Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Schaff, Philip

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Appletons' Schaff Philip signature.jpg

SCHAFF, Philip, clergyman, b. in Coire, Switzerland, 1 Jan., 1819; d. in New York, 20 Oct., 1893. He was educated at Coire, Stuttgart gymnasium, and the universities of Tübingen, Halle, and Berlin. At Berlin, in 1841, he took the degree of B. D., and passed examinations for a professorship. He then travelled as tutor to a nobleman, and, on his return to Berlin, lectured in the university on exegesis and church history in 1842-'4. On the recommendation of several eminent theologians he was called to a professorship in the theological seminary of the German Reformed church of the United States at Mercersburg, Pa. He was ordained at Elberfeld, came to this country in 1844, and in 1845 was tried for heresy, but acquitted. In 1854 he visited Europe, representing the American German churches at the ecclesiastical diet at Frankfort, and at the Swiss pastoral conference at Basel, lectured in Germany on America, and received the degree of D. D. from Berlin. His connection with Mercersburg was retained from 1844 till 1863, when he removed to New York. He was secretary of the New York Sabbath committee in 1864-'9, and during that period delivered courses of lectures on church history in the theological seminaries at Andover, Hartford, and New York. He paid a second visit to Europe in 1865, and a third in 1869. In 1870 he accepted the professorship of sacred literature in Union theological seminary, New York city. Dr. Schaff was a member of the Leipsic historical, the Netherland, and other historical and literary societies in Europe and America. He was one of the founders, and honorary secretary, of the American branch of the Evangelical alliance, and was sent to Europe in 1869, 1872, and 1873 to arrange for the general conference of the alliance, which, after two postponements on account of the Franco-German war, was held in New York in October, 1873. Dr. Schaff was also, in 1871, one of the alliance delegates to the emperor of Russia to plead for the religious liberty of his subjects in the Baltic provinces. He was president of the American Bible revision committee, which was organized in 1871 at the request of the English committee, and in 1875 he was sent to England to negotiate and arrange terms with the British revisers and the university presses with regard to co-operation and publication of the Anglo-American revision. That same year, in August, he attended a conference of the Old Catholics, Greeks, and Protestants at Bonn, with a view to promote Christian unity among the churches there represented. Dr. Schaff was first president of the newly (1888) organized American society of church history, with its officers representing all the leading branches of the Protestant church; and, in addition to the cultivation of that particular branch of literature to which it is specially devoted, the society aims at unifying Christian thought and sentiment throughout the world. Dr. Schaff's works are mostly historical and exegetical; some of them are written in German, and others in English, but the German ones have been translated. Among the most important are his “History of the Apostolical Church” (New York, 1853); “Sketch of the Political, Social, and Religious Character of the United States” (1855); “Germany, its Universities, Theology, and Religion” (1857); “History of the Christian Church” (6 vols., 1858-'88); “German Hymn-Book, with Introduction and Notes” (1859; ed. with music, 1874); “The Christ of the Gospels” (1864); “The Person of Christ, with Replies to Strauss and Renan” (1865); “Lectures on the Civil War and the Overthrow of Slavery in America” (1865); “Christ in Song” (1869); “Revision of the English Version of the New Testament” (1874); “The Vatican Council” (1875); “History and Collection of the Creeds of Christendom” (3 vols., 1876); “Harmony of the Reformed Confessions” (1877); “Through Bible Lands” (1878); “Dictionary of the Bible” (1880); “Library of Religious Poetry,” edited in conjunction with Arthur Gilman; “Companion to the Greek Testament and the English Version” (1883; 3d revised ed., 1888); “Historical Account of the Work of the American Committee of Revision of the English Version” (1885); “Christ and Christianity” (1885); and “Church and State in the United States, or the American Idea of Religious Liberty and its Practical Effects, with Official Documents” (New York, 1888). He edited the Anglo-American adaptation of Lange's “Critical, Theological, and Homiletical Commentary on the Bible” (begun in 1864, 24 vols., New York and Edinburgh), and the “International Revision Commentary on the New Testament” (begun in 1881). Dr. Schaff founded and edited the “ Kirchenfreund,” the first German monthly in this country, and, with Prof. Henry B. Smith, edited the “Philosophical and Theological Library,” a series of volumes begun in 1873 (New York and London). He contributed articles to American and foreign reviews, and to Herzog's, Smith's, and other encyclopedic works. See Life by his son (1897).