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. Klaark

    People who live their lives based on a 2,000 year old story book are morons.

    August 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Greg

      That would depend on what your alternative is. An old saying states that Democracy seems to be the worst form of government possible until you compare it to every other form of government known to man. You have to start somewhere and the good book is a place to start. I agree that the best way to learn is to open everything you read to your own interpretation. It is best to not run afoul of whatever fomal religion you belong to by comparing your insights with those of your congregation leader (minister/rabbi/pastor/imam). In many cases the language is arcane and obtuse at best so they serve best as a translator of the text in order to gain the basic insights that the various passages are trying to convey. Once you have read enough to understand the themes and translate teh text for yourself, you start to gain more and more insights from further readings. You by no means are obligated to completely conform. For example, my stance on science is contrary to the fundamentalist view of Exodus. This comes from a lifetime of overwhelming evidence that knowledge used in the right way saves lives and that ignorance needlessly leads to bad and preventable outcomes. Thus science is a tool that lends itself to knowledge which is inherently good, but knowledge like any tool can be turned towards nefarious purposes. A simple analogy to drive home the point is to ask yourself how many bad things would happen to a toddler left to its own devices in a chemistry lab for a day versus how many bad things could happen to a chemist left in a day care center for a day.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Kyle

      @klaark, I've been a moron for the past 25 years now, and would have to say I feel a lot better about that life than I do about the one I lived for the previous 19 years. If I had to say what was the most significant comfort I have as a moron, it would be knowing that the one that created me has let me know that he loves me so much that he poured out all the wrath that his natures need for justice required on the thing he loved the most, that being Jesus, so that I could know that he cares about me, and be reconciled to him. I hope this thought helps you understand something that perhaps you have not been able to grasp.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Uriah

      Are your ancestors morons for deciding to create you and your parents? The past creates the present and the present creates the future. But the future exists from the past.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  2. Hesalive

    Jesus is Lord. He definitely rose from the dead but the Muslims oppose His divinity. That's a big cosmic problem... for them. Only God's son could atone for our sins. There is no neutrality when it comes to Christ. You're either with Him or with Satan. Don't be fooled. They're not here to coexist. They can't be. Satan drives them to hate Jesus Christ.

    August 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • Greg

      Muslims accept Jesus as one of the divine prophets as Christians would look at Isiah and thus are open to accepting his teachings. They also believe that Muhammed is the one true prophet. If that leads them to God then all the more power to them. Jewish people do not accept Jesus as the one true prophet either and are we to say that they too are condemned? I peronally find the new testament's emphasis on humility and self- sacrifice refreshing but this emphasis also is strong within in the 5 pillars of Islam. The old testament essentially is an old copy (some would say bad copy) of the Torah which is the literary basis of the Jewish religion. In my mind God would not differentiate how people come to believe in him or do his will on Earth, so long as they are following his will and not Satan's.

      August 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
    • Uriah

      Greg- If anyone accepts only the old testament they deny Christ therefore withholding their place in God's kingdom. Because forgiveness through Jesus is not in them to ask.

      Jhn 5:45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is [one] that accuseth you, [even] Moses, in whom ye
      Jhn 5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.

      Jhn 5:47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

      Jhn 5:43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

      Jhn 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

      Jhn 6:48 I am that bread of life.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  3. tony

    The fact that people could mass read the Bible has been cited in history text book as the beginning of enlightenment in Europe. People no longer had to rely on 'religious authorities' who told them what was right or wrong, or that they could buy their way to heaven by having their sins forgiven if they donated to the church. It is not a bad thing that people can read the Bible and interpret it using their own reasoning. Perhaps if people in Muslim countries, who memorize the Koran based on what 'religious scholars' interpret, were able to read the Koran themselves they would question the fundamentalism they are thought. As it is, literacy rates in Muslim countries are dismal. Teach them to read the Koran on their own, and they would have their own Enlightenment, then they would question what the religious experts say.

    August 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  4. Mick Salmons

    Forbidden fruit.. no mention of it being an apple..

    August 15, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Greg

      Ironic that one of the fundamental tenets in the Garden of Eden story is that "knowledge is bad" since that is what the devil gave to Eve and Adam via Eve to get them kicked out of paradise. The plain truth is that ignorance is bad and leads to untold preventable harm and conversely that knowledge is good as this article suggests. Knowledge should be inherently good since it allows us to understand God's true nature. And yes, as knowledge's best tool that means Science is good. Ponder that one before you try to argue that fundamentalist religious leaders don't take the the lessons taught in Exodus seriously and literally. Fail to embrace science and learning and bad things will needlessly happen, this is the lesson retold throughout history through countless wrecked lives. An example of scientific ignorance resulting in calamity would be Pompeii. A personal example would be those who withhold medical treatment from their children expecting a miracle instead. Then there is the legal tenet that ignorance is not a defense and what that tells you. This is where the axiom that God helps those who help themselves comes from. Thus begs the question, Does God think that ignorance is bliss? The evidence would suggest that those who are ignorant and especially those who choose to be ignorant should beware and conversely that those who preach ignorance are doing the devil's work.

      August 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Uriah

      I assume it is the learning through ungodly practices.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  5. Melody

    @ Godpot, you are not a Christian because of what you read you are not a Christian becauseYou have not had a personal experience to show you otherwise. Everything you believe you were taught and most of it you don't have bit by bit evidence to explain. You just took it as truth and believe it because it was taught to you from a trusted source. Most of us have never been to Mars or can't exactly explain and fully understand how faxes are sent or how airplanes take us to and from but it works and the more it operates and people come running back with success stories about it, the more we believe in it....

    My prayer for everyone reading this is that you will stop saying what you do or don't believe and just ask God to prove He is real to you....I could tell you all day about me and what did it for me but every person needs a personal experience to make a choice to believe or not believe. I believe God can prove Himself if you ask him to. He doesn't need help being God only somebody willing to ask and see if they get an answer....it doesn't have to be a deep thing, just driving down the street even you can say " God show me if you are real." Just that simple..

    August 15, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Greg

      You have a good point. I hope that my personal experience is reflective of everyone else's and I suspect that it is. I have found that God and his helpers frequently send messages. It is merely a matter if we care to or choose to and know to listen. The messages come via creeping thoughts, premonitions, visions or distinct dreams when they occur during sleep, and much more rarely via direct encounters with powerful divine and corrupt spirits. I suspect some people are contacted more emphatically or easily than others, but when a more powerful message comes you will know without doubt when you hear it in your thoughts or see it. But Satan and his minions also have the same capability of beguiling or corrupting in a similar manner, so one must carefully pay attention to and analyze the veracity of any message received. An encounter with a demon is one predominated with terror and foreboding, an angel one of joy so intense you are drawn to it like a beacon. An indirect encounter with God via a vision is fascinating and intense, as there is a strong element of fear since you are facing perfection and with one look at you he knows everything about you and has the authority to pronounce judgement and take action for wrongdoings. The feeling of facing perfection is it's own joy, however. The best comparison I have on Earth is the phenomenon of love at first sight which is the brain's way of saying you have found perfection. Immediately I have a compulsion to do my very best for that person. This is the closest comparison to the feeling I have when facing God. Suc experiences are there waiting for those willing to listen to and then follow God's word.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  6. Shana

    It was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad they were forbidden to eat from. It says it right there. The Tree of Life was the tree they were supposed to eat from. Adam and Eve made a choice to listen to someone other than the God who gave them life and they and their offspring paid the price for it. Hence Jesus coming to offer a sacrifice to save those people who want to serve God unlike their selfish first parents.

    August 15, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  7. shirah

    Unfortunately, many people make attributions to the Bible and have never read it. Even learned teachers. What makes me cringe in dismay are those who take every word literally,and brain wash their children that all is literally so. The folks who produced our Bible in its present form selected from available literature what seemed to agree with their beliefs and left out those that did not. Anyone interested in things that were discarded should research the writings of the Gnostic Christians,who were the first people to be designated "Christians" There are comments about Mary's so-called "Virginity(which is itself a mistranslation from the Aramaic to the Greek language) There is also references to Jesus and Judas as "The twins"

    August 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  8. stormy miller

    the bible is nothing more than a man made work of fiction! why are we all in a debate over a fairy tale. and not just a fairy tale but a fairy tale that has been over and over misinterpreted and changed, and altered to fit a certain belief or ideology.

    August 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Shane

      "has been over and over misinterpreted and changed, and altered to fit a certain belief or ideology."

      Then how do you explain the Dead Sea scrolls that were found between 1947 and 1956, that have been dated back to as early as 150 b.c.e. and as early as 70 c.e., containing Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew translations of Biblical texts that when translated are concurrent with Bibles being printed today? How does that match up with something being misinterpreted, changed, and altered to fit certain beliefs?

      August 15, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Hesalive

      Jesus is alive. That's Christianity. When you know it – or better said when He shows you – your life totally changes and all the rationalizations about scripture fade to black.

      August 15, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  9. A beliver

    In what Bible did you look? I took this right here :I Corinthians 10:12

    And so finally after many more months of work, all the sages came back to him, and they had come to a unanimous conclusion that the wisdom of the world could be put into a four-word sentence. They told the king that this sentence expresses much. It is chastening in the hour of pride and consoling in the depths of afflictions. And I've reflected on this sentence this week. The sentence of their wisdom was: "This too shall pass."
    and from now before making a fool out of yourself by being cool try to be reliable. and actually if you want to keep on doing this segment it will do you good to go the bible stydies or the seminary.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Greg Colvin

      What bible are looking in?


      1 Corinthians 10:12 "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

      August 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Greg Colvin

      The story you tell is not in the Bible, it is taken from this sermon: http://www.ucg.org/sermon/too-shall-pass/ . The sermon opens with Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 10:12 . Perhaps that is what confused you.

      August 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  10. Melody

    Just like this stoy goes out of its way to convince you of what all is not in the bible, don't believe every story you read.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • GodPot

      " don't believe every story you read."

      So true. That is why i'm not a Christian.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  11. Kevin

    2 Corinthians 4:4

    among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.

    Satan i also to blame for the lack of interest in the bible as he is "blinding the minds"

    1 John 5:19

    We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one.

    August 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • ja

      The most detestable wickedness ,the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries,t hat have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. Out grow the myth that the universe cares about us, that it was designed for us in mind, that it is all about you and me. It is not. Look at the beauty of science? instead, think about the consolations of philosophy, the glories of literature. Get a life, Get off your knees, and stop
      groveling and stop wailing.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Satan i also to blame for the lack of interest in the bible as he is "blinding the minds"

      So convenient for you to believe that anyone who doesn't think your God is real is being controlled by an ancient evil wizard casting spell's on us.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Jim

      And no one has answered yet Spencer Tracy's question: Where did the Nods come from? Still waiting

      August 15, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  12. grafight

    "Spare the rod and spoil the child" means the same as "he who spares the rod hates his son" "Pride goeth before a fall" means exactly the same as "Pride goeth before destructon and a haughty spirit before a fall". Self-important nitwits love to point out how "that's not in the Bible". It may not be in the same exact words, but it's there. Ditka may not have the exact quote but the Bible does say in Revelation:
    "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away". So Ditka wasn't quoting literally. He never claimed to do so. He just said: "Scripture tell us that..." meaning, by reading the Bible we can infer that all things shall pass, which is perfectly correct judging by the above quote. But people just love to nitpick and correct other people, don't they?

    August 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Jeff

      So true...

      August 16, 2011 at 2:59 am |
    • Kyle

      @grafight well said. Many, not all, but many of these "famous quotes" that supposedly are found in the bible, but not actually there "are" there by implication! The bible doesn't string together the words "Jesus is God" but the doctrine is there none the less! Someone could say 2+2 is not the same as 1+3 yet the conclusion "is" the same! Ditka was right, this too "shall" pass, and we're getting this quote from a hall of fame tight end and super bowl winning coach....though I must give at least half that ring if not more to buddy Ryan....sorry!

      As to the suggestion that there was any lack of diligence put into the translation of the English bible....consider the following. In 1603, king James the sovereign ruler ordered the translation. A committee of 66 serious scholars known as the puritans were tasked with the job. They were divided in to 3 groups of 22 and took 1/3rd of the task each. They spent 8 years to conclude the task and and as it says on the first page of the KJV, the text was translated from the Hebrew and Greek texts with the former versions "diligently" compared and revised. After the completion, king James retired with the book, himself fluent in Hebrew and Greek (I'm told) read the new translation and was satisfied. (I'll also note I was also told that king James instructions included that if any doctrines were changed that the translators would be put to death....a pretty serious mind prep for the job huh?) not many years after, one of the translators was visiting a church and listened to a pastor preach a sermon on the 3 reasons why he would have chosen to select a certain word in a verse when translating it over the one used by the puritans. After the church service the Puritan invited the pastor to have lunch with him. At lunch, the Puritan told the pastor that he would like to share the 13 reasons that they chose to use the word they did in translation of that particular verse.....none of this work was done lightly. To suggest so is to be completely unfamiliar with who these men were and what their qualifications and credentials were to be called upon for such a gravely serious task.

      August 16, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  13. David

    Genesis 3 does not identify the serpent as Satan, but that identification is certainly respectable Christian interpretation. It's a common part of Lutheran teaching, and it is supported by the New Testament. For example, Revelation 12 depicts a woman and a dragon. The dragon is identified in verse 9: "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." It is not hard to see that the "ancient serpent" is the one depicted in Genesis 3.

    Similarly Revelation 20:2 (a much misunderstood verse): "He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years." In Lutheran theology this describes in picture language the victory of Christ over Satan through Christ's death for our sins, and the binding of Satan that enabled the Gospel to spread to "the nations".

    August 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • KO

      Thanks for this response. I knew the snake situation was discussed later in the Bible but couldn't find it in a short glance. I appreciate it.

      August 15, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  14. Susan

    "Cleanliness is next to godliness" – ha ha ha. I have to remind people that man invented soap, and God invented dirt.

    August 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  15. james hotz

    The moral to the story is , that a woman can be a temptress to man. So beware of the woman.

    August 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • ja

      Beware of man who creates god or gods in his own image. The most overrated virtue is faith, the metaphysical claims of all religions are untrue.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  16. Ron Edmondson

    I've written about a couple of these too:

    God will not put more on us than we can bare:

    God helps those who help themselves:

    August 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • geem

      I'm really not trying to be funny or critical here…but having the typo "bare" for "bear" when the topic at hand is text, and textual interpretation. Just offering it as a caution...and you're hardly alone. Just saw quite a few references to "Satinist", which I don't think are supposed to be people who worship smooth synthetic cloth.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • geem

      By the way, I just looked at your first link here and thought it was quite good... I can see you're doing good and important spiritual work. Just want to make clear I wasn't trying to be negative or demeaning...I guess I just take typos too seriously.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  17. flyingfish

    Is Faith in the Bible? Harold Attridge – Dean of Yale Divinity is stepping down and a search committee has been formed to identify the next Dean – however a comment by the head of the search effort by Committee Chair, John J. Collins; "noted that, while the new dean must be a person who “appreciates and supports faith commitments, as well as first rate scholarship,” the personal faith commitments of candidates themselves will not be of concern to the committee. THE PERSONAL FAITH of the candidate is of no concern to the committee???

    August 15, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  18. spindrift

    Actually, huge disservices to the Bible came from the educated "church", hence the reformation (just one example-history has more). Zwingli, Luther, Calvin,et al were of great theological minds- the creme de la creme. And they saw the injustice purveyed on the populace by being forced into illiteracy- not just of the bible but in general education as well. Armed with a good concordance, a couple of commentaries, and a good, solid translation the average person can become quite biblically astute. No one ever became a Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic or whatever by just reading the Bible- but untold millions have become Christians.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • ja

      The study of theology as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no? data; it
      can demonstrate nothing; and admits of no conclusion. Not any thing can be studied as a science
      without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is not
      the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Shane

      Science does not have a part with religion; religion, therefore, cannot be put under scientific scrutiny. Doesn't matter what religion it is, science does not have a bearing on it, cannot measure it, cannot study it, and therefore cannot analyze it. Science is seperate from religion, science has no part of proving or disproving any religion.

      August 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  19. gla

    why are we analyzing this fairytale?

    August 14, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • redragon

      Thank you!

      August 15, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • BCA

      Why do people believe and teach the "THEORY" of evolution?

      August 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Richard R

      Which fairy tale would you prefer to analyze? All beliefs are fairy tales to the extent that they differ from objective reality – and "objective reality" itself is just a phrase to express a convenient mental construct that no human being can ever actually experience. Bottom line: There are a whole lot of educated and intelligent people who have good reasons to believe differently from the way you do.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Shane

      Ok, so Richard R is an existentialist.

      August 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Jeff

      Whenever I come across someone who resorts to labels like "fairytale" to characterize a religious belief or scripture, I wonder (1) why one would bother to spend his or her valuable time reading and commenting on a thread like this if that is his or her viewpoint, and (2) whether or not such a commenter spends similar amounts of time on threads about Beowulf, Shakespeare's writings, Grimm's fairytales or some such thing? What lies behind a psyche that resorts to such characterizations in the first place? If one is going to dismiss a religious belief more or less out of hand, why even be here? ...Just wondering.

      August 16, 2011 at 3:35 am |
    • Kyle

      @Richard r it's the position of one camp of Christian apologists that the Christian worldview is the only worldview that provides for all the necessary preconditions for intelligibility or intelligible conversation. If what you say is true, then I subscribe to the only worldview that can actually say that we're not wasting our time discussing these things.....as for the rest, you still have to wonder; how do I know that I'm not some brain in a box on a distant world having my cranium poked by an alien to think I'm here writing on threads about philosophy? That's a hell of a dilemma! My worldview provides me solid objective resources on which to stand, yours limits you to subjective rules that change from person to person and are victim to change at any whim imaginable. At the end of the day, you can't make a declarative statement because in your subjective universe, the best you're allowed to commit to is I think that Hitler was a bad guy.....well, since standards of right and wrong are now subjective, I think he was a swell guy, there goes your argument down in flames. My point? There really is a better platform to stand on! Do you really think that one as intelligent as God would have to be by nature....omniscient is the descriptive word, would create a universe such as he did and not place in it a framework for philosophical soundness that would be as airtight as mathematics? And then have it able to be "effectively undone" by the limited intelligence of the creation he himself created! That would be sloppy, wouldn't it? He would certainly make it impossible, so that when you get right down to the "nitty gritty" on all the "other than his philosophies", that there would be failing intelligibility at the base, if not the middle and the top as well, and significant tension within them....such as yours lacking harmony between it's ethics and epistemology. For those that need help with that, how does Richard "know" what's right or wrong? He doesn't. He just thinks so! And to GLA, our median host for this thread....that's how you debate fairy tales!

      August 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  20. Josh

    Revelation 20:2 calls Satan "the serpent of old." The prophecy made in Genesis 3 is clearly one of Jesus's coming. All in all, it's hard to say, from a Biblical standpoint, that the serpent isn't Satan.

    August 14, 2011 at 5:25 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.