Nearly 1/2M Indians Compete in Bible Quiz

10th Annual Competition Promoting Systematic Scripture Study

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KOCHI, India, SEPT. 28, 2010 ( Leena Mathew thought her life as a working mom was already too busy, so seven years ago when her parish priest asked her to participate in a Bible competition, her answer was no. 

The priest convinced her to at least help her daughter to train for the contest, and when the girl went on to qualify for the state competition that year, Mathew was hooked. She decided to participate herself in 2004. Some years later, she now has two successive state champion titles in her age group (from 2007 and 2008), though last year she lost the prize to a young doctor.

Mathew is one of the competitors in the Logos Quiz, held annually in the Indian state of Kerala, and sponsored by the Bible Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC).

Last Sunday, the first round — held at the diocesan level — brought the participation of nearly a half million competitors, divided in five age groups, from those younger than 10 to those older than 60.

The 483,170 participants registered beforehand, paying a fee of 23 cents. They had the syllabus to prepare for the questions for a year, since at each competition, the next year’s information is provided.

Father Joshy Mayyattil, secretary of the KCBC Bible Commission, explained that «our aim is to promote interest in Bible reading and the culture of systematic study of the Bible.»

If increased participation in the quiz is any indication, the aim is being met. When the competition started 10 years ago, it drew in 125,000 participants. The state of Kerala in the south of India has the largest Christian population in the nation, with nearly 7 million Christians, more than 4 million of whom are Catholic.

Competitors completed the first round last Sunday, which lasts 90 minutes. The three winners from each age group from the 31 dioceses then go on to the final contest, scheduled for November at the KCBC headquarters in Kochi.

Father Mayyattil called the final contest «grueling,» noting that participants compete with audio, video, written, oral and Bible verse recitation tests.

Kerala enjoys 90% literacy, the highest level in India. The Catholic presence there is also 10 times what it is in other Indian states.

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