Stern, Rudolf Leupoldt

Moravian Church

Rudolf Leupoldt Stern (June 15, 1865 - March 12, 1923) was a Christian theologian and Bible translator. He was born in Gorakhpur, East India to Heinrich Wilhem Stern and Sophie Elisabeth.

He studied theology and received ordination as a clergyman in Basel in 1888. He married Hanna Marie (nee Binder) in May 1, 1894 and the couple took up missionary work in Suriname (1894- 1897). Rudolf joined the Moravian Church, and then their mission efforts. He and Hanna Marie moved to East Africa and lived there from 1898-1908. He translated the New Testament into the Nyamwezi language, taking over the translation work that the London Missionary Society had started.[1]

The dialect and orthography that Stern used in his translation differed somewhat from the 1897 gospel of Mark translation by Thomas Francis Shaw and Jacob Wainright of the London Missionary Society. [2]

His family lived in various parts of what is now Tanzania, including Urambo in 1898, Kiwere in 1899 where a new mission station was founded, and Sikonge in 1906-08.[3] Due to his wife’s illness, he, his wife, and their children left for Germany in June 1908, and they did not return to East Africa. Rudolf worked for the Moravian missions agency, as well as the German Protestant Church. In 1922, he began teaching theology at University of Königsberg.

Rudolf died March 12, 1923 in Schönbruch, East Prussia (currently the territory covered by Lithuania and Poland).



1 Richard Träger and Charlotte Träger-Große, Dienerblätter: Biographische Übersichten von Personen, dim im Dienst der Brüdergemeine standen, vol. Se – U (Herrnhut: Unitätsarchiv, n.d.).

  1. Historical catalogue of the printed editions of Holy Scripture in the library of the British and Foreign Bible Society, compiled by T. H. Darlow and H. F. Moule. 1903-1911, Entries 7049-7051.

  2. African locations recorded in footnotes of picture at

This information on Bible translators, received in 2019, was compiled by Rev. J.D. in the process of attempting to make digital scans of these Bibles available for missional and historical purposes.