From President George Sabra: John Calvin and NEST's 85th Anniversary
2017 marks the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Near East School of Theology. On the 11th of November 1932, the first Convocation Service was held in the Anglo-American Church (today the National Evangelical Church of Beirut), and it marked the official ceremony that celebrated the merger of the Beirut School for Religious Workers with the School of Religion
in Athens in the new institution: N.E.S.T. More than 400 men and women have graduated from N.E.S.T. in the past 85 years, serving as pastors, educators, church workers in Arab Presbyterian, Armenian Evangelical, Episcopal and Lutheran congregations and schools all over the region as well in other parts of the world.
As Rev. Fadi Dagher, Chairperson of the Board of Managers, said on the occasion: “Throughout its history, N.E.S.T. played an important part in the founding of the ecumenical movement in the Middle East through its leading role in establishing an association of theological institutes for all Christian traditions in the 1960s, long before the founding of the Middle East Council of Churches. N.E.S.T. also played, and continues to play, an important role in furthering and promoting Christian-Muslim dialogue and relations through its many activities and initiatives.
But N.E.S.T. chose to celebrate the 85th anniversary, not by speeches and receptions or production of memorabilia and medals, but by the production of the first ever Arabic translation of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.” In an event held on November 11, 2017, N.E.S.T., jointly with the publishing House Dar Manhal al-Hayat, launched the two-volume Arabic text of the great French Reformer, John Calvin. The work took 9 years to complete; several translators were involved, as well as a team of Arabic language correctors and research assistants.
I had the privilege of being the editor of the whole work, and I would like to share with our readers what I said at the very end of my talk in introducing the new publication: “The credit for this great achievement does not go to one person, not even to several persons who collaborated in its production; this is an accomplishment of the Near East School of Theology! I am certain that 100 years from now when our successors celebrate the 185th anniversary of N.E.S.T. and they enumerate the most important 5 accomplishments of this institution in its 185 years, the translation of Calvin’s Institutes into Arabic will be one of them. But, as Calvin himself, ends his voluminous work: “To God alone be glory.”