Did Puritans use the KJV?

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Stephen L Smith

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I know that the Geneva Bible was greatly loved by many Puritans. I was wondering did many well known Puritans use the KJV?
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
And a thread called,

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

Here's an interesting quote by A very wise former member of the PB named Matthew Winzer

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: (thread is dead)

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.

Edit: MW's quote is interesting because a Google search finds many resources that claim that Puritans did not like the KJV.
 
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Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
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.
Thank you Ed. That was helpful. I understand the Puritans at the Westminster Assembly largely used the AV.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thank you Ed. That was helpful. I understand the Puritans at the Westminster Assembly largely used the AV.
It's worth noting that in many places. the KJV isn't very different from the Geneva. Consider Gen 1:26-28

26 Furthermore God said, Let vs make man in our image according to our likenes, and let them rule ouer the fish of the sea, and ouer the foule of the heauen, and ouer the beastes, and ouer all the earth, and ouer euery thing that creepeth and moueth on the earth.
27 Thus God created the man in his image: in the image of God created he him: he created them male and female.
28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, Bring forth fruite and multiplie, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule ouer the fish of the sea, and ouer the foule of the heauen, and ouer euery beast that moueth vpon the earth. (Gen. 1:26-28 GNV)

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Gen. 1:26-28 KJV)

The changes are slight, and I think in most cases where there is a difference most people would prefer the KJV rendition. I'm sure there are some places where the changes were more controversial, but you can see why even Puritans might accept it as an obvious improvement over the Geneva.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
I used the Tolle Lege reprint of the 1599 Geneva for my Mc'Cheyne 1 year Bible reading plan 1 year, and have facsimiles of the 1560, and 1602 (printed in 1607) Geneva. The 1560 primarily has notes by Calvin, the 1602 primarily by Beza, or so I read. Regardless, I recalled reading that one reason James 1was amicable on the Puritan request for a revision of the Bible was due to his dislike of the notes in the Geneva, some of which were anti monarchy. Thinking about it, makes sense that 1640 being the approximate time the 1611 AV overtook the Geneva in popularity, since the Confessions were composed beginning in the late 1640s.

The two photos of excerpted text below are out of the essays contained in the forward portion of the 1607 facsimile of the Geneva, with notes.
Essays by Gerald T. Sheppard (top), and Marvin W. Anderson (below). Geneva_Bible_2.jpg Geneva_Bible_1.jpg
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
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Thinking about it, makes sense that 1640 being the approximate time the 1611 AV overtook the Geneva in popularity, since the Confessions were composed beginning in the late 1640s.
Thanks. This would make sense. The Westminster Standards used the KJV, and I guess Puritans after (approx.) 1640 also did so.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
It's worth noting that in many places. the KJV isn't very different from the Geneva.
Both the Geneva Bible and the KJV come from the rich Tyndale tradition.
I'm sure there are some places where the changes were more controversial, but you can see why even Puritans might accept it as an obvious improvement over the Geneva.
I guess they would miss the Reformed and spiritually rich Geneva Bible notes though.

There is one interesting verse that the Geneva Bible gets right - Rev 16:5
"And I heard the Angel of the waters say, Lord, thou art just, which art, and which wast: and Holy, because thou hast judged these things."
The CSB agrees " I heard the angel of the waters say, You are just, the Holy One, who is and who was, because you have passed judgment on these things."

However the KJV, following Beza's textual emendation reads:
"And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus."

Most translations following the original agree with the Geneva Bible.

But I am sure you are right - there are many places where the KJV is an obvious improvement over the Geneva Bible.
 
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Logan

Puritan Board Senior
It's also a matter of practicality.

King James intended the KJV to be the official Bible in English churches, so at least the Church of England would have had it. It was "authorized".

Simultaneously, my understanding is that there wasn't widespread adoption since people were reluctant to leave the Geneva Bibles. So somewhere around 1616 King James apparently banned the printing of Geneva Bibles in England (the KJV was authorized). Some were still illegally printed with the backdate of 1599 to get around this ban. Geneva Bibles were imported from Amsterdam until 1637 when Archbishop Laud prohibited both their printing or importation.

I have not traced this down to their sources but this is my understanding at least. Regardless, the Geneva Bible wasn't really readily available, the KJV was. So when the Westminster Assembly came together as an assembly called by the civil government, it makes sense at the very least that they would adopt the Bible readily available and authorized by the same government. It was also an admirable translation, but the events surrounding it made it kind of the only practical one. They may have still made the same choice if the situation were different, but that seems to be the situation.
 

Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Sophomore
Both the Geneva Bible and the KJV come from the rich Tyndale tradition.

I guess they would miss the Reformed and spiritually rich Geneva Bible notes though.

There is one interesting verse that the Geneva Bible gets right - Rev 16:5
"And I heard the Angel of the waters say, Lord, thou art just, which art, and which wast: and Holy, because thou hast judged these things."
The CSB agrees " I heard the angel of the waters say, You are just, the Holy One, who is and who was, because you have passed judgment on these things."

However the KJV, following Beza's textual emendation reads:
"And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus."

Most translations following the original agree with the Geneva Bible.

But I am sure you are right - there are many places where the KJV is an obvious improvement over the Geneva Bible.
Beza made arguments for why the current editions couldn’t be correct, and stated that he restored it to what was surely the original wording as he found in “an ancient” manuscript. We don’t know what manuscript that was, as we don’t have it now (which has led some scholars to say Beza mistakenly claimed that). I believe there is a pre-Bezan version with this reading also.
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
And, of course, the Geneva had the jump on the KJV, so was more in use (popular) for decades after the KJV became available.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I remember Matthew Winzer, as do many here. Whatever happened to him, anyway? He just sort of disappeared from the site.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I remember Matthew Winzer, as do many here. Whatever happened to him, anyway? He just sort of disappeared from the site.
Like many, Matthew decided to trim his online presence several years ago. He does occasionally read the board but no longer is active or logs in.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I would love to participate in this discussion – especially as regards Rev 16:5! – but I must stay on top of the requirements (uploading of PCR test results, vax status, and various forms) for international travel in these days of plague, or I would be overwhelmed, and risk my flight, not even to mention packing (according to TSA specs). I hope to be back when we are set up in Cyprus.
 
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