How did the printing press impact the Protestant Reformation?

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The growth of the printing press was an absolutely crucial factor in the rise, and subsequent development, of the Protestant Reformation. For one thing, Protestantism is a denomination of a book—the book in question being, of course, the Bible. The printing press allowed new Bibles to be published more rapidly,...

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The growth of the printing press was an absolutely crucial factor in the rise, and subsequent development, of the Protestant Reformation. For one thing, Protestantism is a denomination of a book—the book in question being, of course, the Bible. The printing press allowed new Bibles to be published more rapidly, leading to their wider dissemination in society.

Bibles could also be printed in native languages, or the vernacular, which made the Christian message more easily understood. Previously, Bibles were only available in Greek or Latin, and as such unavailable to the vast majority of Europe's literate population. Even then, their use was restricted by the Catholic Church, which didn't want its position as an intermediary between God and man to be undermined by individual believers' own interpretations of Scripture.

The printing press also allowed the extensive spread of pamphlets, books, and religious treatises written from the Protestant point of view. Many of these publications were highly polemical, as they conveyed their message in an often crude, unsophisticated style that was nonetheless easily comprehended by large swathes of the population. Luther was particularly adept at writing in such a style, combining the Protestant message with scathing criticism and abuse of his opponents.

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