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Printing, Public, and Power: Shaping the First Printed Bible in Dutch (1477)

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Although the success of the invention of printing is traditionally linked to the Reformation of the sixteenth century, it already affected religious culture in the late fifteenth century and the decades prior to the Reformation. The printing press played an important role in the emancipation of the vernacular Bible in the late Middle Ages. Vernacular religious texts were being produced on a large scale, and vernacular Bibles were printed widely by the end of the fifteenth century. The process of publishing, printing, shaping, and appropriating these Bibles entailed close negotiation and collaboration between printers and public, as well as between religious and lay people. It enabled the public to participate in the shaping of actual copies and resulted in a shared appropriation by religious as well as lay people. Using the first printed Bible in Dutch (1477) as a case-study demonstrates the important role the public played and the power they had over this process.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Arts, University of Groningen


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