Foreign, limp, dangerous

Wherein the author principally discourseth upon the moral turpitude of those Bibles softly bound in limp foreign leathers so-called.

“If his Bible be spineless, is it any wonder, brothers, that the man himself is spineless also?”

Only one book saved!

I’ve been tagged again. This one involves this scenario: if your house were burning down (God forbid!) and you could only save one book, which would it be?

Of course, there’s always this proviso these days “aside from the Bible.” But I very likely would grab one of my Bibles which was extremely expensive several years ago and difficult to find: a New Internation Version Pulpit/Lectern Bible, for which there’s a little, not very good picture here. It’s heavy, thick, and got a fantastically beautiful font. It’s also entirely out of print and still in demand. I’d have trouble replacing it.

If I really had to play along, and not grab at least one of my Bibles (why? because the fire would make me insane?), I’d probably grab one of the following: my beautiful edition of Christina Georgina Rossetti’s Complete Poetical Works which formerly belonged to famed New York book collector George Zabriskie, a gold-tooled butterscotch marbled leather with gilded pages; my second edition parts one and two of Sefer ha-Aggadah, printed in Odessa, 1912, before Ravnitsky and Bialik emigrated to Israel; or my first edition (a second is supposed to be out this year) of the Ash Tree Press collection A Pleasing Terror, the annotated ghost stories of Montague Rhodes James, which also commands a high price these days.

But, in the end, I suppose I’d grab the notebook in which is my work for a complete scriptural index and concordance to Charlesworth’s Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volumes. And a folder in which I keep the handwritten list of errata (24 pages so far, kids, and that’s not even the entire first volume). That’s for all the time involved, as I would never, ever want to go through this kind of project again, being heartily sick of the tedium of it. And if some guy is standing by the door to make sure I can only take one, I’d punch his clock and use him to beat off the flames so I could save the other books listed above, and then some. So there.

Quirky Bibles

The 1562 folio edition of the Geneva Bible, at Matthew 5.9, read “Blessed are the place makers.” The same edition had an erroneous subject title at Luke 21: “Christ condemneth the poore widowe.”

Several Robert Barker editions of the Geneva Bible read “Judas” for “Jesus” in John 6.67.

The first octavo edition of the King James Bible, 1612, read at Psalm 119.161: “Printers have persecuted me without cause.”

Another Robert Barker edition, of the King James Bible in 1631, is the most notorious. At Exodus 20.14, it reads “Thou shalt commit adultery.”

A 1653 edition of the King James Bible by John Fields of London included, among numerous other errors, the following at Romans 6.13: “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of righteousness.” And at 1 Corinthians 6.9: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God?”

A 1682 edition of the King James Bible printed in Amsterdam includes numerous errors, one of which is “if the latter husband ate her” at Deuteronomy 24.3.

An Edinburgh edition of 1689 likewise contained many mistakes, including “ye were not servants of sin” at Romans 6.17.

Thomas Bensley of London issued a 1795 edition of the King James Bible which reads at Mark 7.27 “Let the children first be killed.”

An 1801 Bible became known as The Murderer’s Bible, for having “murderers” instead of “murmurers” in Jude 10.

In 1806 an edition appeared which at Ezekiel 47.10 reads “It shall come to pass that the fishes shall stand upon it.”

The Wife-Hater Bible of 1810 was named for its text of Luke 14.26: “If any . . . hate not . . . his own wife also.”

A Douay-Rheims Bible issued in Dublin in 1816 includes “the weakness of God” in 1 Corinthians 1.25.

In 1950, volume 1 of the Old Testament published by the Episcopal Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine included “skunk” in Leviticus 11.30. The typesetter “corrected” the intended skink, a kind of lizard.

The 1966 Jerusalem Bible, at Psalm 122.6, instructed readers to “Pay for peace.”

The year 2008 saw the publication of The Slop Bible. The Orthodox Study Bible reads at the beginning of Luke 10.2: “Then He said to slop”.

Most of the above amusing typographical errors are culled from Bruce Metzger’s delightful 1995 Presidential Address to the Society for Textual Scholarship, which is available in two places: 1.) Text: An Interdisciplinary Annual of Textual Studies. 9 (1996): 1-10. 2.) Reformed Review 48.3 (September 1995): 230-238. I used the latter, pp 231-232.