Central Europe (Europe-Between, Zwischeneuropa) belonged to the sphere of German cultural influence. Western intellectual trends came also through German language areas either directly or indirectly by transmitting ideas (e.g.: the products of Renaissance intellectual trends or the ideas of the Enlightenment). At the same time the peoples of the region were also in direct connection with one another. In several cases the rulers of Hungary, Bohemia and Poland had been the members of the same dynasties but there were periods when personal union was the form of governance. The institutionally organised protection of the mother tongue, the establishment of national literature and science took place at different times and lasted from the beginning of the sixteenth century until the end of the nineteenth century, with the exception of the Czech language. This vision of cultural history is presented in this lecture by comparing the similarities and the differences in reading history of the region. The first examples are taken from the Protestant Reformation and its preceding Spiritual and Humanist movements. I will discuss the direct connections between Hungary and Livonia (through the two examples of the Hungarian translation and publication of Georg Ziegler’s book and the Hungarian students of the Papal Seminary of Riga) touching also upon the shared university studies of students from several nations of Europe-Between (in Bologna, Padova, Wittenberg, Heidelberg, Strasburg, etc.).
The present study started out by posing the question: what reasons might lead to the success of Hungarian intellectuals who were schooled in Hungary and who later emigrated to the West. From among the possible answers, we examined one: education and reading culture in Hungary was more complex in a given period than in Western Europe. We consider whether or not this answer is persuasive.
Based on the results provided by basic research in reading history in Hungary in the early modern period, one can safely say that the culture of experts in Hungary was more heterogeneous, and these experts constantly revisited traditional sources and kept them alive. On the other hand, in terms of the depth of professional knowledge and the level of concentration on a given field they were lagging behind their contemporary colleagues in Western Europe. This situation produced a dual eff ect: experts in Hungary had a stronger sense of tradition and they looked for transitional solutions due to the lack of the latest technical development and literature. Out of the Hungarian context, however, they produced outstanding achievements thanks to the more heterogeneous nature of their expertise.
The importance of the early translations, copied or printed, derived from a parallel process that fostered the development of a standard version of the Hungarian language and the norms of literary Hungarian. In Hungary Benedek Komjáti, Gábor Pesti and János Sylvester fulfilled the Erasmus program of translating and distributing the Hungarian translations of the Holy Scriptures. They knew that to achieve this they had to find the appropriate linguistic form. Therefore, they wrote also pieces in diff erent genres and did prepare Bible translations only. Due to the changes brought about by Reformation people needed new books in the vernacular in all areas of life, for example school books, catechisms, church constitution (Kirchenordnung) and of course the Bible. In the century of the Reformation, the Hungarian Protestant ministers who knew languages followed Erasmus’ example and felt their duty to translate the Holy Scriptures into Hungarian. at the end of the century the first complete Bible in Hungarian was published in Vizsoly in 1590, which was prepared by a circle of scholars. The first complete Catholic Bible translation was published in 1626 in Viennna thanks partly to György Káldi and partly to Péter Pázmány.
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Authors:Csaba Mészáros, Stefan Krist, Vsevolod Bashkuev, Luboš Bělka, Zsófia Hacsek, Zoltán Nagy, István Sántha, and Ildikó Sz. Kristóf
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