Translator and bishop

Daily Reading for October 14 • Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, Bishop of Shanghai, 1906

Born a Lithuanian Jew, Shereschewsky studied to become a rabbi. While pursuing graduate work in Germany, however, he became interested in Christianity through missionaries of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, a voluntary ecumenical group. In 1854 he emigrated to the United States, where he studied for the Presbyterian ministry before becoming an Episcopalian and graduating from The General Theological Seminary in New York in 1859. Responding to Bishop Boone’s call for helpers in China, he learned to write Chinese onboard ship across the Pacific and translated the Bible and parts of the prayer book into Mandarin before he was elected bishop of Shanghai in 1877. Paralyzed by a stroke, he resigned his see in 1883 but over the next twenty years completed, with the help of his wife, a translation of the bible into Wenli, typing some two thousand pages with the middle finger of his partially crippled hand. Four years before his death in 1906 he said, “I have sat in this chair for over twenty years. It seemed very hard at first. But God knew best. He kept me for the work for which I am best fitted.”

From Horizons of Mission by Titus Presler, volume 11 of The New Church’s Teaching Series (Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley Publications, 2001).

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