The first Bible to arrive in Australia in 1788 has been featured on RECORD InFocus.
In the lead up to Australia Day, Record InFocus host James Standish, interviewed the senior minister of St Philip’s York Street Anglican church in Sydney, the Reverend Justin Moffatt. Rev Moffatt brought the more than two-hundred year old Bible, as well as a matching Book of Common Prayer, to present at the interview.
For any Australian, who can trace their Christian heritage through Australia, these books are extremely significant.
|Record InFocus host James Standish, interviewing Reverend Justin Moffatt.|
The Bible, a large, leather-bound King James Version, was carried to Australia on the First Fleet, by chaplain Richard Johnson, who, it is believed, used it to conduct the first Christian service in the new colony.
At that service on February 3, 1788, Johnson read from Psalm 116, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?”
“It is a seemingly odd choice of text for a group of convicts who had just endured a hellish voyage and are beginning again with nothing,” said Rev Moffatt.
Johnson’s Bible and his Book of Common Prayer are bound in the same way and inscribed with the address of Botany Bay, where the fleet was first headed.
They have been signed by all the monarchs who have visited Australia, including Queen Elizabeth II, Charles and Diana and even King George V.
“These books are some of our greatest treasures,” adds Rev Moffatt. “For any Australian, who can trace their Christian heritage through Australia, these books are extremely significant.”
|Reverend Justin Moffatt, senior minister of St Philip’s York Street Anglican church in Sydney|
“When you think about the role this Bible played in bringing hope at the very beginning of what must have seemed at the time like a dismal enterprise, it’s inspiring,” said Mr Standish.
“This Australia Day we have a lot to be thankful for,” he adds. “And for the Australians of all ethnic backgrounds who love Jesus Christ, one thing we can be most thankful for is that Rev. Johnson volunteered to take the incredibly dangerous journey with a group of the most desperate people on earth in order to keep the hope of God alive and burning strong in our land.”