John Calvin allowed for errors in the original autographs of the Holy Scriptures. Biblicist proponents of Evangelical literal theories of inspiration have advanced the myth that Calvin only allowed for scribal transmission errors in the extant Scriptures but not in the original autographs. The truth is that Calvin and the Magisterial Reformers (including Martin Luther) did not and would not affirm these contemporary literal theories of inspiration that are advocated so ardently today. Calvin affirmed a robust doctrine of accommodation such that bible difficulties were never a problem for him. Ironically these Protestant Church Fathers would find themselves disqualified from ministry today for their understand of Scripture in the very eponymous Churches that their work birthed!
According to Rogers and McKim in The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible, it was A.A. Hodge (1823 – 1886) who first argued that only the original autographs were inerrant, and not the extant copies, as a retreat from those before him who argued that extant inerrant arguments were still known. How could John Calvin (1509 – 1564) hold to a Hodge's inerrancy of the original autograph theory that didn't exist until three centuries after his death? This is an anachronistic myth.
In Francois Wendel's excellent book "Calvin: The Origins and Developments of His Religious Thought", he identifies several loci in John Calvin's commentaries that exemplifies an allowance for errors in the Scriptures that are not due to scribal transmission errors, but where Calvin believed the errors existed in the original autographs. Two of the most notable are Calvin's commentary on Hebrews 11:21 and his commentary on Matthew 27:9.
John Calvin's commentary on Hebrews 11:21:
"And worshipped on the top, etc. This is one of those places from which we may conclude that the points were not formerly used by the Hebrews; for the Greek translators could not have made such a mistake as to put staff here for a bed, if the mode of writing was then the same as now. No doubt Moses spoke of the head of his couch, when he said על ראש המטה but the Greek translators rendered the words, “On the top of his staff” as though the last word was written, mathaeh. The Apostle hesitated not to apply to his purpose what was commonly received: he was indeed writing to the Jews; but they who were dispersed into various countries, had changed their own language for the Greek. And we know that the Apostles were not so scrupulous in this respect, as not to accommodate themselves to the unlearned, who had as yet need of milk; and in this there is no danger, provided readers are ever brought back to the pure and original text of Scripture. But, in reality, the difference is but little; for the main thing was, that Jacob worshipped, which was an evidence of his gratitude. He was therefore led by faith to submit himself to his son."
John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews, Hebrews 11:21,
In John Calvin's Commentary on Hebrews 11:21, he provides an example of how his Doctrine of Accommodation allows for errors in the original autographs of the Scriptures. Calvin reference to the "Greek translators" is most likely the translators of the Septuagint. Calvin believes that the Septuagint translators wrongly translated 1 Kings 1:47 to say "on top of his staff" (erroneously in Calvin's opinion) instead of "the head of his couch". Calvin blames the translational error on the authors of the Septuagint rather than the Apostle of the epistle to the Hebrews, however Calvin affirms that the Apostle knowingly used the Septuagint's erroneous translation in the original autograph rather than correcting the error. Calvin believed that the Hebrew original of 1 Kings 1:47 is ambiguous in its meaning, but should not be translated as the Septuagint translators had placed "staff" in the text instead of "bed". In Calvin's mind, the Septuagint was the commonly received and know form of the Hebrew scriptures in the Apostle's audience, so it would be more appropriate to include the error in his quotation of 1 Kings 1:47 because it stands in the version of the Septuagint possessed by those whom the Apostle is writing. However, it should be noted that at times the Apostle of the Epistle of Hebrews (acknowledged by Calvin) to translate the same verse in ways that were different for the same verse, and deviating from the Septuagint. Calvin's allowance for various types of errors is clearly affirmed in his last statement Calvin did not find it necessary to affirm that the autographs were without error.
Also consider John Calvin's commentary on Matthew 27:9:
9. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet. How the name of Jeremiah crept in, I confess that I do not know nor do I give myself much trouble to inquire. The passage itself plainly shows that the name of Jeremiah has been put down by mistake, instead of Zechariah, (11:13;) for in Jeremiah we find nothing of this sort, nor any thing that even approaches to it. Now that other passage, if some degree of skill be not used in applying it, might seem to have been improperly distorted to a wrong meaning; but if we attend to the rule which the apostles followed in quoting Scripture, we shall easily perceive that what we find there is highly applicable to Christ. [..] Matthew does not quote the words of Zechariah; for he merely alludes to the metaphor, under which the Lord then complains of the ingratitude of the people. But the meaning is the same, that while the Jews ought to have entirely devoted themselves, and all that they possessed, to the Lord, they contemptuously dismissed him with a mean hire; as if, by governing them for so many ages, he had deserved nothing more than any cowherd would have received for the labors of a single year. He complains, therefore, that though he is beyond all estimation, he was rated by them at so low a price.
Likewise in Calvin's commentary on Matthew 27:9, the quotation is declared, by Calvin, to be misattributed to Jeremiah by Matthew. It does not matter to Calvin that Matthew has made this mistake, because it may be clearly ascertained in (from Calvin's opinion), that the quotation is from Zechariah rather than Jeremiah.