Alfred Edersheim

Alfred Edersheim, a scholar and writer on the traditions of the Jewish faith and Life of Christ, was born March 7, 1825 in the city of Vienna, Austria. His parents Marcus and Stephanie Beifuss were of the Jewish faith. In this city he studied in the gymnasium and University of Austria.

Around 1845 he moved to Pesth, Hungary where he met John Duncan and other Presbyterian ministers, who were chaplains to Scottish workmen building a bridge over the Danube River. Under their influence he became a Christian and came to Scotland with Dr. Duncan. In 1843 he entered New College until 1844. In 1846 he entered the Presbyterian ministry and thereafter preached for a year as a missionary to the Jews and Germans at Jassy in Rumania. He came to Old Aberdeen Church in 1848 and remained for twelve years. In the twelve years at Aberdeen he translated several German theological books into English and wrote his History of the Jewish Nation from the Fall of Jerusalem to the reign of Constantine the Great.

Alfred Edersheim was the second minister of Free Church known then as Old Machar Free Church. It was founded in 1843 and the first minister was Dr. Anderson who eventually resigned as his views on infant baptism had changed. He went on to found a Baptist Church. Alfred Edersheim before accepting the ministry of Free Church had been assisting Robert Forbes at Woodside, Aberdeen and was highly esteemed. He had accepted the position in 1849. The church was close to the University of Aberdeen and today it houses the Geography Department.

After twelve years at Free Church, Alfred's health started failing, he resigned and moved to Torquay in the county of Devon, England (a notable health spa of the period). In 1861, he gathered a congregation and in 1862 they built St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Torwood Gardens, Torquay. Because of deteriorating health problems he had to resign from St. Andrews and moved to Bournemouth, a spa on the south coast.

In 1875 he became an Episcopalian and was ordained as a deacon and priest in the Church of England. For a year he was the (unsalaried) curate of the Abbey Church, Christ Church, Hants, near Bournemouth. In 1876 he became vicar of Loders, Dorsetshire; resigning in 1883, moving to Oxford.

From 1880 to 1884 he was Warburtonian lecturer at Lincoln's Inn, London. In1881 he was made honorary M.A. of Christ Church, Oxford; in 1883 M.A. by decree of Convocation of the University of Oxford; and 1884 - 86 was select preacher to the university. He had also lectured in its "Honours School of Theology," upon prophecy. Because of his health condition he eventually moved to Menton, France where he passed away on March 16th, 1889.

— written by Stewart Edersheim

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