|Born||Franz David Hertel
Kolozsvár, Kingdom of Hungary
(today Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
|Died||15 November 1579 (aged c. 58–59)
Déva, Principality of Transylvania
(today Deva, Romania)
|Education||University of Wittenberg
University of Frankfurt
|Notable work||Rövid Utmutatás az Istennec igeienec igaz ertelmere, mostani szent Haromsagrol tamadot vetélkedesnec meg feytesere es itelesere hasznos es szükseges|
Kata Barát (Münich) (2nd)
Ferenc Dávid (also rendered as Francis David or Francis Davidis) (born as Franz David Hertel, c.1520 – 15 November 1579) was a Transylvanian Nontrinitarian and Unitarian preacher, the founder of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania, leading figure of the nontrinitarian movements during the Protestant Reformation era.
Studying Catholic theology in Wittenberg and in Frankfurt an der Oder and first as a catholic priest, later a Lutheran and then a Calvinist bishop in the Principality of Transylvania he learnt the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Churches. But later rejected several of them.
He disputed the Christian view on the Holy Trinity as he understood it to be, that God is one and indivisible.
- 1 Life
- 2 Death
- 3 Beliefs
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Influence
- 6 Works
- 7 Literature
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Born in Kolozsvár, Hungary (present-day Cluj-Napoca, Romania) to a Transylvanian Saxon father, David Hertel, who worked as a tanner and a Hungarian mother. The Hertel/Herthel family was an old Transylvanian Saxon aristoctratic family of Kolozsvár. In Latin and Hungarian he used his name as Francis Davidis or Dávid Ferenc after his father's forename David. He had at least three brothers Gregor, Peter and Nikolaus. Peter and Gregor inherited the job of their father in the guild. Gáspár Heltai, the father of Peter's wife, Borbála, was a Protestant Reformer, Lutheran and later Unitarian minister, translator, outstanding author of the Hungarian late Reneissance-era. He owned the paper mill and the press of Kolozsvár where several relegious and scientific books were made in Hungarian and German.
Ferenc Dávid was raised Catholic. After finishing his studies in the High School of Kolozsvár (today Cluj Napoca, Romania) he went to the Holy Roman Empire to study Catholic theology first at the University of Wittenberg and then later at the Alma Mater Viadrina (University of Frankfurt an der Oder) where he became a catholic parson.
In 1542 the Lutheran reformator, Johannes Honterus introduced the Lutheran doctrines to the citizens of Kolozsvár. After arriving back to Transylvania Ferenc Dávid joined the Lutheran-wing of the Reformation where he became a minister and then a Lutheran bishop. He worked as headmaster of the Gymnasium of Beszterce (today Bistrița, Romania). Then as Lutheran pastor in Petres (today Cetate, Romania). Later headmaster of the Gymnasium of Kolozsvár and from 1555 chief pastor of Kolozsvár (today Cluj Napoca, Romania).
On 1 June 1557 the Diet of Torda (National Assembly) stated that 'everybody should live in a belief that he or she wants if it is done without the distrust of another' which meant for the population of the Principality of Transylvania that it became allowed to practice not just the Roman Catholic, but the Lutheran religion.
In 1559 he entered the Reformed Church where he was elected bishop of the Hungarian churches in Transylvania and he was also the appointed court preacher to János Zsigmond Zápolya, Prince of Transylvania. The prince allowed him to research in the royal library and to work in the royal court on his theological theses.
After the Battle of Mohács the political instability, the weakening of the Roman Catholic denomination (continous expansion of the Ottoman Empire, heretic movements in Transylvania especially of Arianism, Bogumilism etc.) prepared the way for the new ideas of the Reformation. A well known Italian antitrinitarian, Giorgio Biandrata moved to Transylvania in 1563 into the royal court of John II Sigismund Zápolya and became his own doctor. Biandrata co-operated with Ferenc Dávid on theological works.
Dávid's discussion of the Holy Trinity began in 1565, with doubts of the personality of the Holy Spirit, because he could find no scriptural basis for the doctrine of the Trinity. One of his main points against the existence of the Holy Trinity was that what the Arians during the early ages of Christianity liked to refer to that it does not come up in the Bible. He was influenced by the antitrinitarian and humanist views of Michael Servetus and Giovanni Valentino Gentile.
Together with Giorgio Biandrata he published polemical writings against Trinitarian belief, particularly De falsa et vera unius Dei Patris, Filii et Spiritus Sancti cognitione which is largely a summarized version of Servetus's Christianismi Restitutio. But in 1578 the collaboration broke up as Biandrata was charged with immorality. An important difference between the views of the two theologians was that Ferenc Dávid became a nonadorant which meant that he renounced the necessity of invoking Christ in prayers.
Working in the royal court he could convinced the prince about his point of view on religion which made John II Sigismund Zápolya to accept his theses and he became the first Unitarian ruler. In 1567 John II Sigismund Zápolya allowed him to use his press in Gyulafehérvár (today Alba Iulia, Romania) to propagate the religion.
Edict of Torda (1568)
The aim of his life as Ferenc Dávid wrote was 'the restoration of the pure Christianity of Jesus' which meant for him the search for the truth in the whole freedom of thought. So he procured the prince, John II Sigismund Zápolya and several people in important positions to reach an agreement between the opposite sides of the religious debate. His attempts were successfull.
Between 6 and 13 January 1568 on the Diet of Torda the assembled representatives of the Hungarian nobility, the Szeklers, the Transylvanian Saxons and the royal court of the Principality of Transylvania proclaimed the Edict of Torda which included - as first in Europe - the practicing and propagation of the recepta religios (allowed religions) which were the Roman Catholic, the Lutheran, the Calvinist and the Unitarian. This order can be seen as the first law for the 'freedom of religion'. Thanks to that beside the three lawful nations of Transylvania the four lawful allowed religions could have a ecclesiastical, political and public law system in the Constitution of the Prinicipality of Transylvania. From that moment on the constitution based on the equal rights of the three nations and the four religions.
In 1571, John II Sigismund Zápolya was succeeded by István Báthory, a Roman Catholic, and the policy shifted toward persecution of the new religious institutions. In the same year the new ruler took the press of Gyulafehérvár back from the Unitarians. On the Diet of 1572 in Marosvásárhely (today Târgu Mureș, Romania) the religious laws were strengthened, but it declared the prohibition of the changing of religion. When, under the influence of Johannes Sommer, rector of the Gymnasium of Kolozsvár, Dávid denied the necessity of invoking Jesus Christ in prayer (about 1572), the attempted mediation of Faustus Socinus, upon Blandrata's request, was unsuccessful. Ferenc Dávid was sentenced to life imprisonment to Déva, Principality of Transylvania (today Deva, Romania), and died there in 1579. The ruins of the prison site in the city now hold a memorial for him.
After the death of Ferenc Dávid Lukas Trauzner, the son in law of Ferenc Dávid, wrote together with Miklós Bogáti Fazekas, Bernard Jacobinus (father of János Jacobinus) and the sons of Ferenc Dávid the Defensio Francisci Davidis in negotio de non invocando Jesu Christo in precibus (Basel, 1581) and were part of the inner opposition of the moderate Unitarianism movement of Demeter Hunyadi. Lukas Trauzner was sentenced to jail in 1579 because of his Sabbatarian-Unitarian beliefs. But after 1582 the political pressure eased. Lukas Trauzner and Gabriel Haller went to Vienna in 1598 in legation. The imperial commissioners described Trauzner as Sabbatarian and Haller as Arianist. Later he was active in the political negotiations between Transylvania and Austria. In 1603 he was a dedicated follower of the prince, Mózes Székely. He as a Unitarian undertook in the name of the prince to get the citizens of Beszterce into submission. After the defeat of Mózes Székely started the reign of Giorgio Basta in Kolozsvár who captured the royal judge, Mihály Tótházi and without a sentence beheaded him. Lukas Trauzner had to go to jail for two month, but for leaving the Unitarian Church and for apostasy he could get free. He lived from then on as a Catholic and but stayed as an active member of the mostly Unitarian Transylvanian Saxon community in Kolozsvár until his death.
Scholars still have to address fully Ferenc Dávid's Hungarian works for a satisfactory assessment of his beliefs.
The invocation controversy
In his early years as a Nontrinitarian, Dávid supported prayer to Christ as can be seen in his answer to Péter Melius Juhász, the Refutatio scripti Petri Melii (‘Refutation of the writings of Péter Méliusz’, Alba Iulia, 1567) In his later years Dávid adopted the radical, nonadorant view of Jacob Palaeologus that Christ should not be invoked in prayer, but that prayer should be directed only to God the Father. According to Ferenc Dávid Jesus is understood as a human being.
The virgin birth
After leaving Calvinism, Dávid adopted the view of Laelio Sozzini that the existence of Christ began when he was conceived by the Virgin Mary through the operation of the Holy Spirit. By 1578, it would appear that Dávid had come to adopt the view that Jesus was the literal son of Joseph. However some historians dispute this and argue that he believed in the virgin birth until the day of his death,[page needed] Certainly these skeptical views were not held by the Unitarian Church of Transylvania in his lifetime, nor included in the later Hungarian Unitarian statement of faith of David's successor Mihály Lombard de Szentábrahám. Such views were, however, held by sympathizers of the Polish Symon Budny.
He married twice. The name of his first wife is unknown, she died in 1570 in Kolozsvár. His second wife was Kata Barát, the daughter of István Barát (Stephan Münich), melodist and the chief judge of Kolozsvár. This marriage lasted from 1572 just two years. He had four children:
- Käthe (1557/1560-?), the wife of Lukas Trauzner, the treasurer of the furrier guild of Kolozsvár (today Cluj Napoca, Romania)
- David (1560 - 27 March 1582), theologian, Unitarian minister who studied at the University of Basel in Basel, Switzerland between 1578-1580
- Sophia, wife of Johann Sommer (1542-1572) theologian, Unitarian minister, humanist writer (according to Johann Seivert)
- Johannes, doctor in Kolozsvár (today Cluj Napoca, Romania) (ca. 1565 - ?)
Influence in Hungary and Transylvania
After his death Dávid came to be counted as, and honoured as, the first in the line of Hungarian Unitarian bishops based in Kolozsvár (Cluj). His writings continued to be published, and other recollections written down and collected, up to the time of Mihály Lombard de Szentábrahám.
Influence of Ferenc Dávid in England and America
English-speaking Unitarianism was largely unaware of Dávid. Most of the Unitarian writings which came via Amsterdam to England were of authors of the Polish Brethren, not Hungarians, as in the Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum quos Unitarios vocant (or "Library of the Polish Brethren called Unitarians") of which Locke, Voltaire and Newton owned copies. The works of Dávid and György Enyedi's were not reprinted in the 17th century. It was the visit of Sándor Bölöni Farkas to Britain and America 1830-1832, which made English speaking Unitarians aware of the continued existence of Hungarian Unitarians - and following that, of the legacy of Ferenc Dávid.
The Unitarian Universalist author John A. Buehrens (1989)  attributes to Ferenc Dávid the statement, "We need not think alike to love alike". The phrase is cited also in Our Historic Faith by Mark W. Harris  and in the 1993 Unitarian Universalist Hymnal Singing the Living Tradition in reading #566, which is a compilation of quotes by David, compiled by Rev. Richard Fewekes, but the source for this is not given in either case. The phrase is given in no source prior to Buehren's book. In an article published by UU World, "Who Really Said That?" Peter Hughes claims that there is no evidence that Dávid actually said this. He attributes the quote to Methodist founder, John Wesley, who asked in a sermon on “Catholic Spirit,” “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?”
Works of Dávid, and of the Unitarian Church.
- 1550 Elegia, Scripta ad Eximium D. Franciscum, I. V. Doctorem, ac Vicarium Ecclesiae Albensis in Transsylvania… Maecenatem suum semper colendum.
- 1555 Dialysis Scripti Stancari Contra Primum Articulum Synodi Szekiensis, qui de doctrina controvertitur, conscripta. Cluj-Napoca, 1555.
- 1556 Responsum ministrorum Ecclesiae Colosvariensis ad scripta varia Martini a Calmancha in Causa Coena Domini edita Colosvarini. Anno 1556. die 25. Julii.
- 1557 Consensus Doctrinae De Sacramentis Christi Claudiopoli, 1557.
- 1558 Acta Synodi Pastorum Ecclesiae Nationis Hungaricae in Transylvania… Anno 1558. in oppido Thorda celebratae. U. ott, 1558.
- 1559 Az Vrnac Vaczoraiarol Valo közenséges keresztyéni vallas. Colosvarot, 1559.
- 1559 Defensio Orthodoxae Sententiae de Coena Domini (Kolozsvár), 1559.
- 1556 Scriptum Francisci Davidis anno Domini 1566. (Lampe, Hist. Eccl. Hungar. 152–154. l.)
- Ejudem Francisci Davidis Responsio ad Argumenta, quibus Hypostasin Spiritus Sancti Petrus Caroli stabilivit. (Lampe, Hist. Eccl. Hungar. 154–158. l.)
- 1566 Propositiones in Disputatione Albensi coram Regia Maiestate a D. Georgio Blandrata et Francisco Davidis propositae Limitationi Ministrorum, qui ex Ecclesiis Hungaricis Disputationi interfuerunt. Kolozsvár, 1566.
- 1566 Catechismus Ecclesiarum Dei in natione Hungarica per Transilvaniam. Claudiopoli, 1566.
- 1566 Disputatio prima Albana seu Albensis, habita 1566. 24. Febr. U. ott, 1566.
- 1567 De Falsa et Vera Vnius Dei Patris, Filii, et Spiritvs Sancti Cognitione Libri Dvo. Albae Juliae, 1567.
- 1567 Rövid Magyarazat mikeppen az Antichristvs, az igaz Istenről valo tudomant meg homalositotta… Albae Juliae, 1567.
- Rövid Utmutatás az Istennec igeienec igaz ertelmere, mostani szent Haromsagrol tamadot vetélkedesnec meg feytesere es itelesere hasznos es szükseges, Albae Juliae, 1567
- Refvtatio Scripti Petri Melii, quo nomine Synodi Debrecinae docet Johoualitatem, et trinitarium Deum Patriarchis, Prophetis, et Apostolis incognitum. Albae Juliae, 1567.
- Demonstratio Falsitatis Doctrinae Petri Melii, et reliquorum Sophistarum per Antitheses una cum refutatione Antitheseon veri et Turcici Christi, nunc primum Debrecini impressarum… Albae Juliae (1568.)
- Refutatio Propositionum Petri Melii non inquirendae Veritatis ergo sed ad contendendum propositarum, ad indictam Synodum Varadinam 22. Augusti Anno 1568.
- Theses Thordae Disputandae ad XIII Diem Nouembris, et in Synodo Varadina die 22. Augusti publicatae. U. ott. (Névtelenűl.)
- Literae convocatoriae ad Seniores Ecclesiarum Svperioris et Inferioris Pannoniae ad indictam Synodum Thordanam ad tertium Marty diem, additis Thesibus ibidem disputandis. U. ott, 1568.
- Aequipollentes ex Scriptura Phrases de Christo Filio Dei ex Maria Nato Figuratae… U. ott, 1568.
- Antithesis Pseudochristi cum vero illo ex Maria Nato. U. ott, 1568.
- Az Szent Irasnac Fvndamentamabol vött Magyarazat az Jesus Cristusrol es az ő igaz istensegeről. U. ott, 1568.
- De Mediatoris Jesv Christi hominis Divinitate, Aequalitateque libellus. U. ott, 1568.
- Brevis Enarratio Dispvtationis Albanae de Deo Trino, et Christo Dvplici coram Serenissimo Principe, et tota Ecclesia decem diebus habita. U. ott, 1568.
- De Regno Christi Liber primus. De Regno Antichristi Liber secundus. Accessit Tractatus de Paedobaptismo, et Circumcisione. U. ott, 1569.
- Propositiones Francisci Davidis ex Ungarico Sermone in Latinum conversae et in eadem Synodo Varadiensi (Ao 1569.) exhibitae.
- Az Váradi Disputacionac avagy vetelkedesnec, az egy Attya Istenről es annac Fiaról, az Jesus Cristusról és a szent Lélekről igazán valo elő számlalássa. Kolozsvár, 1569.
- Első Resze az szent irasnac külön külön reszeiből vöt predicaciocnac az atya istenről, ennek kedig az ő fiaról az Ihesvs Christvsrol, es az mi öröcseguncnec peczetiről az szent lelekről. Gyula-Fehérvár, 1569.
- Refutatio Scripti Georgii Maioris, in quo Devm trinvm in personis, et vnvm in Essentia: Vnicvm deinde eius Filium in persona, et duplicem in naturis, ex lacunis Antichristi probate conatus est. (Kolozsvár), 1569.
- Könyvetske Az igaz Kerestyéni Keresztségről, es a Pápa Antichristusnac Maymozássaról… Kolozsvár, 1570.
- Responsio Pastorum ac Ministrorum Ecclesiarum in Transsylvania, quae vnvm Deum Patrem Christi Jesum Christum filium Dei crucifixum vnvmqu. amborum spiritum confitentur. U. ott, 1570.
- Az Egy ő magatol való Felséges Istenről, es az ő igaz Fiarol, a Nazareti Jesusrol, az igaz Messiasrol, A szent irásból vöt vallástéttel. U. ott, 1571.
- Az egy Attya Istennec, es az ő aldot szent fianac, az Jesus Christusnac Istenségekről igaz vallastéttel… U. ott, 1571.
- Literae Convocatoriae, una cum Propositionibus in Synodo Vasarhellyina disputandis ad diem XX. Mensis Septembris, hujus Anni 1571. U. ott.
- Libellus Parvus, XXX Thesibus Blandratae oppositus, in quo disseritur Jesum Christum vocari nunc non posse Deum, cum non sit verus Deus… U. ott, 1578.
- Confessio Francisci Davidis de Jesu Christo quam ex carcere exhibuit. Regnicolis, paulo ante mortem Thordae, in Transylvania, in conuentu regni 17. April. Anno 1570.
- Isteni dicsiretek, imádságos és vigasztaló énekek. (1575) 
- KERESZTÉNY MAGVETÕ - ÚJABB ADATOK DÁVID FERENC CSALÁDJÁRÓL ÉS NEMZETISÉGÉRŐL - Series 78 /Part 1 (1972.)
- Dr. György Boros - Dávid Ferenc theológiája.
- [Francisc Palt - Frámin-íárile soc-iale ?i religioase din Cluj in jurul anului 1570. Anuarul Inst. de Istorie Cluj, (1962), 28.]
- [Elek Jakab - Kolozsvár története II.(Budapest, 1888), 294]
- [1579. Diary of the judge and townsman]
- [Kanyaró Ferenc - Bogáthi zsoltárai az árulók és üldözők ellen. (Ker. Magvető, 1902)]
- [Jakab E. Kolozsvár története II, 302]
- [ 1601 maius 19: „Consul igitur cum quibusdam aliis, inter quos erat Lucas Trausnerus, vitae suae consulere volent negato ipsis salvo conductu iter ingredicentur domum versus; remansit tunc Bornemisza Boldisar, donex impetrato pro se et omnibus mercatoribus salvo conductu et ipse cum universis mercibus prins arrestatis est liber dimissus". v.ö. Quellen etc. V. 304.]
- [ Jakab Elek - Kolozsvár története, II. 384: N. Iorga - Documente privind istoria románilor culese de Endexin de Hurmuzaki Buc. 1913. XV/2, 803: Ehrenfeste, wohlweise Herrn Richter, Geschwaeren des Rats, sampt der Altschaft und der ausserwelter Gemein ... Datum ex castris, die 20 iuni 1603. Euer ehrvest-dienstwilliger und treuer Freindt Lucas Trauzner]
- [Jakab Elek, Kolozsvár története. II. 388.]
- Mihály Balázs Early Transylvanian antitrinitarianism (1566-1571): from Servet to Palaeologus 1996 Page 27
- Andrews, James Ferenc Dávid and the search for Bible truth in Transylvania 2010 Lulu
- "Dávid, however, having an inquisitive mind, was much more inclined to pioneer in fresh fields than to rest content in those already won, and he was open to the stimulating influence of able and independent scholars teaching in the school at Kolozsvár.... Before coming to Kolozsvár [Jacobus Palaeologus] had been one of the leaders in the non-adorantist movement in Poland; and according to Socinus he had been the first of all to teach in Poland ‘the very wicked and detestable view that Christ should not be adored or invoked.’ It will be remembered that just before this time this question had been very hotly discussed among the Polish Brethren, and that the majority in Little Poland, following the leadership of Paulus and Czechowicz, had adopted the conservative view, rejecting that of Budny and Palaeologus. Knowledge of this controversy will of course have reached Biandrata, who kept in touch with the brethren in Poland; while at Kolozsvár Palaeologus no doubt found a sympathetic ear in Dávid as he laid before him the view that he had unsuccessfully advocated in Poland." E. M. Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism (Cambridge, 1952), p. 64.
- Andrews, James Ferenc Dávid and the search for Bible truth in Transylvania 2010 Lulu
- This can be seen in his exchange of letters with Fausto Sozzini (De invocatio Disputatio [1578-79]). "They agreed that Jesus as fully human was also mortal. Socinus, however, believed in the conception of Christ through the Holy Spirit and in the virgin birth of Jesus the Saviour. It is quite likely that Dávid, as in Thesis I prepared by Biandrata, had come to hold that Jesus was the son of Joseph and thereby the descendant of King David" (George H. Williams, "The Christological Issues between Francis David and Faustus Socinus during the Disputation on the Invocation of Christ, 1578-1579," in Antitrinitarianism in the Second Half of the 16th Century [Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1982], p. 298). "In Transylvania Bishop Francis David repudiated the doctrine of the virgin birth and refused to worship Christ" (Chambers's Encyclopaedia [1968 revision p. 103]).
- Bibliotheca dissidentium 26. Hungarian Antitrinitarians 4. Ferenc David Mihály Balázs and translated into English by Dr. Judit Gellesz.
- Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism (Cambridge, 1952), p. 67
- Summa Universae Theologiae Christianae secundum Unitarios (1787) (add page no.).
- Bibliotheca dissidentium 13. Antitrinitaires polonais II: Szymon Budny, Zdzislaw Pietrzyk. Pierre Statorius, par Jacek Wijaczka. Christian Francken, Adam Matuszewski 1991
- [Hans Petri, Johannes Sommer, ein sáchsischer Humanist und Teologe des 16 Jahrhunderts, Siebenbürgische Vierteljahrschrift, 58, 1935. 300—301. 1574: Moritur Caspar Heltai hoc ipso anno et Ioannes Somme r Pirnensis. v.ö, Gyulafi Lestár feljegyzései, Magya r Tört. Emlékek-Írók, Bpest, 1894. 14.]
- [Kanyaró Ferenc - Dávid Ferenc családja. Ker. Magvető. 34, (1899) 330—333.4]
- [Eugen von Trauschenfels - Deutsche Fundgruben zur Geschichte Siebenbürgens. Neue Folge. (Kronstadt, 1860)]
- [Die Matrikel der Universitat Basel. Herausgegeben von Hans Georg Wackernagel II. Band (1532—1601) (Basel, 1956)]
- Buehrens Our chosen faith: an introduction to Unitarian Universalism
- Unitarian Universalist Origins: Our Historic Faith by Mark W. Harris
- Singing the Living Tradition. ISBN 1-55896-260-3.
- Archiv des Vereins für siebenb. Landesk. N. F. II. 1857. 249. Schwarz K.; Jakab Elek
- Lampe, Histor. Eccl. Reform. in Hung. et Transylv. 228–230 l.
- Ism. Keresztény Magvető VI. 94–107. I. V. Nagy János.
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