1560 vs 1599 Geneva Bibles

Not open for further replies.

Coram Deo

Puritan Board Junior
A friend called me up today ready to buy his copy of the Geneva Bible and wanted to know which version is better translated? 1560 or the 1599? The author of the 1560 claims that the 1560 is more superior in translation then the later 1599 translation. He also claimed that the 1599 edition is one of the most error ridden copies of all Geneva's.

What do you make of all this? My friend really wants to buy the best translation of the two..

Here is the complete quote from the author of the republished 1560 version:

Why the 1560 vs. 1599 edition?

The 1560 Geneva Bible is far more important as a historical production. It is directly in the line of the 16th century translation accomplishments. The notes reflect the reformation theology better than the later notes. The notes of the 1560 edition show John Calvin's influence from his commentaries.

The 1599 has Tomson's NT notes and was the first to have notes on Revelation by Junius (an avid Calvinist whose father was brutally murdered). They also included the Metrical Psalms, which were popular. The basic problem, however, is that the 1599 edition is one of the most error ridden copies of all Geneva's. Furthermore, many were dated 1599 but were really printed in 1633, as explained in my Introduction. The notes put into the "1599" became more and more Calvinistic, and also show anti-catholic sentiment, probably in response to the notes in the 1582 Catholic Rhemes NT. In a Revelation 9 note, for instance, Francis Junius blasts Pope Gregory VII for his "evil doings."

Finally, the advertising for the 1599 reproduction makes it sound much more important than it was. While the Geneva Bible was popular among the Pilgrims, they continued to use the KJV as well. The 1599 edition was only one out of the many Geneva Bible editions that the Pilgrims and Puritans would have brought to America.

The 1560 Geneva Bible will be much more sought after by collectors and historians.
I can't say that I've studied all of the differences between the 1560 and 1599 editions, nor all of the various editions in-between (a key difference from 1576 onwards being Laurence Tomson's revision of the New Testament), but based on what little I know, I am partial to the 1599 edition for the following reasons:

* The 1560 edition included the Apocrypha (albeit with a note stating that it was not canonical) but did not include a Psalter for singing; the 1599 edition was the first English Bible to not include the Apocrypha, and it does include a Psalter for singing; and

* I prefer the annotations of Francis Junius which appeared in the 1599 edition first, replacing the previous notes by John Bale and Heinrich Bullinger (which are good and not to be despised). I think the editing of the annotations in the intervening period enables the 1599 edition to reflect a richer and more profound Biblical interpretation.

A good library will include both editions; if forced to choose, I would choose the 1599 edition.

Last edited:
Not open for further replies.