The “Wicked Bible” of 1631 – “Thou SHALT Commit Adultery”

“Fun Facts” “Sunday Sermon”

I am “famous” for my typos and editing errors.  (“Moral Problem” vs “Morale Problem.” “Venus” vs “Venice.”) My hyper personality favors speed over accuracy. But I am not the only one who makes such mistakes.

In the 1630s, Robert Barker and Martin Lucas printed 1,000 copies of the King James Version of the Bible. Unfortunately, there was a major “typo.”  It read, “Thou shalt commit adultery,” instead of “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

The printing error was only discovered a year later. (A poor reflection on the printers and the readers.)  The Bible soon became known as the Wicked Bible,” the “Adulterers’ Bible,” and the “Sinners’ Bible.”

The Bishop of London brought the “scandalous” error to the attention of King Charles I.  He summoned Mr. Baker and Mr. Lucas to the infamous Star Chamber Court. The printers were fined 300 pounds (about $53,000 in today’s money). Their printers’ license was permanently revoked, and copies of the Bible were ordered gathered and destroyed.

About 10 copies still exist today, most in libraries.  In 2018, Sotheby’s auctioned a copy for $56,000.

(See: “Wicked Bible,” Wikipedia)


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