Adolph Saphir

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Adolph Saphir and his Teacher, by Hill & Adamson, 1840s.

Rev Dr Aaron Adolph Saphir DD (26 September 1831 – 4 April 1891) was a Hungarian Jew who converted to Christianity and became a Jewish Presbyterian missionary.


He was born in eastern Budapest (Pest) on 26 September 1831, the son of Israel Saphir, a Jewish merchant[1] and brother of the poet, Moritz Gottlieb Saphir. Adolph's mother was Henrietta Bondij.[2]

In 1843, his family converted to Christianity through the Jewish mission of the Free Church of Scotland. In the autumn of 1843 his father sent him to train as a Christian minister for the Free Church of Scotland at New College, Edinburgh. This proved impractical due to his age and lack of English. He attended a Gymnasium in Berlin from 1844 to 1848 much improving his English. From 1848 he studied at Glasgow University graduating MA in 1854.[3]

Saphir travelled to Edinburgh with Rabbi Duncan and Alfred Edersheim.[4] He then studied at the Marischal College, Aberdeen. In 1854, Saphir was appointed a missionary to the Jews.[5] He worked briefly in Hamburg before moving to England where he served in South Shields, Greenwich, and Notting Hill. Saphir became a minister of the Presbyterian Church of England, and received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the University of Glasgow in 1878.[6]

He died of Angina pectoris on 3 April 1891.


  • The Hidden Life
  • The Divine Unity of Scripture
  • Jesus and the Sinner
  • Christ and the Church
  • The Jews as Custodians and Witnesses
  • Christ and the Scriptures
  • Christian Perfection: An Address
  • Christ Crucified
  • The Epistle to the Hebrews (1874)
  • The Sinner and the Saviour


In 1854 he married Sara Owen from Dublin. She died four days before him. They had two daughters: Asra and Maria.

His daughter Maria Saphir married Rev Carl Schwartz.


  1. ^ Kovács, Ábrahám: The History of the Free Church of Scotland’s Mission to the Jews in Budapest and its impact on the Reformed Church of Hungary 1841-1914 Frankfurt am Main; New York; Berlin; Bern; Bruxelles; New York; Oxford; Wien: Peter Lang Verlag, 2006.
  2. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. ^ ODNB
  4. ^ Larsen, David L. (1998). The Company of the Preachers: Volume 2. Kregel Publications. p. 570. ISBN 9780825494345. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  5. ^ Carlyle, Edward Irving (1897). "Saphir, Adolph" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 50. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  6. ^ "Adolph Aaron Saphir". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 25 October 2015.

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