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Detail of the title page of the printed "Pfaff Bible." Image: M. Ernst Wahl

Between piety and scienceThe bible ofChristoph Matthäus Pfaff

The two-volume Pfaff Bible, composed by theologian Christoph Matthäus Pfaff, was published in 1729. It was intended to serve both individual piety and to satisfy requirements for academic use. It was the first bible to be printed in Württemberg.

Aerial view of Lorch Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende

As abbot, Pfaff was entitled to the monastery's income.


Christoph Matthäus Pfaff (1686–1760) was a leading professor of theology at the University of Tübingen while also holding the office of abbot of Lorch Monastery. This was a position that was highly prized even after the dissolution of Lorch Monastery, as the abbot received the income from the monastery's holdings. In poor Württemberg, facilitating better payment for important people in state and Protestant church administration in this way was standard practice.

Detail of the painting of Christoph Matthäus Pfaff in the gallery of professors of the University of Tübingen. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

Pfaff wanted to share information.


As a theologian, Pfaff sought to harmonize the various theological currents of his time. To create a useful basis for such an exchange, he published a bible. It was intended to contain more than just Martin Luther's translation, as orthodox theologians demanded.

Detail of the title page of the printed "Pfaff Bible." Image: M. Ernst Wahl

His bible was intended to satisfy academic requirements.


In his bible, Pfaff added a short summary after each chapter of biblical text. He also wrote an appropriate prayer for every section. To fulfill the contemporary requirements for academic employment with the contents of the Holy Script, Pfaff added almost lexical contributions, such as lists of parallel bible texts, explanations of words, and Jewish customs. The text was illustrated with many masterful images.


Pfaff's Bible was the first to be printed in Württemberg. Until the 19th century, Württemberg was a poor land. Because of this, finances prohibited the printing and composition of large bibles within the duchy. Until the mid-17th century, bibles using Martin Luther's translation were only printed in the wealthy imperial cities. It was not until 1729 that Cotta Verlag printed the first edition of the Pfaff Bible, with a second edition following a year later.

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