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This is the tenth in a sequence about ecumenical formation.
So, what is the nature of the Bible? People were quick to lay claim to the Bible once the printing press was invented. It is easy claim the Catholic Church kept the texts from the people but we have to allow they did not have the technology to do anything else. The text was inevitably out of reach, there were few copies and they would have been in Latin. But the Church was threatened by the new access to the texts in the vernacular.
What was the Bible like before the invention of printing? Today we glibly speak of the Bible as a library but what we forget is that is exactly what it was. Each book in the Bible was a separate volume in a library. So, even scholars never experienced it as a single volume with books in a particular order.
How many libraries held the entire canon of scripture? How many other texts were interpolated or alongside? Clearly the Canon evolved and presumably most libraries valued the complete set. There never was complete agreement about its content. Hence there is apocrypha and deutero-canonical scriptures.
On top of this there will have been many translations of the same scriptures. Whilst the Roman Catholic Church maintained the Latin Vulgate as the primary source, there were always other translations into other languages, especially in the East.
Printing brought together an opportunity not only to translate scriptures into the vernacular but also to collect them into one place and into (more or less) a single coherent narrative.
This relatively recent development forms the context in which we experience formation today. The very fact of a single volume Bible makes an immense difference in that it implies greater coherence to scripture than the old libraries ever could.
The covers of the printed library make the content both easier and harder to share. Easier because it means everyone can have a copy. Harder because the covers are round a body of writing sometimes seen as under threat and so in need of protection.
An open library has been replaced by a closed book.