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The invention of printing

Until then, the copying of a book was done by a copyist, usually a monk, who manually copied the sacred texts. It was therefore very time-consuming and expensive !

Meaning of manuscript – Cambridge dictionary : an old document or book written by hand in the times before printing was invented.


"Many will go here and there to increase knowledge."

The Bible, Daniel 12 v. 4.

It is to Johannes Gensfleisch, goldsmith of Mainz, known under the name of Gutenberg (1397-1468), that one allots the invention of printing in Europe. He was looking for a way to reproduce texts mechanically and… to enrich himself too... Alas, fortune did not smile on him !

More about his life ?

His invention consists in 3 parts


The movable types (letters) made of a lead alloy, reusable.


Black linseed oil-based ink, viscous, that dries relatively quickly.


The press inspired by a grape press ensuring contact between the moving characters and the paper or parchment support (calfskin = vellum).

It took him a few years of research to achieve satisfactory results, as everything had to be invented and fine-tuned.

Un composteur posé sur une casse (tiroir) contenant  les caractères mobiles

A composter placed on a case (drawer) containing the movable types

Encre noir.jpg

The printing press was therefore originally made entirely of wood, about 3 m. high. A worm screw was used to Multiply the force exerted by the lever operated by the presser. The texts were composed in the same workshop, with a lot of attention to detail. The quality of the inking was also very important. All the people were aware that they were printing texts from the Holy Scriptures which had to be beyond reproach !

But this huge investment in time and money was worth it, because this printing technique (called the typography) has been used for more than 400 years ! The presses have been perfected over time. 

Click to see the evolution on this poster :

The possibility of reproducing texts almost indefinitely has allowed the price of a Bible to be drastically reduced, so that everyone could get it.

The printing press has enabled the dissemination of knowledge in general and the Holy Scriptures in particular. It was one of the vectors of the Reformation, since the Bible was translated and printed in common languages.  

Here's what famous people have said about the printing press.

For more information, click on this !

The printing press and the Bible  :

"Printing is an art form that should be praised..."

Martin Luther

"Gutenberg's invention is the greatest and most incomparable event in history."

Mark Twain

"The printing press... is the mother of all revolutions..."

Victor Hugo

The beginning of printing worldwide

For more information view this document :

If you have a Bible, read it every day, even several times. If you don't have one yet, get one as soon as possible !

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