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"And talk about a preachy book! Everybody's a sinner! — except this guy."
Monday, March 17, 2008   1:02 PM

If the Internet is to be believed, subsequent editors have only made 421 word changes to the King James Bible since the book was first published in 1611. If you include the marginalia and count duplicate errors twice, then by my reckoning there have been at least 1000 text changes (h/t F.H.A. Scrivener) — but as an apostate and an atheist, I'm not really that interested in the exact number.

There are some members of the so-called King James Version–Only Movement who claim that any errors in the 1611 KJV were introduced by the printer, or even that there are no errors in it at all. I share the movement's preference for the KJV — this 1999 version is my current go-to bible — but if that last claim were really true we'd have a few more patron saints of editing.

In such a long text under early 17th-century publishing conditions, a mere 1000 errors still sounds impressive. Although one 1611 printing, the infamous "Judas Bible," did have Judas rather than Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane.

(It turns out that a lot of bibles have taken their names from the more notable errors they contained.)

There are, of course, still dedicated bible proofreaders even today. You have to love any quote that begins "Bible readers are less forgiving..."


Even 1000 seems like a remarkably low number for a book of that size. Maybe the KJV translators and editors really did do a good job.

I just read Terry Prachett & Neil Gaiman's "Good Omens, in which several notable-error bibles are described.

I'm w/ jon boy: that's a very small number of corrections, considering!

As someone who is not an atheist, I get exasperated with the believers who think that anything remotely connected to God must be perfect.

I get equally frustrated w/ the nonbelievers who point to human frailties (look, a typo in the KJV!) as proof that there is no God.

Ooo, Good Omens used to be my favorite book; I had an extra copy just for lending out to people.

I'm generally critical of any attempt to discredit a message by focusing on errors in its composition, e.g. typos in the King James Bible. As much as I like editing errors out of faulty writing, as a copy editor I should be happiest when a work doesn't provide any such argumentative footholds.

I'm glad to hear a version of the King James is your go to, it's definitely the closest literal translation of the original Greek.

Some renditions of the New Testament have taken ridiculous liberties with the Greek, including adding words completely absent or even eliminating words from the Greek versions.

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