Stern, Hermann

Stern, Hermann, a Jewish missionary, was born of Israelitish parentage in 1794, at Tennstadt, in Bavaria. He visited the high school in Bamberg to study as teacher. In his twenty-first year he received his first place as teacher in Hochberg. Endeavoring to conform in his religious instruction to the letter and spirit of the Holy Scriptures, he could not avoid alluding to the defectiveness and emptiness of the synagogue ceremonials as taught in the Talmud and in the Jewish code Shulchan Aruch. Complaint was made to the chief rabbi of the district, and for his own security Stern requested the government that the rabbi be required to superintend the religious instruction of his school. Mr. Bing, the chief rabbi, begged to be excused from doing so, stating that Stern's religious instruction did not please him. The government then demanded of the rabbi either to propose one of the existing compendiums as a text book for schools, or else write one himself.

The rabbi offered to do the latter. In the meantime Stern was sent by the government to the town of Heidingsfeld, near Würzburg. Having spent two years at the latter place, he received from the government the new text book of the Mosaic religion, which rabbi Alexander Behr, under the direction of the chief rabbi, had prepared. The one hundred and sixty pages of this book were entirely filled with ceremonial laws, and contained not a word, much less an exposition, of morality, of conscience, of virtue, of holiness, of the condition and destiny of man. Stern called the attention of the government to these deficiencies of the book, and promised to publish a better one. In 1829 he published his Die Confirmation der Israeliten, oder das Judenthum in seiner Grundlage, which was followed in 1835 by his larger work, Der Lebensraum. Both these books continued to be standards in many schools, even after Stern had embraced Christianity. The preparation of those works led Stern to study the Bible and the Talmud more thoroughly, which brought him to the conviction that the expected Messiah had already come. His sentiments he made known to the Jews, who persecuted him as much as possible, as they could not agree with him. But Stern often said, "They ought to know it, and it is my duty that I tell them the truth quite decidedly; the Lord demands it from me." Sooner than he expected, the hour had come. In the year 1836 many theologians were assembled together, who were ordered by the king of Bavaria to speak of different things about religion. They met in Würzburg; Stern also was invited to be present at the meeting; and now the question was put whether the Trinity consists with the Jewish religion or not. They all said no, excepting Stern, who could not agree. He put the question before them all- what shall one do if he cannot say yes to it? because he was convinced that the Trinity is spoken of in the Jewish religion. They were greatly astonished at him, and advised him to write a book in which he should put his question before them. This he did in his Das Israelitenthum in seiner Wurde und Burde, but instead of convincing him that he was in error, they censured him and threatened that they would take away his place from him; but he was not shaken. Stern had to undergo many severe trials, and he finally resolved to settle at Frankfort as a private tutor. Here he published in 1844 a periodical, Die Auferstehung, in which he proved, without at all exhausting the subject, that, the doctrine of the Trinity is not new in Judaism, however positively this is denied. Two years later (in 1846) he openly professed his Christian belief, and in the same year he published his Glaubensgrunde fur meinen Uebertritt zum Christenthum. He was soon engaged as missionary among the Jews by the British Society, and labored among his brethren until his death, which took place in the year 1861. See the (London) Jewish Herald, April, 1861 Herschell, Jewish Witnesses that Jesus is the Christ (1858), p. 138 sq., Missionsblatt des Vereins fur Israel, Dec. 1872; Delitzsch, Saat auf Hoffnung (1872), 9, 68 sq.; 10, 188; Fürst, Bibl. Jud. 3, 385 sq.; Zuchold, Bibl. Theol. 2, 1269. (B.P.)

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