The original email and the ad for this Patriot’s Edition made me so annoyed that I frankly threw together a counter-email, which I never sent. It annoyed me because it claimed that this Bible was the reason for the American Revolution and our American Republic. Now that I have gotten it in the mail, the forwards and historical backgrounds in the front of the Bible have, indeed, prompted me to respond in an academically rigorous way to this edition, but I remain generally in favor of this Bible version.
The whole edition seems perfect for the homeschooling family. It is one edition with “The Prayer of George Washington” (one of the prayers he wrote, rather), The Magna Carta, The Mayflower Compact, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and Washington’s primus opus “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation”. I certainly had to read most of these works as a homeschooler and, I must add, have already had occasion to resort to The Constitution provided in the back.
Indeed, when combined with the original Geneva Bible Morning & Evening Prayers, Prayer Against the Devil by St. Augustine, A Prayer to be said before a man begin his work, all these devotionals that stand in the back (just after the Book of Revelation), one could hardly see it as a bad volume. It has already proved quite serviceable in my life.
Rather the problem stands in the front, in the “scholarship” and innuendos that go into proclaiming this version as the catalytic converter of our American experiment in self-government. The 1599 version of the Geneva Bible which was chosen to make this edition was not the most printed version. That's odd. That the Apocrypha and Metrical Psalter were omitted is a pity. But the scholarship introducing it is in shambles.
Note this wording from “The History and Impact of the Geneva Bible”. First it says, “This edition of the Geneva Bible is the first completely new publication since the time of its first issue, and timed for release on the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown . . . The Geneva Bible surely was carried aboard their three ships that sailed from England in December of 1606. The New England Pilgrims likewise relied on the Geneva Bible for comfort and strength on their 66-day voyage . . . and were even more dependent upon it as they wrote the Mayflower Compact . . .” Note the assumption, “The Geneva Bible surely was carried” to the Jamestown colony. - Possible, probable, but not a proven fact.
The Jamestown colony was very much made up of royalists if my knowledge of history serves, not Puritans whose loyalty to the crown was, well, less enthusiastic. To state, as is stated later, “that John Rolfe likely would have used [it] in the conversion of Pocahontas at Jamestown in 1611” is to state something quite unlikely. To talk about the Geneva Bible as “the Bible of William Shakespeare” is similarly conjecture. Everybody wants to claim Shakespeare and plenty of Roman Catholic homeschooling families likely have their children read a book which tries to prove that Shakespeare was a Roman Catholic.
Another unfair attack is the statement that this was “the first Bible to be read by the common people in English”. Is the author not aware that the Matthew’s Bible was ordered to be set up in the English churches in a convenient place where the people could go to read it? But that is not the point, I hazard. The point is in the homes, at the hearth, where the individual can read his bible and interpret in his own way without being dependent upon an institutional church. So the home and hearth, and homeschooling of Christian America is thus seen as the basis of self-government, and the homeschooling parent can rest assured that this is as it should be. But shall we thus distain the institutional church, the parochial/Christian school, even when protestant and Bible-believing? If that is what is hinted at, then I am alarmed.
The reality is that Jamestown, more than likely, used The Bishop’s Book or Matthew’s Bible, the authoritative versions, not a concoction put together by a few unauthorized persons who had fled to Geneva. Overlooking this, it is stated that this Bible “was the first Bible translation produced by a committee rather than by one individual”. Yes, but not by an authorized committee. And the Matthew’s Bible (published 1526) was put together by three individuals. How many individuals does it take to make a “committee” instead of just an individual? Do they have to be all sitting in the same room for it to be a “committee”? I would add that the King and Bishops took a vow to safeguard the spiritual welfare of the people of the realm and were endowed with power from on high for such a task. They were no self-appointed committee.
Of this institutional authority, the history written by Dr. Marshall Foster is simply dismissive, calling The Bishop’s Book an “inferior translation” just before launching into an attack upon Bishop Laud labeling him curtly “persecutor of Presbyterians” and saying that Laud “widely promoted” the 1611 Authorized Version “who outlawed the printing of the Geneva Bible in the realm”. No evidence is offered as to why The Bishop’s Book is inferior.
The final straw in this poorly-constructed thesis is the statement that “the Geneva Bible disappeared” after Laud’s lamentable foisting of the King James Version on the “people”. Yet, we might ask, how then did it come to be the influence of the Founding Fathers and of George Washington? From 1611 to 1776 is 165 years. So, if the Geneva Bible disappeared, I am rather surprised at its ability to influence our Founding Fathers when we have just now reproduced it and the copyright reads 2010.
All of that being said it is still our right to freedom of speech that allows us the opportunity to check and balance each other, through academic discourse and debate. We are blessed in this great country, developed by many different denominations, to have the ability to tweak each other as Christian brothers. It is this privilege that I am exercising in this review. If, in fact, this Bible does help bring America back to her senses and Christian foundation, then I am heartily enthusiastic about The Patriot’s Edition. Order your copy today!