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1599 Geneva Bible: Calvin Legacy Edition (Calvin Legacy Edition) Hardcover – 2008
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On July 10, 2009, the world will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin (1509-1564). A controversial and often misunderstood theologian, Calvin’s impact on our modern world is simply beyond comprehension. Calvin’s view that God reigns everywhere and over all things led him to develop the biblical idea that man can serve God in every area of life—church, civil government, education, art, music, business, law, journalism, etc. Calvin’s teaching led directly to what has become known as the “Protestant work ethic” and created unprecedented economic prosperity around the world. One of his lesser-known contributions is that of the Geneva Bible, named for the city where Calvin lived and taught. The Geneva Bible was the first English Bible to feature chapters, verse numbers, cross references, and textual notes. The Geneva Bible and its nearly 300,000 marginal notes helped lead the English speaking world out from under the ignorance, heresy and tyranny of the Middle Ages and into a full understanding of God’s Kingdom ruling over all.
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The Geneva Bible is the original study Bible in English and the first Bible to incorporate verse numbers. This Bible was produced and annotated to make the Word of God understandable to any literate English person; as a result, it was exceedingly popular. The Geneva Bible was used by William Shakespeare, John Milton, and the Puritans. The believers who translated and assembled the Geneva Bible were dedicated to scriptural integrity, and the result is a very direct and accurate translation of the original sources (i.e. the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus). The language is often simpler that of the King James Version (KJV) as the Geneva translators were striving for a pure translation for common people, not a scholarly tome to impress kings and priests of the day.
The blunt, scripurally sound commentary in the Geneva Bible (stating that Christians first allegiance is to Christ, not to civil authorities) provoked King James to Authorize his own translation (without study notes) and, ultimately, to ban the sale and production of the Geneva Bible. Similarly, when the Pope realized his attempt to prevent the translation of scriptures into "vulgar" languages such as English, the Catholic Church was forced to produce its own English translation.
Tolle Lege Press has done a commendable job restoring this Bible. The uncompromising notes of the reformers who worked under the approval of John Calvin are maintained intact. Readers comfortable with the KJV will have no difficulty comprehending the Geneva Bible. Readers accustomed to modern translations, however, will find the 16th-century vernacular takes some getting used to. A helpful glossary of "Old English" words is included in the appendix.
This commemorative edition celebrates the quincentennial of John Calvin's birth (July 10, 1509). The distinguishing characteristics are: the embossed, gold foil stamped leather cover; a color plate featuring a small portrait of John Calvin and a reproduction of one of his brief, handwritten letters; and an essay by David Hall entitled "Calvin's Legacy." The leather cover is casebound--i.e. this is a hardcover book, reinforced to stand on a library shelf. This firm cover provides a substantial base for good, old-fashioned thumping!
The paper in this edition is very thin, thus there is significant ghosting of the words on the opposite pages. The type is clear, but the font is relatively small. There is no concordance or index (consistent with the original Geneva Bibles). Also included is a CD-ROM with the complete Geneva Bible text plus the Apocrypha and metrical Psalams (which are not printed in the volume).
6/10/09 Update: After approximately 5 months, the binding separated from the cover. Reportedly, binding problems are common with all versions from Tolle Lege (see reviews of other editions).