The following is adapted from a presentation by Scott Welty and Mel Tingey.

For centuries, scriptures were copied by hand from manuscripts. These books were very costly and only a privileged few had access to them.


By 1455, Johannes Gutenberg had invented a press with movable type and the Bible was one of the first books he printed. For the first time, it was possible to print multiple copies of the scriptures at a cost many could afford.

Johannes Gutenberg: “God suffers because there are such multitudes of souls to whom His sacred Word cannot be given; religious truth is captive in a small number of little manuscripts. . . . Let us break the seal which binds these holy things; let us give winds to truth that it may fly with the Word, no longer prepared at vast expense, but multiplied everlastingly by a machine which never wearies. . .”

We can’t over-state the importance of Gutenberg’s invention. Over time, the lower publishing costs would make it possible for the average family to own a Bible. Ultimately, it would be those family Bibles that would prepare a prophet of God and a people to receive the Restoration.

Joseph Smith Jr.: “Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again . . . and at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God.’”

book-of-mormon1830 Edition of The Book of Mormon

In 1830, the Book of Mormon was published using typesetting methods similar to those established by Gutenberg 375 years earlier.

As printing processes continued to improve, publishing costs were reduced and the scriptures moved out of the family library and into the hands of individuals.

Individual ownership of scriptures allowed for unfettered access. Now you could mark and annotate “your own copy” of the scriptures.

lds-scriptures1981 LDS Edition of the Scriptures

A new edition of the Bible and the triple combination became available in 1981.

These new editions were the products of years of research and inspired direction. With the coordinated study aids and cross-references in each, these works became truly “one” in the hands of the user.

President Henry B. Eyring: “Our humility and our faith that invite spiritual gifts are increased by our reading, studying, and pondering the scriptures.”

1-Nephi2013 LDS Edition of the Scriptures

In March of 2013, the Church released its newest edition of the English scriptures in digital formats, a full 6 months ahead of the print editions.

Paper, ink, and printing presses have given way to screens, pixels, and applications. The scriptures–and an entire library of gospel books–can now be held in the palm of your hand.

Brigham Young: “Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind, has been given by direct revelation from God. . . . We should take advantage of all these great discoveries. . .and give to our children the benefit of every branch of useful knowledge, to prepare them to step forward and efficiently do their part in the great work.”

By Wilhei (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsPublishing is a Complex Process

Publishing has always been a complex process. For instance, even though computerized systems were available for typesetting back in 1981, the scriptures were typeset using traditional hot-metal because it was the only way that the footnotes could be presented properly on each page.

In hot-metal, each letter is created as an individual metal slug. These slugs fit together to form lines of type and pages of text. With this form of movable type, the typesetting of the 1981 LDS edition of the King James Bible  required a little over 15 months.

html-digital-scripturesToday’s Digital Publishing Process

Today, HTML5 provides us with a modern version of “movable type.” With the scripture text marked up with industry-standard HTML and metadata, the text can be displayed on various platforms and devices.

Now, scripture text can also be personalized with your own  highlights, study notes, and cross references. Your individual markings can be saved and accessed on computers, tablets, phones, and many other  electronic devices.

All these things provide for a more enlightened, interactive study experience.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin: “We are constantly reminded through the scriptures that we should give the things of God much more than usual superficial consideration. We must ponder them and reach into the very essence of what we are and what we may become.”

Learn more about how to access and use the scriptures electronically.


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