This much-loved English Bible was neither created nor first printed in England.
The Geneva Translation — as its name implies — was compiled in Geneva, Switzerland,
where many English reformers had moved
to avoid the persecution in England. The popularity of this Bible even surpassed that of the Great Bible,
which had been released 20 years earlier. Its widespread acceptance was due to several things:
It was the
first Bible to avoid the use of Old English
Black Gothic type. Although the Old English typeface created a look similar
to that done by scribes and copyists, the letters were often difficult to distinguish — especially for people who
were just leaning to read.
It was the
first Bible to be printed in a convenient
size. Most previous English Bibles were immense things; some had pages
well over 14 inches in length! This made for a very large volume that was difficult to read without some sort of
table or Reader's Stand. However many editions of the Geneva Translation were about the same size as today's
avoided many of the difficult, theologically-oriented words that were common in previous translations. This made a volume that was much easier to understand by people who had little formal religious training.
It had a very
large number of marginal helps and cross-references to help the reader understand the text and find related passages.
Every book in the Bible had the chapter and verse divisions with which we are familiar today.
Bibles did not divide Chapters into Verses. This made it difficult to refer to a specific passage in
Scripture. The numbering of verses made it much easier to find passages and identify specific portions of scripture.
This truly was the first English Bible created for — and accepted by — the common people.
Use the Menu on the left to read the full story, or
to view actual pages from the Geneva Translation.