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Nice to finally have compact version in modern typeface, but flawed in many ways.
on December 2, 2006
It's wonderful to finally have a genuine Geneva Bible reprinted in modern typeface that is actually portable. It is my favorite Bible version and I've owned quite a few different reprints of this Bible over the years in various formats. Of the versions that have been reprinted, this is the most portable and complete version available with the notes of the Genevan Reformers included. The leather is supple and soft (mine is a limited edition calfskin version), and the type is dark on white india paper and very easy on the eyes.
However, as great (and historic) as the reprinting of this classic work is, there are a few things that keep it from being as perfect as it could have been:
1) It has a cross on the cover (limited calfskin edition, not sure about hardcover). But not only that, it is a Celtic cross, which legend tells us was a blending of the Roman Catholic cross and the Solar Cross, introduced by Saint Columba in order to help pagans ease their way into Christianity by linking the symbol of the cross with the symbol of their sun-god Taranis. A variation of this cross has since been adopted by neo-facists in Europe. So what's this doing on my 1599 Geneva Bible? The Reformers would be turning over in their graves. They fought hard to rid the church of religious icons such as these. A cross is simply out of place on the Bible of the Reformers and Puritans and goes against the grain of what they taught and practiced. Bad choice. Very bad choice. Guess I need a cover to hide the cross which sort of defeats the purpose of a soft, supple calfskin leather cover. What's worse on my Bible is that the cross isn't centered on the front. It's about 1 cm to the right of center, and slightly crooked. I would have preferred nothing at all on the cover instead of a crooked Celtic cross. And I'm Scottish!
2) The notes, while great, are very difficult to reference. In the original Geneva Bible, the editors used lowercase letters of the alphabet, from a to z, to indicate a note; and the note was in the margin near the verse so you didn't lose your place in the text. It is very easy in an original Geneva Bible to glance at the superscript reference letter, scan for that letter in the margin next to the verse, and read the note for that reference. After reading the note, which was sometimes long, you could glance back at the text, and continue where you left off. Simple. Unfortunately, in this reprint the publisher opted to put the notes at the bottom of the page, broken down by chapter/verse, using reference numbers within each verse that restart from 1 each time within each verse. So you have some thirty something superscript number 1's within the biblical text on each page of this Bible. So, for example, if you're reading Hosea 7:1, in order to read the reference note for this, you have to make a mental note of the chapter and verse you are on, as well as the superscript reference number for this note, then scan the bottom of the page until you find the corresponding chapter and verse, find the corresponding number within that chapter and verse, and then read the note. Then you have to find where you left off in the text above...let's see...where's note 1...oh yes, there are 30 of these little 1's throughout the text! It's even worse if there are two identical verse numbers from two different chapters on the same page...I find myself inadvertently reading the note for the wrong chapter/verse combination. The note referencing clearly wasn't thought through in this release, and it's a shame because it really is a hindrance to Bible study by causing you to memorize 3 things, chapter, verse, and annotation number, before you can find and read the note. By then your mind has probably wandered from the text. It may seem like not such a big deal, but in actual practice, it's very cumbersome and unintuitive. In the original Geneva, you only had to remember one letter, and once you finished, you could use that letter to find your spot back in the main text. Simple and effective, and shows that the Reformers were concerned with the details.
3) I bought the limited edition calfskin leather version (only 500 hand-numbered volumes were produced). The original color appeared black in the original advertisement so I was excited to be getting this reissue in black calfskin leather. However, when it finally arrived, I was surprised to find that they released it in an ugly puke-tan leather with a large gold cross emblazoned on the front. I fully expected it to be black (and cross-less) based on the photos and would have preferred it to remain that way.
4) I'm extremely concerned about the integrity of the source text that was used for this version, as well as the proofreading that was done before publishing this Bible. It appears they rushed to publish it, errors and all. I've only read 6 chapters so far and already found 3 mistakes: 1) In Luke 15:30 this version has "devoured thy good with harlots" but the original 1599 Geneva Bible that I own says "devoured thy goods with harlots", which makes more sense. If you look at digitized copies of the Geneva Bible online, they contain the same error. Over the years I've come across several errors in the standard digitized versions of the Geneva Bible, so I fear that these same errors have been replicated in this release. It is likely that Tolle Lege used the extant digitized 1599 text as a base text without checking whether that text was indeed true to the original. But the next error I found boggles my mind. 2) In 2 Peter 3:16 this version has "among the which some things are hard to be understand..." whereas the original 1599 Geneva (both online and in the copies I own) has "among the which some things are hard to be understood...". The word "understand" doesn't even make sense, and how this could have slipped past a proofreader is beyond me. 3) In 1 John 2:5 this version has "hereby we know that ye are in him" but the original 1599 Geneva Bible says "hereby we know that we are in him." Big difference in the meaning between these two verses. This version implies that we can know whether other people are saved or not. This error is not in the 1599 Geneva version I own, or the versions online, only in this version. I remember having the same issues with the Modern King James version that was released in the early 90's. It was riddled with errors like "Cod" instead of "God" making it basically useless since it couldn't be trusted. I guess it goes to show that you can't rely on computer software to proofread copy and grammar. This is a major concern and from what I've seen so far in only 6 chapters, it's not looking very promising as an accurate copy of the original Geneva Bible.
5) After two days of owning it my Bible is already falling apart (limited calfskin version). The glue that holds the vinyl to the leather front cover is already coming apart...about an inch and a half at the corner...and I've hardly used it. This is unacceptable in a Bible at any price, let alone $300. I'm not sure if the quality of the hardcover is similar to the calfskin version.
This is the most compact Geneva Bible you can hope to find on the market today. And that's why it's unfortunate there are so many issues with it. Initially I gave this Bible a 5 star rating, but after 2 days of owning it, I have to retract my rating. At the most I'd give it 3 stars, but due to the textual and grammatical errors, I simply cannot recommend it. I was going to buy 4 other copies for members of my family, but now there's no way I will. I suggest holding out until Tolle Lege comes out with a second edition in 2007 - or even the third edition. They've started to fix the grammatical errors and list them on their site - hopefully they'll also fix the quality control issues.