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.