Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Protestant's Bible

Many Protestants today cling to and argue in favour of the Authorized Version (King James Bible), completely ignorant as to its origin, its history, or their own ancestors. The King James Bible is an Anglican/Church of England Bible. The lineage of Anglican/Church of England Bible translations began with the Great Bible of 1539, also known as the "Chained Bible" because it was chained to the pulpit. It was the first legally authorized Bible in English. Realizing its deficiency, being translated from the Latin Vulgate rather than the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and abhorring the Protestant's English Bible, the Church of England commissioned the Bishops' Bible of 1568. Even this version could not claim to be strictly translated from the original languages since translation practices varied from book to book, and comparison with the Great Bible seems to reveal very little in the way of revisions in the Apocrypha and other areas. The translators of the 1611 Authorized Version were instructed to use the 1602 edition of the Bishops' Bible as their basis, although careful examination of the 1611 Authorized Version reveals that its translators were influenced more by the Geneva Bible than any other English version (as 90% of the text is identical with it). After the 1611 Authorized Version, the Revised Version of 1885 (w/ Apocrypha, 1895) was the first, and remains the only, officially authorized and recognized revision of the King James Bible in Britain. The Revised Version then lead to the Revised Standard Version of 1952 (w/ Apocrypha, 1957) and the New Revised Standard Version of 1989, which contains much heresy.

So there you have it. The English Bible translation lineage of the Anglican Church/Church of England:
Great Bible → Bishops' Bible → Authorized Version (KJV) → Revised Version → Revised Standard Version → New Revised Standard Version

The greatest irony of history is that Protestants of all denominations today embrace the King James Bible even though it is not a Protestant Bible—it is an Anglican/Church of England Bible. Protestants today who cling to and argue in favour of the King James Bible, their own ancestors were persecuted by it and wanted nothing to do with it. Most Protestants have never heard of the Bible of their own heritage: the Geneva Bible. The Geneva Bible precedes the Authorized Version by 51 years!

The Geneva Bible was the "Bible of the Protestant Reformation" and the Bible of choice for English speaking Christians for over 150 years. It is the only Bible ever able to outsell and exceed the popularity of the King James Bible, until its printing ceased in 1644. The New Testament was first published in 1557, with the entire Bible following in 1560. Between the years 1557 and 1644, there were at least 144 editions of the Geneva Bible printed. The eloquence and beauty of the English language was influenced more by the Geneva Bible than by anything else. William Shakespeare quotes from the Geneva Bible hundreds of times in his plays. The Geneva Bible was the Bible of the Puritans and the Pilgrims. It was not only the first Bible taken to America, brought over on the Mayflower, but it was also the Bible upon which America was founded. Most early American colonists who were fleeing from the religious persecution of the Church of England wanted nothing to do with the King James Bible of the Anglican Church. Probably because it was a government publication, sanctioned by the government. It is interesting to note that the Geneva Bible was produced under the severe religious persecution of the Roman Catholic Queen "Bloody" Mary Tudor, and later the Geneva Bible was taken to America by those fleeing the religious persecution of King James, the Church of England, and the King James Bible (being forced upon the people as the only acceptable Bible to own). Not much has changed in that regard, seeing as how KJV-Onlyists continue to try and force others to use the KJV, claiming that it is the only acceptable Bible in the English language.

The Geneva Bible is the Bible of firsts. It was the first Bible to add numbered verses to each chapter of Scripture for easy reference and memorization; it was the first Bible to use cross-references; it was the first Bible to translate the Old Testament directly from the Hebrew; it was the first Bible to use easier-to-read Roman-Style Typeface rather than Gothic Blackletter-Style Typeface; and it was the first "study Bible," containing extensive commentary notes in the margins. It was because of these commentary notes that King James feared for the loss of his own kingdom and thus commissioned the translation of the Authorized Version. He believed that several of these notes were "seditious" and undermined the authority of the monarchy, and if people could hold him accountable to God's Word, he would no longer be able to rule tyrannically by "Divine Right." For example, the marginal note for Exodus 1:19 indicated that the Hebrew midwives were correct to disobey the Egyptian rulers. Essentially, the Geneva Bible ended the age of kings. So popular was the Geneva Bible, that its commentary notes were even added to 17th and 18th century KJVs.

Certain editions of the Geneva Bible dated as "1599" are known as the "Bastardized Geneva" or the "Pirated Geneva" because the Apocrypha has been omitted from them. These editions were apparently produced during the 1630s-1640s in Amsterdam, where everything was legal (and still is to this day), and given a false date in case they were caught. In England, it was apparently illegal to produce a Bible that did not contain the Apocrypha.

In 2006, Tolle Lege published a new edition of the 1599 Geneva Bible that retains the Elizabethan English of "thee," "thou," and "-eth," but with updated spelling. It would be great to see an updated version of the first printing of the Geneva Bible from 1560. Until then, any Protestant seeking a copy of their own Bible in Elizabethan English can pick up a copy of this one. It is a welcomed replacement to the Anglican/Church of England Authorized Version (King James Bible).

The Geneva English Bible: The Shocking Truth