Chuck Terrill: Words Matter 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Our daughter Sarah was looking over her shopping list in one of the grocery aisles at Walmart. Her five-year-old twins, Alex and Lillie, had helped her with writing the list.

Sarah startled the twins by saying in a loud voice, “Who wrote 'butt' on the shopping list? We aren't going to get any 'butt' at Walmart!”

Alex laughed so hard he fell on the floor. Then he said, “Not meeee!” 

His sister had obviously meant to write “butter.” Maybe she got distracted, but her omission does illustrate how important words are.    

I used to write a weekly article for the Augusta Daily Gazette. In a Christmas season essay, editor Michael McDermott's spell checker changed every occurrence of the word “Santa” into the word “Satan.” The letters may be the same (an anagram), but there is a big difference between “Satan” and “Santa!”

The article was a history of Santa Claus, but it was irrevocably changed. The reader was treated to lines like these: “Satan is a chubby, happy, lover of children.” “Satan always looks good in red.” “Satan's favorite words are “Ho! Ho! Ho!'”

Never in all of history had Satan received more gracious press than he did in that Christmas essay!   

Occasionally, you might find a typo in your local paper.  But without a doubt, the worst place for a typo to occur is in the Bible.   

An 1832 edition of the Bible had Rebekah leaving her tent to meet Isaac with a group of camels. It should have been “damsels.” An 1810 version read, “If any man come to me, and hate not his own wife, he cannot be my disciple.” Oops!  It should have read, “and hate not his own life.” Big difference! 

The first English language Bible to be printed in Ireland, in 1716, encouraged its readers to “sin on more” rather than “sin no more.” A similar error in 1653 had declared: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God?” It should have read the “righteous shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 

The so called “Wicked Bible” of 1631 earned its name by making the Seventh Commandment say, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” This mistake so infuriated King Charles that he ordered all copies destroyed and fined all printers whose hands had touched the edition. If you find a copy of this Bible somewhere, it is worth a fortune!    

The 19th century “Murderers Bible” misprinted Mark 7:27: “Let the children be killed” instead of “filled.”  

Perhaps King David was on target in a 1702 edition, which quoted him as saying “Printers (instead of “princes”) have persecuted me without cause. 

 Insofar as the Bible is properly interpreted and printed, every word of Scripture is true. I wouldn't change a single word of it. Not on purpose, anyway.   

“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Proverbs 30.5-6).  

Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 417-847-2460.