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. Richard S Kaiser

    The Denigration of Bemusing in alterations of Wordage contends a worthiness of Promulgations. For we are nothing but Humane Omnivores in Sustenance befitting the Revelries of Conditioned Emulations sprouting Forth with Verbalisms that are sometimes Noteworthy.

    The WORD is the Culmination of ALL BOOKS of Truthful Pertinence toward Conditioning Venues of Particulates Found Noteworthy within any Omnivore's Gussied Extractings of Emulations' Protrusions in whatever WORD Partaken of.

    I do therefore Embellish Misquotations is they are found to be of a Redemptive Quality.

    July 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  2. mike ball

    a text without context is a pretext!!!!!

    July 16, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  3. Muneef

    The Bible, the Quran, and Science
    by Dr. Maurice Bucaille
    Translated from French
    by Alastair D. Pannell and The Author

    In his objective study of the texts, Maurice Bucaille clears' away many preconceived ideas about the Old Testament, the Gospels and the Quran. He tries, in this collection of Writings, to separate what belongs to Revelation from what is the product of error or human interpretation. His study sheds new light on the Holy Scriptures. At the end of a gripping account, he places the Believer before a point of cardinal importance: the continuity of a Revelation emanating from the same God, with modes of expression that differ in the course of time. It leads us to meditate upon those factors which, in our day, should spiritually unite rather than divide-Jews, Christians and Muslims.

    The results of his research into the Judeo-Christian Revelation and the Quran are set out in this book.

    The Bible,the Quran and Science .
    Dr. Maurice Bucaille

    July 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  4. Art

    I agree the exact words are not in the Bible, but Humphrey Bogart never said "play it again Sam" in Casablanca either.
    The point is there are words that convey the meaning of the sayings.
    Jesus states in Matthew 24:6-7 "...all these things must come to pass.."
    There are many passage concerning work ethic in the Bible. Try Colossians 3:23-24 for a start.
    Proverbs 23:13 " Do not withhold discipline form a child"

    July 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  5. Jim

    Surprisingly, John Blake's statement is incorrect also. His statement, "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.", is incorrect. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was the forbidden tree, not the Tree of Life. Further, Eve was decieved, not just tempted. If he is going to rail against those who misquote scripture, he should 'take the log out of his own eye'; and that is scripture!

    July 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  6. Marie Kidman


    June 23, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • ....

      This is garbage, don't bother looking people.

      June 23, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  7. c shanks

    all throught the rest of the Bible it teachs satan tempted Adam and eve.
    Rev_12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
    Most people have not read nor want to know anymore of the Bible than they already do.The Law is to make guilty IT DOES. the Christ Redeems

    June 22, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  8. Michael

    Reminds me of a story I once read, of a man asked what his favorite bible passage was. "And it came to pass," he replied. Why? "In difficult times, I find it comforting to think that nothing comes to stay."

    June 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  9. Muneef

    Prof. Wagner: I believe that the Holy God speaks to us in the Quran

    Wagner first places the prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an, and the early Muslim community in their historical, geographical, and theological contexts. This background is a basis for interpreting the Qur’an and understanding its role in later Muslim developments as well as for relationships between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He then looks in detail at specific passages, moving from cherished devotional texts to increasingly difficult and provocative subjects. The selected bibliography serves as a resource for further reading and study. Woven into the discussion are references to Islamic beliefs and practices. Wagner shows great sensitivity toward the risks and opportunities for non-Muslims who attempt to interpret the Qur’an, and sympathy in the long struggle to build bridges of mutual trust and honest appreciation between Muslims and non-Muslims.
    Walter H. Wagner is adjunct professor of theology at Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary. He is the author of a number of books, including After the Apostles: Christianity in the Second Century.


    June 19, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  10. Lairbear

    I believe this is the bible quote that inspires child abuse and beatings.

    Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14).

    June 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  11. fra59e

    Zach mistakenly cites Stalin and Hitler as anti-religious.

    Stalin was a graduate of seminary. His version of Communism basically just adapts Christian ethics – obedience being the prime virtue – and places the state in the role of the church that must be obeyed. The coming Kingdom promised by Christian eschatology is interpreted as Karl Marx's "withering away of the state" in the sweet bye-and-bye.

    Adolf Hitler was a church-going, praying Christian and said that he would remain so for life. In 1938, addressing the Reichstag, he assured those who were uncomfortable about his oppression of Jews that he was confident that he was doing the Lord's work. Elsewhere he assured the German people that the hand of God was upon him. He told the Vatican representative that education must always be Christian and never secular and that religion would be the foundation of the new Reich.

    June 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  12. charles

    Truth of the Bible http://dailygrace-ckellett3.blogspot.com

    June 14, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  13. Muneef

    Ought to make search and research for the location of most of the ancient Scriptures in old languages....!!

    Was wondering within my self if some one was to find the original Holy scriptures in all ancient languages, where would be the most appropriate place of storage as a Trust Library for "Abrahams Faith down to Jesus"..?!

    Then remembered that People of the Book were directing their prayers towards "Jerusalem" as sons of Israel and sons of Ismael before Islam...

    Have remembered the story of "The Isra & Miraj " of Prophet Muhammed s.a.w when told have traveled to "AlQuds" Temple Prayed with most the past prophets&messengers of faith "Submission" to God Creator of the universe.

    All those points out that the Vault  of all ancient scriptures was the AlQuds Temple... The Temple of "The King Suleiman"...!!

    Then another story popped in to my mind about the story of the Guards of the Temple with the "Catholic Pope" then...

    They were accused of sorcery and were exter-min-ated by the order of the Pope.....why because of The Scriptures Treasures that they found and learned....?! As a reasonable doubt was wondering were they sorcerers or had the truth about all that they have changed,mutilated facts about God&Messengers calling for mankind submission to the oneness of God..!

    Guess any of those treasures and resources of the truth conf-is-cat-ed would be in the custody of the "Catholic Church" if not destroyed since the declaration of the contents of those would have meant an end to the base in which Christianity was made on...as faiths...

    Still to date the whole place is being dug under in tunnels by Israelis in search to find more of what they might have as well hidden....!!!

    Facts of the real thing is being hidden from you  and been given what they want you to do or say and not what God wanted you to do or say, maybe for the wealth that there is behind it...!?

    June 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  14. Muneef

    [7:11] We created you, then we shaped you, then we said to the angels, "Fall prostrate before Adam." They fell prostrate, except Iblees (Satan); he was not with the prostrators.

    [40:64] GOD is the One who rendered the earth habitable for you, and the sky a formidable structure, and He designed you, and designed you well. He is the One who provides you with good provisions. Such is GOD your Lord; Most Exalted is GOD, Lord of the universe.*

    [64:2] He is the One who created you, then among you there is the disbeliever, and the believer. GOD is fully Seer of everything you do.

    [64:3] He created the heavens and the earth for a specific purpose, designed you and perfected your design, then to Him is the final destiny.

    [64:4] He knows everything in the heavens and the earth, and He knows everything you conceal and everything you declare. GOD is fully aware of the innermost thoughts.

    Finally these verses of the Quran;

    [95:4] We created man in the best design.

    [95:5] Then turned him into the lowliest of the lowly.
    My words It could be saying that Monkeys and Apes come out of mankind when they were turned him into the lowliest of the lowly.
    Meaning that Mankind was not a result of evolution of Monkeys & Apes...rather the other way round on reversed evolution...!

    [82:6] O you human being, what diverted you from your Lord Most Honorable?

    [82:7] The One who created you, designed you, and perfected you.

    [82:8] In whatever design He chose, He constructed it.

    [82:9] Indeed, you disbelieve in the religion.

    [82:10] Oblivious to the fact that there are (invisible) keepers around you.

    [82:11] They are honest recorders.

    [82:12] They record everything you do.

    [82:13] Surely, the pious have deserved bliss.

    [82:14] While the wicked have deserved Hell.

    [82:15] Will incur it on the Day of Judgment.

    [82:16] They never leave it.

    [82:17] Awesome is the Day of Judgment.

    [82:18] What a day; the Day of Judgment!

    [82:19] That is the day when no soul can help another soul, and all decisions, on that day, will belong to GOD.

    June 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  15. Muneef

    [10:3] Your only Lord is GOD; the One who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then assumed all authority. He controls all matters. There is no intercessor, except in accordance with His will. Such is GOD your Lord. You shall worship Him. Would you not take heed?

    [10:4] To Him is your ultimate return, all of you. This is GOD's truthful promise. He initiates the creation, then repeats it, in order to reward those who believe and lead a righteous life, equitably. As for those who disbelieve, they incur hellish drinks, and a painful retribution for their disbelieving.

    [32:4] GOD is the One who created the heavens and the earth, and everything between them in six days, then assumed all authority. You have none beside Him as Lord, nor do you have an intercessor. Would you not take heed?

    [32:5] All matters are controlled by Him from the heaven to the earth. To Him, the day is equivalent to one thousand of your years.

    [32:6] Knower of all secrets and declarations; the Almighty, Most Merciful.

    June 12, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  16. Muneef

    [6:69] The righteous are not responsible for the utterances of those people, but it may help to remind them; perhaps they may be saved.

    [6:70] You shall disregard those who take their religion in vain, as if it is a social function, and are totally absorbed in this worldly life. Remind with this (Quran), lest a soul may suffer the consequences of its evil earnings. It has none beside GOD as a Lord and Master, nor an intercessor. If it could offer any kind of ransom, it would not be accepted. They suffer the consequences of the evil works they earn; they have incurred hellish drinks, and a painful retribution because of their disbelief.

    [6:71] Say, "Shall we implore, beside GOD, what possesses no power to benefit us or hurt us, and turn back on our heels after GOD has guided us? In that case, we would join those possessed by the devils, and rendered utterly confused, while their friends try to save them: `Stay with us on the right path.' " Say, "GOD's guidance is the right guidance. We are commanded to submit to the Lord of the universe.

    [6:72] "And to observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and to reverence Him – He is the One before whom you will be summoned (for the reckoning)."

    [6:73] He is the One who created the heavens and the earth, truthfully. Whenever He says, "Be," it is. His word is the absolute truth. All sovereignty belongs to Him the day the horn is blown. Knower of all secrets and declarations, He is the Most Wise, the Cognizant.

    June 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  17. Muneef

    [6:50] Say, "I do not say to you that I possess the treasures of GOD. Nor do I know the future. Nor do I say to you that I am an angel. I simply follow what is revealed to me." Say, "Is the blind the same as the seer? Do you not reflect?"

    [6:51] And preach with this (Quran) to those who reverence the summoning before their Lord – they have none beside Him as a Lord and Master, nor an intercessor – that they may attain salvation.

    [6:52] And do not dismiss those who implore their Lord day and night, devoting themselves to Him alone. You are not responsible for their reckoning, nor are they responsible for your reckoning. If you dismiss them, you will be a transgressor.

    June 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  18. r. rafmer

    Jesus as god in the flesh
    I believe there are three devine beings god the father jesus the son and the spirit as the holy ghost

    June 12, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Muneef

      As a believer of the Quran;

      My believe there were three Devine beings,God the Creator, Jesus the son of Mary and the Holy Spirit....!

      My believe there were always Three Devine beings, God the Creator,The Messenger and the Holy Spirit....  !!?

      My believe there will be a return of the Three Devine beings just before the end of Time on earth where there will be God the Creator,Jesus the Son of Mary and the Holy Spirit....!!!?

      My believe that there were many trinities every generation from time of Adam up to the Final messenger of the Quran...!

      My believe that each Trinity Generation (Com-mu-nity) will be looked up alone on Judgment day and their messenger is their intercessor and only if God permitted him ...!
      [2:134] Such is a com-m-unity from the past. They are responsible for what they earned, and you are responsible for what you earned. You are not answerable for anything they have done.

      June 12, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  19. Muneef


    Will not urge with you if that what was you waiting for....! What ever you say...you have your and we have ours...each believes in his and no matter who is right or wrong but the main thing is that we please God using our consciouses and senses to recognize him and not only what we are told or hear by Priests/Imams/Rabbis...Only source is by reading all those heavenly books from Torah to Quran.... Find your way towards pleasing God out of those even if you were to choose a way out of those as your Path towards God....this is called "Tarika" ....

    June 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  20. Dennis

    The idiot Steve on CNN is clearly ignorant of the Bible and its words and teaching from God. He said the bible does not say jonas/Jonah was in a Whales belly but this is also incorrect. True that in the Old Testament the book of jonah says Great Fish or Fish but read further into Matthew in the new Testament and WOW reading does help education, low and behold Gods only Son Jesus said himself that Jonas was in the Whale's belly for three days and three nights. Matthew 12 Verse 40. (King James )
    People, especially so called Bible professors need to read on and study more. This is why Pastors usually know more about the Bible.

    June 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • James

      Dennis, you must be one of those KJV only people who don't realize how many ERRORS there are in the King James Version. They translated the word whale, but if you look at the Hebrew or Greek version of Jonah and the Greek version of Matthew, the word(s) they are translated from are just Big or Great Fish, not whale.

      July 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
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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.