Centuries-Old Gutenberg Comes Up For Air

March 1, 2013

The New Haven Independent observed a rare moment:

A rare Bible came out of its case and time-traveled viewers back to the techie revolution … of 1455. It was one of those hold-your-breath moments as the rare book emerged from its climate-controlled case Thursday at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The rare occasion was part of a course on “Jews, Christians, and Renaissance Bibles” taught by Bruce Gordon, a professor of ecclesiastical history at Yale’s Divinity School. Gordon was surrounded by an array of other Bibles in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, and varying polyglot combinations. He challenged his class to explore how an “authorized” notion of a text evolved over time.

There are lots of mysteries about the Gutenberg, Gordon said… Not a mystery was the beauty of the text, and its freshness on paper that seemed to gleam still after a mere 550 years.

“These books get you close to history,” said doctoral student Brad Holden.

Asked which was the greater thrill, to be close to a 1623 folio of Shakespeare’s works or a 1516 Bible, Beinecke Curator Kathryn James replied: “No one ever died for Shakespeare.”

Read the full story and see more images here.