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Christian History

Today in Christian History

September 30

September 30, 1452: The first section of the Gutenberg Bible was finished in Mainz, Germany, by the printer Johannes Gutenberg. It is unclear when Gutenberg conceived of his Bible project, though he was clearly in production by 1452. He probably produced about 180 copies — 145 that were printed on handmade paper imported from Italy and the remainder on more luxurious and expensive vellum. Only four dozen Gutenberg Bibles remain, and of these only 21 are complete.

September 30, 1770: George Whitefield, Anglican preacher, evangelist, and major leading figure in the Great Awakening, dies. Whitefield was probably the most famous religious figure of the eighteenth century and was capable of commanding thousands on two continents through the sheer power of his oratory. In his lifetime, he preached at least 18,000 times to perhaps 10 million hearers.

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February 23, 155 (traditional date): Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, is martyred. Reportedly a disciple of the Apostle John, at age 86 he was taken to be burned at the stake. "You try to frighten me with fire that burns for an hour and forget the fire of hell that never burns out," he said. The flames, legend says, would not touch him, and when he was run through with a sword, his blood put the fire out (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).

February 23, 303: Diocletian begins ...

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