Hungarian Bible

A quick history of the Bible’s translation into Hungarian.

To follow the history of the Hungarian Bible, in many ways, is following the history of the Hungarian language. Parts of the Bible were translated as early as the 15th century through the Bécsi, Münvheni, and Apor codices.

Preceding the now major Protestant translation were works by Bathor, a Catholic monk in 1516. Later, towards the middle of the sixteenth century, other Catholics including Benedek Komjáthy, Gábor Pesty Mizsér and Janos Erdösi. Despite the early Catholic translations, it was the Protestant Károli version that has had the most impact, partially due to the Protestant desire to see Scripture in the vernacular.

The first complete Catholic Bible in 1626 was published by Káldi, S.J. In 1865, Tárkányi revised this version. It was the Reformation and the printing press allowed a new era in the history of the Hungarian Bible translation.

Some important early translations include work by

  • Benedek Komjáthy
  • Gábor Pesty Mizsér
  • János Sylvester
  • Gáspár Heltai

The Károli Version
The Hungarian Károli (KAR) is the most popular version, with its present use based in a 1908 revision. Calvinist pastor and dean of Gönc, Gáspár Károli, published the Hungarian Bible translation in 1590 in Vizsoly, Hungary. This is known sometimes as the Vizsolyi Biblia. Many Hungarians who read English have compared the language to that found in the King James Version (The Authorized Version of 1611). The Psalter, developed by Albert Szenczi Molnár in 1607, is still used in Hungarian churches today.

The British and Foreign Bible Society was established in 1814. They advocated the publication of a Hungarian Bible, its distribution, and even its textual analysis. Forced to exit in 1938 due to a harsh political environment, disenabling their capacity to function. Publishing and distributing the Bible was taken over by Reformed Church in Hungary, the largest Protestant church at the time.

The Hungarian Bible Council was established, comprised of Protestant churches and the Orthodox church. The first initiative was to revise the Károli version, but instead, began translation sourced from the original Hebrew and Greek. This effort was finished in December 1975, followed with a revision on October 31, 1990, the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Vizsoly Bible.

In 1992, the Hungarian Bible Council set up the Hungarian Bible Foundation. The Hungarian Bible Society, with its 11 member Churches, was built upon this Bible Foundation.

Today, more than 12 types of Károli and new translations of the Bible are available, including an annotated Bible — the Hungarian version of the famous Stuttgart Annotated Bible.

Between 1990 and 1996
650,000 Bibles were published
450,000 Bibles in the traditional Károli translation
200,000 new translations
100,000 Bibles for children
200,000 Bibles sent to Hungarians living abroad

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