On March 20, 2023, our institute and the Hungarian Unitarian Church co-organized the presentation of Réka Újlaki-Nagy's book "Christians or Jews? Early Transylvanian Sabbatarianism (1580-1621) in the main building of the Unitarian Church of Budapest.

The English monograph is the eighty-seventh volume in the Refo500 Academic Studies series of the Vandenhoeck&Ruprecht publishing house in Göttingen. The participants of the presentation were hebraist Kornélia Koltai, philosopher Endre Kiss, literary historian Mihály Balázs, Antal Molnár, director of the Institute of History and the author Réka Újlaki-Nagy. Pál Ács, research professor of the Institute of History moderated the discussion.

szombatossag konyvbemutatoAntal Molnár, Kornélia Koltai, Pál Ács, Mihály Balázs, Endre Kiss and Réka Újlaki-Nagy 

The discussion focused on the positioning of Transylvanian Sabbatarianism in the history of early modern European ideas and the Reformation, with special emphasis on the context of the Radical Reformation and the social and political conditions in Transylvania. In addressing the issue of Judaism and/or Christianity, the discussants highlighted the book's sensitive approach to religious categorisation.

It was said that, bearing in mind the fragmentary nature of the sources, the author had abandoned the desire to write a historical narrative. Instead, by moving closer to the surviving texts, which are mainly theological in content, his attention was directed throughout the book to examining the Sabbatarians' approach to Christianity or Judaism, the basis of their attachment, from the internal point of view of the community.

szombatossag konyvbemutato3Photos by Mátyás Szabó, Judit Soós, Szabolcs Czire/Budapest Unitarian Church Facebook

Each chapter uses a different method to present, as Kornélia Koltai puts it, a "postmodern" way of understanding the early Sabbatarians' interpretation of scripture, doctrines and religious practices, as well as their image of themselves and others, and the formation of their identity.

During the evening, which included a tour of the building and a Sabbatarian food tasting, the audience was able to view a selection of photographs taken by journalist-photographer Lajos Erdélyi in Bözödújfalu, "Sabbath Jerusalem". A toast was given at the event by Szabolcs Czire, Senior Pastor. Lajos Erdélyi and the building were the subject of a talk by the Unitarian Church's senior pastor, Botond Elekes.

szombatossag konyvbemutato2Szabolcs Szabolcs Czire, Botond Elekes. Photos by Mátyás Szabó, Judit Soós, Szabolcs Czire/Budapest Unitarian Church Facebook

 The book can be ordered from the publisher, on Bookline or on Amazon.