When and why the Bible Society movement came into being?
During the first century, copies of the Scripture were on leather scrolls which were kept in the meeting places. Not everybody had access to these. Also, the scrolls had shorter life span. So copies had to be made regularly to replace the perishing scrolls. Later on scrolls were replaced by codex which was similar to the book form. It was also common to make handwritten copies which were preserved in common places of worship. The early Bibles were large in size. These were often chained to the lectern so that it will not be moved out. People had limited access to the written Word of God these days.
When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in Mainz, Germany around 1439 AD mass production of books became possible. The Bible was one of the first books to be printed. Bibles became available to all who could afford it. Thus the idea of personal Bibles originated. However, copies were not affordable to common people. There was a great demand for copies of the Bible. Young people were saving up money and walking long distances to buy copies of the Bible. This inspired a group of people to make copies of the Bible available to all who wanted it. The Bible Society movement was started with this purpose. It was officially launched on 7th March 1804 at a meeting of about 300 people held in the Bishopsgate London Tavern. William Wilberforce who stood against slave trade was closely associated with this movement.