Noting a Printing Press and a Revolution

Noting a Printing Press and a Revolution February 23, 2024

Johannes Gutenberg
Wikicommons

 

 

 

 

The 23rd of February has always been an important day in my personal calendar.

It’s the day that has been officially designated as when the first pages were pulled for Johannes Gutenberg’s wonderful Bible in 1455.

When I was a kid it was called the first printed book. A big deal. And as a bookish kid, I’m super glad.

They had to change that when it became apparent the oldest extant printed book was in fact a Chinese copy Diamond Sutra. The celebration shifted to the first printed book with movable type.

Until they found that the Jikji, printed in Korea was the oldest known book printed from movable type.

It’s a small additional treat both the are Buddhist texts…

It is now believed there were moveable type books in China and Korea up to two centuries earlier. But those are hypothetical and these are surviving physical books.

So, we’re now celebrating the first book printed with movable type in the West. And you know, this does not in any way take away the momentous occasion that the Gutenberg Bible announced.

The cultural mess in Europe that was happening at this moment would spark an explosion that would unite the world. For good and for ill. Gutenberg’s printing press is a central part of that mess and its cultural explosion. And his Bible was the beginning of it all.

The course leading toward to where we are, and where I hope we might yet go, has a certain origin here, at this moment, on this day, Mainz, in Germany, in 1455.

So, today, incense, candles and bows. And, well, maybe a throw of salt over one shoulder. How this is going to play out as yet been determined…

Whatever. It has started.

And may we continue to find the wisdom hidden in each others hearts…

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