The Geneva Bible

GENEVA BIBLE HISTORY

A 1583 Geneva Bible, Giant Pulpit Folio

A 1583 Geneva Bible

The History of the Geneva Bible

The Geneva Bible was the "Bible of the Protestant Reformation", and the Bible of the Puritans and Pilgrims. It was the first Bible taken to America, brought over on the Mayflower. The Geneva Bible is the Bible upon which America was founded. You can imagine, most early American colonists, who were fleeing the religious oppression of the Anglican Church (Church of England), wanted nothing to do with the King James Bible of the Anglican Church!

John Calvin

John Calvin

Textually, the Geneva Bible offered a number of radical never-before-seen changes: It was the first Bible in English to add numbered verses to each chapter of scripture. Also, the Geneva was the first Bible to introduce easier-to-read “Roman Style Typeface” rather than the “Gothic Blackletter Style Typeface” which had been used exclusively in earlier Bibles. Another curious innovation; the Geneva was the first “Study Bible ” with extensive commentary notes in the margins.

Queen Mary

Queen Mary

The Geneva Bible is the version quoted from hundreds of times by William Shakespeare in his plays. Also called the “Breeches Bible”, the Geneva Bible is the only Bible ever able to outsell and exceed the popularity of the King James Bible, as it did in the early 1600’s until its printing ceased in 1644. In fact, one of the greatest ironies of history, is that Protestants of all denominations today embrace the King James Version of the Bible (which reads 90% the same as the Geneva), even though the King James Version is not a Protestant Bible (it’s Anglican / Church of England). Most Protestants have never even heard of the Bible of their own heritage: the Geneva Bible. It was produced by John Calvin, John Knox, Myles Coverdale, John Foxe, & other English refugees in ever-neutral Geneva, Switzerland… fleeing the persecution of Roman Catholic Queen “Bloody” Mary in England. Mary would not tolerate the Protestant Geneva Bible, which proclaimed the Pope an “antichrist” in its commentarynotes.

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