Carl Caspari 1814-1892
Carl Caspari was born into a devout Jewish family in Dassau, Germany, in 1814. His father was a merchant. He received a good education as a young man, as the Jewish community in Dessau placed great store on education. The Jewish seminary there was considered so good that Christian students attended also. Services in the synagogue were held in German, something unhead of at the time. Caspari left home in 1834 to study Hebrew and Arabic at the University of Leipzig, producing an Arabic grammar book which for many years was the standard work in its field.
While at the university, he was powerfully confronted with the claims of Jesus Christ as both Lord and Messiah. His former schoolmate, Granel, was a believing Christian and managed to persuade Caspari to read the New Testament carefully. Thus began a time of spiritual struggle; Franz Delitzsch, translator of the New Testament into Hebrew, counseled him during this time, together with Granel. Caspari found the evidence irrefutable and believed in Jesus as his living saviour.
Caspari continued his studies in Berlin until the year 1847, when he was urged by Gisle Johnson, a visiting young scholar from Norway, to apply for a vacant chair as lecturer at the University of Christiania in Norway. He did so, was appointed, and spent the rest of his life as a lecturer and professor of the Old Testament.
His linguistic ability enabled him speedily to master the Norwegian language, so that he was able to begin lectures in less than a year. He was made full professor in 1857. His lectures were inspiring, thorough, earnest, and bore evidence of a living Christian faith.
In 1861, Carl Paul Caspari became the first chairman of the Committee for the Mission among the Jews, which had been established in Oslo that year. Caspari’s work as a scholar and a believing Jew served to enrich three generations of Norwegian pastors, bringing the Psalms and Prophets to light in a fresh, dynamic way.
Under the auspices of the Norwegian Bible Society he assisted in making a new translation of the Old Testament, which was completed for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Society, May 26, 1891; at the time of his death in 1892 he was working on the New Testament. The Caspari Center in Jerusalem was named in his honor.
“A commentary on Obadiah” (in Delitzsh and Caspari’s Exegetisches Handbuch zu den Propheten des Alten Bundes, Leipzig, 1842);
Grammatica Arabica (2 parts, Leipzig, 1844–48; 5th Germ. ed., by August Müller, Halle, 1887; Eng. ed., by W. Wright, London, 1859–62, 1874–75; by W. Robertson Smith and M. J. de Goeje, Cambridge, 1896–98)
Beiträge zur Einleitung in das Buch Jesaia und zur Geschichte der jesaianischen Zeit (vol. ii, of Delitzseh and Caspari’s Biblisch-theologische und apologetisch-kritische Studien, Berlin, 1848)
Ueber den syrischephraimitischen Krieg unter Jotham und Ahas (Christiania, 1849)
Ueber Micha den Morasthiten und seine prophetische Schrift (2 parts, 1851–52)
Ungedruckte, unbeachtete und wenig beachtete Quellen zur Geschichte des Taufsymbols und der Glaubensregel (3 vols., 1866–75)
Zur Einführung in das Buch Daniel (Leipzig, 1869)
Alte und neue Quellen zur Geschichte des Taufsymbols und der Glaubensregel (Christiania, 1879); an edition of Martin of Braga’s De correctione rusticorum (1883)
Kirchenhistorische Anecdota nebst neuen Ausgaben patristischer und kirchlich-mittelalterlicher Schriften (1883)
Eine Augustin fälschlich beigelegte Homilia de sacrilegiis (1886)
Briefe, Abhandlungen und Predigten aus den zwei letzten Jahrhunderten des kirchlichen Alterthums und dem Anfang des Mittelalters (1891)
Das Buch Hiob in Hieronymus’s Uebersetzung (Christiania, 1893).
Der Glaube an der Trinität Gottes in der Kirche des ersten christlichen Jahrhunderts nachgewiesen (Leipzig, 1894).
Bernstein, A. Jewish Witnesses for Christ. Keren Ahvah Meshichit, Jerusalem. New edition, 1999.
Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1914, vol. II (public domain)
Skarsaune, Oscar. www.caspari.com/page.php?content=about/history&nav=about retrieved April 30, 2009
Jewish Encyclopedia, on-line