Item of the Day: The Geneva Bible (1595)

Full Title:

The Bible: That is, the Holy Scriptures Conteined in the Olde and New Testament: Translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in diuers languages. With most profitable Annotations upon all the hard places, and other things of great importance. Imprinted at London by the Deputies of Christopher Barker, Printer to the Queenes most excellent Maiestie. 1595.

To the Christian Reader:

Besides the manifold and continual benefits which Almightie God bestoweth upon us, both corporall and spirituall, we are especially bound (deare brethren) to giue him thankes without ceasing for his great grace and unspeakable mercies, in that it hath pleased him to call us unto this marueilous light of his Gospel, and mercifully to regard us after so horrible backsliding & falling away from Christ to Antichrist, from light to darknes, from the liuing God to dumme and dead idoles, and that after so cruel murther of Gods Saints, as alas, hath bene amog us, we are not altogether cast off, as were the Israelites, & many others for the like, or not so manifest wickednes, but receiued againe to grace with most euident signes and tokens of Gods especial loue & fauour. To the intent therefore that we may not be vnmindefull of these great mercies, but seeke by all meanes (according to our duetie) to be thankeful for the same, it behoueth vs so to walke in his feare and loue, that all the dayes of our life we may procure the glory of his holy Name. Now forasmuch as this thing chiefly is attained by the knowledge and practising of the word of God, (which is the light to our paths, the key of the kingdome of heauen, our comfort in affliction, our shield and sword against Satan, the schole of all wisdome, the glasse wherein we beholde Gods face, the testimonie of his fauour, and the only foode and nourishment of our soules) we thought that we could bestow our labours & studie in nothing which could be more acceptable to God and comfortable to his Church, then in the translating of the holy Scriptures into our natiue tongue: the which thing, albeit that diuers heretofore haue indeuoured to atchieue: yet considering the infancie of those times and imperfect knowledge of the tongues, in respect of this ripe age and cleare light which God hath nowe reueiled, the translations required greatly to bee perused and reformed. Not that we vendicate any thing to our selues aboue the least of our brethren (for God knoweth with what feare and trembling we haue bene for the space of two yeeres and more day and night occupied herein) but being earnestly desired, and by diuers, whose learning and godlines we reuerence, exhorted, and also incouraged by the ready willes of such, whose hearts God likwise touched, not to spare any charges for the furtherance of such a benefite and fauour of God toward his Church (though the time then was most dangerous, and the persecution sharpe and furious) we submitted ourseues at length to their godly iudgements, and seeing the great opportunities and occasions, which God presented vnto vs his Church, by reason of so many godly and learned men, and such diuersities of translations in diuers tongues: we vndertooke this great and wonderful worke (with all reuerence, as in the presence of God, as intreating the word of God, whereunto we thinke our selues vnsufficient) which now God according to his diuine prouidence and mercie hath directed to a most prosperous ende. And this we may with good conscience protest, that we haue in euery point & worde, according to the measure of that knowledge which it pleased Almightie God to giue vs, faithfully rendred the text, and in all hard places most syncerely expounded the same. For God is our witnes, that we haue by all meanes endeuoured to set foorth the puritie of the worde and right sense of the holy Ghost, for the edifying of the brethren in faith and charitie.

Now as we haue chiefly obserued the sense, and laboured alwayes to restore it to all integritie: so haue we most reuerently kept the proprietie of the woordes, considering that the Apostles who spake and wrote to the Gentiles in the Greeke tongue, rather constrained them to the liuely phrase of the Ebrewe, then enterprised farre by mollifying their language to speake as the Gentiles did. And for this & other causes we haue in many places reserued the Ebrew phrases, notwithstanding that they may seeme somewhat hard in their eares that are not well practised and alos delight in the sweete sounding phrases of the holy Scriptures. Yet least either the simple should be discouraged, or the malicious haue any occasion of iust cauillation, seeing some translations reade after one sort, and some after another, whereas all may serue to good purpose & edification, we haue in the margent noted that diuersitie of speach or reading which may also seeme agreeable to the minde of the holy Ghost, and proper for our language with this marke ║. Againe, whereas the Ebrewe speach seemed hardly to agree with ours, we haue noted it in the margent after this sort ‡, vsing that which was more intelligible. And albeit that many of the Ebrewe names be altered frõ the old text, and restored to the true writing and first original, whereof they haue their signification, yet in the vsual names litle is changed for feare of troubling the simple readers. Moreouer, whereas the necessitie of the sentence required any thing to be added (for such is the grace and proprietie of the Ebrew and Greeke tongues, that it cannot but either by circumlocution, or by adding the verbe or some worde, be vnderstood of them that are not well practised therein) wee haue put it in the text with an other kinde of letter, that it may easily be discerned from the common letter. As touching the diuision of the verses, we haue folowed the Ebrew examples, which haue so euen from the beginning distinguished them. Which thing as it is most profitable for memorie, so doth it agree with the best traslations, and is most easie to find out both by the best Concordances, and also by the quotations which we haue diligently herein perused and set forth by this*. Besides this, the principall matters are noted and distinguished by this marke ¶. Yea and the arguments both for the booke and for the chapters with the number of the verse are added, that by all meanes the reader might be holpen. For the which cause also wee haue set ouer the head of euery page some notable worde or sentence which may greatly further aswell for memorie, as for the chiefe point of the page. And considering how hard a thing it is to vnderstand the holy Scriptures, and what errors, sects and heresies grow dayly for lacke of the true knowledge thereof, & how many are discouraged (as they pretend) because they cannot attaine to the true and simple meaning of the same, we haue also indeuoured both by the diligent reading fo teh best cõmentaries, and also by the conference with the godly and learned brethren, to gather briefe annotations vpon all the hard places, aswel for the vnderstanding of such words and are obscure, and for the declaration of the text, as for the application fo the same, as may most appertain to Gods glory & the edification of his Church. Furhetmore whereas certaine places in the bookes of Moses, of the Kings and Ezekiel seemed so darke, that by no descriptiõ they could be made easie to the simple reader, we haue so set them forth with figures & notes for the full declaration thereof, that they which cannot by iudgement, being holpen by the annotations noted by the letters, a.b c.&c, atteine thereunto yet by the perspectiue, and as it were by the eye, may sufficiently knowe the true meaning of all such places, whereunto also we haue added certaine Mappes of Cosmographie which necessarily serue for the perfect vnderstanding and memorie of diuers places and countreys, partly described, and partly by occasion touched, both in the Old and new Testament.

Finally, that nothing might lack which might be bought by labours for the increase of knowledge & furtherance of Gods glory, there are adioyned two most profitable Tables, the one seruing for the interpretation of the Ebrewe names: and the other conteyning all the chiefe & principal matters of the who Bible: so that nothing (as we trust) that any could iustly desire, is omitted. Therefore, as brethren that are partakers of the same hope & salutation with vs, we beseech you, that this rich pearle and inestimable treasure may not be offred in vaine, but as sent from God to the people of God, for the increase of his kingdom, the comfort fo his Church, and discharge of our conscience, whom it hath pleased him to raise vp for this purpose, so you would willingly receiue the worde of God, earnestly study it, and in all your life practise it, that ye may now appeare in deede to be the people of God, not walking any more according to this world, but in the fruites of the Spirit, that God in vs may be fully glorified, through Christ Iesus our Lord, who liueth and reigneth for euer. Amen.

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Filed under 1590's, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Religion

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