The Oldest Book of Gospels in Hungarian


The Codex of Munich―as this manuscript is usually called―is one of the most important early Hungarian manuscripts in existence. It contains two separate units, a calendar and the oldest Book of Gospels in the Hungarian language. The latter is part of the so-called Hussite Bible, the only written vestige of Hussitism in Hungary. The translation is thought to have been produced by two Hungarian divines, Tamás Pécsi (Thomas de Quinque Ecclesiis) and Bálint Újlaki (Valentinus de Ilok), who as students in Prague (then in Bohemia) had come under the influence of the teachings of Jan Hus (circa 1369‒1415). The original manuscript of the Hussite Bible has not come down to us; only partial copies have survived. The principal exemplars are, apart from the Codex of Munich, the Codex of Vienna (excerpts from the Old Testament, preserved by the National Széchényi Library in Budapest), and the Apor Codex (translation of the 150 Psalms, owned by the Székely National Museum in Sfântu Gheorghe, Romania). The Munich manuscript was written by György Németi in Târgu Trotus (Moldavia) in 1466. It consists of 124 pages and contains the four Gospels, with the beginning of each Gospel decorated with an ornamental border. The codex is famous both for the text, but also as a literary monument, as Pécsi and Újlaki for the first time adopted the orthographic system of writing special sounds with diacritic marks. It is unknown where the codex went after its completion. It came to the newly founded Munich court library, today’s Bavarian State Library, together with the library of Johann Albrecht Widmanstetter (circa 1506‒57) in 1558. It is quite probable that Widmanstetter received the book in his position as chancellor at the Viennese court from Tamás Nádasdy, the representative of the Hungarian king in the early 1550s.

Last updated: July 28, 2017