Rare 17th century 'Adulterers' Bible' found in New Zealand


Back in 1631, English printers Robert Barker and Martin Lucas made a fatal mistake while working on the bible. When printing the scripture, they mistakenly omitted the negative particle “not” in one of the ten commandments. So it turned out the blasphemous call – “commit adultery.”

An unfortunate mistake was noticed only a year later. She was present in almost a thousand copies. The printed edition was called “Bible of Sinners” or “Bible of Adulterers”.

Even the king could not forgive such unintentional blasphemy Charles I. The printers Barker and Lucas brought before the court, which took away their printing license and each imposed an unbearable fine of 300 pounds, which was eventually canceled. The Church began to search for sinful specimens and destroy them. About 20 have survived. Sometimes the infamous edition appears at auction, each time it makes a splash. Most often it is found in the UK or the US, but this time the find happened in New Zealand, writes The Guardian.

The Adulterers’ Bible turned up in Phil and Louise Donnithorne’s family trust. How she got into the country remains a mystery. Many Bibles contain a detailed description of the genealogies, the place and dates of birth and death of its owners, but in this copy the name of the owner of a rare edition is illegible.

For the first time, scientists from the University of Canterbury Christchurch learned about its existence in 2018, but then they decided to keep this news a secret and let specialists work with a rare edition in peace.

The book is in a rather deplorable state: the cover is missing, some of the pages are damaged by water, and some have disappeared altogether. However, it has a unique feature: it is one of the rare copies that has more decorative red and black ink and is a much more complete version than the others.

Restorer Sara Esky preserved the sacred scripture, having processed the book with special means and returned the cover to it. The specialist described in detail all the features of this particular bible in order to establish its owners, where it was kept before. Perhaps the human hair, textile fibers and traces of plants found on the book will help this.

The book has already been fully digitized and will soon be published online. The news of the discovery of the “Sinners’ Bible” has already sparked interest in the stories of how the mistake was made – whether it was a deliberate act by rivals Barker and Lucas, or whether it was the printers’ rejection of additional workers who found errors in the printed texts.

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