What would you say is the most significant English translation of the Bible?
Most of us would probably nominate the King James Bible for that honor—no English Bible can match its profound and ongoing influence on English literature and religion over the last 400 years. But there’s actually an English Bible translation that predates the King James Version by over 50 years, and which has an equally important place in Western Christianity: the Geneva Bible, which we’re pleased to announce has just been added to Bible Gateway’s online library!
The Geneva Bible was first published in the late 1550s, and over the next 100 years, it spread throughout Europe in a variety of editions and revisions. It boasted a number of features that contributed to its usefulness and popularity: it made use of verse and chapter numbering, a system very familiar to modern readers but new to most Bible readers at the time; and it was accompanied by an impressive collection of study notes penned by some of the most important figures of the 16th century Christian church: John Calvin, John Knox, Miles Coverdale, William Whittingham, Anthony Gilby, and others.
The result was the world’s first “study Bible”—and a Bible that would prove massively influential on the Protestant Reformation, which was taking root just as the Geneva Bible was reaching its audience. Nor was the Geneva Bible’s influence restricted to theological movements; it was the Bible used by such literary luminaries as William Shakespeare, John Bunyan, and John Milton.
The Geneva Bible on Bible Gateway is the 1599 edition, published by Tolle Lege Press. This edition—the product of a major restoration project overseen by many respected Christian leaders and scholars—modernizes the spelling of archaic words but otherwise preserves the Geneva Bible’s original text and study notes.
The Geneva Bible can be found in the Bible version drop-down on the Bible Gateway homepage; you can also browse it from our Geneva Bible page. For the best experience, we recommend making sure you have footnotes and cross-references turned on as you read it online—it’s in the footnotes that you’ll find the original study notes that made this Bible so useful to readers.
We’re grateful to Tolle Lege Press for making the Geneva Bible available on Bible Gateway. We hope you enjoy reading it—both as an excellent study Bible and as an important piece of Christian history!
Photo of the Geneva Bible above by Hi540, and used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.