Textually speaking the Geneva Bible is far better than the modern, ever changing Critical Text versions like the NASB, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NIV, TNIV, NET, and the middle of the road versions like the NKJV and the Holman Standard. However the Geneva Bible was and is not God’s perfect Book and in His sovereignty it was placed on the shelf of virtual oblivion about 350 years ago.
No one I know of defends or believes the various Geneva Bibles to be the complete and infallible word of God, but many rightly do prefer it above such modern versions as the NASB, NIV and ESV.
Here are just a few examples showing the inferiority of the Geneva Bible as compared to the one God has been pleased in history to clearly establish as THE Bible of the English speaking people - the Authorized King James Bible.
The Geneva Bible has Elhanah killing Goliath, when most of today's Sunday school children know that it was David.
2 Sam 21:19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew THE BROTHER OF Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. --KJB NKJV, TNIV, Hebrew Names Version, Young’s, Lamsa’s, 1936 Hebrew Pub. Company version, French Martin, Italian Diodati, Portuguese O Livro 2000, KJV 21, Third Millenium Bible.
Geneva Bible - 2 Sam 21:19 “And there was yet another battel in Gob with the Philistims, where Elhanah the sonne of Iaare-oregim, a Bethlehemite SLEWE GOLIATH the Gittite: the staffe of whose speare was like a weauers beame.” This even conflicts with the Geneva Bible itself when it tells us in 1 Chron. 20:4-5 that Elhanan slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath.
For further discussion on who killed Goliath see:
Psalm 8:4-5 “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than THE ANGELS, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.”
It is quoted this way in the New Testament in all Bibles in Hebrews 2:6-8, including the Geneva Bible, and reads this way in Psalm 8:5 in all Jewish translations 1917 JPS, 1936 Hebrew Pub. Com., Judaica Press Tanach, Complete Jewish Bible, Hebrew Names Version, Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, Bishops’ Bible 1568, the NKJV, KJV 21, Third Millenium Bible, New Life Bible, Living Bible, Douay, New American Bible, New Century Version, the Spanish Reina Valera 1909, 1960, 1995, the Italian Diodati 1649, French Martin 1744, Ostervald 1996, the Biblia de Las Americas 1997 (put out by the same Lockman Foundation that does the contradictory NASB), the Portuguese O Livro 2000.
Not even the NIV, TNIV, NET and ESV go as far afield in their translations, telling us that God has made man “a little lower than THE HEAVENLY BEINGS.”
However the Geneva Bible tells us: “For thou hast made him a little lower THAN GOD, and crowned him with glory and WORSHIP.” This is similar to the NASB that says God has “made him a little lower than GOD, and crowned him with glory and majesty.”
The blasphemous Message even says: “We’ve so narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden’s dawn light.”
This is part of the song of Moses which says in verses 3-5: “I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. They have corrupted themselves, THEIR SPOT IS NOT THE SPOT OF HIS CHILDREN: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?”
If you look at the context, in the previous chapter God told Moses that the people would enter the promised land and would go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land and turn to other gods. God knew this before He brought them into the land, so their entering the land did not depend on their foreseen obedience to the law, but rather because of the covenant of grace made with Abraham.
They are still His children whom He bought (verse 6) , His people and His inheritance (verse 9) and verse 19 still refers to them as “his sons and daughters”. They are His children even though disobedient, just as your child is still your child no matter what he does.
Other versions that agree with the King James Bible in Deuteronomy 32:5 in teaching they are still His children are Darby, Youngs, Spanish Reina Valera, the Italian Diodati, the Hebrew-English JPS translation of 1917, Webster’s 1833 translation, the Third Millenium Bible.
The Judaica Press Tanach 2001 reads this portion as: "it is His children's defect you crooked and twisted generation." They are still His children. The modern Complete Jewish Bible agrees that the children of Israel are still the children of God, saying: ""He is not corrupt; the defect is in his children, a crooked and perverted generation."
The Spanish Reina Valera versions 1602, 1909, 1960, 1995 all clearly say that they are His children, even though they have the stain of sin. "La corrupción no es suya; de sus hijos es la mancha, generación torcida y perversa." Translation- "Corruption is not His; of His children is the stain, a twisted and perverse generation."
The 1917 Jewish Publication Society reads differently but retains the correct meaning saying: "Just and Right is He. Is corruption His? No; His children's is the blemish."
The Geneva Bible is generally much better than most modern versions, but it does have its faults, and here is one of them. The Geneva Bible also tells us that the children of Israel were NOT His children, and this again contradicts with the very next verse, even in the Geneva Bible. The Geneva Bible reads: "They haue corrupted them selues towarde him by their vice, NOT BEING HIS CHILDREN, but a frowarde and crooked generation."
For further discussion of this verse and the theology behind it, please see:
Daniel 9:26 "Messiah cut off, but NOT FOR HIMSELF"
An extremely important Messianic prophecy about the significance of the death of Christ has been drastically changed in a multitude of conflicting versions."And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF."
Christ, who obviously is the Messiah, was cut off out of the land of the living and He died, not for Himself, but for His people. He laid down His life as a ransom for many. He gave Himself for the church, laid down His life for the sheep, and purchased the church of God with His own blood. By His death the Lord Jesus Christ made reconciliation for iniquity and brought in everlasting righteousness, as the immediate context of Daniel 9:24 tells us.
There is no verb in the Hebrew text of Daniel 9:26; it reads "but not for himself". This is also the reading of the Bishop's Bible 1568, the NKJV 1982, the Spanish Reina Valera of 1909 and 1960 (se quitará la vida al Mesías, mas no por sí) but they changed the 1995 Reina Valera and it now reads like the NIV. Also agreeing with the King James reading of "but not for Himself" are Webster's 1833 translation, The Modern Greek Translation (pleen ouxi di heauton), the Third Millenium Bible, Green's 1998 Modern KJV, and the KJV 21st Century Version. Even the NIV footnote gives the reading of the King James Bible "or, cut off, but not for Himself", but the text of the NIV reads quite differently.
However the Geneva Bible misses the whole point and says: “After threescore and two weekes shall Messiah be slaine, AND SHALL HAVE NOTHING.”
While here in Daniel, let’s look at a couple other passages that have an inferiour translation to that of the King James Bible.
In Daniel 2:13 we are told: “And the decree went forth that the wise men SHOULD BE SLAIN: and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.” The rest of the story tells us that Daniel stepped in and the lives of the other wise men were spared. Verse 24 tells us that Daniel went in and said: “Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.” However the Geneva Bible creates a contradiction by telling us: “And when the sentence was given, THE WISE MEN WERE SLAINE”.
The Geneva Bible also has a unique verse numbering system. In the KJB Daniel chapter three ends with 3:30. However the Geneva bible goes all the way to 3:33 and then starts chapter four three verses later, where the KJB and all other bibles place these verses in chapter four.
So, when we read the KJB chapter 4:27 it is 4:24 in the Geneva bible. The verse says: “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; IT MAY BE A LENGTHENING OF THY TRANQUILITY.” (Coverdale, RV, ASV, RSV, Darby, Spanish Reina Valera, Hebrew Names Version = KJB. Some modern versions like NKJV, NIV, NASB say “that there may be a lengthening of your prosperity”.)
But the Geneva says: “...thine iniquities by mercie towards the poore; loe, LET THERE BE A HEALING OF THINE ERROUR.”
Daniel 7:25 KJB - speaking of the antichrist in the last days - “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall WEAR OUT the saints of the most High...”
But the Geneva says the opposite with: “And shall speak words against the most High, and shall CONFIRM the saints of the most High.”
Again the Geneva says the opposite of the KJB and most other Bibles in Daniel 8:23. Here we read: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors ARE COME TO THE FULL, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” (Bishops, Wycliffe, Coverdale, RV, ASV, NASB, NKJV, NIV, RSV, ESV all agree that wickedness and transgressors have reach their full strength.)
However the Geneva bible says: “And in the end of their kingdom, when the rebellious SHALL BE CONSUMED, a King of fierce countenance....”
The following is a list of various translations I have found within the Geneva Bible that are inferiour to the King James Holy Bible. These are among the reasons God has seen fit to replace this older English bible with the greatest masterpiece in English literature.
Deuteronomy 23:17 KJB - “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor A SODOMITE of the sons of Israel.”
Geneva - “There shalbe no whore of the daughters of Israel, neither shal there be A WHORE KEEPER of the sonnes of Israel.”
Deuteronomy 28:54 KJB - “So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, HIS EYE SHALL BE EVIL TOWARD his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom...”
Geneva - “So that the man (that is tender and exceeding deintie among you) SHALL BE GRIEVED at his brother, and at his wife, that lieth in his bosome...”
Deuteronomy 33:3 - KJB - “Yea, he loved the people; all HIS saints are in THY hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words. “
Geneva Bible - “Though hee loue the people, yet all THY Saints are in thine handes: and they are humbled at thy foete, to receiue thy words.”
The Hebrew texts read “all HIS saints”, not “all THY saints”. (See RV, ASV, 1917 JPS, NKJV, Coverdale, Bishops’ bible)
Joshua 19:2 - KJB Here there are 13 cities listed (see verse 6) and the KJB correctly reads: “And they had in their inheritance Beersheba, OR Sheba, and Moladah,...”
But the Geneva lists 14 cities and then calls this 13 cities in verse 6. “Nowe they had in their inheritance, Beersheba, AND Sheba, and Moladah...thirteen cities.”
Judges 5:10 - KJB “Speak, ye that ride on white asses, YE THAT SIT IN JUDGMENT, and walk by the way.”
Geneva - “Speake ye that ride on white asses, YE THAT DWELL IN MIDDIN, & that walke by the way.”
Job 11:6 KJB - “And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that GOD EXACTETH OF THEE LESS THAN THINE INIQUITY DESERVETH.”
Geneva - “That he might shewe thee the secretes of wisedome, howe thou hast deserued double, according to right: know therefore that GOD HATH FORGOTTEN THEE FOR THINE INIQUITIE.”
Job 13:15 KJB - “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will MAINTAIN mine own ways before him.”
The Geneva says the opposite with: “Loe, though he slay me, yet will I trust in him, and I will REPROVE my wayes in his sight.”
Job 15:2 - KJB - “Shall a wise man utter VAIN KNOWLEDGE, and fill his belly with the east wind?”
Geneva - “Shall a wise man speak WORDS OF THE WIND...?”
Job 16:20 - KJB - “My friends SCORN ME: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.”
Geneva - “My friends SPEAK ELOQUENTLY against me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.”
Job 20:10 - KJB - “His children shall SEEK TO PLEASE the poor...”
Geneva - “His children shall FLATTER the poor...”
Job 22:15 - KJB - “Hast thou marked THE OLD WAY which wicked men have trodden?”
Geneva - “Hast thou marked THE WAY OF THE WORLDE, wherein wicked men haue walked? “
Job 22:30 KJB - “HE shall deliver the ISLAND OF THE INNOCENT: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands.
Geneva bible - “THE INNOCENT SHALL DELIVER THE ISLAND, & it shalbe preserued by the purenes of thine hands.”
Job 34:31 - KJB - “Surely it is meet TO BE SAID UNTO GOD, I HAVE BORNE CHASTISEMENT, I WILL NOT OFFEND ANY MORE.”
Geneva is completely different with: - “Surely it appertaineth UNTO GOD TO SAY, I HAVE PARDONED, I WILL NOT DESTROY.”
Job 35:15 - KJB - “But now, because it is not so, HE HATH VISISTED IN HIS ANGER; yet he knoweth it not in great extremity.”
Geveva is opposite, and the last part confused with: “But nowe because HIS ANGER HATH NOT VISITED, nor called to count the euill with great extremitie.”
Job 41:22 - KJB speaking of leviathan - “In his neck remaineth strength, and SORROW IS TURNED INTO JOY BEFORE HIM. “
Geneva - “In his necke remayneth strength, & LABOUR IS REJECTED BEFORE HIS FACE.”
Psalm 23:6 - KJB - Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD FOR EVER.” (Coverdale, RV, ASV, NKJV, NASB, RSV, ESV, 1917 JPS, Lamsa, NIV, TNIV, KJV 21 and Third Millenium Bible.)
Geneva - “Doubtlesse kindnesse and mercie shall followe me all the dayes of my life, and I shall remaine A LONG SEASON in the house of the Lord.” A long season is not “for ever”. ‘A long season’ has an end, but ‘for ever’ does not.
Many try to criticize the King James Bible for translating the “literal” - ‘for length of days’ as “for ever” yet the Bible accurately lends itself to “for ever” as being the correct translation. In fact, even the Geneva Bible does this very thing in Psalm 93:5 where it says: “Thy testimonies are very sure: holinesse becommeth thine House, O Lord, FOR EVER.”
Daniel Wallace’s NET version, the NRSV and Darby all fall into the same hypocrisy. In Psalm 23 they translate it something like “I will dwell in the house of the Lord “the rest of my life” or “for length of days”, but then they turn right around and translate the exact same phrase as “for ever” when they get to Psalm 93:5.
See also Psalm 21:4 “He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever.”
Proverbs 2:7 - KJB - “He layeth up SOUND WISDOM for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. “
Geneva - “He preserueth THE STATE OF the righteous: he is a shielde to them that walke vprightly.”
Proverbs 21:4 - KJB - “An high look, and a proud heart, and the PLOWING of the wicked, is sin.
Geneva - “A hautie looke, and a proude heart, WHICH IS THE LIGHT of the wicked, is sinne.”
Proverbs 22:20 - KJB - “Have not I written to thee EXCELLENT THINGS in counsels and knowledge.”
Geneva - “Haue not I written vnto thee THREE TIMES in counsels and knowledge.”
Poverbs 26:7 - KJB - “THE LEGS OF THE LAME ARE NOT EQUAL: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
Geneva - “AS THEY THAT LIFT UP THE LEGS OF THE LAME, so is a parable in a fooles mouth.”
Song of Solomon 3:9 - KJB - “King Solomon made himself a CHARIOT OF WOOD of Lebanon.”
Geneva - “King Solomon makd himself A PALACE OF THE TREES of Lebanon.”
Song of Solomon 7:9 - KJB - “...causing the lips of THOSE THAT ARE ASLEEP to speak.”
Geneva - “and causeth the lips OF THE ANCIENT to speak.”
Isaiah 49:17 - KJB and the Hebrew Masoretic texts read: “Thy CHILDREN shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.” (RV, ASV, NKJV, 1917 JPS)
Geneva, following the Vulgate, and DSS reads: “Thy BUILDERS make haste: thy destroiers and they that made thee waste, are departed from thee. “
Ezekiel 19:7 - KJB - “And he knew their DESOLATE PALACES, and he laid waste their cities”
Geneva - “And he knew their WIDOWES, & he destroyed their cities”
Zechariah 9:6 - KJB - “And A BASTARD shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. “
Geneva - “And THE STRANGER shal dwell in Ashdod, and I wil cut off the pride of the Philistims.”
Romans 3:27 - KJB - “Where is BOASTING then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. “
This is a case of a really bad translation by the Geneva. The whole point of the argument is that man cannot BOAST by keeping the works of the law. “Boasting” is the reading found in Wycliffe, Bishops’, RV, ASV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, Young’s, Darby and many others.
Geneva - “Where is then THE REJOICING? It is excluded. By what Lawe? of woorkes? Nay: but by the Lawe of faith.
These are just a few of the numerous places where the Geneva Bible is not as good as the King James Bible. Lord willing, when I have more time I will continue to add to this growing list of examples.