Geneva “Breeches” Bible, Christopher Barker Black Letter, 1582

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We sold this item at auction for $1,800
 in June, 2020.

This 16th century Geneva Bible was published in 1582 by Christopher Barker.

Why is it Called the “Breeches Bible”?

Nicknamed the “Breeches” Bible, the Geneva edition is so named due to the use of the word “breeches” printed in Genesis 3:7 in a verse relating to Adam and Eve’s sewing of the fig leaves in the Garden of Eden:

“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sowed figge tree leaves together, and made themselves breeches.”

Whereas the traditional King James Version (KJV) of this verse (published in 1611) is translated to:

“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”

Beyond Black Letter: The Innovative Puritan Annotated Bible

In the 16th century, English Puritans sought refuge in Geneva, Switzerland, escaping religious persecutions under Queen Mary.

During their exile, they wanted an annotated Bible for their families. In 1557, a groundbreaking edition was published. It featured marginal annotations, illustrations, maps, tables, and commentary. Notably, it used Roman type instead of “Black Letter” printing.

In 1620, when the Pilgrims sailed to North America aboard the Mayflower, it was the Geneva Bible they carried with them across the dangerous sea voyage and into the new world.

Christopher Barker: Printer to the Queen

Christopher Barker (1529-1599) was printer to Queen Elizabeth I. This honor gave him the exclusive patents to print Bibles in England. Barker was famous for having printed many editions of Elizabethan-era Bibles – most notably the Geneva Bible and the Bishops’ Bible.

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