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Translating the Bible into English – which had been banned since 1408 – was far from a priority, but he could not exclude the reverberations of the Reformation. Although two of his Chancellors, Cardinal Wolsey and Sir Thomas More, were strong Catholics, he came to be surrounded by supporters of reform; not only the educated Anne Boleyn, but also his next Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell, and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. ’ The truth is that this most autocratic of kings, and Cromwell and Cranmer, the two great men who manipulated him into licensing the translation, had little or no power in the matter.

He is most constant in keeping of his promises, not to one generation only, but even to all. (Levi 1974: 78) Compare Coverdale: Serve the Lord with gladness, and come before his presence with a song. Fisher confuses elegance with mannerism, especially by his use of doublets. His version is half as long again as Gt or AV, with no improvement in style or clarity. A quite original translation, which lay unpublished until 1843, was Sir John Cheke’s version of Matthew. 1550. QXD 28 4/9/10 13:33 Page 28 THE GENEVA BIBLE borrowings from Latin or Greek.

The most doubtful ‘improvement’ is Whittingham’s introduction in the 1557 NT of the now familiar separation and numbering of verses, taken from recent Hebrew texts. This makes cross-reference easier, but breaks up the flow of the prose. It is one of Gv’s few flaws. The book is printed in Roman type, not the heavy black letter of previous editions (and of the 1611 AV). It is also portable, at least in comparison with the pulpit-sized Great Bible. Any words added to the original to clarify the English sense are carefully italicised, and textual difficulties annotated in the margins.

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