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.