This passage from Marilynne Robinson’s The Death of Adam makes me wonder whether we should have celebrated the 450th anniversary of the Geneva Bible last year in preference to observing the 400th of the King James Version this year:

“The Geneva Bible, first published in 1560, was a very great influence on political thought in England and America. It was the Bible of Shakespeare and Milton, the Bible one hears referred to sometimes as the ‘breeches’ Bible, because its Adam and Eve, unlike the Adam and Eve of the King James Bible, did not have the presence of mind to fashion their fig leaves into ‘aprons.’ The implication is that it was a crude or naive translation, but in fact it is largely identical with the King James Bible, which was published in 1611. . . . The great difference is that the copious interpretive notes that fill the margins of the Geneva Bible are gone from the King’s Authorized Version. . . . Printing of this Bible in England was forbidden, and it was gradually driven out of circulation in England and America by the King James Version, which basks in the legend that it is a masterpiece created by a committee, and enjoys the reputation of having been the great watershed of English-language literature” (The Death of Adam, p. 197).

Articles by David T. Koyzis

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