Top ten worst Bible passages

The Telegraph lists the top 10 worst Bible passages as announced at Greenbelt by Simon Jenkins, editor of Ship of Fools:


No. 1: St Paul’s advice about whether women are allowed to teach men in church:
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (1 Timothy 2:12)

No. 2: In this verse, Samuel, one of the early leaders of Israel, orders genocide against a neighbouring people:
“This is what the Lord Almighty says... ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” (1 Samuel 15:3)

No. 3: A command of Moses:
“Do not allow a sorceress to live.” (Exodus 22:18)

No. 4: The ending of Psalm 137, a psalm which was made into a disco calypso hit by Boney M, is often omitted from readings in church:
“Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us – he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” (Psalm 137:9)

No. 5: Another blood-curdling tale from the Book of Judges, where an Israelite man is trapped in a house by a hostile crowd, and sends out his concubine to placate them:
“So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.” (Judges 19:25-28)

No. 6: St Paul condemns homosexuality in the opening chapter of the Book of Romans:
“In the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:27)

No. 7: In this story from the Book of Judges, an Israelite leader, Jephthah, makes a rash vow to God, which has to be carried out:
“And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, ‘If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord’s, to be offered up by me as a burnt-offering.’ Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and there was his daughter coming out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing. She was his only child; he had no son or daughter except her. When he saw her, he tore his clothes, and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.’” (Judges 11:30-1, 34-5)

No. 8: The Lord is speaking to Abraham in this story where God commands him to sacrifice his son:
‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ (Genesis 22:2)

No. 9: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22)

No. 10: “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18)

RT @scottagunn and followup here.

What is your worst passage?

Comments (7)

I'm surprised Deuteronomy 21:21 didn't make the cut: "Then all the men of the town shall stone [a disobedient child] to death. So shall you purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid."

This illustrates why the reading of Scripture should be done at the feet of the Church Fathers and informed by Holy Tradition. The unguided picking at of Scripture is a sin that leads to the excesses of both "Conservative" and "Liberal/Progressive" Protestantism, not to mention odd cults like Jehovah's Witnesses.

Bill Ledbetter

I am sorry to see the sacrifice of Isaac included on this list. Though it is not readily apparent as written, God banned human sacrifice in this parable. Thus it is a major advance in human understanding of God and of ourselves, a high point in the story of salvation. It's the humans who are bloodthirsty, not God.

Although #1 (1 Tim 2:12) is canonical scripture, it's pretty difficult to believe that it's actually Paul, who didn't follow that injunction in his own ministry.

#2 -- But there's more! In fact Saul didn't quite do it, and as a result lost his throne to David.

#4 says a lot about the feelings of the Israelite exiles in Babylonia, but it doesn't say anything about God!

#5 -- Oh, Genesis 19 is even better! Lot was on the verge of throwing his daughters out the door to be raped. Fortunately the angels intervened. Sodom was not destroyed for being homosexual, but for being equal-opportunity rapists of strangers.

#6 -- Paul certainly condemns something here, but "homosexuality" (a word and a concept Paul did not know) is far too broad. Committed loving relationships is not what he's talking about. Orgies in the temples is probably more like it.

Come on, folks! Surely at least some of us have been reading the Daily Office this summer! Where do we start? Where does it end?

(I think Josh is right about the binding of Isaac. Unfortunately, Jephthah apparently didn't get the point.)

I won't call this "the worst Bible passage"...

...because in a CAMP way, it's one of my favorites! *LOL*


Deuteronomy 28:53-57
53 Because of the suffering that your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you. 54 Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, 55 and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. 56 The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter 57 the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For she intends to eat them secretly during the siege and in the distress that your enemy will inflict on you in your cities.


Get it? Not only will you (if you don't serve good ol' YHWH) suffer a siege causing starvation such that you'll eat your own children (or at least, afterbirth), but you'll become a stingy SOB who won't share the delicious young'uns with your spouse or sibling! [As Stewie of Family Guy sez: "I love this 'God' character: he's so deliciously Eeeeeeeevil!" ;-)]

But Seriously: how can one listen to a Fundeligical yammer on re "Biblically-based" this or that, without rolling one's eyes? The Word of God is JESUS, not this wild&crazy (though yes, necessary) book!

JC Fisher

What I wonder is how come there was no ram for Jephthah's daughter?

You know the answer to that, Ann. She had the wrong set of chromosomes...

Paige Baker

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