The “Vinegar Bible”??? What In the World Is That?!

I’d never heard of the Vinegar Bible before today. It was Glenn Beck who brought it to my attention, talking about it in a recent interview on “style over substance” which was carried on his website The Blaze.

But what is it? Well, it is a unique version of the King James Bible printed in 1717 by the Scottish king’s printer, John Baskett. Richly bound in leather with gilt edging, the Vinegar Bible was very expensive–and would probably have been owned and prominently displayed by royalty, as a kind of status symbol; but it was not intended to be read. That’s why it didn’t really matter that the book was filled with typographical and typesetting errors. Glenn Beck explained:

Printed by John Baskett, the infamous edition of the Bible got its nickname from the multitude of editing errors throughout the holy tome, as the cost of manual corrections prevented the mistakes from being corrected after printing. The most blatant error is the chapter heading in Luke 20 which reads “The Parable of the Vinegar” instead of “The Parable of the Vineyard.””

John Baskett has been called “one of the greatest monopolists of bibles who ever lived.” Beginning in 1715, Baskett filed a number of lawsuits intended to preserve a monopoly on printing and selling bibles in the United Kingdom.

Baskett’s King James Bible is so carelessly printed that it was humorously called “A Baskett-full of printers’ errors.” It’s believed that the “Vinegar Bible” is the original source of the term “basket case”–referring to something that is full of errors/faults and is therefore not fit for its intended purpose.


Image of a Page From The Vinegar Bible By Victuallers (Own work)

[CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By |2018-01-27T17:38:44+00:00January 5th, 2017|Books & Film|


  1. Peter Matthews June 11, 2018 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    A Vinegar Bible Interest Group has been formed. The founding members are Christ Church, Shrewsbury, New Jersey, USA and St. John’s Anglican Church, Lunenburg , Nova Scotia, Canada. The purpose of the group is to indentify the number of Vinegar Bibles that have survived and to exchange information about each Bible, so that a history of the Vinegar Bible can be built up.

    Early research indicated that only 12 Vinegar Bibles were published, before publication ceased due to the errors in it. This is wrong. We have identified 41 Bibles located in England, USA, Canada and Australia. If you are interested in joining the group and exchanging information please contact me.

  2. Malcolm Graham Foxearth September 5, 2017 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    We are lucky enough to have such a Bible (under serious lock and key)
    Close our Church in Foxearth Essex
    Happy to show to interested parties
    Malcolm Graham Foxearth

  3. Francis Davidson January 7, 2017 at 11:30 am - Reply

    @ John Fisher:
    Unfortunately, I find your comment rather more confusing than enlightening. What in particular is incorrect in the statement alluded to? The Vinegar Bible is indeed a version of the King James Bible and was certainly printed by “the Kings printer” (Wikipedia) in 1717. But which king? Since it was printed in Oxford, I assume it was the English King George I. — who also claimed to be King of Scotland, but was opposed by the Jacobite King James III & VIII of Scotland (in exile). Is this the point you are making? The other information you give is interesting but seems (to my mind at least) somewhat extraneous to this point.

  4. John Fisher January 6, 2017 at 8:23 am - Reply

    King George I 1714-1727 (German House of Hannover). was King of England So it is incorrect to write “Well, it is a unique version of the King James Bible printed in 1717 by the Scottish king’s printer.”
    The use of the Kings James I (of England’s) translation which was intended for the Church of England begun in 1604 and completed in 1611.
    The Church of Scotland Was Calvinist with no bishops and the Church of England (Lutheran) with bishops. The Church of Scotland did not accept the imposition of the King James translation. This was one of many issues the Scots Presbyterians and English Anglicans fought over for the whole 100 years before.
    James VI and I (19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death. The kingdoms of Scotland and England were individual sovereign states, with their own parliaments, judiciary, and laws, though both were ruled by James in personal union.

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