Around 1455, Johannes Gutenberg produced the first ever Bible printed with moveable type. This creation would revolutionize Europe, leading to mass literacy and eventually the Protestant Reformation. However, not every Bible that was printed on the printing press was an exact copy of the next. Not only were there mistakes (the most famous being the Wicked Bible), but Bibles were printed with different font, in different languages, and different images. Each Bible was essentially different.
Taking this idea and looking backward, the history of Bible production is not only a history of Judaism and Christianity, but also a history of the book in general. The Bible itself means so much to over 3 billion people in the world, but do those same people think about the form and structure of the book, and what makes it special. The book as we know it is an adaptation of the codex, manuscripts that have been sewn together. Before the codex, there were other systems for storing writing, and there were other materials on which to write.
Given that the words themselves are precious, the Bible sometimes is also decorated in ornate ways. From pictures to gold leaf to stylized lettering, the Bible has been decorated and even reduced in decoration throughout history. The Protestants had a long history of not knowing whether to decorate their holy text or not. The Bible also tells us about function. Is it large or small? Is it translated into a new language for a new group of people? Does it contain important information for the people who owned it? The production and creation of the Bible not only tells us about the history of Judaism and Christianity, but it also tells the reader about the history of the book.
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