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John Baskett’s “Vinegar Bible”

The very large and very heavy Bible (approx. 2 ft. long and 1.5 ft. wide) on the left side of the image below is referred to as the “Vinegar Bible.” This version of the Bible was printed in 1717 by John Baskett, “Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty,” and it is truly beautiful to behold. It is replete with beautiful engravings from recognized artists of the day that depict biblical scenes on thick parchment-like paper.

However, when one begins to study the text, it seems that Baskett paid more attention to the opulent beauty of the Bible than to the accuracy of the text, as it is peppered with errors. In fact, Baskett’s contemporaries called it a “Baskett-ful of errors.” The most infamous error is found at the top of the page of Luke 20 and reads “The parable of the vinegar” instead of “The parable of the vineyard.” Oops…

What can we learn from this piece of history?

Do we, like Baskett, sometimes focus more on form than substance in our lives?

How are you using your Bible? Is it a showpiece? A status symbol? A source of truth? A paperweight? An instruction book for happiness in life? A way to hear God’s voice?

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