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How the information revolution sparked enlightenment

Gutenberg Bible Thomas Jefferson wing Library of Congress
Michaela McNichol

In the 1450’s Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable type printing press. The Bible was the first book chosen to be printed.

Up until this time, all books were created by hand. The only places to own them were monasteries and the universities. Most people could not even read at this time and no one but priests had personal access to the word of God.

Gutenberg’s press began churning out thousands of books which became known as the Gutenberg Bible. It was the first time the Bible was massed produced and it was the first time the word of God was in the hands of regular people.

Not only did this event bring about religious enlightenment, it also brought about a great desire for knowledge in general. More and more people began learning how to read just so they could read the Bible for themselves.

Being able to hold the word of God in your hands and being able to read these words for yourself allows a person to have God speak directly to them, guiding them and comforting them. It is through this book with which we learn how to develop our personal relationship with God, the ultimate goal.

A copy of the Gutenberg Bible is on display at the Library of Congress, in Washington, DC. It is on view in the East Corridor on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building. The Bible is surrounded by six murals collectively referred to as The Evolution of the Book. These murals depict the process of recording and imparting knowledge from the use of symbolic rock structures through the invention of mechanical printing by Johann Gutenberg.

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