Johann Gutenberg was the first in the West to advance the use of moveable type for printing. His greatest printing achievement, and the first book ever to be printed by moveable type in the West, was the magnificent two-volume copy of Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, commonly called today the Gutenberg Bible. Completed in 1455, the project resulted in the printing of about 200 copies on paper and an additional 30 deluxe copies on vellum. The expense of the project, as well as the actions of unscrupulous business associates, forced Gutenberg into debt from which he never recovered. The Bibles did sell well enough for a second edition to be printed two years later. Today, there are only 46 copies of the Gutenberg Bible still in existence, about half of which are complete. These are the property of libraries and private collections scattered throughout the world. Without Gutenberg’s invention, which paved the way for the printing of common language copies of the Bible in the 16th century, it is possible that the Protestant Reformation may not have happened or may have been significantly delayed.

Gutenberg Bible

Gutenberg Bible