Category: (02) Bible Translations


The Geneva Bible is an early English translation of the Bible. Its name comes from the fact it was first published in Geneva in 1560. The work of Protestant exiles from England and Scotland, the Geneva Bible is well respected and was an important Bible in Scotland and England before and even after the King James Version was published in 1611. For some forty years after the King James Version was published, the Geneva Bible remained the most popular English Translation of the Bible.

In 1553 Mary Tudor became Queen of England. As Queen she was committed to eliminating Protestant influences in England and restoring Roman Catholicism as the official religion. Under her rule there was a time of intense persecution of Protestants known as the Marian Persecutions which earned her the nickname “Bloody Mary.” She had over 300 Protestant believers burned at the stake, and many others fled to other countries rather than face certain death for not supporting Roman Catholicism.

During this time period several key English Protestant leaders fled to Geneva, Switzerland, to avoid the persecution in England. Among those were Miles Coverdale, John Foxe, Thomas Sampson, and William Whittingham. With the support of John Calvin and the Scottish Reformer John Knox, these English Reformers decided to publish an English Bible that was not dependent upon the approval of English royalty. Building upon earlier English translations such as those done by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale, the Geneva Bible was the first English translation in which all of the Old Testament was translated directly from Hebrew manuscripts. Much of the translation work was done by William Whittingham, the brother-in-law of John Calvin.

In 1557 they published an English New Testament. A few years later, in 1560, the first edition of the Geneva Bible was published in Geneva, Switzerland containing both the New and Old Testament along with significant translation notes. This new English Bible was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I who had been crowned Queen of England in 1558 after the death of Queen Mary I. Under Queen Elizabeth, the persecution of Protestants stopped and she began leading England back towards Protestantism. This led to later editions of the Geneva Bible being published in England beginning in 1576. In all, over 150 editions were published with the 1644 version being the latest.

Pre-dating the King James Version by 51 years, the Geneva Bible was one of the earliest mass produced English Bibles commonly available to the public. It was the primary English Bible used by 16th century English Protestant Reformers and was the Bible used by such people as William Shakespeare, John Milton, John Knox and John Bunyan.

Often considered as one of the earliest examples of a study Bible, the Geneva Bible contained detailed notes, verse citations that allowed cross referencing of passages, and also study aids such as book introductions, maps, and woodcut illustrations. It was printed in at least three different sizes and was reasonably affordable, costing less than a week’s wages even for the lowest paid workers.

The annotations or notes in the Geneva Bible were distinctly Calvinist and Puritan in character which made it unpopular with some of the pro-government Church of England leaders as well as King James I. This led King James I to commission the new translation that would become known as the Authorized Version or the King James Bible. Surprisingly, though, some of the Geneva notes were found in a few editions of the King James Bible up to the 1715 version. The Geneva Bible was also seen as a threat to Roman Catholicism as some of its notes, written by Protestant Reformers during a time of intense persecution by the Roman Catholic Church, are distinctly anti-Roman Catholic.

Eventually the King James Version would replace the Geneva Bible as the most popular English translation. The Geneva Bible is a very important English translation and was the primary Bible used by many early settlers in America. In recent years it has gained increasing popularity again, both because it is an excellent translation and because of its well-written study notes.

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21st Century King James Version – History
Published in 1994 by Deuel Enterprises, Inc. (Gary, South Dakota), the 21st Century King James Version of the Bible seeks to preserve the sacred message and beautiful language of the King James Version while making it easier to read and understand for the modern reader. Edited by William D. Prindle of Deuel Enterprises, the updates relied on the scholarship, skill and dedication of the original translators of the KJV, which have stood the test of time for four centuries. A revised edition with the Apocrypha (but without lectionary markings) appeared in 1998 as the Third Millennium Bible.

21st Century King James Version – Translation method
The 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) is based on the King James Version (KJV) of A.D. 1611. It is not a new translation, but a careful updating to eliminate obsolete words by reference to the most complete and definitive modern American dictionary, the Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, unabridged. Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization have also been updated. Words which are either obsolete or archaic, and are no longer understood by literate Bible readers, have been replaced by carefully selected current equivalents. All language relating to gender and theology in the King James Version remains unchanged from the original. Also included are the cross references from the original KJV, plus many more.

21st Century King James Version – Pro’s and Con’s
The 21st Century King James Version has never gained traction in the Christian community, largely due to the fierce loyalty many KJV users have to the 1611 “authorized” King James Version. This is sad, as the KJ21 is indeed a much more readable and understandable English translation of the Bible than the KJV. The 21st Century King James Version fulfills its goal of updating the archaic language of the KJV while staying as close as possible to the original KJV.

21st Century King James Version – Sample Verses
John 1:1, 14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 8:58 – “Jesus said unto them, ‘Verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am!’”

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God—not by works, lest any man should boast.”

Titus 2:13 – “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,”

King James Version – History
In 1604, King James I of England authorized a new translation of the Bible into English to be started. It was finished in 1611, just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). In the preface to the 1611 edition, the translators of the Authorized Version, or King James Version, state that is was not their purpose “to make a new translation . . . but to make a good one better.” The King James Version quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants. Its flowing language and prose rhythms have had a profound influence on the literature of the past 400 years.

King James Version – Translation method
The King James translation was done by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from the Textus Receptus (Received Text) series of the Greek texts. The Old Testament was translated from the Masoretic Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha was translated from the Greek Septuagint (LXX), except for 2 Esdras, which was translated from the Latin Vulgate. In 1769, the Oxford edition, which excluded the Apocrypha, became the standard text and is the text which is reproduced almost unchanged in most current printings.

King James Version – Pro’s and Con’s
For nearly 400 years, and through several revisions of the original, the King James Version has been deeply revered by English-speaking peoples worldwide, not only for the precision of the translation from the original languages, but for the beauty and majesty of the style, which has greatly influenced literature for centuries.

Unfortunately, much avoidable dissension among Christians occurs about the use of the King James Version. While many people claim that the KJV is the only “true” translation, rarely are they actually in possession of the 1611 Authorized Version of the KJV. Rather, they have the more readable 1769 version. The difference between the two becomes clear when comparing passages from the two versions. For example, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 in the 1611 version is as follows:

“Though I speake with the tongues of men & of Angels, and haue not charity, I am become as sounding brasse or a tinkling cymbal. And though I haue the gift of prophesie, and vnderstand all mysteries and all knowledge: and though I haue all faith, so that I could remooue mountaines, and haue no charitie, I am nothing. And though I bestowe all my goods to feede the poore, and though I giue my body to bee burned, and haue not charitie, it profiteth me nothing.”

The 1769 version, on the other hand, is much more readable and understandable:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

Furthermore, in addition to the more readable character of the 1769 edition, further translations into modern English have proved invaluable for millions. Modern translations such as the New King James Version, the Modern King James Version, and the 21st Century King James Version have removed the confusing “thee’s” and “thou’s” and “-eth” verb endings, while still remaining true to the texts and retaining the beauty of the language.

King James Version – Sample Verses
John 1:1,14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 8:58 – “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Titus 2:13 – “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

William Tyndale (c. 1494 – 1536) was a 16th-century Protestant reformer and scholar who was influenced by the work of Erasmus and Martin Luther. Like Luther, Tyndale was convinced that the way to God was through His Word and that Scripture should be available even to common people. Facing the same opposition from the Catholic Church as Luther, Tyndale declared, “I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the Scriptures than the Pope himself!” Tyndale’s translations were condemned by both the Catholic Church and the king of England. Following the publication of Tyndale’s New Testament, Catholic Cardinal Wolsey condemned Tyndale as a heretic and Tyndale was first mentioned in open court as a heretic in January 1529. After years of working on his translation in exile, he was finally apprehended and tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and condemned to death. He was strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned. The martyr’s last words, spoken in a loud and fervent voice, were “Lord! Open the king of England’s eyes.”

Tyndale’s Bible is credited with being the first English translation to come directly from Hebrew and Greek texts and the first English biblical translation that was mass-produced as a result of new advances in the art of printing. In 1522, Tyndale illegally acquired a copy of Martin Luther’s New Testament in German. Imitating Luther’s work, but in English, the first recorded complete edition of his New Testament was published in 1526, with revisions following in 1534 and 1536. Since Tyndale’s death in 1536, his work has been revised and reprinted numerous times.

Tyndale Bible – Translation method
Tyndale used a number of sources when carrying out his translations of both the New and Old Testaments. When translating the New Testament, Tyndale used Erasmus’s Greek and Latin New Testament, as well as Luther’s German version and the Vulgate. The sources Tyndale used for his translation of the Pentateuch, however, are not known for sure.

Tyndale Bible – Sample Verses
John 1:1, 14 – “In the beginnynge was the worde and the worde was with God: and the worde was God.”

John 3:16 – “For God so loveth the worlde yt he hath geven his only sonne that none that beleve in him shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe.”

John 8:58 – “Iesus sayd vnto them: Verely verely I saye vnto you: yer Abraham was I am.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace are ye made safe thorowe fayth and that not of youre selves. For it is the gyfte of God and commeth not of workes lest eny man shuld bost him silfe.”

Titus 2:13 – “lokinge for that blessed hope and glorious apperenge of ye myghty god and of oure savioure Iesu Christ”