It only goes to show what can happen to a historical text if insufficient diligence is applied reading and transcribing it.
As in the following example from a spiffy catalog, sent to me by a reputable seller of expensive-as-sin antiquarian books…
—by J. Christoph Amberger
Baltimore, MD—My wife thinks I have a medieval sense of humor. (Alright, the word she uses is “juvenile”.) So bear with me as I share a pensive Easter story with you…
I just received the glitzy, four-color catalog of a New York purveyor of antiquarian books whose children I helped put through college many years ago, purchasing a few of his top-of-the-price-range volumes on fencing.
Among other offerings, mostly of a spiritual nature, I discovered a $6,000 copy of a 1776 American German-language Luther Bible, also known as the “Gun Wad Bible,” after its use in the American Revolutionary War as cartridge paper during the Battle of Germantown.
Not my cup of tea. Until I read the transcription of the German Fraktura title in the lot description… especially the center:
Biblia, Das ist: Die ganze Göttliche Heilige Schrift, (…) mit Jedes Capitels Furtzen Summarien…
Now, the actual word in the title is “kurzen,” the dative form of the German adjective kurz, meaning “short”.
Furzen (or furtzen, in its older spelling not occurring in the title), however, means “to fart”.
The good Doctor Luther offering farting summaries of Holy Scripture, instead of short summaries, for each chapter? That I’d like to see!
It wouldn’t be entirely out of character, as his second most famous (and entirely apocryphal) quote, supposedly from his Tischreden, is “Warum rülpset und furzet Ihr nicht, hat es Euch nicht geschmecket?” (Why aren’t you burping and farting, didn’t you like the food?”
Or, better documented: “Wenn ich hier einen Furz lasse, dann riecht man das in Rom.”—If I rip one off here, they’ll be smelling it in Rome.
Anglophone friends of historical fencing are no strangers to epic transcription fails from the verbose offerings of certain Renaissance and Medieval Swordsmanship dignitaries who brought us “Domingo” Angelo and other sillinesses…