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.

26th General Assembly of the Hellenic Bible Society

Hellenic Bible Society’s twenty-sixth Annual General Assembly took place on Saturday 11 March 2017 at a central hotel in Athens. The thirty-five members of the Society’s General Assembly, coming from the Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Churches, met in a brotherly and loving atmosphere in Christ. Each year, the General Assembly provides us with a great opportunity for an ecumenical communication and exchange of views, having as its main aim to disseminate the Holy Scripture in our country.

Ekaterini Tsalampouni, Assistant Professor at the School of Pastoral and Social Theology of the Faculty of Theology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki had the responsibility of preaching the Bible, so she chose to deliver a short message from the Parable of the Weeds.

Afterwards, mr. Michalis Chatzigiannis, General Secretary of the Hellenic Bible Society, presented to the members of the General Assembly the annual report, stating that in 2016 the distribution of the Holy Scripture, New Testament and other portions of Scriptural publications reached the number of 270.790 copies, while recorded editions reached the number of 5.405 CDs.

One of the new publications in the past year was the “The Compact Guide to the Bible”, a brief encyclopedia of the Holy Scripture. A significant effort is being made for the completion of the Septuagint Translation into Modern Greek as well as for the Study Bible. Regarding the Study Bible, the Pentateuch is almost ready and our aim is to publish it separately. Additionally, the New Testament Study Bible will be ready within the current year. The Septuagint Translation into Modern Greek is almost complete; its expected date is also by the end of the year. Those are all very important publishing events and their completion brings us great hope.

In the past we have already mentioned the translational seminars organized by our Society with the co-operation of the United Bible Societies. Through these seminars our Society has managed to form a core group of associates who have been working on the New Testament Translation Revision for a year. New available technologies eliminate distances and allow these people to work closely together, as well as with the professors acting as academic consultants. At the same time, once a year the group meets so as to discuss issues that might have come up and attend relevant presentations from biblical scholars. The aim is for the program to be completed in the next four years.

From the above mentioned translation seminars a new idea evolved. An international Orthodox Bible Translation Postgraduate Program was established under the name “Innovation and Tradition”. This program provides Bible Societies in Orthodox countries with an opportunity to propose eligible attendees. It is co-organized by Nida Institute of the American Bible Society, the University of San Pellegrino in Misano Italy and our Society that acts as the coordinator. The postgraduate program is extended over three years of distance learning as well as 2 weekly residential seminars each year. Upon completion, participants will be awarded a certified postgraduate degree (certified by the E.U. a 60-ECTS diploma). The curriculum includes the following sub-fields:
Role of Bible in Orthodoxy (theology and performance), Orthodox Hermeneutics, Orthodox Bible Translation (history and theory), Contemporary Translation Studies, Biblical Languages and Textual Criticism, Translation Software Technology and Management.
The faculty consists of scholars from academic institutions, mainly in Orthodox countries, who apart from being distinguished in both teaching and research are also experienced in Bible translation. At the end of last September the first residential meeting took place in Athens where the 10 students attended the first orientation course. The next meeting will take place in Bucharest in May 15-19.

A very important meeting on New Testament Textual Criticism took place in Athens at the end of February 2016 in cooperation with the Volos Academy for Theological Studies. The members of the Nestle-Aland 29 editorial committee who were meeting in Athens at our Society’s offices at that time gave the presentations. It was a really fortunate occasion to present their research in front of a Greek audience some of the most prominent scholars in the field of Textual Criticism. During the last General Assembly Meeting the event was positively commented and there were several suggestions for a continuation of similar meetings for larger audiences whose aim will be to introduce Christians in Textual Criticism issues and help them appreciate its contribution to Bible editions.

An important event of the past year was the Bible Societies’ Global Meeting that took place last May in Philadelphia U.S.A. The meeting took place during the 200-year celebration of the American Bible Society. Upon completion of the Meeting the text of The Philadelphia Promise was published. The Philadelphia Promise restates the fundamental United Bible Societies’ commitments: More effective and substantial Holy Scripture distribution, translation services, publication and dissemination, ministry to all Christian Churches. Furthermore, the following aims, to be fulfilled until the next Global Meeting in 2022, were set:
1. Develop and resource programs aimed at young people and families. The programs will also include Holy Scripture translations with special focus on people under 30. They will also focus on refugees, people with special needs, people living with HIV as well as people living in a Muslim environment.
2. Strengthening Church relations all over the world and building new relationships with Churches that are not currently involved in the UBS work.
3. Resourcing the Mission if the Bible Societies, especially those that are in countries where Christians are under pressure.
4. Digital technology that will support the whole Bible Lifecycle that is not only Bible translation but also publication and new audience approach.
5. Building leadership capacity that will promote succession planning and talent management.

Last December, as it has been customary for the past few years, the Hellenic Bible Society organized an International Conference under the title: “Bible and Visual Arts”. The broader aim of the conference was to promote the Bible as the living text of the Church, as an essential factor in the process of cultural creation and intellectual production, in addition to promoting a more creative dialogue with the whole society. More specifically, the topic of the conference was chosen so as to highlight the ways in which throughout history the Holy Scripture affected arts and it has always been a source of inspiration for artists. Everyone who attended the conference realized the excellent quality of the papers presented and the conference’s great success.

Finally, the General Assembly ended with the election of the new Administrative Board, its term will be 3 years. You can see the members of the new Administrative Board here.

25th General Assembly of the Hellenic Bible Society

On Saturday March 19th the twenty-fifth Annual Meeting of the Hellenic Bible Society took place at a central hotel in Athens. In an atmosphere of fraternal love of Christ 35 members of the Society gathered from the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Churches. Every year this meeting of the Society’s members is a good opportunity of ecumenical communication by exchanging views with a common goal of distributing the Bible in our country.


By decision of the Synod of the Church of Greece Metropolite of Demetrias and Almyros, Ignatius is President of the Society, Metropolite of Alexandroupolis, Anthimos is a member of the Board, the Catholic Archbishop of Corfu, Zante and Kefalonia, Ioannis Spiteris is Vice President of the Board. Chairman of the Board is Professor John Kremmydas of the Evangelical Church.

The General Secretary Mr. Michael Chatzigiannis after welcoming the two new members of the General Assembly, Fr. Adamantios Augoustidis, Professor in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Athens and General Archiepiscopal Commissioner of the Archdiocese of Athens and Ms. Vicky Kalfoglou-Kaloterakis, Lecturer in the Department of History and Archeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, he presented the annual report to the members, stating that for the year 2015 the total circulation of printed Bibles, New Testaments and Bible portions were 326.222 copies and audio CDs reached 20.521.

In 2015 the total circulation of printed Bibles, New Testaments and Bible portions were 326.222 copies and audio CDs reached 20.521!

A particular reference was made about special orders accepted by the Society in 2015 which greatly support and assist our work. Specifically: The Gideons International (130,000 copies of the New Testament), Hellenic Ministries (120,000 copies of the New Testament), Apostoliki Diakonia of the Church of Greece (10,000 copies of the New Testament), Holy Metropolises Nea Smyrni (2300), Gortyna and Arkadia (1000), Thessaliotis (2000), Demetrias (1000) and Monastery of the Great Meteoron (1000) a total of 7,300 copies of the New Testament 20,000 copies of a special edition of John’s Gospel distributed for free to public Christian Music Events named “Power to change”, with main speaker Tasos Mahairas. These events took place last summer in Athens, Thessaloniki, Larisa and Katerini and were supported by Evangelical and Pentecostal churches.

A special event was the awarding of our Society last May at the UBS Publishers Convention in Seoul with the Annie Valloton prize in the category of children’s books for our series “Stories of Kallistratos” by Vasiliki Nevrokopli and illustration by Athena Robie. This is a popular series of children’s books which began in 2012 with the main character Kallistratos, who tells stories that are based on the parables of Jesus. This award was a recognition of our efforts to produce original children’s publications providing a particular way of understanding the parables. Last December we published a forth volume to the series entitled “Kallistratos and the hidden treasure” based on the homonymous parable.


Our top publishing production last year was the Psalter. One of the most difficult texts to translate of the Old Testament, and its translation required a considerable amount of time. The “Psaltirion” completed a trilogy of publications for liturgy which we created in cooperation with the Special Synodical Committee for Liturgy Renaissance of the Church of Greece. It started with the release of the “Eklogadion” which includes text and translation of the liturgy readings from the New Testament of the whole ecclesiastical year, and continued by publishing the “Prophetologion” with parts from the Old Testament. A originality of the Psaltirion is the division (of the text and translation) into verses, hemistichs and strophes. Particular effort was put into creating a poetic translation of the prototype and the language of the translation, keeping in mind a possible future use of it in liturgy. Please note that the prologue of the “Psaltirion” was written by the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos II.


The events our Society organized this previous year were the Scientific Conference held at the Cultural Center of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens. The topic was “The Bible and Greek Literature” which left very positive impressions on the selection of subject, the speakers and amount of audience. Another very interesting initiative of our Society in cooperation with the Institute of Human Science of Jesuits in Athens was the invitation of the internationally renowned vocal ensemble Consortium Vocale Oslo who specialize in Gregorian chanting. A wonderful type of music which is rarely heard in our country and draws its origins from the time of the undivided church. Two spectacular concerts took place that were based on the text of the Psalms: One in Volos under the auspices of our President and sponsored by our Vice President, and one in Athens under the auspices of the Catholic Archdiocese of Athens.

We also ensured, whenever we thought appropriate, to participate in events that contribute to the promotion of our publications. One of them was the 4 day event entitled “Proceeding Christmas” which was organized by the Cultural Center of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens, and the Children’s Book Fair organized by the Book Publishers Association of Athens at the “Stoa Vivliou” during the days of Christmas.

Why the New Testament revision is needed

  • The translation of the Old Testament by the Septuagint and the necessity of making use of the translation of the New Testament mainly in the Old Testament quotations
  • The need to improve the existing translation in light of any comments which have so far been collected
  • The need for linguistic and stylistic changes which reflect the changes in today’s language

The training seminars for new translators continued during the past year and have already created a small group of new scholars which will also begin work on the revision of the New Testament. In previous General Assemblies there had been a lot of discussion about the need of a revision. The reasons leading to this direction quite briefly are: a) The translation of the Old Testament from Septuagint and the necessity of making use of the translation of the New Testament mainly in the Old Testament quotations. b) The need to improve the existing translation in light of any comments which have so far been collected c) The need for linguistic and stylistic changes which reflect the changes in today’s language. An important factor in the work of review is the use of new technologies. Apart from the special online translation program Paratext of UBS there is use of a special online communication platform, Canvas. This way members of the review team can communicate and talk to each other from their home without it being always necessary to physically be present at meetings. Apart from the review group there is an advisory committee composed of expert scholars. It has been decided that the changes made during the translation should not exceed 5% of the existing translation in order to maintain a continuum therewith.

In our relations with the United Bible Societies it is important to mention that is great honor for our Society that Prof. Miltiadis Konstantinou was elected as a member of the World Council (Global Council) of UBS. A few months earlier he was also elected as a member of the Committee of Church Relations of UBS and also retains the chairmanship of Translation Affairs Committee. Professor Christos Karakolis retains his place in the Editorial Committee of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 29 as well as of the Greek New Testament 6th.