My Take: The 3 biggest biblical misconceptions
The Bible presents us with an evolving story, writes John Shelby Spong.
December 29th, 2011
09:10 AM ET

My Take: The 3 biggest biblical misconceptions

Editor’s note: John Shelby Spong, a former Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey, is author of "Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World."

By John Shelby Spong, Special to CNN

The Bible is both a reservoir of spiritual insight and a cultural icon to which lip service is still paid in the Western world. Yet when the Bible is talked about in public by both believers and critics, it becomes clear that misconceptions abound.

To me, three misconceptions stand out and serve to make the Bible hard to comprehend.

First, people assume the Bible accurately reflects history. That is absolutely not so, and every biblical scholar recognizes it.

The facts are that Abraham, the biblically acknowledged founding father of the Jewish people, whose story forms the earliest content of the Bible, died about 900 years before the first story of Abraham was written in the Old Testament.

Actually, that's not in the Bible

Can a defining tribal narrative that is passed on orally for 45 generations ever be regarded as history, at least as history is understood today?

Moses, the religious genius who put his stamp on the religion of the Old Testament more powerfully than any other figure, died about 300 years before the first story of Moses entered the written form we call Holy Scripture.

This means that everything we know about Moses in the Bible had to have passed orally through about 15 generations before achieving written form. Do stories of heroic figures not grow, experience magnifying tendencies and become surrounded by interpretive mythology as the years roll by?

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

Jesus of Nazareth, according to our best research, lived between the years 4 B.C. and A.D. 30. Yet all of the gospels were written between the years 70 to 100 A.D., or 40 to 70 years after his crucifixion, and they were written in Greek, a language that neither Jesus nor any of his disciples spoke or were able to write.

Are the gospels then capable of being effective guides to history? If we line up the gospels in the time sequence in which they were written - that is, with Mark first, followed by Matthew, then by Luke and ending with John - we can see exactly how the story expanded between the years 70 and 100.

For example, miracles do not get attached to the memory of Jesus story until the eighth decade. The miraculous birth of Jesus is a ninth-decade addition; the story of Jesus ascending into heaven is a 10th-decade narrative.

In the first gospel, Mark, the risen Christ appears physically to no one, but by the time we come to the last gospel, John, Thomas is invited to feel the nail prints in Christ’s hands and feet and the spear wound in his side.

Perhaps the most telling witness against the claim of accurate history for the Bible comes when we read the earliest narrative of the crucifixion found in Mark’s gospel and discover that it is not based on eyewitness testimony at all.

My Take: Yes, the Bible really condemns homosexuality

Instead, it’s an interpretive account designed to conform the story of Jesus’ death to the messianic yearnings of the Hebrew Scriptures, including Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

The Bible interprets life from its particular perspective; it does not record in a factual way the human journey through history.

The second major misconception comes from the distorting claim that the Bible is in any literal sense “the word of God.” Only someone who has never read the Bible could make such a claim. The Bible portrays God as hating the Egyptians, stopping the sun in the sky to allow more daylight to enable Joshua to kill more Amorites and ordering King Saul to commit genocide against the Amalekites.

Can these acts of immorality ever be called “the word of God”? The book of Psalms promises happiness to the defeated and exiled Jews only when they can dash the heads of Babylonian children against the rocks! Is this “the word of God? What kind of God would that be?

The Bible, when read literally, calls for the execution of children who are willfully disobedient to their parents, for those who worship false gods, for those who commit adultery, for homosexual persons and for any man who has sex with his mother-in-law, just to name a few.

The Bible exhorts slaves to be obedient to their masters and wives to be obedient to their husbands. Over the centuries, texts like these, taken from the Bible and interpreted literally, have been used as powerful and evil weapons to support killing prejudices and to justify the cruelest kind of inhumanity.

The third major misconception is that biblical truth is somehow static and thus unchanging. Instead, the Bible presents us with an evolutionary story, and in those evolving patterns, the permanent value of the Bible is ultimately revealed.

It was a long road for human beings and human values to travel between the tribal deity found in the book of Exodus, who orders the death of the firstborn male in every Egyptian household on the night of the Passover, until we reach an understanding of God who commands us to love our enemies.

The transition moments on this journey can be studied easily. It was the prophet named Hosea, writing in the eighth century B.C., who changed God’s name to love. It was the prophet named Amos who changed God’s name to justice. It was the prophet we call Jonah who taught us that the love of God is not bounded by the limits of our own ability to love.

It was the prophet Micah who understood that beautiful religious rituals and even lavish sacrifices were not the things that worship requires, but rather “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” It was the prophet we call Malachi, writing in the fifth century B.C., who finally saw God as a universal experience, transcending all national and tribal boundaries.

One has only to look at Christian history to see why these misconceptions are dangerous. They have fed religious persecution and religious wars. They have fueled racism, anti-female biases, anti-Semitism and homophobia.They have fought against science and the explosion of knowledge.

The ultimate meaning of the Bible escapes human limits and calls us to a recognition that every life is holy, every life is loved, and every life is called to be all that that life is capable of being. The Bible is, thus, not about religion at all but about becoming deeply and fully human. It issues the invitation to live fully, to love wastefully and to have the courage to be our most complete selves.

That is why I treasure this book and why I struggle to reclaim its essential message for our increasingly non-religious world.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Shelby Spong.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (6,068 Responses)
  1. surgek2006

    1. People lived to over 900 years old back then. So no, it didn't have to pass down 45 generations, but probably only one generation or less.
    2. God doesn't hate the Egyptians or any other people for that matter, He hates the SIN that those people do.
    3. God's name didn't change, He is justice, He is ultimate unconditional Love, He is and always will be all those names that are recorded.
    The Bible is all for the good and well being of humanity, period. It's the self-righteous who hate being in boundaries set forth by the Bible, but those boundaries are for your own good, the well being of humanity and set righteously so by God.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      So they were Vampires!?

      December 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      surgek2006, do you really believe that people lived to be 900 years old?

      December 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Observer

      There is no proof that people lived for 900 years. A book just claims they did. Science says it's pure nonsense. By Jesus' time, the life expectancy was around 40, which is FAR more realistic.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • asrael

      Actually, God is She, and I have a signed book to prove it...

      December 29, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Stick it. I don't need your stinking fairy tales.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • One one

      People lived 900 years back then ?!?! What has changed since then that we only live 80 years, bad diet, air pollution, perhaps not enough antioxidants?

      December 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      @If horses had Gods
      And these people actually are allowed to VOTE, and drive and have kids. As you said, OMFG.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Asrael: so you worship Elizabeth Johnson?

      December 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • surgek2006

      Yes, before the World Wide Flood, there was water above the earth which prevented damage causing rays from the sun, the climate was much better, and there was much more oxygen on the earth (think hyperbaric chambers), which made small reptires into dinosaurs and humans into giants plus so much more (google dr dino for more info). The earth had more natural and organic foods (without genetically modified food or oil fried frys with MSG) and the earth itself has become more contaminated and polluted over time with factories. So we actually live in a much more polluted world then it was a few thousand years ago and it's only getting worse.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  2. If horses had Gods ...

    The religion industry needs to hire a new PR firm.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  3. Peter Hay

    Mr. Spong has done no actual research on his own. He has quoted a minority group of scholars who are 40 years out of date. In fact everything he says reflects his own personal opinions and biases as do the bulk of the responses. As Stephen Colbert said a few years ago in his definition of our modern perspective on truth – "truthiness" something that isn't true but we believe it is because it ought to be.... ; we refuse to deal with what the bible says because we don't like what it says. How about a little honesty, instead of pointless sarcasm and ignorant speculation.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  4. Kandace

    With friends like this author, the church certainly doesn't need enemies! If nothing in the Bible is true why on earth would ANYONE choose Christianity or church? The central message of the Bible is NOT about becoming fully human. That is humanism, Reverend. The central message of the Bible is that humans are sinful and that God's sacrifice of His Son is what cleanses people who accept His sacrifice for us. The entire OT is a run-up to Jesus being crucified and rising from the dead. If the OT is unreliable, you also can't rely on the NT. If you can't rely on either OT or NT, be a Buddhist. Please remove yourself from "Christian" ministry. You are a superior humanist, but you are not a Christ-follower. He didn't sacrifice himself to death so that we could all be our "best selves." Don't we only need Joel Olsteen for that???

    December 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Skegeeace


      December 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  5. Russ

    Spong here demonstrates several fundamental flaws in his scholarship – especially biblical scholarship.

    1) he comes to the text assuming the miraculous is impossible. That is particularly problematic with a text that – as its foundational premise – assumes the opposite. So, his scholarship is a self-fulfilling prophecy because he discounts anything (which is a vast majority of the text) that speaks to the contrary.

    2) he clearly misrepresents biblical scholarship. "every biblical scholar" absolutely opposes the notion that the bible represents an accurate account of history. not only does this hugely misrepresent the American Academy of Religion, but it also discounts a vast number of archeological affirmations of the biblical account of history. and, maybe most problematic, it is the clear contention of the bible on several occasions that it is explicitly an historical account: particularly Luke 1:1-5 & 1 Cor.15:1-5, as well as the entirety of the Deuteronomistic History (Joshua – Kings).

    Another example of his problematic dating: assuming the notion of Jesus' birth & crucifixion is late (as in 80s or 90s). He completely forgets what virtually all scholars (from most conservative to most liberal) recognize: Paul assumes these claims throughout his writings, and he died circa AD 64. 1 Cor.15:1-5 blatantly states to the contrary, and Php.2:6-10 is a pre-existing hymn whose theological complexity directly denies what he is claiming. Both Philippians & 1 Corinthians are uncontested Pauline writings.

    3) The Bible itself claims (repeatedly) to be the 'literal Word of God', even as it comes to us particularly through human means. For example, Paul said: "we thank God that you received our words not as merely the words of men but as they really are, the very word of God" (1 Thess.2:13).

    Spong acts as if he's pulling back the curtain on biblical scholarship when ironically these contentions have long been raised & dismissed – with good reason. Spong is projecting his own pre-existing assumptions onto the text, failing Ludwig Feuerbach's classic critique: "all [such] theology is merely anthropology" – making God just a human self-projection.

    This sort of scholarship sells books, but does not but does not demonstrate academic integrity.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • asrael

      Always glad to know that "academic integrity" exists only when the conclusions are in line with our own opinions and biases...

      December 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Russ

      @ asrael: much to the contrary, that's the exact problem w/ Spong's scholarship. Scholars who may disagree ardently over what the Bible teaches can still see that. That's the point.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  6. MarkNC

    Hmmm, interesting discussion. While we are at it, let's take Christ out of Christmas, since: A) He was not born on Dec 25th.
    B) Shepards do not tend to their flocks in winter time(which it would have been in December) and C) The original celebration was not known as "Christmas", but some form of a Paegan holiday, which the christians took over, so that these Paegans would join their religion. Oh and the original Santa was a Monk, somewhere in Eastern Europe.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • The real john

      Whos stopping you? Seems like youd get better results by writing congress instead of complaining on a blog.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Terry

      What in the world does that have to do with this article?

      December 29, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  7. skinnymulligan

    Since when has any 'religion' been about getting it right????????? Don't cloud the heads of the believers with accuracies. Geez-us.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • The real john

      Exactly. This is why Jesus hated religion

      December 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  8. Lauren

    Jessica Love, I agree. It's heartbreaking to see things like this. He's coming back soon!

    December 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Then we will kill him again

      This time he gets a fourth nail, one in the forehead.

      Then he will stay dead.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • asrael

      Coming back soon? That's what Jesus said; still waiting centuries later...

      December 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • LinCA

      @William Demuth

      You said, "This time he gets a fourth nail, one in the forehead.
      Then he will stay dead.

      Is that what will do it? I thought it required a silver bullet. Or was it a wooden stake?

      December 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  9. Joe

    To me the problem is, plainly put, people. People use, manipulate and con there ways to have themselves or others believe what they want. Why does it matter to anyone what religion you are? Who you love? What you believe? Think of all the things we could've known if it wasn't for religion. Destroying "heathen" texts of the ancients. To me it doesn't matter what you believe or who you love, just love and respect. Go on and live your life and contribute to society, your society and aspire to leave a beautiful legacy for your children. We have become to selfish and lost the ability and skill of compromise. Live Laugh Love!

    December 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • The real john

      Dont be naive. Religion isnt about god, its manmade. Man will pray to another man, he will pray to trees, etc. we will never be free from religion. This is why Jesus had such a problem with religion. It turns people from god. But dont "imagine a world without religion" becasue that world would have no human beings

      December 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  10. Mike

    Religions were invented to deal with one thing, the fear of death. And that has been used to manipulate people into doing what others want them to do since the beginning of the human race.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • MarkNC

      I equate it to mind control of the masses!

      December 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • The real john

      Not true. There are many facets religion serves. In fact, most religions make their followers fearful of death.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  11. Pastor Salvador Garcia

    I applaud John Shelby Spong for voicing his "Opinion" regarding what he perceives to be popular misconceptions in the Bible. However, it would be unfair and dishonest not to mention that many bible scholars to uphold and believe in the historicity of the Bible and its historical claims: The Pharaohs of Egypt, the Kings of Babylon, etc. Bishop Spong is a liberal scholar and a part of the now defunk "Jesus Seminar". While his outrageous views have gained some popularity among secular media outlets, claims such as "Jesus did not die on the cross but was eaten by dogs" which have been made popular in his best selling books, most bible scholars and archeologists would confirm that most historical references made in the Bible in references to people, place, and events are true. Has bishop Spong ever studied the discoveries of Archaeology in reference to the Bible? ... The Tablets found in ancient Babylon with the inscription, "Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon" confirming that He was indeed a king of babylon, or the inscription found in 1979 in Caesarea Maritima with the name "Pontus Pilate" confirming that the Roman Governor actually did exist? ... I hope honest seekers, both atheists, agnostics, and theists will look into the works of Nelson Glueck, renowned Jewish archaeologists who wrote, "It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted the Bible," and also the works of William F. Albright, a leading archaeologist who stated, "THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT THAT ARCHAEOLOGY HAS CONFIRMED THE SUBSTANTIAL HISTORICITY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT TRADITION. DISCOVERY AFTER DISCOVERY HAS ESTABLISHED THE ACCURACY OF INNUMERABLE DETAILS, AND HAS BROUGHT INCREASED RECOGNITION TO THE VALUE OF THE BIBLE AS A SOURCE OF HISTORY." Finally, in response to Bishop John Shelby Sponge's assertion that Bible is not a historical book, and that neither the Biblical Moses, Abraham, nor Jesus ever existed as presented in the Bible, I would like to cite Millar Burrows of Yale who stated, "Archaeology has in many cases refuted the views of modern critics."

    December 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • asrael

      You say tomayto, I say tomahto. The infallible conclusions of other "authorities" are not proof of anything more than their desire to make such pronouncements...

      December 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Blind Faith

      Sorry Pastor, but Mr. Spong isn't refuting that the people, places, and the baseline events may have happened. He is just stating that the miraculous events that are reported aren't historical fact. You can provide any fact based information about what was found in the desert, however it doesn't provide you with any facts of the resurrection or miracle birth. What you have, and all the other believers in religion have is faith, and to call that fact is narcissistic and arrogant. Believe what you will, but don't mistake that belief as fact for what you, and others, cannot prove. Prove the miracles, not the people or place, and then you can call your belief fact. If not, then just believe, but don't call it fact.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      You corrected the name (Sponge) from your previous post, but you still have the "defunk" wrong. Please fix that and re-post your crap, and THEN answer our arguments.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  12. One one

    Sacred cows make the best hamburger.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • bristoltwit palin... America's favorite dancing cow

      Hey !! Be nice !!

      December 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  13. Smokey

    I for one don't even understand what people mean when they say the Bible is "literally true" or some such thing. Anyone who takes the time to think about it realizes that reading is an interaction between the reader and the text. How can people, all with unique life experiences and differences, read the same book the same way every time? It's not possible. Every reading interaction is different from every other. The meaning of the Bible depends on who is reading it when.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • asrael

      But much or most of organized religion has concerned itself with trying to prevent adherents from straying too far from a particular mode of belief (read: dogma). That seems to reflect the clannish behavior of humans everywhere...

      December 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  14. Mike

    The most harm done to me in my life was by religious hypocrites, on in particular I have in mind now... I've been slandered and persecuted to the point my hopes and dreams were destroyed, changing my life forever, by a self serving liar wearing a cross. Humanists practice and live by religious tenants, whereas "religious" people just use them to convince themselves they are better than others...but do not practice them..unless it is convenient or self serving... I'm fed up with the hypocrisy. No wonder there are more "spiritual" than "religious" persons today in societies where people are knowledgeable of the real universe.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Then kill him. You won't be judged by God, because he dosen't exist.

      Let me guess, you were molested?

      December 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  15. Jeff

    You ask: "Is this the word of God? What kind of God would that be?" Well, buddy, that's the God in your Bible, love it or leave it. You can't cherry pick just the passages you like.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • The real john

      You completely missed the point of the article.. Like totally completely missed

      December 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Jeff

      I see his point, I just think he is wrong.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  16. KentAZ

    The Gospel According to Spong. He repudiates what he considers to be dogma, while at the same time pushing his own dogmatic stance. And his attempt to convince us that all Bible scholars agree with his stance is disingenuous, if not downright dishonest.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • KatiePhx

      I find John Spong's opinion piece very compelling; he lays out, in historical reference, a convincing argument regarding the allegorical interpretation of the Bible, as opposed to the literal interpretation that has been extraordinarly prejudicial and harmful.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • asrael

      Just as you did with your comment, Kent...

      December 29, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  17. Yakobi

    There are no gods or goddesses, demons or devils, ghosts or goblins. Religion was invented by man to control the masses.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Faisal

      I thought that's what guns were for.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • The real john

      If your statement is true, then you know everything in the universe, and are therefore a god. Disproving your own statement

      December 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • John


      December 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • asrael

      Actually Faisal, that would make God a Gun, ready to make one suffer for improper behavior/thought; nice idea!...

      December 29, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  18. tony

    Just the recent Tsunamis, taken literally, killed about at least 250,000 innocents, all while "god" watched either helplessly or indifferently, or maybe even caused them. So neither "words" nor "actions" match the author's claims .viz . .

    It's believing in any "god" that is the big misconception.

    {The ultimate meaning of the Bible escapes human limits and calls us to a recognition that every life is holy, every life is loved, and every life is called to be all that that life is capable of being. The Bible is, thus, not about religion at all but about becoming deeply and fully human. It issues the invitation to live fully, to love wastefully and to have the courage to be our most complete selves.}

    December 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Faisal

      You speak like a demon who has not truly read the Bible with an open mind, because delusions founded on self-interest drive your agenda.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Guester

      You could argue that the view of life and death from a god's view is very different than ours. If all you knew was the womb then birth would be like a death. So in that sense death isn't tragic but a transition.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • asrael

      Yes, let's all celebrate the non-tragic deaths of thousands of "others"...

      December 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  19. Leanne

    I'm really baffled by all those who believe that choosing to evaluate the Bible logically, rather than just blindly believing everything written, is somehow distorting or tearing down Christianity. In a way, it's almost doing a disservice to the god you all so vehemently believe in. He created us to be intellectual, logical beings who use reason – it's one thing that separates us from the animal world. And yet you're all so willing to put that aside and blindly follow whatever your pastor/priest/bishop/etc. tell you. I went to a Catholic school and, surprisingly, they actually encouraged us to view the Bible critically as a way of strengthening our faith, not diminishing it. Who cares if all the acts are true events that actually happened. What matters are the lessons each story holds and the ability to take those lessons, apply them to our own lives, and live in a way that is moral and good to others. Viewing biblical stories logically and accepting them for whatever flaws they may contain does not make you "unchristian." If anything, I would argue it makes you stronger as a christian if you can recognize the inconsistency yet still learn from the lessons contained therein.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • karl c

      if you dont, as you say care if the acts in the bible are true or not, then by that reasoning any self help and motivatal teaching can, might and should be worshipped....its all for the greater of good. the bible is all about the lessons learned in the stories.
      funny how those who preach states, "the bible says.....", yet its not meant to be taken "litterally", another words take what you want from it and do whatever with the rest, whatever sounds good to serve the purpose.
      it reads how it reads because, as mentioned in this story, its grown out of things of legends, passed down through generations of campfire story tellings and the like. finally put to paper decades later (in greek) translated without ever knowing (jesus') meaning or intentions and has grown ever since............

      December 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  20. Jessica Love

    The editor doesn't believe in the Power of God nor does he understand the Word or the purpose of anything written in the old or new testament. God is perfect and so is his word even if a person can't understand it that doesn't change it's accuracy or value. There is also something called the Holy Spirit which is from God and knows the mind of God. This Spirit is in the world today and works to accomplish the will of the father throughout his son's Kingdom today. People without access to the Spirit can't understand heavenly things nor can they understand who God is or what is written.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Faisal

      I am in 100% agreement with what you have written.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • JerryPro

      Well said!

      December 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Clewis

      Well said! Discernment from God is so much greater than any of man's philosophical ramblings. Discernment of most any degree identifies this 'Bishop' for who he is... at this point... a hell bound soul. Sad... as he is leading others in that direction as well... though we all are responsible for our own path.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Automatic translation

      "We belong to a super secret club and we have a super secret handshake and nyah nyah nyah!"

      December 29, 2011 at 3:41 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.