Beam Me Up Scotty: Religious Scripture
Famous misquotes from The Bible
Considering The Bible is the most translated text in the world, and was not originally written in English, take many of the following with a grain of salt.
- A line frequently quoted from the Bible is "money is the root of all evil". While technically a correct quote, it leaves out three important words. The full quote (from the somewhat Macekred King James version anyway) is "the love of money is the root of all evil." Another translation is "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil," which changes the meaning almost entirely.
- The story of the Garden of Eden is often summarized as "the Devil tricks Adam and Eve into eating an apple," but none of this is accurate, at least not on the basis of what is written in Genesis itself.
- The snake is simply a snake, and is not identified as the devil. (Ironically it's the Qur'an's version of the story, not the Bible's, which explicitly identifies the tempter as Satan—though it doesn't say anything about him being a snake at the time.) Furthermore, the creature in the garden is actually identified as a serpent, which becomes a snake when God curses it for tricking Adam and Eve and removes its legs. The closest the Bible gets to claiming the serpent in the garden was Satan is when he is called "that ancient serpent" in Revelation 12:9, from the New Testament not the Old.
- The periy ("fruit") is never specified as an apple (the word though is hard to translate into English as it means any plant product — fruit, grain, nuts, berries, edible leaves, etc.) - the idea of it being an apple comes from the Latin word malus, which means both "apple" and "evil", and perhaps from the apple sent by Eris, which led to the Judgment of Paris and the Trojan War. Muslims traditionally say the forbidden fruit was dates, though the Qu'ran doesn't specify either.
- Pride cometh not before a fall. Rather, what The Bible really says is, "Pride cometh before destruction, and the haughty spirit before a fall".
- There is a misconception that the Bible says "do not drink", nor does it say "do not get drunk". It implies "do not get too drunk". The "Old Testament" is the same thing as the Hebrew Bible, and Jews are commanded to get blitzed on Purim.
- Another alcohol-related misquote: The angel tells Zacharias that John "shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink" — the word sikera, usually translated as the vague "strong drink", actually means "barley beer".
- According to American Pentecostal preacher Jentezen Franklin, there were a variety of words in both Hebrew and Greek that translate into English as "wine". The one most often used in the New Testament refers to a thick, almost syrupy drink that had no alcohol content. However, most biblical scholars do not consider this view to be true and treat these interpretations as later inventions by Temperance advocates in the 19th and 20th century looking for justification in the bible. After all, drinking alcohol was a necessity of life in the age before the invention of chemical water purification.
- Although the Bible mentions cleanliness several times, you won't find a single verse that actually says, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness."
- Or "God helps those who help themselves." The original was from Greek polytheism, and in Christianity it's a massive Broken Aesop. (The phrase was actually said by Benjamin Franklin, who certainly helped himself.)
- Interestingly, this is something of a maxim in Jewish culture, even though it flies quite dramatically in the face of the Hebrew Bible's messages.
- Another: "Spare the rod [and] spoil the child" is by Samuel Butler; the closest the Bible gets is "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves [his son] is careful to discipline him." (Prov 13:24)
- Given the number of shepherds and sheep metaphors all the way through the Good Book, use of "the rod" should be clarified. Shepherds never hit sheep with a rod; rather, they use it to steer the flock in the direction they want the sheep to go. (Watch The Ten Commandments with this in mind. Yvonne DeCarlo is shown guiding sheep to the well with soft "drrr, drr" sounds and pushing them with the side of her staff.) Western civilization tends to equate "discipline" with "punishment".
- "No rest for the weary/wicked." is probably a corruption of Isaiah 57:21, "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."
- Nowhere does anyone say, "The lion shall lie down with the lamb"; Isaiah 11:6 runs:
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
- None of St Paul's letters says, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"; the quote is from St Ambrose: si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more; si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi ("if you are in Rome, live in the Roman way; if you are elsewhere, live as they do there."
- "I Am Legion" does not appear in most English translations. The actual line is "My name is Legion". (Mark 5:9)
- And in some versions it's "My names are Legion".
- While Luke's version simply says "Legion", with "there were many demons" given as explanation.
- The number of magoi that come to visit the baby Jesus is never explicitly mentioned, but many think that it was three, perhaps because they offered three types of gifts. "Magi" referred to a Mediterranean perception of Zoroastrians (Persian monotheists who follow the prophet Zarathustra and the god Ahura Mazda) as skilled astrologers who could control the fates.
- In parts of Europe, they are traditionally named Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, and one of them is depicted as black - but you can guess it, not Canon either. Their traditional depiction is meant to represent the three known continents - Asia, Africa and Europe - and the three ages - youth, middle age and old age - to show them prefiguring that the entire world will worship Jesus.
- KJV gets yet another wrong with Luke 2:14 - it reads, "Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men," when it should actually be saying something like "on Earth peace towards men of good will," or maybe "of His good will" - in any event, the sentiment is not that all men get peace, but only those in God's favor. Many translations, of course, get this right, but they're not the ones everyone quotes.
- The first attempt at translation of the Roman Missal in the Catholic Church into English made a similar error — in the original translation, the Gloria in Excelsis Deo (the hymn of praise to the Trinity sung or chanted during Sunday and Holy Day masses) quoted the line as, "Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to his people on Earth." The new revision of the translation (meant to bring the English much closer in line with the Latin original) reads, "Glory to God in the Highest, and Peace to His people of good will".
- One that's not only a misquote, but also somewhat changes the meaning, 1 Corinthians 15:32 is often misquoted as, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die," when it's actually, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." The former implies the line is about the uncertainty of the future, that you should make the best of it because you don't know what's going to happen. The latter, however, implies that the line is about the certainty of death, subtly changing the meaning to, "Make the best of it, because you won't be here forever."
- This is often further misquoted as "Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die." This is a blending of the verse with Ecclesiastes 8:15, "Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun."
- In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul actually cites the quote "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" from Isaiah 22:13, which goes like this: "Look, you feast and celebrate, you slaughter oxen and butcher sheep, / you eat meat and drink wine, saying: 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'" (New American Bible).
- Ever read the Book of Revelations? Everyone's at least heard of it, right? Wrong. There is no Book of Revelations anywhere in the Bible. There is only the Book of Revelation, singular (full title: "The Revelation of St. John the Divine", also called "Apocalypse" from Greek Apokalypsis, "lifting the veil".
- Other book titles are also a bit confused — e.g., Deuteronomy comes from the Greek for "second law", a mistranslation of mishneh ha-torah ha-zoth, "a copy of this law", while Psalms is from the Greek Ψαλμοί Psalmoi, "music of the lyre" or "songs sung to a harp", which is pretty different from the Hebrew Tehillim ("praises").note
- Speaking of Revelation, aside from the end of the world and the second coming, what's the next thing everyone knows about it? That it's the story of the Antichrist taking power? Sorry, nope. The word "antichrist" doesn't appear once. There's talk of a false prophet and some beasts, but they're never explicitly identified as the Antichrist, which instead comes from the Epistles of John. In fact, neither do the Epistles say there will be an antichrist, but rather use it as a blanket term for anyone who rejects that Jesus is the Christ (christened son of God). Anything beyond that is this trope.
- Although the Bible does say, "Do not judge," it is taken out of a larger context telling people how to judge. The most popular reference is in Mathew: "7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged," which goes on to say, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." This doesn't mean "don't judge anyone ever," just "don't be a hypocrite". Elsewhere Jesus commands his followers to judge: John 7:24 "Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly."
- The Bible never says "hate the sin, love the sinner." This is actually a quote from Mahatma Gandhi. Contrary to this, the Bible says: Proverbs 23:7 "Or for as he thinks within himself, so he is."
- Before Gandhi said it, it was St. Augustine of Hippo. "Love the sinner and hate the sin" is a translation of Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum, which is from Opera Omnia, Vol II. Col. 962, letter 211.
- A word in Greek or Latin that means "avoid" or "refrain from" can sometimes be translated into English, albeit loosely, as "hate". Even if the sentiment of "hate the sin, love the sinner" is not expressly stated in the New Testament, it can nevertheless be inferred from the rest of Jesus' teachings, which is probably where St. Augustine got it from. Proverbs 23:7 can easily be interpreted as explaining the psychological effect that rationalizing sin has upon oneself, rather than having anything to do with justifying casting judgement upon others.
- The Bible never says "all sins are equal". Although it says all sins lead to death, the Bible is clear that there are different levels of sin. John 19:11 "Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." Also made apparent by the existence of an unpardonable sin (Mat 12:31).
- The line, "God moves in mysterious ways" never appears once in any form in the Bible. It is, rather, taken from a popular hymn, "God Moves in a Mysterious Way," by William Cowper, 1774.
- The line, "To err is human; to forgive, divine" is one where the phraseology is correct, but not the use - err in context means sin, not just an innocent mistake.
- The phrase "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime" and its variants are often mistakenly attributed to the Bible.
- Triumph's song, "Fight the Good Fight," attributes "better to give than to receive" to the Bible ("the Good Book"). Almost right;
- Acts 20:35 - "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’"
- The Bible does not forbid masturbation. The only time it is mentioned is when Onan in Genesis 38 "spills his seed" by not giving his brother a rightful heir and is struck down. Onan was struck down because he did not give his brother a rightful heir, not because he "spilt his seed". There are also those who think Onan probably spilled his seed by coitus interruptus, not masturbation.
- Pretty obviously a reference to pulling out. The full quotation is: "And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother." Take a wild guess as to what "went in unto his brother's wife" means. The passage is most likely an exhortation to honor levirate marriages, arguably about contraception, but certainly nothing to do with masturbation.
- Matthew 5:28 - "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Whoever looks upon a woman with lust has committed adultery against his own wife. Pretty irrelevant to masturbation in most interpretations.
- The media have always repeated Jesus' lesson in John 8:7, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone." It actually says, "He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her."
- Nowhere in The Qur'an does it state that martyrs will get 72 virgins. The concept actually comes from a Hadith (a story concerning the life of Muhammad), this particular hadith is not considered credible by almost all Muslims. Furthermore, the Hadith does not mention that martyrs get 72 virgins, it says that everyone in paradise will be served by 72 houri (angelic servants).
- The Qur'an also teaches that women have souls and will go to paradise. Also that they should be educated. And a lot of other stuff.
- Suffice it to say that a lot of the maltreatment women get at the hands of "Islam" is local custom that has been justified by taking bits of the Qur'an and flimsy pieces of Hadith (the words of The Prophet Muhammad, which are extremely persuasive but not absolute authority on Islamic law; moreover, both traditional and modern scholarship have cast doubt on the authenticity of some reported statements)note over the centuries.
- Quick, what are the four horsemen of the apocalypse? Under most English translations, the first one is Conquest, not Pestilence.
- And he is often associated with the Antichrist/the Beast from the Sea. The only mention of pestilence in these passages is with the (fourth) rider on the pale horse, who is generally identified as Death.
- In fact, Death is the only Horseman explicitly given a name in the text. The three others are commonly known as War, Famine, and Conquest because of what they're described as carrying or doing.
- Neither do they represent four scourges of humanity (hunger, pestilence, war and death), instead, they represent the four stages of war. Parading and posturing, bloodshed, rationing and death.
- The ever popular Philippians 4:13 is commonly thought to say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (or "Christ who gives me strength") This is an amalgamation of the KJV and NIV translations. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (KJV)" and "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
- It is, in the New King James Version, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
- The concept of the "straight and narrow path" comes from misquoting and misinterpreting the King James Version of Matthew 7:14, which reads "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way" — "strait" is not the opposite of crooked, but rather means narrow or confined (as in straitjacket, Strait of Gibraltar, etc.).
- It is repeatedly claimed in Facebook and other social media websites (through pictures) that "The Lord says, 'If you deny me in front of your friends, I will deny you in front of my Father'", according to the Bible. What the Bible actually says is, in Jesus' own words: "Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father." (Matthew 10:32-33, NAB) And: "I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God." (Luke 12:8-9, NAB)
- In Firefly, Saffron uses Mal's ignorance of the Bible to seduce him. Nowhere does it say what she says it says:
Saffron: I do know my Bible sir. "On the night of their betrothal, the wife shall open to the man as the furrow to the plow and he shall work in her, in and again, 'til she bring him to his fall and rest him then upon the sweat of her breast."
Mal: Whoa, good Bible.