Today we remember Joseph Scherescheweky: Bishop, Missionary to China, and Translator. Here is his brief biography from Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating The Saints.
Joseph Schereschewsky...was born on May 6, 1831, of Jewish parents, in the Lithuanian town of Tauroggen. His early education was directed toward the rabbinate, but during graduate studies in Germany, he became interested in Christianity through missionaries of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, and through his own reading of a Hebrew translation of the New Testament.
In 1854 Schereschewsky immigrated to America and entered the Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh to train for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. After two years, he decided to become an Episcopalian, and to ﬁnish his theological studies at the General Theological Seminary in New York City, from which he graduated in 1859.
After ordination, and in response to Bishop Boone’s call for helpers in China, Schereschewsky left for Shanghai. Always facile in languages, he learned to write Chinese during the voyage. From 1862 to 1875 he lived in Peking, and translated the Bible and parts of the Prayer Book into Mandarin. After Bishop Williams was transferred to Japan, Schereschewsky was elected Bishop of Shanghai in 1877, and was consecrated in Grace Church, New York City. He established St. John’s University, in Shanghai, and began his translation of the Bible and other works into Wenli. Stricken with paralysis, he resigned his see in 1883.
Schereschewsky was determined to continue his translation work, and after many difﬁculties in ﬁnding support, he was able to return to Shanghai in 1895. Two years later, he moved to Tokyo. There he died on October 15, 1906.
With heroic perseverance Schereschewsky completed his translation of the Bible, typing some 2,000 pages with the middle ﬁnger of his partially crippled hand. Four years before his death, 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.” He is buried in the Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo, next to his wife, who supported him constantly during his labors and illness.
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. What a witness to the faith!