Rod quotes Read Mercer Schuchardt on the significance of printing:

What was gained, thanks to Martin Luther and the power of the printing press, was the right to challenge the abuses of the church without necessarily burning at the stake for doing so (if only Jan Hus had this technology!)

I’m going to stop him right there. The printing press was enormously significant for disseminating Lutheran and other reformers’ ideas to a much larger audience than would have been possible in a previous era, and this hastened the spread of dissenting ideas and increased the reach of reformers, but this technology had nothing to do with keeping Luther from being executed and it wouldn’t have saved Hus. It’s not as if access to the printing press saved Cranmer. Hus died because he made the mistake of trusting the emperor when he shouldn’t have. Maximilian had promised him protection if he came to the Council of Constance, but Hus was executed in spite of that. Luther was given a similar promise by Charles V when he was summoned to an imperial diet. The difference between the two is that Charles honored his promise when he might have seized Luther, and Luther was then under the protection of the Elector of Saxony. Luther had a powerful political patron who sheltered him from his enemies, and Hus put himself in the hands of people hostile to him.

Update: Schuchardt also said this:

But if the printing press created “Sola Scriptura” at the expense of orality (i.e., “tradition”), it also created more than just a “single” Protestant Reformation.

The first part of this is misleading. Sola Scriptura is a claim about authority within the church, and it dispenses with unwritten church traditions and all other textual and institutional authorities. Printing allowed for the mass production of books, but it was the belief that Scripture was the only proper religious authority for Christians that did more to shape the religious culture of Protestant Europe.

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