When Johann Gutenberg and his team published their Bible in the mid-1450s, what they were selling to buyers were sets of sheets, sheets of either paper or parchment that had text printed on them. What they were not selling were books—not, at least, if we take “book,” as we usually do, to imply a codex that is ready to read by turning a series of leaves held together at one edge. As I have written before, when a monastery, church, or private individual bought a Bible from Gutenberg, they had to find a scribe to add red text to spaces that the printers had left blank. Gutenberg’s customers had to find bookbinders, too.
As many readers of this blog will know, Johann Gutenberg and Johann Fust’s Biblia latina (Mainz, 1454–1455) represents the first substantial book printed from moveable type on a printing press. Without question, it is a milestone in information technology. And yet, it is important to remember that [Read more…] about Instructions for reading aloud in the Gutenberg Bible
Ransom Center staff recently turned the pages of the Gutenberg Bible to the opening of Deuteronomy. [Read more…] about Hand decoration in the Ransom Center’s Gutenberg Bible
Fall is here and with the turning of the leaves it is time to turn another page of the Ransom Center’s Gutenberg Bible. Our copy of the Bible is full of signs of previous readers and their interactions with the text. A rather interesting example of close reading is found in Genesis 11. [Read more…] about Gutenberg Bible Page Turning: Genesis, Chapter XI, Volume I:9r
The Ransom Center’s two-volume Gutenberg Bible is on permanent display in the lobby. Every three months the Center’s staff changes which page of the Bible is displayed, allowing us to share different pages with our visitors, and also protect the volumes from over exposure to light, stress on their bindings, and other preservation concerns. The process of turning the Gutenberg’s pages involves staff of the conservation department, exhibition services, the curator, and of course campus security. Each time we select a new opening we look for some unique or exemplary feature that will reveal the history of our copy or some unique feature absent from the other known copies of the Bible. [Read more…] about The Gutenberg Bible turns a new page
Historian John Speed (1542–1629) worked with Hebrew scholar Hugh Broughton to create a 36-page genealogy to accompany the first printing of the King James Bible. The genealogy traced “euery family and tribe with the line of Our Sauior Jesus Christ obserued from Adam to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Speed’s genealogy (1611) portrays the then-popular view that Noah’s sons went on to populate specific regions of the world: Shem to Asia, Japheth to Europe, and Ham to Africa. In the Americas, pro-slavery advocates used the “curse of Ham” to justify the enslavement of Africans and their descendants.
Speed’s genealogy and other manuscripts related to the King James Bible are on view in the exhibition The King James Bible: Its History and Influence through July 29.
Please click on the thumbnails below to view full-size images.