A Bible That Condones Adultery
The Wicked Bible, sometimes called The Adulterous Bible or The Sinners’ Bible, is a term referring to the Bible published in 1631 by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London, which was meant to be a reprint of the King James Bible. The name is derived from the compositors’ mistake: in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14) the word not in the sentence “Thou shalt not commit adultery” was omitted, thus changing the sentence into “Thou shalt commit adultery”. This blunder was spread in a number of copies. About a year later, the publishers of the Wicked Bible were called to the Star Chamber and fined £300 (roughly equivalent to £33,800 today) and deprived of their printing license. The fact that this edition of the Bible contained such a flagrant mistake outraged Charles I and George Abbot, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said then:
I knew the time when great care was had about printing, the Bibles especially, good compositors and the best correctors were gotten being grave and learned men, the paper and the letter rare, and faire every way of the best, but now the paper is nought, the composers boys, and the correctors unlearned.
The majority of the Wicked Bible’s copies were immediately cancelled and burned, and the number of extant copies remaining today, which are considered highly valuable by collectors, is thought to be relatively low. One copy is in the collection of rare books in the New York Public Library and is very rarely made accessible; another can be seen in the Dunham Bible Museum in Houston, Texas, USA. The British Library in London had a copy on display, opened to the misprinted commandment, in a free exhibition until September 2009. The Wicked Bible also appeared on display for a limited time at the Ink and Blood Exhibit in Gadsden, Alabama from August 15 to September 1, 2009. A copy was also displayed until June 18, 2011 at the Cambridge University Library exhibition in England, for the 400 year anniversary of the KJV.
- Posted in: Book Geek Humor & Reflections
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