Tuesday, November 23, 2010

First Thanksgiving: Christians of Plymouth Colony

"In the history of most lands the number of true Christians has generally been a mere fraction of the total population; in New England it was not so. Of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower it is probable that ninety-eight belonged to the congregation of John Robinson which had been in exile in Holland since 1608. The reinforcements to the Plymouth plantation came largely from the same source. Then in 1628 there began from England itself one of the largest transplantation of Christians from one land to another which has ever occurred. Over a period of twelve years, in about 198 ships, men and their families arrived in Massachusetts Bay. They included gentlemen, merchants, farmers, craftsmen and ministers of the gospel. The one thing which the vast majority possessed in common was a fervent commitment to the Word of God and to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ." - from "Spiritual Characteristics of the First Christian Society in America" by Iain Murray

While getting ready for Thanksgiving, I am reminded that the one book you could find in nearly every Pilgrim home was a Bible--in particular, the Geneva translation. As you can see in the photo of a page from the Geneva Bible (above), the margins held comments. Notes were added to explain difficult passages. If you want to get into the Pilgrim mindset, just take out your Bible and start reading. Of course, you are likely using a more modern edition than they did in Plymouth, home of the Pilgrims.

The Geneva Bible was the first English Bible to be printed in Roman letters; it was the first English Bible to have numbered verses; and it was also the first Bible to use italics for words translators which were not in the original. The Geneva Bible was smaller in size than most books, designed to be read by ordinary individuals.

Due to a settlement agreement in a lawsuit against Google Books, I couldn't find a pdf copy of the entire Geneva Bible online, despite looking around for the better part of an hour, including libraries in Switzerland.. (There is no shortage of other Bible versions online) (You will likely have better luck finding one at Google books if you are not in the USA, due to the settlement.) Luckily, after searching long and hard, I finally found a Pdf of the pages from the New Testament of the Geneva Bible. which might be something interesting to look at if you need a break from preparing for the holiday!


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