2012-08-21 12:27:45

XXIV International Biblical Conference in Hungary

The Church in Hungary is celebrating the XXIV International Biblical Conference from 21st – 23rd August, 2012 in Szeged, the nation's third largest city. The theme of this year's conference: “From Jesus to Christ”

Patrons of the Conference include Diocesan Bishop Dr. László Kiss-Rigó, Archbishop Dr. György Jakubinyi and Prof. Dr. György Fodor, President of PPKE (Pázmány Péter Catholic University), and Prof. Dr. Joachim Gnilka, honorary president of the conference.

The aim of the lectures is to show the different Jesus images of the New Testament, the state of the historical and theological researches on Jesus today.
The lectures at the Conference are held in Hungarian, English or German.

Dr. György Benyik, President of the Szeged International Biblical Conference, issued the following press release regarding the three day event:

The first initiatives of the conference go back to 1989. At the first session, only a few Catholic colleagues held an informal reunion at a round table. The most prominent partaker of this event was Ferenc Gál (1915-1998), the first rector of PPKE [Pázmány Péter Catholic University]. Later the archbishop of Alba Iulia Dr. György Jakubinyi and a would-be professor at PPKE Dr. Imre Kocsis joined the reunion. The first more serious plan concerning publication, i.e. the Bible interpretation for the books of the Old and the New Testaments was only partly realized when the Publishing House Korda undertook to publish the New Testament Bible commentary, originally published by Collegeville Liturgical Press, under the title of Szeged Bible Commentary in 21 volumes. Later this idea generated the translation and some elaboration of the commentaries on the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as well as the book of the Acts of the Apostles.

At the third conference, a heated debate emerged concerning the circle of lecturers and that of the audience of the conference. The question lied in whether it should remain an annual reunion of Catholic professors within the borders of Hungary or it should be extended to become ecumenical as well as international. The greatest opposition was generated by the idea of opening up towards lay people interested in these topics. Finally, the president of the conference – despite the disapproval of competent Catholic professors – decided that the conference should become ecumenical as well as international. Furthermore, it was also decided that the conference should function also as a training institute for lay people holding a degree of theology as well as for priests and ministers. After some resistance, the idea of our opening up to many was accepted by everyone. This step guaranteed a high level of professionalism for the conference and allowed for the attendance of an appropriate number of Hungarian and foreign lecturers and audience as well.

In the past 23 years, the conference has had 2254 visitors, 267 lectures have been given and we have received 116 foreign professors as lecturers.
Our lecturers arrived from 23 different countries and we keep in touch with 70 faculties of theology. The publication of the Lexicon of Bible Scholars (including 1200 names) in Hungarian is under preparation as well as the Lexicon of Hungarian Bible Scholars (edited by György Benyik and Imre Peres), with an overview of the development history of this discipline.

Our Patrons
From among the patrons of the conference, we should mention the name of Mons. Géza Valentiny first, a prelate living in Vienna who with the help of Ost-Priester Hilfe supported our conference for years. Special thanks should be given to Mons. Endre Gyulay, our bishop (1987-2006) who supported the conference enthusiastically for several years and to Bishop Dr. László Kiss-Rigó, who adopted this habit of his predecessor; to Archbishop of Alba Iulia, Dr. György Jakubinyi, earlier professor of Biblical Studies who has employed his church prestige on several occasions to defend the conference. Our international fame and respect has been cultivated by Professor Dr. Joachim Gnilka, an earlier member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. In 1996, our conference was also supported by the Catholic Conference of Hungarian Bishops, for which we are also very grateful. We also highly appreciate the presence of those taking part in the conference, since by the contribution of them this event has become the greatest biblical conference of Eastern Europe.

In the beginning, it was only the Biblical professors and the students of Theology of the Carpathian Basin who reunited here on an annual basis; today, significant professors of international universities come to meet students of theology. Their activities and those of the conference have made it possible for higher education church institutions of different denominations to get to know each other’s Bible scholars and their works.

The greatest debate of the conference took place in 1996, when while acknowledging the scientific level of the conference, some of the partakers expressed their deep doubts about the Catholic nature of the same. Among other things, this problem emerged from the fact that in the east and in the west – in the Ukraine and in Germany – criteria concerning scientific studies and those of religiosity greatly differ from each other.
We owe special thanks to Archbishop Dr. György Jakubinyi who stood up for the defense of scientific studies and declared for the raison d’ètre of scientific debates within the church, thus differentiating scholarly conferences from councils of the churches. One of the greatest achievements of the conference has been the gradual development of scientific debate, to which the professors coming from Germany have greatly contributed. We have also had several positive debates on the division of the scientific nature of theology and the principles of the science of religion, which while respecting the views of the different denominations its attention was focused on their scientific foundation.

We have also published several volumes in electronic version available free for all
at the homepage of Gál Ferenc Theological College:

http://www.gfhf.hu/tudomany/biblikus konferencia

Presence in the Media, Scientific Acknowledgements
There has been a significant interest on behalf of the media towards our conference since only this year (2011) 53 articles and reports have been published on our lecturers. Both the printed and the electronic press within and beyond the borders of Hungary have followed our parleying. Our conference has been mentioned by a Hungarian and a Japanese program of the Vatican Radio, the Duna Televizió [Danube Television]. Our conference is well-known by the international world organization Society for New Testament Studies (SNTS), who are going to hold their annual conference in Szeged in 2014.

Our Plans for the Future

For the year 2012 it is being planned that significant Catholic Bible scholars, who belong to the circle of students of Catholic Professor Joachim Gnilka, would hold a reunion entitled “From Jesus to Christ” within the framework of the Conference.
The conference is going to celebrate its 25th birthday in 2013, for which we are planning to re-invite all lecturers; the lectures delivered in foreign languages would be published by the Pulishing House Mohr Siebeck.
The greatest sign of the scientific acknowledgement of our conference is that SNTS, the scientific organization uniting New Testament scholars of the whole world have accepted our petition handed in together with the University of Szeged, Bishop dr. László Kiss-Rigó and the rector of Gál Ferenc Theological College. As a result, the Bible scholars of about 700 universities will visit Szeged and hold their world conference for a whole week in our city.

Szeged, 1st December, 2011
Dr. György Benyik
President of the Szeged International Biblical Conference

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