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. Scott

    I does seem that in Genesis 2:9 that the tree was in the garden, thus it might be inferred that if the tree was present, the temptation would be stronger.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Jeff M

      Point? There were 2 trees: the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. Some people speculate that they were both just names of the same tree.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  2. Toth

    This is all about ancient astronauts and their influence on religion!

    June 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Steve

      Well, yeah. That's clearly stated in the bible.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  3. Gr8isHE

    Adam & Eve were people who populated the world.


    .... if anything, it implies more so that its talking about after the world was populated by people to deceive."

    June 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  4. Gr8isHE

    Satan is called many names; The dragon, serpent, prince of this world, the beast, father of lies, great deceiver, etc.. just because he was referred to as the dragon in the Rev doesn't mean he was an actual dragon or that he was not also the serpent in Gen 3. You have to remember John wrote revelation and he was trying as best he could with the information he had at that time to describe the vision he saw. Yes, Rev was written way after Gen which gives us the insight to know that the serpent referred to in Gen 3 is in fact Satan. Maybe he disguised himself as a serpent at that time to deceive Eve (he can do that you know) but Satan is the one who deceived Eve in the garden.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Critical Thinker

      The dragon is NOT satan. Specifically it referred to particular emperors of Rome, one of them, if I remember correctly, was Nero.

      You epitomize what the article is talking about.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Jeff M

      @Critical Thinker
      "The dragon is NOT satan."
      Revelation 12:9: "And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan"

      June 9, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  5. markkoenig

    The bible is often misquoted and misinterpreted, not to mention poorly translated. It's like a game of telephone that has gone on for centuries, how accurate to the original message can it possibly still be?

    June 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Not as bad as you might think. Take the Book of Isaiah. Look at the modern version and compare it to the Dead Sea Scroll's translationof the Book of Isaiah. They are nearly identical.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  6. A Christian

    CNN Statement:
    Someone commented about God help those who help themselves

    Bible Verse:
    Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
    New International Version (NIV)

    CNN Statement:
    Someone commented about Adam & Eve in Genesis, saying that non of verses said the serpent was Satan.

    Bible Verse:
    The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:9)

    New International Version (NIV)

    CNN Statement: All things shall pass

    Bible Verse:
    Commit thy way unto Jehovah; Trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass.
    (Psalm 37:5)American Standard Version (ASV)

    In Summary

    1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

    3for God has accepted them.

    4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? (the Lord’s servant)

    6 for they give thanks to God;

    10 why do you judge your brother or sister?

    11 It is written:

    “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
    ‘every knee will bow before me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]

    12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

    Romans 14

    The Weak and the Strong

    1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

    5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

    10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

    “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
    ‘every knee will bow before me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

    12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

    (Romans 14:1-12)
    New International Version (NIV)

    June 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Dave K.

      Typical Xtian response: vomit a bunch of text and expect us to sift through it while you pat yourself on the back for being so clever. People like you are destroying this country, and you won't rest until Jesus' return is marked by a mushroom cloud. Your fairy tale antics have cost this nation it's future. CONGRATULATIONS.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Dave

      Amen "A Christian"!
      Excellent comment and use of Romans 14! Too bad many will not understand what you were saying.

      "But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every conscience of men before God.
      And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in those who are perishing,
      In whom the god of this age has blinded the thoughts of the unbelievers that the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine on them.
      For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake.
      Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:2-6

      Lord Shine in the hearts of all those in darkness that are blinded by the god of this age!

      June 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Jeff M

      @Dave K.
      Someone cites evidence for all the arguments presented for/against various issues in the main topic and you simply write it off as drivel? That's mature. Guess you don't really care for intelligent dicussion.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Jeff M

      @Dave K.
      Someone cites evidence for all the arguments presented for/against various issues in the main topic and you simply write it off as drivel? That's mature. Guess you don't really care for intelligent discussion.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  7. hunty

    wow, 110 pages of comments. I'm sure this one'll get buried, but I just wanted to point out that "God helps those who help themselves" is actually from Aesop's Fables, specifically "Hercules and the Wagoneer":


    The moral of the fable is that doing something yourself is more productive than praying for God (or "the gods"), or waiting for someone else, to do it for you. I hadn't heard that the phrase had been maligned into meaning "God helps those who only look out for themselves"; that's really sad if it's true.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • hunty

      oops, I meant "Waggoner", not "Wagoneer". Wagoneers are much less likely to get stuck in the mud; they have four wheel drive! 🙂

      June 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  8. terry

    Anyone that has witnessed a miracle believes in God, I pray that all unbelievers will witness a miracle in their life. Just don't forget it. Scientists have theories based on the fact which are other theories. We humans know nothing of itself. We can only have guesses.

    Why has this topic of misquotes evolved into a religious debate. Why does talking aobut religion always evolve into a religious debate. A lot of books are misquoted, but if you have logic, than at least you can get the gist. I believe fanatics in any religion have no logic, including atheism, which is a religion as much as any other religion. It is a belief. Too few humans are swayed from their belief unless they witness a miracle. And even then they can be in denial.

    To be disciplined is much better tht to be punished, and that isn't in the Bible.
    To be disciplined is much better than to be punished, and that isn't in the Bible.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • terry

      oops, I'm repeating myself, sorry

      June 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      You're not very bright.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • terry

      sheesh, then not than, and about not aobut

      June 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • terry

      To SeanJ

      Why? Because I have typing errors? lol You are right I am not very bright for posting here an being subjected to people like you that have a negative opinion about everything.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @terry: No, your "atheism is a religion" statement is what makes you not bright. Your repeated attempts to correct your typing mistakes in the hopes that it masks your nonsense just makes it funny.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • terry

      I should have gone by the quote Better to be silent and thought of as a fool than to speak and have it known, lol Stupid is as stupid does..... right sean?

      Have an open mind and think about it, instead of judging me for an opinion. Atheism is a belief, therefore it is a religion of not believing in a god. When people get on their pedestal and tell their opinions they are posturing their religion, whatever it is. And unfortunately that is what I am doing, so I will never do this again.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • terry

      religion: a pursuit of interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance... quoted from the dictionary.....

      June 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Sean (not SeanNJ)

      It's the "supreme importance" part that makes atheism not a religion. Atheists do not believe there being no supernatural beings is of the utmost importance; it's just another item in a long list of things all of us don't believe. For example, I'll assume you don't believe in Zeus, Apollo or Ra; I doubt that this disbelief is a significant part of your world view. In terms of a definition it's a small distinction, but it's an important one.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Critical Thinker

      Miracles are very easily explained scientifically. Once again, it is religious cognitive bias that makes you believe in miracles and ignore any evidence to the contrary.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Greg

      Critical, I agree, but wouldn't you say it's probably more accurate to say that ignorance of science is what makes things seem miraculous?

      Incidentally, I do believe in miracles–but not the magic violations of physics some seem to believe. When you have learned a lot about science, when you have studied and questioned the things that make the world around us, it isn't that hard to believe in miracles in the ordinary and everyday. For instance, it always seems a miracle to me that our brains are wired so that the combination of electricity and chemicals become thought and action. That's amazing. And whenever I see someone help someone else simply out of the kindness of their hearts, I find that miraculous, because there aren't many people who do things simply out of kindness, with no thought of benefit to self. Doing something to be nice for the sake of being nice, without any expectation or desire for aggrandizement or payoff, that's a pretty rare thing, and merits miracle status. 🙂

      June 9, 2011 at 3:59 am |
    • Jeff M

      "It's the "supreme importance" part that makes atheism not a religion."
      This is incongruous with modern definitions of "religion." Atheists believe that there is no god/God. This is the publicly recognized belief system from which Atheists determine moral values. This alone allows it to be categorized as a religion. Additionally, Atheists use secular Science and other methods to explain the origins of life, which is another component of religion.

      June 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • BaronRiidiWW

      Jeff M
      and yes that was personal
      Why don't you ask God to tell you why he made you so stupid?

      June 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Sean

      @Jeff M
      "This is the publicly recognized belief system from which Atheists determine moral values".

      Not true, Jeff. It is not from non-belief in deities that determine our moral values; atheists believe moral values can be determined without that belief. Atheists do not say, "Because there is no God, I will _____."

      I also dispute your statement that trying to understand the universe is a religious pursuit. Outside of science, it could only be considered philosophical from an atheist viewpoint. Atheists do not "worship" science; science is a subject and not a belief system.

      June 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  9. Nordette

    I agree with this article, but have two considerations. I think the saying "This too shall pass" is a distillation of a concept in the Book of Ecclesiastes 3, verses 1-8 that begin. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." It's the idea that there is a season for trouble and and a season for peace and so troubling times don't last forever.
    Also, while I agree completely that the saying "God helps those who help themselves" goes against a greater theme in the Bible that tells people to help the poor and needy, I also think that Ben Franklin extrapolated the idea of helping oneself from 2 Thessalonians 3: 10–"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." But we should remember that in the period in history in which this verse was written, society was still largely agrarian. People were not dealing with poverty and industrialization had not happened yet which contributes to people not being able to "work" for their food. Also the idea that faith in God is manifested through physical deeds is seen in the Book of James. The problem for many Americans is that they try to take concepts from the Bible, repurpose them for their own agendas, and then try to force them onto the country.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Nordette

      Oops. I meant that during the period of the New Testament that people were not dealing with poverty at the level we see it today, not that they weren't facing poverty at all.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Critical Thinker

      "This too shall pass" is not from the Bible. A quick internet search yields this gem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_too_shall_pass

      From the article: The phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets, and is often attached to a fable of a great king who is humbled by the simple words. Some versions of the fable, beginning with that of Attar of Nishapur, add the detail that the phrase is inscribed on a ring, which therefore has the ability to make the happy man sad and the sad man happy. Jewish folklore often describes Solomon as giving or receiving the phrase. The proverb and associated fable were popular in the first half of the 19th century, appearing in a collection of tales by the English poet Edward Fitzgerald and being employed in a speech by Abraham Lincoln before he became president.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Greg

      lol Critical...quoting Wikipedia are you? Danger there... hehe

      June 9, 2011 at 4:01 am |
    • Greg

      Nordette, this was probably the most intelligent distillation of thought on this subject I've read. Well done.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:02 am |
  10. Zinjo

    Prov 23:13: "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die." Close enough for me.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Paul Burke

      Prov 13:24: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betime." When it be time?

      June 8, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • kammy

      Also RE: "And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden." Read Revelation 12:9 – And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. This pasage sufficiently sums up the serpent/devil/satan in all his characteristics. Therefore it is correct to say that Satan tempted Eve. What however is not mentioned is "forbidden apple". Rather it reads "fruit of the tree" and does not mention apple at all.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  11. Patrish

    Always figured the bible was more trouble then it was worth. Humans think it' makes them superior if you quote from it, can the can't get it right. DAAAAAAAAAA

    June 8, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  12. Muneef

    [wp] Hadith on obedience to the parents & intention.

    'Abdullah ibn 'Umar related that Rasulullah (SAW) said:
    Obey your parents and treat them kindly, for if you do so then your own children will be obedient and kind to you.

    It is narrated by Anas that Rasulullah (SAW) said:
    If anyone intends to seek blessings of the Hereafter, Allah gives contentment to his heart, takes care of his affairs and the world comes to him submissively. But if someone intends to seek the pleasures of this world, Allah puts poverty before him and disorders his affairs, yet only so much of worldly things as have already been ordained for him come to him.
    (Abu Daud, Tirmidhi)

    A relevant Ayat related to the above hadith is worthy to mention in this regard: 

    Whosoever desires the life of the world and its glitter, to them We shall pay in full (the wages of) their deeds therein, and they will have no diminution therein. They are those for whom there is nothing in the Hereafter but Fire, and vain are the deeds they did therein. And of no effect is that which they used to do. [Surah Al-Hud, Ayat: 15-16]

    June 8, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  13. Chase

    The same goes for customs in the modern age. Many people have no idea of the foundations that the customs we take part in are built on. IE: Christmas, the birth of Christ? Most research will show that his birthdate is approximated somewhere between July-October, based on the birth of John the Baptist (and his birth is based on several celebrations and customs at that time). The date of December 25th was celebrated by Roman pagans long ago, because they believed this date was the rebirth of the sun god. Around that time of the year, there was much less daylight (as it is today), and they noticed increasing sunlight around the 25th and believed their sun god was returning to them.

    This became known as Saturnalia, a week of lawlessness (17th-25th). Roman courts were closed for this time, and no man could be persecuted for destruction of property, drunkeness, etc. The Christian church finally tried to fight these ideals by celebrating Christmas (or a variation of) on the day of Saturnalia's conclusion.

    It's insane how ignorant people are, and it only strengthens by belief that religion is pure control and that no higher power exists. Oh, and Christ (if he existed) was not white, blue-eyed, or tall. Simple geography could tell you that.

    If you choose to take faith in something like the Bible, you need to know what is truly being written about and not be blinded by what leaders want you to know about.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  14. Marie Kidman


    June 8, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  15. Jeff Lee

    I'm not sure if anyone hit on this in the 110 pages of comments, but of course the number of wise men is in the Bible, although I have heard even the Archbishop of Canterbury claim that it isn't. However, its not in the Gospel, or even in the New Testament, but rather in Psalms 71 (72 for Catholics and Protestants). This is also why we have the Christmas Carol "We Three Kings", as the Gospel does not indicate that the visitors are Kings either.

    One has to be wary of the scripturally uneducated making up things that aren't there, but I have found that so called "biblical scholars" are more dangerous.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Free

      I presume you mean Psalm 72:10-11

      "10 May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores
      bring tribute to him.
      May the kings of Sheba and Seba
      present him gifts.
      11 May all kings bow down to him
      and all nations serve him."

      Lets do the math, shall we? Sheba and Seba present gifts, but that's only two kings. If you add the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores that's gotta be more than just another king bringing just one more gift making it three in total. So how do you get three kings and three gifts out of this?

      June 8, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Free

      I forgot to mention that Psalm 72 is about Solomon and not some prophesy about the messiah. After all, verse 15 begins with "Long may he live!" which can't possibly refer to Jesus who died a young man, can it?

      June 8, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • John

      jeff I say to you read Matthew Chap.2 and remember in the times this book was written that only the elite of socity was of formal education so a King or as The Bible says Wise Men to a lay person could mean the same. Read The White!!!!!!!!!!!!! or in your thinking Between the lins.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  16. William L. Robinson

    J.Chirst is not blue eyed with blond hair, or caucasion.
    its the garden of Eden, Adam is a fake name, its Eden and Eve in the Garden?
    God don`t need no witnesses?
    God don`t need money?
    History channel do not show any real substance of the bible?
    the Jews are not the chosen the Hebrews are the chosen of God.
    the Jews changed the name of the Middle east, to Israel.
    who changed the name to Africa, the real name of Africa is Kenty

    June 8, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Jeff M

      @William L. Robinson
      "J.Chirst is not blue eyed with blond hair, or caucasion."
      Correct, Jesus of Nazareth was Jewish, and was most likely more Middle-Eastern in appearance.

      "its the garden of Eden, Adam is a fake name, its Eden and Eve in the Garden?"

      "God don`t need no witnesses?
      God don`t need money?"
      Nope...but not sure where this was supposedly leading to...

      "History channel do not show any real substance of the bible?"
      Huh? This depends on what your definition of "real substance" is. The History Channel has done numerous shows about the Bible and the times surrounding various events in the Bible – but done in a purely historical context.

      "the Jews are not the chosen the Hebrews are the chosen of God."
      1 Peter 1 & 2 clearly indicate that the "chosen people" are those that believe in Jesus Christ.

      "the Jews changed the name of the Middle east, to Israel.
      who changed the name to Africa, the real name of Africa is Kenty"
      I'll admit, I don't know enough about history, but since I don't accept things without proof, cite your references so that we too may be enlightened.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Jeff M

      The majority of sources believe that Egyptians were the ones to call the land "Afru-ika", which Romans later translated, and the rest is history.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  17. Paul

    The problem here is that christians and biblical literalists continue to insist that either it is there litterally or that the meaning is there instead... no matter what they continue to hold to the idea that it is accurate in either sense.

    Without accurancy the reality is that its foolish to take 'ALL' bibles as word of god.
    I do accept for argument sake however that KJ is... while I cannot ever take NIV or similar as gods word.
    Proof for me is the contradictions that nIV has with KJ as proven by the verses and meanings that are not in NIV but are in KJ and similar.

    Even so, the point is that too often too many are quoting the bible when its not of the bible anyway.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Free

      Jesus was a rabbi, yes? A teacher and authority on the Law. So, it was established even back then that scripture was not something that every average Joe could be relied upon to interpret correctly for themselves. So why is it that most Protestants seem to think that they can?

      June 8, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Jeff M

      Interesting...what are your reasons for accepting the KJV over the NIV? Personally, I study with the Matthews-Tyndale Bible, which was the first Bible translated from the original Greek/Hebrew texts directly into English. For general studies I will still resort to KJV/NIV as they are the most widely used IMO. My only problem with the KJV was that it came about largely due to a political movement, and only had a fraction of the originating scrolls to assist with translation in comparison to the numerously more available for the NIV.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  18. YANKO

    We have created a new social network for people of all faith and religions..it is in spanish right now only, but next week will be in other languages too..check it out: http://www.wpray4u.com

    June 8, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  19. Randy

    Well, I knew that not one of those expressions came from the Bible. I don't know anyone who thinks they do, and I don't believe most people think they do.

    This article is a classic example of using multiple anecdotes to create a false picture of consensus. Just because you can find *someone* who thinks something came from the Bible, that doesn't mean other people think so – even if each of them has his own unique misconception. Ten people each mistaken about ten different things does not equal ten people all mistaken about the same ten things.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  20. Wil

    The Ten Commandments? Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Does it mean not to lie, or not to lie against others? Everybody lies. Thou shall not swear. Does it mean not to make an oath, or not to use foul language? Thou shall not have any OTHER Gods before me. Many argue that there is only one (1) God. The Bible is very manipulative and misunderstanding.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Kelcie

      What does it matter what "many" argue as long as The Word says the Lord is the one true God? And Will, "Thou shall not swear" is not a commandment. "Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor" essentially means that you shouldn't lie. Some things don't need to be overly complicated. It's just very important that you interpret the word correctly and don't alter it to support what you already believe or accept only the parts of the word that support what you believe.

      June 8, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Free

      And who did they mean by 'neighbor?' Everyone, or was it OK to lie to foreigners? The Commandments were intended for just the Hebrews after all.

      June 8, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Derek Smith

      Erm, there were more than ten commandments. Some suggest more that 600. Others that there are just two. As with much in the bible, or any of them, it is open to interpretation and, most excitingly for many, misinterpretation.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
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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.