Blogged this over at Paleobabble, and thought I should direct you all to this succinct list of spurious material that many of you have probably heard from a pulpit or on the radio. Kudos again to Todd Bolen for alerting us to this. Here are some that made the list, along with some links for more detail):

  • The “eye of the needle” is a city gate.
  • The high priest had a rope tied around his ankle. (See Todd Bolen’s post here.)
  • Scribes washed before and after writing the name of God.
  • Gehenna was a perpetually burning trash dump.  (See Todd Bolen’s post here.)
  • NASA scientists have discovered a “missing day.” (See on this one)

It reminded me of my days as an undergrad in a historiography class. I went to a school that required a Sunday Vespers attendance, and it never seemed to fail that Monday morning our professor would express some point of (righteous, in my view) indignation over some item in the Vespers service lacking historical merit (or any sort of theological propriety given the school’s traditional Christian orientation).  It was entertaining listening to him dissect a chosen hymn, illustration, or ancient anecdote and demonstrate its fallacious or ill-chosen nature. One of my favorites was the session where the professor really went off on how Julia Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic (“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…”) was glorified for its theological weightiness. Howe was a transcendentalist Unitarian deist — all ideas that the school would have opposed. What fun.