Bible Theft in Hungary

Valerie Offord,
March 2002.

A rare and extremely valuable copy of the Bible was stolen from the Protestant church in Vizsoly, northern Hungary close to the border with Slovakia in February 2002. As another original copy had been sold for close to $100,000 at a Christies’ auction in London last November it is possible that this event alerted the thieves to the value of the book. Only 20 copies of the Viszoly Bible exist around the world and several of them are in Hungary.

a page from a rare Hungarian Bible

Gaspar Karolyi, a Reformed minister with his co-workers at Goric, translated the Bible into Hungarian in 1590 and it was then printed with the aid of rich and powerful merchants in nearby Vizsoly. One of the most important centres of the Hungarian Reformation was the north-eastern area of the country, and therefore it is not by chance that the dialect of that region became the basis of the developing Hungarian literary language. The language of the Viszoly Bible is unified and superb. It became the Hungarian Protestant Bible, which was published with revisions for centuries. Its expressions and phrases are indelibly incorporated into spoken Hungarian: In fact, this Bible together with the Psalter, translated by Albert Szenczi Molnar in 1607 (from the Geneva version of Theodore de Beze and Clement Marot), are still read and sung respectively by the Hungarian Church today.

A Reformed Church bishop described the theft as a loss to the whole of Hungarian culture and the authorities have offered a reward of some $12,630 for information to help in its recovery.

Sources- Internet Sites

BBC News:
Hungarian Reformed Church:

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