At the very same time Johannes Gutenberg was creating his historic first printed Bible, and perhaps in the very same town, one of the last great handwritten and illustrated Bibles was being inked near Mainz, Germany. It is even possible, say experts, that this written Bible was a direct influence on the size, shape, and design of Gutenberg’s initial edition. In any case, the Giant Mainz Bible represents a culmination of centuries of Christian tradition that kept Biblical knowledge alive only through laborious scribe work. Penning and illustrating the Mainz Bible took its artist 15 months of intensive labor, ending in 1453.
One of America’s major book collectors—Lessing Rosenwald, son of the great philanthropist Julius Rosenwald and an important donor is his own right—acquired this beautiful and historic copy of the Scriptures. In 1952, he gave it, along with other important books, to the Library of Congress. The Giant Mainz Bible is considered one of the prizes of the Library’s collection, and is on constant display in the original Library building, just outside the entrance to its main reading room.
- Library of Congress description, loc.gov/exhibits/bibles/the-giant-bible-of-mainz.html