Friday, December 11, 2015

“The global impact of the Bible”. An exhibition at the European Parliament

An initiative hosted by ECPM MEP Mr Branislav Škripek

Last Monday, I had the honour of attending the opening of the new exhibition on the “Global Impact of the Bible” organised by the French Biblical Alliance with the cooperation of the Belgian Biblical Society. The event was hosted by MEP Branislav Škripak (ECR) who is a member of ECPM with the cooperation of MEP Alojz Peterle (EPP). The organisers were kind enough to ask me to give a short greeting at the opening ceremony.

Dear Members of the European Parliament,
Distinguished guests,
Dear Friends,

I am particularly honoured to address you today, with the opportunity of the opening of the exhibition on the Global Impact of the Bible. Indeed, the Bible is a book that is quoted more often than any other piece of literature in history. It has had more influence on our language, culture and laws than any other book or idea ever published. This influence spans from novels to theatre plays even to the latest James Bond film, whose song has the title “The Writing’s on the Wall” – a phrase coming from the Biblical Story of Daniel.
As this exhibition so masterfully illustrates, the Bible, together with ancient Greek and Roman law, has been an inspiration for our laws and our institutions. Moreover, people who played a pivotal role in the founding of the EU like Robert Schuman, valued greatly the Bible and its teachings. For Robert Schuman (who is also called the Father of the European Union), Christian values were at the root of both his personal beliefs and European ideals. For example, Schuman used to speak openly on his view that the reconstruction of Europe was only possible in a Europe that is “deeply rooted in Christian values”. Konrad Adenauer also perceived the unification of Europe as a real Christian obligation and not only as an economic goal. Their faith was also demonstrated by the fact that these three pioneers (Schuman, Adenauer and De Gasperi) participated in a prayer retreat in a Benedictine monastery before going to Paris for the signing of the treaty that established the European Coal and Steel Community.

The Bible is also influential because it is the world’s bestselling book, breaking all records. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, since 1815, the Bible has sold approximately 2.5 billion copies and has been translated into more than 2,200 languages or dialects. Its influence is not only limited to Christians: Jews and Muslims also consider the Bible to be a sacred text. If you consider that there are 2 billion Christians, 14 million Jews and 1.3 billion Muslims, that means that more than half of the world’s population consider the Bible to be a major influence on their faith.
This exhibition wonderfully illustrates the history of the different translations of the Bible. This centuries long process reinforces our confidence on the authenticity of the Bible texts. As Winston Churchill so eloquently remarked: “ We may believe that (the facts and stories mentioned in the Bible) happened to people not so very different from ourselves, and that the impressions those people received were faithfully recorded and have been transmitted across the centuries with far more accuracy than many of the telegraphed accounts we read of goings on of today. In the words of a forgotten work of Mr. Gladstone, we rest with assurance upon ‘The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture.’ Let the men of science and learning expand their knowledge and probe with their researches every detail of the records which have been preserved to us from these dim ages. All they will do is to fortify the grand simplicity and essential accuracy of the recorded truths which have lighted so far the pilgrimage of man" (Winston Churchill, cited in Our Hope, Aug. 1944, pages 123-124).
For me personally, my favourite verse comes from Psalm 119, 105 “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”. I sincerely wish that you will enjoy this exhibition. I urge you to learn more about the Bible and its heritage and to allow these sacred texts touch your personal and professional lives, so that they become a lamp for your feet and a light unto your path.

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