Reading the Geneva Bible: notes toward an English revolution?

Tom Furniss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Since its first publication in 1560, the Geneva Bible has been considered by many as a revolutionary or seditious text, especially because of the numerous explanatory notes that the translators added in the margins of the text. Focusing on the 1560 Old Testament, this article takes a fresh look at the text, marginal notes and editorial apparatus of the Geneva Bible in order to ask whether they can be read as recommending English readers to overthrow Mary Tudor as an idolatrous tyrant and whether they could be read as giving support to the revolution against Charles I almost a century later. A close reading of the Geneva Old Testament leads to the conclusion that its politics are undecidable because the notes and prefaces faithfully reflect the internal political undecidability of the Bible itself. While some of the Geneva notes and prefaces encourage a revolutionary response to tyrants, there are many others that recommend obedience or passive resistance. As a consequence, the Geneva Bible's marginal notes could only be used to legitimize revolution through radically reductive reading strategies.
LanguageEnglish
Pages1-21
Number of pages21
JournalProse Studies
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009

Fingerprint

Bible
Geneva
English Revolution
Revolution
Tyrant
Marginal Notes
Old Testament
Translator
Obedience
Undecidability
Close Reading
Reading Strategies
Mary Tudor
Reader

Keywords

  • geneva bible
  • marginal notes
  • marian regime and exiles
  • english revolution
  • tyranny
  • radical politics
  • english puritanism
  • reading
  • undecidability

Cite this

Furniss, Tom. / Reading the Geneva Bible : notes toward an English revolution?. In: Prose Studies. 2009 ; Vol. 31, No. 1. pp. 1-21.
@article{a9f6255e13c44ccc8e08361c080576fa,
title = "Reading the Geneva Bible: notes toward an English revolution?",
abstract = "Since its first publication in 1560, the Geneva Bible has been considered by many as a revolutionary or seditious text, especially because of the numerous explanatory notes that the translators added in the margins of the text. Focusing on the 1560 Old Testament, this article takes a fresh look at the text, marginal notes and editorial apparatus of the Geneva Bible in order to ask whether they can be read as recommending English readers to overthrow Mary Tudor as an idolatrous tyrant and whether they could be read as giving support to the revolution against Charles I almost a century later. A close reading of the Geneva Old Testament leads to the conclusion that its politics are undecidable because the notes and prefaces faithfully reflect the internal political undecidability of the Bible itself. While some of the Geneva notes and prefaces encourage a revolutionary response to tyrants, there are many others that recommend obedience or passive resistance. As a consequence, the Geneva Bible's marginal notes could only be used to legitimize revolution through radically reductive reading strategies.",
keywords = "geneva bible, marginal notes, marian regime and exiles, english revolution, tyranny, radical politics, english puritanism, reading, undecidability",
author = "Tom Furniss",
note = "This article continues my exploration of the textuality of key radical writings, which has hitherto focussed on the works of Tom Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft. It takes a fresh look at the assumption that the Geneva Bible was a radical text. A close reading of the marginal notes and textual apparatus of the Geneva Old Testament leads to the conclusion that its politics are undecidable because the notes and prefaces faithfully reflect the internal political undecidability of the Bible itself. While some of the Geneva notes and prefaces encourage a revolutionary response to tyrants, there are many others that recommend obedience or passive resistance.",
year = "2009",
month = "4",
doi = "10.1080/01440350903156995",
language = "English",
volume = "31",
pages = "1--21",
journal = "Prose Studies",
issn = "0144-0357",
number = "1",

}

Reading the Geneva Bible : notes toward an English revolution? / Furniss, Tom.

In: Prose Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1, 04.2009, p. 1-21.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Reading the Geneva Bible

T2 - Prose Studies

AU - Furniss, Tom

N1 - This article continues my exploration of the textuality of key radical writings, which has hitherto focussed on the works of Tom Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft. It takes a fresh look at the assumption that the Geneva Bible was a radical text. A close reading of the marginal notes and textual apparatus of the Geneva Old Testament leads to the conclusion that its politics are undecidable because the notes and prefaces faithfully reflect the internal political undecidability of the Bible itself. While some of the Geneva notes and prefaces encourage a revolutionary response to tyrants, there are many others that recommend obedience or passive resistance.

PY - 2009/4

Y1 - 2009/4

N2 - Since its first publication in 1560, the Geneva Bible has been considered by many as a revolutionary or seditious text, especially because of the numerous explanatory notes that the translators added in the margins of the text. Focusing on the 1560 Old Testament, this article takes a fresh look at the text, marginal notes and editorial apparatus of the Geneva Bible in order to ask whether they can be read as recommending English readers to overthrow Mary Tudor as an idolatrous tyrant and whether they could be read as giving support to the revolution against Charles I almost a century later. A close reading of the Geneva Old Testament leads to the conclusion that its politics are undecidable because the notes and prefaces faithfully reflect the internal political undecidability of the Bible itself. While some of the Geneva notes and prefaces encourage a revolutionary response to tyrants, there are many others that recommend obedience or passive resistance. As a consequence, the Geneva Bible's marginal notes could only be used to legitimize revolution through radically reductive reading strategies.

AB - Since its first publication in 1560, the Geneva Bible has been considered by many as a revolutionary or seditious text, especially because of the numerous explanatory notes that the translators added in the margins of the text. Focusing on the 1560 Old Testament, this article takes a fresh look at the text, marginal notes and editorial apparatus of the Geneva Bible in order to ask whether they can be read as recommending English readers to overthrow Mary Tudor as an idolatrous tyrant and whether they could be read as giving support to the revolution against Charles I almost a century later. A close reading of the Geneva Old Testament leads to the conclusion that its politics are undecidable because the notes and prefaces faithfully reflect the internal political undecidability of the Bible itself. While some of the Geneva notes and prefaces encourage a revolutionary response to tyrants, there are many others that recommend obedience or passive resistance. As a consequence, the Geneva Bible's marginal notes could only be used to legitimize revolution through radically reductive reading strategies.

KW - geneva bible

KW - marginal notes

KW - marian regime and exiles

KW - english revolution

KW - tyranny

KW - radical politics

KW - english puritanism

KW - reading

KW - undecidability

UR - http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/01440357.asp

U2 - 10.1080/01440350903156995

DO - 10.1080/01440350903156995

M3 - Article

VL - 31

SP - 1

EP - 21

JO - Prose Studies

JF - Prose Studies

SN - 0144-0357

IS - 1

ER -