Throughout history, printers' errors and peculiar translations have appeared in Bibles published throughout the world.
The Book of Kells, circa 800
- The genealogy of Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke, has an extra ancestor at Luke 3:26 (the second name on this illustrated page). The reason for this error is that the transcriber of the Book of Kells read "QUI FUIT MATHATHIAE" as "QUI FUIT MATHATH | IAE," in which he considered IAE an additional individual (and so he added another QUI FUIT), rather than the Latin ending of "Matthew."
- Matthew 10:34b should read “I came not to send peace, but the sword”. However rather than “gladium” which means “sword”, Kells has “gaudium” meaning “joy”. Rendering the verse: “I came not [only] to send peace, but [also] joy”.
The Book of Deer, 10th-century
- "Bug Bible": Myles Coverdale's 1535 Bible was known as the "Bug Bible" because the fifth verse of Psalm 91 read: "Thou shall not nede to be afrayed for eny bugges by night". A competing claim to authorship comes from Stauffer's "The Queer, the Quaint, and the Quizzical", written in 1882. In this book, Stauffer claims that the "Bug Bible was, "printed by John Daye, 1551, with a prologue by Tyndall." The "Bug Bible" was also claimed to have been written In Middle English, in which the word "bugge" meant a "spectre that haunts" or a ghost. The King James Bible used the word "terror". The term was actually first used by George Joye, whose translations of the Psalms were seen through the press by Coverdale before he translated the Old Testament.
This use of the word "bug" was repeated in the 1539 Great Bible and in Matthew's Bible, 1551.
Edmund Becke's Bibles
- "Wife-Beater's Bible" (1549; 1551): A footnote to I Peter 3:7, inserted by Becke, reads "And if she be not obediente and healpeful unto hym, endevoureth to beate the fere of God into her heade, that thereby she may be compelled to learne her dutye and do it."
The Great Bible
- "Treacle Bible" (Beck's Bible): In the 1549 edition of the Great Bible, Jeremiah 8:22 was translated "Is there no tryacle [treacle] in Gilead?" Modern translations usually have "balm" or "medicine" instead. In Early Modern English, "treacle" could mean "a cure-all" as well as "molasses."
- "Breeches Bible" 1579: Whittingham, Gilby, and Sampson: translated in Genesis 3:7 as "and they sowed figge-tree leaves together, and made themselves breeches." (This less precise translation was glossed in the margin with a more accurate, albeit longer, translation.) The accepted meaning is "coverings" (the KJV has "aprons").
- "Place-makers' Bible" 1562: the second edition of the Geneva Bible, Matthew 5:9 reads "Blessed are the placemakers: for they shall be called the children of God"; it should read "peacemakers".
- In its chapter heading for Luke 21 it has "Christ condemneth the poor widow" rather than "commendeth".
- The 1589 Geneva Bible, Chapter 24:15 in the gospel of Matthew that reads, "When ye therefore shal se the abomination of desolation spoken of by David the prophet..." It should read, "Daniel the prophet."
- "Rosin Bible" 1610: Jeremiah 8:22 reads "Is there noe rosen in Galaad?". "Rosin" is a brittle and sticky substance used on the bows of stringed instruments to provide friction with the strings. (The AKJV has a note at Ezekiel giving "rosin" as an alternative to "balme")
- "Manchester edition" 1793: The heading on Chapter 3 of Leviticus and the first verse has "bees" rather than "beeves" (plural of beef). It reads: "How the pacifique hosts must be of bees, sheep, lambs and goats" ("pacifique hosts" = "peace offerings")
In various printings of the King James Version of the Bible, some of the more famous examples have been given their own names. Among them are:
- The Blasphemous Comma: Several editions: Luke 23:32 reads "And there were also two other malefactors [crucified with Jesus]." It should have read "And there were also two others, malefactors."
- "Judas Bible", from 1613: This Bible has Judas, not Jesus, saying "Sit ye here while I go yonder and pray." (Matthew 26:36)
- "Printers Bible", from 1612: In some copies Psalm 119:161 reads "Printers have persecuted me without a cause" rather than "Princes have persecuted me..."
- "Wicked Bible", "Adulterous Bible" or "Sinner's Bible", from 1631: Barker and Lucas: Omits an important "not" from Exodus 20:14, making the seventh commandment read "Thou shalt commit adultery." The printers were fined £300 and most of the copies were recalled immediately. Only 11 copies are known to exist today.
- "More Sea Bible", from 1641: "...the first heaven and the first earth were passed away and there was more sea" rather than "...the first heaven and the first earth were passed away and there was no more sea." (Revelation 21:1)
- "Unrighteous Bible" or "Wicked Bible", from 1653: Cambridge Press: Another edition carrying this title omits a "not" before the word "inherit", making I Corinthians 6:9 read "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God?..." In addition, Romans 6:13 reads "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of righteousness into sin..." where it should read "unrighteousness".
- "Sin On Bible", from 1716: Jeremiah 31:34 reads "sin on more" rather than "sin no more".
- "Vinegar Bible", from 1717: J. Baskett, Clarendon Press: The chapter heading for Luke 20 reads "The Parable of the Vinegar" instead of "The Parable of the Vineyard." One reviewer called this particular edition "a Baskett full of errors," what with its being replete with numerous other specimens of typographical errata throughout. One copy sold for $5,000 in 2008.
- "The Fools Bible", from 1763: Psalm 14:1 reads "the fool hath said in his heart there is a God", rather than "...there is no God". The printers were fined £3,000 and all copies ordered destroyed.
- "Denial Bible", from 1792: The name Philip is substituted for Peter as the apostle who would deny Jesus in Luke 22:34.
- "Murderer's Bible", from 1801: "Murmurers" is printed as "murderers", making Jude 16 read: "These are murderers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage."
- "Lions Bible", from 1804: 1 Kings 8:19 reads "thy son that shall come forth out of thy lions", rather than "loins". This edition had another error in Numbers 35:18 which read: "The murderer shall surely be put together" rather than "...put to death".
- "To-remain Bible", from 1805: In Galatians 4:29 a proof-reader had written in "to remain" in the margin, as an answer to whether a comma should be deleted. The note inadvertently became part of the text, making the edition read "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit to remain, even so it is now."
- "Discharge Bible", from 1806: "Discharge" replaces "charge" making I Timothy 5:21 read "I discharge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality."
- "Standing Fishes Bible", from 1806: "Fishes" replaced "fishers" making Ezekiel 47:10 read "And it shall come to pass, that the fishes shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many."
- "Idle Shepherd", from 1809: Zechariah 11:17 reads "the idle shepherd" rather than "idol shepherd".
- "Ears To Ear Bible", from 1810: Edition which makes Matthew 13:43 read: "...Who has ears to ear, let him hear." The correct phrase should be "ears to hear". In the same edition, Hebrews 9:14 comes out as "How much more shall the blood of Christ ... purge your conscience from good works [should be "dead works"] to serve the living God."
- "Wife-hater Bible", from 1810: "Wife" replaces "life" in this edition, making Luke 14:26 redundantly read "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own wife also, he cannot be my disciple."
- "The Large Family Bible", from 1820: Isaiah 66:9 reads: "Shall I bring to birth and not cease to bring forth?" rather than "Shall I bring to birth and not cause to bring forth?".
- "Rebecca's Camels Bible", from 1823: "Camels" replaces "damsels" in one instance, making Genesis 24:61 read "And Rebecca arose, and her camels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebecca and went his way."
- "Affinity Bible", from 1927: Contains a table of family affinities that includes the line "A man may not marry his grandmother's wife."
- "Owl Bible", from 1944: "Owl" replaces "own", making 1 Peter 3:5 read, "For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their owl husbands." The error was caused by a printing plate with a damaged letter n.
Fictional Bible errata
- In the novel Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett created the "Buggre Alle This Bible" of 1651 (and the Charing Cross Bible). The typesetter replaced Ezekiel 48:5 with a rant complaining about his job. It also has three extra verses at the end of Genesis 3 about the loss of the flaming sword by the angel Aziraphale, added by Aziraphale himself, a character in the story.
- In the BBC science-fiction sitcom Red Dwarf, one of the main characters, Arnold Rimmer, tells of his family belonging to an obscure fundamentalist Christian sect, the "Seventh Day Advent Hoppists". According to Rimmer - who is revealed in another episode to have the middle name Judas due to his parents' unconventional take on Christianity - the Hoppists' unique form of worship arose from a misprinted Bible wherein 1 Corinthians 13:13 reads "Faith, hop and charity, and the greatest of these is hop." The membership consequently spent every Sunday hopping. Rimmer says he never agreed with the faith, but claims to be liberal on religious matters.
- The Poisonwood Bible is a 1998 bestselling novel by Barbara Kingsolver which mentions some of the famous "misprint Bibles" such as the Camel Bible, the Murderer's Bible, and the Bug Bible. The novel's title refers to the character of Nathan Price, a missionary in the 1950s Belgian Congo who creates his own "misprint" by mispronouncing the local expression "Tata Jesus is bängala", meaning "Jesus is most precious". In his pronunciation, he actually says "Jesus is poisonwood!"
- Sullivan, Edward (1920). The Book of Kells. The Studio. p. 120.
- Nathan, George Jean Nathan; Henry Louis Mencken (1951). The American Mercury. p. 572.
The compilers of the late seventh century manuscript, The Book of Kells, refused to adopt St. Jerome's phrase "I come not to bring peace but a sword." (" . . . non pacem sed gladium.")To them the phrase made no sense and they altered it ...
- Stuart, John (1869). The Book of Deer. Spalding club. pp. xxxii.
- Stauffer - The Queer, The Quaint, & The Quizzical, 1882, p. 8, Francis Henry Shauffer
- McNab, Chris. Ancient Legends/Folklore. New York : Scholastic, Inc., 2007. (ISBN 0-439-85479-2)
- Charles C. BUTTERWORTH, & Allan G. CHESTER, George Joye (1495?–1553). A Chapter in the History of the English Bible and the English Reformation, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1962, pp. 139–142; p. 145. n. 25. Gerald HOBBS, "Martin Bucer and the Englishing of the Psalms: Pseudonimity in the Service of Early English Protestant Piety", in D.F. WRIGHT (ed.), Martin Bucer. Reforming Church and Community, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 169–170.)
- Metzger, Bruce M. (2001). The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English versions (Pbk. ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. p. 64. ISBN 9780801022821.
- "Photographic image of page of the Bible" (JPG). Farm2.static.flickr.com. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
- According to a note in St Mary's Church, Totnes, Cornwall, UK
- Paul, William E. (April–June 2003). "Curiosities in Bible Editions". Bible Editions & Versions. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
- "‘Vinegar Bible’ returns to Lunenburg". Anglican Journal 134 (8). 2008-10-01. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
- The Examiner – Incidental Bible Facts – Charles A. Holt – Publisher: Truth & Freedom Ministry, Inc., Chattanooga, TN (USA)
- The New Schaff-Herzog – Bible Versions
- "Bibles With Misprints or Unusual Renderings"
- The History of the English Bible: Part I: From Wycliffe to King James
- Russell, Ray. "The Wicked Bibles" Theology Today, Vol. 37, No. 3, October 1980.
- William Rose Benét, The Reader's Encyclopedia, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., New York, 1965
- Searching for the Better Text: How errors crept into the Bible and what can be done to correct them Biblical Archaeology Society
- Ten Surprising (yet indisputable) Bible translation errors that should effect your walk, February 11, 2010, Home Shalom