The Wicked Bible Only Exists Because Of This Tiny Mistake

Have you ever wondered why there are so many versions of the Bible? The Bible is based on thousands of manuscripts in different languages, with the oldest one dating back to as early as 100 AD. Throughout the years, several versions of the scriptures have been published as archaic words may be difficult to decipher for readers. Furthermore, some words have changed meaning throughout the years, and as a result, Bibles are updated accordingly to keep the scriptures’ true meaning (via Christianity.com).

To date, there are at least 50 versions of the Bible in the English language. Some of the most common ones include the New American Standard Bible, King James Version, and the New Revised Standard Version. However, there is one extremely rare version dubbed the Wicked Bible, which was printed in 1631 in London, according to The Washington Post. The Wicked Bible’s existence was not intentional, and it only came about because of a misprint that resulted in the printers damaging their reputation and career.

The Wicked Bible altered one of The 10 Commandments

In 1604, King James was newly crowned as the ruler of England. At that time, the widely-used Bible was the Geneva Version, which according to church officials was “corrupt and not answerable to the truth of the original,” per Britannica. As a result, the king commissioned the printing of a revised version of the Bible — the King James Version — which was published in 1611.

In 1631, business partners Robert Barker and Martin Lucas published more copies of the King James Version. The publishers were part of the original printing in 1611, and with so much text included, mistakes were bound to be made. In the first printing, the Book of Ruth had a typographical error where Ruth was referred to as “he” instead of “she”. The mistake was rectified in the subsequent copies published. There were more publishing mistakes in the following years, but not as glaring as the one in the Wicked Bible, according to Reader’s Digest.

In that batch, 1,000 copies of the King James Bible were printed. The error was found in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 20, which lists The 10 Commandments. On the 7th commandment, the word “not” was omitted, leaving the passage to read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” It wasn’t until a year later when the error was noticed, and Barker and Lucas weren’t as lucky as the previous times when they committed mistakes.

Barker and Lucas lost their publishing license

King Charles I, who became the ruler of England in 1625, ordered all copies of the Wicked Bible to be burned. He also summoned the publishers to court, and Barker and Lucas were banned from working in the printing business ever again. Furthermore, they were ordered to pay a fine of £300. Per The Vintage News, Barker never found a steady job after his reputation was damaged, and he died in prison in 1645. There are speculations on whether the Wicked Bible was indeed an innocent mistake or sabotage by one of Barker’s rivals in the printing business.

A few copies of the Wicked Bible survived the purge, and while most of the surviving copies are part of private collections, there are a couple displayed in museums for public viewing. One copy can be found at the Dunham Bible Museum, and another is at the New York Public Library (via Reader’s Digest). In 2015, Bonhams auctioned a copy of the Wicked Bible and it sold for a little more than $40,000.

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