Bible errata

Bible errata

Throughout history, printers' errors and peculiar translations have appeared in Bibles published throughout the world.


Manuscript Bibles

A page from the genealogy of Jesus, in Kells

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).[1]
  • Matthew 10:34b should read “I came not to send peace, but the sword”. However rather than “gladius” which means “sword”, Kells has “gaudium” meaning “joy”. Rendering the verse: “I came not [only] to send peace, but [also] joy”.[2]

The Book of Deer, 10th-century

Has a number of errors. In the genealogy of Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke, it has Seth as the first man and grandfather of Adam.[3]

Printed Bibles


  • “Bug Bible”: Myles Coverdale's 1535 Bible was known as the "Bug Bible" because Psalms 91:5 read: “Thou shall not nede to be afrayed for eny bugges by night”. In Middle English, the word "bugge" meant a "spectre that haunts" or a ghost.[4] 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.[5]
    This use of the word "bug" was repeated in the 1539 Great Bible and in Matthew's Bible, 1551.

The Great Bible

The Treacle Bible opened at the page of the eponymous curiosity. St Mary’s Church, Banbury.
  • “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."[citation needed]


  • "Rosin Bible" 1604: Jeremiah 8:22 reads "is there no rosin in Gilead?". "Rosin" is a brittle and sticky substance used on the bows of stringed instruments to provide friction with the strings. (The KJAV 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")[6]
  • "The Debased Bible" 1815: and reprinted seven times. Although it used the Catholic Rheims NT text, this was a Protestant edition. Philippians 2:7 said that Christ "debased himself". Other Douai-Rheims editions said: "emptied himself". The original 1582 text had said "exinanited himself".

King James

The Wicked Bible renders Exodus 20:14 as "thou shalt commit adultery".

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 other, malefactors."
  • "Judas Bible" 1611: This Bible has Judas, not Jesus, saying "Sit ye here while I go yonder and pray." (Matthew 26:36)
  • "Printers Bible" 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" 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" 1641 "...the first heaven and the first earth were died and there was more sea" rather than "...the first heaven and the first earth were died and there was no more sea." (Revelation 21:1)
  • "Unrighteous Bible" or "Wicked Bible" 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": 1716: John 8:11 reads "Go and sin on more" rather than "Go and sin no more".
  • "Vinegar Bible": 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.[7]
  • "The Fools Bible": 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 three thousand pounds and all copies ordered destroyed.
  • "Denial Bible": 1792: The name Philip is substituted for Peter as the apostle who would deny Jesus in Luke 22:34.
  • "Murderer's Bible" 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" 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 25:18 which read: "The murderer shall surely be put together" rather than "...put to death".
  • "To-remain Bible" 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" 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" 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" 1809: Zechariah 11:17 reads "the idle shepherd" rather than "idol shepherd".
  • "Ears To Ear Bible" 1810: Edition which makes Matthew 13:43 read: "...Who has ears to ear, let him hear." The correct phrase should be "ears to hear".
  • "Wife-hater Bible" 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" 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" 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" 1927: Contains a table of family affinities that includes the line "A man may not marry his grandmother's wife."
  • "Owl Bible" 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.
  • "Monochrome Bible" 1990s: A large American Bible publisher produced a new Red letter edition, bound in leather. A mistake was made in printing the Book of Timothy and the film plate containing the red letter text was omitted. Thousands of the misprinted bibles had to be destroyed.[8]

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. Passages from the Buggre Alle This Bible are:
    (Ezekiel 48:5)
    "Buggre Alle this for a Larke. I amme sick to mye Hart of typesettinge. Master Biltonn is no Gentlemann, and Master Scagges noe more than a tighte fisted Southwarke Knobbesticke. I telle you, onne a daye laike this Ennyone with half an oz. of Sense shoulde bee oute in the Sunneshain, ane nott Stucke here alle the livelong daie inn this mowldey olde By-Our-Lady Workeshoppe. @*Ǣ@;!*
    (Genesis verses 3:25–27)
    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.
  • In the UK television show Red Dwarf, an obscure fundamentalist Christian sect on Io based its worship on a Bible wherein 1 Corinthians 13:13 reads "Faith, hop, and charity, and the greatest of these is hop." The sect is consequently known as "Seventh Day Advent Hoppists" and members spend every Sunday hopping. Arnold Judas Rimmer's parents were members of this sect and raised him accordingly, but he appears to have left the faith.
  • In an episode of M*A*S*H, Fr. Mulcahey has to return a shipment of Bibles that say "Thou shalt commit adultery", i.e., containing the same error as in the Wicked Bible.
  • 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 bangala", meaning "Jesus is precious". In his pronunciation, he actually says "Jesus is poisonwood!"
  • "The Pain – When Will It End?" comic from 9 July 2008, in reference to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN shows protesting Christian Fundamentalists, one of whom carries a placard saying "Thou Shalt not comingle the Boson and the Fermion; for it is an Abomination in MY Eyes- Deuteronomy 59:12"[9]
  • A joke (which appeared in Reader's Digest in the 1980s) concerns a monk discovering that the word "celibate" in the Bible was originally "celebrate".[10] In another version, The Pope is the one who makes the discovery.[11]
  • In the Family Guy episode Holy Crap, two cardinals discuss a fictional error in the bible. One cardinal remarks to another, "Hey, did you ever notice this? On page 375, it says 'Jebus'." The other cardinal replies, "It's supposed to say Jesus, right?"


  1. ^ Sullivan, Edward (1920). The Book of Kells. The Studio. pp. 120. 
  2. ^ Nathan, George Jean Nathan; Henry Louis Mencken (1951). The American Mercury. pp. 572.'s%20phrase%22. "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 ..." 
  3. ^ Stuart, John (1869). The Book of Deer. Spalding club. pp. xxxii. 
  4. ^ McNab, Chris. Ancient Legends/Folklore. New York : Scholastic, Inc., 2007. (ISBN 0-439-85479-2)
  5. ^ 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.)
  6. ^
  7. ^ "‘Vinegar Bible’ returns to Lunenburg". Anglican Journal 134 (8): p. 1. 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  8. ^ Jeffery, Grant R. (1998). The Handwriting of God. Nashville: World Publishing. p. 88. ISBN 0849940958. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Andersen, Jane (2005). Priests in Love. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 169–70. ISBN 0826417027.,+not+celibate!%22. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  11. ^ Parry, Aaron (2004). The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Talmud. Alpha Books. pp. 206–7. ISBN 1592572022.,+not+celibate!%22. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 

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