The evening of Wednesday 3 December saw the heads of the Churches in Egypt join Pope Tawadros II and representatives of Dar al-Kitab al-Muqaddas (The Bible Society in Egypt) at St Mark Cathedral in Abassiya to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first Arabic translation of the Holy Bible.
+The common factor+
Words were given by the guests. Bishop Mounir Hanna of the Episcopal Church in Egypt said that the Holy Bible is the common factor which gathers all Christians; all Churches, he said, were founded and based on it.
Patriarch Ibrahim Ishaa of the Coptic Catholic Church said: “God inspired holy men to write the Holy Bible so it was important to translate it into all languages for the benefit of all people. The Catholic Church, he added, soars on two wings: the Bible and the ecclesiastical tradition.
Rev. Dr Safwat al-Bayadi, head of the Evangelical Church in Egypt, reminded that attempts to translate the Bible to Arabic started some 1000 years ago; manuscripts were found in different languages in different places, among them Arabic. He said parts of the Bible that date back to the 8th century were found in Arabic at St Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai.
For his part, the head of the Bible Society in Egypt Ramez Attallah said that the society’s effort to spread the word has entered the electronic age: applications with 1000 translations to the Bible are ready for upload on cell phones. The Bible Society also works attempts to simplify the Bible to confront the current wave of atheism and to make it accessible to all Christians.
The heads of the Bible Society in Lebanon and USA and the Vatican Ambassador in Egypt addressed the assembly with video recorded speeches that paid tribute to the event, and a documentary on the translation of the Bible was screened.
+Word of life+
Pope Tawadros welcomed his Egyptian and foreign guests, and gave a word on “The Bible in our lives”. He started by reading 2 Peter 1: 19 – 21: “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Before the Arabic translation of the Bible, he said, Egyptians would read the Holy Book in Greek or Coptic. The Arabic translation was made by faithful individuals who spared no effort for it to see light.
The Bible, Pope Tawadros said, is no mere theoretical, philosophical, intellectual or even educational message but is the real power that works for the salvation of man. Reading it leads you to discover the truth about yourself and the entire human race to which you belong. St Paul says: “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1: 27). He quoted St John Chrysostom’s “Unawareness of the Bible is the cause of all evil and sins”. The Bible, he said, is the manual for a good life, “live your life as God wishes,” he told the congregation; “become a living Bible. Then our hearts can sing the last verse of the Bible: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22: 20).
5 December 2014