Why do Reformers like the King James version rather than go back to the Geneva Bible?

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Jackie Kaulitz

Puritan Board Freshman
From library books on "how the Bible was built" and "which translation?" and from Wikipedia, I learned that the King James Bible was created by the Church of England with the aim in creating the King James Bible to replace/displace the Geneva Bible. So now I am wondering why Reformers aren't "Geneva-advocates" and "anti-King James bible?" From reading history, I gathered that the Church of England were Anti-Pope and Anti-Calvinist or you could say was a blend of what they considered the best parts of Catholicism mixed with some Reformation. But they weren't fully Reformed. The Church of England has a history of persecuting Calvinists. They seemed less Reformed than Geneva.

I also read that the King James used the Geneva Bible (kept ~60%) and borrowed from other less popular works Catholic/Anglican Bibles (30%) to create the King James Bible?
How is this Bible considered superior to the Geneva considering it borrowed from these other translations?

After hearing such anti-Reformed stories associated with the King James Bible, it feels like the King James Bible is the Bible of the Church of England and not the Bible of the Reformers.
Why would Reformers switch from the Geneva Bible that was created by the Reformers to the King James Bible that was created by the Church of England?

Or are some of these "facts" incorrect?


I would love to hear your thoughts. :) Thanks!
 
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thbslawson

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm not aware of a strong adherence to the KJV in the Reformed circles in which I function (PCA). I grew up in a pretty extreme KJV-only Baptist church, and came out of that. The KJV is a translation, one of many, and it's imperfect, like all of the rest. I have my opinions as to why I think it's less accurate than others, but at the end of the day it's clearly God's Word and whatever mistakes in translation may exist, the gospel is clear.

I have no desire to haggle or debate over which translation is the best.
 

CuriousNdenver

Puritan Board Sophomore
"the enemy's Bible."

I came to Christ reading a King James Bible. I have a hard time considering any Bible translation (not transliteration), to be the enemy's Bible.

I will be interested to hear what others have to say about the historic conflict between those who produced the King James Bible and the earlier reformers and Geneva Bible.
 

crimsonleaf

Puritan Board Freshman
I'd second the first two views. No Bible is the enemy's Bible, and nor do current Reformed worshippers particularly favour the KJV. My church favours the ESV but uses the NIV during services because we were gifted a couple of hundred of them (!).
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Jackie, I wonder what your sources are for some of these ideas? Tyndale was long dead before the translation of the KJV was underway. There are certainly many places where the KJV and the Geneva (or Tyndale) are very close. But that is a testament to the fact that they esteemed the labor of earlier translators, and were happy to make use of what had been well done, not an instance of plagiarism. The Anglican Church under Henry VIII is not the same animal as the Anglican Church under James I.

The Douay-Rheims, with its deliberate attempts at obfuscation, might be considered an "enemy's Bible". The KJV was largely set forth by men of our own profession, inasmuch as the 39 Articles are, as far as they go, a Reformed document. Certainly it is hard to imagine that the Bible of of Matthew Henry and John Brown (Haddington) and John Newton is in any way something that does not belong to us. It's a good translation, and has been the official version of many Reformed groups.
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
Rev. Matthew Winzer (armourbearer) has gone over this topic quite a few times here on the PB.

The King James Bible, or Authorized Version, was actually requested by the Puritans at the Hampton Court Conference. It's not like the AV was an anti-Geneva project to start out with. Sure, once the project was under way, the King and non-Puritans wanted to limit some of the language found in the Geneva bible. But the AV is largely an improvement over the Geneva. For this reason, the Puritans, over time, used the AV over the Geneva.

Here's what Rev. Winzer had to say in this thread:

The Geneva version is acknowledged as a faithful reformation Bible. However, the AV was a significant improvement upon it. Note what the preface to Poole's Annotations says: "About the year 1640 some deliberations were taken for the composing and printing other English notes (the old Geneva Notes not so well fitting our new and more correct translation of the Bible)."

Much of the interest in the Geneva version is nostalgic, due to the revival of interest in Puritanism. As noted above, it is a myth that the Puritans preferred the Geneva over the AV. As the AV is more accurate, it by default became the standard Bible of the Puritans, and indeed of the English speaking world for nearly three centuries.
 

Fogetaboutit

Puritan Board Freshman
So since I learned some of the history of the King James Bible being created by some of the same people who were torturing and persecuting the Reformers and their aim in creating the King James Bible was to replace/displace the Geneva Bible, I am wondering why Reformers aren't "Geneva-advocates" and "anti-King James bible?"

I would also like to know where you have taken this information. When you refer to the "creators" of the KJV do you mean the translators? Or King James I who commissioned it? (aslo remember many Puritans suggested and worked on the translation so to say that the KJV is a purely Anglican translation is not true). Either way none of these people persecuted Reformers, the translators of the KJV held to the doctrines of the Reformers, and although King James I didn't like some of the seperatist tendencies of some of the Puritans he certainly didn't persecute reformers and puritans in a Roman Catholic inquisitive way.


Is it true that 60% of the bibles are the same and that the King James plagerized the works of the Reformers?

It is not plagerism, the translators of the KJV didn't have copyright in mind when they translated the scriptures like the moderns bible producers. The translators of the Geneva Bible also heavily relied on the previous translation for their work (Tyndale, Coverdale etc). They actually acknowledge the value of the Geneva that is why they refered to it. This is not plagerism.


After hearing such anti-Reformed stories associated with the King James Bible, I don't want to touch the thing. It feels like "the enemy's Bible." Do others feel the same?

I'm curious of the source of these stories you are talking about, it sounds like anti KJV propaganda. Many people will try to emphasize the reservation King James I had regarding the footnotes in the Geneva Bible and will try to make his request to remove footnotes an attack againt the reformation. He didn't like the footnotes that would undermine his authority as a monarch, but this has no baring on the translation of the biblical text which is a very accurate translation. I'm very curious who would call the KJV the "enemy" bible, this sound very Romish since the Roman church has always hated the refomation era bibles (including the Geneva and the KJV) but are very favorable to the newer version based on the critical text. They even have a Jesuit Priest and Roman Catholic Cardinal on the UBS editorial commitee of the CT.


Or are some of these "facts" incorrect? Is there any "good history" associated with that Bible?

I would say these are misrepresentation of historical "facts" with the purpose of undermining the value of the KJV. There is absolutely good history associated with that bible.

Should we proudly hold to the Church of England's work when they were so ruthlessly hunting down Tyndale and others to torture and burn alive?

As mention in a previous post the burning of Tyndale and the translation of the KJV have nothing to do with one another. The reign of Henry VIII and bloody Mary cannot be compared with the reign of James I since they had vastly differing view. Also remember that when Tyndale was burnt the Anglican church was in it's infancy and was still very Romish to the core.

I suggest you browse some of the past tread regarding this subject on this board since they are men who are better equiped to answer these questions than I who have already commented on similar assertions.
 
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J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
I take Thomas' position: the KJV is a good translation, though not a perfect one, just like every other good translation of Scripture (ESV, NASB, HCSB, etc). Of course it needs to be remembered that the modern KJV is not quite the same as the 1611 version, as it has undergone revisions through history, but it's still a good Bible. And it's just as wrong to look upon the KJV as an "enemy bible" as it is to be KJV only.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
Your comment about not wanting to "touch the thing" makes me bristle. Its not a "thing," it's the Word of God and precious to many on this board. So I would caution you to take more care in how you speak. The KJV is not above criticism, but neither should it be treated with open contempt.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
There are some good resources that may give you a more thorough understanding of why some of us still regard the AV very highly.

1. http://www.tbsbibles.org/pdf_information/169-1.pdf
2. http://www.tbsbibles.org/pdf_information/19-1.pdf

As has been noted 1) The Puritans themselves asked for a new translation of the Bible in 1604 bcause the version then allowed for in the churches was not adequate.

2) Timeline is important. Tydale was martyred before the Reformation had really taken hold in England. If you want to blame anyone for that, blame the Romanists.

3). Yes, the bishops did persecute the Puritans. But remember, most Puritans remained part of the Church of England until 1662 (well after the AV was translated).

4). As for the use of the AV by earlier English versions, this is not regarded as a bad thing. "Plagerizing" is when you represent someone else's work as your own. The translators set out with the express mission to keep their translation as much in line with earlier versions as possible. The thinking was that they were not producing a new version of their own original work to compete with other versions for a share of the market (like many today do). They were taking the English Bible and refining it, making it better. This is done, not by starting over, but by retaining as much as is good.

I'd really encourage you to check out the links above. You might just come to find a precious treasure!
 

Jackie Kaulitz

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you all for your responses. I apologize that my poor choice of words offended some and I have edited this to be more edifying. Thanks for your bringing this to my attention, Rev Sheffield.

This "history" I have gotten from everywhere from Wikipedia to library books on "How the Bible was built"

Example: Wikipedia: History of the Church of England - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Authorised Version
Shortly after coming to the throne, James I attempted to bring unity to the Church of England by instituting a commission consisting of scholars from all views within the Church to produce a unified and new translation of the Bible free of Calvinist and Popish influence. The project was begun in 1604 and completed in 1611 becoming de facto the Authorised Version in the Church of England and later other Anglican churches throughout the communion until the mid-20th century.

Geneva Bible - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
These English expatriates undertook a translation that became known as the Geneva Bible.[36] This translation, dated to 1560, was a revision of Tyndale's Bible and the Great Bible on the basis of the original languages.[37] Soon after Elizabeth I took the throne in 1558, the flaws of both the Great Bible and the Geneva Bible (namely, that the Geneva Bible did not "conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy") became painfully apparent.[38] In 1568, the Church of England responded with the Bishops' Bible, a revision of the Great Bible in the light of the Geneva version.[39] While officially approved, this new version failed to displace the Geneva translation as the most popular English Bible of the age – in part because the full Bible was only printed in lectern editions of prodigious size and at a cost of several pounds.[40] Accordingly, Elizabethan lay people overwhelmingly read the Bible in the Geneva Version – small editions were available at a relatively low cost. At the same time, there was a substantial clandestine importation of the rival Douay–Rheims New Testament of 1582, undertaken by exiled Roman Catholics. This translation, though still derived from Tyndale, claimed to represent the text of the Latin Vulgate.[41]

In May 1601, King James VI of Scotland attended the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at St Columba's Church in Burntisland, Fife, at which proposals were put forward for a new translation of the Bible into English.[42] Two years later, he ascended to the throne of England as King James I of England.


So is it true that the King James Bible was created by the Church of England (who was anti Pope and anti Calvinist despite there being some Puritans among them) in order to replace/dethrone the Geneva Bible? Because "did not "conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy"? Would this half-Catholic/half-Puritan bible be better than the fully Reformed Geneva Bible?
 

Jackie Kaulitz

Puritan Board Freshman
I should also add:

Geneva Bible - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The annotations which are an important part of the Geneva Bible were Calvinist and Puritan in character, and as such they were disliked by the ruling pro-government Anglicans of the Church of England, as well as King James I, who commissioned the "Authorized Version", or King James Bible, in order to replace it. The Geneva Bible had also motivated the earlier production of the Bishops' Bible under Elizabeth I, for the same reason, and the later Rheims-Douai edition by the Catholic community. The Geneva Bible remained popular among Puritans and remained in widespread use until after the English Civil War. The Geneva notes were surprisingly included in a few editions of the King James version, even as late as 1715.[3] Herbert, AS (1968), Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible 1525–1961, London, New York: British and Foreign Bible Society, American Bible Society, SBN 564-00130-9.
 

Jackie Kaulitz

Puritan Board Freshman
There are some good resources that may give you a more thorough understanding of why some of us still regard the AV very highly.

1. http://www.tbsbibles.org/pdf_information/169-1.pdf
2. http://www.tbsbibles.org/pdf_information/19-1.pdf

Thanks for the two links. One is a big book, so I'll have to take a look later, but in the shorter 9 page article, I found the same history that I've been reading about from other books and the internet that show the King James to be intentionally created to replace the Calvinism of the Geneva Bible:

Amongst the ‘fiercer sort of
protestants’ as Elizabeth I had
called them, the Geneva Bible of
1560 had become ‘the best’. It was
robust in translation, with strongly
worded annotations, and it was portable,
with the verses numbered. The Anglican
establishment had caused the Bishops’ Bible
to be produced in 1568, attempting to wean
away support from the Geneva
, but it was a
very lame production with no possibility at
all of securing general use. As they came to
the conference neither the Bishops nor the
Puritans were satisfied with each other’s
preferred Bible Version.


I also noticed this:

BUT—the new translation of the
Scriptures was to be undertaken (the Geneva
Version must be displaced somehow!),

according to very direct instructions.

Again I see the King James Bible created to "displace the Geneva". Sure the Puritans fought for a better Bible than the Bishop's Bible and the AV was better but the AV was created by the Church of England which was a mix between Catholic/Calvinist. So how could such a Bible be superior to a fully Calvinist bible? The Puritans got a better Bible than the Bishop's Bible (which was fully Anglican) but they didn't get the Geneva Bible (although the AV and Geneva are ~60% Tyndale and the same from what I've heard).
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
as for wikipedia - for a reliable take on anything really important, I wouldn't touch the thing!! :)
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
The Puritans got a better Bible than the Bishop's Bible (which was fully Anglican)

"Anglican" isn't necessarily synonymous with all that's bad. I don't think the C of E has ever been without a remnant, sometimes larger, sometimes smaller, of true Christians.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
Does it bother anybody who is KJV preferred that they used some of Erasmus' material in translation?
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Jackie, I think Wikipedia, and no doubt other sources, are often guilty not so much of error as over-sweeping generalization. I think when someone wrote "free of calvinistic and popish" influence they really meant "presbyterian" more than calvinistic. There were calvinists in the Anglican church in those days: Archbishop Whitgift himself, under Elizabeth, was pretty calvinistic. Dr. Reynolds, who was on the Oxford translation committee for the AV, was a spokesperson for the Puritan party at the Hampton conference.

But even more to the point is this: what matters is not what the king wanted; nor even what the petitioners wanted; what matters is if the translators were faithful to their task and did their best, according to their philosophy of translation, to render the word of God into English. People may believe that our textual criticism has advanced since then (it's indisputable that many discoveries of material for textual criticism have been made), that our grasp of linguistics and ancient grammar has improved, etc. But I think even the severest critic of the authorized version would be forced to admit that the translators did an amazing job. People today might prefer language a little less elegantly English, more consistency and less variety in the rendition of original terms, or a different textual basis. But whether or not you think their information or methods could have been improved, or that it's a translation whose time has passed, there cannot be any serious dispute that they translated soberly, skilfully, and well. Their own profession is that they were making a good translation better, or out of many good ones, a principal good one. That profession certainly seems to have been about as vindicated by the judgment of history as any literary determination can be.
 
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jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Wasn't publication of the Geneva Bible largely suppressed after the "AV' was published? Isn't it hard for something to remain popular if it isn't available?

Also, the OP primarily indicated an interest in the way KJV supplanted the Geneva Bible. I don't know that I've ever seen a thread on this particular topic except, perhaps, as an aside to discussion regarding English translations.
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
It's easier to believe that the AV improved on the Geneva Bible, than that the Revisers improved on the AV.
Proficiency in the ancient languages must if anything have gone backwards since the 17thC.
 

crixus

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi Jackie. I read and enjoy several versions of the Holy Bible (KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB & NLT). I might get blasted by the theologians here, but my favorite is the NKJV. :book2:
 
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newcreature

Puritan Board Freshman
As I am coming into this discussion rather late, I have enjoyed reading many of your responses to the OP. Jackie, I would encourage you to be a little more critical of your sources. The Wikipedia, for example, is an open source. Anyone with internet access can make modifications to this. As some have already pointed out, this may at times make it less accurate and broadly sweeping. Those who make edits may be biased or uninformed. If you were in school and submitted errant data based on information obtained from Wikipedia, your instructors would probably not be very forgiving.

With that said, I have gained much knowledge from the thread and am glad you broached the subject. I will be following up and reading more on a lot of the links provided. I came to Christ reading the KJV, not in a Reformed church, but in the Church of God in Christ. I guess my point is, the word of God, as long as it is a faithful translation, is faithful. Let us remember what Paul said to Timothy.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV)

16 For the whole Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable to teach, to improve, to correct, and to instruct in righteousness, 17 That the man of God may be absolute, being made perfect unto all good works.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 Geneva Bible)
 

crixus

Puritan Board Freshman
It takes awhile for them to fix errors due to their very small staff, but I think Wikipedia does a good job...considering all the code and content involved. :2cents:
 
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JoannaV

Puritan Board Sophomore
An encyclopaedia entry will always reflect a world-view. Christianity, Reformed Christianity, inerrant Scripture: these are minority world-views. Evolution is fact; Genesis 1 is a "creation myth". Even when reading articles that are edited by those with a world-view closer to your own and that seem full of facts, some of which you may be able to verify as correct, you still need to remember that those who edit the articles choose which facts to present, they choose which sources to quote, and therefore what slant to give the article.
So wikipedia is a great way to introduce yourself to a subject but then you should discuss it with a group of people ;)
 

Gavin

Puritan Board Freshman
It was to make from good translations a better one.
I'm sure it was also Gods will to make a non denominational Bible. Remember that time saw horrendous persecution of not just reformed folk, but Baptists, and others too who were praying for a version without bias. Apart from which all glosses have , eventually faded away leaving Gods eternal Word for our comfort and edification.
 
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