Historical time in the liturgical calendar

In the context of biblical and prayer-book methods of timekeeping, the calendar of this 1583 Geneva Bible introduces a historical dimension as it offers at the foot of each page the dates of significant events including the births and deaths of major reformers. The integration of recent history with the liturgical calendar offers a form of memorialisation distinct from, and perhaps substituting for, the apparatus of saints’ days that populates the Roman calendar. The Geneva Bible’s apparatus of tables, maps, and charts was to guide the reader through the text, clearing the way to biblical truth—yet the heavily Calvinist inclination of these aids meant that this translation presented one very particular version of that truth. In the notes to this calendar, interweaved amongst dates of particular biblical events – Noah sending out the dove from the ark; Christ’s presentation at the temple – are references to two of the most celebrated of the early modern reformers. Including the death of Martin Luther [1483-1546] (‘the servant of God’) and the birth of his colleague Philip Melanchthon [1497-1560] (‘The learned clerke’) in this list presents them, too, as the tools of divine providence, thus positioning their work (and the Protestant assault on the Catholic Church) as acts of God. BW & CL

The Bible. Translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in diuers languages. With most profitable annotations vpon all the hard places, and other things of great importance, as may appeare in the epistle to the reader (London: Christopher Barker, 1583).


Further Reading

Femke Molekamp, ‘Genevan Legacies: The Making of the English Geneva Bible’, in Kevin Killeen, Helen Smith, and Rachel Willie (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in Early Modern England, c. 1530-1700 (Oxford, 2015), pp. 38-53.

David Norton, ‘English Bibles from c. 1520 to c. 1750’, in Euan Cameron (ed.), The New Cambridge History of the Bible: Volume 3, from 1450 to 1750 (Cambridge, 2016), pp. 305-44.

Extended captions