Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Joseph Schereschewsky
Anglican Bishop of Shanghai
Joseph Schereschewsky.jpg
Church Episcopal Church
See Shanghai
In office 1877-1884
Predecessor Channing M. Williams
Successor William Jones Boone, Jr.
Ordination 28 October 1860
Personal details
Born 6 May 1831
Tauroggen, Russian Lithuania
Died 15 October 1906
Tokyo, Japan
Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky
Chinese 施约瑟

Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky (pronounced skĕr-ĕs-kūs'kĭ Chinese: 施约瑟; 6 May 1831 – 15 October 1906), also known as Joseph Schereschewsky, was the Anglican Bishop of Shanghai, China, from 1877 to 1884. He founded St. John's University, Shanghai, in 1879.

Early years[edit]

Schereschewsky was born in Tauroggen, Russian Lithuania, on 6 May 1831. He appears to have been named for his father. His mother was Rosa Salvatha. Orphaned as a young boy, it is speculated he was raised by a half-brother who was a timber merchant in good circumstance. Having shown himself to be a promising student, he was given the best education available and it was his family's intention that he become a rabbi. From the time he left his brother's house at 15, he was obliged to support himself as a tutor and as a glazier. It was at the rabbinical school in Zhitomir that he was given a copy of the New Testament in Hebrew which had been produced by the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews. The study of that gradually convinced him that in Jesus the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament and the age-long hopes of his people had been fulfilled. At 19 he went to Germany where he studied for a year or more at Frankfurt and for two years at the University of Breslau. To his fluency in Yiddish, Polish and Russian he added German, which he spoke like a native for the rest of his life.[1]

Road to China[edit]

In 1854 he decided to emigrate to the United States. In New York he connected with Christian Jews but did not enter the Christian Church until 1855 when he was baptized by immersion and associated with a Baptist congregation. For reasons unknown he then became a Presbyterian and went to the Western Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church at Allegheny, Pennsylvania. After more than two years he left to enter the Episcopal Church and the General Theological Seminary, where he found a mentor in the professor of Hebrew, Samuel H. Turner. His plan to complete his remaining two years of study was interrupted when he offered himself for work in China. On 3 May 1859 the Foreign Committee voted that he be appointed missionary to China as soon as he was ordained. He was ordained as a deacon on 17 July 1859 at St. George's Church, New York by Bishop William Jones Boone.

Career in China[edit]

Schereschewsky arrived in Shanghai on 21 December 1859 on the ship Golden Rule. On 28 October 1860 he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Boone in the mission school chapel, later known as the Church of our Savior, Hongkew. He served in Peking from 1862. There he served on the Peking Translation Committee, and founded St. John's College (later renamed St. John's University).[2]

By 1861, Schereschewsky had begun his Bible translations into Chinese. The first was of the Psalms into the Shanghai dialect. He translated the Book of Common Prayer into Chinese with English missionary John Shaw Burdon, followed by translations of the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible.[3]

He served as Bishop of Shanghai until his health was so poor he could not continue. He used a wheelchair in the last part of his life, "paralysed in every limb, and with his powers of speech partly gone, sitting for nearly twenty-five years in the same chair, slowly and painfully typing out with two fingers his Mandarin translation of the Old Testament and Easy Wen-li translation of the whole Bible"[4] It was written of him by a contemporary: "Probably the greatest Bible translator China ever had".[5]

Death and legacy[edit]

Schereschewsky died on 15 October 1906 and is buried in Tokyo, Japan. St. John's University, which Schereschewsky began with 39 students, mostly taught in Chinese. In 1891, it changed to teaching in English and the courses began to focus on science and natural philosophy.


Schereschewsky is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on 14 October.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eber (1999), pp. 19-24.
  2. ^ Eber (1999), pp. 85-136.
  3. ^ WorldCat Listing
  4. ^ p. 374. Marshall Broomhall, ed. 1907. The Chinese Empire: A General and Missionary Survey. London: Morgan and Scott.[1]
  5. ^ p. 442. Marshall Broomhall, ed. 1907. The Chinese Empire: A General and Missionary Survey. London: Morgan and Scott.[2]
  6. ^ Holy Women, Holy Men p. 635.


External links[edit]

Episcopal Church (USA) titles
Preceded by
Channing Moore Williams
Bishop of Shanghai
1877 – 1884
Succeeded by
William Jones Boone, Jr.