What Do I Take For Granted?

As I read through Shakespeare, the Bible, and the Form of the Book yesterday, a portion of the text revealed to me an pre-supposition of mine when I read the Hebrew Bible. Regarding book printing during Shakespeare’s time, Paul Werstine writes about what happened when a proofreader discovered an error:

Therefore, when a proofreading discovered what he took to be an error in a sheet being run off the press, he might well order the press stopped for as long as it took to correct the apparent error, but would not order destroyed the sheets that had already been printed with the error in them because paper was too valuable (119).

While there definitely is something important being said about the actual writing/printing process, that is not my focus. My focus is, rather, the value of writing and paper. Or, in the case of the Hebrew Bible, scrolls. Things to write upon were not nearly as accessible in the ancient world as they are now. So any mention of “writing” or “scroll” in the Hebrew Bible should not be glossed over. In fact, the mention of “writing” or “scroll” should be highlighted, for it was not a common thing to have a scroll. Scrolls were precious because they were valuable. What is valuable often becomes the centerpiece, if you will, to a table that is society and culture. And in the case of the ancient world, writing was absolutely a centerpiece to society and culture.

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