Szymon Budny



It is something extraordinary, that the Socinians in Poland thought it their duty . . . to pray to Jesus Christ, notwithstanding they believed him to be a mere man, . . . Socinus himself was of this opinion, (etc).     However, the famous Simon Budnæus was also of those who denied that any kind of worship ought to be paid to Jesus Christ, contrary to the opinion of Socinus.

London : The British and Foreign Unitarian Association 1871, pp. 47-48.


From A HISTORY OF UNITARIANISM, Socinianism etc., 1945 by Earl Morse Wilbur

. . . . Simon Budny, whose acquaintance and sympathy with Palaeologus in Transylvania had kept him informed of the developments taking place there. Budny deserves notice as one of the most significant characters in the history of Polish Unitarianism, being head of its most radial wing.8 Born the son of a poor Polish country squire about 1533, he spent most of his active life in Lithuania. Well educated in the ancient languages, he was also fluent in both Polish and Russian. About 1559 Radziwill appointed him minister of the newly-founded Reformed church at Kleck in the Palatinate of Nowogródek, where he made converts among the Russian members of the Greek Church, and published a large Katechisis in Russian, which showed originality of view. Though he opposed infant baptism, he had no sympathy with the radical social views of the Anabaptists. He early became antitrinitarian, and openly denied the supernatural birth of Jesus. As the Bible of Brest had proved unsatisfactory to the churches, he was asked to undertake a revision, but in the end was led instead to make an entirely new translation from the original tongues. His translation of the Old Testament (1572) was highly praised by Jewish scholars for its correctness ; while for that of the New Testament (1574) he used a critically revised text, and appended critical notes in which he pointed out many corruptions and interpolations in the received text, thus anticipating by nearly two centuries many of the findings of modern textual criticism. His critical biblical studies confirmed the radical doctrinal views to which he had already tended, and brought him into controversy with western theologians,9 as well as occasioned attacks from the Unitarian camp, where Czechowicz opposed his views in his Dialogues, and also published for use in the churches a rival translation of the New Testament (1577) to forestall the evil influence of Budny's work. Budny also sought to commend his view to the famous English Protestant martyrologist, John Foxe.10

His negative view of the divinity of Christ seemed so extreme that even some of the Antitrinitarians in Little Poland charged him with having accepted the 'Jewish atheism,' and he was attacked by Gonesius, Czechowicz and Farnowski. To these Budny finally replied in an extensive work on the Christian faith,11 which was approved by the Lithuanian Antitrinitarians who under his leadership inclined to non-adorantism. This work has been called the most radical doctrinal work published in Europe in the sixteenth century, and it called forth controversy from Catholic writers12 as well as from Protestants.

When in 1582 a synod was called at Lubecz in deep Lithuania to consider some urgent social questions, so much feeling on the subject had arisen that the Polish delegates refused to consider these until they had first come to terms as to the adoration of Christ. Budny's party had to yield the point, though there was vigorous discussion, in which they seemed to have the stronger arguments ; but a compromise formula was agreed to : 'We have one God, whom we invoke as God ; but we pray to and invoke the Lord Jesus as mediator in intercession with God'.13

Harmony was short-lived however, for only tow months later at a synod at Luclawice, the excommunication of Budny, which had for some years been threatened, was carried through by the Lublin brethren led by Czechowicz and Niemojewski.     (Etc.)

Despite his excommunication, Budny seems to have continue in the confidence of the Lithuanians as long as he lived. His important relation to the social questions at issue in the church will be spoken of a few pages further on. After his death his form of doctrine seems to have declined ; but in 1599 a report reached the synod at Lublin that a great many in Lithuania were still saying that Christ ought not to be invoked. Two leading ministers were therefore sent to warn them to repent, else they would be excommunicated. The mission was successful. The leader of the non-adorants, Fabian Domanowski, having failed to appear, was excommunicated, and his followers voluntarily returned to the fold, after which we hear no more of non-adorantism except in Transylvania (etc).

In so far as Budny's excommunication from the Minor Church was for a difference of opinion on a matter of doctrine, it stands in striking contrast with the spirit of tolerance that had come generally to prevail in the Minor Church hitherto. But the feeling seems to have been strong that at whatever cost the church must not now lay itself open to the charge of having left the Christian religion in favor of Judaism, and the matter of the invocation of Christ in prayers was taken as the decisive test.     (Etc.)

      8cf. Merczyng, Budny ; Stanslaw Kot, art. 'Budny,' Polski Slownik Biograficzny (Kraków, 1937), iii, 96-99.
      9cf. Josias Simler, Assertio orthodoxae doctrinae de duabus naturis Christi . . . opposita blasphemiis et somphismatibus Simonis Budnaei nuper ab ipso in Lituania evulgatis (Tiguri, 1575) ; Johannes Wigand, De Jesu Christo Deo et Homine (Regiomonti, 1575.
      10cf. Reformacja w Polsce, vii (1936), 316-323 ; Ms in Bodleian Library, Oxford, Rawlinson Letters 107, pp. 97-100 ; Stanislaw Kot, 'Anglo Polonica,' Nauka Polska, xx (1935), 105 ff.
      11O przedniejszych wiary Christianskie artikulech, etc.   (On the principal articles of the Christian faith), Losk, 1576.



The earliest instance of direct contact between the 'Polish Brethren' and England appears to be the isolated one of Ralph Rutter, a travelling merchant from London. In business first as a representative of the Muscovy Company and later for himself in the east of Europe, Rutter made the acquaintance of Simon Budny, the radical Unitarian minister of Losk (Lithuania). As a result of conversations the Englishman was converted to opinions rather Socinian in Character than Arian, as Sand shrewdly remarks.1

At Rutter's suggestion, Budny made an attempt to get in touch with a leading figure in English religious life. This was no other than John Foxe, the martyrologist. No doubt it was hoped by those who initiated this correspondence that it would be possible to influence the flow of theological opinion in England and spread antitrinitarian opinions in a fresh quarter. At all events, in a detailed memorandum, dated 4 May 1574,2 Budny outlined the views of the Lithuanian Arians (as they were called) on the existence of God, the persons of the Trinity, and infant baptism, concluding with a résumé of the points he himself had made in his comments on the New Testament.

Meanwhile, in the enthusiasm of his new-found opinions, Rutter began to make known his heretical views on the nature of Christ amongst some university students at Königsberg. This is clear from a book, which appeared the following year (1575), written by Johannes Wigandus, the Lutheran bishop of Pomerania, in refutation of Rutter, entitled Nebulae Arianae, per D. Raphaelem Ritterum [sic] Londinensem sparsae, luce veritatis divinae discussae (Königsberg).

Oxford 1951, pp. 25.



Author Budny, Szymon, ca. 1530-1593. Title O urzędzie miecza uzywającem (1583) / Szymon Budny ; wydał Stanisław Kot.
Publisher Warszawa : Wydawn. Kasy im. Nianowskiego, Instytutu Popierania Nauki, 1932.
Description xii, 259 p. : facsim, ; 25 cm. Series Zabytki literatury z doby Reformacji : nr. 1.

Author Budny, Szymon, ca. 1530-1593. Title O przedniejszych wiary chrystyjanskiej artykulech.
Publisher Warszawa : Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1989.
Description 247 p. Series Biblioteka pisarzy reformacyjnych ;16.

Title Biblia, to jest Ksie̜gi Starego i Nowego Przymierza / in der Übersetzung des Simon Budny ; herausgegeben von Hans Rothe und Friedrich Scholz.
Publisher Paderborn : F. Schöningh, 1994.
Description 2 v. : facsims. ; 36 cm. Series Biblia Slavica. Serie II, Polnische Bibeln ;Bd. 3 Note Reprint. Originally published: Nieśwież : Zasław, 1572. Polish; with one essay in English and one in German. Original text translated from the Old Greek, Hebrew and Latin.
Contents [T. 1.] Ksie̜gi Nowego Przymierza, kto pospolićie Nowym Te[stament]em zowa̜ teraz z nowu z wielka̜ praca̜ y pilnym popráwieniem z Greckiego na Polski ie̜zyk przetłumacžone. Kommentare: The biblical philology of Szymon Budny : between East and West / von David A. Frick. Zur Sprache der Bibelübersetzung Szymon Budnys von 1572 / von Leszek Moszyński -- [t. 2.] Ksie̜gi Starego Przymierza. ISBN 3506716573


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Last updated 25 November 2003