Eternal Perspectives: Celebrating the Written Word
March 13 was a momentous day back in the year 1456, the day the first copy of the Bible was printed on a printing press. And still going strong!
Eternal Perspectives by Sally Bair
The written word
Remember the old, manual typewriters?
Today’s computer keyboards make it is so much easier to share the written word. But back in the 1400s, local scribes copied words by hand at great cost. Then an avid reader, Johann Gutenberg of Germany, got the idea to separate metal letters and arrange them into words. He set up a secret workshop where he developed a printing press. After 30 years of trial and error, he began to print books. He hired presses to be built and laborers to grind and mix ink. On March 13, 1456, using movable type, Gutenberg printed his first Bible, a cause for celebration throughout the world.
Because of Gutenberg’s ingenious invention, many of today’s households contain several Bibles. America and other free nations are blessed to own, read and share their Bibles with others. In other countries, however, Bibles are not allowed. Throughout the centuries, nations have tried to oppose, outlaw, or suppress the Word of God. Even though the suppression continues, people keep smuggling Bibles into those countries. Some Christians are so desperate to read the Word of God that they cut their rare copies into sections and share them from person to person to memorize.
In spite of opposition, the Bible has always been the world’s bestselling book. “The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:25, quoting Isaiah 40:8)
God’s Word came into being centuries before Gutenberg’s time. God’s chosen people, the Israelites, received the command to make sure His words to Moses would be read by everyone. “You shall teach them to your children … and you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them …” (Deuteronomy 11:20)
The Bible shows us the importance of living a godly life. “My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you. Keep my commands and live … bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 7:1) David’s psalms also contain endless references to the power contained in God’s Word. And John’s gospel tells us Jesus is the Word of life. Our faith comes by hearing His Word. Its availability is one thing, but its personal use is another.
Lord, thank You for using Gutenberg to bring access to Your holy Word. Fill our hearts with a hunger to read, study, understand, and use it for Your glory and the increase of our faith. In Jesus’ name, amen.