Journal index

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
Bodnár Lajos89 -- 107

The sources of Albert Kovács’ (1838–1904) theological freedom must be analysed in order to understand his theological thinking and determine his place in liberal theology, especially on the wide palette of its Hungarian representatives. In this study, I explore the origins of the influences that impacted him in his childhood, during his theological studies in Transylvania and abroad, that could have shaped his thinking. His childhood years in Mezőbánd were characterised, on the one hand, by the devotion of his family towards the church and, on the other hand, by the indelible imprint of the declining ecclesiastical crisis. During his school years, he became acquainted mainly with the ideology of rationalism, which laid the foundations for his later liberal theological orientation. During his studies in Utrecht and Göttingen, he encountered liberal, mediating and orthodox positions. Upon his return, he came under the influence of the radically liberal Mór Ballagi (1815–1891). Although this clearly set him on the liberal side, his orientation did not preclude the use and application of ideas taken from representatives of confessional theological schools that he has got acquainted with abroad.

Református Szemle 114 / 1 (2021)Research articleSystematic theology, Church history
Kovács Ábrahám56 -- 88

This work presents concisely the theological statements of a Swiss and a Hungarian theologian, Karl Barth and Lajos Erőss, regarding Buddhism. Both theologians belonged to the trend of orthodoxy in their respective countries. While they lived and worked in different contexts of space and time, nonetheless both strongly opposed the view of liberal theology that Christianity was merely one of the many world religions. Erőss and Barth dealt with comparative theology of religions within the framework of systematic theology, but they never accepted the conclusions of liberal theology. In this study, first I introduce Erőss’ life and work and briefly examine his opinion about Buddhism. Then I analyse Barth’ view about Japanese Zen Buddhism, especially with regard to the objectivity of his standards of comparative religion. The study critically reflects on how Christian dogmatic approach was applied by the theologians while they investigated other religions’ relation to Christianity, especially when the tenants about salvation was studied in those respective religions. The paper argues that Barth was able to transcend his theological mind up to a certain point yet bent his conclusion always towards his strong theological predetermined opinion which made him famous.

Református Szemle 114 / 1 (2021)Research articleSystematic theology
Vörös Éva32 -- 55

In a world of broken traditions where deaconesses are no longer existent, the culture of nursing has changed: it has become devoid of sacredness. Could church nursing homes find a way to revive any of the lost tradition? Could the teaching of Christo-centric diaconia be applied to the practice of nursing homes today, or is it merely an area for theological research? Focusing on everyday life in nursing homes, this study carefully considers the challenges of pastoral work, e.g., holding worship services for those suffering from dementia, and attempts to find a way for nursing homes to become God’s workshops and God’s households.

Református Szemle 114 / 1 (2021)Research articlePractical theology, Spirituality
Steiner József5 -- 31

Did the Jews engage in missionary activities in the New Testament era? Since most of the first Christians were of Jewish background, with their centre in Jerusalem, and considering the relevance of missionary activity in early Christianity, this is a highly significant question. Before the ministry of Apostle Paul, Christians of (primarily) Jewish origin were those who defined the circle and practice of potential followers of Christ. For this reason, it is crucial to identify the motivations of the continuously intensifying and purposefully mission-focused efforts with regard to the Gentiles. Could this dynamic be rooted in the missional character of Judaism towards the non-Jewish people?

Our research shows that (a) Judaism had not become a religion deliberately focused on missionary activities during New Testament times. They did not initiate missionary efforts since they were not convinced to have been their duty from JHWH to convert non-Jewish people to Judaism. (b) However, the Jews were aware of their election, and believed that, as a consequence of this, they needed to proclaim – by exposing their faith and ethical lifestyle – JHWH’s rulership to everyone. They knew the prophecies about the future that the Gentiles would eventually turn to JHWH as the only God and King of the Universe and would worship Him together with the Jews. (c) The Jews opened possibilities to the Gentiles, who felt attracted to their faith, to get closer to Judaism. Those who had shown stronger commitment came to be accepted to (on different levels) and integrated into the Jewish faith community.

Furthermore, during the New Testament era, the Jewish national existence was under threat by the Roman Empire. This urged them even more to popularise their faith in order to secure their national subsistence. This dynamic shaped the spiritual and cultural background of the ever-increasing intentional missionary efforts of the Early Church towards the Gentiles.

Református Szemle 114 / 1 (2021)Research articleOld Testament, New Testament, Antiquity studies, Judaica
Ledán M. István616 -- 644

In this study, we briefly outline the possible sources of a disputation written by the Transylvanian polyhistor Sámuel Kaposi and make reserved statements about the authorship and originality of this disputation. Our aim is to draw attention to this interesting text, which is perhaps the first Hungarian work dealing with spiritual desertion, a topic peculiar to English and Dutch Puritans.

Református Szemle 113 / 6 (2020)Source editionChurch history
Kulcsár Árpád588 -- 615

In this paper I present an in-depth analysis of the writings of László Ravasz from the period 1903–1906. During this period, he graduated from the Protestant Theological Institute, the State University at Kolozsvár/Cluj, and spent a year of PhD research in Berlin. He started publishing in the journal Erdélyi Protestáns Lap mostly in the domain of religious studies. He still adheres to the liberal wing of theology, but in this period, he slowly starts to shift towards the so-called value theology, a much modern way of the long-standing liberalism.

Református Szemle 113 / 6 (2020)Research articleSystematic theology, Church history, Practical theology
Orosz Otília Valéria569 -- 587

The congregations of the Reformed Church District of Királyhágómellék and Transylvania replaced the older hymnbooks twenty years ago. The replacement of 1921 hymnbook, previously used in the Partium region, and of the 1923 hymnbook used in Transylvania, opened a new chapter in the church singing practice. When comparing the origin and style layer of the songs in the two hymnbooks, the difference is striking, especially with respect to the 19th century melodies and the amount of 18–19th century ad notam songs in the 1921 hymnbook. From a structural point of view, the Hungarian Reformed Hymnbook focuses mostly on the hymns of the Reformation era and the German choral melodies, quantitatively closely followed by the Anglo-Saxon and Romantic hymns. The other valuable medieval, baroque and 20th century hymns are present in a merely symbolic proportion. During a hymnbook revision, it is not enough to drop rarely used or undervalued hymns. Rather, hymns with weakened influence need to be replaced. This is how we should approach our new hymnbook published nearly a quarter of a century ago. Its substantially new material should be regarded as a “profit” that needs to be discovered repeatedly and adopted in our worship services.

Református Szemle 113 / 6 (2020)Research articleSystematic theology, Hymnology
Marjovszky Tibor549 -- 568

Der Para-Traktat der Mischna erklärt unter dem Titel die „Die rote Kuh“ die Bestimmun­gen bezüglich 4 Mose 19. Nach einer kurzen Einleitung folgt die Übersetzung von drei Kapi­teln mit kurzen Sacherklärungen. Dies ist die erste ungarische Übersetzung des Textes.

Református Szemle 113 / 6 (2020)Source editionJudaica
Papp György539 -- 541

Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftdsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte. Band 26. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2020, ISBN-10: 3110671360; ISBN-10: 3110671360, 237 old.

Református Szemle 113 / 5 (2020)ReviewChurch history
Steiner József537 -- 539

Evangéliumi Kiadó – Koinónia Kiadó, 2020, ISBN: 978-615-5624-84-1, 978-615-5624-85-8 pdf, 978-615-5624-86-5 epub, 978-615-5624-87-2 mob, 78 old.

Református Szemle 113 / 5 (2020)ReviewMissiology, Spirituality
Steiner József534 -- 537

Translated by Székely György, Gondáné Kaul Éva, Pálhegyi Kriszta, Daray Erzsébet. Harmat–KIA, Budapest 2020, ISBN 978-963-288-034-1, 568 old.

Református Szemle 113 / 5 (2020)ReviewPractical theology, Missiology, Spirituality