Origins of the Geneva Bible
The Geneva Bible was first published in 1560 and was printed over 200 different times until 1644 (Garrett 41). This Bible was viewed second in importance only to the Authorized Version of the Bible in 1611. Most view the Geneva Bible as the most widely read and influential English Bible of the 16th and 17th centuries (Eason 125). The Bible was translated in Geneva, Switzerland. The Geneva translators produced a revised New Testament version in English in 1557. The main feature of this particular printing of the Geneva Bible that distinguished it from all other Bibles of its time were the extensive marginal notes that were included to explain and interpret the scriptures for the common people (Backus 21; Eason 127).
However, the marginal notes of the Geneva Bible were also the reason for its demise. These strongly Protestant notes infuriated King James to the point that he considered it seditious and made its ownership a felony. Consequently, King James eventually introduced the King James Version, which drew largely from the Geneva Bible, but without the marginal notes (Calvin 92; DeMar). During the reign of James I and into the reign of Charles I, the use of the Geneva Bible steadily declined as the Authorized King James version became more widely used (The Reformed). In 1644, the Geneva Bible was printed for the last time. However, the Geneva Bible remained popular among Puritans after this period and remained in widespread use until after the English Civil War (The History).
Backus, I.D. The Reformed Roots of the English New Testament: The Influence of Theodore Beza on the English New Testament. Pittsburgh, PA: Pickwick Press, 1980.
Calvin, John. Geneva Bible 1599. Ozark, MO: LL Brown Publishing Company, 1991.
DeMar, Gary. “The Geneva Bible: The Forgotten Translation.” 11 Feb. 2005
Eason, C. The Genevan Bible: Notes on Its Production and Distribution. Dublin: Eason and Sons, 1937.
Garrett, C.W. The Marian Exiles. Cambridge, 1938.
“The History of the English Bible.” 11 Feb. 2005
“The Reformed Reader.” 11 Feb. 2005