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Bánóczi, József

(1849–1926), philosopher, literary scholar, linguist, educator, and editor. Born in Szentgál, Hungary, József Bánóczi studied at the Piarist Gymnasium in Veszprém and at the Royal Catholic Gymnasium in Pest, where he befriended Bernát Alexander. Abraham Hochmuth, the rabbi of Veszprém, tried to persuade Bánóczi to enter the rabbinate, but he chose a career in education instead. In 1868, he enrolled at the University of Pest, and having received a fellowship with Alexander, went on a six-year-long study trip abroad. They took courses at universities in Vienna, Berlin, Göttingen, Leipzig, and Paris, mostly in philosophy and philology. In 1875, Bánóczi defended his doctoral dissertation at the University of Leipzig, on Kant’s theory of space and time.

Between 1875 and 1878, Bánóczi taught high school in Budapest, and then from 1878 to 1893 he taught Hungarian language, literature, history, and philosophy at the newly founded Rabbinical Seminary of Hungary. In 1878, he received his habilitation (a postdoctoral requirement for university teachers) in the history of philosophy at the University of Budapest. He later taught courses there, first as a private lecturer and later as an assistant professor until 1919. In 1879, he was elected a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and also served as director of the Hungarian Israelite Teachers Training Institute between 1893 and 1926.

Bánóczi wrote scholarly works on the history of literature, philosophy, and linguistics. He composed well-received biographies of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Hungarian linguists and literary scholars Miklós Révay and Károly Kisfaludy. With Alexander in 1881, he launched the series Filozófiai Írók Tára (Treasury of Philosophical Writers). As a translator of the works of Kant and Schopenhauer, Bánóczi contributed to the creation of a modern Hungarian philosophical culture and language. His study on the Hungarian language of philosophy in the field of linguistics, “A bölcselet magyar nyelve” (The Language of Hungarian Philosophy; published as a series of articles in the periodical Magyar Nyelvőr, 1876–1879) was of great importance. He also published textbooks of stylistics and poetics for teachers’ training institutes, as well as editions of the Hungarian classic authors Miklós Zrínyi, Kelemen Mikes, Dániel Berzsenyi, Károly Kisfaludy, János Arany, and Sándor Petőfi.

Bánóczi’s editorial work was particularly significant for the Jewish cultural life of his times. He and Vilmos Bacher launched the Hungarian Jewish scholarly journal Magyar Zsidó Szemle (Hungarian Jewish Review), which he edited between 1884 and 1892. He also wrote the history of the early years of the Rabbinical Seminary of Hungary. In 1894 Bánóczi was one of the founders, and later for several decades the secretary of the Israelite Hungarian Literary Society (IMIT); he coedited its yearbooks (IMIT Évkönyv) with Bacher between 1896 and 1899 and then served as sole editor until 1918. He was one of the initiators of the Hungarian translation of the Hebrew Bible, later published by IMIT, between 1898 and 1907. From 1922 until his death he and Ignác Gábor edited 18 volumes of the series called the Popular Jewish Library. As a philanthropist, Bánóczi was active for decades as the secretary of White Cross, a civil organization for the protection of children.

Suggested Reading

Emlékkönyv Bánóczi Józsefnek születése hetvenedik évfordulójára (Budapest, 1919); Dénes Friedmann, “Bánóczi József élete,” Magyar-zsidó szemle (1927): 13–16; Tibor Hanák, Az elfelejtett reneszánsz: A magyar filozófiai gondolkodás századunk első felében (Budapest, 1993), pp. 83–84; Arnold Kiss, “Bánóczi József egyénisége,” Izraelita Magyar Irodalmi Társulat Évkönyve (1932): 157–189; Aladár Zlinszky, Bánóczi József levelező tag emlékezete (Budapest, 1931).



Translated from Hungarian by Veronika Szabó