Were the first Bible translations in English filled with errors?


Full Question

A Catholic writer said many of the first English Bibles were in terrible error. Isn't this a manifestation of Catholic prejudice against the Bible? The Bible is inerrant.

Answer

The Catholic Church affirms the inerrancy of Scripture, but that doesn’t mean each edition of each translation is free from error. There have been many vernacular editions of the Bible that can only be described as embarrassing. Some were filled with printer’s errors, others with translator’s errors.

In one Bible one of the commandments was printed without the word not. This Bible became known as "the blasphemous Bible" because it said, "Thou shalt take the Lord’s name in vain." Sometimes translations were odd to the point of misrepresentation. In one, Adam and Eve are described as wearing "breeches" made from fig leaves, but breeches are a fairly modern type of clothing.

Inerrancy does not mean printers and translators are protected from error. (Any writer can tell you that, and he’ll throw in editors too!)


Catholic Answers Staff