Who said it, the Bible or the Bard?

Maria Trimarchi

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

This verse comes from the Bible's creation story, not only of heaven and the earth, but also night and day, land and ocean and humans.

"The course of true love never did run smooth."

"Ay me! for aught that I could ever read, could ever hear by tale or history," Lysander says to Hermia in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Act 1, scene 1, "The course of true love never did run smooth."

"A plague on both your houses."

In Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," Romeo's friend Mercutio, disgusted by the behavior of the feuding Capulet and Montague families, exclaims, after being stabbed by Juliet's cousin, Tybalt, "I am hurt. A plague a' both your houses! I am sped."

"Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven."

Although it sounds like it might come from either Bible scripture or Shakespeare's plays, it's actually written by English poet John Milton and can be found in his work "Paradise Lost."

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

A favorite on signs in football game crowds, John 3:16 reminds followers they are sinners, who will have eternal life in heaven only by God's grace.

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be."

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be," meaning nothing good ever comes from borrowing or lending money, is advice given from Polonius to his son, Laertes, before Laertes travels to Paris.

"So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Love is greater than hope and faith, according to this verse from 1 Corinthians 13:13 in the Bible. Previously, in 1 Corinthians 13: 2, Paul says, "If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing," as well as this famous verse that's part of many weddings, "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated."

"Men of few words are the best men."

"Men of few words are the best men" is spoken by a boy who has accompanied the characters Pistol and Nym into battle. It's from Act III, scene 2 of Shakespeare's "Henry V," the final play in his tetralogy, including "Richard II," "Henry IV (Part 1)" and "Henry IV (Part 2)."

"God has given you one face, and you make yourself another."

"God has given you one face, and you make yourself another," says Hamlet, in reference to the duality of man, to Ophelia in Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."

The biblical phrase, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful," found in Proverbs 27:6, teaches followers that a true friendship is honest, while deception, which it may look enticing, is deceitful.

"It is a wise father that knows his own child."

"It is a wise father that knows his own child," comes from a conversation between Launcelot and his father, Gobbo, in Act II, scene 2 of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," when Gobbo doesn't realize he's talking to his own son.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Be strong and courageous, this biblical verse advises in Joshua 1:9, as God will be with you wherever you go.

"People can die of mere imagination."

We can thank Geoffrey Chaucer, considered the father of English literature, for this quote from his work "The Canterbury Tales."

"Let's go hand in hand, not one before another."

"We came into the world like brother and brother," Dromio of Ephesus says to his brother, Dromio of Syracuse, in Act V, scene 1 of "The Comedy of Errors." "And now let's go hand in hand, not one before another."

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them," reads Malvolio in Act 2, scene 5 of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." He continues on about fate: "Thy Fates open their hands. Let thy blood and spirit embrace them. And, to inure thyself to what thou art like to be, cast thy humble slough and appear fresh. Be opposite with a kinsman, surly with servants."

"Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die."

The full quote, "And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die," is found in the Bible, in Isaiah 23:13 (and it's also used in the book of Ecclesiastes).

"Shuffling off this mortal coil."

"Shuffling off this mortal coil," is spoken by Hamlet as part of the famous, "To be, or not to be," soliloquy written by Shakespeare. "To sleep, perchance to dream -- ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause. There’s the respect that makes calamity of so long life."

"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."

"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown," comes from Shakespeare's "King Henry IV," (Part II) Act III, scene 1. It's spoken by King Henry IV, lamenting how hard it can be to sleep when you have a lot on your mind.

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

This is spoken by the fairy Puck to King Oberon in Act III, scene 2 of Shakespeare's, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," referring to the foolishness -- and his amusement -- of humans.

"We die only once, and for such a long time!"

This quote is not from the Bible or from a work of William Shakespeare. It's from Act V, scene 3, of "Le Dépit Amoureux," by French playwright Molière (real name, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin). In French, as it's written, it's, "On ne meurt qu'une fois; et c'est pour si longtemps!"

"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

Alfred, Lord Tennyson refers to "the valley of Death" in his poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade," written in 1854. But the original appearance is in the Bible, in Psalm 23:4.

"Hell is empty and all the devils are here."

This is spoken by the spirit Ariel , who is bound to the magician Prospero, in Act I, scene 2 of Shakespeare's, "The Tempest." It fits into this larger quote, "... the king’s son, Ferdinand, with hair up-staring -- then, like reeds, not hair -- was the first man that leaped, cried, 'Hell is empty and all the devils are here.'"

"Love one another; as I have loved you."

This verse comes from the Bible, in John 13:34 as, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."

"Something wicked this way comes."

"Double, double toil and trouble..." Although you might imagine it could refer to any sort of evil biblical force, this quote comes from Act IV, scene 1 of Shakespeare's play, "Macbeth." It's spoken by the Three Witches (or Weird Sisters, as they're also called), "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes," in reference to King Macbeth's unexpected visit.

"I am escaped with the skin of my teeth."

The phrase "the skin of my teeth" is from scripture and can be found in Job 19:20 as, "My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth."

" ... the apple of His eye."

The saying, "apple of his eye," comes from the Bible verse, "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of His eye," found in Deuteronomy 32:10.

"Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall."

"Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive us all! Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall: Some run from brakes of ice, and answer none: And some condemned for a fault alone," is spoken by Escalus in Act II, scene 1 of Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure." It's in reply to Angelo, who has said to him, "See that Claudio, be executed by nine to-morrow morning. Bring him his confessor, let him be prepared, for that's the utmost of his pilgrimage."

"To thine own self be true."

Shakespeare gives us this line, from Act I, scene 3 of his play, "Hamlet." "This above all," says Polonius to Hamlet, "To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

"The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”

"The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose," advises Antonio to Bassanio in Act I, scene 3 of "The Merchant of Venice." Continuing, "An evil soul producing holy witness is like a villain with a smiling cheek, a goodly apple rotten at the heart."

"The truth shall make you free."

Our modern phrase, "the truth will set you free," comes from, the Bible, John 8:32: "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

"There is no greater sorrow than to be mindful of the happy time in misery."

An Italian poet in the late Middle Ages, Dante Alighieri's legacy includes the literary masterpiece "The Divine Comedy" ("La Divina Commedia"). This quote is from "Inferno."

"I will give you rest."

"I will give you rest," is part of this verse in Matthew 11:28: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

"I burn, I pine, I perish."

Spoken by Lucentio about Biana in conversation with Tranio, "I burn, I pine, I perish," is found in Act I, scene 1 of Shakespeare's play, "The Taming of the Shrew."

"Wine is a mocker."

The Bible advises followers in Proverbs 20:1 that "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."

"The soul is a breath of living spirit, that with excellent sensitivity, permeates the entire body to give it life. Just so, the breath of the air makes the earth fruitful."

Hildegard von Bingen was born in the early 11th century, into a noble family. When she was 18, she became a Benedictine nun. It was at the monastery that Hildegard began writing, encouraged to begin writing down the visions she had. In 2012, she would be named a Doctor of the Church and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI.

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About This Quiz

"Many are called, but few are chosen." (That's from the Bible.) "Now is the winter of our discontent." (That's Shakespeare.) Many of the things we say today come from long ago. But do you know who said them first? See if you can tell the difference between these biblical verses and quotes from the plays of William Shakespeare.

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