A New Zealand university announced that it had found a very rare copy of the Bible that was famous for containing one of the most serious errors in publishing history.
Released in England in 1631, the “Perverse Bible”, or “Bible of sinners”, as it became known, omitted the word “no” from one of the Ten Commandments, which ended up coming out as “you shall commit adultery”.
In charge of the edition, Robert Barker, printer to the English King Charles I, was fined and lost his professional license. “Why he omitted the all-important ‘no’ remains a matter of debate. Was it a joke? Was it sabotage by a rival? What is certain is that Barker was fined an astronomical sum, and few copies of his so-called ‘Wicked Bible’ survived”, says a text from the University of Canterbury, in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, responsible for the discovery of the book.
According to the British newspaper The Guardian, 1,000 copies of the Bible were printed with the error, discovered just a year later, and almost all were destroyed – around 20 remained in circulation.
The other known specimens were all found in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in the United Kingdom. In 2015, a copy of this edition went up for auction in England for tens of thousands of pounds.
Specialist in paper and book conservation, New Zealand historian Sarah Askey was responsible for the restoration of Christchurch’s “Wicked Bible”, which was also digitized. This Wednesday (4), Askey and other colleagues from the University of Canterbury will talk about the history of the specimen.