Journal index

Buzogány Dezső62 -- 68

According to Wilhelm Zepper, church government has two distinctive responsibilities: the
meeting (synodus) and the inspection or control (visitatio). The visitation of the members of a
congregation (visitatio domestica) is the most useful and most important of all kinds of visitations
in the Church. The duty of the local minister is not only to preach from the pulpit once or twice
a week. He needs to know the members of his congregation personally. These personal meetings
also belong to the area of pastoral care. Some congregation members could be prohibited to
participate in the regular church service due to some kind of illness or weakness. They would,
nonetheless, need to be strengthened by the word of God considering their special condition.
The official visitation (visitatio specialis) of the inspector (dean) of the classis should take place at
least once a year. The dean inspecting the life of the church is accompanied during these
visitations by a few colleagues and the local state authority.

Református Szemle 115.1 (2022)Research articleChurch history
Bálint Péter37 -- 61

In the folktales of the ethnicities of the Carpathian Basin, the phenomenon of stepchildhood (due to orphanhood, separation, removal from home, transfer or remarriage) occurs quite frequently. This phenomenon has been thoroughly mapped by mythologists and folklorists, by exegetes and prominent scholars of medieval and modern history from the perspective of different disciplines. However, the literary hermeneutic analysis of these narratives reveals the historical and socio-cultural background, the individual and local community experience from which the existence of a marginalized child, sometimes barely tolerated and sometimes totally deprived of rights in the family, can be interpreted. As a compensation for the unbearable foster-life, the storytellers aim to overwrite the bad experience by creating a good fortune through the intercession of a helping being, a ‟God-sent man”, assisting the hero.

Református Szemle 115.1 (2022)Research articleVarious
Marjovszky Tibor, Márton János25 -- 36

In ancient Israel, the lack of winter rains was not only seen as an economic crisis, but also as a warning from God. Whenever the rainy season passed without rainfall, the sages proclaimed a public fast. Part 2 of the Mishnaic tractate Tacanit treatise deals in detail with the rituals that the patriarch, the president of the tribunal, the clergy and the members of the congregation were required to perform. The external ceremonies, such as the sprinkling of ashes on the ark, included various blessings which pointed to the real purpose of fasting: to set the heart back on the right path. The days of fasting, therefore, provide an opportunity to fulfil the prerequisites for conversion: confession and repentance of sins. The chapter also mentions the days on which fasting is expressly forbidden and those who are exempt from fasting in the strict sense. Lastly, because it was a matter of the repentance of the community, the sages also took care to ensure that thus traders did not fall into the sin of greed, and tried to exclude any attempts of abuse in business.

Református Szemle 115.1 (2022)Research articleJudaica
Máthé-Farkas Zoltán5 -- 24

Job 19,25–27 are probably the most widely known verses from his book. This pericope is often evoked on funeral occasions, and many Christians undoubtedly ponder those while struggling with the issue of death. The current study does not aim to correct the Christian faith. From the perspective of systematic theology, the Redeemer of Job and that of the Christians is the very same Christ. This essay attempts to outline the meaning of the text through linguistic and poetical analysis. A text (including a spontaneous one) informs a reader even by the way it was created. That is emphatically true in case of a writing formed, handed down, redacted in a stabilized version. (Scribal mistakes, of course, cannot be excluded, but until proven let the principle of lectio difficilior be followed.) The present essay strives to understand the meaning of Job’s words about his Restorer, who is able to redeem even when the flesh and the heart are consumed.

Református Szemle 115.1 (2022)Research articleOld Testament
Ambrus Mózes709 -- 720

As a consequence of the Second Vienna Award of 30 August 1940, the Transylvanian Reformed Church was split into two parts. Broadly 240 000 Reformed believers in Southern Transylvania came under the jurisdiction of the Romanian state. Bishop János Vásárhelyi and the Council of Church Directors of the Transylvanian Reformed Church entrusted Ferenc Nagy and Count Bálint Bethlen with the task of organising the administration of the congregations in Southern Transylvania. The church also had to decide on how to organise the training of pastors in the South Transylvanian Reformed Church District. In the spring of 1941, a training course was organised for theologians, after which they could complete the theological studies they had begun. In September 1941, the Bethlen Theological Academy in Nagyenyed was opened, with four departments and four full-time teachers.

Református Szemle 114.6 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Biró István687 -- 708

In our study, we examined a significant change of administration and power: what was the impact of the Second Vienna Award of 30 August 1940 on the Faculty of Theology of the Transylvanian Reformed Church in Cluj/Kolozsvár? This historical turn of events was not only a cause for joy, but also a major change and challenge for theological education.

We were able to gain insight into the challenges the faculty and its leadership faced in the new situation and the solutions they sought to address them. After the second Vienna Award, the integration of the faculty into the ecclesiastical higher education of the Hungarian state was one of the primary tasks. The academic situation of the students also had to be sorted out, and the Faculty had to face a significant reduction in its staff and the financial crisis. These influences changed the internal and external life of the faculty; consequently, we see that social, administrative and political changes had a particular impact on the functioning of the institute and on the training of ministers.

The writings of the theological teachers in ecclesiastical publications have provided a basis for understanding the processes of power change in Transylvania in their ecclesiastical context. They helped to develop a correct vision and to identify the perceived and expected consequences of the decision. Our study also shows that during this period, ecclesiastical and public activities were deeply intertwined.

Református Szemle 114.6 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Buzogány Dezső679 -- 686

The synod of the Classis or deanery was the assembly of the church supervisors which gathered once a year. But if unavoidable affairs of local churches required, the synod could be convoked any time it was necessary. In this case they had to notify the public authority to convene an extraordinary meeting even before the regular date of the synod. The proper place for the synod was the main Church Town hall or the palatine’s assembly hall. Thus, the authority may be present at the synod as the one ordained by God to be the upholder and guardian of the church. The task of the chairman was to say a prayer, to collect the votes, to build a bridge between the public authority and supervisors, to see that the decisions of the synod are duly recorded and put in writing, to have them signed by all, and to give them to each participant to take to their congregations. During discussions the public authority has no decisive word like in public administration or society affairs, it has only the right to deliberate. For in ecclesiastical matters, it is not the approval and will of the authority that is decisive, but the word of God, and in the synod this word alone can have the authority of command. To this the authority also owes obedience, for the authority is not lord, but lamb and member of the church. God has not placed the authorities above the church, but in the church.

Református Szemle 114.6 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Magyar Balázs Dávid616 -- 678

The reception of John Calvin’s theology and social thoughts in Hungary raises several historical, judicial and theological questions. The multi-faceted legacy of Péter Melius Juhász makes it clear that Calvin’s theological and ethical considerations had a profound impact on the sixteenth century moral life of the local townsfolk of Debrecen. But the exploration of the practical aspects of this influence has been neglected in current Calvin-studies. For this reason, the primary intention of the present study is to show what practical implications in the field of public morals the ecclesiastical and literary ministry of the early modern preachers of Geneva and Debrecen had. Readers will find that the Hungarian reformers did not directly refer to the written legacy of Luther or Calvin, but the sifting examination of the Registers of the Magistrates of Debrecen contributes significantly to demonstrating the effectiveness of the doctrines preached by the reformers in Eastern Hungary. Moreover, the elaboration on the public morals of Debrecen also allows a comparison of the moral life of the inhabitants of the two Reformed cities of Geneva and Debrecen.

Református Szemle 114.6 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Literáty Zoltán607 -- 615

Fifty years ago a short book on homiletics was published, entitled As One Without Authority, by Fred B. Craddock, which proved to be a milestone in the history of homiletics. The interval of half a century since its publication allows to appreciate the homiletical concept that was built on the narrative paradigm. This evaluation emerges from the Hungarian context, where narrative preaching has always been a faraway guest for the last fifty years.

Református Szemle 114.6 (2021)Research articlePractical theology
Kulcsár Árpád553 -- 593

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Reformed Church District of Király- hágómellék, this paper examines the work of alliances within the church (Women’s Alliance, Men’s Alliance, Youths’ Alliance, etc.), with special focus on the social and diaconal work. The paper builds on articles, reportages, footages, and shorter studies of the Reformátusok Lapja (Reformed Magazine), published by the celebrating church district. A synthesis of the available data reveals the difficulties involving the organisation of these alliances and the limited results achieved. 

Református Szemle 114.5 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Higyed István-Levente530 -- 552

In this study we trace back the life of Reformed minister, dean and bishop János Gachal until his traceless disappearance. We also present the organisational development of the Reformed Church in southern Hungary at the moment of the collapse of Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the border modifications that took place during the Second World War. János Gachal spent most of his ministry in southern Hungary where he experienced the horrors of both world wars. One can discover his integrity in a world that changed abruptly around him. He became active in saving communists, Jews and Yugoslav partisans. He was a skilled organiser of the congregations. The era of his ministry is characterised by a vibrant atmosphere regarding both the life of the church and the cultural and economic life of the communities. During the Second World War he has fallen victim to the unstoppable ethnical cleansing. Even today, nobody exactly knows what exactly happened and where was he buried.

Református Szemle 114.5 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Buzogány Dezső517 -- 529

The structure of the Transylvanian Reformed Church in the 16–17th centuries showed many similarities to the West-European Reformed church models. Except for the institution of elders (Presbiterium), all other church institutions were established as early as the middle of the 16th century. The main cause of the lack of the institution of elders was the dissimilarity in the struc- ture of the society. While the society in the West was founded on civil democracy, the social system of Transylvania was rather feudalistic, consequently the lower part of the society had little influence on governing, both on a local and on a regional level. This is why the Presbiterium, as one of the democratic institutions of the church in the West, failed to be implemented within the structure of the church government in Transylvania. Thus the lowest level of church gov- ernment was the synod of the classis or deanery (synodus particularis), lead by the dean (in the west: the inspector). As the entire church structure reflected somehow the structure of the secular society, the church as an organization could have been incorporated into the feudal secular society.

Református Szemle 114.5 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Opra Koppány496 -- 516

While the Qur’an often refers to Jesus Christ, it presents a picture which is different from the New Testament. The Qur’an “denies” that Jesus Christ would be the Son of God, implicitly also discounting the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Jesus is only a creature, a prophet of God, whom God saved from death on the cross. The denial of the death of Jesus Christ was presum- ably theologically motivated, insofar as Muhammad’s successful career was aimed to prove that the servant of Allah cannot fail or suffer because God protects his people and leads them to prosperity. In contrast, Jesus Christ is the One who, if necessary, will take the way of suffering for the sinner and even make the substitutionary sacrifice for his salvation (Is 53:3-6). Muham- mad could have encountered heretical Christian teachings. When the Qur’an refutes teachings concerning the person of Jesus Christ that are irreconcilable with the Bible or the traditional dogmas of Christianity, it refutes, in fact, the heresies of certain Christian sects.

Református Szemle 114.5 (2021)Research articleSystematic theology
Mezey Mónika487 -- 495

The Mishnah tractate Avodah Zarah (Idolatry) contains a list of items that are forbidden to be sold to pagans. This study discusses whether these items played such an important role in pagan cults as it was suggested by the rabbis, or they were special ingredients of magical recipes.

Református Szemle 114.5 (2021)Research articleAntiquity studies, Judaica
Buzogány Dezső473 -- 475Református Szemle 114.4 (2021)AnnouncementChurch history
Sógor Géza449 -- 453Református Szemle 114.4 (2021)ReviewSystematic theology
Viczián István428 -- 448

This is the third, closing section on the life of Countess Anna Teleki (1783-1851). In Part I we dealt with her youth, in Part II with her marriage to Simon Kemény, and in this last section with her widowhood. After the death of her husband, Anna Teleki moved to Enyed (Aiud), where her home, the “Burg”, became not only a centre of her family life but also of cultural and political life. She was responsible for the financial support of Farkas Bolyai. Her sons and sons-in-law played a nationally important role in the Union and during the War of Independence (1948). They were forced to flee from Enyed because of the attack of the Romanian Moț groups. After the War of Independence, the family went into hiding in Tiszaroff and Érmihályfalva (Valea lui Mihai). Here she received a letter from Farkas Bolyai evaluating the recent events of those days. She died on her return to Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) in 1851. Her life and moral example deserve respect even by biblical standards.

Református Szemle 114.4 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Buzogány Dezső409 -- 427

The election, education and ordination of future ministers has always been a responsibility of church officials, such as teachers, ministers, deans, respectively the assembly of the deanery. Teachers and ministers have also had the responsibility of identifying bright and talented students and church youth who can be directed to higher education to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for pastoral ministry. In addition to the usual biblical and theological subjects, they had to learn Latin grammar, dialectics and rhetoric, and after completing their secondary education, they had to consolidate what they had learned at university level. Young people applying for the ministry first had to acquire the necessary practical skills as assistant ministers under the guidance of ordinary ministers, and only then were they ordained as ordinary ministers in a congregation.

Református Szemle 114.4 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Borsi Attila János398 -- 408

This short text discloses Karl Barth’s idea on confession and prayer as it is presented in his Church Dogmatics III/4. Confession of faith and prayer are central to Christian thought, but most often they appear in theological literature only as a topic of Christian confessional piety. This short paper seeks to answer the question of whether prayer and confession of faith carry both an outward and an inward ethical charge in Christian thought. Barth treats the question of confession and prayer in his Dogmatics as belonging to the domain of special ethics. The confession of faith, whether implicit or explicit, always points to Christ and as such cannot avoid affirming and critically evaluating the reality of the world. By doing this, it becomes essentially an expression of ethical awareness. Likewise, prayer, rooted in the revelation of God, by its actualising the relationship between God and man it becomes in every situation an occasion for a decision in favour of God and neighbour. By these means Christians can show that they take Christianity seriously.

Református Szemle 114.4 (2021)Research articleSystematic theology
Steiner József377 -- 397

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the life of the churches and the local congregations. The Hungarian experiences fit into the international trends. The ongoing paradigm-shift in mission-ecclesiology has become even more complex. The pandemic amplified some of the ongoing changes and, at the same time, has brought about new phenomena. This study describes these changes and provides suggestions that could strengthen the churches in order to effectively fulfil their mission even under the current circumstances.

Református Szemle 114.4 (2021)Research articleSystematic theology, Practical theology, Missiology
Biró István339 -- 354

In this study we present papers and theses of students submitted in church history, in response to teachers’ assignments at the Faculty of Theology in Kolozsvár/Cluj between 1898 and 1944. These works were closely related to the history teaching church history at the Faculty, being intended to promote independent scientific research and talent management. During the period analysed here, a total of twenty-six works in church history were completed as fulfilments of the thirty-four assigned topics. The number of works submitted and the number of topics assigned varied from period to period, but they are relevantly embedded in the framework of the institutional curriculum.

Református Szemle 114.3 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Viczián István304 -- 338

After presenting the youth of Anna Teleki in Part I. of our study, in this second part, we deal with her marriage to Simon Kemény. Count Anna Teleki married Br. Simon Kemény Jr in 1801, who had previously studied at the University of Göttingen with his fellow student, Farkas Bolyai. Simon Kemény later remained Bolyai’s friend and spiritual companion. The young couple lived in Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureş), Apanagyfalu (Nușeni) and in Csombord (Ciumbrud) in Lower-Alba county. They had six children, five of whom reached adulthood. Anna Teleki raised her children to virtues such as kindness, honesty, diligence, modesty. Her prayers and writings on educating of children have survived the centuries. With the support of the family, most of them had reached an outstanding career: Dániel Vajda, the later winemaker expert, János Szabó, portrait painter, Miklós Barabás, painter, and Károly Szász Sr., a mathematician and a lawyer. From 1823 until his death in 1826, a period considered by contemporaries the golden age of the county, Simon Kemény served as the administrator (chief lord) of Lower-Alba county.

Református Szemle 114.3 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Borsi Attila János294 -- 303

The concept of “the Other” seems crucial for Bonhoeffer’s dealing with human reality. While he addresses this question by applying traditional terms, at the same time, Bonhoeffer intends to broaden the significance of these terms through different means: he either reads the biblical text simply theologically, or he provides a larger theological frame for his purposes. Either way his intention is the same: to present a Christologically oriented understanding of the “Other”, the individual. This article intends to trace this intention in Bonhoeffer’s major works. The concept of the “Other” appears with respect to various aspects such as creation, sin, to be in Christ and to be in communion with others. The basic concept is that the “Other” is a limitation in the context of God’s grace which can be experienced in the presence of Christ. Individuals must therefore relate to each other through Christ.

Református Szemle 114.3 (2021)Research articleSystematic theology
Bakos István267 -- 293

This study attempts to sketch the biblical and Christian ethical dimensions of collective crime by analysing biblical texts and terminology relevant to the topic. The definition and critique of collective crime was born in Germany in the aftermath of political, philosophical and legal debates after the second world war. The concept expressing the essence of the notion – namely that the whole community can be considered guilty for the crimes committed by individuals or a smaller group within the community – has led to several Neroic acts, having served as a legitimate ideological basis for dictatorships, extermination camps, war crimes, conceptional proceedings, and victimisations. Therefore the 20th century definition of collective crime cannot be sustained any longer either legally, or morally. It is clear nonetheless that some thoughts behind this concept are also familiar from the Bible, which is aware that the consequences of individual crimes affect an entire nation. However, the view which penalises the innocent for crimes committed by others, is foreign to the conceptual world of the Bible. In this study I point to biblical and ethical principles providing guidelines for dealing with collective crime and collective responsibility.

Református Szemle 114.3 (2021)Research articleOld Testament, New Testament, Systematic theology
Éles Éva247 -- 266

This article engages in an ethical analysis of 1-2Peter. In these epistles the Christians of Asia Minor receive relevant and actualized ethical message. The ethical teaching of the Petrine letters is not presented in a distilled manner, because what is at stake here is not simply an ethical exigency but the very nature of the relationship between God and humans, God and the believer. In the case of 1Pt, the focus is on submissiveness and doing good especially in times of suffering, experiencing the power of the (epistemological) turn: from intuition to imitatio Christi. As for 2Pt, we find this Relationship embedded in the tension between effort and participation.

Református Szemle 114.3 (2021)Research articleNew Testament
Viczián István223 -- 238

The life of Anna Teleki (1783–1851), wife of Count Simon Kemény is presented in 3 parts. Part I deals with his youth, Part II with his marriage to Count Simon Kemény, Part III. with her widowed years.

The father of Anna Teleki was Count Domokos Teleki Sr., the later chancellor and memorial writer of Turda, her mother was Countess Judit Bethlen of Bethlen. Her mother dies when she was one years old, and her two brothers follow their mother soon. Until the age of six, she was raised in Apanagyfalu (Nușeni) and Cluj-Napoca by her maternal grandmother, Countess Júlia Wass from Czege, wife of Count Elek Bethlen. When her father remarries, she moves to Sárpatak (Șapartoc). At the age of 15, in 1798, she became the bride of the famous mineral collector, Count Domokos Teleki Jr., but her fiancé tragically died the same year.

Református Szemle 114.2 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Buzogány Dezső211 -- 222

Educating the children in Christian faith has always been a high priority and necessity in the church. Teaching them the confession was the core of the educational process. The religious education was started by parents at home. They must have had sufficient religious knowledge to teach the basics to their children. This was called private catechetical education. In addition to this, the church also provided a deeper, so-called public confessional education to the children. This was taken care of by ministers, primarily in the church building during the afternoon regular church service for both children and adults. During wintertime, when it was too cold for teaching in the church building, ministers gathered the children in their own houses. When children were grown to the school age, the regular denominational school took over the educational tasks and started to teach, beside the regular disciplines, religious subjects too in greater details. The examination of the children took place in the church building publicly, in the presence of the congregation, under the leading of the local minister, or by the dean of the classis during the regular annual inspection in the congregation. During the examination with the attendance of the local congregation, the leader of the inspection often also sized-up the congregation’s confessional knowledge, posing questions from the catechism even to some adult members of the congregation. This mode of examination of the children is more effective – according to the church regulation. The educational system was based entirely on the Christian teaching that by these means penetrated deeply into various levels of the society.

Református Szemle 114.2 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Magyar Balázs Dávid179 -- 210

John Calvin was devoted to restore the sanctity of the Genevan townsfolk, by which he understood the practical fulfilment of God’s Law, the Ten Commandments. To be sure, his primary intention was to exert an influence on the texture of daily life of the Genevan population. He delivered sermons and published-edited commentaries in order to establish his new theological ethics, and marital reforms concerning the adequate moral life of a Christian family. He fought against every kind of sexual crime, including fornication and adultery. However, while Calvin accepted in theory that adultery ought to be punished with death penalty, the Genevan reality was very different, because Calvin was preaching from the mercy of God day by day.

Calvin’s thoughts on Christian marriage and family life raised several historical, judiciary and social questions. An examination of Juhász Péter Méliusz’s Debrecen-Egervölgyi Confession and Major Articles shows that Calvin’s heritage deeply influenced the Hungarian Reformed teaching on engagement, marriage and divorce. Nonetheless, the readers will find that the reformers of the “Hungarian Reformed Church” did not cite directly the theological and ethical works of Calvin or Luther concerning the questions of fornication and adultery. An examination of the operation of the Magistracy of Debrecen reveals that, in case of adultery, sinners were allowed to receive the clemency of their spouses, extricating them from the legal procedure with this merciful statement: “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezech 33,11). Between 1547 and 1625 only 26 people (female: 17, male: 9) out of a total of 241 persons (female: 136, male: 105) accused of fornication and adultery were actually executed. Nevertheless, death sentence was promulgated in cases of serious fornication mixed with sexual violence or murder of infants.

Református Szemle 114.2 (2021)Research articleChurch history
Kiss Lajos András159 -- 178

The present writing discusses analytically Sándor Fazakas’s book entitled We have sinned… The church in the context of historical and social sins. It is known that in the darkest decades of the last century, the Christian churches were in the focus of different totalitarian oppressing regimes. Under these conditions it seemed to be impossible and/or senseless to interpret questions of social and private sins from the viewpoint of church organisations, church leaders, or laic believers. Sándor Fazakas is breaking taboos when exposing – beyond the hard to judge victims’ destiny – the moral and theological facets of the collaboration with the oppressive regimes. Based on his vast knowledge of history, theology, philosophy, and sociology, the author offers worthy of considering aspects for the difficult task of encountering the past, avoiding at the same time the nowadays rather common ad personam accusations.

Református Szemle 114.2 (2021)ReviewSystematic theology
Zsengellér József125 -- 158

This paper discusses three Hebrew gratulatory poems from the corpus of so-called carmina gratulatoria hebraica composed by 17th century Hungarian peregrines in Franeker (Holland). It introduces the genre and context of this type of poems. As carmina gratulatoria represent a community oriented genre, they offer a wealth of information about their sociocultural setting, in our case the relations of the writer and his addressees, his education in and knowledge of Hebrew in Hungary and in the Netherlands, the writer’s skills of Hebrew and writing poetry. This is the first study of these Hebrew poems from the 17th century.

Református Szemle 114.2 (2021)Research articleOld Testament, Church history, Other