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Literacy and the Reformation
Transcript of Literacy and the Reformation
Only the very wealthy and highly educated had access to books
Most books were religious in nature
Greatly incorporated art
Texts were almost always in Latin Gutenberg's Revelation Johannes Gutenberg introduced the first fully functional printing press in the 1440s Movable metal type allows much more efficient printing The first printed book was Gutenberg's Bible--printing quickly became associated with religion By the year 1500 the printing press had spread to 2,500 cities Indulgences Get me out of purgatory free card Roman Catholic Church begins selling Indulgences Indulgences are printed documents--became very popular Indulgences are the clear culmination of corruption in the Church and the printing press allowed them to exist Luther Speaks Out Strongly opposed Indulgences In 1517 he posted his 95 Theses against Indulgences on the Wittenberg Cathedral Within two weeks the 95 Theses had been printed and spread across Germany Within a month the theses were being read all across Europe The Vernacular Luther advocated translating the bible into the vernacular If the people could read the bible themselves they could interpret it themselves Increased sense of individualism People can become less dependent on the Church Bibles were printed in German and circulated with the help of the press “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven” German Monk born in 1483
Published a German translation of the Bible in 1522 Earlier printing presses involved carving the entirety of each individual page onto a block of wood backwards.
Took a long time
Wood wore down and was easily damaged Copying a text by hand was a lifelong endeavor. It often took upwards of 20 years for a monk to complete a copy of the bible. During this period the Catholic Church decreed that only members of the clergy could hold and read bibles. This is one of the reasons why Luther's idea that everyone should be able to read the bible came as such an outlandish notion. Gutenberg's Press could print a bible in about two months. While this is a long time by today's standards, it was incredibly fast in comparison to the 20 years it would've taken a monk to copy a book.
The tradeoff, however, was a level of artistry and craftsmanship that would never again be reflected in texts. Believed that you would be admitted to heaven if you believed in God and lived a good life, not if you purchased a document remitting your sins. At this time Luther's protests against the Church weren't just complaints, they were heresy. There had been other reformers before Luther, but they never gained nearly as much attention as he did. The printing press saved his life by making him famous.