0 23 2016

Towards a Marginal History of Reading the Geneva Bible

Alexander Hardie-Forsyth


Historian and divine Thomas Fuller’s comparison of the Geneva Bible’s marginal annotations to "spectacles" has proved captivating for critics. However, despite fitting neatly within a hermeneutic understanding of scriptural study in which readers search for "inner truths" inside a postlapsarian structure of signs and symbols, this figuration fails to encompass either the ambivalence of Fuller’s full appraisal or the various, complex ways through which readers came to encounter and comprehend their Bibles. This article proposes a new artefactual study of the Geneva Bible’s printed marginalia and their position within early modern reading practices. It demonstrates how the Geneva Bible's (para-)textual apparatuses existed in multiple unstable forms across the life of the translation, charting how different notational formulae impacted upon mise-en-page and, ultimately, upon exegetical praxis.

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ISSN 1749-9771