Schereschewsky was born in Tauroggen, Russian Lithuania 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.
At age 15 he entered The Rabbinical School at Zhitomir and was responsible for supporting himself working as a tutor and a glazier. While at the school he came into possession of a Hebrew translation of the New Testament which had been left by English missionaries to the Jews that were operating in the Zhitomir area. It was in his study of the New Testament that Samuel began to see the messianic prophecies of the Jews had been met in the person of Jesus Christ.
By the time he was 19 (1850), Schereschewsky found himself caught in a struggle of religious identity and moved to the German states to further his learning and to sort thing out and added German to the growing list of languages he had mastered (Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, Lithuanian and Russian)
In 1854 Schereschewsky emigrated to the United States and it was in New York he made company with Christian Jews, but did not enter the Christian faith until the next spring (1855). He was Baptized in a Baptist congregation but then left for Presbyterianism and studying at the Western Theological Seminary after two years (1857) he left for the the Episcopal Church and the General Theological Seminary and had added English to his mastered tongues.
In 1859 Schereschewsky volunteered for missionary work in China and won an appointment to the Shanghai mission and was Ordained to the Diaconate 17 July 1859. Schereschewsky sailed for China, learning Shanghainese dialect of Chinese on the voyage, he arrived at Wusung on 21 December 1859.
On 28 October 1860 Schereschewsky was Ordained to the Priesthood in his mission school chapel later designated as the Church of Our Saviour by Bishop William Jones Boone of Shanghai. While serving as a Priest, Schereschewsky worked with his talent for languages, translating the Psalms into Shanghainese.
In 1877 Schereschewsky was elected Bishop of Shanghai and founded St. John's University to help educate and win converts among the local Chinese. He also began his next project of translating the Bible into the Wenli dialect of Chinese. Schereschewsky served as Bishop until 1884 as illness had slowed his work and eventually confined him to a wheelchair.
Bishop Schereschewsky moved to Tokyo, Japan with his wife to continue his work of learning languages and then translating the Bible and Book of Common Prayer into his newly learned tongues, including Mandarin, Wenli, Shanghainese and Mongolian and by my estimation he had learned and mastered at least thirteen languages - Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, German, English, Shanghainese, Mandarin, Wenli, Mongolian and Japanese.
Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky passed to the eternal life 15 October 1906 and is buried in the Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo, next to his wife, who supported him constantly during his labors and illness. 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.”
Propers for Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky - 14 October - Missionary, Translator and Bishop
O God, who in thy providence didst call Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe to the ministry of this Church, and didst send him as a missionary to China, upholding him in his infirmity, that he might translate the Holy Scriptures into languages of that land: Lead us, we pray thee, to commit our lives and talents to thee, in the confidence that when thou givest unto thy servants any work to do, thou dost also supply the strength to do it; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Epsitle - 2 Corinthians 4:11-18
The Gospel - St. Luke 24:44-48
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