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Book Review: Bobula, Ida, Origin of the Hungarian Nation

Book Review

Ida Bobula, Origin of the Hungarian Nation, Gainesville, 1966

Given the above objections, Ida Bobula's book, Origin of the Hungarian Nation, does not really live up to the promise of its title. A more suitable title would have been "A Chapter in the History of the Hungarian Nation." However, these objections cannot and do not discount the exceptionally high value of her work, or in any way diminish the merits of her relentless pursuit of the truth and her clear and objective thinking. Obsolete data and dated conclusions aside, the value of her research cannot be overestimated. Her book is well researched, thorough, scholarly and a pleasure to read. It deserves the highest commendation and should be compulsory reading in Hungarian schools. No student of Magyar, Scythian, Hun, Avar, Hungarian history should be denied this informative literary treasure.

Ida Bobula's book, Origin of the Hungarian Nation, Gainesville, 1966, appears to be based on research data that was available around the middle of the 20th century. Discoveries have since advanced in leaps and bounds; new tools have been developed and applied to process data; and publication bans can no longer stifle ideas or block the free flow of information. Ever since news of massive falsification of history has reached scholars, old taboos are ignored, appeals to authority are rejected. Every claim is challenged. Advanced technologies such as biochemical analyses of human tissue samples are discrediting false claims and exposing historical frauds. During the half-century since Dr. Bobula's book was released, more knowledge has reached more scholars worldwide than all research data put together since the printing press. Consequently, her position on the origin of the Hungarian nation, while logical ― considering the data at her disposal ― has proven to be only a chapter in that nation's history. Some of the sources she draws on have since been discredited, her premises disproved. In such cases, her conclusions are no longer tenable. New research data also casts doubt on the reliability of some of her inferences.

An exhaustive analysis of this work is beyond the scope of this review, but a sampling of dated conclusions based on obsolete data should suffice to draw attention to the need to rethink history using current research material. For the purpose of clarity, Hungary and Hungarian in this review refer to the referenced political state and its citizens. The ethnic group the English speaking world today calls "Hungarians" is referred to, here, as Magyar (Hungarian, in Hungarian). However, it should be kept in mind that not all "Hungarians" are Magyars, and that not all of the Magyars live in Hungary. The Magyars constitute the overwhelming ethnic majority in the Carpathian Basin, but the majority of Magyars have had their homeland usurped by misinformed World leaders after World War I to fabricate states for some of the Slav minorities ― states that have since self-destructed ― and to increase the territories of others. Some Magyar families have seen their farms change political ownership five times since the end of the "Great War." Those Magyars caught outside the borders of present day Hungary have been coaxed, intimidated, or outright forced by the new political owners of their homeland to abandon their Magyar culture and to adopt the culture of the new rulers.

To begin with, Dr. Bobula asserts (page 38):

"Concerning the characteristics of physical anthropology: the Sumerians are a mixed population. So are the Hungarians."

One of the difficulties with this assertion is that the author does not make the distinction between Hungarians and Magyars. Is she referring to ethnic mixing or ethnic coexistence, or both? Another is the referenced period. If she is referring to the contemporary population, say the 20th century Hungarians, then any evidence of a "mixed population" includes the significant influx of alien ethnic groups into the Carpathian Basin over the past 1000 years. In this case, any comparison with the Sumerian population is meaningless. If, on the other hand, she is referring to the descendants of the 1st millennium "refugees" from Mesopotamia, as she calls them, who later migrated to the Carpathian Basin, then the comparison is equally meaningless because, according to her supposition, they mixed after they left Mesopotamia.

Such difficulties are not found in the works of today's researchers because, in contrast to Dr. Bobula's conclusions, they mostly agree that the early inhabitants of central Eurasia were a homogeneous people. Anthropological and archaeological evidence shows an unbroken, substantially uniform race and culture dating back to at least the Linear Band Ceramics culture (5700 BC), centered in the Carpathian Basin (T. Douglas Price et al., 2001). Even today, the Hungarian mostly Magyar population is genetically distinct from peoples that migrated to Europe (e. g., from West North Africa). Save isolated pockets of Scythian peoples ― such as the Scots, the Irish, the Welsh, the Basques, the Gauls, the Etruscans, and so forth ― that distinctness decreases and finally disappears by the time Western Europe is sampled. This distinctness is evident in mtDNA research data, which, for example, show the incidence of the aboriginal European genetic marker (M173) highest among Hungarians (73%) but also present in the majority of Europeans (more than 50%) albeit in lower concentrations. Semino et al (2000) report that this branching (from M45) occurred not less than 30,000 years ago. This means that, short of a complete replacement of the population of Europe ― an unlikely event ― the majority of today's Europeans have inhabited Europe for at least 30 millennia, and the highest concentration of these inhabitants are the Magyars of the Carpathian Basin. In contrast Western European genetic markers are rare, and the genetic markers specific to Northern peoples (e. g., M178, TAT) are completely missing among the Hungarian population (less than 2%). (This latter finding is the final blow to the Finno-Ugrian relationship fabrication, a fraud Dr. Bobula also exposes.)

Under the subtitle, WHAT HAPPENED IN HISTORY? (page 43), Dr. Bobula claims the Sumerians' "religious concepts are the foundation of the Jewish, Christian and Moslem religions." This claim is no longer tenable on two counts. First, arguments for this assertion have since been successfully challenged. Second, a diametrical opposition between Sumerians' and Abrahamic religious concepts has been demonstrated. Badiny J.F., has convincingly argued that the religious beliefs of the people variably known as Semites, Hebrews and Jews are substantially antagonistic to those of the Sumerians. S. N. Kramer has come to this same conclusion when he calls 2nd millennium BC, Mesopotamia a life-and-death struggle between Semitic and non-Semitic peoples. Further, the Semitic Code of Hammurabi reveals an ideology diametrically opposed to the Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu. Since Judeo-Christianity, Islam and all of their denominations are derivatives of Judaism, the Sumerians' religious concepts cannot be the foundation of any of those Abrahamic religions. They are, however, the foundations of the religion of "Light" taught by the Scythian magi, practiced by ― among others ― the historical Medes, Chaldeans and Parthians, the biblical peoples of Gog and Magog, Canaanites and other non-Semitic peoples. This is the faith, the religion of Light ― a Word view, standards of morality and social model, devoid of all ideologies and religious concepts of Judaism ― that Jesus teaches and his apostles later promote and spread throughout the Parthian empire and beyond, but only in the land of the Scythians. Even the Christian Churches are forced to admit this reality (e. g., the Christian priests' breviary). Since Judaism and Judeo-Christianity consider all biblical non-Semites arch-enemies of the Jews ― in an ideological, that is, religious and political sense ― and since none of Jesus' apostles ever set foot in Rome where rabbi Saul, Judeo-Christianity's "Saint Paul," founded the new Jewish sect "Christianity," for non-Jews, it is a fallacy to derive any Abrahamic religion from the Sumerians' religious concepts. In addition, Enki (page 45) is a name by which Sumerians refer to a cosmic manifestation of the one-and-only reality, whereas Ea is one of the Hebrews' several imagined gods ― others being Marduk, Assur, Bel, Jahu, Asembetel, Anatbetel, Herembetel, Yahweh, etc. To relate Enki to Ea is roughly equivalent to relating the reality of existence to an imagined entity.

On page 51, Dr. Bobula opines:

"There are two possibilities. There may have been somewhere in Asia, a yet unknown center from which the different peoples of Scythian character radiated in a series of waves. Serious scholars, who have more or less accepted the possibility of a Sumerian-Hungarian relationship, usually presume that there was such an early, common origin of the two peoples, and, also of other related peoples. One can accept the idea of common origin, nevertheless I am convinced that the Hungarian language bears the stamp of not an early, but of a very late stage of Sumerian culture. This is shown by the quantity of Semitic cultural loanwords in Hungarian; from Akkadian and Babylonian. These had not been around in Central Asia, but were surely part of the late Sumerian vocabulary. So I will profess, that the group which used these loanwords, was one that left Mesopotamia at a late date and was heir to the whole heritage of the late Sumerian civilization. This, however, does not exclude the possibility of an early common center of many peoples."

There are two points of contention here. One is the severance of the Hungarian language from the language of the possible common ancestors of the Magyars and the Sumerians. The other, the direction of propagation of the Hungarian language. Dr. Bobula attempts to sever the Hungarian language from the ancestors of the Magyars not by proving a difference between the Hungarian language and the language of the Magyars' ancestors, but by deriving it from another lineage of a possible common ancestor. This approach is roughly equivalent to deriving Scottish Gaelic from Welsh. Although it is almost certain that these two cultures exerted linguistic influence on one another ― both Hungarian and Sumerian, and Scottish Gaelic and Welsh ― if they were in contact with each other for extended periods, such influence does not constitute derivation, let alone direction of derivation.

Even if strong linguistic influence did take place between the Magyars and the Sumerians, it most likely took place in the opposite direction. Marton V., drawing on C. L. Woolley's works, mentions that the Djemet Nasr people brought writing to Mesopotamia from the Carpathian Basin. Further, the oldest writing discovered to date (anywhere) that resembles the earliest Sumerian writing is that of Torma Zsófia's Tatárlaka (Tordos Culture), located in historical Hungary. Since these artifacts predate the earliest Sumerian troves by thousands of years, the direction of influence, if any, can only be north to south (the Tatárlaka artifacts, made of local clay, were C14-dated by Hans E. Suess, San Diego University. He estimates they are 7000-7500 years old). A far more likely explanation for the kinship between the Hungarian and the Sumerian languages is a common ancestry, and the introduction of writing to Sumer by the Sumerians' relatives in the Carpathian Basin, the people called Magyars.

Dr. Bobula painstakingly follows the Hungarian language ― and, more generally, the Hungarian culture ― from Mesopotamia to present day Hungary. However, she is looking at only a short stretch of a time-line. Yes, there were probably several waves of northbound Scythian migrations after Semitic peoples started to infiltrate Mesopotamia around the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Yes, the refugees arriving in West Asia, East and Central Europe probably brought with them words they picked up in a, by then, mostly Semitic Fertile Crescent. But they did not introduce the Hungarian language to their Magyar relatives, the language the inhabitants of the Carpathian Basin have been speaking since at least the Early Neolithic.

Grover S. Krantz, anthropologist at Washington State University studied the history and origin of the various European languages and published his findings in the book, Geographical Development of European Languages (Peter Lang, 1988). He concludes:

"It is usually stated that the Uralic Magyars moved into Hungary from an eastern source in the 9th century A.D. I find instead that all the other Uralic speakers expanded out of Hungary in the opposite direction, and at a much earlier date" (page 11) ..."Given these objections the actual Uralic-speaking distributions would allow only one alternative explanation ― that the family originated in Hungary and spread out in the opposite direction. This poses no serious problem if the time for this origin and dispersion is put at the earliest Neolithic. If this is true it means that Hungarian (Magyar) is actually the oldest in-place language in all of Europe" (page 72).

Sir John Bowring remarks:

"The Hungarian language goes far back. It developed in a very peculiar manner and its structure reaches back to times when most of the now spoken European languages did not even exist. It is a language which developed steadily and firmly in itself, and in which there are logic and mathematics with the adaptability and malleability of strength and chords. The Englishman should be proud that his language indicates an epic of human history. One can show forth its origin; and all layers can be distinguished in it, which gathered together during contacts with different nations. Whereas the Hungarian language is like a rubble-stone, consisting of only one piece, on which the storms of time left not a scratch. It's not a calendar that adjusts to the changes of the ages. It needs no one, it doesn't borrow, does no huckstering, and doesn't give or take from anyone. This language is the oldest and most glorious monument of national sovereignty and mental independence. What scholars cannot solve, they ignore. In philology it's the same way as in archeology. The floors of the old Egyptian temples, which were made out of only one rock, can't be explained. No one knows where they came from, or from which mountain the wondrous mass was taken; how they were transported and lifted to the top of the temples. The genuineness of the Hungarian language is a phenomenon much more wondrous than this."

Foreign words have appeared from time to time in Hungarian parlance starting with the onslaught of Latin words that came with the new Semitic religion for non-Jews, Judeo-Christianity, that was forced on the Magyars. Under Habsburg rule, many German words found their way into the Hungarian language. The 18th, 19th centuries brought not only hopes of liberation from the Austrian yoke for the Magyars but French words, too. Russian words followed under Soviet dictatorship; while today, English words are stylish. However, all of these forced or trendy foreign influences disappear from the Hungarian language after they run their course.

In light of such findings, propositions originating the Hungarian nation from Mesopotamia or deriving the Hungarian language from Sumerian are untenable. The history of the Magyar people as an identifiable ethnic group reaches much farther back and is much wider than supposed by Dr. Bobula. Grandpierre A. (2008) mentions the Maghadi people of Saga, their magi as Maga and their language called Maghori, who are already known in 2nd millennium BC India as an advanced civilization ― citing the Puranic Encyclopedia (1989, p. 667). Also, Scythian magi establish the first monarchy in China, the Xia Dynasty, named after the Xia Hun nation whose king, Huang Di, founds the Chinese civilization in the 3rd millennium BC. V. H. Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature proves that the “Chinese” word for scholar of natural sciences and philosopher, magus, is of Central-Asian origin; and Harper (1995) says the teachings of the magi were important, primarily in the [Chinese] royal religion. That "Scythian," "Hun," "Avar," etc., all refer to the Magyars has never even been questioned until recently. Magyars have always known it, foreign diplomats, travelers and historians, even the Churches' "missionaries" have always considered these names to be referencing the same people at different points in history. 3rd century BC Babylonian historian, Berossos, links the Magyars’ mythological patriarch, Nib-Ur (Nimrod) to the Scythians. Even as recently as the 16th century, emissaries arriving at the king’s court in for the 1554 Székey National Conclave still call the Magyars “Hun-Scythians.” And, if language is in fact the key to a nation's origin, as Dr. Bobula claims ("the key witness of ethnogenesis, the specific kind of historical research, which deals with the origins of the nations, remains the language"), then, based on the above, Magyars could not have "come from" anywhere. They are the indigenous peoples of certainly the Carpathian Basin, probably Central Europe, and possibly most of Europe and West Asia. They have an unbroken past dating back to at least the Neolithic; are called Magyars, Scythians, Sarmatians, Huns, Avars, etc., and, today, Hungarians; and speak and write the Magyar (Hungarian) language.

Given the above objections, Ida Bobula's book, Origin of the Hungarian Nation, does not really live up to the promise of its title. A more suitable title would have been "A Chapter in the History of the Hungarian Nation." However, these objections cannot and do not discount the exceptionally high value of her work, or in any way diminish the merits of her relentless pursuit of the truth and her clear and objective thinking. Obsolete data and dated conclusions aside, the value of her research cannot be overestimated. Her book is well researched, thorough, scholarly and a pleasure to read. It deserves the highest commendation and should be compulsory reading in Hungarian schools. No student of Magyar, Scythian, Hun, Avar, Hungarian history should be denied this informative literary treasure.

Fehérlófő Study Group


Ida Bobula was born in Budapest on February 27th, 1900. Her first work, Versek, [Poems] was published in 1920. She earned her Doctorate of History, her fist, at Pázmány Péter Tudományegyetemen, Budapest, in 1923. From 1929(?) to 1933, she was a Ministerial Advisor of Religion and Education; 1933-1944, Director of Sarolta Kollégium [Boarding-School]; from 1939 also a private tutor at Debreceni Egyetem [University of Debrecen].

Dr. Bobula continued her studies in the United States until 1929, after which she returned to Budapest to teach. In 1947, political pressures forced her to permanently emigrate to the U. S. where she worked at the library of the New Jersey Women's College and the Library of Congress, and taught history and sociology at Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C. She was a member of the American Orientalist Society; and, from 1960, headed the information department of the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP). In 1956-1957, she was the director of the Hungarian Refugee program in Philadelphia.

Dr. Bobula spoke seven languages, and was an alumna of Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania. She was a scholar of exceptional talent but of modest (material) means. She passed away in Gaffney, S.C., on October 24th, 1980.

Ida Bobula wrote dozens of books and papers, her most popular works are: [The square-bracketted title translations to English are unofficial]

A nő a 18. század magyar társadalmában, Budapest, 1933 [The Woman in 18th century Hungarian Society]

Nők útja a matriarchatustól a mai társadalomig, Budapest, 1938 [The Course of Women from Matriarchy to Today's Society]

Sumerian Affiliations. A Plea for Reconsideration, Washington, 1951

The origin of the Hungarian Nation, Gainesville, 1966

A sumér–magyar rokonság kérdése, Buenos Aires, 1961, [The Question of the Sumerian-Hungarian Kinship]

Kétezer magyar név szumír eredete, Montreal, 1970 [The Sumerian Origin of 2000 Hungarian names]

Ida Bobula's works have been translated to other languages and are recommended in the curricula of several colleges and universities worldwide. She has been regularly quoted by several researchers and scholars. Professor Alfréd Tóth, author of the Etymological Dictionary of Hungarian (EDH), 9, Etruscan and Hungarian, also quotes Dr. Bobula:

"Spread the word and be not surprised if you are assailed, perhaps even by people who call themselves Hungarians."


[We solicit additions and/or corrections to Dr. Ida Bobula's biography. Please source your submission(s). Ed.]

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