Johannes Gutenberg






The Impact of Printing

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Printing had a major influence on the development of society both nationally and internationally. Gutenberg's invention had a major impact on innumerable facets of cultural and technical progress, not all of which can be discussed here.

However, the influence of printing on the theological disputes initiated by Martin Luther in 1517 must be mentioned. These disputes led to the Reformation in Germany.

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The Göttingen Copy of the Gutenberg Bible


In Luther's "Table Talks" he expressly discusses the important role printing played in the spreading of his reform teaching. Printed flyers, sermons, church songs and his translation of the Holy Bible into German spread Luther's theological convictions into every last corner of the country.

Martin Luther
Luther: Von der babylonischen Gefangenschaft der Kirchen.
(On the Babylonish Captivity of the Church) Straßburg 1520

His writings accounted for one third of the entire book production in German in the first half of the 16th century. It is estimated that nearly half a million copies of his High German Bible edition were printed.

This enormous share of the newly developing book market and the fact that many of his students and other authors used the so-called "Luther German" in their writings had considerable impact on the development of the German language. Thus with its direct connection to the Reformation, printing also played a significant role in the development of the written form of High German.