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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred

and sixty-s-ven, by HARPER & BROTHERS,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.



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The history of the inception, progress, and completion of the present work, if told in its details of incident, change, and episode, would form no inconsiderable volume of almost romantic interest. We deem it proper here to give only a very brief sketch of its principal facts. It was begun by its original projectors, the joint authors named on the title-page, in 1853, on the simple plan, as to the division of editorial labor, that Dr. STRONG should have exclusive charge of the Biblical department, and Dr. McCLINTOCK of the remainder; the intention being that these two sections should occupy, on the whole, as nearly as possible equal spaces in the volumes. This latter feature of the work has been substantially maintained throughout, although the biographical element, which, as the original prospectus stated, was to include the chief facts in the lives of popes, cardinals, bishops, reformers, saints, martyrs, evangelists, rabbies, and heretics, together with brief sketches of eminent preachers and writers in every branch of the Church, but containing only the names of deceased persons,” naturally enlarged one of these sections to a noticeable extent. These two editors were assisted by a large corps of collaborators and contributors, including in all nearly two hundred persons of various religious denominations. The first volume was issued in 1867 and the final one in 1887.

In 1870, when the preparation of the fourth volume had but commenced, the decease of Dr. MCCLINTOCK devolved the labor of continuing and finishing the entire work upon his colleague, Dr. STRONG. Before the completion of the task, the four original members of the publishing firm which undertook and carried it through likewise passed away, as also the head printer and nearly one half the writers engaged upon it. The twelve volumes contain more than seventeen millions of words, composing over 31,000 articles, very many of them copious, but all studiously written, seven eighths of which the surviving editor prepared or revised in the manuscript, and repeatedly read and corrected in the proof-sheets. The public has recognised it as one of the most gigantic literary enterprises of the age, both in its scope and execution. The design was to cover the entire field of general religious knowledge, with a degree of detail hitherto unattempted; and that end it has accomplished in a manner that has had no successful rival. This record is no more than justice to the credit of the living as well as to the memory of the departed.

From the beginning it was the avowed purpose of the work to embrace the substance of all important information of general public interest within its wide domain that had been collected and presented in the pages of preceding publications of a similar character. Most of this was a legacy of the past, and therefore the legitimate property of students and readers for all time. In addition, a vast amount of entirely new material was incorporated into the work,


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