“Jeopardy!” fans are confused and more than a little miffed after a controversial Final Jeopardy! clue divided contestants in the final rounds of the program’s “Tournament of Champions.” This is the second clue controversy the program has faced in just a few days.
Amy Schneider, Andrew He and Sam Buttrey are the final champions standing in the tournament, and the first person to win three rounds will be the ultimate victor. In Wednesday’s episode, the trio was faced with this clue, under the category “New Testament”:
“Paul’s letter to them is the New Testament epistle with the most Old Testament quotations.”
The statement isn’t controversial because it’s about the Bible. That’s not an uncommon topic on the trivia show. But the correct answer is still a subject of debate, even among Biblical scholars.
Schneider answered “Who are the Hebrews,” and was deemed correct by host Ken Jennings.
Buttrey answered “Who are the Romans,” and was deemed incorrect.
He said “Philippiaes,” likely in reference to the Philippians, which was also incorrect.
All of the answers refer to books in the Bible that are collections of epistles, or letters, ostensibly from Jesus’ apostle Paul to different groups in the formative days of the Christian church. However, experts have varying opinions on whether Paul actually wrote the letter to the Hebrews – and thus, whether the answer was actually correct. In fact, there are bitter divisions among different schools of Christian thought regarding Paul’s Biblical influence and authorship.
Many “Jeopardy!” viewers thought Buttrey’s answer should have been the correct one, since scholars generally agree Paul was the author of the book of Romans.
Even experts on religion and history weighed in.
“The challenge: Hebrews has the most OT quotes of any NT letter; it was historically attributed to Paul; but today most argue he didn’t write it based mainly on internal evidence,” a priest and theology professor wrote on Twitter. “(Romans is right if Paul didn’t write Hebrews),” he added.
“Dear Jeopardy: But Paul didn’t write Hebrews!!!!!!!” wrote another historian and theologian.
Others postulated that, regardless of the answer, the clue was not clearly worded in regards to letters, epistles and books of the Bible – all deeply confusing terms for people outside (and sometimes inside) the spheres of Biblical study.
In the middle of the confusion, He emerged as the night’s winner despite his incorrect Final Jeopardy! answer, and is one win away from tournament victory.
It’s worth noting that Buttrey, who had the answer some people think should have been correct, is a fan favorite and would have won if he secured the last answer.
Just a few days before the Bible kerfuffle, an episode of “Celebrity Jeopardy!” featured a clue about the 2021 death of Instagram personality Gabby Petito and the suicide death of her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who wrote that he was responsible for her murder.
“In 2021 fugitive Brian Laundrie ended his days in FLA’s Myakkahatchee Creek area, home to these long & toothy critters,” the clue read.
(The answer was “What are alligators?”)
Viewers were appalled that the question invoked both suicide and a highly publicized murder.
“Y’all couldn’t have gotten to alligator AAAAAANY other way???” one viewer wrote.
In a statement to various media organizations, an attorney for the Laundrie family demanded an apology from the show, calling the question “distasteful.”