The Geneva Bible became known as a modern Bible, because it was the first to have both verse and chapter divisions, and also included extensive marginal notes, which totaled one-third the length of the Bible itself! These notes were written by Reformation leaders such as John Calvin, John Knox, Miles Coverdale, William Whittingham, and several others. Because of its popularity with the English people who, for the first time in history could understand what they were reading and could own their own copy, the Geneva Bible surpassed other translations for many years, and became the most widely read and influential English Bible of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
THE PILGRIM’S BIBLE: In 1620, during their voyage on the Mayflower to the New World, the Pilgrims carried with them copies of the Geneva Bible, understanding the Biblical principle of Psalm33:12,”Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” That the Pilgrim’s treasured this Book was no surprise; even before they left Holland, they purposed in their hearts to carry God’s Word into America. Because of their sacrifice, the Geneva Bible, also called the “Pilgrim’s Bible,” became the spiritual foundation for the future of the United States of America.
This version of the Bible is significant because, for the very first time, a mechanically printed, mass-produced Bible was made available directly to the general public which came with a variety of scriptural study guides and aids (collectively called an apparatus), which included verse citations that allow the reader to cross-reference one verse with numerous relevant verses in the rest of the Bible, introductions to each book of the Bible that acted to summarize all of the material that each book would cover, maps, tables, woodcut illustrations and indices. Because the language of the Geneva Bible was more forceful and vigorous, most readers strongly preferred this version to the Great Bible. In the words of Cleland Boyd McAfee, "it drove the Great Bible off the field by sheer power of excellence".