Things the Bible Would Have Said if the Author Had a Better Quote Book

Warning: this is yet another rant from Jane Grey on people who cite the Bible without bothering to read it.  If you’re not in the mood, go buy some popcorn.

That Other Blog Over There just attributed “hate the sin but love the sinner” to Jesus.  The Other Blogger Over There is usually much more biblically literate than that.  A swift resort to Google tells us that nobody knows who really said it first, but everyone who bothered to check it out reports that it is not to be found anywhere in the Bible.  Which is consistent with my own research.

“God helps those who help themselves,” OTOH, is definitely Ben Franklin.  “To thine own self be true” is definitely Shakespeare.  “With malice toward none, with charity to all” is definitely Lincoln. All of them have, at one time or another, been attributed to the Bible.

The Bible, similarly, says absolutely nothing about abortion, and nothing directly about same-sex marriage.  And everything it says about homosexuality, it says in paragraphs adjacent to pronouncements about adultery, for which it recommends essentially the same punishments (except for the Sodom and Gomorrah story, which can be read several different ways, and which Jews and Christians in fact do read very differently.  The traditional Jewish reading of the story sees the Sin of Sodom as powerful people doing it to powerless people, rather than men doing it with men.)

The finer points of modern textual criticism enable us to determine that, even if all that stuff about wives submitting to their husbands is in the Bible, it wasn’t really Saint Paul who said it, but some cheap knockoff, which is kind of nice.  And, while ignoring Revelation may be easy for us Jews, we don’t get off that easily from looking at Daniel, which was in fact one of the sources of Revelation.  (Arguably, Revelation is a cheap knockoff of Daniel, in fact.)

But then, one of my dearest friends, of blessed memory, once talked a Jehovah’s Witness missionary off his doorstep by quoting scripture at him in English and Hebrew until the poor guy gave up.  Let’s hear it for a little learning (not, BTW, a little knowledge.  See Pope’s “Essay on Man.”  Not the Bible.)

Jane Grey

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