The Geneva Bible was a Protestant translation of the Holy Bible into English.
During the time when England was ruled by Queen Mary I, who persecuted Protestants, a number of Protestant scholars fled to Geneva in Switzerland, which was then ruled as a republic by John Calvin and Theodore Beza. Among these scholars was William Whittingham, who supervised the translation. The first edition of this Bible appeared in 1560. It was revised substantially in 1576 and again in 1599. Like most English translations of the time, it was translated out of the original Greek and Hebrew, and was substantially based on the earlier English translations by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale.
It has also been known as the "Breeches" Bible, after 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." By contrast, the King James Version translates the Hebrew word "chagor" in this verse as "apron."
The Geneva Bible was annotated by Laurence Tomson, who based his notes on Beza's 1574 Latin translation of the Bible. As such, it was the first annotated study Bible to appear in English, and the annotations made it more useful for private Bible reading than for public worship. This was the Bible read by William Shakespeare, by John Donne, and by 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. Because the language of the Geneva Bible was more forceful and vigorous, most readers preferred this version strongly over the Bishops' Bible, the translation authorised by the Church of England under Elizabeth I.
The annotations were Protestant in character, and as such were disliked by King James I of England, who commissioned the Authorised Version or King James Bible to replace it. The Geneva Bible remained popular among Puritans and remained in widespread use until after the English Civil War.
To compare the Geneva Bible with the King James, here is Revelation 6: 12-17 in both versions (with spelling modernised). The differences have been italicised in the King James extract:
Geneva Bible And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake, and the sun was as black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon was like blood. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, as a fig tree casteth her green figs, when it is shaken of a mighty wind. And heaven departed away, as a scroll, when it is rolled, and every mountain and isle were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in dens, and among the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the presence of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of his wrath is come, and who can stand?
King James Bible And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island was moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
It is striking how close the two versions are to each other. Examination of their differences reveals that the earlier Geneva version frequently sounds more direct and modern than the later King James, e.g.
“and the moon was like blood” (Geneva) versus “and the moon became as blood” (King James)
“as a fig tree casteth her green figs” (Geneva) versus “even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs” (King James)
The Original Facsimilies http://www.thedcl.org/bible/gb/index.html
The Original Text http://www.bibles.org.uk/pdf/bibles/
Modern Spelling with Footnotes for the Gospels http://www.genevabible.org/Geneva.html
The Original Text and Footnotes for the later Hebrew Prophets an The later New Testament http://www.computervirus.bz/free_geneva.html
Last updated: 08-29-2005 11:08:40
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13