14 October 2006

Richard Dawkins' Bible Study

Richard Dawkins's new book The God Delusion is simply fantastic. It gets my vote for the best book of the year.
Since the book has received many reviews (See, for example, A Devil's Catechism by PZ Myers), I'll not discuss it here.
But something caught my eye on page 341-3. Dawkins presents a long list of phrases from the Bible that have become a part of our literary culture, and that therefore should be familiar to us all. So I thought, what the heck, I'd list the phrases and provide links to the verses in the Bible in which they occur.

1Be fruitful and multiplyGenesis 1:28, 9:1, 9:7
2East of EdenGenesis 4:16
3Adam's ribGenesis 2:22
4Am I my brother's keeperGenesis 4:9
5The mark of CainGenesis 4:16
6As old as MethuselahGenesis 5:27
7A mess of potageGenesis 25:34
8Sold his birthrightGenesis 25:34
9Jacob's ladderGenesis 28:12
10Coat of many colorsGenesis 37:3
11Amid the alien corn(The phrase occurs in John Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale", but is not found in the KJV. Thanks Matthew for the correction.)
12Eyeless in GazaJudges 16:21
13The fat of the landGenesis 45:18
14The fatted calfLuke 15:23, 27, 30
15Stranger in a strange landExodus 2:22
16Burning bushExodus 3:2
17A land flowing with milk and honeyExodus 3:8, 17, 13:5, 33:3; Jeremiah 11:5, 32:22; Ezekiel 20:6
18Let my people goExodus 5:1, 7:16, 8:1, 20, 21, 9:1, 13, 10:3, 4
19Flesh potsExodus 16:3
20An eye for an eye and a tooth for a toothExodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21, Matthew 5:38
21Be sure your sin will find you outNumbers 32:23
22The apple of his eyeDeuteronomy 32:10, Zechariah 2:8
23The stars in their coursesJudges 5:20
24Butter in a lordly dishJudges 5:25
25The host of MidianJudges 7:8, 13, 15
26ShibbolethJudges 12:6
27Out of the strong came forth sweetnessJudges 14:14
28He smote them hip and thighJudges 15:8
29Philistine1 Samuel 17:8-57, 18:6, 19:5, 21:9, 22:10, 2 Samuel 21:17
30A man after his own heart1 Samuel 13:14
31Like David and Jonathan1 Samuel 18:1
32Passing the love of women2 Samuel 1:26
33How are the mighty fallen2 Samuel 1:19, 25, 27
34Ewe lambLeviticus 14:10, Numbers 6:14, 2 Samuel 12:3
35Man of Belial1 Samuel 24:25, 2 Samuel 16:7, 20:1
36Jezebel1 Kings 16:31, 18:4,13, 19:1-2, 25:1-25, 2 Kings 9:7-37, Revelation 2:20
37Queen of Sheba1 Kings 10:4, 10, 13, 2 Chronicles 9:1,3,9,12
38Wisdom of Solomon1 Kings 4:34, 2 Chronicles 9:3, Matthew 12:42, Luke 11:31
39The half was not told me1 Kings 10:7
40Girded up his loins1 Kings 18:46
41Drew a bow at a venture1 Kings 22:34, 2 Chronicles 18:33
42Job's comfortersJob 16:2
43The patience of JobJames 5:11
44I am escaped with the skin of my teethJob 19:20
45The price of wisdom is above rubiesJob 28:18
46LeviathanJob 41:1, Psalm 74:14, 104:26, Isaiah 27:1
47Go to the ant thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wiseProverbs 6:6
48Spare the rod and spoil the childProverbs 13:24
49A word in seasonIsaiah 50:4
50Vanity of vanitiesEcclesiastes 1:2, 12:8
51To everything there is a season, and a time to every purposeEcclesiastes 3:1
52The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strongEcclesiastes 9:11
53Of making many books there is no endEcclesiastes 12:12
54I am the Rose of SharonSong of Songs 2:1
55A garden inclosedSong of Songs 4:12
56The little foxesSong of Songs 2:15
57Many waters cannot quench loveSong of Songs 8:7
58Beat their swords into plowsharesIsaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3
59Grind the faces on the poorIsaiah 3:15
60The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kidIsaiah 11:6
61Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we dieIsaiah 22:13, 1 Corinthians 15:32
62Set thine house in order2 Kings 20:1, Isaiah 38:1
63A voice crying in the wildernessMatthew 3:3, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4, John 1:23
64No peace for the wickedIsaiah 48:22, Isaiah 57:21
65See eye to eyeIsaiah 52:8
66Cut off out of the land of the livingIsaiah 53:8
67Balm in GileadJeremiah 8:2
68Can the leopard change his spots?Jeremiah 13:12
69The parting of the waysEzekiel 21:21
70A Daniel in the lions' denDaniel 6:16
71They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwindHosea 8:7
72Sodom and GomorrahGenesis 13:10, 14:10-11, 18:20, 19:28, Isaiah 13:19, Jeremiah 49:18, Amos 4:11, Matthew 10:15, Mark 6:11, 2 Peter 2:6, Jude 7
73Man shall not live by bread aloneMatthew 4:4, Luke 4:4
74Get thee behind me SatanMatthew 16:23, Mark 8:33, Luke 4:8
75The salt of the earthMatthew 5:13
76Hide your light under a bushelMatthew 5:15, Mark 4:21, Luke 11:33
77Turn the other cheekMatthew 5:39
78Go the extra mileMatthew 5:41
79Moth and rust doth corruptMatthew 6:19
80Cast your pearls before swineMatthew 7:6
81Wolf in sheep's clothingMatthew 7:15
82Weeping and gnashing of teethMatthew 8:12, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30, Luke 13:28
83Gadarene swineMark 5:1-13, Luke 8:26-33
84New wine in old bottlesMark 9:17, Luke 5:37
85Shake off the dust of your feetMatthew 10:14, Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5
86He that is not with me is against meMatthew 12:30, Luke 11:23
87Fell upon stony groundMark 4:5, 16
88A prophet is not without honour, save in his own countryMatthew 13:57, Mark 6:4
89The crumbs from the tableMatthew 15:27, Mark 7:28, Luke 16:21
90Signs of the timesMatthew 16:3
91Den of thievesMatthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46
92PhariseeMatthew 23:6, Luke 7:39, 11:37-38, 18:10-11, Acts 5:34, 23:6, 26:5, Philippians 3:5
93Whited sepulchreMatthew 23:37
94Wars and rumours of warsMathew 24:6, Mark 13:7
95Good and faithful servantMatthew 25:21,23
96Separate the sheep from the goatsMatthew 25:32
97I wash my hands of itMatthew 27:24
98the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbathMark 2:27
99Suffer the little childrenMatthew 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16
100The widow's miteMark 12:42, Luke 21:2
101Physician heal thyselfLuke 4:23
102Good SamaritanLuke 10:30-37
103Passed by on the other sideLuke 10:31-32
104Grapes of wrathRevelation 14:18-19
105Lost sheepPsalm 119:176, Jeremiah 50:6, Matthew 10:6, 15:24
106Prodigal sonLuke 15:11-32
107A great gulf fixedLuke 16:26
108Whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to unlooseMark 1:7, Luke 3:16, John 1:27
109Cast the first stoneJohn 8:7
110Jesus weptJohn 11:35
111Greater love hath no man than thisJohn 15:13
112Doubting ThomasJohn 20:25
113Road to DamascusActs 9:3-8
114Through a glass darkly1 Corinthians 13:12
115Death where is thy sting?1 Corinthians 15:55
116A thorn in the flesh2 Corinthians 12:7
117Fallen from graceGalatians 5:4
118Filthy lucre1 Timothy 3:3,8, Titus 1:7, 1 Peter 5:2
119The root of all evil1 Timothy 6:10
120Fight the good fight1 Timothy 6:12
121All flesh is as grassIsaiah 40:6, 1 Peter 1:24
122The weaker vessel1 Peter 3:7
123I am the Alpha and the OmegaRevelation 1:8,11, 21:6, 22:13
124ArmageddonRevelation 16:16
125De profundis (Out of the depths)Psalm 130:1
126Quo vadis (Whither goest thou)John 16:5
127Rain on the just and the unjustMatthew 5:45


Unknown said...

So, its really good? Richard Dawkins is awesome. So, I should figure this would be good.

I haven't really liked his previous books so much. But I liked him and his documentaries.

So, I'll check it out!

Anonymous said...

Nice list... Minor detail: #11, "amid the alien corn" is not a phrase from the bible, but is a description of Ruth (from the biblical book of the same name) from Keat's Ode to a Nightingale:

"Through the sad heart of Ruth, when sick from home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn."

lynn's daughter said...

I listened to Dawkins' Book, all 14 unabridged Cd's of it, on the way to a family gathering in, of all places, Alabama. It was fabulous, read by the author himself and his wife. We enjoyed it immensely.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for your list. At present I am translating Dawkins' book for Russian publisher, and your worked had wonderfully supported the tired translator at the end of the jouney :) Many thanks!

Unknown said...


Thanks very much for the list. I literally went to our public library a couple of days ago, copied the verses from Dawkins’ book, typed them into a file, and started searching for the biblical sources. Somehow I got sidetracked about half-way through the list, and eventually wound up on dwindlinginunbelief where I found this. You saved me a lot of time. In return, I found a list in Alister McGrath’s excellent book, “In The Beginning”, which I am contributing.

Some are duplicates of Dawkins’ list, like “A man after his own heart". There is probably (certainly?) at typo somewhere.

Alister McGrath, “In The Beginning”, 2001, Random House, ISBN 0-385-49890-X

Pages 263-264

“to lick the dust” (Psalm 72:9, Isaiah 49:23; Micah 7:17)
“to fall flat on his face” (Numbers 22:31)
“a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14)
“to pour out one’s heart” (Psalm 62:8, Lamentations 2:19)
“the land of the living” (Job 28:13; Psalm 27:13; Psalm 52:5; Isaiah 38:11; Jeremiah 11:19; Ezekiel 32:23-27)
“under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:4 and at least twenty other occurrences in this biblical book)
“sour grapes” (Ezekiel 18:2)
“from time to time” (Ezekiel 4:10)
“pride goes before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18)
“the skin of my teeth (Job 19:20)
“to stand in awe” (Psalm 4:4; Psalm 33:8)
“to put words in his mouth” (Exodus 4:15; Deuteronomy 18:18 2 Samuel 14:3; 2 Samuel 14:19; Jeremiah 1:9)
“to go from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7)
“like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7)

“rise and shine” (a minor variant on “arise, ashine” Isaiah 60:1)
“to see the writing on the wall” (from Daniel 5:5)
“a fly in the ointment” (from Ecclesiastes 10:1)
“a drop in the bucket” (a slight variant on Isaiah 40:15)

“the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13)
“a thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7)
“to give up the ghost” (Mark 15:37; John 19:30)
“the powers that be” (Romans 13:1)
“and it came to pass” (Mark 1:9 and more than four hundred other passages)
“the scales fell from his eyes” (based on Acts 9:18)

Matthew Blanchette said...

I know I'm about seven years too late to get a response, but I just wanted to say that Dawkins was wrong on one count: "Amid the alien corn" is not in the Judges passage listed. It's not even from the Bible; it's a quote from John Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale".

The passage IS, however, a reference to something from the Bible; specifically, from the Book of Ruth, when Ruth is noticed for the first time by Boaz.

Really wish somebody had corrected Dr. Dawkins on that. :-(

Steve Wells said...

Thanks for the correction, Matthew.

You're right, the phrase "amid the alien corn" does not exist in the King James Version of the Bible. It is, as you say, from John Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale".

However the error was partly mine. I cited Judges 15:5 which has the phrase "into the standing corn of the Philistines", but Ruth 2:2 is probably what Keats was referencing.

I'll make the correction in the post. Thanks.