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Reading the Geneva Bible : notes toward an English revolution?

Furniss, Tom (2009) Reading the Geneva Bible : notes toward an English revolution? Prose Studies, 31 (1). pp. 1-21. ISSN 0144-0357

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    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.

    Item type: Article
    ID code: 18607
    Notes: 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.
    Keywords: geneva bible, marginal notes, marian regime and exiles, english revolution, tyranny, radical politics, english puritanism, reading, undecidability, The Bible, English literature, Literature and Literary Theory
    Subjects: Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > The Bible
    Language and Literature > English literature
    Department: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS) > School of Humanities > English
    Related URLs:
    Depositing user: Mrs Tereza McLaughlin-Vanova
    Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2010 15:52
    Last modified: 05 Sep 2014 13:12
    URI: http://strathprints.strath.ac.uk/id/eprint/18607

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