Scholarly article on topic 'Book Campaigns or How to Sell a Bible in the Post-Communist Era'

Book Campaigns or How to Sell a Bible in the Post-Communist Era Academic research paper on "Physical sciences"

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{Bible / Books / "Newspaper campaigns" / "Publishing house" / "Synodocal Bible" / Post-Communism}

Abstract of research paper on Physical sciences, author of scientific article — Daniela Bogdan, Matei Damian, Cătălin Negoiţă

Abstract During the Communist age, talking about God was taboo. Entering a Church was severely punished and people would have been admonished when talking to a priest. After the Revolution, as book marketing begun to function, the Bible has been sold around the corner, together with a newspaper and without the approval of the Orthodox Church.

Academic research paper on topic "Book Campaigns or How to Sell a Bible in the Post-Communist Era"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 63 (2012) 76 - 80

The 4th Edition of the International Conference: Paradigms of the Ideological Discourse 2012

Book Campaigns or How to Sell a Bible in the Post-communist Era

Daniela Bogdan a * Matei Damian b* Cätälin Negoitä c*

a Assistant, PhD C., "Dunärea de Jos " University of Galati, Romania, b Assistant, PhD, "Dunärea de Jos " University of Galati, Romania

c Lecturer, PhD, "Dunärea de Jos" University of Galati, Romania


During the Communist age, talking about God was taboo. Entering a Church was severely punished and people would have been admonished when talking to a priest. After the Revolution, as book marketing begun to function, the Bible has been sold around the corner, together with a newspaper and without the approval of the Orthodox Church.

© 2012 TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevier Ltd.Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Dunarea de Jos UniversityofGalati

Keywords: Bible, books, newspaper campaigns, publishing house, Synodocal Bible, post-Communism

Nowadays, the Bible weighs some hundred grams and its compulsory accessories are a book mark, leather coloured covers, a great number of pictures and you can also find it on sales. On marketing grounds, the Bible is divided into distinct chapters, and it is brought to your house, together with the newspaper. Considering that even the Book of Books has become a commodity in these high times of consumerism, we are going to analyze hereinafter the evolution, or, better said, the involution of the publishing in Romania of the most read book world-wide, with 25 million editions printed annually.

As a starting point, we can state that if up to the Revolution, editions had been published every ten years, the stress being laid on the biblical text, in a small number of copies but sufficient and which more important is they had been always published with the consent of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the institution giving its approval for the translation used, today, the Bible is being cut to pieces, it is sold piece by piece, it is crammed with pictures and explanatory notes - in order to me made accessible to everyone - and it is almost all the time

* Daniela Bogdan, Tel.: +40 722222852 - emailaddress Matei Damian, Tel.: +40 751392922 - email address Catalin Negoita, Tel.: + 40747042299 - email address

1877-0428 © 2012 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Dunarea de Jos University of Galati doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.10.013

published without the consent of the Church, an aspect causing fierce arguments. Three years in a row, three daily newspapers, in collaboration with three publishing houses, not very well known in Romania, took it upon themselves to transform the Bible into a marketing product. Printed in a great number of copies, always published before Easter, the Book was sold for moderate prices (15 lei for a volume, as compared to 100 de lei, the price of the full version, to be found in bookshops).

As the Romanian Bible has been through a long process up to present, first regarding the establishment of the canonical text, followed by the polishing of the writing, we are going to review the most important editions of the Bible the way they have been mentioned by the history of literature and that of the Orthodoxy, particularly because the Bible is not a single book, but a collection of books which have been written in approximately 1600 years.

Until the Bible from Bucharest, a considerable work, the most important translation and printed copy of the Scriptures in our country, it has been translated sporadically and on parts: the Psalter, the Corpus of Voronet Monastery, the Schei Psalter, the Hurmuzachi Psalter, the Psalter of Voronet Monastery. The oldest text printed in Romanian is the Slavo-Romanian Gospel of Filip the Moldavian (Sibiu, 1551-1553). This was followed by the prints of the deacon Coresi and those of the priests from Scheii Bra^ovului who brought to light, in the second half of the 16th century the Tetra-Gospel (1561), The Apostle (1564), the Psalter (1570), the Educational Gospel (1581). The bishop Simion §tefan of Ardeal printed, in 1648 at Alba Iulia, The New Testament from Belgrade and, in 1651, the Psalter. The Bible from Bucharest (1688), also known as the Bible of §erban Cantacuzino, is the first integral translation of the biblical text into Romanian. The Bible from 1688 would also be a reference point for all translations of the sacred text to be translated from this moment on. The work has more than 900 pages and it was done in 6 years by a group of scholars among which we can mention the archbishop Ghermano of Nice (the Director of the Greek Academy from Constantinople), Sevastos Kymenites (Director of the Greek school from Bucharest) and the brothers Radu and §erban Greceanu.

There followed in chronological order, The New Testament printed in Bucharest in 1703 by the bishop Antim Ivireanu, The Holy Scriptures, a new translation by Samuil Micu Klein at Blaj, in 1795 (also known as the "Bible from Blaj"), The New Testament published at St. Petersburg, in Russia, in 1817, then the full Bible, in 1819 - a republishing of the texts of Samuil Micu Klain, printed in 500 copies. Then comes out the Bible from Buzau, The New and the Old Testaments published at Smyrna, The Scripts published in Ia$i, under the guidance of Andrei §aguna and the Bible from Ia^i, in 1874. Up to 1921, the Bible had been published in parts, in a small number of printed copies, the highest number of copies being 1000. The First Synodical Bible was published in 1941. In 1921, we acknowledge the variant of the Scripts by Dumitru Cornilescu, considered one of the most modern translations of the biblical text, but controversial in terms of accuracy. This is the standard Bible, the one used nowadays also by the evangelic believers from Romania. In 1929, we witness the publication of the Psalter, in the new translation by Gala Galaction and the famous Hebraist, prof. Vasile Radu, and, one year later, the New Testament and the Psalms, by the same translators. The Second Synodical Bible (1936), was published as a compromise agreed by the main translators of that time (Nicodim Munteanu - 23 canonical books and one non canonical; 16 canonical books and 8 non canonical books of the Old Testament, plus 27 canonical books of the New Testament by Vasile Radu and Gala Galaction). In the same year, the Bible from Neamt was published, an illustrated edition done by the bishop Nicodim, together with Prof. I. D. §tefanescu. "The Bible of Carol 2nd -1938" is a translation of Pr. Vasile Radu and Gala Galaction, this time on the basis of the Hebrew text, made by Rudolf Kittel (1937) and that of Septuagint (edition R. Rahlfs, 1935) - at the anniversary of 250 years of the Bible from Bucharest - financed by the Prince Carol 2nd, 11 years after he was crowned. The Third Synodal Bible (1944) includes a new translation of the New Testament done by Nicodim, along with the contribution of Vasile Radu and Gala Galaction of the previous synodal edition. The Fourth Synodal Bible (1968) was published after the Second World War, re-editing the translation of the Old Testament from 1936 and that of the New Testament from 1951 (Galaction's translation), with the text reviewed by a group of priests, the translation of the Old Testament being still the one performed by the triumvirate Nicodim, Radu, Galaction. A new synodical edition of the Bible was published in 1975, under Justinian, a review of the previous editions, then in 1982, under Justin Moisescu and in 1989, under the guidance of Teoctist [1].

After the Revolution, only sporadic editions of the Bible came out, that is in 1990, 1998 or 2002, based on the Bible of Cornilescu. In 1993, the New Testament and the Psalms are also published, a new translation performed by Olimpiu S. Cosma, and the New Testament(2000), new translation into modern Romanian language, whose authors are unknown, translation financed by World Bible Translation Center inc. from USA. Two years later, the "Bible Cornilescu II" of 1931 is republished, in a new form, with numerous footnotes, a useful tool for the Christian researchers of any confession. Published by GBV in Germany, in a mass number of printed copies and diffused by the Christian assembly from Dr. Felix Street and the "Romanian Biblical Society" in Bucharest. Also in 2002, "The Bible or the Holy Scriptures" are published, based on the matrix translation of Nitzulescu. In 2003, the New Testament is re-edited, in Cornilescu's edition, reviewed by prof. Iosif Ton, and the exemplification could go on.

We can note that the spiritual opening occurring after the events of 1989 leading to a congestion of the book market with Bibles being published year by year, without necessarily the consent of the Holy Synod, in editions sponsored by different foreign companies whose purpose is to render the biblical text accessible and popular for masses. The Bible is going through a new process, starting with the ecumenical translation project, focused on the accuracy of the text and the translation, to the project of spreading the message, at any cost. And there is only a small step from this to slicing the biblical text and its publishing together with the morning newspaper, an ongoing project since 2009, beginning with the Campaign of the journalists of Cotidianul. The newspaper, jointly with the Univers Publishing House, brought forward another kind of Bible during the Passions week. It is, according to our opinion, the boldest project regarding the republishing of the biblical text, seen from the perspective of art reproductions. The 5 volumes containing „places and stories from the New and the Old Testament", allowed the readers, for only 14,9 lei to embark on a fascinating journey in Jesus's Palestine, seen from the perspective of the great masters of the art of religious inspiration. As the presentation material accompanying these editions points out, „In Bible Myths, you can explore the religious world through its reflection in art, which enriched it and fixed it, over time, in the collective thought. The spectacular illustration of the volumes include works of famous artists such as: Michelangelo Buonaroti, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Giovanni Bellini, Hieronymus Bosch, Paul Rubens, Sandro Botticelli, Giotto, Fra Angelico, Tizian, Veronese, Tintoretto or Rafael" [2]. Despite the pompous presentation, there was still some criticism: the authors make too much use of pictures, although they boast over presenting myths and stories and it is more than obvious that they could not pack the 1600 pages of history into the 300 pages of the entire collection. Thus, the text contains omissions and errors in presenting the biblical events, and the same goes for the part with pictures: for example, at page 46, the Russian sacred image from the 17th century does not depict Patriarch Avraam and his wife, but St. John the Baptist and the Holy Virgin. Basic notions about iconography or about Hellenic language would have prevented this error. But we deal with a sense of superficiality and with the fact that the process of editing is not performed by a scholar, due to financial reasons, of course. Thus, the collection excels only thanks to the graphic conditions and the quality of pictures. No wonder it did not have the success anticipated, on the contrary, rumour has it that the employees have received as Christmas present the collection "Bible Myths", the books which brought the company into bankruptcy, with a debt of about Euro 400.000.

The second campaign and the latest, that of Adevarul, also provokes virulent disputes between publishers and the Patriarchate representatives: beginning with April 10th 2012, the daily newspaper sells at all distribution points and in their own book shops, a reviewed edition of the Bible translated by Dumitru Cornilescu, published the same year by the Orizonturi Publishing House from Bucharest. The Campaign, initiated not by chance before Easter, is followed by a series of interviews with important Romanian theologians who bring added value to the editorial event. The Book of the Books is sold in pieces, for an accessible price of 19,99 lei. Impressive numbers of copies are being printed but the Campaign is stopped because of a great scandal, initiated by the Romanian Patriarchy as it did not give its consent or warrant for the publication of such a book and which starts a war among the orthodox against a Bible which the Church considers to be "neo-protestant". The statement issued by the Romanian Patriarchy and taken over even by the newspaper Adevarul shows that the Romanian Patriarchy was offended by the edition chosen to be published. As the official statement says, "As several orthodox believers have already informed the Romanian Patriarchy regarding they have been mislead by the daily

newspaper Adevarul by selling a neo protestant Bible, we demand that this daily newspaper offer correct information in their promotional articles and in advertisements regarding the Bible they have published. At the same time, we advise the Orthodox clergy to inform the community of believers about the fact that the Bible sold together with the newspaper Adevarul is not Orthodox and that it contains major differences of translation in comparison with the official text of the Holy Scripts of the Romanian Orthodox Church" [3]. This aspect is emphasized by the theologian Radu Preda, lector at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology from Cluj Napoca, whose statements are to be found in the daily newspaper Adevarul, with view to promoting the campaign initiated during the Passions week. "It is a false Bible. False in the sense it was not declared as being neo-protestant. They have turned me into an instrument. I asked the editor of the article to inform me about the edition of the Bible, whether it was a sectarian Bible. I told him it is not proper to publish a minority product. They wanted to keep this aspect secret. They promised me they were going to call me back, but the editor acted as if he did not know, although I believe he did. I believe I was used. I am not going to sue them, this is not me, but their action disqualifies them,"[4] Preda declares, saying that he is not going to sue those who have used his image.

Who is the translator of the Bible blasphemed by BOR? Dumitru Cornilescu, born in a family of Orthodox priests, went to Neo-protestant churches during his student hood and after accomplishing his theological studies. This statement belongs to Nae Ionescu, who talks about Cornilescu's activity from that time: "The evangelist action" at "Cuibul cu barza has been continuously going on, a primarily non orthodox action, regarding the priests T. Popescu and D. Cornilescu, through sermons and books on whose covers the holy cross is covered by the byzantine crown of an English queen" [5]. What do the theologians accuse Cornilescu's Bible for? The most serious deficiencies of his texts include the numerous archaisms (obsolete terms that are no longer in use), the topic of the phrase (lack of naturalness) and a multitude of graphic problems. But the greatest problems are to be found in the content and not the form. Cornilescu is accused of having protestant beliefs - he was defrocked as a young monk - that is why the theologians accuse errors in translation, intentional or not. These errors can be perhaps explained if we are to take into consideration the fact Cornilescu's version was translated taking into consideration the Hebrew variant of the Holy Scriptures, although up to that moment and after that, even after the translation of Valeriu Anania, in the variants accepted by BOR, the Greek text of the Old Testament is preferred. Cornilescu fit quite well to the limits of this school of thought by consulting the translation from Buzau, but he also allows influences of Western translations, well-known for the erudition of their translators into Semitic languages. And thus, a famous translation of the Bible, highly appreciated and republished a year later, considered one of the most modern variant of the Bible, under the reserve that is one century old and that the language has suffered major changes, has caused an editorial earthquake and a scandal which lead to lower sales. The people from the publishing house and from the daily newspaper Adevarul answered back promptly without helping the sales. "The Bible coming out along with the newspaper Adevarul is a Christian Bible, the same for all Christians, irrespective of their confession. As far as we are concerned, the Bible addresses to all Christians speaking Romanian. We entrust the interpretation and translation differences - which are to be found even in the editions accepted by BOR - to the churches and theologians "[6] shows an official statement formulated by the management of Adevarul Holding. "The work we have published does not contain any point of view or comment on the text of the Bible" [7], specifies the same statement, as well as the Orizonturi Publishing House, owner of the translation rights for the edition published together with the newspaper Adevarul.

The Campaign initiated in 2011 by Jurnalul National and LITERA Publishing House was much more inspired. Around Easter, this campaign published the Bible in 8 volumes and this time the variant was a translation of the Bishop Bartolomeu Anania, and it had the consent for publication from BOR. The Bible with pictures was distributed on a weekly basis together with the daily newspaper Jurnalul National for a promotional price of 14,99 de lei. The editors mention the fact that this project is the last wanted and initiated by the Bishop of Ardeal before he died and that the first of the 8 volumes should have been published the day Anania would have turned 90. "His death turns this celebration event into a commemoration, the large circulation of the biblical text through the present edition representing the fulfilment of a testamentary wish of the Metropolitan Bishop Bartolomeu. The copyrights are meant for the Foundation Bartolomeu Bishop which helps students with merits but without material resources by granting them scholarships" [8]. The presentation text of the collection also states that the Bible with pictures

represents, without modifications, the text of the "jubilee edition" of the Holy Scriptures, the way it was published several times, even by the Rena§terea Publishing House from Cluj, in 2009. The novelty is brought by the form: the book is easier to handle, pictures- photos from the Holy Country, but also frescos from the monasteries and churches from Romania and the Balkans - and maps are to be found in every chapter, and not at the end of the text, as it is common. The purpose of the editorial approach is to familiarise people which do not have this kind of education with the Bible- considered until now a cryptic text. This edition contains about 8000 footnotes, an ideal guide for a better understanding of the historic, cultural and religious conflicts under which the books of the Old Testament were written. The Bible in the variant of Anania was published both for the Romanian public as well as for the public from the republic of Moldova and from the Diaspora.

As a conclusion, one may notice that the post-December attempts to publish the Bible do not equal those made until 1945. Even if the number of copies printed are higher, the graphic conditions better and the pictures more fascinating, the Book of the Books neglects, most of the times, the canonical text which, if not controversial, is full of gaps and inaccuracies. In the attempt to render the biblical text more accessible, the editors have forgotten to respect the historic truth. The Bible has turned into a commodity which is being sold together with the newspaper, a kind of Sunday book, with pictures and footnotes so as not to make the readers tired or to trouble them too much.


[1] Information supplied by, in the interview August-September 2012.

[2], in the interview from July - September 2012.

[3], in the interview from August-September 2012.

[4], in the interview from August-September 2012.

[5], in the interview from July - September 2012.

[6] Ibidem.

[7] Ibidem.

[8], in the interview from July - September 2012.