BIBLE SOCIETY, a religious society organized and maintained, for the translation, publication and distribution of the Bible or parts thereof at home and abroad, in English and in many other languages. Naturally the Bible Society is a Protestant effort. It grew out of the attempts of the various Protestant denominations to make known the general principles of Protestantism and the particular views of the numerous Protestant sects. The invention andperfection of the printing press made these efforts effective. All denomina tions of Protestants were anxious to spread abroad a knowledge of the Scriptures. Numer ous Protestant societies made a business of distributing free copies of the Scriptures at a very early date on the history of the Reformation and the growth of Protestant ism; but none of these efforts were con trolled and directed by the one motive, that of the handling of the Scriptures. As early as the time of Spencer, Baron Hildebrand von Constein, a close friend of the latter, along with other Protestants, founded a society for providing copies of the Bible for those not able to purchase them. This society had given away or sold, at a price often below cost, nearly 3,000,000 Bibles and more than 2,000,000 New Testaments, before the modern Bible societies came into the field. In England in 1780 there was formed an association for the distribution of the Bible among soldiers and sailors under the name of "The Bible Society". Later the title was changed to its present designation, °Naval and Military Bible Society?' Twelve years later the French Bible Society was formed in London for the pur pose of distributing Bibles printed in French. No attempt was made to print the French Bibles in England but the funds collected by the Society were sent to France. During the French Revolution the premises and plant of the Society, together with its funds, were taken possession of by the revolutionary party and, for the most part, destroyed. After two years of effort the British and Foreign Bible Society was formed. Its estaolishmerit was due, in great
part, to the enthusiasm of Thomas Charles, a Welsh minister, who urged the Religious Tract Society to supply the lack of Bibles which he found everywhere among the poor people in Wales. The hint was followed up and a society for the supply of Bibles in all parts of the world was the direct result. All Protestant denominations were invited to help in the work. The Society grew rapidly and extended its sphere of action and influence.• In 1912-13 its expenditures amounted to almost f.270,000. But this was but a small part of its work; for auxiliary societies sprang up everywhere throughout the British domains; and these now number in the neighborhood of 6,000. The Society publishes both the authorized and the revised version of the Bible. Naturally, owing to the influence under which the Society started, it gave great prominence to the dis tribution of Bibles in Great Britain in both English and the Gaelic languages. But gradu ally it extended its sphere until now it trans lates (where necessary) and prints the Bible in all languages and even dialects where there is a call from missionaries for such work. The Bible, or parts thereof, is now printed and dis tributed in over 450 languages and dialects and the work of distribution requires more than 1,200 agents and distributors. One fact alone shows the vastness of this undertaking; over 50 different alphabets or modifications of alpha bets are employed in the printing of the Bible, or parts thereof, issued by the Society. In a recent year the work of the Society stood as follows: No. of languages CaOes printed in Bibles 111 968,377 New Testaments 108 1 ,384 ,262 Parts of Bible 231 4,841 , 884 The total issue of the British Society during its existence up to the close of 1916 was, in round numbers, 250,000,000 copies. So broad has become the work of the Bible Society that there is scarcely a country or part of the world where its agents are not at work whether they are missionaries or lay distributors.