Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit

The Birth of the Book


By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

I love libraries. In our family, we have four favorite places for ‘down-time’ and restoration: beaches, parks, gyms, and libraries.  I see lifting weights and lifting up books as equally stimulating and healthy. One exercises the body; the other one the mind.

My parents love books. My father reads so extensively that he exhausts virtually every library he joins, and has to move on to another neighbouring library just to find new options.  Scholars have discovered that the best way to motivate one’s children to learn is by example. If your children never see you reading, it has a profound impact on their likelihood to pick up a book themselves.  There is no better way for your children to expand their minds than to turn off their video games, iPods, or TV, and actually crack open a thought-provoking book or e-book.

The latest library book that has fascinated me is Dr Andrew Pettegree’s “The Book in the Renaissance”.  Dr Pettegree is the Head of the School of History at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland, and founding director of the St. Andrew’s Reformation Studies Institute. I have learned so much from reading this amazing book. I was shocked to discover that before the sixteenth century in Europe, educators did not teach history in school. One of my growing passions is history, which is why I included so much Canadian history in my last book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada.’  Dr Pettegree comments that “the teaching of history was in many respects the most original curricular innovation of the Renaissance period. History was not taught in the classrooms in classical times…”

I was also surprised to discover that in England, there was no formal provision for teaching writing in the grammar schools.  Few classrooms even had desks.  If one wanted to learn how to write, it had to be done during school vacations, perhaps employing a private writing master.

The existence of books can be traced back to before the 7th century BC.  Some of the earliest books in Mesopotamia were made of clay tablets. Others were made of silk, bone, bronze, pottery, shell, dried palm leaves, or wood.  The Greek word for ‘book’ biblos originally meant “fibre inside of a tree”. The Chinese character for book is an image of a bamboo tablet.

The ancient Egyptians developed a very sophisticated form of book-making, using papyrus made of stretched-out reeds, pasted together in scrolls, sometimes up to forty feet. Beginning in the 3rd century BC, parchment made out of animal skins gradually replaced papyrus as the dominant form of book-making. Parchment was both very durable and very expensive. Until the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in the fifteenth century, virtually all books were handwritten manuscripts, often painstakingly transcribed in monasteries.

We are all very aware of how the internet and social media has revolutionized our 21st century.  Gutenberg’s printing press was just as revolutionary.  Before Gutenberg, books were only for the wealthy elite.  After Gutenberg, books democratized Europe by making new ideas available for ordinary people. His revolution did not just birth printed books, but gave rise to newspapers, further educating ordinary people and infusing their minds with dreams of freedom and equality.

The first book that Gutenberg printed was the Bible.  The ready accessibility of the Bible in one’s own language was a radical innovation that many bureaucrats resisted with a passion.  Bibles were burnt openly in every part of Europe.  Tyrants knew that if ordinary people were given a chance to read the Bible for themselves, liberty would break out everywhere.  As the Great Physician put it, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

I was fortunate to be number seven of the eight people to receive an IPhone 4 at a local phone store. My only problem was that I didn’t know how to make it work. So I went back to the phone store, asking about the user guide. None of the three employees had ever seen or read the user guide. All had IPhone 4s. “How did you learn to use it?” I asked. One of the young employees said to me “I just pressed buttons until something happened.”  Eventually I found the user guide, and actually read it. What an amazing difference it made.  As my math teacher said in Grade 10, “When all else fails, read the instructions”. We live in an amazing age when most of us are able to read, yet we still often fail to make the most of this gift.

Gutenberg gave us the gift of printed Bibles available for all to read. Isn’t it about time that we take a look once again at God’s user manual?


The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

– previously published in the  Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.


-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Author: edhird

I was the Rector of St. Simon's Church North Vancouver, B.C for 31 years, from 1987 to 2018. Ordained in 1980, I have also served at St. Philip's Vancouver and St. Matthew's Abbotsford. My wife Janice and I have three sons James, Mark, and Andrew. I was the Past President and Chaplain for Alpha Canada. While serving as the National Chair for Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada, I was one of three co-signers of the Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/arm05.htm For the past 31 years, I have been privileged to write over 400 articles as a columnist on spiritual issues for local North Vancouver newspapers. In the last number of years, I have had the opportunity to speak at conferences and retreats in Honduras, Rwanda, Uganda, Washington State, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and Ontario. My newest book For Better, For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship, coauthored with Janice Hird, can be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Better-Worse-Discovering-lasting-relationship/dp/0978202236/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1535555614&sr=8-1 My sequel Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit, with a foreword by Dr JI Packer, is online with Amazon.com in both paperback http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/097820221X/ref=redir_mdp_mobile and ebook form http://tiny.cc/tanhmx . In Canada, Amazon.ca has it available in paperback http://tiny.cc/dknhmx and ebook http://tiny.cc/wmhmmx . It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook). Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form. Nook gives a sample of the book to read online: http://tiny.cc/vj3bmx . Indigo also offers the Kobo ebook version: http://tiny.cc/kreonx . You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook: http://tiny.cc/1ukiox The book 'Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit' focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus' healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how North Americans can embrace a holistically healthy life. In order to obtain a copy of the prequel book 'Battle for the Soul of Canada', please send a $18.50 cheque to 'Ed Hird', 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. For more info, please click on www3.telus.net/st_simons/nsnews030.html

3 thoughts on “The Birth of the Book

  1. Pingback: 250,000 visitors later « Edhird's Blog

  2. Pingback: Looking back on 2011: My most-widely read online articles « Edhird's Blog

  3. Pingback: My most read articles | Edhird's Blog

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