Transylvania Sabbatarians

COGwriter Peering into Ancient Thyatira (2008)


A reader sent me an article from an Israeli publication that contained the following:

…the Szekely Sabbatarians honored the Sabbath and kept many Jewish rituals, with their activities centered around the village of Bozodujfalu in Transylvania…

The Sabbatarian movement in Transylvania was founded at the end of the 16th century amid the jolt delivered to Christendom by the Reformation. According to most historians, Transylvania’s location as an independent buffer zone, a no-man’s-land straddling the Ottoman, Polish and Austrian empires, gave rise to religious diversity and tolerance unknown anywhere else in Europe at the time. This was fertile ground for the emergence of a broad variety of ideas, movements and religious sects. Some of them died out or were assimilated, their memory existing only in history books. Others are, to this day, considered dominant in the region.

This was probably the only environment in which the unique accident of history that engendered the Sabbatarian movement could have occurred…

Although Jews faced discrimination in employment, taxation and places of residence, the practice of Judaism was not considered a crime and its adherents were never forced to convert. Judaism in Transylvania was considered a tolerated religion: inferior and abhorrent, but not prohibited. The Sabbatarians, in contrast, were perceived as heretics, Christians who had committed the unpardonable sin of taking on themselves the precepts of the Jews. To the local residents, that was far worse than abandoning Christianity…

Most studies place the total number of believers at between a few hundred and a few thousand. The largest community emerged in Bozodujfalu, a village that lay in an isolated green valley in the heart of a region known as Szekely Land. In 1867, about a quarter of the village’s 700 inhabitants declared that they belonged to the Sabbatarian sect…

“Confusion in Hungary,” the Tel Aviv-based Davar reported in a front-page story in August 1941. “The Hungarian government is having difficulty in finding a solution to the legal status of the 1,200 non-Jewish Shabbat-keepers who live in Transylvania,” the report said. “The members of this sect are of Aryan origin but observe Shabbat and the Jewish dietary laws. As a result, the prohibition on kosher slaughter affects them, too…”…

Finally, on October 3, 1941, the Hungarian justice minister signed an order exempting the descendants of the Sabbatarians in Hungary, including the community of converts in Bozodujfalu, from the anti-Jewish decrees. To benefit from the exemption, the community’s members had to prove a certain percentage of Szekely roots in the family lineage. The order drew a distinction between Jews according to religion and Jews according to birth. The date of the conversion was also of importance in this connection.

In Bozodujfalu, 94 members of the convert community were granted exemptions from the “Jew laws.” Another 40 villagers who termed themselves Shabbat-keepers but were not circumcised were also exempted. But the Szekely Sabbatarians did more than save themselves: they could not remain indifferent to the persecution of the Jews. Many survivor testimonies from Romania and Hungary mention them as offering food and shelter to Jews on the run.

(While I do not agree with everything in the linked portion of the article, the above gives information that I feel is of interest.)  One of the last acts of Romania’s Communist leader Nicolae Ceauşescu was to build a resevoir in order to completely flood Bozodujfalu in an attempt to destroy its memory.

Interestingly, years ago I met a man at a store from the region who was somewhat familiar with the Sabbath-keepers there as he grew up near them.

I have written about Bozodujfalu in the past as it is part of my article titled In Search of the Thyatira Church.

There is more to Sabbatarian history than most recognize.

Some articles of related interest may include:

The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church?
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Joyce’s Photos of Thyatira Thyatira is the fourth of the seven churches listed in the Book of Revelation.  Here some photos of our visit there.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
News Articles Related to Church History This link is to articles on Church history that were once published on the COG News Page.
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years. It also discusses the concept of church eras.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3.
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now basically the Living Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. These are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? What about the use of the cross, by the early Church?
Did The Early Christian Church Practice Monasticism? Or was monsticism unheard of in the early Christian church?

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