‘Jeopardy!’ Producers Speak Out About Controversy Over Bible Clue

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

A controversy of biblical proportions, literally, has been at the center of Jeopardy! for a period of time. It all goes back to a November 16 edition of the show. Fan-favorite Sam Buttrey’s clue ends up being called wrong. We’ll get to the details that happened during a Final Jeopardy! round. But show producer Sarah Foss and senior researcher Michael Harris talked about the controversy during a recent episode of the Inside Jeopardy! podcast.

OK, so let’s take a look at what happened. Buttrey was going up against eventual Tournament of Champions winner Amy Schneider and fellow contestant Andrew He. The clue was under the category “The New Testament” and it read: “Paul’s letter to them is the New Testament epistle with the most Old Testament quotations.”

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Schneider answers “Hebrews” and she’s right in the game. The debate rages on. Why? There is still a heated debate among Biblical scholars about whether Paul actually wrote the letter to the Hebrews. Buttrey finished with the most money. If his answer had been accepted as right, then he was going to be the winner. Buttrey’s answer actually was “Romans” in the competition.

Foss did touch on the controversy, saying, “[We] just want to talk a bit about, you know, I understand authorship traditionally is attributed to Paul, although some say uncertain. And in that [traditional] case, there’s only one New Testament epistle with the most Old Testament quotes, and it is Hebrews.”

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Foss then moved on to Harris, who went into more detail, TV Insider reports. “So, when it comes to Bible categories, because there are various versions of the Bible, we have taken it upon ourselves as a show to use the King James Version of the Bible as our ‘Bible of Bibles,’ so to speak. And we’ve kind of let the world know,” Harris said.

“So for the most part, when contestants come, they kind of know that we are referencing the King James Bible,” Harris said. “This clue, in particular, we also reached out to a seminarian who had verified that our information, as written in the clue, was correct, and that’s when we went ahead and were like ‘OK, we feel secure in our doing this clue.'”

“So we felt pretty sound in this clue as it stood,” he concluded. Former Jeopardy! champion Buzzy Cohen, a guest on the podcast, backed up the producers, stating, “Well also, I mean the King James Bible calls it ‘Paul’s Letter to the Epistles,’ that’s how it’s titled, so I also think, as we discussed, Jeopardy! is not going to phrase a clue to be tricky like that.”