Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Before the printing press, information was scarce. Only the most powerful of people had access to such written information. Not only was it hard to acquire, it was also hard to create. In 1436, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press with replaceable and moveable wooden or metal letters, which he completed by 1440. This method of printing can be credited not only for a revolution in the production of books, but also for fostering rapid development in the sciences, arts and religion through the transmission of texts.

One of the first religious groups to realize the power of such written text was the Catholic Church. In turn, they commissioned Gutenberg to create a 42-line bible that expressed their ideas. Take note that not many commoners could read in early times. They depended on such religious groups to teach them on Holy Scriptures and what it meant to be people of god. Because of such early execution of this bible and their teachings, the Catholic Church positioned itself to become the most powerful religious group in early history.

The Catholics were not the only ones getting the word out. Now anything seemed possible to learn. This new desire to learn was felt by many. More accessible texts brought about more accessible information. Out of this information arose the Renaissance (rebirth/revival) of man where the works of ancient Greece and Rome could now be studied easier than ever before. Out of the Renaissance arouse Humanism, which stressed on this classical learning. Classical learning stressed the importance of questioning ideas for oneself and developing intellectual independence. Out of this new self-study brought about a movement, which started to question such powerful and hypocritical religions. This was not the first time. However, this easily acquired spreadable information was the boost reformers needed in order to build in numbers. These new groups brought about the Protestant Reformation as well as a great number of other religious denominations. In my opinion, the printing press brought the world together in ways it had never seen before.

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