"In the beginning" were more than just words — they were the beginning of printing presses and typography that brought new depths of meaning and creativity to language. For some designers and printers, the ultimate challenge is the Bible, the design of which could be affected by politics and religious beliefs, as well as by aesthetic and commercial concerns.
Patsy Watkins studied five bibles created from the mid-15th through the 20th centuries to see if the designers’ motives could be discerned within their design and typefaces. The Visual Communication Quarterly published her findings, “Designing the Holy Bible: Arguing the TEXT Through the Form,” in its latest issue devoted to typography.
She chose the Gutenberg Bible, the Martin Luther Bible, the Doves Press Bible, the Washburn College Bible and the Pennyroyal Caxton Press Bible. What she found was that form indeed revealed function as well as the designers’ desire to shape the meaning and hence a reader’s understanding of this ancient text.