Book of Genesis
- The forbidden fruit mentioned in the Book of Genesis is commonly assumed to be an apple, and is widely depicted as such in Western art, although the Bible does not identify what type of fruit it is. The original Hebrew texts mention only tree and fruit. Early Latin translations use the wordmali, which can be taken to mean both "evil" and "apple". German and French artists commonly depict the fruit as an apple from the 12th century onwards, and John Milton's Areopagitica from 1644 explicitly mentions the fruit as an apple. Jewish scholars suggested that the fruit could have been a grape, a fig, wheat, or etrog. Likewise, the Quran speaks only of a forbidden "tree" and does not identify the fruit.
- The historical Buddha was not obese. The "chubby Buddha" or "laughing Buddha" is a tenth century Chinese folk hero by the name of Budai. In Chinese Buddhist culture, Budai came to be revered as an incarnation of Maitreya, the Bodhisattva who will become a Buddha to restore Buddhism after the teachings of the historical Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama, have passed away.
- The Buddha is not a god. In early Buddhism, Siddhārtha Gautama possessed no salvific properties and strongly encouraged "self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving." However, in later developments of Mahāyāna Buddhism, notably in the Pure Land (Jìngtǔ) school of Chinese Buddhism, the Amitābha Buddha was thought to be a savior. Through faith in the Amitābha Buddha, one could be reborn in the western Pure Land. Although in Pure Land Buddhism the Buddha is considered a savior, he is still not considered a god in the common understanding of the term.
- The Immaculate Conception is not synonymous with the virgin birth of Jesus, nor is it a supposed belief in the virgin birth of Mary, his mother. Rather, the Immaculate Conception is the Roman Catholic belief that Mary was not subject to original sin from the first moment of her existence, when she was conceived. The concept of the virgin birth, on the other hand, is the belief that Mary miraculously conceived Jesus while remaining a virgin.
- Nowhere in the Bible does it say exactly three magi came to visit the baby Jesus, nor that they were kings, rode on camels, or that their names were Casper, Melchior and Balthazar. Matthew 2 has traditionally been combined with Isaiah 60:1–3.
- 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
- and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
- 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
- and thick darkness the peoples;
- but the Lord will arise upon you,
- and his glory will be seen upon you.
- 3 And nations shall come to your light,
- and kings to the brightness of your rising.
- Three magi are supposed because three gifts are described, and artistic depictions of the nativity after about the year 900 almost always depict three magi. Additionally, the wise men in the actual biblical narrative did not visit on the day Jesus was born, but they saw Jesus as a child, in a house as many as two years afterwards (Matthew 2:11).
- There is no evidence that Jesus was born on December 25. The Bible never claims a date of December 25, but may imply a date closer to September. The date may have initially been chosen to correspond with either the day exactly nine months after Christians believe Jesus to have been conceived, the date of the Roman winter solstice, or one of various ancient winter festivals.
- A fatwā is a non-binding legal opinion issued by an Islamic scholar under Islamic law. The popular misconception that the word means a death sentence probably stems from the fatwā issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran in 1989 regarding the author Salman Rushdie, who he stated had earned a death sentence for blasphemy. This event led to fatwās gaining widespread media attention in the West.
- The word "jihad" does not always mean "holy war"; literally, the word in Arabic means "struggle". While there is such a thing as "jihad bil saif", or jihad "by the sword", many modern Islamic scholars usually say that it implies an effort or struggle of a spiritual kind. Scholar Louay Safi asserts that "misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding the nature of war and peace in Islam are widespread in both the Muslim societies and the West", as much following 9/11 as before.