"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have faith." - John 20:29
Here is some information on Bach's library, a fair bit but not all of which is
in German--see also Daniel R. Melamed and Michael Marissen, An introduction to
Bach studies (New York, 1998):
A list of religious books from Bach's library, written up after Bach's death,
is found in chapter 12 of
"Specificatio der Verlassenschafft des am 28. July. 1750 seelig verstorbenen
Herrn Johann Sebastian Bachs." Transcribed in Werner Neumann and Hans-Joachim
Schulze, eds., Bach-Dokumente, Band II: Fremdschriftliche und gedruckte
Dokumente zur Lebensgeschichte Johann Sebastian Bachs 1685–1750 (Cassel and
Leipzig, 1969), 627; translated in Hans T. David and Arthur Mendel, The Bach
reader, rev. ed. (New York, 1966), 191-97.
There is no mention here of Bach's books on other subjects. Bach's books on
music had no doubt already been passed on to his sons before this point.
A catalogue and study of this list of religious books appears in
Robin A. Leaver. Bachs theologische Bibliothek: eine kritische Bibliographie
/ Bach's theological library: a critical bibliography. Neuhausen-Stuttgart,
For further useful information and minor corrections, see
Johannes Wallmann. "Johann Sebastian Bach und die 'Geistlichen Buecher' seiner
Bibliothek." Pietismus und Neuzeit 12 (1986): 162-81.
To determine which writings of Martin Luther were printed in the volumes that
Bach owned, consult Leaver's bibliography together with
Kurt Aland. Hilfsbuch zum Lutherstudium. Rev. ed. Witten, 1970.
The only known surviving religious book from Bach's library itself is
Abraham Calov. Die heilige Bibel nach S. Herrn D. Martini Lutheri Deutscher
Dolmetschung und Erklaerung. Wittenberg, 1681-82.
This Bible contains a considerable number of marginal comments and
underlinings that have been scientifically identified as coming from Bach's
pen. Facsimiles of each of these passages and translations are provided in
Howard H. Cox, ed. The Calov Bible of J.S. Bach. Ann Arbor, 1985.
Facsimiles of Bach's marginal comments and a study of them are found in
Robin A. Leaver. J.S. Bach and scripture: glosses from the Calov Bible
Commentary. St. Louis, 1985.
Renate Steiger. "Lesespuren--Lesefruechte: zu J.S. Bachs Umgang mit seiner
Bibliothek." Musik und Kirche 63 (1993): 77-80.
The following authors study the handwritten annotations in Bach's Calov Bible
for their biographical implications:
Renate Steiger. "Bach und die Bibel: einige Anstreichungen Bachs in seiner
Calov-Bibel als Selbstzeugnisse gelesen." Musik und Kirche 57 (1987): 119-26.
Howard H. Cox. "Bach's conception of his office." Bach 20, no. 1 (1989):
For an example of a study that makes extensive use of Bach's library in
interpreting Bach's music see
Michael Marissen. Lutheranism, anti-Judaism, and Bach's St. John Passion. New
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It's worth noting that this was a "Bible Commentary". (I'm not sure about
Calov's, but many Bible Commentaries are not "complete" in that they omit
Bible text that the writer doesn't feel a need to expound upon. Typical
layout is a verse or two followed by the writer's comments & explanations.
On the other hand sometimes the entire Biblical text is in one column with
comments next to it, but this wastes a lot of space.)
In any case, to me, this shows that Bach wanted a book to aid in his *study*
of the Bible. Scripture was not just something he used to fulfill the terms
of his employment as some have asserted.
The Happy Farmer
"Outstanding in my field" :)
Farming & Fiddling in California's Fertile Central Valley