Top 10 worst Bible passages
A list of the top 10 worst Biblical verse has been drawn up, which includes approval for sexism, genocide and slavery.
Topping it was St Paul’s advice in 1 Timothy 2:12, in which the saint says: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent.”
The extract is often used to justify opposition to women priests.
Next was this worrying verse endorsing genocide, from 1 Samuel 15:3: “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.’ “
Third was Moses’s call to kill witches, in Exodus 22:18: “Do not allow a sorceress to live.”
Another gruesome verse to make the list was Psalm 137, which celebrates this terrible revenge: “Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us / He who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”
A more controversial inclusion was that of St Paul’s thoughts on homosexuality, from Romans 1:27, currently an extremely divisive matter with the Anglican church: “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.”
Others on the list included God’s test of Abraham in Genesis 22, in which Abraham is made to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice; this endorsement of female subservience in Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to you husbands as to the Lord”; and similar advice for slaves in 1 Peter 2:18: “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.”
Simon Jenkins, editor of shipoffools.com, said the idea behind the web poll was to make people think about the dangers of selectively quoting from the bible.
The list was unveiled at the Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham on Monday evening.
This is the top 10 list in full:
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)