Thinking Out Loud

January 2, 2011

Gutenberg’s Motivation

Filed under: bible, internet — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:43 pm

Though the internet was hardly on the radar in its early days, during the last few years, we’ve watched the explosion of a medium that gives us an insight into what it must have been like to live in those days when the printing press burst on the scene.

Some will know that Gutenberg’s first project was the edition of the Bible that bears his name, but few realize that it was this project that really drove the invention itself:

“Yes, it is a press, certainly, but a press from which shall flow in inexhaustible streams, the most abundant and most marvelous liquor that has ever flowed to relieve the thirst of men!  Through it, God will spread His Word.  A spring of truth shall flow from it: Like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unknown to shine amongst men.”

Johannes Gutenberg

Wikipedia fills in the story of that early Bible:

The Bible sold for 30 florins each, which was roughly three years’ wages for an average clerk.  Nonetheless, it was significantly cheaper than a handwritten Bible that could take a single scribe over a year to prepare.  After printing the text portions, each book was hand illustrated in the same elegant way as manuscript Bibles from the same period written by scribes.

Our world has seen an equally paradigm-smashing development with the internet.    If you haven’t seen it already, take a moment to visit Gary’s Social Media Count.


  1. E-mail recently received:

    I’m writing you from Portugal.
    While doing a research about Gutenburg, I found this page with the very interesting statement about his motivation to invent the new press technology.
    But, there is no mention to the source of this information, so, I’m contacting you because I need to confirm where can I find a reliable source to quote this statement. Where did you find this statement.

    Can you help me?

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 17, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

    • The opening quotation is so widely circulated on the internet that it never occurred to me to add some kind of annotation or link.

      Simply Google “Gutenburg quotations” and you’ll find hundreds of possibilities; at least one should narrow down a more exact sourcing of when and where he said it.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 17, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

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