A ‘Vinegar Bible’

Our recorder, who records the books in the Library section, came out of the vestry in St Andrew’s church Etchilhampton, Wiltshire, and said, excitedly, “We’ve got a Vinegar Bible!” “A vinegar what?” I said, not having a clue what she was talking about. She led me to the vestry where, on a table, there was a very large very old bible in a very sorry state. 

The bible was exactly 300 years old and many of the pages were very fragile and the case had come away from the block and the spine. There were many fine etchings in the opening pages which were still in good condition and Anji carefully turned to a page in St Luke 20 and pointed to what she was meaning. At the top of the page were the words “The parable of the vinegar”. The word “vinegar” had been amended, by hand, possibly nearly 300 years ago to read “vineyard“. 

The printer was a John Baskett – Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty. We will never know what befell John, if anything, for this unfortunate error, perhaps just embarrassment as one reviewer called this edition “A Baskett full of errors” as there were many other typographical errata in this edition. However, typos are not uncommon in old King James Version bibles and in one case some 85 years earlier than the Vinegar Bible a version now known as the “Adulterous Bible” or “Wicked Bible” was published with an error to the Seventh Commandment.

And what happened? Well that’s another story.  

Robert East – Retired Leader of the combined Pewsey Vale and Devizes Church Recorders