Think of St. Benedict in his tower at Monte Cassino. Think of the library of codices to which he had access. (If you weren’t born knowing this, the codex was a stack of pages bound together at the left side, like modern books, as opposed to the scrolls that preceded it. And no, I wasn’t born knowing that either!) Most likely, the library shelves held single books of the Bible separately bound and single works of the early Christian writers because a whole Bible or a collection, say, of all the sermons of St. John Chrysostom, would have been physically unmanageable. Think of reading laboriously hand written texts, before the advent of the Carolingian miniscule provided clear spaces between words, lower case letters, and other improvements made for legibility. Think of reading by daylight coming through very small window openings. Think of reading by the light of small wicks floating in olive oil. Look at the books on your shelf or stacked by your chair or on the nightstand by your bed, or available on your phone or e-reader. Different worlds! And most of us would not prefer to return to St. Benedict’s!
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