The Printing Press and the Protestant Reformation

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The Printing Press and the Protestant Reformation

The Renaissance era has been frequently defined as a “bridge” between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. It was a cultural movement that spread approximately throughout the 14th and 17th century. It affected literature, art, politics, philosophy, religion and science. Scholars desperately searched for humanistic answers to life. Because of this movement, many great inventions were thought of and completed, which was the very start to the “bridge building” towards our Modern era. The Printing Press played a major role in this “renovation” of life, especially when it came to religion.

Before the printing press, books and other forms of literature were prepared by handwriting the text which took many years to complete the Bible, or by wood engraving. Wood engraving was a heinous task as it took highly qualified craftsmen to etch away the background, leaving only the text or illustrations raised. This was also a very time consuming technique.

By mid 15th century, many people were determined to create a less time consuming, less expensive way to create moveable type in order to reproduce literature more efficiently. In 1440, a German goldsmith by the name of Johannes Gutenberg completed a wooden press that used metal moveable type. From then he had begun the process of perfecting the machine to at last print a 42-line Bible. By 1955 Gutenberg completed an estimated 200 copies of the Bible. It could have taken monks who translated and handwrote the Bible nearly 20 years for just one copy.

By this time, the Protestant Reformation was eagerly approaching and the printing press was rapidly spreading throughout Europe by 1468. Now that there were ways to reproduce print quickly, you can say that the Protestants were quickly spreading their works of translated scripture. Although most people still could not read, Protestant Reformers took their teachings and preached to many, using artwork to express their...
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