Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Kunze, John Christopher

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KUNZE, John Christopher (koon'-tseh), clergyman, b. in Artern, Saxony, 4 Aug., 1744; d. in New York city, 24 July, 1807. He received his classical training at Rossleben and Merseburg, and his theological education at Leipsic. He was for three years engaged as teacher of the higher branches in the school at Closter-Bergen, near Magdeburg, and for one year as inspector of the orphans' home at Gratz. While engaged at the latter place he was selected by the theological faculty at Halle to go to America in response to an application for a minister from St. Michael's and Zion Lutheran congregations at Philadelphia, Pa., was ordained by the Lutheran consistory at Wernigerode, and arrived in Philadelphia in September, 1770. During his residence in Philadelphia he opened a theological seminary, which the Revolutionary war brought to an end. During the British occupation Zion church was converted into a hospital, and St. Michael's was used half the day as a garrison church. For several years he also occupied the post of professor in the University of Pennsylvania, to which he was appointed in 1780, giving instruction in German and the oriental languages and literature. The university conferred on him the degree of M. A. in 1780, and that of D. D. in 1783. In 1784 he accepted a call to New York, where he labored until his death. He also occupied the professorship of oriental languages and literature in Columbia in 1784-7, and again in 1792-'9. Dr. Kunze's ability as a Hebrew and Arabic scholar was recognized outside of his church, and even by Jewish rabbis, who came to him for information. He was the leading spirit in the organization, in 1786, of the New York ministerium, the second Lutheran synod in the United States, and was its first presiding officer. Dr. Kunze was one of the earliest of the educated Germans in America who urged the expediency of giving the German youth an education in the English language. Through his influence and that of other progressive clergymen English came to be used in the pulpits of the German and Dutch churches, and the congregations which adhered to the old languages lost many of their members. His published works include a “Concise History of the Lutheran Church”; a small volume of poetry entitled “Something for the Understanding and the Heart”; “A Table of a New Construction for Calculating the Great Eclipse, expected to happen June 16, 1806”; “Hymn and Prayer Book, for the Use of such Lutheran Churches as use the English Language,” the first English Lutheran hymn-book ever published in the United States, containing hymns translated from the German collection, in the same metre as the originals (New York, 1795); and a “Catechism and Liturgy” (1795). He also published historical essays, sermons, and addresses.