Your Take: Comments on misquoting the Bible
June 6th, 2011
11:37 AM ET

Your Take: Comments on misquoting the Bible

Our Sunday post about oft-quoted biblical lines that don't actually appear in the Bible struck a chord, with 5,000 comments so far.

Lots of atheists and critics of religion used the piece to ridicule believers, taking several different lines of attack. Here are a two:

Because most people would prefer to be ignorant rather than think for themselves. That is what the whole of organized religion is based on, especially Christianity and Catholicism. Organized religion has never done anything good for humanity in history.

Atheism is Great!
Actually, the bible is nothing more than a collection of stories and moralities written by human beings thousands of years ago who's max age was maybe 30, who thought the Earth was flat, and who did not have access to scientific or medical science/information. It's not from "god" people, god doesn't exist either. Whatever helps you get through your life I guess. I personally don't need that crutch. Have a nice day.

There was also more nuanced criticism of organized religion, with some commenters arguing that the prevalence of biblical misquotes suggested that religious folk have been overly dependent on religious authorities for a long time:

The point to remember here is that just up until very recently, the masses believed whatever their clergy told them. They either didn't have the skills to read (for whatever reason), or simply didn't believe they should read the bible themselves.

I once asked an elderly Catholic where her bible was ... (I love old books and thought her bible would be a real treat to look at ... ) She was horrified that I thought she'd even HAVE one ... Her thought, at the age of 90, was that Catholics are not supposed to read the bible on their own. It was their job to believe what the Father told them, and it was the Father's job to know the bible.

So many times it's either just plain ignorance, or the situation that they come from (IE: can't read, etc) that produces these types of situations. Thankfully we're coming out of those situations, if only little by little.

All the criticism of religion brought out plenty of faithful. One responded to Amanda, the religion critic whose comment is above:

Really, Amanda? I would encourage you to try to prove your statement about no good ever coming from organized religion. I can think of a few well-known and recent organized religionists who have done quite a bit of good – Mother Theresa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandhi. I can also think of a few anti-religious people who have done a lot of bad – Stalin, Mao, Hitler. "Never" is a big word.

Others believers lobbed ad hominem  attacks on atheists:

Bottom line
Atheists/Agnostics have nothing of substance to do on weekends. Also since they are empty when it comes to faith or beliefs they have to make the attempt to urinate on ones who do so they can feel full and superior.

A fair number of commenters, meanwhile, criticized our piece, arguing that some misquoted scriptural lines have biblical roots:

Many of these phrases many not be in the bible verbatim, but their intent is very much contained in it, specifically "Spare the rod spoil the child". This phrase is a direct distillation of Prov 13:24 & 23:13-14 "He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) and "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14).

I find it disingenuously nit-picky to state that a faithful paraphrase of a verse is "not" in the bible.

I find it very disturbing that the "CHAIR" of a "SCHOOL OF RELIGION" would go record as say that the "the devil was not in eden". Kevin Dunn is right in saying that the word "devil or satan" was not mention in Genesis but if Mr. Dunn is "BIBLICAL SCHOLAR" then he should be familiar with the "BOOK OF REVELATIONS" which equates "THE SERPENT, DEVIL & SATAN" as one and the same: Revelations 12:9 "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world:". And you wonder where people get the wrong impression about things that are "IN" the Bible. Mr. Blake, apparently you did not know your Bible well enough to call Mr Dun on that one.

And, as always, there were plenty of attempts at humor, including this on Adam and Eve eating that apple:

If he didn't want man and woman to eat it, he should have made it broccoli or spinach.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Comments

soundoff (1,118 Responses)
  1. icon design

    Fantasy 🙂

    September 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
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    September 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  3. wayne

    I read this section occasionally because the opinions fascinate me but I can't understand why anyone would take seriously someone who writes or reports for CNN (known to be liberal) at all. Who cares about what Mike Ditka said? How about our illustrious so-called Christian president who butchers and twists scripture and takes it out of context so as to further his own left wing political agenda? Or, is the writer of this article more like the Pharisees and just worried about his job? Like others at CNN, the truth will set him free and he'll be sending out resumes tomorrow. Try FOX. Don't think CBN will have you.

    March 1, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  4. Paul

    If noahs flood did in fact happen, it was definately not worldwide and its proven by physical evidence especially in Egypt and elsewhere... and it was definately more than 15000 years ago or further back.

    if it did exist, was definately after dinosaurs... otherwise there would evidence of that.

    Its obvious that withches never existed, so the salem b.s. was about relion gone mad.

    If godly inspired men wrote the bible, then its questionable because godly inspired men of today like BillyGraham (who is the only public preacher I like and respect) but we have ORAL ROBERTS (who I detest) ... who along with Roberts (700club) who woudl constantly get stuff wrong on history and religion....

    If thats a example of godly inspired men of 2000 years ago, then no wonder there is so much innacurate details in the bible.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  5. Israel Cordoves

    Is true the Bible does not say “that all things shall pass, but it says: Matthew 24: 35 “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away”. Literally, do not say, “That all things shall pass,” but the meaning that every thing will pass is there. That is what is important the principle, the teaching.

    December 8, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  6. Tom

    People may mistake the writings of spiritual masters and writers for biblical texts. Ditka for example was actually quoting Julian of Norwich. Those people who come out of traditions where great spiritual teachers have emerged like the Jewish and Catholic traditions are often confronted with the rich work and reflections of such writers and therefore mistake what they've read from them as coming from scripture.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:30 pm |

    We have all been taught that God made man, however, think about it.....man made God. The Bible was written years and years after Jesus lived and died. Stories, folklore, and remembrances were handed down generation to generation after the fact, how can we be so sure the stories were remembered correctly? I'm not an athiest, I'm not agnostic, I just don't know. More deaths have been recorded in history because of religion and it continues today. Was religion instigated by men who needed to control those he couldn't control? Each religion has its good t and no good ways. Look at the Catholics, pedophiles being sent from one church to the other, tv evangalist wanting money for "prayer clothes and living high on the hog. I believe Jesus was a man who had a vision of peace, loving thy brother, and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. But I also believe he was a man. I do not condemn or judge others for what they believe, that's why I am an American. I can think and say free thoughts. Most of us were taught heaven is up in the sky and hell was in the center of the earth. How can anyone believe such nonsense. Has anyone see the photos from the Hubbel telescope? We are a speck in the BIG picture. If Science had been as sophisticaled back then, there would not have been the Salem witch trials, a tragdy! Wars because of this God or that God, how unhuman, killing one another because the head of a country doesn't like your God.

    October 7, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • Realist

      Jesus said He was God. Either he's crazy or He's right.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  8. Dear Me

    Mahanaim's comment confuses me. Sure, the Book of Revelations can say that Satan is a serpent all it wants- but Revelations was written a long, long time after Genesis. Dunn's point isn't proven wrong- in Genesis, the serpent is NOT identified as Satan. Not until much, much later do the faithful begin to equate Satan with snakes, long after the Book of Genesis. Say what you want about the state of Mr. Dunn's soul, guys, but in this case he has his facts straight.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  9. michael

    Yes, satan is coming in a spaceship.

    August 31, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  10. Patty

    How about this one" "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust'" . Yes, the 'dust to dust' part is right, but not the 'ashes to ashes'.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  11. The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

    On August 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm, Martin T wrote, "Wow, I read the comments on here and it astonishes me, the ignorance of some people. Come on folks, talking like the devil is REAL, I mean, seriously, are you that deluded? I know it isn't popular for those of us who are Atheists to question the likes of the satan, but REALLY??? There is so much out there that points against the evidence of Satan, Jesus, and even the Christian God. I just wish I could get ONE, just ONE Christian who could debate these statements without resorting to the old fall back of anger, name calling, and pure dogma. IS there ONE Christian who can defend his/her faith with reason and rationality? My bet is on NO."

    I'll debate ya Marty, "without resorting to the old fall back of anger, name calling, and pure dogma". Although one's "reason(s)' and "rationale" of faith is but a state of self-relativity. I'll let you go 1st in the Debate. Okee dokee?

    August 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • AAE

      The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar... I'm willing to speak with you and reason with you but not debate. I would gladly speak with you about my beliefs and give sound reasoning's for each belief. So, if you were serious... Respond.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • AAE

      II apologize I read your statement wrong and noticed you were talking about Martin T....lolol.. I apologize

      August 29, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  12. Tim

    The serpent in Eden was used by Satan to talk to Eve and question Gods command to not eat from the tree of knowledge.
    Its true in Genesis it doesn't say it is Satan, but in other parts of the Bible it refers back to that account, and names Satan, Devil, as the one talking thru the serpent. Rev. 12:9- calls Satan, "the original serpent", and the greek word used there refers back to Gen. 3:1 account of the"serpent" calling out to Eve. Non believers love to try to use a technical issue to point out the Bibles error, in their vieew, to undermine its authority & authenticity. When in reality they are doing the same thing they accusing the misquoters of doing. At least in this case. The Bible does attribute the serpent in Eden as being used by Satan, as a ventriloquist would use a dummy to speak. It was a surprising unusual way, that took Eve off guard, since their were no instances of that happening before recored. Satans, cunning, sneaky approach well fit the serpent mannerism.

    August 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  13. The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

    sharon did write on July 29, 2011 at 11:38 am stating, "Richard S Kaiser = MUMBO JUMBO. You are ignorant of the truth of all mighty God and will remain so unless you repent and are willing to be taught the TRUTH like a child is willing to learn in school."

    What for Christ's sake has Rick, ever done that He needs to be repent of? What the flying Fuk are you sharon trying to be claiming? You are but a womanly Chauvinist wanting to berate the commonalities and destroy by faithlessness improprieties unbecoming your falshooded claims regarding Gospel truths that you just mimic and quote like a hypocrite which is what most religiously sculpted onslaughts of ritualistic soothsayers of gospel insecurities doeth with the self-righteous idiots like you have so become! "Be gone from the presence of the Gods and Goddesses who do declare thru me tyhat you are of godlessness and do bemoan and do groan ilitracies unbecoming your claymationed embodiment!"

    August 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  14. reason

    There's no evidence that Jesus was an historical figure. Christianity falls on its face simply because it's based on an invention. Read a book that's not the bible people...sorry, forgot...you haven't read that book either.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Johnakim Lucien

      Never say that Jesus did not ever exist. When you do that you insult people by your baseless comment. Whilst it is your opinion and you are allowed to state it, you need not insult people's integrity. Jesus is real, no matter what the world says and I'd wish all the atheist and skeptics get converted because it wouldn't be fair to enjoy heaven without them. We all need to pray for them. It is not in our hands who should believe or not believe but we should not sit and allow Jesus to be erased from the minds of persons.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Tim

      Did the Flood occur? Its not only in the Bible, but in almost every culture discovered around the world. Asia, Africa, S. America, from natives peoples are accounts from their ancient records of a global event that wiped out the wicked. Many actually say a flood, others say, a deluge, or other cataclysmic event. Those accounts are not from the Bible, for someone accusing Bible believers of ignorance, you seem to have done the same, in your efforts to diminish the moral authority of the Bible, perhaps?
      Then if the bible is a myth, we don't have accountability right? You can cheat on your wife, or boyfriend, taxes, dismiss what you want, without having to submit to a higher authority.

      August 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • AAE

      2 questions:
      1. If Christ never existed how come he have been able to touch the lives of many considering he was supposedly just fictional?
      2. Why does our time line count down to Jesus Christ birth and start over at Christ beginning? ... It changed from B.C. , B.C.E then after christ to C.E. , A.D. When you find the answer please let me know at aaebiblestudent@gmail.com

      August 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Know What


      The A.D./B.C. calendar was invented by a monk, Dionysius Exiguus, in 525 A.D. The Church was very, very powerful in those days and his calendar was propagated slowly over the succeeding centuries. It was not widely used until the 1500s, and even today some cultures keep their old systems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_Exiguus#Anno_Domini

      If you are ever offered a real good deal on an antique bearing a date stamp on it of 222 A.D. or some such, please take note.

      August 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • AAE

      Know What,

      I already knew that information..lol... I was just trying to prove a point to REASON. Which was Jesus Christ is in fact a real person and not fictional character from someones imagination. This is why he has affected human history on such a grand scale. But all in all still thanks for responding.

      August 29, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  15. Martin T

    Wow, I read the comments on here and it astonishes me, the ignorance of some people. Come on folks, talking like the devil is REAL, I mean, seriously, are you that deluded? I know it isn't popular for those of us who are Atheists to question the likes of the satan, but REALLY??? There is so much out there that points against the evidence of Satan, Jesus, and even the Christian God. I just wish I could get ONE, just ONE Christian who could debate these statements without resorting to the old fall back of anger, name calling, and pure dogma. IS there ONE Christian who can defend his/her faith with reason and rationality? My bet is on NO.

    August 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Johnakim Lucien

      I can defend my faith. It is embedded in me. It is something I have sought for myself. Whilst my knowledge maybe limited, the little that I know has convinced me that there is a God. He is in my everyday life and I understand at times he may not respond when I want him. As a result of his infinite power, my mind cannot think like him. He has left a manual to life, to live in peace and harmony with one another. If the world would really follow the Bible in its truest sense we would be better off. As for satan he is real. I know because he tempts me to do wrong. I can feel the forces of good and bad within me. It tells me that there is a God and there is a devil.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • AAE

      Martin T.. I'm willing to speak with you and reason with you but not debate. I would gladly speak with you about my beliefs and give sound reasoning's for each belief. So, if you were serious... Respond.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      Every time a Christian debates your positions ,on for example ,Bible you bail.I don't believe you really seek honest discourse.

      August 29, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  16. Tery

    This is a good article but you make one mistake. You quote a Jewish Rabbi who teaches the Bible to his students. There is one problem with this. The Bible is not a Jewish book. The jews, like this Rabbi, hates God and Jesus Christ. The Jewish book is the Talmud which claims that Jesus Christ is in Hell burning in his own escrement. The jews are their own God and their own Messiah. They hate Christianity and are trying to destroy it. They have been doing this for over 3,000 years, and they are losing. The jews are Edomites, Caananites, and Khazars. They are the most hybrid people in the world today. God hates them Malachi 1:1-4, and the Book of Obadiah talks about the destruction of the Jews. The parable of the tares in the wheat field is actually the same thing when God sends his angels to tear the tares out of the wheat field, bundling them up, and throwing them into the Lake of Fire. Those tares are the jews, and God will destroy them completely.

    August 6, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • michael

      The jews are Gods people too. they are the tribe of judah. God will defend them in the future when all israel is gathered in her land.

      August 31, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  17. abe

    Organized religion killed in the name of God. I don't think he would want to kill. The CRUSADES

    August 5, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  18. Brian

    Take our current standing of the Bible and how it is abused by the heart cry types.
    The Bible does warns us agianst the new world order. By warning us it means GOD is inherently against it.
    But noooooooo evangelical christians say they want to bring about the new world order to brind the Bible alive.

    These neocons are true devils at work and have been deceived and pass on this deception as a holy movement of GODS WILL when in fact it is AGAINST GODS WILL.

    July 28, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  19. ines

    Hello i was reading this article and thought I should correct the Spare Rod/ Spoil Child quote mentioned as being:
    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.” there is more to it that is important to know, and to Understand.

    when it appears in King James Version (the first one. not the New one i read the original one actually the best one i know of is the Companion Bible in the KJV.) as it reads like this: Proverbs 13:24 "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."

    Below is what the scripture means in the Original Language , this is Old Testament so the language being translated into English is the Hebrew and further is an Understanding.

    "Betimes" means "early". You don't wait until the damage is done to your child to correct him or her but you correct immediately to teach him the right way. When you see a problem in the early years of his life, you seek to correct that trait. Make sure that as you correct him, that there is no confusion as to why you are doing what you do. Make sure that the child understands that it is all part of your love for him. Children are very intelligent, and as we see all the high tech things being used, we know that this little mind can understand the whys of a situation, that is why you explain to the child why he is being corrected. Don't be so quick in judgment that you will not listen to your child, but never correct a child while you are angry. Cool off first, and say, we will talk about this at a later time. You gain nothing by loosing your head and going out of control; then nothing is gained by either you or the child.

    July 20, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • ines

      apparently people are thinking it was an apple and I suppose that they are misled. People. where did Adam and Eve place the fig leaf ? On their mouth? I dont think so.

      July 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  20. Esther David

    The bible account of Satan is true and also my comments have been erased., however, Satan was in the Garden at the beginning of time as Satan animated the mouth of the Serpent that talked to Eve. Look at Revelation 20:2 as it gives the names as the Dragon, that "old serpent" (referring back to Genesis 3rd chapter) where the serpent was lying to our Mother Eve. People just do not believe in the Bible. However, everyone is going to have to answer for their "UNBELIEF".

    July 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Satan or in His Ealier Day was, Yes, a serpent but He was also just a Son of GOD and all the SONS of GOD are too Numerous to make Declarations as to thier Countenance as being of Purity's Progressives or favoring Reformations. Our Beings in our becoming the Manliness and Womanhood of this world's Evolutionary Ambiguities takes Backstage Diplomacies upon the Stages of Social Diplomacies. People do not live upon bread (Christ's Body) alone. The Social Needs of Manliness and Womanhood needs otherly things to do then the continual Praisings of GOD and Christ.

      July 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • fred

      richard Kaiser,
      In terms I can understand man needs to work. He is to work 6 days a week and give his best as onto the Lord. Even Adam prior to Eve needed more than just sitting and praising God. So God gave him all the animals to name.

      July 19, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • ines

      hello Esther. I am not saying this to be mean or to belittle you, But I was taught that Satan is the Serpent but he didn't animated the snake (the actual reptile to speak for him) Satan was there in the Garden Talking to Eve. and furthermore, I agree with you that there are many nonbelievers, but there are people that are being Mislead as well, Considering the whole Garden of Eden scene. I know there is a better article that teaches the True Real Sin in the Garden , and i think that it could probably explain it better than I could. Read if you wish but know this I wont force you to. and so ..... Here is that articles website. http://www.biblestudysite.com/realsin.htm
      and if you are interested this is my church--> remember, no pressures, : ) http://theseason.org/

      July 20, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Gissel

      I could n't agree more all of us are free to choose, but we are not free to choose the consequences of our beliefs and action. I know the bible to be true. there is no justification for sins. Some of us are unbelievers despite knowing the truth. Every man has to work out his own salvation.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Lover of Truth

      The Bible makes it abundandantly clear that the serpent was indeed Satan the Devil.

      Revelation 12:7 And war broke out in heaven: Mi´cha·el and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled 8 but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. 9 So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

      and also,

      Revelation 20:1,2, 1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

      Maybe you need to do a little more reading of the Bible yourself before passing yourself off as an expert on it.

      July 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • sharon

      Richard S Kaiser = MUMBO JUMBO.

      You are ignorant of the truth of all mighty God and will remain so unless you repent and are willing to be taught the TRUTH like a child is willing to learn in school.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:38 am |
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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.