On December 13-14, 2019 the Hellenic Bible Society organized its annual academic conference regarding the woman’s position both in society and in church, based on the Bible, with the main theme: “Woman in the Bible” in the Titania Hotel in Athens. The conference approached a variety of different subjects, which concern the woman and how her position was formed throughout the centuries both in society and in church. The General Secretary of the H.B.S. Mr. Michail Chatzigiannis brought a greeting and stressed, “that in every time, in every place and even today we have noticed behaviors which are both toxic and cruel towards a woman’s role and presence. Occasionally, some verses from the Bible were regarded as responsible for this behavior, while for some others the whole Bible outrageously was responsible.’’ Mr. Chatzigiannis continued “that the Bible constitutes a real treasure of useful teachings and authentic guidelines, while it presents simple women that lived with the Divine Grace and made great, but unusual things. The Bible, like the woman, is the one which can give a warm hug and a safe haven for all the people who are weary.
The Archimandrite Fr. Chrysanthos Papanastasopoulos brought a greeting from his Beatitude Ieronymos II Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, who stressed: “that the work of this conference is fruitful in a time that the social structures that our society is based on are in crisis.” The General Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs Mr. Giorgos Kalantzis pointed out “that the woman’s role is crucial because the woman is the mother. She teaches us how to walk and talk. The church represents the same role, it is the mother of all Christians.” On behalf of the Catholic Church, his Excellency Sevastianos Rossolatos Catholic Archbishop of Athens brought a greeting and stressed “God’s intention to create the woman as man’s helper.” On behalf of the Evangelical Church of Greece, the president of the General Synod Rev. Giorgos Adam mentioned that “our contact with God’s Word transforms us. The Holy Bible makes us rethink our beliefs and habits.” The Head of the Faculty of Theology of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Associate Professor Thomas Ioannidis stated that the Bible is accused of being biased regarding woman’s position. However, we have to search why the woman’s position was described like that in the society in the time of the Bible.
His Eminence Metropolitan of Demetrias Mr. Ignatius announced the opening of the conference. In his short message mentioned that “if anyone dares to strip the Church of any property, as long as we have women we have the most precious property. Having such conferences both internationally and universally was not always self-evident. It has been achieved through the work of the H.B.S. We have succeeded in proving that, by believing in the Bible and the Holy Spirit, we minister what we received as a command from God to convey His word to people.”
A lot of presentations were made by academic professors during each session of the conference.
The Associate Professor of Higher Ecclesiastical Academy of Athens, Psychiatrist and Protopresbyter Fr. Vasileios Thermos had the main presentation on the subject: “Everything is under control. An attempt of psychoanalytical understanding of women as a dangerous “by-product” from the Bible until today.”
On the first session of the conference under the chairmanship of the Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and founding member of the HBS Mr. Miltiadis Konstantinou, the director of Volos Academy for Theological Studies Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, spoke about “the Theology of the ‘in-between’ and the woman’s position in the church”. Mrs. Myrto Theocharous Professor of the Old Testament at the Greek Bible College and Board member of the HBS spoke about “Woman and Trafficking”. The Assistant Professor of the Department of Law of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and solicitor of the HBS Mr. Panos Nikolopoulos spoke on the subject: “Giving birth to a child by an only woman-single parent.”
On the second session of the conference under the chairmanship of the Associate Professor of the Faculty of Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Mr. Charalampos Atmatzidis, the Assistant Professor of the Faculty of Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Mr. Timoleon Galanis spoke about: “Male and female he created them (Gen. 1, 27). Speculations on a modern translation.” The Assistant Professor of the Faculty of Theology of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Mr.Konstantinos Belezos stated: “Women’s teaching in the Church according to Saint John Chrysostom (historical-hermeneutic and syncretic view of 1Co 14, 34 and 1Ti 2, 11-12).”
On the third session of the conference under the chairmanship of the Professor of the Faculty of Theology of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Professor Mr. Christos Karakolis, the Director at the Norwegian Institute in Athens and Professor of the University of Oslo Dr. Jorunn Økland spoke about “Lost women of the NT: from Junia to the Witnesses of the Empty Grave.” The Associate Professor of the School of Pastoral and Social Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Mrs. Ekaterini Tsalampouni presented the story of a most misunderstood Bible verse “let the wife see that she respects her husband (Eph. 5, 33). The Professor of the Babeș-Bolyai University of the Faculty of Roman Catholic Theology Dr. Korinna Zamfir expressed her perspective on “Asceticism Versus Marriage-1 Timothy and the Acts of Thecla.”
The conference was completed with the Round Table on the subject: “The woman’s position both in society and in the church”. The chairman of the Round Table, Lecturer of the School of History and Archaeology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Mrs. Vasiliki Kalfoglou-Kaloteraki, laid down the questions to the participants regarding the woman’s position both in society and in the church according to the Bible and her role as a whole human. Fr Theodore Kontidis, the representative of the Catholic Church, stressed that there is a problem regarding priests’ education. They are interested more in how they will perform both the liturgies and the choirs instead of approaching the people. The chairman of the Board of the HBS Rev. Meletios Meletiadis, representative of the Evangelical Church stated that “the Evangelical Church is in the bondage of Patriarchal perceptions, despite the fact that there were some exceptions in the context of the Protestant Reformation in favor of the woman. However, the problem is on the whole of the Christian Church.” Mrs. Eleni Karagianni child-psychiatrist and psychotherapist presented the orthodox approach to the issue pointing out that the man is underestimated when he treats the woman as inferior and not equal. She stated that our time is characterized by rapid changes in which the church responds conservatively and sterile. Both sexes can only function in the context of mutual enrichment.