The first copy that attracted attention was discovered about 1760 among the books of the French statesman Cardinal Jules Mazarin. The Gutenberg Bible was the first significant book produced using the new printing press. At least one book of the Bible has been published in 1,808 languages since the Bible was first printed.
The history of the printed Bible with movable type is the subject of considerable scholarly debate. Fragments of earlier bibles have also been found - they are differentiated by the number of lines of text on a page. Scholars have identified several variants and attempted to work out the sequence of development on the basis of the quality of the individual pieces of type.
The oldest surviving Bible printed with movable type is often called the Gutenberg Bible (named after its printer Johannes Gutenberg), or the 42-line Bible (so called because with few exceptions, each page has 42 lines of print), or the Mazarin Bible (because the first copy to recapture attention in 1760 was found in the library of Cardinal Jules Mazarin, in Paris).
In 1440, German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invented a printing press process that, with refinements and increased mechanization, remained the principal means of printing until the late 20th century. The inventor\'s method of printing from movable type, including the use of metal molds and alloys, a special press, and oil-based inks, allowed for the first time the mass production of printed books.
The Bible, printed at Mainz, probably required several years of work; it began in 1452 and was completed not later than 1455 and printed in an edition of about 180 copies. The text of the Bible is Latin. Colored initials and other illuminations were hand drawn after the pages were printed. The Gutenberg Bible lacks many print features that modern readers are accustomed to, such as pagination, word spacing, indentations, and paragraph breaks.
The Bible was large comprising over 1280 pages, and the text was laid out in two columns. The German Gothic type-style was modeled on manuscripts of the period. The columns of text are tightly justified right and left. This is possible because Latin words can be abbreviated by replacing letters with symbols. The printed text was black, with red and blue headers and initials being added later by an illuminator. The edition includes both vellum and paper copies. In design and workmanship, the Gutenberg Bible holds its place as one of the finest of all printed books.
The very first pages Gutenberg printed had only 40 lines per column. Later in the course of printing, Gutenberg realized the paper could accommodate 42 lines and so the pages were reset and printed again in the new format. The original pages of 40 lines were included in the very first issue of the Gutenberg Bible.
As of 2003, the Gutenberg Bible census includes 11 complete copies on vellum, 1 copy of the New Testament only on vellum, 48 substantially complete integral copies on paper, with another divided copy on paper, and an illuminated page (the Bagford fragment).