Bibliophilia: Bible Errata

thou shalt commit adultery
thou shalt commit adultery

There is something undeniably enjoyable in hearing or reading language mistakes. And, unlike most of the internet, the enjoyment I derive from these mistakes is in no way malicious. I’m not one who feels a need to correct others. If you typed “your” but should’ve typed “you’re” you won’t find me in the comment section pointing it out. To me being able to read or hear a garbled sentence and make sense of it is fun. It’s like a language puzzle and being able to solve it only points to the fluidity and poetic beauty of language that usually plays second banana to utility. Yet, despite my sincere appreciation of mistakes to deny any bit of schadenfreude (a German word for deriving pleasure from other’s misfortune) would be painting me in too kind a light.

For example, one of my all-time favorite typographical errors is rooted in pure schadenfreude. The infamous typo comes from a 1631 publication of the Bible in which proclaims “Thou shalt commit adultery”.  That one missing “not” earned the publication multiple nicknames such as The Wicked Bible, The Adulterous Bible, and The Sinners’ Bible as well as ample amounts of scorn and book burnings. What I enjoy so much about this typo is the monstrous amount of attention it received. Obviously all of the readers understood it to be a human error instead of a change in the Almighty’s thoughts on swinging; however, it was still approached and condemned as blasphemy. To be honest, I think that’s what I enjoy so much about it.

When you’re acting as the mouthpiece for the divine there is little room for error without consequence. The issue arises from the amount of importance we bestow upon the text; it is no longer just a book but a divine mandate. Of course the Wicked Bible is not alone in its misinterpretation of the good book. There is also the Sin On Bible in which John 8:11 reads “Go and sin on more” instead of “Go and sin no more”. And the Fools Bible in which Psalm 14:1 reads “the fool hath said in his heart there is a God”, instead of “…there is no God”. Most of these bibles end up being purposefully destroyed by those upset by the error. It’s odd to think that one small transgression could justify the destruction of so many other properly transcribed teachings but I guess that when perfection of subject is assumed that perfection of text is a necessary accompaniment.

So what do you think? Do you know of any famous typos? What is your favorite example of Bible errata? Please leave some comments below so that we can continue our conversation on typos, schadenfreude, and how we all plan to go on sinning.

-Jet Fuel Blogger, Lucas Sifuentes

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