Christians don't usually read the prefaces to their English Bible translations. This is a great loss, for in addition to the technical matters of translation philosophy and practice, these prefaces contain much that is edifying about both the Bible and its influence in a Christian's life.

This is especially true of the early English Bibles of the 16th and 17th centuries, starting with William Tyndale's New Testament (first published in 1525). A second major English Bible in the Tyndale tradition was the Geneva Bible, popularly known as the Puritan Bible (1560). The climax of this tradition was the King James Version of 1611.

The prefaces to all three of these English translations are cast in the form of a letter to the reader. Embedded in the technical information about the translations are gems of devotional fervor and stylistic flair. The following excerpts from prefatory letters cover three separate topics, one from each of the English Bibles mentioned above.

The Christian gospel as joyful tidings (Tyndale's New Testament)

Evangelion (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word; and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man's heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance, and leap for joy. As when David had killed Goliath the giant, came glad tidings unto the Jews that their fearful and cruel enemy was slain, and they delivered out of all danger: for gladness whereof, they sung, danced, and were joyful. In like manner is the Evangelion of God (which we call Gospel and the New Testament) joyful tidings; and as some say, a good hearing published by the apostles throughout all the world, of Christ the right David, how that he hath fought with sin, with death, and the devil, and overcome them. ...

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