History of English Bible Translation 12 The Geneva Bible 1560

History of the English Bible - Chapter 12

1560 The Geneva BibleBible Timeline History Geneva

The Geneva Bible was a translaEnglish Bible Historytion made in the fiercely protestant city of Geneva, Switzerland. 

After a brief period of religious freedom in England under Edward VI (1547-1553), Queen "Bloody" Mary (1553-1558), a Catholic, put a violent end to the printing of Bibles in England for five years.  Public Bible readings in English were prohibited and the English Bible was once again banned from Churches. In 1555, John "Thomas Matthew" Rogers and Thomas Cranmer were both burned at the stake. Mary went on to burn hundreds for the "crime" of being a Protestant. This era was known as the Marian Exile, as protestant refugees fled from England.  Important reformers fled to Geneva so much so that Geneva was sometimes dubbed "the Protestant Rome."

Led by William Whittingham, Miles Coverdale and John Knox (the Scottish Reformer), and under the influence of John Calvin, these reformers published the Geneva New Testament in 1557.  Once again, this "new" translation matched about 90% of the wording of William Tyndale. 

The Geneva Bible was not printed in England until 1576, but it was allowed to be imported. The reign of Elizabeth starting in 1558 which put an end to the persecutions and the Great Bible was soon reinstated in the churches. The Geneva Bible, however, had gained instantaneous and lasting popularity:

• It was the first English Bible printed in Roman type instead of Gothic Type.
• It was the first English language Bible to add numbered verses to each chapter.
• It was printed in a portable size.
• It became the first "study bible" by including explanatory margin notes for "difficult" passages.

Geneva Bible Influence

This was the Bible read by William Shakespeare and John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress. It was the Bible that was brought to America on the Mayflower and used by Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War. It was widely preferred over the Great Bible and it's successor, the Bishop's Bible.  It was even preferred over the Authorized King James Version for decades after its release in 1611. Strangely, the famous Geneva Bible has been out-of-print since 1644.
"Vanity of vanities," "Solomon in all his glory," and "My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased" are all from the Geneva Bible. It has also been known as the Breeches Bible, after its rendering of Genesis 3:7:
"Then the eyes of them both were opened, and they knewe that they were naked, and they sewed figge tree leaues together, and made them selues breeches."


Geneva Bible Leaf