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Publisher's Preface to the English Printing of 1950

It was in the year 1742 that the Mennonites of eastern Pennsylvania wrote to their brethren in the Netherlands reporting their numerical growth in the New World and their fear of war being imminent. Three years later they wrote again, repeating the contents of their first letter and making a special appeal for assistance in the publication of a German edition of van Braght's Bloody Theater or Martyrs' Mirror. The six Skippack ministers who signed the letter stated that they wrote at the instance of the other congregations. They were concerned to prepare their people for the cross of testing and suffering which war would bring with it. They said simply that "it becomes us to strengthen ourselves for such circumstances with patience and endurance, and to make every preparation for steadfast constancy in our faith." They had a special concern for the generation of young men in their congregations who were not able to read the Dutch Martyrs' Mirror. The story of the eventual publication of a German Martyrs' Mirror at Ephrata in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1748-49 is too well known to require rehearsal here.

Two centuries after the publication of the first American edition of this sixteenth century Dutch Mennonite classic, we again find the Mennonite brotherhood laboring to strengthen its young people in the nonresistant faith of the fathers by the publication of another English edition of the Martyrs' Mirror of T. J. van Braght, 1625-64. Indeed the loyalty of the Mennonite brotherhood to its historic peace principles has been tested in the first and second world wars more severely than at any time since the sixteenth century. The pressures of the contemporary culture upon the group to surrender this historic principle are strong. It is evident that vigorous efforts must be made to capture the loyalty of our youth if the Biblical doctrine of nonresistance is to be preserved. May God add His blessing to this effort to glorify His name.

September 20, 1949


 J. C. WENGER, Secretary of the

Historical Committee of the Mennonite

General Conference

The first English edition of Martyrs Mirror, translated from the German, was published in 1837 at Lampeter Square, Lancaster County, Pa., and reprinted in 1853 at London, England. The second English edition, translated from the original Dutch edition of 1660, was published in 1886 at Elkhart, Ind., and reprinted in 1938 and later years at Scottdale, Pa. Beginning in 1977, reprints include improved reproductions of engravings, from The Drama of the Martyrs, by permission of Mennonite Historical Associates, Lancaster, . Pa. Second English edition, twenty first printing, 1999 Printed in the United States of America. 49,500 copies in print from 1938 International Standard Book Numbers: 0-8361-1390 X (hard cover). 0-8361-9087-4 (Kivar cover)

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