Famous Bible Translation Mistakes Throughout History

Here are some of the more infamous and fun mistakes that translators and printers have made throughout the years.

“Wife-Beaters’ Bible” (Matthew’s Bible, 1537):
A footnote to I Peter 3:7 is rendered “And if she be not obedient and healpeful unto him, endevoureth to beat the fear of God into her head, that thereby she may be compelled to learn her duty and do it.” I tried this with my wife. Let’s just say that footnotes are not inspired.

“Place-makers’ Bible” (Geneva, 1562):
In the second edition of the Geneva Bible, Matthew 5:9 reads “Blessed are the placemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”. The correct translation is peacemakers. My mother used to quote this every time she would make me set the table. Curse you mom!!

“Printers’ Bible” (KJV, 1612):
Psalm 119:161 reads “Printers have persecuted me without a cause” rather than “Princes.”

“Adulterers’ Bible” (KJV, 1631):
The word “not” is missing from the seventh commandment in Exodus 20:14, rendering it “Thou shalt commit adultery.” The printers were fined £300 and most of the copies were recalled immediately. Only 11 copies are known to exist today. (Also called the “Wicked Bible”.)

“Unrighteous Bible” (KJV, 1653; Cambridge Press):
I Corinthians 6:9 lacks the word “not” and reads “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God?”

“Sinners Bible” or the “Sin On Bible” (KJV, 1716):
John 8:11 reads “Go and sin on more” rather than “Go and sin no more”.

“Fools’ Bible” or “The Fools Bible” (KJV, 1763):
Psalm 14:1 reads “the fool hath said in his heart there is a God”, rather than “…there is no God”. The printers were fined £3,000 and all copies ordered destroyed.

“The Large Family Bible” (KJV, 1820):
Isaiah 66:9 reads: “Shall I bring to birth and not cease to bring forth?” rather than “Shall I bring to birth and not cause to bring forth?”. (I suppose this could also be called the “Catholics’ Bible” :) )

And my favorite . . .

“Prostitutes Bible” (NET, 2001):
Proverbs 2:16 reads “To deliver you from the adulteress, from the sexually loose woman who speaks flattering words.” In the first printing of the New English Translation, there is a footnote at the end of this verse with a 1-800 number. The translator was writing the notes for this verse on his computer when he got a call and, not finding a pen, typed the call-back number in these notes. He forgot to delete them.

24 Responses to “Famous Bible Translation Mistakes Throughout History”

  1. Love it! Good list.

  2. BTW: I have a first edition first printing of the NET Bible with this error in it.

  3. Michael, can you post a photo of that NET Bible footnote?

  4. I was interested in your source for the ‘Wife-Beater’s Bible’. I looked at a facsimile of Matthew’s Bible of 1537 online and it contains no such note in 1 Pet. Another website listed the offending bible as an edition of Taverner’s in 1551. But again the facsimile showed no such note in the margin. Is this a legend?

  5. The printer of the adulterer’s Bible went bankrupt after this. And there is a theory this was malicious; did someone remove the “not” from the printing plates?

  6. You might want to modify your NET Bible info, namely, it was the “First Beta Edition.” There were previous editions before this one (of which I have copies) and later editions after 2001 that remedied this item.

    The story, from the translator himself, goes that he was in the middle of translating when he received a phone call from a bank. Since he did not have a piece of paper and pen readily available to him to write down the phone number, he simply typed it on his computer which happened to be the footnote to this very proverb. He forgot to remove it later and it ended up being very comedic with the significance of it’s location.

    There are numerous other NET Bible funnies corrected or toned down prior to the release of the “First Edition” in 2005.

  7. The first printing of the Jerusalem Bible in 1966 had a typo in Psalm 122:6. Instead of “pray for peace in Jerusalem,” it read “*pay* for peace in Jerusalem”… which is highly ironic for that time period.

    I’d love to see an image of that phone number in the NET footnote. I can understand if you don’t want to post a pic since it is a phone number after all, but can you email it?


  8. These are of course printing mistakes, not translation mistakes. From the title I thought it would be about translation mistakes–the Message, for example.

  9. One original edition had “Judas” instead of “Jesus” in Matthew 26:36.

    Another had in Ruth 3v15: “He went into the city;” while another, like our versions, has, “She went into the city.” This led to their being designated, ‘the great He Bible’, and ‘the great She Bible’.

  10. My apologies, I should have clarified that my comments refer to early editions of the 1611 King James Version

  11. Yes, I will try to remember to post a pic of the NET tomorrow.

  12. Thanks, Michael! You’re awesome!

  13. Is anyone else missing the glaring error in the title of this article?

    These are not “translation errors” (at least in respect to the King James examples). Rather these are PRINTER / PRINTING errors.

    Was there a printer error in coming up with the title of these “translation mistakes”?

    There is NO evidence that “thou shalt commit adultery” was TRANSLATED that way, rather it was proven (as is the case with all of the King James examples) of a PRINTER error.

  14. Is anyone else having the following problem? when I send a post, the following “warning” computer garbled message appears before my post.

    Does the warning show on your posts or can you see this warning when you read my post?

    Warning: Missing argument 2 for wpdb::prepare(), called in /home/reclai5/public_html/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-ajax-edit-comments/lib/class.core.php on line 470 and defined in /home/reclai5/public_html/blog/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 990
    Jeff Ayers says:

    January 10, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Warning: Missing argument 2 for wpdb::prepare(), called in /home/reclai5/public_html/blog/wp-content/plugins/wp-ajax-edit-comments/lib/class.core.php on line 470 and defined in /home/reclai5/public_html/blog/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 990

  15. Once I heard “Thou shalt not admit adultery”.

  16. In Eugene Petersen’s “The Message,” to this very day, the word “to” is missing in Colossians 3:20.

  17. For some of the listed mistakes, there is a fine and the books destroyed. What would that mean for the new Queen James version that is now available that changes the information to make it more “friendly” toward homosexual behavior? Do you think this is a valid translation, and who decides this?

  18. NET Bible First Edition has in Ruth 1:4 “womene” instead of “women”.
    Checked and don’t see it on their online version:!bible/Ruth+1 Also OK in the Reader’s Edition.



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