József Szentpétery was born in 1921 in Cluj-Napoca and studied in his hometown. He moved to Hungary with his family in 1969, first teaching at the Department of Dentistry and Oral Surgery of the University of Szeged, then from 1978 to 1986 he was a head professor at the Department of Dentistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Debrecen.
After retiring, he began to study the Chinese language more deeply, and his Hungarian–Chinese–English–Latin medical dictionary was published in 2011.
József Szentpétery donated almost 200 volumes to the Klebelsberg Library of SZTE, mainly in Chinese or Sinological topics. The books have been included in the holdings of the Oriental Collection. The material also includes classical Sinological works, dictionaries and modern language books. Works in Chinese can be searched in the library catalog by their pinyin transcription.