ASK Commentary
January 15, 2003 

The Geneva Bible

Commentary for January 15, 2003 ― Is the Geneva Bible Better?

Question: What do you think of the Geneva Bible? Is it better than the King James Bible? I hear that it had margin notes that King James did not like; hence he banned them from his namesake Bible.

Answer: The Geneva Bible is certainly a precursor to the King James Bible. Go to www.google.com or any Internet search engine, and type in “Geneva Bible.” Several sites listed there will explain about that Bible, its history, and its relation to the King James Bible.

The Geneva Bible is online, complete with notes, at http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/GenevaStudyBible/. I suggest you investigate further and make your own decision about the usefulness of the Bible and its notes. Keep in mind that no marginal notes or commentary can ever be considered “inspired.”

No translations are “inspired” either, in spite of what the opinions of people may say. No single manuscript, Greek or Hebrew, is inspired. Neither is any Textus Receptus inspired. If you believe otherwise, then good luck in your quest, because you will be trying to prove the impossible. You will find the evidence is based on reputations and opinions of other human beings.

If you greatly desire to learn the scriptures in a more “pure” form then you should strive to learn Greek and Hebrew. Such an endeavor takes time and hard work. If that is not an option there are multitudes of biblical helps in book and computer form to aid your understanding of any particular passage of Holy Scripture, far beyond any notes contained in the Geneva Bible.

The Bible is inspired in its totality, not because of any portion, and not because of any translation. God can and does use any translation to further His purposes. The inspiration of Holy Scriptures comes from the message it contains, transmitting God’s thoughts to your mind. Yes, sometimes a bad translation can get in the way of truth, but only if a person hangs a major biblical teaching on a single verse or translation. We must all dig deeper than the translation anyway to honestly and comprehensively study any particular verse. We are commended to do so in 2 Timothy 2:14-16.

Also, continually ask questions of the text and the context of the passage, the chapter and the entire biblical book.

"Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness."

• 2 Timothy 2:14-16

It is important to continually ask questions of the text and the context of a passage, a chapter and an entire book of the Bible. All that being said, Dr. Martin did have translations he preferred to use. They were:
  1. The King James Version (because so many Greek and Hebrew Bible helps are available for it)
     
  2. The Newberry Study Bible (a King James Bible with useful helps)
     
  3. The American Standard Bible (a very literal translation, somewhat awkward)
     
  4. The Jerusalem Bible (Hebrew/English, for the correct Old Testament book order)
     
  5. Ivan Panin’s New Testament (in the correct NT manuscript book order).
Do I have my preferences as to translations? Yes. In general I use and prefer the King James Version for the same reasons as Dr. Martin. For the New Testament I use the Concordant Version. To me it reads much like the Greek in style and translation, although it is awkward to read in English. (I have gotten used to it.) I especially appreciate its regularity of English vocabulary; it uses one English term to represent one Greek term, aside from idioms. I do not refer to the Concordant Version in ASK publications because most people are not familiar with it and cannot make reference to it. I have no preference for the Old Testament at present.

For Dr. Martin’s extended discussion of Bibles on the ASK Website, see “The World Needs the Original Bible.”

David Sielaff
david@askelm.com

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