The Bible will be making history this weekend in Europe.
On Sunday, Italian television stations will begin airing an entire reading of the Bible, marking the longest live TV broadcast in the country's history.
The recital will take about 139 hours and will begin with Pope Benedict reading the Book of Genesis from the Vatican. Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone will be the last one to read.
"It's more of a nonstop relay," Giuseppe De Carli explained. He leads a division of RAI-TV, which helped organize and will be airing the event.
"It's not a race, after all, but a reflection on God's way," he added.
Nearly 1,300 people will take turns reading the scriptures all week. Protestant, Jewish, and even Muslim readers will participate.
"I think this can be a positive sign, an opportunity to begin a new kind of dialogue through the scriptures to get to know each other better," Muslim professor Adnane Mokrani said. "Its values are universal and the questions the book raises are personal, so it goes beyond inter-religious issues."
Several international celebrities will also take a turn at the scriptures, including Christian soccer player Kaka and Oscar-winning actor Roberto Benigni.
De Carli, however, assures it will not be a "VIP event."
"You certainly don't have to be a great actor like George Clooney," he said. "We just want people to give their best."
A similar reading of the Bible took place in 2005 involving 700 people in France. The event was organized by Norbert Exbrayat and his wife.
"It was a huge success in Limoges, but we couldn't image that it would take off in the rest of the world," he said.
Source: International Herald Tribune