On Monday morning February 16, 2019 a special historical meeting of the Hellenic Bible Society on the 200th anniversary of its foundation in Corfu was held in the Cultural Center, under the auspices of both the Metropolis of Corfu and the Union of Christian Scientists of the prefecture of Corfu.
His Eminence, the Metropolitan of Corfu, Paxoi and Diapontian Islands Mr. Nektarios brought a greeting and stressed, among other things, the following:
“The Hellenic Bible Society exists to spread the Scriptures. When it was founded, the Greek nation, despite the great efforts of the church and of the many enlightened scholars, came up against a huge problem both in education and in spiritual training. Therefore the spread of the Scriptures constituted a very important event… For Orthodox theology, the Holy Bible along with the Holy Tradition are the two pillars upon which our Christian faith is based. In Orthodox worship, the Holy Bible plays a key role. There is no Service in which the word of God is not used both directly and indirectly. Directly with either Evangelical or Apostolic extracts, as well as from the Old Testament, from Psalms, prophesies the Pentateuch and other historical books. Indirectly with the use of passages as a basis for the hymns and other prayers.
Of course, for Orthodox theology also the word of God must be in every house, in every family. However, the interpretation of the Holy Bible is not meant outside of the ecclesiastical way, and it has to do with the Fathers of our Church, who studied, commentated, preached the Word of the Bible, giving us the criteria of true spirituality, experience, and interpretation.
Of course, for Orthodox theology also the word of God must be in every house, in every family.
We, therefore, welcome and congratulate on the initiatives of both the Bible Society and the Apostolic Ministry of the Church of Greece, but also all the other orthodox Christian organizations, in order both the Old and New Testament to be circulated in translations, renditions and brief interpretations approved by both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and all the Orthodox Churches so that not only the people of God but also everyone who is interested in the truth of faith to study and search the Scriptures. Nowadays, the online access of the Word of God has been facilitated therefore everybody who is interested can read the Modern version online which consists of a pioneering initiative of the Hellenic Bible Society.
In times that the spirituality has been disconnected from the Biblical tradition and Christ has been degraded as an only teacher along with the other religious initiators, it is our responsibility through the Word of the Bible to demonstrate our Christ-centered hope.”
The first speaker on behalf of the Orthodox Church was Dimitris Metallinos, a lecturer at the Department of Archives and Library Science of the Ionian University, who in his presentation referred to the historical elements of the foundation and subsequent course of the Bible Society in the Ionian Islands initially and to the rest of Greece later. Due to the fact that the phenomenon of atheism, religious indifference, but most of the religious neutrality, as Mr. Metallinos stressed, which is now being demanded to be enforced in the constitution of our country, the need to re-evangelize has become imperative of the so-called Christian countries.
Subsequently, the vice president of the Hellenic Bible Society Catholic Archbishop of Corfu Fr. Ioannis Spiteris, referred to the efforts that the 2nd Vatican Synod made to cultivate God’s Word and stressed the indifference of the Christians for the Gospel and the responsibility of all the confessions to strive for the Bible so as to be read and applied. Besides, the Bible is the basis of the Christian tradition, along with the teaching of the church tradition.
Then, the pastor of the Evangelical church of Corfu Rev. Miltiadis Pantelios, he also made a reference to the history of the Bible Society, stressing the cooperation between the Bible Society and the prevalent confession in every place with the perspective of the Word of God to be spread in a language comprehensible to the people. He also stressed that the Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Protestants in Greece today use the modern version of the Bible Society, which is approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In the end, the chairman of the General Committee of the Hellenic Bible Society His Eminence Metropolitan of Demetrias Mr. Ignatios pointed out that the trust between the Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Protestants has been a role model for the other Orthodox Churches the last 20 years with the sole purpose of re-evangelizing our people, so that the Greeks to study the Word of God again. The Hellenic Bible Society managed to have the approved modern version from both the Orthodox Patriarchates and the Church of Greece, as it is written in the constitution, enabling the people to have a modern version of the New Testament. Another area of cooperation through the Hellenic Bible Society is the protection of the family, the cell of our community that constitutes the union between a man and a woman and co-creation.
The Hellenic Bible Society has been a role model for the other Orthodox Churches with the sole purpose of re-evangelizing our people so that the Greeks to study the Word of God again.
In addition, Mr. Ignatios referred to the attempted change of Article 3 of the constitution in order for our country to become a neutral state. No one agrees to this kind of change. Religious tolerance is written in the constitution. Recently all the Christian and other confessions were recognized by law from a state of private presence to a state of religiousness. Everyone in Greece feels free to perform their religious duties, to have their own faith and at the same time to have a paragraph in the constitution that there is the prevalent confession in our country, the Orthodox.
Unfortunately what they are trying to do, will lead all Christians to a margin, with the known results that will come after any court decisions.
In the end, His Eminence Metropolitan of Demetrias Mr. Ignatios pointed out that the secularization in Greece is imminent due to the fact of the critical moments we go through. This results in conditions that create other trends, which are against the Bible and try to separate the people, though some don’t realize it. The best answer is to remain Christians, who preach that every human is the living image of Christ. The clergy, on the other hand, offers the Light and the Truth of the Risen Christ.
Subsequently, the General Secretary of the Hellenic Bible Society Mr. Michail Chatzigiannis informed about the operation of the Society.
Mrs. Eirini Malacha brought a greeting at the end on behalf of the Union of Christian Scientists.
The coordinator of the meeting was Fr. Themistoklis Mourtzanos, General Archieratic Commissioner of the Holy Metropolis of Corfu.