Our Bible Story
The story of the Bible in Austria is a quite sad. During the Reformation in the 16th century, the Bible was brought into many families. But the Roman-Catholic Church at that time forbade the possession and use of the Bible for common people.
The Bible went on to become a strictly forbidden book in Austria during the counter-reformation. Possession of it was severely punished. People were given the alternative to either become a Roman-Catholic and hand over the Bibles to the authorities or leave the country without the Bibles and also without their children. The children were then put into monasteries and brought up there. This whole ordeal led to smuggling of Bibles into the country.
In 1791, Emperor Joseph II using the “Toleranz-Patent” gave Protestants some rights for their religious practises. They were allowed to build churches but without bells or towers, so that they could not be recognized as churches from the street.
The civil revolution of 1848 made Bible distribution in Austria somehow possible. The British and Foreign Bible Society sent Edward Millard to Vienna and he opened a Bible depot in September 1850.
Nearly 40,000 copies of the Bible were distributed by spring -1852. Shortly afterwards the work had to stop and the storehouse was closed and the Bibles were in danger of being destroyed. Due to diplomatic interposition by Great Britain, Edward Millard was allowed to transport the Bibles over the Austrian border to Breslau which is in now found in Poland.
In 1861 Emperor Franz Joseph granted the Protestants equal rights and Edward Millard reopened the Bible depot in 1864 in Vienna.
Around 52 Bible “colporteurs” were employed by the Bible Society and they went from house to house and offered the Bible to the people. The work was often hindered by both governmental and clerical authorities.
The colporteurs were not allowed to sell the Bibles directly and the orders were often cancelled by the local Catholic clergy. Villagers at times set their dogs on the colporteurs. One Bible colporteur who worked in Tyrol was murdered 1874 - the deed was never cleared up.
In 1918 after World War I, the BFBS decided that it was no longer worthwhile to work in the small country, that Austria had become. But in 1922 the German theologian Hans Döring decided that Austria needed the Bible and therefore a Bible Society presence in the country.
He became director of the Bible Warehouse in Vienna. In cooperation with protestant clergymen the work quickly expanded. Also the Catholics, majority of the Austrian population, became slowly more interested in owning and using the Bible. Bible distribution rose to 40.000 copies in 1935 due to a bookshop and the work of seven Bible messengers.
After the annexation of Austria to the "Deutsches Reich" in 1938 work went on under observation of the Gestapo. German Bibles were not to be sold.Only Bibles in foreign languages and scholarly editions with a permit were allowed.
1941 the Nazis wanted to destroy the 35 tons of Scriptures in the Berlin Bible storehouse managed by the Vienna branch of the Bible Society. The Bible society however managed to save the Bibles in a miraculous and courageous way by transporting these Bibles to Austria by train at the risk of life.
In the post-war-period refugees rushed to the country, where they got Bibles. The Austrian Bible committee was founded by the responsible persons of the Protestant churches in 1947.
Bible Sunday, celebrated in 1947 for the first time, helped to understand the message of God's Word. A Bible house in Vienna was opened in 1954 and accommodated a collection of Bibles in 400 languages. More and more donors became aware of the necessity of spreading God's word all over the world and supported the work of the United Bible Societies.
In 1970 the independent Austrian Bible Society was established.
During the communist years in Eastern Europe, Austria, a neutral country, was an important place ant the Bible Society was responsible for Bible transportation into the neighbouring communist countries like Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland.
1992 was a “Year of the Bible” in the German speaking countries. A second “Year of the Bible” in 2003 reached out to the public, culture and media. A nationwide schools-competition in partnership with the government and the Ecumenical council of churches with its 14 member churches including the Roman Catholic Church was a big success.
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The Destiny of the Wicked and of the Good
1Don't be worried on account of the wicked;
don't be jealous of those who do wrong.
2They will soon disappear like grass that dries up;
they will die like plants that wither.
3Trust in the LORD and do good;
live in the land and be safe.Psalms 37:1 - Psalms 37:3