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Geneva Bible, 1560
The Geneva Bible was the Bible of the Puritans and the Pilgrims, who fled to the religious freedom of the New World in the early 17th century. The first edition of the Geneva Bible was published in 1560 in Geneva, Switzerland, after many of the English reformationists fled there because public reading of the Bible had been prohibited in England. Although never officially adopted in England, for three generations the Geneva Bible was the most popular of all English versions, 140 editions being published between 1560 and 1640. This version was read by Shakespeare and Bunyan and was of cardinal importance for its influence on the English language, literature, and thought.
Eliot Bible, 1660-1663
Many are surprised to discover that the first Bible printed in America was not in English, or any other European language, but an Algonquin Indian Bible in the Natick dialect published between 1660 and 1663 by the missionary John Eliot. The first English language Bible printed in America would not be produced until 1781. Eliot's Bible did much more than bring the Gospel to one of the native tribes in America; it also gave them literacy. Eliot had to first reduce the spoken language to print and then translate the English Bible into the Algonquin language. Eliot agreed to learn the Algonquin spoken language, they agreed to learn the western world's phonetic alphabet, and then Eliot translated the Bible into their native tongue phonetically using the English alphabet. Pages from the Eliot Algonquin Bible remain some of the most rare and historically important artifacts of our American heritage. They are also among the earliest of all American printings.
Aitken Bible, 1782
The first complete English Bible printed in America was published in 1782 by Robert Aitken. Up until the American Revolution, all Bibles in English had been imported to the Colonies from England. But during the Revolution, Bibles were not available because of the embargo on English imported goods. The printing of the New Testament started with preliminary copies in 1777 and the final copies printed in 1781. The addition of the Old Testament followed in 1782. Aitken's printing of the King James Version came to be called the "Bible of the Revolution" because it was small enough to fit into the coat pocket of the soldiers of the Continental Army. This Bible was the only one ever authorized by the United States Congress, part of whose resolution said: "they recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States, and hereby authorize him [Mr. Aitken] to publish this recommendation in the manner he shall think proper."