PRINTING. Printing with movable type was, of course, unknown until Gutenberg invented it in the 1450s. In the KJV, Leviticus 19:28 says that the Israelites were not to “print” any marks upon them. The RSV more correctly uses the word “tattoo.” The KJV of Job 13:27 has, “thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.” The revised VSS have “thou settest a bound to the soles of my feet,” meaning that God fixes limits, beyond which Job’s feet may not go. The KJV of Job 19:23 reads, “Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!” The Heb. word does not mean printed, but inscribed or engraved or cut. The revised VSS have “inscribed.” Also, books with pages, or codices, were not known until the 2nd cent. a.d.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
print, prin’-ting, prin’-ted: Printing is the art of multiplying records--the "art of writing with many pens" (Jewish Encyclopedia, XII, 295), or wholesale writing.
The art of making original records is writing. This, however, is a slow process. It involves tracing each letter and part of a letter through from beginning to end by the moving point of chisel, pen, or other instrument, and this process must be repeated with every copy. As soon, therefore, as occasion arose for frequently repeating the record, many ways were devised to save the labor of forming each symbol separately. All these ways involve making a character or a series of characters on a single surface and transferring as a whole to another surface. Neither "pressure," as some say, nor "ink," as others, is essential to the process, for printing from a photographic negative takes no pressure, and printing for the blind takes no ink. Any process which transfers a whole surface is printing.
The earliest use of printing seems to have been for painting the face or body with ownership, tribal, trophy, or ceremonial marks for worship, war, mourning, etc. This paint might be temporary or pricked in by the tattoo process. Tattooing itself is rather a writing than a printing process, but may be either, according as the color is laid on by drawing or by the "pintadera." The "pintadera" or "stamp used to impress patterns upon the skin" is best known from the Mexican and South American examples, but in recent years it has been found in deposits all over the Mediterranean region (North Italy, Austria, Hungary, Mycenae, Crete, Egypt) and in Borneo at least. Many of these specimens are from the Neolithic or Copper age. Both in South America and in Neolithic Liguria, some of these stamps were cylindrical and "were used like a printer’s roller" (Mosso, The Dawn of Mediterranean Civilization, 254-61, with many illustrations, and Frobenius, Childhood of Man, figure 31, "Dayak block for painting the body").
The injunction of Le 19:28, which is translated "print," is commonly, and probably rightly, in view of the Hebrew word, supposed to refer to the permanent marks of tattooing which may or may not have been made by this printing process. Job 13:27 the , which speaks of printing upon the heels or soles of the feet, has been quite changed in the (British and American), and, if the idea is one of printing at all, it refers rather to branding than stamping with color.
The use of seals is a true printing process, whether they are used with color, as they were both in Crete and Egypt almost from the beginning of history, or impressed on clay, wax, or other plastic substances. Mention of seals is frequent in the Bible (see Seal). A new interest has been given to this aspect of the matter by the sealings discovered in Ahab’s palace and other excavations throughout Palestine, which are forming one of the most useful classes of modern inscriptions.
Both stamp and seal were used throughout the, the latter abundantly, and the stamp at least occasionally, for stamping the capital letters in Biblical and other manuscripts, as well as for various other purposes.
Modern printing begins with the carving of whole pages and books on blocks of wood (xylography), or metal plates for printing (chalcography). This method was quite early practiced by the Chinese, and began to be common in Europe in the early 15th century, most of the books printed by it having to do with Biblical topics (Biblia pauperum, etc.).
It was only with the invention of movable type about the middle of the 15th century that the multiplying of books by writing began to come to an end. The printing with movable type is also closely associated with Biblical study, the Gutenberg Psalter and the Gutenberg Bible standing with most for the very beginning of modern printing.
For the printed editions of the Hebrew and Greek originals, and the various versions, see articles on TEXTUAL CRITICISM and allied topics in this encyclopedia, with their literature. The article on "Typography" in Jewish Encyclopedia is of unusual excellence, and the general literature of printing given in Encyclopedia Britannica (11th edition), at the end of the first part of the article on "Typography," is full and good. Compare also Book in this encyclopedia and its literature, especially Hortzschansky, supplementing the bibliography of Encyclopedia Britannica (11th edition). E. C. Richardson