Alfred Edersheim

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Alfred Edersheim.
Alfred Edersheim.

Alfred Edersheim (March 7, 1825 – March 16, 1889) was a Jewish convert to Christianity and a Biblical scholar known especially for his book The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883).


Early life and education

Edersheim was born in Vienna of Jewish parents of culture and wealth. English was spoken in their home, and he became fluent at an early age. He was educated at a local gymnasium and also in the Talmud and Torah at a Hebrew school, and in 1841 he entered the University of Vienna. His father suffered illness and financial reversals before Alfred could complete his university education, and he had to support himself.

Conversion and Christian Ministry

Edersheim emigrated to Hungary and became a teacher of languages. He converted to Christianity in Pesth when he came under the influence of John Duncan, a Church of Scotland chaplain to workmen engaged in constructing a bridge over the Danube. Edersheim accompanied Duncan on his return to Scotland and studied theology at New College, Edinburgh and at the University of Berlin. In 1846 he was ordained to the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. He was a missionary to the Jews at Iaşi, Romania for a year. On his return to Scotland, after preaching for a time in Aberdeen, Edersheim was appointed in 1849 to minister at the Free Church, Old Aberdeen. In 1861 health problems forced him to resign and the Church of St. Andrew was built for him at Torquay. In 1872 Edersheim's health again obliged him to retire, and for four years he lived quietly at Bournemouth. In 1875 he was ordained in the Church of England, and was Curate of the Abbey Church, Christchurch, Hants, for a year, and from 1876 to 1882 Vicar of Loders, Bridport, Dorset. He was appointed to the post of Warburtonian Lecturer at Lincoln's Inn 1880-84. In 1882 he resigned and relocated to Oxford. He was Select Preacher to the University 1884-85 and Grinfield Lecturer on the Septuagint 1886-88 and 1888-89. Edersheim died at Menton, France, on March 16, 1889.


  • History of the Jewish Nation after the Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus (Edinburgh, 1856)
  • The Temple and Its Ministry and Services at the Time of Jesus Christ (London, 1874)
  • Bible History (7 vols., 1876-87)
  • Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ (1876)
  • The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (2 vols.,1883; condensation in one volume, 1890)
  • Prophecy and History in Relation to the Messiah (Warburton Lectures for 1880-1884, 1885)
  • Tohu va Bohu, "Without form and Void." A Collection of fragmentary Thoughts and Criticisms. Ed. with a Memoir, by Ella Edersheim (1890)
  • Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim (London, 1898)


This article borrows heavily from the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, put forth in the public domain by

  • David Mishkin, The Wisdom of Alfred Edersheim, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2008, ISBN 978-1556359392

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