The Geneva English Bible: The Shocking Truth
A lecture given at the Geneva Tyndale Conference in October 2001. ProfessorDaniells pioneering material on the Geneva Bibles will appear in greaterdetail in his forthcoming book The Bible in English: Its History and Influence.
The Geneva New Testament, 1557.
After the Great Bible of 1539, the next newlyprepared English New Testament was printedin Geneva in June 1557. It marked both a greatcontrast to the Great Bible, and though atfirst it might not seem so today a long strideforward.
The title page is another contrast to that of the Great Bible. Instead ofannouncing its authority by declaring it to be the result of the diligent studyof diverse excellent learned men, expert in the … tongues, it states:
The New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ. Conferred diligently with the Greek, and best approved translations. With the arguments, as well before the chapters, as for every Book and Epistle, also diversities of readings, and most profitable annotations of all hard places: whereunto is added a copious Table.
a person of lesser stature than himself, which was finely and well apparelled, all clad in white silk, and directly over her head was set her name and title in Latin and English, Temporis filia, the Daughter of Time. Which two so appointed went forward toward the South-side of the pageant. And on her breast was written her proper name, which was Veritas, Truth, who held a book in her hand upon which was written verbum veritas, the word of Truth.
Popularity Of The Geneva Version
The Bible and Holy Scriptures conteyned in the Olde and Newe Testament First edition Geneva, printed by Rowland Hall, 1560.This English Bible translation became known as the Geneva Bible, for the place it was translated and first printed. Because of its compact size, readable Roman type, affordability, and explanatory notes, it soon became popular withthe English people. The Bible also included 26 engravings and 5 individual maps. The first edition included a dedication to the moste virtuous and noble Quene Elizabeth, who ascended the throne in 1559. Here the English exiles encouraged the Queen from the Scriptures in the godly responsibilities of a Christian ruler. An address To our Beloved in the Lord our brethren in England, Scotland, Ireland encouraged the people in the Scriptures.
The Geneva Bible has sometimes been called the Breeches Bible, after the translation of Genesis 3:7: Adam and Eve sewed figge tree leaves together, and made themselves breeches. However, the Wycliffite translation of the 14th century had also translated the first couples fig-leaf clothing asbreeches.
King James Disdain for the Geneva BibleThough King James VI of Scotland authorized the Geneva Version to bethe first Bible printed in Scotland, he came to vehemently dislike themarginal notes such as those at Exodus 1:
- Variant translation possibilities
- Historical background and information about Hebrew rituals.
King James Bible: How It Changed The Way We Speak
The impact of the King James Bible, which was published 400 years ago, is still being felt in the way we speak and write, says Stephen Tomkins.
No other book, or indeed any piece of culture, seems to have influenced the English language as much as the King James Bible. Its turns of phrase have permeated the everyday language of English speakers, whether or not they’ve ever opened a copy.
The Sun says Aston Villa “refused to give up the ghost”. Wendy Richard calls her EastEnders character Pauline Fowler “the salt of the earth”. The England cricket coach tells reporters, “You can’t put words in my mouth.” Daily Mirror fashion pages call Tilda Swinton “a law unto herself”.
Though each of those phrases was begotten of the loins of the English Bible, it’s safe to say that none of those speakers was deliberately quoting the Bible to people they expected to be familiar with its contents.
And while a 2009 survey by Durham University found that only 38% of us know the parable of prodigal son, a recent book by the linguist David Crystal, appropriately called Begat: The King James Bible and the English language, counts 257 phrases from the King James Bible in contemporary English idiom.
Such statistics take us back to days of old when this Bible was the daily reading of millions of people throughout the English speaking world, from Northamptonshire cobblers to US presidents – though not perhaps so far distant in the latter case.
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The Goal Of The King James Bible Was Deeply Political
King James wanted to protect Britain from a contentious religious war like the ones that had torn France and Germany apart in the 16th century. So he appointed a committee of 54 scholars and clergymen to write the King James Bible. It took them over seven years to complete the translation.
As writer and editor Charles McGrath points out, From the start, the King James Bible was intended to be not a literary creation but rather a political and theological compromise between the established church and the growing Puritan movement. Essentially, James wanted a clear text with no room for doctrinal dispute.
But the King James Bible still contained a number of mistranslations that have confused readers for centuries.
Why The Legendary Geneva Bible Was Banned
Imagine if the President of the United States outlawed your version of the Bible because he considered it to be a threat to his rule.
Imagine that he authorized a new Government âapprovedâ version for you to read instead.
Thatâs exactly what happened in the tumultuous year of 1611.
King James despised the revolutionary and âseditiousâ Geneva Bible.
He thought the Geneva Bibleâs study notes on key political texts threatened his authority, so he outlawed it and ordered a new translation of the Bible â the King James .
While the King James Version is an excellent translation, it was edited and authorized by the Government.
The Geneva Bible was not.
It was truly a Bible by the people and for the people.
The Geneva Bible is unique among all other Bibles.
It was the first Bible to use chapters and numbered verses and became the most popular version of its time because of the extensive study notes.
These notes were included to explain and interpret the Scriptures for the common people and laid the foundation for a Republican form of government.
For nearly half a century these notes helped the people of England, Scotland, and Ireland understand the Bible and true God-ordained liberty.
When the Pilgrims arrived in America in 1620, they brought the 1599 Geneva Bible.
You can see why this remarkable version with its profound study notes played a key role in the formation of the American Republic.
Today, the 1599 Geneva Bible has been all but forgotten.
To be continuedâ¦
How The King James Bible Came To Be
When King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England in 1603, he was well aware that he was entering a sticky situation.
For one thing, his immediate predecessor on the throne, Queen Elizabeth I, had ordered the execution of his mother, , who had represented a Catholic threat to Elizabeths Protestant reign. And even though Elizabeth had established the supremacy of the Anglican Church , its bishops now had to contend with rebellious Protestant groups like the Puritans and Calvinists, who questioned their absolute power.
For the new king, the Geneva Bible posed a political problem, since it contained certain annotations questioning not only the bishops power, but his own. So in 1604, when a Puritan scholar proposed the creation of a new translation of the Bible at a meeting at a religious conference at Hampton Court, James surprised him by agreeing.
Over the next seven years, 47 scholars and theologians worked to translate the different books of the Bible: the Old Testament from Hebrew, the New Testament from Greek and the Apocrypha from Greek and Latin. Much of the resulting translation drew on the work of the Protestant reformer William Tyndale, who had produced the first New Testament translation from Greek into English in 1525, but was executed for heresy less than a decade later.
How Important Was The King James Bible
The commissioning of the King James Bible took place in 1604 at the Hampton Court Conference outside of London. The first edition appeared in 1611. The King James version remains one of the greatest landmarks in the English tongue. It has decidedly affected our language and thought categories, and although produced in England for English churches, it played a unique role in the historical development of America. Even today, many consider the King James Bible the ultimate translation in English and will allow none other for use in church or personal devotions. However, the story behind the creation of this Bible translation is little known and reveals an amazing interplay of faith and politics, church and state. To understand what happened, we need to go back to the world of the early 17th century.
Try to imagine what it was like to live in the England of 1604. Theirs was not a world like ours where speed, change, and innovation are consciously cultivated and thoughtlessly celebrated. Their world moved at a much slower pace and continuity was prized over change. In their world, the crowning of a new monarch was a grand event that deeply affected the life and identity of the nation. The monarch would rule for life. There was no continuous cycle of election campaigns in their world as there is in ours.
The Cultural Legacy Of The King James Bible
From Handels Messiah to Coolios Gangstas Paradise, the King James Bible has inspired a wide swath of cultural expression across the English-speaking world over generations. Writers from Herman Melville to Ernest Hemingway to Alice Walker have drawn on its cadences and imagery for their work, while quoted the King James Version of Isaiah in his famous I Have a Dream speech.
Beyond the countless artists and leaders inspired by the King James Bible, its influence can be seen in many of the expressions English speakers use every day. Phrases like my brothers keeper,the kiss of death,the blind leading the blind,fall from grace,eye for an eye and a drop in the bucketto name only a fewall owe their existence, or at least their popularization in English, to the KJV.
From the early 20th century onward, mainstream Protestant denominations increasingly turned toward more modern Bible translations, which have been able to provide more accurate readings of the source texts, thanks to the use of more recently discovered ancient Semitic texts unavailable in 1611. Still, the King James Version remains extremely popular. As late as 2014, a major study on The Bible in American Life found that 55 percent of Bible readers said they reached most often for the King James Version, compared with only 19 percent who chose the New International Version, first published in 1978 and updated most recently in 2011.
What Is Wrong With The Kjv Bible
But there are a number of King James Version Bible errors and mistranslations that completely altered the meaning of the original text. For example, one 1631 edition ordered people to commit adultery. The history of the King James Bible is no exception. It includes multiple mistranslations, errors, and other problems.
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The Rejection Of The Seditious Geneva Bible By King James I
One would think, given the success of the GB, that with the arrival of James from Protestant Scotland in 1603 it would be accepted officially by the authorities. After all, its influence was overwhelming, as were its sales. However, Puritans with such hopes were seriously disappointed when King James I rejected the GB altogether. In his estimate, the GB was the worst on the market, as he made clear at the Hampton Court Conference in 1604 . Of course, his comments were not directed towards the translation as they were towards the marginal annotations. According to King James I, he saw these notes as very partial, untrue, seditious, and savoring too much of dangerous and traitorous conceits.
James rejection of the GBs annotations was rooted in his anti-Puritan, anti-Presbyterian ecclesiology. For King James, his authority should be dependent upon the bishops. No bishops, no king! Scottish Presbyterianism had no bishops. For King James, this was egalitarianism and republicanism at its worst, as exemplified in Calvins Geneva. Therefore, King James preferred an Episcopal system, not least because of its more positive associations with the monarchy. Consequently, episcopacy was the safeguard to the monarchy.
How The Kjv Was Translated
To oversee the translation, James commissioned six committees made up of 47 scholars from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. They were tasked with translating all of the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Old and New Testaments into English. It was a complicated and sometimes contentious process that took seven years to complete. Though we don’t have a lot of the records of those committees, “through our best reconstructions, we understand it was a very rigorous debate with everyone committed to the most accurate translation of the Bible,” Gordon said.
Much of the resulting translation drew on the work of William Tyndale, a Protestant reformer who had produced the first New Testament translation from Greek to English in 1525. “It’s believed that up to 80% of the King James Version stems from the William Tyndale version,” Gordon said.
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Difference Between King James Bible And Geneva Bible
The Bible is a holy scripture of Christianity. It is a group of religious texts describing the history of the earth from its beginning to the spread of religion worldwide. A Bible contains two parts, The Old Testament and The New Testament, which are further divided into different books. The two most popular versions of the Bible are the King James Bible and the Geneva Bible.
Modern Spelling Version Of The 1599 Geneva Bible
In 2006, Tolle Lege Press released a version of the 1599 Geneva Bible with modernised spelling, as part of their 1599 Geneva Bible restoration project. The original cross references were retained as well as the study notes by the Reformation leaders. In addition, the Early Modern English glossary was included in the updated version. The advisory board of the restoration project included several ProtestantChristian leaders and scholars.
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James Comes To The Throne
As James prepared to take the throne, strong stirrings of discontent caused him grave concern. Elizabeth died on March 24, 1603, after ruling 45 years. James received word of his cousin Elizabeth’s death and his appointment to the throne, and on April 5, he began his journey from Edinburgh to London for his coronation.
James’ journey south was marked by an important interruption. A delegation of Puritans presented James a petition that outlined their grievances and the reforms they desired. The document was known as the Millenary Petition and had over 1,000 clergy signatures, representing about ten percent of England’s clergy. This petition was the catalyst for the Hampton Court Conference. From the beginning, the petition sought to allay suspicions regarding loyalty to the crown. It treated four areas: church service, church ministers, church livings and maintenance, and church discipline. It also set forth objections that perhaps sound rather frivolous to us today, but were serious matters to the Puritans. Among the things they objected to were the use of the wedding ring, the sign of the cross and the wearing of certain liturgical clothing. However, the Millenary Petition contains no mention at all of a new Bible translation.
A High Watermark Of Biblical Scholarship
Scholarship in the Hebrew and Greek languages had come to their highest point since the recovery of this knowledge at the time of the Renaissance. It appears that this was what John Reynolds had in view in proposing a revision. It is worth noting the unique British expertise that existed in Hebrew at the time.
One writer noted that this was so much the case that unless a theologian could understand handsomely well the Hebrew text, he is counted but a maimed, or as it were half a divine, especially in this learned age.
Scholarship, especially Hebrew scholarship, had much improved in England since the mid-sixteenth century. The excellent continental scholars Fagius, Tremellius and Chevalier had been brought over to teach Hebrew at Cambridge, the early dictionaries and grammars upon which Tyndale and his successor depended had been revised or superseded, and there was more knowledge of the cognate languages, Aramaic and Syriac. Increasing familiarity with Jewish commentaries on the Old Testament was an important factor in bible study and translation. S.L. Greenslade, English Versions of the Bible A.D. 1525-1611, The Cambridge History of the Bible: The West from the Reformation to the Present Day, ed. S. L. Greenslade , page 144.
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Why The King James Bible Of 1611 Remains The Most Popular Translation In History
In 1604, Englands King James I authorized a new translation of the Bible aimed at settling some thorny religious differences in his kingdomand solidifying his own power.
But in seeking to prove his own supremacy, King James ended up democratizing the Bible instead. Thanks to emerging printing technology, the new translation brought the Bible out of the churchs sole control and directly into the hands of more people than ever before, including the Protestant reformers who settled Englands North American colonies in the 17th century.
Emerging at a high point in the English Renaissance, the King James Bible held its own among some of the most celebrated literary works in the English language . Its majestic cadences would inspire generations of artists, poets, musicians and political leaders, while many of its specific phrases worked their way into the fabric of the language itself.
Even now, more than four centuries after its publication, the King James Bible remains the most famous Bible translation in historyand one of the most printed books ever.
King James I of England, 1621.