A Very Naughty Bible

September 20, 2021

Cover of the Holy Bible 1631

It was a cringing mistake in a time when mistakes weren’t merely forgiven. What made things worse was that the glaring error was printed in the Bible. The Bible in question was printed in 1631, and it is often called the “Wicked Bible” because it had the line “Thou shalt commit adultery” included in the text. The printers forgot to include the word “not.”

This particular edition is also sometimes called the Adulterous, or Sinners’ Bible, and the printers in charge were Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London. They were fined 300 pounds, or about $45,798 (£36,645) in today’s dollars, and had their printing license revoked.

Text from the Bible considered the wicked Bible with the mistaken line.
The mistaken line

It took a year for the mistake to be found, and Charles I and the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbott, were, of course, beside themselves. They had the copies burned immediately, and about 1,000 of the books were destroyed. It’s believed about ten copies of the Wicked Bible still exist.

In 2010, a copy of the Wicked Bible was offered for the low, low price of $89,500 and supposedly was sold. Another book went up for auction in 2015. Other Wicked Bibles are in the New York Library’s rare book collection, the British Library in London, and another is in the Dunham Bible Museum in Houston, Texas.

No one knows why or how the mistake got missed and how it wasn’t caught after such a long period of time. It seems that this particular page would have been essential to check.

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

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