Evangelakia Events (Athens, 1901)

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"Ta Evangelakia" (The Evangelical Events) refers to disturbances in Athens in November of 1901, centering around the translation of the Holy Bible into modern Greek.

The person who first saw the need for a translated Bible was Queen Olga shortly after the Greco-Turkish War (1897). It is said that the Queen was surprised when injured soldiers would not accept Greek Bibles she gave them as they could not understand them. The Queen then commissioned her secretary, Ioulia Somaki, to translate the Scriptures from New Testament Greek into Modern Greek. Somaki completed her translation, approved by the Metropolitan of Athens Procopius II, into the formal and purified Katharevousa dialect of Modern Greek in 1898. This was the official dialect of Greece in use since the end of the War of Independence; it was set at a midpoint between Ancient (Classical) Greek and Modern Greek.

A little later, London-based Greek author, Alexandros Pallis, wrote another translation into the every-day vernacular dialect of Modern Greek called Demotic Greek. This translation was picked up and published by the Athens daily "Acropolis". By October 20, 1901, the newspaper finished its publication of the translated work without an incident, however, conservative dailies showed their displeasure in articles criticising the "Acropolis'" actions as blasphemy. Soon the Patriarchate also expressed displeasure and University students took to the streets. On November 5, 1901, they ransacked the offices of "Acropolis" and on November 8, they held a demonstration by the temple of Olympian Zeus demanding that the translators be excommunicated by the Church.

Prime Minister Georgios Theotokis reacted by sending in the Army to disperse the demonstrators and pitched battles erupted that left eight dead and 70 wounded. The dispersed students then occupied Athens University barricading themselves inside. The end results of these disturbances were the resignation of Prime Minister Theotokis and of Metropolitan Procopius, who withdrew to a monastery in Salamina and died the following year.

The students staged another demonstration near the temple of Zeus and burned copies of "Acropolis" that carried the translation. They issued demands on on February 1, 1902 for the removal of all translated Bibles and the banning of any translation of the Holy Scriptures. The latter demand was incorporated into the Constitution of 1911: "...The wording of the Holy Scriptures remains unaltered. Its official translation into another language is forbidden without the approval of the Autocephalus Church of Greece and the Grand in Christ Church of Constantinople". This wording also exists in the current constitution of Greece.

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