Some Misuses of a Bad Bible – The Vacaville Reporter

Even if you’re not a big Bible reader, you might want to check out the “Wicked Bible,” aka “Adultery Bible” or “Sinners’ Bible.”

Printed in 1631, the WB is so named because it omits “no” from the Seventh Commandment.

More like the hippie “free love” of the 1960s, readers are told in no uncertain terms “you are you going commit adultery.”

Fortunately, when the error was discovered a year later, there were only 1,000 copies left for the church to collect and burn.

Yet justice had to be served. King Charles I dragged printers Robert Barker and Martin Lucas to court where the judge revoked their printing license and fined them 300 pounds, or $80,000 today.

How did the glaring printing error appear? Some scholars suggest industrial sabotage by a rival printer. But my column reviewer, Davalynn Spencer, sides with academics who say it’s the result of underpaid, overworked editors like her.

Today, it is assumed that there are 20 WBs left in circulation, most likely in England. So imagine the shock when the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand announced that a student had discovered one of these “falsified” versions.

The version was found in 2018, but its discovery was only made public this week to allow archivists to authenticate and preserve the book.

I sympathize with Bob and Marty. They probably never suspected that their simple mistake would continue for four centuries.

Yet, lest we laugh too loudly at their misfortune, perhaps we should admit that we too confuse the original meaning of the commandments. We do this when we overemphasize a command or change its intent to suit our preferred point of view.

For example, some promote the Bible as a science book. They cite generational generation lists to state that the Earth was created in 4004 BC. Never mind a world of geological science suggesting thousands and thousands of years.

Others turn biblical passages into a roadmap to Armageddon. They interpret each new conflict as a prelude to the Second World War. Some even hope to hasten these wars in order to hasten the prophesied return of Jesus.

But even worse, some use the Bible to promote a political party or espouse partisan views.

For example, “Thou Shalt Not Kill” recently gained favor with the leak of a Supreme Court opinion on abortion. While the command is paraded on placards around the courthouse steps, it remains conspicuously absent from any discussion of wars or capital punishment.

But the most perverse use of biblical authority came last year when protesters sought to forcefully oppose the transfer of power. In trying to restore “God’s favorite,” they showed little understanding of the commandment, “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”

Now I know I’m unlikely to get anyone to give up their favorite biblical views. I can only hope that we can broaden our views. The Bible is infinitely greater than any of our theories. No one carries God in their pocket.

The Bible was largely written to answer the questions of who created the world and why it was created.

The answer to “Who?” it is God.

The answer to “Why?” it’s because he loves we. You and me.

My Bible – not the wicked one – tells me that God loves us all as he loves each of us. And he loves each of us as if he only loved one.

So, regardless of the priority given to the commandments, Jesus clearly announced its ranking – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.

Our problems are complex and interrelated. They won’t be solved with a single verse or dismissed with smart edits. But they can best be understood through the loving eyes of God.

Fortunately, grace prevailed for our unfortunate printers when a 17th century judge dismissed their fine. If you’re curious to see the Wicked Bible, the University of Canterbury will publish its digitized findings on the web in the coming months.

In the meantime, my weekly writings – free from any malice – remain freely available on my website, or by signing up for my weekly email at

— Send your comments to [email protected] or 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602 or via voicemail (843) 608-9715.

About Norman Griggs

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