The most widely circulated bible in the English Renaissance was produced by exiled English Protestants living in Geneva during the reign of Queen Mary I. With over 140 editions and half a million copies in circulation, the Geneva Bible and its complex marginal devices played a major role in shaping the English reader. Two of its innovative paratextual features are of particular importance: the breaking down of chapters into enumerated verses, facilitating the easy extraction of individual passages, and the expanded use of annotations, animating and enabling the application of biblical passages in contemporary social and political contexts. This essay rethinks the interpretive procedures and the cultural contexts of the notes, which, though influential in Elizabethan England, reflect the condition and polemical discourses of their exiled Marian community. Consequently, the Geneva Bible's notes construct a vision of the English “nation” as persecuted, captivated, and threatened by idolaters.

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