5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

As a predominantly Christian people, Westerners think they know the Bible pretty well. But not everybody realizes that many of the most iconic features of Christianity were never mentioned by the holy book or the church, but were actually pulled from the ass of some poet or artist years after God turned in his final draft of the Bible. Things like ...


5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

The image of an angel is so recognizable that you can immediately spot one if somebody makes its shape in some snow. They're sparkly people with two white wings and occasionally swords, who sit on clouds ripping out awesome harp solos while protecting humans from harm. So basically, the protagonists of the next Stephenie Meyer novel.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

The sex scene will be as unsettling as it is improbable.

The Only Problem Is ...

Now, there are angels in the Bible. But if you encountered some of the angels it describes, you'd probably need a shotgun under your bed to sleep soundly for the rest of your life.*

*NOTE: that is a joke. If angels turn out to be real, and you encounter one, do not shoot it with a shotgun.

There are several kinds of angels in the Bible and you've probably heard about some of them, like archangels, cherubim and seraphim. They all look different, and very few actually have wings. Those who do, like the seraphim, actually have six wings and need all of them to cover their body, lest they blind/incinerate whoever is unlucky enough to bump into one.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

This is a seraph, trying with all its might not to burn you alive.

Then there are the thrones, which are described in the Bible as "wheels within wheels," the rims of which are covered in eyes.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

Whatever it is, we're pretty sure it can see.

Then we have the cutest order of angels, the cherubim. As we all know, a cherub is a baby angel, usually with a little bow and arrow and a leaf protecting his modesty. Except that Ezekiel 10:14 describes them as frightening four-headed monstrosities that included the faces of a man, an eagle and a lion.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

Actually Came From:

Painters took liberties when portraying angels, and just like putting capes on superheroes, giving them wings was a visually interesting way to identify who was the angel in a painting full of regular dudes (wings were also used in the early church to denote that these creatures lived in the sky). Archangels like Michael and Gabriel were given contemporary military garb.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

Which apparently included "hair like a lady."

Cherubs in particular didn't get their extreme makeover until Renaissance sculptors revived the ancient practice of putti, which depicted cute babies dancing and playing around on infant tombs. The rediscovery and reimplementation of these little cuties brought Cupid-esque cherubs into vogue, as demonstrated by Tomba di Ilaria del Carretto:

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

Whaddya know? Those dancing naked babies do make this tomb less unsettling.

Lastly, the thing about the harps was actually invented by John Milton who wrote about angels "plucking harps" in Paradise Lost, basically just because it was the cutest thing he could pull out of his ass.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

The Devil Is Red and Has Horns, a Pitchfork and Goat Legs

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

The devil, also known as Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, Mr. Scratch, Old Nick and Al Pacino, is the cloven-hoofed, pitchfork-wielding, red-skinned, horned king of hell and founder of the metal genre of music. He's also a gambler and a businessman, willing to make bets or contracts with you and grant you wishes/musical abilities in exchange for your immortal soul. He looks like this:


The Only Problem Is ...

Not one inch of that is in the Bible. Anywhere. Not even the goatee (and this is a book where every other character has a goatee. Or at least we picture it that way).

So what does Satan look like in the Bible? We don't know -- he's never physically described except when he visits Eve as a snake, and some think that the snake in the Garden of Eden wasn't actually Satan anyway. Other than that, he's just a disembodied ghost-voice, kind of like a really evil Obi-Wan Kenobi.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

"You should totally try crystal meth."

Actually Came From:

Medieval artists who wanted to portray the devil visually had to take a bit of artistic license, generally drawing whatever seemed evil at the time. No single source is responsible for the common depiction of Old Nick, but he picked up bits and pieces of his traditional costume as time went on, like a hipster trawling dozens of op shops over the course of a month.

Speaking of hipsters, what about that pitchfork? It's really a trident, a popular accessory of the Greek and Roman gods. The horns? Possibly a hand-me-down from animal-worshipping religions that Christianity didn't like. Scholars believe that Satan got his goat-legs as recently as the 19th century during the Romantic period, when neo-paganism came into vogue and a lot of writers, poets and artists started talking up the Greek goat-god Pan as a source of their inspiration, a claim about which numerous panties became quite tightly knotted.


Imagine this guy with a pitchfork.

As for the devil's famous habit of gambling with people's souls, that's not canonical either. Though his job is to tempt people to sin, he never grants anybody miraculous powers. We have an old German legend to thank for that. The legend of Faust, made popular later when it was dramatized by Christopher Marlowe, tells the story of a doctor who gets bored and decides to strike a deal with Lucifer in return for knowledge, converting the devil from the Prince of Darkness into a shady snake-oil salesman.

fane yaw not lod Hie guate Leax xg?

Alas, the devil got more emo with time.

The Holy Grail

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

The cup that Jesus drank out of during the Last Supper is the ultimate lost treasure, having become a slang term for anything long sought-after or world-changing. And while the Indiana Jones franchise seems to think drinking from the legendary cup will grant you eternal life and heal gunshot wounds, the exact kind of magic powers we can expect to obtain when we find it is a matter of dispute.

Also, there's the question of whether it's a cup, a bowl or, as Dan Brown speculated, a holy vagina.


We'd tap that.

The Only Problem Is ...

If you try to find the story of the magical cup in the Bible, you'll wind up flipping around confused, thinking you've got an abridged version or something. While the Bible does mention Jesus using a cup during the Last Supper, the cup itself is not treated any more importantly than anything else in the scene. It'd make just as much sense to say the table itself is holy, or the chairs, or the menu, or the leftovers, or the tip.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

"I only see 11 dollars. Someone's holding out ... Judas, I'm looking in your direction ..."

Actually Came From:

The Holy Grail was first invoked just as a plot-driving device in the legend of King Arthur. Even then, the item that Arthur's army sought was not Jesus' cup at all -- it was a magic cauldron. Since cauldrons were used quite often at parties and Celtic sleepovers, having a magic cauldron would come off today like a plate of nachos that never ended or a bottomless beer keg.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

If only this moment could be eternal...

It was the French poet Chretien de Troyes who reinterpreted the Arthurian legend as a quest for the Holy Grail. And even then, the Grail was not a cup, but rather something resembling a really nice serving dish.

No, it was another poet, Robert de Boron, who planted the Jesus-cup story in the world's consciousness. According to his (quite fictional) masterwork Joseph d'Arimathe, the cup was used by Joseph of Arimathea to collect Jesus' blood and sweat after his crucifixion.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

Just look at the man's dorag -- you know he was into some freaky shit.

It was his possession of the Grail that granted him the Jesus-powers to survive his own death and burial, and then for some reason he delivered it to Britain. This provided not only the first description of the Grail as Jesus' cup, but also an explanation as to why the hell we're looking for a piece of Israeli tableware in goddamn England.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

Yep. Definitely a vagina.

The Antichrist

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

Type "Is Obama" into Google and one of the top three suggested searches will always be "the Antichrist?" If the Web had existed in Ronald Reagan's day, you'd have gotten the same result for him and (likewise for Mikhail Gorbachev).

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

Hot Antichrist-on-Antichrist action.

So clearly there is a huge chunk of the world waiting for someone to come along and fulfill the old biblical prophecy: A charismatic leader will fool the whole world, rise to power, institute a worldwide dictatorial regime and (finally) bring about the Apocalypse. There exist entire religious sects who keep a sharp eye out for the smooth talking sign of the End Times who will trigger the destruction of everything we know and love.

You skeptics can laugh, but know that many Americans who vote in 2012 will be doing it based on which of the two candidates is least likely to be the Antichrist.


This man is not basing his vote on sound fiscal policy.

The Only Problem Is ...

The Antichrist is mentioned only four times in the Bible, and each time he's described the same way:

"Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the Antichrist." (2 John 1:7)

Yep: The Antichrist is anyone who doesn't believe in Christ. The "anti" is basically being used the same way it's used when we say someone is "anti-war." So anyone who wants to accuse Richard Dawkins of being the Antichrist is actually entirely correct, and what's more, he'll agree with you.


Man, antichrists get all the fine bitches.

Actually Came From:

There are characters in the Book of Revelation who will help usher in the End of Days: for instance, there is a False Prophet, who looks like a lamb and talks like a dragon (figuratively, we're assuming). And then we have "The Beast" from Revelation 13, which is described as "coming out of the sea" with 10 horns, seven heads, 10 crowns and other body parts that do not even resemble a human body accidentally.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

The Beast we're talking about is the beast on the right.

The beast is who is associated with the number 666, by the way. It wasn't until the second century that some dude named Saint Irenaeus started calling it the Antichrist, borrowing the term from another part of the Bible that wasn't referring to it. But even that did very little to change the fact that The Beast would have a hell of a time getting elected to public office since it looked like ... well, a motherfucking beast.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

If Napoleon Dynamite wrote a fan-version of Narnia.

It wasn't until the Middle Ages that the Antichrist was portrayed as a guy rather than a huge multiheaded monster. Thus the Antichrist, as a figure in pop culture and cheap-shot accusation was born. Countless novels (like the worldwide bestselling Left Behind series) and movies have helped push the concept to where it is today.

So to summarize, millions are awaiting what they believe is the fulfillment of an ancient biblical prophecy that is in reality cobbled together from at least three different characters from the Bible, with a little bit of Rosemary's Baby for good measure.

Hell: Everything Other Than the Fire

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

Hell is a place of eternal torment, a realm of unrelenting suffering for all sinners, heretics and unbelievers. It is a land of fire and brimstone arranged into nine circles and filled with imps and demons who deal out cruelly ironic punishments for all of eternity. Ruling over all of it is Satan, who probably sits on a throne made of skulls or something.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

We'd be more impressed by an armchair of femurs.

The Only Problem Is ...

Of all that, the only part you'll find in the Bible is the fact that Hell sucks and that there is fire (from passages like Matthew 13:42: "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.")

And ... that's as specific as it gets.

Actually Came From:

As usual, artists and writers took those vague descriptions and ran with them. The understanding of hell as a fiery subterranean cavern full of lava and demons shoving flutes up your ass for eternity owes its popularity largely to the medieval double-team of Dante and Hieronymus Bosch.

Dante's Inferno popularized the idea of hell as a nine-level first-person-shooter. He pioneered the concept of contrapasso, the idea that prisoners of hell are subject to ironic tortures related to the sins that brought them there. Like the "flatterers," who spent their lives bullshitting, and were forced in hell to "wallow in shit" for eternity.

Then the Dutch artist, Bosch, came along and painted it.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

Image #558 in our "pictures to stare at while on acid" series.

As for Satan being the ruler of hell, that's a misconception we can probably blame on John Milton. In Paradise Lost, Satan famously bitched: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." But there's a reason why God cast Satan and his minions into hell instead of Wisconsin: Hell sucks for everyone including imps and demons. According to 2 Peter 2:4: "God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into chains of darkness to be held for judgment."

That's right, chains and prisons ... for them. No iron fortresses, no fiery thrones, no mention of Satan ruling the cell block ... all of that is from the Bible's extended universe and fan fiction.

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible: Updated

"And then, Boba Fett and Jesus Christ flew off on their divine jetpacks to fight the Nazis."

To see what else you are so wrong about, check out 6 Things From History Everyone Pictures Incorrectly and 5 Fictional Stories You Were Taught in History Class.

And stop by Linkstorm to find out whether or not Santa Claus was a saint or a creepy pedophile.

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