The Gutenberg Bible was the first European book published on a printing press using moveable metal type. Printed in Latin, the right page here displays "Genesi," or Genesis, the first book of the Christian Bible.

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    On February 23, 1455, many scholars agree that the Gutenberg Bible was published in Mainz, Germany. The Gutenberg Bible was one of the first books created on a printing press with moveable metal type. (China and Korea had been using the technology for more than a hundred years.) Moveable type consists of blocks of individual letters and symbols that can quickly be arranged and re-arranged to create different words and phrases. The type is then coated with ink and pressed into paper or vellum, an expensive parchment made of animal skin. 
     
    The Gutenberg Bible is named after its creator, Johannes Gutenberg. Gutenberg himself invented the wooden printing press, metal types, and oil-based ink used in the new printing process. Historians think Gutenberg printed about 160-180 Bibles in 1455. Today, 48 Gutenberg Bibles survive in whole or in part.
     
    Before publication of the Gutenberg Bible, all Western manuscripts had to be hand-copied, which could take years and cost the wages of an entire lifetime. Books were rare and limited to very wealthy individuals, churches or monasteries, or universities. Although Gutenberg Bibles were still relatively rare and expensive, the technology set off the so-called “Gutenberg Revolution,” which made books and knowledge available to almost all literate people.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    communication Noun

    sharing of information and ideas.

    consist Verb

    to be made of.

    culture Noun

    learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

    literate Adjective

    able to read and write.

    manuscript Noun

    written material.

    oil Noun

    slippery, greasy liquid that is usually flammable and does not mix with water. Oils can be processed from plants, animal fats, minerals, and man-made substances.

    parchment Noun

    carefully prepared skin of goats or other animals used as material on which to write.

    politics Noun

    art and science of public policy.

    printing press Noun

    machine used for transferring images onto paper or parchment with ink.

    publish Verb

    to provide a written piece of work, such as a book or newspaper, for sale or distribution.

    scholar Noun

    educated person.

    technology Noun

    the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.

    type Noun

    metal block with a letter or symbol engraved on one side, used in printing presses.

    vellum Noun

    prepared and treated skin of a calf, young goat, or lamb used as a writing surface.

    wage Noun

    money or goods traded for work or service performed.

    West Noun

    having to do with the developed nations of Europe and North America.