For four generations the British and Foreign Bible Society has been publishing and circulating the Word of God throughout the world. When it was founded, in 1804, some portion of Scripture had been printed in 72 languages; 126 years later, the number of tongues in which the Society has promoted the translation, printing, or distribution of God’s Book has grown to 630. Specimens of every one of these forms of speech are given in the following pages, which are an enlargement of a work originally prepared by my predecessor, the Rev. John Sharp. Each separate language and dialect is numbered. At the right-hand upper corner is usually given a very general geographical note to enable readers to locate the language. Then follows the text itself—as a rule the well-known words of St. John 3. 16, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’. Where these words are quoted, no name of the Gospel is added. But where that text was not available, the latter clause of St. Matthew 4. 10, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve’, or St. Mark 3. 35, ‘For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother’, or St. Luke 15. 10, ‘Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth’ (represented by the contractions Mt., Mk., Lk., respectively) appears instead. In a few instances, a text from some other part of Scripture had to be chosen, in which case the full reference is given. The figure at the end of each entry gives the date of the particular edition in the Bible House Library from which the quotation is made.
In certain languages versions are no longer in circulation. The names of such languages are marked in the first Index with an asterisk.
Men write in many alphabets. Moreover the Society has sometimes to print versions in the same language in more than one script to suit different readers, not always mere transliterations of the same version. These are represented in the following specimens where they occur; and an Index