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The Gutenberg Bible – online

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It’s here, courtesy of the University of Texas. Say what you will about Big Oil, its benefits are sometimes most auspicious. The first Western book printed in movable type in the 1450s, 550 years later it moves into cyberspace. The next jump, into whatever is the next medium, won’t take nearly that long: I predict 20-30 years. I wonder what that next step will be… Or has it happened already?

A superb essay on this subject was published online in February, 2001. The author, “Dr. Tomorrow,” writes, “In the century before Gutenberg, and up to 20 years after he published the first Bible, there were around 1,000 Christian monasteries throughout Europe. Each one had about 400 monks. Each monastery produced ONE BIBLE A YEAR! One Bible a year per monastary didn’t lead to widespread knowledge or a chance for most to even learn how to read. Church and state preferred it that way.”

“By the time Gutenberg finished his first Bible in 1456, he knew they would eventually be able to produce ONE BIBLE A DAY. A 3,000 per cent increase in book production doesn’t happen every day. Very quickly those 400,000 monks had to find another raison d’etre. Scribes basically became unemployed. This was the tip of the iceberg. Bibles, then other books, brought the knowledge of the day to some of the masses. It moved the power of Rome to the people in ways never before dreamed of. The rest is history.”

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