27th General Assembly of the Hellenic Bible Society

On Saturday 17th of March 2018, the 27th Ordinary General Assembly of the Hellenic Bible Society was held in a central Athens hotel. Within a climate of brotherly love in Christ, the members of the Society belonging to the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Church met. Every year the assembly of the Society members is a good opportunity for universal communication and exchange of views with the common goal of spreading the Bible in our country.

Prior to the commencement, Fr. Sebastian Freris, the Monk of the Jesuit Monastery, had the responsibility of biblical reading this year and brought a brief message of our relationship and fruitfulness with Jesus Christ, who is the true vine.

The General Secretary, Mr. Michail Chatzigiannis, then presented his report to the members, stating that for the year 2017 the total circulation of Holy Scripture, New Testaments and extracts from the sacred texts was 390,122 copies, while the audio editions reached 20,331 CDs. Special reference was made to the special orders received by our Society during 2017, which support and maximize our work. More specifically: The Gideons International (204,815 copies of the New Testament), Hellenic Ministries (140,000 copies of the New Testament), Apostoliki Diakonia of the Church of Greece (7,000 copies of the New Testament), Holy Metropolises of Grevena (5,000), Nea Smyrni (2,500), Neapolis and Stavroupoli (1,000).

The year 2017 the total circulation of Holy Scripture, New Testaments and extracts from the sacred texts was 390,122 copies, while the audio editions reached 20,331 CDs!

One of the new editions that have just been released is the illustrated Bible, which is about an original version that was unavailable in our country. The whole Bible in 1,728 pages, illustrated with more than 600 artistic paintings and 15 color maps which will help to understand the biblical text. A unique edition for both young and old to bring life to the family study of the Bible.

Another edition that we are preparing for this year is addressed to young people and catechism and will be titled “On the way… of God – fragments of modern word for catechism”. This is a kind of Kyriakodromio which includes all Sunday gospel readings, extracts from sermons on these passages, but also material that functions as a weekly calendar of spiritual reflections and actions. Its aim is to function as a catechism aid for the Orthodox Church, something which is currently unavailable. It has been developed by experienced specialist educators. Its starting point is God’s word, Sunday’s gospel reading, which is appropriately made good use of through modern pedagogical methods as a weekly spiritual feedback both at staff and at team level.

We are doing our best for the completion of the annotated Holy Bible. We hope that the New Testament edition will be launched during this year and that the Old Testament commentary will be completed. The translation of the Septuagint, which has been completed for the most part, is currently being delayed in the final editing of the genre. The revision of the New Testament translation, which begun two years ago, is being developed satisfactorily in all respects and is due to be completed in 3 years. These are major publishing events and we have great hopes for the publication and circulation of these works.

From August 28th to 31st, the work of the 4th Panhellenic Catechists Meeting took place at the Pastoral Center “Agios Pavlos”, at Posidonia of Syros, with the participation of three hierarchs of the Catholic Church. Among them is the Vice President of our Society, his Excellency Ioannis Spiteris Archbishop of Corfu, who, as the Chairman of the Synodal Committee on Evangelism and Catechism, declared the opening and made the first presentation. At the venue of the meeting was a book exhibition with the participation of our Society, represented by the sales manager Mr. George Sochos, who also brought a greeting. About 80 people, catechists, priests, monks, nuns and lay people took part in the meeting and studied the subject “Catechism as the first phase of growth: The missionary change of the Catechism”. In addition to our general presence there, our participation has led to a very impressive increase in orders of a wide range of our editions by the Catholic Church. It should be mentioned that the increase is particularly relevant.

Another, also a very remarkable initiative by the Catholic Archdiocese of Athens was the dedication of the 2017-2018 working year in the Bible. In this context, a conference on the subject: “Holy Bible, dialogue between God-human” was held recently on March 3rd of the current year. It was impressive that of the five rapporteurs-speakers, the three were members of our Society: Mrs. Myrto Theocharous, Mr. Christos Karakolis and Mr. Ioannis Tsevas, who in their excellent presentations did not fail to mention the Society and the essential work which it performs. Our Society participated in this conference with its mobile Bible Exposition, which is to be presented to other parishes of the Catholic Church outside and within Athens.

Last September a meeting was held in Ierapetra, Crete, between representatives of the Orthodox and Ancient Eastern Churches and the UBS. A memorandum of understanding and cooperation was formulated in its final form, the signing of which is due to be celebrated at the end of September and early October in Armenia, within the framework of an international scientific conference entitled “The Bible in a Changing World”. All this effort of approaching the Orthodox Churches from the UBS lasted 20 years, started in 1998 and the Hellenic Bible Society from the very first moment took the lead in this initiative.

In the autumn of 2018 a memorandum of understanding and cooperation between Orthodox Churches and United Bible Societies will be signed.

Last year 500 years have passed since Luther’s Reformation. This anniversary was the occasion for a multitude of events around the world, especially in Europe. On this occasion, our Society, continuing the tradition of recent years, organized an international conference on: “Readings of the Bible within the different Christian Traditions on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Luther’s Reformation”. The wider goal of the conference was to highlight the ways in which different Bible readings of the various Christian traditions from the reformation to date influenced the formation of modern Christian self-consciousness.

A very worthwhile initiative in the past year was the distribution of 370 New Testaments to the first-year students of the Theological Schools of Thessaloniki and Athens during the welcoming ceremony by the faculties. Funding was provided by a donor who wanted to remain anonymous and with whom the Chairman of the Board Rev. Meletios Meletiadis came into contact.

Also memorable is the presentation of the Psalterion by Professor Miltiades Konstantinou and Mrs. Kaiti Chiotelli, with great success in a large audience at the beginning of last November, during the Orthodox book fair at the Caravel Hotel.

2017 Global Scripture Access Report

In 2017, Bible Societies assisted in the completion of Scripture translations in 49 languages spoken by more than 580 million people.
2017 was a ‘first’ for 20 languages, spoken by over 14 million people. 7 communities received the very first full Bible in their language, 4 received their first New Testament and 9 communities received their first, or additional, portions of Scripture.
Languages change and develop over time. That is why Bible Societies are also committed to revising existing translations or providing new1 translations, when requested, giving new generations the chance to meaningfully engage with Scripture. In 2017, this resulted in 26 new translations and revisions, plus 9 study editions, with the potential to reach more than 566 million people.

Scripture Access Today

There are currently 7,097 languages in the world spoken by over 7.6 billion people.
674 languages spoken by nearly 5.4 billion people now have a complete Bible and a further 1,515 languages spoken by 631 million people have a New Testament.
This leaves 406 million people with only some portions of Scripture, and a further 209 million people with no Scripture in their language.
United Bible Societies is working towards the day when everyone can access the full Bible in the language of their choice. Bible Societies are currently working on over 400 translation projects around the world.

Scripture Access and Engagement

Developments in digital technology have provided unprecedented access to the Bible, and more people than ever before in history are engaging with Scripture – and sharing it, too.
The Digital Bible Library® (DBL) is central to our strategy to make the Bible as widely and easily accessible as possible. By the end of 2017, the DBL contained 1,735 Scripture texts in 1,269 languages spoken by 5.6 billion people. Audio Scriptures in the DBL nearly tripled in 2017 to 1,078 audio Scriptures in 732 unique languages spoken by 4.9 billion people.
The DBL is owned and maintained by United Bible Societies in partnership with other Bible agencies and with the support of the Every Tribe Every Nation alliance. It makes the Bible accessible by providing Scripture texts to the public through partners such as BibleSearch and YouVersion.

Why Bible translation matters

When a community receives the Scriptures in their language, something profound happens. People feel that God is speaking directly to them, from among them. “God speaks my language!” is a common joyful reaction as they start to experience the hope and transformation in the Bible.
While great strides have been made in Bible translation, with the full Bible available in the languages of around 81% of the global population, 209 million people across the world still do not have the chance to encounter any part of Scripture in their language. Much work lies ahead if at least some parts of the Bible are to be made available in these remaining 3,773 languages. Please pray for this vital area of mission and for the Bible Societies and partner agencies committed to meeting this need.

Holy Bible: Dialogue between God-human

On Saturday 3rd of March 2018, the Catholic Archdiocese of Athens organized and carried out the conference “Holy Bible: dialogue between God-human” in the amphitheater of the National Hellenic Research Foundation. The conference was held in the context of the Year dedicated to the Bible, which has been declared by his Excellency Sevastianos Rossolatos Catholic Archbishop of Athens and lasts from the 3rd of December 2017 to 25th of November 2018.

In the same place, there was an exhibition of the Hellenic Bible Society titled “Holy Bible, from the Ancient Manuscripts to Modern Translations”, as well as an exhibition of old copies-heirlooms of the Holy Scriptures from the Archives of the Apostolic Center “Faith and Culture” of the Catholic Archdiocese of Naxos-Tinos, from the Library of the Institute of Human Sciences of the Jesuits Fathers and from the Greek Historical Evangelical Archives.

The Manus Apertae vocal ensemble enriched the event with a series of hymns starting with the prayer “Hymn to Love”. Afterwards, the Most Reverend Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Nuncio of the Holy See in Greece and his Excellency Sevastianos Rossolatos Catholic Archbishop of Athens brought a greeting. Followed by the General Secretary of the Hellenic Bible Society, Mr. Michail Chatzigiannis who, among others, mentioned in his greeting: “…It is indeed commendable that the inspirational initiative of the Catholic Archdiocese of Athens to declare the current working year as the year of the Holy Bible and in this context to organize this conference. While we are all preparing to celebrate in a few weeks the most important event of our Faith, the Passion, namely the Resurrection of Christ, today’s conference is of special interest. The subject of the conference “Holy Bible, dialogue between God-human” has a timeless but also timely importance.

Firstly, because the Bible is the cornerstone of our single Church, our common starting point and simultaneously our most important basis. Secondly, because admittedly in the “letters” of the Bible, we find the heart of our theology and our ecclesiastical ethos, and with these we give meaning to our existence and envision the hopeful goods of the future. Thirdly, because through the reading and interpretation of the Bible not only overtime we have the permanent, by the letter “remembrance”, in the body of the Church, but also to each of us separately, the once salvific events, centered on Christ and as an object the man and the whole creation. A reminder of what he said and what the Lord did. All these elements are absolutely necessary for the society and the bond of peace that ought to reign among us…”

On the first session of the conference under the chairmanship of the teacher – executive secretary of the Marist Mission in Europe and member of the Pastoral Committee, Mrs. Angela Sestrini, Mrs. Myrto Theocharous Professor of the Old Testament at the Greek Bible College, had the first presentation on the subject: “The Book of Deuteronomy and Social Welfare” followed by the presentation of theologian-scholar and interpreter of the Bible Fr. Sotiris Mavrofidis on the subject: “The formation of the New Testament.” On the second session under the chairmanship of the member of the Pastoral Committee of the Catholic Archdiocese of Athens, Maria Schick, the first rapporteur was Fr. Markos Foskolos theologian-historian on the subject: “The Bible in the Worship of the Church” followed by the presentation of Mr. Christos Karakolis associateprofessor of the New Testament in the Faculty of Theology of the University of Athens on the subject: “The New Testament as the foundation for dialogue and cooperation between Christian Churches.” Finally, Mr. Ioannis Tsevas, surgeon dentist, director of the Greek Historical Evangelical Archives, referred to the Exposition that there was outside the conference hall and briefly to the history of the Hellenic Bible Society and especially to its collaboration with the Catholic Church.

At the end of the conference, his Excellency Catholic Archbishop of Athens once again thanked the speakers and the choir, offering some souvenirs, congratulated all who helped in one way or another on organizing and carrying out the conference attended by many priests and hieromonks, nuns and monks of all monastic orders, laymen from many Parishes of the Catholic Archdiocese of Athens and many believers of other Christian confessions.

SOURCE: cen.gr

Photographs: Leonard John Vamvakaris