Gobat, Samuel (1799-1879)

Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionary to Abyssinia

Born to a Lutheran family in Crémine, Bern, Switzerland, Gobat studied at the Basel Mission Institute, the Missionary Institute in Paris, and the CMS training institution in Islington (London), England. Ordained in the Lutheran church, he nevertheless volunteered for service with the CMS. During six years of service in Abyssinia (Ethiopia), broken by a short stint in Europe from 1833 to 1834, during which he married Maria Zellerin, Gobat worked energetically and to some degree successfully at building rapport with the Orthodox Coptic Church. In 1836 he was forced by poor health to return to Europe. He was subsequently sent to Malta, where, between 1839 and 1845, he supervised the translation of the Bible into Arabic and served as vice-president of the Malta Protestant College. In 1846 he was nominated by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia to succeed the recently deceased bishop of Jerusalem. Until his death (in Jerusalem), Gobat was notable for the energetic practicality and consummate Christian diplomacy that marked his fulfillment of this difficult and frequently exasperating role. In addition to his several publications cited below, and the Arabic translation of the Bible mentioned above, Gobat left behind thirty-seven Palestinian schools with a combined enrollment of 1,400 students, and twelve indigenous churches.

Jonathan J. Bonk, “Gobat, Samuel,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 245.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Bibliography

Digital Texts


Art. IV.—Gobat’s Three Years’ Residence in Abyssinia.” The Theological and Literary Journal 4 no. 1 (July 1851): 134-58.

Gobat, Samuel. Journal of Three Years’ Residence in Abyssinia. Accompanied with A Biographical Sketch of Bishop Gobat by Robert Baird. New York: M. W. Dodd, 1834.

Gobat, Samuel and L. Roehrich. Samuel Gobat: His Life and His Work. A Biographical Sketch Drawn Chiefly from His Own Journals. With Preface by the Right Hon. the Earl of Shaftesbury. With Portaits and Illustrations. London: J. Nisbet, 1884. [Originally written in French by Mme. L. Roehrich. English translation made from the German ed. of 1884.]

_____. Samuel Gobat: missionnaire en Abyssinie et évêque à Jérusalem, sa vie et son oeuvre. Bale: C. F. Spittler, 1885.

Gobat, Samuel, D.D.” In Men of the Reign: A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Persons of British and Colonial Birth Who Have Died During the Reign of Queen Victoria, edited by Thomas Humphry Ward, 355-6. London: G. Routledge and Sons, 1885.

Schäfer, Theodor. “Gobat, Samuel: Second Anglican-German Bishop in Jerusalem.” In The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: Embracing Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology and Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Biography from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, edited by Samuel Macauley Jackson, et al., 5:1. New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1908-1912.

Stock, Eugene. The History of the Church Missionary Society: Its Environment, Its Men, and Its Work. 4 vols. London: Church Missionary Society, 1899-1916.  Volume 1; Volume 2; Volume 3; Volume 4.

Secondary


“Art. IV.—Gobat’s Three Years’ Residence in Abyssinia.” The Theological and Literary Journal 4 no. 1 (July 1851): 134-58.

Baird, Robert. “A Biographical Sketch of Bishop Gobat.” In Samuel Gobat, Journal of Three Years’ Residence in Abyssinia. New York: M. W. Dodd, 1834.

Conway, John S. “The Jerusalem Bishopric: A ‘Union of Foolscap and Blotting-paper.'” Studies in Religion 7 no. 3 (1978).

“Gobat, Samuel, D.D.” In Men of the Reign: A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Persons of British and Colonial Birth Who Have Died During the Reign of Queen Victoria, edited by Thomas Humphry Ward, 355-6. London: G. Routledge and Sons, 1885.

Kildani, Hanna. Modern Christianity in the Holy Land: Development of the Structure of Churches and the Growth of Christian Institutions in Jordan and Palestine: The Jerusalem Patriarchate in the Nineteenth Century in Light of the Ottoman Firmans and the International Relations of the Ottoman Sultanate. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2010, especially pages 522-65.

Payne, Eric. Ethiopian Jews: The Story of a Mission. London: Olive Press, 1972.

Schäfer, Theodor. “Gobat, Samuel: Second Anglican-German Bishop in Jerusalem.” In The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: Embracing Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology and Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Biography from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, edited by Samuel Macauley Jackson, et al., 5:1. New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1908-1912. Also Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1963-1967.

Stock, Eugene. The History of the Church Missionary Society: Its Environment, Its Men, and Its Work. 4 vols. London: Church Missionary Society, 1899-1916.

Stunt, Timothy C. F. From Awakening to Secession: Radical Evangelicals in Switzerland and Britain, 1815-35. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2000, especially “Swiss missionary recruits in London,” pages 128-33.

Tibawi, Abdul Latif. British Interest in Palestine 1800-1901: A Study of Religious and Educational Enterprise. London: Oxford University Press, 1961, pp. 237-255.

Portrait


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