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An extract from "The Poisonwood Bible"

by Barbara Kingsolver, 1998


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Lately I've started collecting old books that are famous for their misprints. There's a world of irony in it. Bibles, in particular. I've never actually seen any of these in original editions, but back in the days when print was scarce, only one printing of the Bible was widespread at any given time, and people knew it by heart. Its mistakes became celebrated. In 1823 when the Old Testament appeared with the verse "And Rebekah arose with her camels"—instead of damsels—it was known as the Camel's Bible. In 1804, the Lions Bible had sons coming forth from lions instead of loins, and in the Murderers' Bible of 1801, the complainers in Jude 16 did not murmur, they murdered. In the Standing Fishes Bible, the fishermen must have looked on in such surprise when "the fish stood on the shore all the way from Engedi to Eneglaim." There are dozens of these: the Treacle Bible, the Bear Bible, the Bug Bible, the Vinegar Bible. In the Sin-On Bible, John 5:14 exhorted the believers not to "sin no more," but to "sin on more!" Evol's dog! Dog ho!


Many, many more such bibles are described on the Books and Writers website, including the Wicked Bible. The page also explains how the Bear Bible is so called because of a woodcut on its title page, and not because of a misprint.


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