Editor’s note: We who preach the Gospel today have a great debt to those Hebrew Christians who came before us, laboring long and hard, enduring much, that other Jews might come to know Christ. How much more then shall we owe those Gentile Christians who crossed the lines of prejudice, much stronger than those we have today, to preach Christ to their Jewish friends.
Here are the testimonies of two outstanding churchmen, who were led to Christ by concerned Gentiles − maybe by someone just like you. Both of these testimonies were reprinted from Our Jewish Friends by Dr. Louis Goldberg, copyright 1977. Moody Press, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago . Used by permission.
ALFRED EDERSHEIM: SCHOLAR, PREACHER, AND PASTOR
Alfred Edersheim is well known by ministers and educators for his work The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah . He was born in Vienna in 1825 of well-to-do parents. He was a student at the University of Budapest and on the way to becoming a great scholar. He spoke Latin fluently and knew Greek, German, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, and Italian. While at the University of Budapest , Edersheim was introduced to a number of Christian ministers, one of whom was the well-known Dr. Duncan, missionary of the Church of Scotland in Hungary . Dr. Duncan was a well educated man who also spoke Latin fluently. This skill attracted Edersheim to him, and over the years a strong bond of friendship grew between them.
After Duncan left Hungary , a Gentile Christian minister became Edersheim’s tutor in English. Because of the minister’s prayers and faith sharing, it was not long before the young student recognized Jesus as the Messiah and confessed Him as his Saviour. Edersheirn then went to Edinburgh , where he completed his training in theology. He was ordained by the Church of Scotland and sent to Rumania as a missionary. After many trials and tests there, he finally settled down in England and was also ordained by the Church of England.
Edersheim, a great preacher, was the first Messianic Jew invited to preach in Westminster Abbey. He served for a time as the preacher at the University of Oxford , and in 1883 he became a lecturer at Oxford . This provided him the opportunity to write several works, including The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, which only a Messianic Jew could have produced. Toward the end of his life, he moved to southern France , where he died in 1889.
AUGUSTE NEANDER: SCHOLAR AND FATHER OF MODERN CHURCH HISTORY
He was born David Mendel and was destined to become the father of modern church history. This Messianic Jew was to become a prominent figure in the universities of Germany . He was born in Germany in 1789 and was a descendant of the reformer of traditional Judaism, Moses Mendelsohn. Neander received his early education in Hamburg and was influenced by classmates to examine the claims of Jesus the Messiah. When he did, he acknowledged Jesus as Messiah. Upon formally acknowledging his faith he took the name Neander. (The Church’s practice then was to have Jewish believers change their names.)
He studied at the University of Halle under the father of theological modernism, Schleiermacher. Neander was able to absorb Schleiermacher’s theology, but it did not deter Neander’s own theological stand. In later years, while Schleiermacher was teaching at the University of Halle at one end of the hall, Neander lectured from time to time at the other end of the hall. While Schleiermacher is regarded as the father of modernism, it was Neander who held the day for evangelicalism in Germany .
After leaving Halle , Neander continued his theological studies and became well known as a historian. He eventually had a position as professor in the University of Berlin and was known as one of the leading lecturers at the university until the day he died. Many people, Protestants and Roman Catholics alike, came to hear his lectures.
Neander had a disposition that attracted people to his Messiah. The students regarded him as a father and counselor. He was a tremendously prolific writer. Never having married, he was able to devote all of his time to his studies and writing.
The supreme object of Neander’s life and labors was to tell the story of the Church of Christ , and he produced a work that earned him the title of champion for evangelicalism in Germany. In writing his Life of Christ, he set out to counteract the theology of Schleiermacher. In this work, he demonstrated the validity of the scriptural record in an attempt to stem the tide of higher criticism. He had many other works to his credit, which have been translated into English. Some of them are The History of the Planting and Training of the Christian Church by the Apostles and biographies of Julian the Apostate, Bernard, and Chrysostom. An unfinished work, which has not been translated into English, is his Life of the Apostle Paul . It is said that he died while dictating a page of his General History, which had to be completed from his notes after his death. As he died, he said, "I am weary; I must sleep. Good night."
What a story this is! Because some students took the time to share the Messiah with this man, he became greatly influential in the schools of learning in Germany to the honor and glory of Jesus the Messiah.