The Rev. Edward Fairley's admission came in the form of an opening statement because he's acting as his own attorney at his trial that got under way in Paterson Tuesday.
The 61-year-old asked to be convicted of aggravated assault instead of attempted murder.
The Record newspaper reports the prosecution told jurors Fairley stalked Simone Shields to a friend's home, announced "she has to die" and stabbed her 27 times in 2011. Shields, who also is a minister, survived.
The prosecutor said the two were lovers for over 20 years even though Fairley was married.