Little is known about his place of birth. Though the common assumption is that he was born in Budne, Podlaskie Voivodeship, it is known that there were over 140 places with a similar name on the territory of Belarus. Though what is known is that he was familiar was the Belarusian culture first-hand and dedicated a big part of his life to promoting it. The family he was born into was a minor Belarusian szlachta. Symon Budny originally identified himself as a Litvin, which then was the term used mostly to describe Belarusians.
Symon Budny was an early figure in the party in the Radical Reformation which utterly denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. Budny, along with the Greek Unitarian Jacobus Palaeologus, and the Hungarian Ferenc David, denied not just the pre-existence of Christ, which is what distinguished "Socinian" from "Arian" belief, but Budny, Paleologus and David went further and also denied invocation of Christ. Among these three Budny also denied the virgin birth. According to Wilbur (1947) it was his strong stance against the worship of and prayer to Christ that brought a separation with those like Marcin Czechowic who considered the views of Budny, Paleologus, and David as a revival of the Ebionite position and a form of Judaizing, and resulted in Budny's excommunication from the Minor Reformed Church of Poland, though subsequent Eastern European historians consider that in Budny's case it may have been on account of his note in the Belarusian New Testament stating that Jesus was Joseph's son, as much as the better known in the West letter to Fausto Sozzini (1581) to which Fausto Sozzini's answer is preserved in Volume II of the Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum printed by Sozzini's grandson in Amsterdam, 1668.
Budny and rabbinical commentary
For all that Budny was accused of "Judaizing" by Czechowic and Sozzini, and excommunicated from the Polish-Lithuanian-Belarusian Unitarian community, Budny was still regarded as a Christian adversary in the polemical work Chizzuk Emunah ("Strengthened Faith") of Isaac Troky, who made counter-use of Budny's historical-critical biblical exegesis.
Budny supported the limited educated monarchy concept of the state (with Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski), which would enable the development of the Sejm.
Gregory Paul of Brzeziny (Gregorius Paulus) and Palaeologus had been involved in a long heated exchange over the role of the Christian in the state since 1572, which had been kept unpublished. Though Marcin Czechowic in Dialogue XII of his Christian Colloquies, took Grzegorz Pawe? z Brzezin's non-violent position. In 1580 Budny, then the leading minister among the socially conservative Lithuanian Brethren, published the whole correspondence, including Palaeologus' taunts of the pacifist position of the Ecclesia Minor Polish Brethren in his Defensio. The Polish brethren then asked Grzegorz Pawe? z Brzezin to write a reply but he excused himself on the grounds of ill health, and the task fell to the then 41-year-old Fausto Sozzini, which he did and published a defence of conscientious objection and separation from the state in 1581.
Budny was one of the first ideologists of the development the Belarusian culture in its native language, and had notable influence on the development of Belarusian national consciousness. In his "Cathechesis" (printed in 1562, Niasvizh, in Belarusian) Budny follows Francysk Skaryna in using native Belarusian speech to explain Christianity.
"So that his Ducal Highness should not only enjoy foreign languages, but also would fall in love with the ancient Slavic language and enjoy it too... And so that all others would follow this good example and the Fatherland and its native language would have future and hope".
However subsequently Budny surrendered and started to write in Polish. He tried to justify it by saying:
G?upstwo to jest mow? jednej krainy gardzi?, a drugiej s?ówka pod niebiosa wynosi?.
"It is folly to scorn the language of one country, and praise the tongue of another up to the heavens".
He translated the Bible into Polish, known in Poland today as the Biblia Nie?wieska (Nesvizh Bible), since it was translated 1568-1572 at Nesvizh (Polish: Nie?wie?). As changes were introduced in the printing a second edition of New Testament appeared in 1574. His former colleague Marcin Czechowic produced his own Polish New Testament in Lublin in 1577.
He published the Old Testament and New Testament (Biblia Nie?wieska) with commentaries and notes in Polish (Zas?a?je, Belarus 1572), which contained an early radical rationalist critique of the Gospels, and showed some knowledge of the Talmud.
Catechism The work is written in the then common form of questions and answers, and consists of four sections: on 10 Amendments, on the symbol of belief, about praying to God and on the rituals.
O opravdanii greshnogo cheloveka pred Bogom ("On the justification of sinful men in front of God"). Budny is developing Protestant ideas, but also some of his Socinian (Arian) preferences. He criticizes the conscientious objector wing of the Polish brethren such as Marcin Czechowic who considered that a Christian cannot take part in earthly power, has no rights of ownership of land and people in his property, and can not participate in war and use sword.
Note: proper names and places' names are rendered in BGN/PCGN.
^The Jews in old Poland, 1000-1795 ed. Antony Polonsky, Jakub Basista, Andrzej Link-Lenczowski - 1993 "Budny rejected the eternality of Christ and, in the notes to his translation of the New Testament, denied the Virgin birth, assenting that Jesus was Joseph's son. Even among heretical leaders Szymon Budny was considered a heretic and they would have nothing to do with him.
^Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism, vol. 1 (Cambridge, 1947), p. 370. Verein für Reformationsgeschichte 1990.
^44 There has been no satisfactory explanation given for Szymon Budny's excommunication by the Unitarian community - whether it was simply on account of his notes to the translation of the New Testament, on some of which he later changed his mind, or his 41 Bibliotheca Fratrum II, pp"
^R. Dan, "Isaac Troky and his 'Antitrinitarian' Sources," in Occident and Orient: a tribute to the memory of Alexander Scheiber p76 Sándor Scheiber, Róbert Dán - 1988 "Nor can we doubt that for Troky Budny was one of his Christian adversaries as he himself had announced in a discussion"
^The suffering servant: Isaiah 53 in Jewish and Christian sources Bernd Janowski, Peter Stuhlmacher - 2004 "The historical-critical biblical exegesis of Szymon Budny, one of the best Christian Hebraists of his time, ..."
^Peter Brock Against the draft: essays on conscientious objection 2006 Page 21
^"Gistoryya belaruskaj (kryuskaj) knigi. Sproba payasnitel'naj knigopisi ad kanca X da pachatku XIX stagoddzya" [The History of Belarusian (Creeve) Book. An Attempt of Explanational Description From the End of the 10th to the Beginning of the 19th Century], Ed. V. Lastouski, Published by the Belarusian Center in Lithuania, Publishing House of Sakalouski and Lan, Kauno 1926. UC Berkeley Library PG 2834.2 A12H51926 Main
^The 16th century prints of Budny and Cathehesis in this page are taken from: "Niasvizh" photoalbum in English, Polish and Belarusian - Ed.: Mikalaj Dzeliankouski, text by Valery Dranchuk, photos by Valiancin Zhdanovich, Publishing house "Belarus", 2000. ISBN985-01-0346-9