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. Paul

    To hilreal
    I just copied and pasted from the Bible (KJV) where the Bible tells that the serpent is satan so in return the serpent in the garden is satan. That is the only point I was trying to make.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  2. James Black


    June 6, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • Texan86

      NO! Stop with the video. I cant take it anymore!

      June 6, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  3. Michael

    I would rather people misquote the Bible than rely on a so called 'bible expert' to tell us what it says. John Blake are you really blaming Martin Luther for bringing the bible to the masses? What a backwards awful approach you have.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Eric

      Not sure "blaming"is the right word Michael, but as a result of Martin Luther and the Gutenberg Press, the masses got the bible. Prior to that, the Catholic Church deemed it heretical if anyone, besides a member of the clergy, owned a copy of the bible. As far as the experts go...I am somewhat in agreement. While I do think people need some guidance on the passages of the bible (or any other religious text for that matter), I think where most have gone wrong...especially amongst the fundamentalists of any faith...is that they have allowed the experts to define the bible without really reading it and coming to a clear understanding of the messages contained within on their own. If you call yourself a Christian, I believe that you should be your own Biblical expert. How can you claim to truly participate in a faith if you do not fully understand its tenets? You are not going to get an understanding of it via the out of context snippets you get from the preacher. May the divine, it whatever form you worship it in, bless you profusely...

      June 6, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • Randy

      Actually, the author is rather correct. One of the problems that Protestants had with Roman Catholicism was that only the Priest was supposed to read and interpret the Bible for his parishoners. I know of a former Catholic who left the church because she was told that she shouldn't interpret the Bible herself.

      June 6, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  4. fundies

    I prefer Monty Python interpretations of the Bible and any other book claiming to be the word of God.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • richunix

      Life of Brian cica 1979 great movie, the church hated it.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  5. BK

    When I was a Christian I didn't understand the Bible. When I finally read and understood the Bible, I realized what a horrifying and violent deity it described and stopped being a Christian.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • well

      You should read up on the Demiurge. Maybe you are a Gnostic Christian.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • GoodMan

      Smart. The bible talks about a wrathful, untrusting and unloving God. The Koran is no better. Love me or be destroyed? Pass.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • well

      GoodMan, this is why the Gnostics believed that the "God" of the old testiment was actually an evil God who created an evil world. The God of Jesus being a higher, good and loving, yet more distant God.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • jim

      Good call BK, i did the same. Don't have time to torment myself here, if I have spent all eternity getting tortured somewhere else. Just didn't seem practical.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • jim

      By more distant, did you mean not freaking here ever, then yes. But I guess not being here is better than us killing animals for sacrifice and murdering each other or being murdered by GOD himself. I mean we kill each other plenty well in God's name without help. And God is Jesus by the way, one in the same, he felt bad and changed the rules I guess.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • vo1citw

      You say that you understood, but obviously you did not. Sounds like you quit half-way into it.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • vo1citw

      Actually, what you said is impossible. If you were TRULY a Christian, you would have had to have been "born again". If you are born again, you are lead by the Holy Spirit and you will eventually find the truth.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  6. richunix

    Wingo, the Bible is no different than the writting of the previous GOD's, just a different take. .... As Colin put it in a understable format.

    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    June 6, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • well

      Just as an aside, the Romans called Christians and Jews "Atheists" for just this reason.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • R

      So very true.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • TheWiz71

      @well – where do you get that from? The Romans persecuted Christians for political, not religious reasons, and no-one ever accused them in not believing in a god. They were persecuted because they refused to make sacrifices to the Roman Emperor as if he were a god, which was considered not so much an irreligious act, as an act of political sedition, akin to refusing to pay taxes (which could get you crucified under Roman law).

      June 6, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  7. oldbones2

    Prov also says 'fathers provoke not your sons to anger'. I think most of these folks have itchy ears. That's in the Bible too, look it up.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • jim

      so the bible is contradicting itself, guess we should all figure it out for ourselves then, what a tragedy.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • TheWiz71

      Yes, the Bible is contradictory, because, guess what – it was written by humans over several millenia, during many different cultural, political, and religious shifts. Yes, I believe it is inspired by God in varying ways and to varying degrees, but it was human hands who put pen to paper (for lack of a better term, considering they didn't write on paper) – and human beings are limited and fallible. Contradiction does not necessarily mean error, though.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  8. TheWiz71

    I think atheists do more than their share of mindless bashing. What so many so arbitrarily dismiss as "fairy tales" reflects thousands of years' worth of spiritual (and in some cases actual historical) experiences of countless individuals over a great many generations. Among those so ready to believe (or at least not ready to completely discount) such "fairy tales" were Mendel (the father of genetics), Milton, Newton, Jefferson, Bach, Augustine, Aquinas, Tommy Douglas, Martin Luther King Jr., Desmond Tutu, to name just a few. Hardly gullible types.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • Alyssa

      Nobody said it wasn't a persistent delusion. But the argument that smart men have believed it doesn't prove a darn thing. Many smart men (and women) don't believe it too.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • richunix

      We don't "BASH", we try to show the folly of those who believe in foolish gods/demons as if they are real. Sorrry TheWiz71, no one has ever parted any Sea, The Red Sea or the correct name The Sea of Reeds, not even a pond. Brought back anyone from the dead (after 3 days's), walked on water, accended to any heaven BAR NONE! These are the very same stories that all the major Religion share both past and present.

      “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      June 6, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • TheWiz71

      I agree. My point is that it is completely over-simplistic to just dismiss out of hand something as vital to the development of western civilization as the Bible. It has had influence for a reason – because there is truth to be found in it. Notice I didn't say "facts" (although I do think there are some actual historical moments that are depicted). But truth is always open to interpretation. Anyway, my point was simply to get at the radical atheists who just mindlessly dismiss scripture as something akin to Grimm's tales, and who dismiss theists and believers as gullible and thoughtless.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • TheWiz71

      @richunix – see my post above. Many of the Biblical accounts, especially the Creation story must be read as parables, not fact, illustrating spiritual truths. Regarding your quick dismissal of the Resurrection of Jesus, what proof do you have that it is a fallacy? If you take the three synoptic gospels as seperate, but related, works (as they were originally written, not as a whole as we often think of them), if you consider the Resurrection appearances in the Book of Acts (once again, a seperate work, although written by the author of Luke), and the references made by St. Paul in his various letters to the resurrection of Jesus (not to mention his sudden conversion from being a persecutor of the church to one of its most active evangelists on meeting the risen Christ), while not proof in and of themselves, they do add up to some pretty compelling evidence, which cannot just be dismissed as myth. As a matter of fact, there is enough evidence that the resurrection cannot be simply dismissed in a "well, it's all just a fairy tale" sort of way either. Not saying it is all so compelling that one must believe it, but it cannot be ignored out of hand, either.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Traylor

      Most Bible stories are parables and metaphors and were never intended to be understood as factual. They need and deserve to be understood for their spiritual and philosophical value, as they are the foundation of modern western civilization. Atheists who dismiss the Bible as useless fairy tales are just as wrong as fundamentalists who insist every Bible story is a historical fact.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • TheWiz71

      Right on Traylor. Couldn't have said it better (or more succinctly) myself.

      June 6, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  9. richunix

    @Maximusvad Well spoken

    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    June 6, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • jim

      Perception, it means everything. Nice quote.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  10. Josh

    These articles are pathetic. Spare the rod, spoil the child is a CONCEPT, not a quote. Here are the quotes:
    bullet Prov 13:24: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently)."
    bullet Prov 19:18: "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying."
    bullet Prov 22:15: "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."
    bullet Prov 23:13: "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die."
    bullet Prov 23:14: "Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Shoel)."
    bullet Prov 29:15: "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."

    June 6, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • Traylor

      I don't care how many times it is stated. Beating a child is horrendous and wrong.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  11. Valek Palek


    June 6, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  12. Maximusvad

    The Bible has always been a plagarized anthology. Most of the great pagan philosophers are quoted in the Bible and given in the name of the Biblical prophets. It was a masterpiece created to control the masses and is still working after 2000 years. The Greatest lie ever told. It is so abused by so many of the corrupt and greedy that it is starting to degrade in its original function. The Bible- Morality for sociopaths...tool of politics. No I am not an Atheist. I am a Pantheist. I have read 2 different versions of the Bible and I would be very surprised that any woman who has read the Bible could still maintain a Christian/Muslim or Hebrew based faith.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  13. Wingo

    I think everyone has forgotten that the bible is the living word it speakes to the reader . Read a chapter or book put it down
    and come back the next day and see if you recvie the same meaning as you read a day ago .

    June 6, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Colin

      Wingo, yes, you will get a different message. Look at these inconsistencies, for example.

      Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
      (a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
      (b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)
      In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
      (a) Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) One million, one hundred thousand (IChronicles 21:5)
      How many fighting men were found in Judah?
      (a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)
      God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
      (a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
      (b) Three (I Chronicles 21:12)
      How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
      (b) Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)
      How old was Jehoiachin when he became king of Jerusalem?
      (a) Eighteen (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Eight (2 Chronicles 36:9)
      How long did he rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Three months (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9)
      The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?
      (a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:8)
      (b) Three hundred (I Chronicles 11: 11)
      When did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? Before defeating the Philistines or after?
      (a) After (2 Samuel 5 and 6)
      (b) Before (I Chronicles 13 and 14)
      How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?
      (a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)
      (b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)
      When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?
      (a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4)
      (b) Seven thousand (I Chronicles 18:4)
      How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?
      (a) Forty thousand (I Kings 4:26)
      (b) Four thousand (2 chronicles 9:25)
      In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die?
      (a) Twenty-sixth year (I Kings 15:33 – 16:8)
      (b) Still alive in the thirty-sixth year (2 Chronicles 16:1)
      How many overseers did Solomon appoint for the work of building the temple?
      (a) Three thousand six hundred (2 Chronicles 2:2)
      (b) Three thousand three hundred (I Kings 5:16)
      Solomon built a facility containing how many baths?
      (a) Two thousand (1 Kings 7:26)
      (b) Over three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5)
      Of the Israelites who were freed from the Babylonian captivity, how many were the children of Pahrath-Moab?
      (a) Two thousand eight hundred and twelve (Ezra 2:6)
      (b) Two thousand eight hundred and eighteen (Nehemiah 7:11)
      How many were the children of Zattu?
      (a) Nine hundred and forty-five (Ezra 2:8)
      (b) Eight hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:13)
      How many were the children of Azgad?
      (a) One thousand two hundred and twenty-two (Ezra 2:12)
      (b) Two thousand three hundred and twenty-two (Nehemiah 7:17)
      How many were the children of Adin?
      (a) Four hundred and fifty-four (Ezra 2:15)
      (b) Six hundred and fifty-five (Nehemiah 7:20)
      How many were the children of Hashum?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:19)
      (b) Three hundred and twenty-eight (Nehemiah 7:22)
      How many were the children of Bethel and Ai?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:28)
      (b) One hundred and twenty-three (Nehemiah 7:32)
      Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66 agree that the total number of the whole assembly was 42,360. Yet the numbers do not add up to anything close. The totals obtained from each book is as follows:
      (a) 29,818 (Ezra)
      (b) 31,089 (Nehemiah)
      How many singers accompanied the assembly?
      (a) Two hundred (Ezra 2:65)
      (b) Two hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:67)

      June 6, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  14. Bible Reader

    According to Revelation 12:9, the Bible does identify Satan as the serpent recorded in Genesis. Therefore, Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts, shouldn't be teaching at a university if he doesn't know the Bible that well. Just my opinion.....LOL

    June 6, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Josh

      Amen!!! Ha Ha.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • CBinKY

      Wow... that argument is laughable – because it assumes they were written at the same time. At most, those two books were written 2000 years apart. So telling a bible scholar that the serpent in the original story was satan because a later book written 2000 years later clarified it, is kinda sad.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • shofar

      I think you are the one who doesn't;t know the Bible. revelation was written more than 500 after Genesis. In Genesis there is no mention of Satan. Another thing in your confusion is that you see the Bible as one Book, but in reality it is a compilation of many books written by different people in different eras. This is exactly the ignorance the Author is talking about.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • david

      Revelation 12:9

      9And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world— he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him

      June 6, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Robert

      IIn Revelations, the Bible refers to an Ancient Serpent which could mean the one in the Garden of Eden, but does not necessarily HAVE to.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • boohoo

      The Bible always interprets and clarifies itself. Revelation explains who the serpent was. Revelation 20:2 also help us to see that Satan is the dragon and serpent. So, the author of this article is correct. Genesis does not tell us the serpent is the devil. But, the rest of the Bible does. So, picking and choosing what we want to believe does not lead to truth. The entire Bible has to be used.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • richunix

      Remember the Book of Revelation was written based on the dreams of the Monk John....wow....

      June 6, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Jon

      Also, Jesus stated that Satan was the "father of the lie." The first lie recorded in the Bible is the one told by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. When Satan used a serpent to speak to Eve it was a cunning thing to do because Eve would probably not been deceived by an Angel telling her these things, (you will not die, you will be like God). Also, snakes don't talk, so when she sees this snake suddenly able to speak and he's talking about the altering power of the Tree of Knowledge, it would seem possible, that maybe this snake ate from the tree and is now able to speak? Pretty cunning strategy. And it worked because it says that Eve was "deceived." From Genesis on the bible gradually reveals details as to God's purpose. Even in the Garden he uttered the first prophecy. That the seed (Jesus) of the woman, (NOT Eve by the way) would be "bruised in the heal" by the serpent. This happened when Jesus was put to death by those who Satan influenced and/or outright controlled (like Judas). However, that same prophecy also stated that the serpent would be bruised in the head. The original word used in [this] case actually means to pummel into a jelly-like state. This shows the "serpent" would be completely destroyed by the Seed (Jesus) which is yet going to happen.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Bible Reader

      To CBinKY and shofar: 2 Timothy 3:16 states, "All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness". Therefore, the book of Revelation as well as Genesis are both considered part of God's Word (aka the Bible) regardless when they were written. Many times you will find in the Greek scriptures references of the Hebrew scriptures; some actually quoting from them like Jesus and the apostoles Peter and Paul, for example. Again, read the Bible closely....THE WHOLE BIBLE....before making a statement.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  15. Gungy

    Seems like a lot of play on words. The meanings behind most of these phrases, the lessons being taught; those lessons are in the bible and most other religious texts. I wish I hadn't wasted my time reading this article... or writing this post, LOL! Have a good day to all.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:06 am |
  16. Pbsat

    First off, the author himself should read the Bible before attempting to write something like this. Loaded with incorrect quotes and information. Beware!

    June 6, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Debbi

      The Old Testament did not use the word "whale", but Jesus himself in Mattehw 12:40 (KJV) said, "For as Jonas was three days and tree nights in the whale's belly....."

      If Jesus said it was a whale, it INDEED, WAS A WHALE.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • Debbi

      The Old Testament did not use the word "whale", but Jesus himself in Mattehw 12:40 (KJV) said, "For as Jonas was three days and tree nights in the whale's belly....."

      If Jesus said it was a whale, it INDEED, was WHALE.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  17. Chris Pfeifer

    The usage of "destruction" in Proverbs 16:18 can equate to "fall". The bible is not subjective and is not open to interpretation of the content, but there absolutely is figurative language. This author is very likely taking his sources' words out of context, as he has the bible itself, because some of these items are clearly in the Word. SOME. Satan's fall came before Genesis (angels came before humans), even though Genesis is the first book of the bible (the Old Testament canon, as you well know, is not ordered chronologically).

    Check this out and disregard a few of the specifics you read in this article: http://www.gotquestions.org/Satan-fall.html

    This is a good article to help people say, "I should look this up for myself", but it is not completely accurate.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  18. well

    The quote the author attributed to Ben Frankin was actually quoted BY Ben Frankin, and was first coined by Algernon Sydney. Pretty ironic that in an article whose sole purpose is to highlight others' ignorance, the author highlights his own so clearly.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • SurelyUjest

      And of course Now I will point out how you left the "L" out of Franklin not once but twice....must be Monday!! LOL

      June 6, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • well

      Actually I was refering to Al Frankin's cousin Ben, not the "founding father".

      June 6, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  19. mrsmoothalways

    “Genesis mentions nothing but a serpent,” says Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
    Gen 3:1 "Now the serpent". No mention of a serpent? Either this article is gravely mistaken or someone is trying to pull a dumb one on us. Who are these so-called scholars, that come on here telling us what the bible says, and don't know themselves

    June 6, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • Neeneko

      Ahm, the line you quoted has a 'but' in it... so it does not mention anything BUT the serpent.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Texan86

      I think that you miss understood what he was saying. He is agreeing that the verse says there was a serpent. He is pointing out that that is all that is said, there is nothing about satan.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • Mike

      The way I read that is Genesis mentions nothing except for the serpent. As to what is being suggested other than the serpent in the other sentences he states that people believe the serpent is Satan and he states the bible does not directly support this.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • Andy

      He didn't say it mentions nothing "about" a serpent; he says nothing "but" a serpent, i.e., nothing about Satan. The fact that someone who fancies himself a scholar knows nothing about symbol, figurative language, or traditional interpretation shows that he is willfully distorting Scripture, though. The idea that Satan is the serpent is so basic and obvious that only an academic could miss it.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • seriouslybro

      Dude, come on. Do you know how to read?

      June 6, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • EnPe

      Or your reading comprehension is less than par. The article plainly states that genesis ONLY mentions a serpant NOT satan.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • Rich

      "...nothing, but a serpent." means that the book mentions a serpent, but not as Satan. There is a snake, but the snake is not Satan is what he is saying.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • strangelove74

      Sigh...read what you quoted from the article once again. "Nothing but a snake." BUT a snake. Not, "Nothin' 'bout no snake." The point was that many people say the snake was Satan. Genesis does not say anything about Satan. In fact, there is "nothing but a snake" that is involved. I don't mean to be snarky, but I do hope you read your Bible with more care than you read this article.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • Chelsea

      This author is saying "nothing but a serpent" meaning the Bible doesn't mention the devil, but ONLY mentions the serpent.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • readcarefully

      You may want to read the passage from the article you quoted more carefully – "Genesis mentions nothing BUT a serpent." The point was that Genesis does not say that the serpent was Satan. A perfect example of how people can misread and misinterpret any writing, including the Bible.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • idesign17

      The article says it mentions nothing BUT a serpent, meaning the the bible does not mention Satan, only the serpent. I think you misunderstood that sentence.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • finch25

      Exactly, he mentions nothing "but" a serpent. In other words it only mentions a serpent, not the Devil. You are the one who needs to get it right.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • ann

      He said that genesis mentions nothing BUT a serpent. Meaning that it never mentions that the serpent is anything other than a serpant and never out right says it is the devil. However, in Revelations 20:2 it does says "He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan...."

      June 6, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Carolina

      I think you misunderstood the phrase. It says that it doesn't mention the name "Satan," but rather a serpent. The person isn't saying that serpent doesn't appear in Genesis.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • Khyren

      You should reread what you typed.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Kendra

      Check out the quote you copied “Genesis mentions nothing BUT a serpent,”
      As in, it DOES mention a serpent, BUT not satan.

      He is not claiming that the bible doesn't mention a serpent, but that it doesn't ever say that the serpent is satan:

      "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."

      June 6, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  20. Martin

    Here is another *very popular* phrase that can not be found in the Bible: "God's unconditional love". In fact, the bible lists a whole bunch of conditions for entering and remaining in God's love. Modern Christians are deluded and have crafted many arbitrary doctrines that serve to make them feel good and cheapen the relationship with God.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • Trewth

      God loves everyone. Always will. If you love your child you will correct them when they do wrong. Love includes disclipline.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • JT

      @Trewth, yes but we don't insist they worship us and then burn them for eternity in flames if they don't buy into absurd demands.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:20 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.