Ratio temporum : Dániel próféta és a magyar történetírás

Bene, Sándor (2014) Ratio temporum : Dániel próféta és a magyar történetírás. In: Clio inter arma: Tanulmányok a 16–18. századi magyarországi történetírásról. MTA BTK Történettudományi Intézet, Budapest, pp. 87-116. ISBN 978–963–9627–86–4


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RATIO TEMPORUM (The Prophet Daniel and Hungarian Historiography) The study discusses time schemes of Early Modern historiography and their Hungarian reception. The structuring of time – should it be based on linear or cyclical progression with rising and declining periods added or perhaps the combination of the two in an organic model – is of utmost importance: it provides the deep structure of historical writings, affects the choice of sources and helps define the limits of investigation as regards both time and space. Nonetheless, in actual historical narratives this understanding of time, however seminal it might be, is hardly ever explicit, mostly remains hidden. In case of a modern historical work it is the relevant contemporary philosophical (mostly historico-philosophical) works that establish the framework for historical investigation. What concerns Early Modern times, however, it is contemporary theological theories and trends as well as denominational dogmatic differences in the interpretation of the Scripture that provide the contextual clues to an author’s understanding and treatment of time. In this regard the reception of the Book of Daniel has assumed special importance. The most discussed question of Early Modern Daniel commentaries was whether the events in the Book of Daniel should be attached unique historical significance, or whether the prophecies of Chapters 2 and 7 could be applied to the times after Christ or to the postbiblical period, i.e. the times of the commentaries. The two different readings (by Luther, Melancthon and Sleidan, and Calvin and Bodin respectively) can be be seen as the matrixes of modern historical thinking; they offer two different ways of structuring time, of ratio temporum. The latter, allowing of the further application of prophecies, offers a strong interpretation, a fixed, clear vision, and at the same time opens up world-historical horizons; the former leaves the reader to his own devices, its present and future appear as a space open to all kinds of possibilities, its relative lack of interpretive tools allows for imprecise predictions, and world history can only be dimly perceived heuristically, by examining and comparing the roles particular nations play in God’s plan of salvation (which nation when and for how long is the „chosen one”). By adding this element of uncertainty this conception has proved to be the most direct route to our modern mainstream understanding of history, which, however, does not mean that the stronger interpretive trend has no modernist followers. The study discusses this turn brought about by the teachings of Calvin and Bodin in Hungary, by examining János Kecskeméti Alexis’ commentaries on the Book of Daniel, written in the form of sermons around 1609. It claims that the immediate source of the Hungarian preacher’s work is In Danielem prophetam ... commentarius, the Daniel commentary written by Amandus Polanus, a Ramist theologian from Basel in 1599. The life of Kecskeméti Alexis’ work also serves as an example for how authorial intentions can be overridden by the interpretation of subsequent generations: the Daniel commentary was introduced by its first publisher (Margittai Péter, 1621) as a work propagating the „four monarchies” theory, and its author has been considered a representative of the Wittenberg school of historical thinking. Furthermore, the lessons drawn from the history of the book’s reception can have wider implications as well, since the rivalry between the two schools of thought still exists, both in the realm of public history and historiography.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: D History General and Old World / történelem > DN Middle Europe / Közép-Európa > DN1 Hungary / Magyarország
Depositing User: Sándor Bene
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2015 12:56
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2023 08:24

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