Posted by: davidwhall | July 10, 2008

Calvin and the Geneva Bible

Introduction to the 1560 Geneva Bible

David W. Hall

The 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth affords an opportunity to extol many different by-products from the Protestant Reformation. While not a direct translator for the first edition of the 1560 Geneva Bible, John Calvin-almost as much as Martin Luther, who seized upon the novel-for-the-day Gutenburg technology in Germany-was certainly one of earliest and strongest advocates for of Bible translation. To be sure, Luther arrived at this conclusion a little earlier, emphasizing that the Bible needed to be known by both clergy and laity alike. However, Luther’s German language translation (New Testament [NT] in 1522; whole Bible in 1534), over time, reached fewer readers than did the Genevan Bible’s various English editions.[1]

Prior to the 1560 Geneva Bible, of course, several groundbreaking English Bibles had been translated by John Wyclife (NT, 1382), William Tyndale (NT in 1525), Miles Coverdale (1535), and the Great Bible in 1539. These pioneering translations catapulted the ancient Scriptures into the language of English-speaking people, who would soon colonize North America. The Geneva Bible, thus, became a megaphone for the Scriptures and, by its commentary, a broadcast mechanism for a certain type of theology: John Calvin’s.

Several things illustrate Calvin’s imprimatur on this version. First, he used it in his own preaching; secondly, some of his closest disciples were involved in its translation; thirdly, publishings in Geneva at the time were approved by a committee of the Genevan Consistory, heavily populated by Calvin adherents; and fourthly, just prior to its publication, the church of Geneva requested that Calvin and Theodore Beza (below) confirm William Whttingham’s NT translation. Without a doubt, Calvin approved of this 1560 translation.

The English Exiles

A host of British exiles, sometimes called the Marian exiles because of their emigration from the United Kingdom during Mary’s reign (1553-1558), found their way to various European cities such as Frankfurt, Strasbourg, or Geneva, with many gravitating toward Calvin’s leadership in Geneva. Having already received some notoriety from the 1536 publication of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, when Calvin was exiled from Geneva in 1538, he settled in Strasbourg and pastored a congregation of approximately 400 English-speaking settlers. They learned to trust the wise voice of the Reformer who would soon return to Geneva, and many of them or their friends ended up in Geneva later. While in Strasbourg, Calvin became acquainted with the work of English pastors and theologians such as John Ponet, Christopher Goodman, and William Whittingham. When Calvin later returned to Geneva, the following were in his spiritual fellowship: William Whittingham,[2] Anthony Gilby, Miles Coverdale, Thomas Bodley, and Thomas Sampson. John Knox would also pass through Geneva during this period, calling it ‘the most perfect school of Christ.’ All of these would be involved in the Geneva Bible’s birth.

Knox’s opinion of Geneva during Calvin’s day represented the admiration of the British Puritans when he stated: “In other places, I confess Christ to be truly preached; but manners and religion so sincerely reformed I have not yet seen in any other place.” Others were generous in their praise of the city. A fellow exile from England, William Whittingham, exalted Geneva as “the mirror and model of true religion and piety.” A former Italian bishop was equally laudatory, describing Geneva as “a republic whose only sovereign was God, where only seven ministers preached ten times each Sunday . . . and where the entire population were models of piety and concord.” Jean Tagaut, a Huguenot professor at Calvin’s academy, praised the natural beauty of Geneva as “truly supernatural exaltation” and suspected that “legions of angels watch from the mountains over the safety of the city.”[3] Even with hyperbole, the gratitude of these refugees reflects their praise for Geneva, a city that they thought was not only free but also holy. In due time these Scottish, English, and Italian refugees returned to their homelands and became ardent spokesmen for Calvinistic republicanism, widely commending Geneva as a unique and praiseworthy model. During their stay in Geneva, they were free to pursue biblical translation and exploration of more pure ecclesiological practices.

Geneva became an international center for publishing and critical scholarship in the 1550s. Dozens of French and English Bibles were permitted to be printed in Geneva during Calvin’s time, whereas under Mary Tudor’s oppressive reign, use or publication of the Bible in English was prohibited. English exiles streamed to Geneva during the 1550s. By 1555 following the burning of Protestant leader John Rogers at Smithfield in London (Rogers had been seeking to revise Tyndale’s Bible), Marian exiles had little reason to stay in England-and many reasons to seek refuge in Europe. Scholars like Miles Coverdale (an Anglican bishop in exile), John Foxe, Christopher Goodman, Anthony Gilby, William Whittingham and others migrated to Geneva and commenced work on the version which became known as the “breeches Bible” (so called after an odd translation of Genesis 3:7). Whittingham, who eventually returned to serve as Bishop of Durham, settled in Geneva from 1555-1563; he oversaw the first printing of the Geneva Bible in 1560. William Whittingham, a relative of Calvin who also had been an Oxford student with sophisticated skill in Hebrew and Greek, is credited with the New Testament translation of the Geneva Bible, first released on June 10, 1557. Anthony Gilby oversaw the translation of the Old Testament [OT], which first appeared in 1560 from Hebrew.[4] The translation of both Testaments resorted to the original sources-instead of to the Latin Vulgate, itself a translation-a hallmark of the Protestant Reformation’s scholarly integrity.

Other English Protestants either came to Geneva during this period or later took Geneva’s Calvinism back to the United Kingdom. By 1549, Thomas Broke published the heart-and-soul of Calvinism under the title of “The Life and Conversation of a Christian Man” (taken from Book 3, chaps. 6-10 of Calvin’s Institutes), and numerous other Genevan works were published by English Puritans in the 1560s and 1570s. However, none of these publishers would rival the publication machine in Geneva at the time.

Other expert and competent Bible scholars were also drawn to Geneva. Perhaps the most distinguished were Francis Junius and Theodore Beza, who originally came to Lausanne to teach Greek to students at Peter Viret’s academy. Beza’s life-long expertise as a NT Greek scholar is also noted in that after Calvin’s death Beza taught Greek and Biblical studies to the Geneva Academy’s second-generation reformers, who later carried on the work of Calvin into the seventeenth century.

Not only was the Protestant faith insistent in principle on translation of the scriptures into common languages of the day, but Beza (1520-1605), who arrived in Geneva from Lausanne to head Calvin’s academy in 1559, was a bona fide New Testament scholar. He also eventually purchased an early NT manuscript (Codex B or Cambridge Mss) and used it for his own commentaries on the NT. Beza’s Annotations (published later in 1569) were probably the main inspiration for the “study bible” approach of the Genevan Bible. The donation of his New Testament manuscripts to Cambridge University in 1605 is another token of the close affinity between Genevan Calvinism and the surging British Puritanism of the day.[5]

Not only were the scriptures provided in this first thoroughly-researched edition of the Bible for English speakers, but it also provided under one cover-as does our present volume-explanatory aids to help those who had not received a high degree of formal education.

The Distinguishing Features

Lewis Lupton sets the innovation brought by the Geneva Bible as follows: “Prior to 1557 the usual form of the English Bible was that of a gigantic tome printed in unreadable Gothic, bound in oak and horse leather, and chained up in church; about as portable as Stonehenge!”[6] All that was about to change a few years before Calvin’s death.

Several noteworthy technical features distinguish this 1560 Bible. The preface to this edition contained a 16-page letter-and endorsement, of course, by John Calvin-which summarized biblical religion. Miles Coverdale, with Anthony Gilby taking the lead, and others assisted in revising the Old Testament; and by April [10th] 1560, the first edition of the Geneva Bible was published by fellow Marian exile John Bodley, who later returned to England to found one of the world’s greatest libraries in Oxford. Interestingly, the dedication of the first edition was to “the most virtuous and noble Queen Elisabeth,” and even in the introduction characteristically anti-Romanist sentiments are exhibited.

This Bible was the first to employ numbering of verses within chapters-certainly designed to aid common readers. It also used a Roman typeface, instead of the more medieval Gothic script. And it included annotations and maps to assist the reader. At the close of the NT was a glossary to aid in the pronunciation of OT names. Of interest, readers were encouraged to avail themselves to those names for their children, hoping to serve as “godlie aduertisements” or “memorials and markes” as witnesses against the “signes and badges of idolatrie and heathenish impietie.”[7] Moreover, the early editions also contained a dictionary, a chronology of the years from Adam to Christ, a chronology of the life of Paul, and later editions contained metrical psalms for use in family and corporate worship. This was a genuine study Bible, the first in that genre-all with a view toward educating the laity and faithfully translating from the original manuscripts.

The size of the Geneva Bible was distinctive, as well; it was roughly 6 x 9 inches (quarto instead of the larger and unwieldy, albeit more traditional folio size) and priced affordably. Some octavo editions, which could be carried in a large pocket, were also printed, making this one of the first Bibles of the people.

This English version was published nearly a half century prior to the version authorized by King James’ heavily Anglicanized translation (1611), and it offered explanatory notes, which often reflected the pristine Protestantism of Calvin’s day. If theological consensus was sought, this robust Reformed Protestantism would be reflected in this version of the Bible. Accordingly, friend and foe alike would take note of its theological stripe, with friends turning to it as a trusted source and foes loathing it for what they deemed to be consistently anti-monarchical annotations. It is not surprising, therefore, that within 50 years, King James-who believed that an embrace of ecclesiological Presbyterianism might swiftly lead also to a political democracy-felt it obligatory to commission his own translation. Neither is it shocking, thus, to state that many of the American colonists, who despised the authoritarianism of the English court, cherished the Geneva Bible and did not defend the King James Version of the Bible. During that half century, Anglicans also came to fear the Geneva Bible because various national communities were trending toward republican structure in church government as they were in civil government.

Several explanatory notes in the Geneva Bible illustrate the clear anti-monarchial tendency:

  • Exodus 1:19 claimed for the Hebrew midwives that rather than submitting to the monarch, “Their disobedience her[e]in was lawful, but their dissembling evil.”
  • Daniel 3:19 denounces the cruel punishments that stem from “that tyrants rage.” Daniel 6:15 supports the governors’ freedom to disobey a wicked king.
  • Acts 4:19 interprets that we are to obey men but with a key qualification-”especially before all things we obey God.” Similarly on Acts 5:29, the annotation states: “We ought to obey no man, but so far forth as obeying him, we may obey God.”
  • And in very Bezan terms, the gloss on Rom. 13:1 reminds magistrates “of the duty which they owe to their subjects,” while the annotation on Romans 13:5 avows: “So far as lawfully we may [obey]. For if unlawful things be commanded us, we must answer as Peter teacheth us, It is better to obey God than men.”[8]

King James I pronounced the Geneva Bible marginal notes as being: “partial, untrue, seditious, and savouring of dangerous and traitorous conceits.” Notwithstanding, the KJV did not hesitate to borrow certain expressions from this earlier work, even quoting from it in its own introduction in 1611.

The fingerprints of Geneva Calvinism are also clear in several other ways. First, the marginal glosses exhibited the beliefs of Calvin, particularly if one consults the notes on Romans 8-9 and elsewhere. However, as most later scholars observed this was not so heavy-handed as to repulse other readers. Second, editions of the Geneva Bible just after Calvin’s death (1568-1570) included Calvin’s Catechism in English with 373 questions. This Catechism, prepared for Genevans in the 1540s took up over 30 pages in these editions and provided privileged status for that commentary. Third, some later editions (between 1579 and 1615) went so far as to include Calvin’s catechism on predestination (with 23 questions), which would eventually replace the Apocryphal section between the testaments.[9]

The Geneva Bible was also decidedly anti-Romanist and interpreted the Pope as the reference of several verses in the Revelation (11:7; 13:11; and 17:4). That being the case, the Apocrypha would only survive in a few of the earliest versions.

The Apocrypha

Beginning in 1275, Bibles published under Roman Catholic auspices included the Apocryphal books. One of the changes that the Protestant Reformers brought was a rejection of those books as part of Scripture, based on a return to the actual manuscripts of the early church. One of John Calvin’s chief disciples, Theodore Beza, was an excellent textual critic as well as a reviewer of the study notes for the Geneva Bible. Neither Calvin nor Beza believed the Apocrypha to be inspired (2 Tim. 3:16). Another associate of Calvin, Miles Coverdale, who lived in Geneva during Calvin’s lifetime issued the first English-language Bible that separated the Apocrypha from the inspired books of the Bible. Coverdale thought that those Apocryphal books could be exhibited in an appendix, stating his view (which became the customary Protestant view) as: “These books (good reader) which be called Apocrypha, are not judged among the doctors to be of like reputation with the other scripture . . . And the chief cause thereof is this: there be many places in them, that seem to be repugnant unto the open and manifest truth in the other books of the Bible.”

Thus, the inclusion of the Apocrypha in the earliest Protestant Bibles was both a transitional concession to tradition and also a fading salute. The original Geneva Bible, which was produced while Coverdale was in Geneva, noted that the Apocryphal books “were not received by a common consent to be read and expounded publicly in the Church” nor did they serve “to prove any point of Christian religion save in so much as they had the consent of other scriptures called canonical to confirm the same.” While there was some limited historical value (the Geneva Bible also inserted the Prayer of Manasseh after 2 Chronicles), these books were familiar to churchgoers of the day. However, the Protestant Reformers knew that they were not inspired; with the standard of inspiration governing inclusion in the canon, the Apocrypha was eventually removed from Protestant Bibles, beginning with 14 of the the 1599 editions of the Geneva Bible (even though their names were listed in the Table of Contents slightly longer than that). After 1640, none of the Geneva Bibles included the Apocrypha, and the King James Bible eventually followed suit by omitting the Apocryha as well as early as 1615. The zenith of Protestant opinion on this subject came in the statement of the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith (whose authors used the Geneva Bible[10]), which stated: “The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.”

The Publishing Mechanisms

The ability to defend the views of Calvin rapidly in print magnified the lasting impact of his thought. The number of books published in Geneva rose from three volumes in 1536 to 28 in 1554 and to 48 by 1561. The number of volumes printed in Geneva the five years prior to his death was a stunning average of 38 volumes per year (a ten-fold increase in 25 years). The average dropped to 20 per year after his death. By 1563, there were at least 34 presses, many manned by immigrants.[11] Shortly after Calvin’s death, one contemporary wrote: “The printed works flooding into the country could not be stopped by legal prohibition. The more edicts issued by the courts, the more the booklets and papers increased.”[12]

Geneva also developed an extensive and efficient literary distribution system. A childhood friend of Calvin, Laurent de Normandie (who later became mayor of Noyon), developed a network of distributors who took Genevan Calvinist publications into France and other parts of Europe. Many of the books were designed to be small for quick hiding, if need be, within clothing.[13] Thousands of contraband books were spread throughout Europe during Calvin’s time, and several distributors of literature became Protestant martyrs.[14]

So successful was Calvin’s city at spreading the message that all books printed in Geneva were banned in France beginning in 1551. Calvin’s Institutes (along with at least nine of his other writings) had been officially banned in France since 1542, but that could not halt the circulation of his books. As a result, Geneva was identified as a subversive center because of its publishing; and the 1551 Edict of Chateaubriand forbade, among other things, importing or circulating Genevan books.[15] Distributing such works for sale could incur secular punishment. However, many books still filtered across porous European borders. Some shrewd printers, unwilling to be thwarted by state censorship, cleverly responded by employing typeset fonts that were commonly used by French printers and published under fictitious addresses.[16] This new medium and its energized distribution pipeline allowed Calvin’s message to transcend Geneva’s geographical limitations.

Calvin’s thought spread throughout Europe and sailed over the Atlantic with various colonists, cropping up frequently in sermons and pamphlets in various colonies. If English sermons in the seventeenth century were still referencing Calvin’s Institutes as a robust source for opposing governmental abuse, American colonial sermons conveyed his sentiments even more. “Probably no other theological work,” wrote Dartmouth historian Herbert Foster, “was so widely read and so influential from the Reformation to the American Revolution. . . . In England [it] was considered ‘the best and perfectest system of divinity’ by both Anglican and Puritan until [Archbishop William] Laud’s supremacy in the 1630s. Oxford undergraduates were required to read Calvin’s Institutes and his Catechism in 1578.[17] “Most colonial libraries seem to contain some work by Calvin,” and “scarcely a colonial list of books from New Hampshire to South Carolina appears to lack books written by Calvinists.”[18] This being true of Calvin’s magnum opus, it is all the more true of the popular Geneva Bible.

The Geneva Bible went through 70 editions during the reign of Elizabeth I, and from 150 to 200 separate editions between 1560 and 1644.[19] The pattern until 1610 was one of steady expansion, with the following number of editions printed by decades:

4          1560-1569

21        1570-1579

30        1580-1589

36        1590-1599

35        1600-1609

Of other versions, 38 editions of the Bishops’ Bible were produced in the same period, 14 editions of the Great Bible and Tyndale’s Testament, and 3 Roman Catholic versions, a total of 55, less than half the number of Genevan editions.[20]

During the second half of the 16th century, just as printing was exploding in the leading educational and cultural centers of the day, the Geneva Bible was the copy of choice for most Anglophonic Protestants. When English Puritans left Leiden for Jamestown in 1607, it was the Geneva Bible that sailed with them. Prior to the publication of the KJV and with a strong distaste for the hierarchicalism contained in that translation, many of the colonists who first settled in America were Geneva-Bible Only advocates.

The Geneva-England Connections

Not only Queen Mary but later Charles I believed that the ulterior motive of these reformist bible translators was “to shake all Monarchical Government.”[21] Scottish influence was blamed for challenging “whether we [Charles I] was their King or not . . . [and striking] at the very Root of Kingly government,”[22] particularly for “defying the royal prerogative over the press.” Acting on principles already widely accepted on the Continent led the Scottish Covenanters and later British Puritans to be accused as follows: “For whereas the Print is the King’s in all Kingdoms, these seditious men have taken upon them to print what they please, though we forbid it; and to prohibit what they dislike, though We command it.”[23] Indeed, the Geneva Bible was considered subversive by certain thrones.

After Calvin’s death (and before to a lesser extent), Geneva would not only be the “Protestant Rome,” she would also become a Protestant turbine. As the steady stream of exiles, such as Knox and Whittingham, entered her shelter, they would churn Reformation ideas and send them out with greater velocity. Many of the Elizabethan reformers shared common views on church and state because of this Geneva connection. The rich interchange of ideas in Geneva among the Marian exiles (Gilby, Whittingham, Cartwright, and Ochino) exerted enormous influence in England and later in British North America.

England particularly enjoyed intense contact with many of the Continental reformers, and evidence of their leadership there is clear as early as 1546. Letters from Calvin, Beza, and disciples of Luther were widely available, informing the English about the latest developments in the Reformation. Thomas Cranmer, working with Edward VI and others, introduced Reformed ideas to the Edwardian court. Martin Bucer’s De Regno Christi (1551) was received warmly, complete with its plan for restructuring England-church and state-into a godly commonwealth. Bucer’s De Regno Christi included a draft of a more primitive church system and was referred to Edward VI with Cranmer’s approval. It called for provincial synods to meet twice a year as early as 1551. Had it not been for his untimely death that very year, just as he began to influence Edward VI during the compilation of the Prayer Book, Bucer’s draft of Church Reform might actually have been executed. “How narrowly,” wrote A. H. Drysdale, “the English Church escaped . . . a Presbyterian Constitution, or from starting along Presbyterian lines in its early reformation.” Had that occurred, the King James Bible likely would have never been commissioned, and the Geneva Bible would have enjoyed a functional monopoly among English speaking Protestants.

During Queen Mary’s reign, some 200 British and Scottish exiles participated in Knox’s congregation-in-exile in Geneva. We can only assume that they were confirmed and instructed in the practice of Geneva presbyterianism. This extraordinary congregation included as many as eight previously ordained Anglican ministers, including two bishops.[24] The lessons of the Geneva experience from 1555 to 1559 were later transported back to England and Scotland.

Scotland’s first native imprint of a Bible employed the Geneva text as early as 1562; a later edition was published in 1579. The Scottish Parliament went so far as to require that each household over a certain income level should “have a Bible and Psalmbook in the vulgar tongue” or be fined.[25]

William Shakespeare further aided in the spread of the idioms in the Geneva Bible by using it as his preferred text. From the mid-1500s to the mid 1600s, the notes in the margin of this landmark study bible impacted many households. It was, in part, responsible for much of the popularizing of Puritanism, which took England and Scotland by storm in the period that saw the launch of many North American colonists. Said English historian John Richard Green: “No greater moral change ever passed over a nation than passed over England during the years which parted the middle of the reign of Elizabeth from the meeting of the Long Parliament. England became the people of a book, and that book was the Bible. It was as yet the one English book which was familiar to every Englishman; it was read at churches and read at home, and everywhere its words, as they fell on ears which custom had not deadened, kindled a startling enthusiasm.”[26]

The Geneva Bible sailed over the Atlantic with various colonists and its theology appeared regularly in sermons and pamphlets in the English colonies. A rich variety of media reinforced the central message of the Geneva Bible. The transporters of Calvinism to the West were the Geneva Bible and Beza’s New Testament Annotations, which inspired readers ranging from Shakespeare[27] to American colonists with “scores of marginal notes on covenant, vocation . . . deposition of kings, the supremacy of God’s Word [over human tradition], and the duty of orderly resistance to tyranny.”[28] John Bunyan, Cromwell’s soldiers, John Donne, and American Pilgrims preferred the Geneva Bible to the newer, Anglican-sympathesizing KJV. Western society owes many of its best political advances to Reformation theology, and the establishing of America during the early 1600s owes more to the Calvinism of the Geneva Bible than to many other influences.

In the preface to Lewis Lupton’s magisterial A History of the Geneva Bible, Patrick Collinson, even though disavowing the Calvinism that animated this, noted: “And the Geneva Bible itself is a monument to a civilisation which commended the Christian Gospel, not only with preaching and discipline, but also with the excellence of its craftsmen and their products.” (vol. 1, 10). In 1971, James Packer summarized the contributions of the Geneva Bible in these words:

Leafing through it, I was made vividly aware why this version ran through nearly 200 editions between 1560 and 1644, and how it came to have so deep an influence on Puritan England. It had character and distinction from every point of view. Its literary style was brisk mainstream English, the Anglo-Saxon of Tyndale, less sonorous but more energetic than the Latinized style of the Authorized Version, and its accuracy and clarity were of a high order. The Geneva version was a far greater advance on the Great Bible, its immediate predecessor, than the Authorized was, or could be, on the Geneva. As a piece of book production, it was in the front rank. The 1560 edition has 26 fine woodcuts, . . ; 5 maps ‘which necessarely serue for the perfect vnderstanding and memorie’ of biblical geography; and a ‘Table of the principal things that are conteined in the Bible’ (i.e., an index); and these features, together with clear type, page headings, introductions to the books and chapters, and full marginal notes, witness to a passion for intelligibility and effective communication which grips the reader at once. The scholarship of the notes, as of the text, is excellent. It is true that James I complained of ‘some notes very partiall, vntrue, seditious, and sauouring too much of daungerous, and trayterous conceites,’ and cited as an example Ex. 1:19 . . . but when one recalls that this text is giving the midwives’ answer to Pharaoh’s query about Israel’s birth rate, and reads the note itself (‘Their disobedience herein was lawful, but their dissembling evil’), one realizes that James’ remark tells us more about himself than about the quality of the Geneva comments. . . . It is very clear why the Geneva Bible has fascinated Mr. Lupton; it would be harder to understand a Christian on whom it did not have this effect. (Lupton, vol. 3, 6)

The Geneva Bible, thus, became the commoners’ source for this living faith that is still celebrated by this new edition five hundred years after Calvin’s birth. Nineteenth-century historian Carlos Martyn correctly grasped that, while New England began in physical terms at Plymouth Rock, in reality she was “cradled in the pages of the first printed copy of the English Bible.”[29]

Wherever, God’s Word is sowed similarly it will not return void.


[1] Note: dates for these various versions are taken from Lewis Lupton’s masterful, A History of the Geneva Bible (London: The Fauconberg Press, 1966), vol 1. This invaluable work is included (CD) with the Tolle Lege Press edition.

[2] Whittingham (1524-1579) was either married to Calvin’s sister (as his burial marker in Durham Cathedral indicates) or to Catherine Jaquemayne, the sister of Calvin’s wife from Strasbourg. See Bruce M. Metzger, “The Geneva Bible of 1560,” Theology Today, Oct. 1960, vol. 17, no.3, 339.

[3] E. William Monter, Calvin’s Geneva (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1967), 186.

[4] Lupton, vol. 5, 59, concludes that William Cole also was a leader in this translation.

[5] Calvin dedicated his Commentary on the Catholic Epistles to King Edward VI of England on January 24, 1551.

[6] Lupton, vol. 3, 131.

[7] Cited in Metzger, 344.

[8] See Lupton, vol. 4, 140 ff. for a discussion of many other notes on this subject.

[9] See Metzger, 348-349.

[10] Lupton, vol. 1, 14.

[11] Robert Kingdon explains that the number was likely more since some were co-opted by others. In 1562, neighbors complained that paper mills were running round the clock. Robert M. Kingdon, Geneva and the Coming Wars of Religion in France, 1555-1563 (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1956), 94. Jean Crespin even contracted to purchase bales of paper from outside Geneva (95).

[12] William G. Naphy, ed., Documents on the Continental Reformation (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996), 87.

[13] E. William Monter, Calvin’s Geneva, 182. Robert Kingdon notes that the books were so well circulated that as early as 1560 the Cardinal of Lorraine had successfully collected 22 pamphlets that had criticized him. Robert M. Kingdon, Geneva and the Coming Wars of Religion in France, 1555-1563, 103. Another historian in 1561 reported the spread to Paris of Beza’s Psalter, catechisms, and popular Christian books, “all well bound in red and black calf skin, some well gilded” (103).

[14] E. William Monter, Calvin’s Geneva, 182.

[15] Calvinism in Europe, 1540-1610: A Collection of Documents, selected, translated, and edited by Alistair Duke, Gillian Lewis, and Andrew Pettegree (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992), 57.

[16] Alister McGrath, A Life of John Calvin, 12. See also E. Droz, “Fausses adresses typographiques,” Bulletin of Historical Research 23 (1961), 380-386, 572-574.

[17] Robert M. Kingdon, Calvin and Calvinism: Sources of Democracy (Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath and Company, 1970), 37.

[18] Robert M. Kingdon, Calvin and Calvinism: Sources of Democracy, 37. Other historians argue that the Puritanism of New England was “patterned after the Westminster Catechism and embodied the type of Calvinistic thought current in all of New England at that time.” See Peter De Jong, The Covenant Idea in New England Theology, 1620-1847 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1945), 85.

[19] Metzger, 350; Lewis Lupton claims the number to be 200; vol. 1, 14.

[20] Lupton, vol. 7, 184.

[21] In a February 1639 proclamation; cited in William Haller, Liberty and Reformation in the Puritan Revolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1955), 8.

[22] William Haller, Liberty and Reformation in the Puritan Revolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1955), 9.

[23] Cited in William Haller, Liberty and Reformation in the Puritan Revolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1955), 9.

[24] Drysdale, 91. Grindal, who would later become a bishop, was one of the Marian exiles in Geneva.

[25] Metzger, 351.

[26] Cited in Metzger, 352.

[27] In his plays composed during the 1590s, Shakespeare quoted from the Geneva Bible. See David L. Edwards, Christian England: From the Reformation to the Eighteenth Century (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 146. In “A Translation Fit For a King, Christianity Today October 22, 2001, David Neff argues how powerfully biblical translation aided the flow of liberty. “Logically, he notes, “it is a fairly short step from the biblical language of liberty to the secular politics of Liberty.” For more, see

[28] Robert M. Kingdon, Calvin and Calvinism: Sources of Democracy (Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath and Company, 1970), 40.

[29] W. Carlos Martyn, The Pilgrim Fathers of New England: A History (New York: American Tract Society, 1867), 18.


  1. You put too great a separation in the genealogical line from the Geneva to the AV1611. The difference is of refinement not ideological difference. They’re both in the same line, the same pedigree. The Puritans who at first clung to the Geneva were wedded to the notes, but in time they came to see the superiority of the AV. And the differences are hardly so much that one could label the one Puritan and the other ‘Anglican.’ It was Puritans who called for what became the AV1611. It’s good though that modern day Reformed scholars brought up on Critical Text versions are beginning to show interest in at least one Received Text Reformation-era translation. There is much darkness returned today, and we need the light of the great Reformation era translations of God’s Word.

    Dear Friend in Christ,
    Greaetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
    I have been going through the studies at your web site, and I am deeply inspired with all of the teachings and studies thereon like Bible studies and other teaching materials on our Web site. This is such a wonderful studies you have arranged for all the nations, in the long run of your service for the nations of the all the world.
    I am from Islamic Republic of Pakistan where it is difficult to have Radio and TV channel for preaching purposes. They would not allow us to do that here; the Satan has real strong hold over everything. I often say that we are living in the land of the enemy.
    Friend, I humbly request you to expand your outreach your program in Urdu and Punjabi language. Urdu is the language spoken and understood by more than one sixth of the total population of the world. Urdu is spoken in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Afghanistan and also in Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran and others.
    I would ask you to pray and share it among the brethren. I would offer my services for being translator, recorder and distribution/sales. I pray that your consideration will have His mark over your decision.

    May God bless you abundantly! May His perfect will be done!

    Grace and Peace be with you, all brethrens.

    Yours brother in Christ,

Leave a response

Your response: