Story of the Mennonites, The

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The Story of the Mennonites,  by C. Henry Smith and revised by Cornelius Krahn, originated when C. Henry Smith published his book under the title The Mennonites, A Brief History of Their Origin and Later Development in Both Europe and America, 340 pp. (Berne, 1920). In 1941 after Smith had written numerous other books The Mennonites appeared in an entirely revised and enlarged edition under the title The Story of the Mennonites, 823 pp. (Newton, Kansas). Of this edition a slightly revised reprint was made in 1945, without taking into consideration the great changes brought about by World War II. The day before C. Henry Smith died, on 18 October 1948, he requested Cornelius Krahn to re­vise and edit The Story of the Mennonites. This was done in co-operation with the Board of Education and Publication of the General Conference Mennonite Church in the spirit of the author, leaving the book in general as it was conceived by the au­thor. Chapters dealing with contemporary ques­tions were brought up to date. Although the Men­nonites of Europe had been most affected by World War II, the settlements of North and South America had also undergone great changes. In order to prevent an increase in size some chapters were reduced. Numerous corrections and changes were made. An index, a bibliography, and illustrations were added. This edition published in 1950 by the Mennonite Publication Office, Newton, Kansas, con­sisted of 856 pages.

In 1957 a fourth edition containing some changes and corrections appeared. Some paragraphs were added to bring chapters up to date dealing with the present. Illustrations were exchanged for charts featuring the origin, spread, and immigration of the Mennonites the world over.

The popularity of C. Henry Smith's Story of the Mennonites is due to the fact that the author had the gift of narrating a very complex, long, and com­plicated history of a small group of people in an attractive, impressive, and nontechnical way which appeals to the average person not familiar with nor in­terested in detail. This strength reveals at once also the "weakness" of the book, namely, the absence of a detailed presentation of theological questions, partly due to the fact that the author was not a trained theologian but a historian. Thus far the Story of the Mennonites is the most widely used history of the Mennonites produced anywhere in any language. A unique chapter in its history is that it was translated into the German language by A. Esau, a German scientist, while he was in prison in the Netherlands after World War II where P. S. Goerz contacted him and gave him a copy of the book. Esau translated the whole Story, after which Cornelius Krahn edited the manuscript, and the General Conference Board of Education and Publication in co-operation with D. H. Epp and H. Heese began to publish it in installments in Der Bote with the intention of publishing it in book form. About a third of the German edition had been printed in book form by 1958.

Author(s) Cornelius N Krahn
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius N. "Story of the Mennonites, The." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 19 Jul 2024.,_The&oldid=121314.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius N. (1959). Story of the Mennonites, The. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 July 2024, from,_The&oldid=121314.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 638. All rights reserved.

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