At Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library an original Gutenberg Bible is on permanent display in a climate-controlled glass case. This Bible, named after its printer Johannes Gutenberg, and printed in Mainz, Germany in 1454, is renowned today because it was the first large work printed from movable type. Prior to that time, Bibles were few and far between, as they were hand copied by scribes and kept locked up in monasteries, cathedrals and the libraries of the very rich.
The first Gutenberg Bible, printed almost 70 years before Martin Luther’s excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church, is important because it became the vehicle through which the Reformation would gradually put the truth of God’s Word within reach of every person.
As I looked at this historical artifact, I suddenly realized that the real value of this Bible was not in the method of printing, but in the message it made available to common folk over 550 years earlier – the good news of salvation through the shed blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I left the library glad, not that I had seen a Gutenberg Bible, but that I was reminded of the Bible’s true value to mankind – it allows the reader to be “born again … through the living and abiding Word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).
From the library I walked to the Yale Bookstore and found a Bible sale in progress. While the versions, fonts, bindings and paper all differed, the truth was the same, and readily available for less than five dollars for a paperback. Seeing that Gutenberg Bible reminded me to “pray … that the Word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified” (2 Th. 3:1), just as it did in Luther’s day.
By Larry Ondrejack
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org