The Komáromi Bible


During the religious wars (1604–45) against the Austrian monarchs, the Hungarian nation heroically fought for political and religious liberty; to the great Protestant princes of Transylvania, Bocskai, Bethlen, and George (György) Rákóczi the Protestant Church is much indebted, for without them it would have suffered the fate of the Bohemian Church. The victorious Rákóczi family caused 10,000 copies of the Bible to be published at Várad in 1657. The years 1660 to 1781 were a dark period for Hungarian Protest-ants, during which the Austrian government, under Jesuitical influences, took control of the entire kingdom, and the freedom gained in the Reformation was lost. The crisis came in 1671–81, the so-called “decade of mourning.” This grievous situation explains the fact that Hungarian Bibles had to be printed in foreign countries. The learned Reformed pastor of Debrecen, György Csipkés Komáromi, an excellent Hebrew scholar, in order to meet the common wish and to make the Bible keep pace with the growth of the language, made a new translation which was approved by the synods in 1681. The city of Debrecen at enormous cost had an edition of 4,000 copies printed at Leyden in 1718. When the edition reached the frontier it was seized by the Jesuits (who had secured from the king an order to that effect) and carried to their house at Kassa. The agitated citizens and council of Debrecen used all means available to recover the books and at length secured a royal edict from King Charles III (June 29, 1723) granting them a free Bible (P. Bod, Historia Hungarorum ecclesiastica, iii, 89). So great was the power of the Jesuits, however, that they frustrated the royal edict, and the bishop of Eger, Count F. Barkóczy, carried the Komáromi Bibles to his palace and threw them all into damp cellars, where they remained till 1754, when on Nov. 1, he burned them in the court of his palace before a large gathering (cf. The Bible Society Monthly Reporter Mar., 1904, p. 69). A few copies retained in Varsó, hidden in the Prussian ambassador’s house, were brought to Debrecen in 1789.

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. II: Basilica – Chambers, Schaff, Philip (1819-1893), pg. 148, Baker Book House, 1952