is peaceful
      Rom 15:33/ 1 Cor 14:33
      15. God is cruel, unmerciful, destructive, and ferocious
      Jer 13:14/ Deut 7:16/ 1 Sam 15:2,3/ 1 Sam 6:19
      God is kind, merciful, and good
      James 5:11/ Lam 3:33/ 1 Chron 16:34/ Ezek 18:32/ Ps 145:9/
      1 Tim 2:4/ 1 John 4:16/ Ps 25:8
      16. God's anger is fierce and endures long
      Num 32:13/ Num 25:4/ Jer 17:4
      God's anger is slow and endures but for a minute
      Ps 103:8/ Ps 30:5
      17. God commands, approves of, and delights in burnt offerings,
      sacrifices ,and holy days
      Ex 29:36/ Lev 23:27/ Ex 29:18/ Lev 1:9
      God disapproves of and has no pleasure in burnt offerings,
      sacrifices, and holy days.
      Jer 7:22/ Jer 6:20/ Ps 50:13,4/ Is 1:13,11,12
      18. God accepts human sacrifices
      2 Sam 21:8,9,14/ Gen 22:2/ Judg 11:30-32,34,38,39
      God forbids human sacrifice
      Deut 12:30,31

      June 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  13. jps

    Well, his overall message should be "Read the Bible for yourself!" If you don't, you risk having it interpreted for you by people like Mike Huckabee and Mel GIbson. I would say, read it with an open mind and keep in mind the times that it was written in. Also the fact that God ordered us not to change it, but someone probably has. We know Constantine decided whether certain books were worth including. I'm sure others have inflicted their opinions on us as well, without our knowledge. Jesus said the most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. It's not even one of the 10 commandments! But if you call yourself a Christian, that should be the top of the list. I'm reading the BIble for the second time right now. The Old testament is tough but 1 Corinthians 13 in the New Testament is one the most beautiful pieces of writing in the world. The Apostle Paul wrote it, and I have issues with some of his writing but that chapter more than makes up for it.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  14. Vulpes

    "If he included where the verse came from and the context in which it was written, then his article would not be as dramatic, would it? "
    He did ... you should finish reading the article before you condemn it. This is a great example of how not reading the source text can get you in trouble. LOL

    June 6, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  15. Teachergirltoo

    Jonah 1:17 specifically says that Jonah was swallowed, so it may be good to check facts before printing items.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • ShaneB

      It doesn't say by a whale specifically. It has been assumed a whale though.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Nonimus

      Sure "great fish", but I guessing that the authors didn't know the difference between fish and whales, and therefore whales would have been the largest of fish for them. Admittedly though the Bible does not say whale, but who cares; great fish or whale, neither is capable of swallowing a man and allowing that man to survive within itself for days.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Teachergirltoo

      And... it may be useful for one to use their critical thinking and reasoning skills at times, instead of suspending dis-belief, especially when it comes to mythological stories about "Fish" swallowing a human, and said human living for 3 days inside the belly of said fish, yes...?

      Respectfully,

      Peace...

      June 6, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Jessica

      And you need to read the article. The article doesn't say that Jonah wasn't swallowed but it does state that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and not a WHALE!, which is what the bible says.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  16. Nonimus

    From the article:
    “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.

    I find it interesting that the author and Dunn, nitpick the Satan aspect to the extent of pointing out when Satan entered the picture, and yet what are people supposed to think when it's a TALKING serpent? At least a talking serpent fits the fantasy if it is Satan in disguise, otherwise one has to rationalize why today's serpents don't talk.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • jay

      The point is that Satan had not been invented yet when the story was written so how could it be about him.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Nonimus

      Why expect the Bible to be logical? It is inspired, right?
      The serpent was not revealed to be Satan until people were ready to accept the concept.

      ...yes I'm making this up as I go along, for this posting anyway

      June 6, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • seriously?

      I think it's hilarious that a serpent talking on it's own is ridiculous, but a demonic angel with an ax to grind making a serpent speak in his voice like a ventriloquist to get a magically created rib-woman to eat a piece of fruit that will allow her to know the truth about good and evil but will doom billions of her offspring to pain, suffering, and death, now that would obviously have to be true.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Anne

      Yeah, a talking serpent is just ridiculous unless it's Satan. It ruins the realism of the universe being created in 6 days, every animal ever in existence appearing simultaneously, females being formed from a man's rib, and all of humanity descending from two Caucasians.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Seriouly?,
      Exactly.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Seriously, @Anne,
      Sorry, perhaps I wasn't clear. I'm trying to figure out why the author in nitpicking when none of it makes sense anyway.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  17. Robert W

    It is a crying shame that Christians who can read have never spent the time to read the whole bible. If they misinterpret it that is better than not reading it at all because someone will eventually correct them. As far as phantom verses being attributed to the bible, it seems to be a matter of semantics. Many of these "phantom" verses have concepts that do indeed come from the bible. Truth needs to be distributed.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Scott

      Oh please, Oh please someone correct Christians; but, they certainly have their work cut out for them

      June 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  18. SpiderBaby

    I love the arguing here. Everyone trying to make others believe as they do. It's all very arrogant, really. How does everyone know that they are so absolutely right & others are purely ignorant? Moreover, why does a person become infuriated with another becasue they believe differently?

    June 6, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Scott

      I’m as big an atheist as they come and I have no trouble at all (in fact will give my personal blessing to) any religious type who wants nothing more than to believe what they believe. But yes, I do become infuriated when they want to pass laws to force me (and everyone else) to live by their beliefs. How about we pass a law to force evolution to be preached in churches as an alternate theology? Kind of like creationism and science classes?

      June 7, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  19. Rev. B

    @ Debbie, being a "Godly" man has nothing to do with belieiving in a book. Jesus didn't know what a Bible was, but he knew what LOVE was. Being a Godly man is a man who is loving and cares for those who are not himself. So, yes I am a Godly man.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • steve

      What? Jesus quoted the Hebrew scriptures constantly. YOU need to read them, actually, before you start telling lies about Jesus.

      June 6, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • acts 431

      Rev B,
      PLease don't separate Jesus from the Bible. Jesus was "the Word became flesh". Jesus was, in essence, the walking Bible.

      June 6, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Rev. B

      Of course Jesus quoted the Old Testiment as did many others. Jewish men were expected to memorize the Torah.

      The Messiah is a focal point of The Bible.
      And as for separating Jesus from the Bible– The Bible is imperfect, Jesus is believed perfect. It separates itself.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  20. Rob

    James Black is the reason there are 95 pages. My questions get turned down and never get posted. James just posts a huge blank space and gets Ok'd over and over.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:49 am |
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About this blog

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.