Towards a Marginal History of Reading the Geneva Bible

  • Alexander Hardie-Forsyth University of York


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.

Author Biography

Alexander Hardie-Forsyth, University of York

Alexander Hardie-Forsyth studied English (BA) and Eighteenth Century Studies (MA) at the Universities of London and York respectively; he is currently reading for a DPhil at the University of Oxford.

His first article was published in Shandean 26 (2015) and is titled "Sterne, Textual Commerce, Public Judgement"

How to Cite
Hardie-Forsyth, Alexander. 2016. “Towards a Marginal History of Reading the Geneva Bible”. FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & The Arts, no. 23 (August).