Jots & Tittles
You may have heard of The Vinegar Bible. It was published in 1717 with the chapter heading of Luke 20 reading “The parable of the Vinegar” instead of “The parable of the Vineyard.” Because of that one little mistake, copies of the Vinegar Bible sell for ungodly sums on the antiquarian book market, and libraries with copies in their special collections bill themselves as tourist attractions. But the Vinegar Bible wasn’t the only edition that could have used a good proofreader.
Take the Sin On Bible (which in more modern parlance might be called “the Surfer Dudes’ Bible”). It came out just before the Vinegar Bible, in 1716. In it, Jesus tells the same man he had just told to “take up your mat and walk” to “sin on more.” In other Bibles, Jesus says “sin no more.”
Errors in Bible printing were fairly commonplace in the 17th and 18th centuries, but that doesn’t mean they were taken lightly. During the reign of Charles I, the Fool Bible came out. In it, the printers left out a word in Psalm 14 to make the first verse read “The fool hath said in his heart there is a God.” The printers were fined 3,000 pounds for their mistake. The printing company Barker and Lucas was fined only 300 pounds for printing the Adulterous Bible in 1631, but it was enough to put them into bankruptcy. And all for one little slip that a lot of people still make: “Thou shalt commit adultery.”
We thank BR reader Mathew J. Bowyer for calling our attention to these “bloopers.”
Tug of War over the Lindisfarne Gospels
Protesters picketed the British Library in March hoping to return the famed Lindisfarne Gospels, an illuminated manuscript dating from about 698, to its place of origin in northern England.
The manuscript was created in the Monastery of Lindisfarne on Holy Island, a few miles from the Scottish border. While the Lindisfarne Gospels are notable for their intricate illuminations, they also have historical significance: The monks on Holy Island helped introduce Christianity to England and sent missionaries throughout Europe.
The Lindisfarne legacy has become a point of regional pride for northern England, and the fight is on to get the Gospels back. As Ken Morris, managing director of Northumberland County Council puts it, “The Lindisfarne Gospels are the most powerful symbol of Northumberland’s contribution to the country in general and the history of Christianity in Britain in particular.”
Although the organizers of the demonstration had chartered a special train to London and promised a thousand marchers, fewer than 50 turned out. However, some northerners might be satisfied with a long-term loan. Richard Barber, a representative for the North of England Assembly in negotiations with the British Library, says, “It’s not an issue of ownership. What we’re seeking is to get the Lindisfarne Gospels up here for a long period of time around the millennium.”
Whether or not Northumberland gets the manuscript, it will receive one of the first electronic copies. An agreement between the British Library and the Northumberland County Council makes the digitized Lindisfarne Gospels the first electronic copy available outside of the library’s galleries. Turning the Pages, as the British Library’s electronic viewing system is called, uses digitized images to simulate the action of turning the pages of a book. Museums usually display only two pages of fragile illuminated manuscripts at a time; this new technology allows users to “flip through” the entire tome.
Richard Barber has mixed feelings about getting the original manuscript to northern England permanently. He sees both sides of the argument: London’s central location and its role as a capital allows people from all over the world access to the Lindisfarne Gospels. On the other hand, as he puts it, “Imagine a document that was of great interest to Texas being housed in Washington.”
“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bible Bread”
It’s flat like matzoh. It’s crisp like matzoh. But it isn’t matzoh. It’s “Bible Bread: The Unleavened Bread of the Exodus.” “We call it unleavened bread, which, I agree, is matzoh,” says Peter Shamir, vice president for marketing at Galilee Splendor Ltd., the company that imports Bible Bread and distributes it in the United States. “We just took it a step farther.”
Actually, two steps. First, Shamir says, his stuff is baked differently: Matzoh has to be baked for 18 minutes or less to be official “matzoh” and not just a bigger version of Wheat Thins. Second, it’s flavored: Currently, Bible Bread comes in honey, onion and poppy seed varieties, and garlic and five grain will be on the market shortly.
So why is it called Bible Bread? 019Gimmickry, mainly, Shamir admits. “We were looking for something novel and unique that at the same time would mean a lot to people. We’re all from Israel and are very involved in the history of Israel, and we saw this bread and thought, what could be simpler?” Another partner in Galilee Splendor, Dani Yasoor, began distributing Bible Bread to Christian tourists and found an eager and hungry market, including a United Methodist minister from Chesterfield, Virginia, Henry Riley, who says: “It was the ideal snack for a church meeting—healthy and Biblical.” But despite the Israel connection, at least one use of Bible Bread could only happen in America: The onion variety is very popular when served with guacamole.
Searching for God (and the Bible) On-Line
Does God have a Web site? Maybe.
The Bible, on the other hand, can be hard to track down on the Web, at least if you go through standard religious channels. Of 28 Web sites listed in Yahoo! Internet Life magazine as officially or quasi-officially maintained by Bible-based religious denominations, only seven easily connect Internet surfers to sites related to the Bible. But there is a great variety of resources within those seven. The site representing the Churches of Christ,
The United Church of Christ (distinct from the Churches of Christ) has its own Web address,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) will send a free copy of the King James Version to anyone who taps into their home page and asks for one (
The two most scholarly biblical resources linked to religious Web sites belong to Jewishnet, maintained by the Global Jewish Information Network, and to the Protestant Episcopal Church (U.S.A.).
Links to all these sites can be found on BR’s own web page, at
Does BR have a Web site? We’re working on it. Check out the latest issues of Bible Review, Biblical Archaeology Review and Archaeology Odyssey at
The site features upcoming BAS tours and seminars, excavations in the Holy Land that are seeking volunteers, links to other Bible sites, recent archaeological finds relating to the Bible, and a whole library of educational books, videos and slide sets for sale.
Please pardon the mess as construction work continues on the site.