The National Catholic Review

When it comes to determining the Super Bowl winner, chances are that people forget to see what the Bible says about football. Just let me go check this out for a minute….I’m back. It turns out nothing! Football is not mentioned once in the Bible, not American, Canadian or “Soccer.” (Australian football, it goes without saying, does not appear, nor does the Irish sport of “Hurling” – and yes that is a sport not a double entendre.) Or, perhaps, that’s a little strong to say football does not “appear”; the word itself does not appear, but it takes a trained professional to “read between the lines” and figure out how the Bible is speaking to us today, literally, today, Super Bowl Sunday. First of all, “super” does appear in the NT on two occasions (NRSV), when Paul refers to “super apostles” and twice says he is not inferior to these “super apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5, 12:11). But to whom is Paul not inferior? Do the “super apostles” represent the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Green Bay Packers? My own reading suggests that the “super apostles” would be the Steelers since they have won more Super Bowls than any other team, which makes them “apostles” of the Super Bowl. Yet, Paul argues he is not inferior to these “super apostles,” which means he must represent the Packers. Why is Paul not inferior? The Packers, of course, when we combine Super Bowls with NFL Championships are the best team over the course of the history of the NFL. Paul, therefore, a genuine apostle must be associated with the Packers and they are "not inferior" to the Steelers.

“Bowl” appears 21 times in the NRSV and these are harder to read. One verse might refer to the Steelers, for it states, “He said to me, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it; there are seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it” (Zechariah 4:2). The Steelers have appeared in 7 Super Bowls so the lamps which Zechariah sees might refer to the seven appearances, but today they play in their 8th Super Bowl. Cheering the hearts of Steeler fans, then, the 7 lamps may refer to a future 7th victory. Nevertheless, in 2 Kings 2:20 it reads: “He said, "Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it." So they brought it to him.” This is spoken by the Prophet Elisha after the transition from the Prophet Elijah, so a “new” bowl with salt is used to turn the water “wholesome” (2 Kings 2:21-22). The water is more wholesome in Green Bay than at “Three Rivers,” and, in fact, Green Bay is the “Largest freshwater estuary in the world.” As a  result, I think the Zechariah passage refers to appearances in the Super Bowl not victories.

The names of the teams “Steelers” and “Packers” do not appear at all in the Bible so no clues are found on that basis. The word “Steel” does not appear at all in the NRSV or the NIV translations, but “Pack” appears twice in the NIV and once in the NRSV. These are the relevant verses:

“Pack your bags for exile, sheltered daughter Egypt! For Memphis shall become a waste, a ruin, without inhabitant.” (Jeremiah 46:19) (NRSV, NIV)

"Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, set out and go from where you are to another place. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 12:3) (NIV)

The reference to Memphis probably just refers to the fact that Memphis does not have a NFL football team and so it is “a waste, a ruin, without inhabitant.” The fact that we see two different prophets saying Pack your bags (or belongings) for exile allows us to surmise that the ones who formerly lived in the place (the Super Bowl champions) are being forced to vacate. They are being, in biblical language, “packered” from their home into exile. It is obvious this points to a Packers victory. The “rebellious house” of Ezekiel 12:3 might be reflecting James Harrison and his numerous fines this year and so the Pittsburgh Steelers in "exile" will understand they are the "rebellious house".

Now, it is true, and many biblical football scholars will note this I am certain, that in the KJV, we are met with numerous appearances of steel (in 2 Samuel 22:35; Job 20:24; Psalm 18:34; Jeremiah 15:12). Nevertheless, these occurrences of “steel” are rendered as “bronze” or even “brass” in more current translations and, in fact, the Douay-Rheims, the oldest English Catholic translation does not mention “steel” at all! The Douay-Rheims does not mention “pack” either, but that is a minor translation oversight, I am certain

All of this data, clear as it is, points to a substantial Packers victory over the Steelers. On the basis of the two passages which mention Pack, Jeremiah 46:19 and Ezekiel 12:3, I would subtract 19 from 46 (=27) and add 12 and 3 (=15), because these are obvious mathematical operations with respect to these particular numbers, and come up with this final score: Packers 27, Steelers 15.

This is hard for me to accept as a Vikings fan, but I let the data lead me where it must. Plus, I forgot the most significant passage of all: “You shall not steel” {I am uncertain on the spelling of this word} (Exodus 20:15). There is no equivalent, “You shall not pack.”

Please, don't blame the messenger.

 John W. Martens

Follow me on Twitter @johnwmartens

Comments

Marie Rehbein | 2/7/2011 - 1:20pm
John,

I see VI and King all over my Bible.
Marie Rehbein | 2/7/2011 - 9:14am
Congratulations, John!  The Bible is an amazing book, but without a skilled theologian, we would have nothing. ;)
Marie Rehbein | 2/6/2011 - 9:30pm
Well, the Steelers are at 17 now, so I guess that blows your whole theory.  Packers are at 21, so they would have to score a touchdown, but miss the field goal, which they would not do if they were so great.  My crystal ball isn't much better at giving a clear answer, but it's pointing to a Steelers win.