Wednesday, May 7th, 2008
Reading different versions of the bible can be a good thing. But sometimes it can be quite surprising. Read Psalm 91:5 in the Coverdale Bible of 1535 and you’ll find ‘Thou shall not nede to be afrayed for eny bugges by night’ (‘bug’ meant ‘something terrifying’).
Bored or naughty typesetters, however, once forced bible readers to be much more wary:
In the 1562 edition of the Geneva Bible, Matthew 5:9 read ‘Blessed are the placemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’
A 1716 edition of the King James Bible has Jesus say ‘sin on more’ in John 5:14, rather than ‘sin no more’.
A 1795 edition had Jesus say in Mark 7:27 ‘Let the children first be killed’ instead of ‘Let the children first be filled’.
Probably the worst mistakes, however, were made in the 1631 and 1653 ‘Wicked Bibles’. In the 1653 edition, 1 Corinthians 6:9 read ‘the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God’ and the 1631 edition had the seventh commandment as ‘Thou shalt commit adultery.’ The bibles were ordered to be burned, and the sloppy (one hopes it was just sloppiness) printer fined a then-hefty £300.
In the Charing Cross Bible of 1651, the bored typesetter replaced Ezekiel 48:5 with the following rant: ‘I amme sick to mye Hart of typesettinge... I telle you, onne daye laike this Ennyone with half an oz. of Sense should bee oute in the Sunneshain, ane nott Stucke here alle the livelong daie inn this mowldey olde By-Our-Lady Workeshoppe.’
It also included the following three extra verses at the end of Genesis 3:
25. And the Lord spake unto the Angel that guarded the eastern gate, saying Where is the flaming sword which was given unto thee?
26. And the Angel said, I had it here only a moment ago, I must have put it down some where, forget my own head next.
27. And the Lord did not ask him again.
Unlike the ‘Wicked Bibles’, however, the Charing Cross Bible was (after painstaking research) proved to be a forgery.