Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust - 6133 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19144 - (215) 843-0943 - email@example.com
The Martyr's Mirror
The Bloody Theater or Martyr’s Mirror of the Defenseless Christians who baptized only upon confession of faith, and who suffered and died for the testimony of Jesus, their Saviour, from the time of Christ to the year A.D. 1660 – more commonly referred to as the Martyr’s Mirror – includes accounts of more than 4,000 Christians who endured suffering, torture, and a martyr’s death because of their simple, nonresistant faith in the gospel of Christ.
First published in 1660 in Dutch by Thieleman J. van Braght, it included more than 50 finely detailed etchings by noted Dutch artist Jan Luyken, and was used to strengthen the faith of Anabaptist believers. In 1745, Jacob Gottschalk arranged with the Ephrata (PA) Cloister to have them translate the book from its original Dutch into German and print it. The work took 15 men three years to finish and in 1749, at 1512 pages, it was the largest single volume printed in America before the Revolutionary War.
Like the original edition, it was commissioned with the definite purpose of strengthening the nonresistant faith of the church in the face of the rising threat of war. "As the flames of war appear to mount higher, no man can tell whether the cross and persecution of the defenseless Christians will not soon come, and it is therefore of importance to prepare ourselves for such circumstances with patience and resignation, and to use all available means that can encourage steadfastness and strengthen faith. Our whole community has manifested a unanimous desire for a German translation of the Bloody Theater of Tieleman Jansz van Braght, especially since in this community there is a very great number of newcomers, for which we consider it to be of greatest importance that they should become acquainted with the trustworthy witnesses who have walked in the way of truth, and sacrificed their lives for it."
The Martyrs' Mirror is still a beloved book among the Amish, Old Order Mennonites and Conservative Mennonites, with a copy usually in every home and often given as a wedding gift. A copy is on display in the Meetinghouse.
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