In 1653 typesetters in Cambridge made a big mistake as they were typesetting an English version of the Bible. In their Bible the seventh commandment read: “Thou shalt commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). When the publisher realized the mistake, he immediately recalled what was then and now referred to as “The Wicked Bible.” Any Bible commanding adultery should certainly be considered “wicked.” Eleven copies remained in circulation. If you owned one, it would be worth a king’s ransom. The angry publisher fined the typesetters 300 pounds each. In those days that was roughly 20 years salary.
I tell that story because something similar happened to us. I was the senior theological review director for a new Bible translation called THE VOICE (Thomas Nelson Publishers). A few years ago we published a book called The Voice from on High (Thomas Nelson 2007). It is a compilation of Scripture (Old and New Testaments) that corresponds roughly to the libretto of Handel’s “Messiah.” Despite all our best efforts (14 levels of review and proofing) a mistake crept into the final product. In 1 Corinthians 15:54 our version reads: “And, when we are all redressed with bodies that do not, cannot decay, when we put immorality over our mortal frames, then it will be as Scripture says: “Life everlasting has victoriously swallowed death.” Christians don’t expect to be clothed with immorality. Immorality is to be avoided. We expect that at Christ’s return that we will put on immortality not immorality. It is amazing what a difference 1 letter makes.
You should speak with Phillip Alexander about the explanation of the Wicked Bible. He curated the library at the Chester Cathedral. Our Manchester grad students visited him there for the 400th anniversary for the King James Bible and conveyed a much more interesting story which included malicious intent. Hope all is all, Stephen McBay
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