Scrolling Back

The Torah–Preserved as a Scroll to this Day

The scroll was invented by the Egyptians, adopted and refined by the Greeks and Romans. The term “scrolling” is still used for online reading. Scrolls preserved official documents, speeches, histories, etc., while erasable wax tablets combined with a stylus for disposable text (like lists). In further incarnations of retrospeak, the newest generation of PCs, including the iPad, are called “tablets” and use, well, styluses.

The Bible as Printed Codex.

The codex form of organizing written documents allowed for easier access to exploration of text. (Just imagine trying to scroll back to the beginning of a really long scroll.)

Gutenberg Press, invented 1450

The invention of The Gutenberg Press, proved pivotal to the Protestant Reformation and marked the beginning of the Printing Revolution. The Bible, no longer only in the hands of the few (monks, priests, etc), expanded literacy to the many.Talk about the Power of the Word. The Bible became an instant bestseller. (Runner up? The Malleus Maleficarum, but that’s another story…)

Printing presses moved beyond the book to include pamphlets and newspapers, which contributed to the spread of democracy. One of the earliest newspaper magnates, Benjamin Franklin, the inventor, satirist and first Postmaster General to the United States (he created the original Information Superhighway, the Pony Express). He later became the ambassador to France, where he helped garner funds for the American Revolution which conducting a clever public relations campaign based on his avatar, Monsieur Electricité.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, 9 May 1754

Franklin’s aphorisms, perfect for Twitter.

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  1. Arwen

    It’s fascinating that the terminology hasn’t really changed all that much since the Egyptians invented the scroll. I doubt they realized the impact they would have on the world to this day.

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