Jesus or Judas? WSU Bible fix featured in Folger blog

By Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries

Jesus-versePULLMAN, Wash. – A rare 17th-century Bible at Washington State University is part of a discussion of Bible errors in this week’s blog from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

The Folger is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection and a primary repository for research material from the early modern period. This includes a 1610 Geneva Bible printed with the mother of all typos in John 6:67.

WSU’s Geneva Bible with the error pasted over with a slip of printed paper.

In the chapter and verse, Jesus addresses his 12 apostles, asking them, “Will ye also goe away?” Some versions of the Geneva Bible incorrectly identify the speaker as Judas, according to the blog’s co-author and the Folger’s digital media strategist, Sarah Werner.

Printers of the day tried to fix the mistake in different ways. At the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, curator and blog co-author Mitch Fraas discovered that someone had blacked out “Judas” and hand-written “Jesus.”

Fraas and a colleague looked for other copies to see how they had been corrected. In the British Library’s and Harvard Houghton Library’s Bibles, Judas’ name is underlined, but not scratched out. Many of the copies that Fraas and his colleague located weren’t corrected at all.

Fraas also tracked a copy to WSU Librarie’s Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections (MASC). Its version has a printed slip with the correct name pasted over the error. Why the extra care? It could have something to do with the previous owner.

“Our copy was from the Prince of Wales’ library and has his crest on the front and back covers,” said Trevor Bond, head of MASC. “This is the translation that Shakespeare knew, the popular version before the King James Bible.”

A related story in the Washington Post can be found here.



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