Growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was quite a stir among evangelical Christians about all of the new Bible translations and paraphrases there were out there. I read the International Children’s Bible, the New King James Version, and the (original) New International Versions growing up. Now, I primarily read the Holman’s Christian Standard Bible, but I try not to limit myself to one version. However, there were those of a certain opinion that the original King James Version was the only true English translation. Of course, they did not mean the 1611 version because no one can read that, but there was a definite push back against any more modern versions. One point, they claimed, was that is the first English Bible to come to the United States of America.
I did some research and discovered that they are misinformed in this opinion. The very first Bible (much less English) to reach the shores of America was, in fact, the Geneva Bible, published in 1599. It came over with the Pilgrims and was very influential in early American culture.
When I learned this, I decided to take up a challenge and read what the very first American colonists found. I decided I would read the whole Geneva Bible straight through and so far, I’ve found something interesting. In the KJV, you can feel God’s wrath and anger in every story, but the GB, you feel the love and compassion God has for humanity. You feel his grace and mercy, and the bitterness of our human nature to turn against the very God who gave us life.
When I think of Thanksgiving, I see the strife, hardships, abandonment, and illness that plagued the colonists at Jamestown. However, I also see their sense of unity, honor, sacrifice, and of passion to believe what they wanted. I’m reading the Bible they had and how it played such a huge role in their lives. I truly understand now how it brought them closer as a people-group, but also as brothers in Christ.
For 2015, I will continue this reading challenge and learn more from the 1599 Geneva Bible. I will keep you posted as I take this journey and see where it takes me.