B bábi, Tibor

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Bél, Mátyás (Matthew) (Ocsova, now Ocova, Slovakia, 22 March 1684 - Pozsony, now Bratislava, Slovakia, 29 August 1749) – Lutheran pastor, historian, outstanding scientist of his time. He was born into an artisan family. He studied at the University of Halle, Germany between 1704 and 1707, where he became acquainted with pietism. He was chaplain in Besztercebánya (now Banská Bystrica, Slovakia), later rector of a high school for girls and afterwards he worked as a pastor. While teacher-director, he applied the principles of pietism to new educational methods, and this made the Pozsony High School famous. He wrote school textbooks and, from 1721 to 1727, established and edited Nova Posoniensa, a periodical in Latin for the purpose of furthering his educational ideas. He was the first scientific researcher of the Szekler-Magyar runic writing. His runic alphabet, which is more in calligraphic style than Telegdi’s lettering form, originally came from Sámuel Kapossy, a schoolmaster of a college in Transylvania (Erdély, now in Romania). In 1718 he published his own alphabet in Leipzig, Germany with the title De vetere litteratura Hunno-Scythica; but by then it was public knowledge in Norhern Hungary (Upland, Felvidék, now Slovakia). Entries in the Reformed Church registries of births using his alphabet can be found at Nagybánya (now Baia Mare, Romania), Furta etc. He wrote a handbook to acquaint Germans with the Hungarian language and with their runic writing under the title Der ungarische Sprachmeister (The Hungarian Speech Master) that saw nine editions. He was to compile the many-faceted political picture of the whole of Hungary in order to go beyond the goals of the German polymaths. He kept data on geographic, historical, ethnographic and linguistic subjects of the Carpathian Basin with a research group made up of his sons and students. The result of decades of work is the published first five volumes of Notitia Hungariae novae historico geographica (New History and Geography of Hungary), Vienna (1735–1742). They contain his description of ten counties with maps by Sámuel (Samuel) Mikoviny. These are still valuable references. The rest of the work remains in manuscript form to this day. His life’s work shows the significant stages of progress of sciences for nearly one hundred years in Hungary. – B: 0883, 1257, T: 7675.→Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary; Runic Writing Research; Hungarian Runic Script; Mikoviny, Sámuel.

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