Pfeiffer, Edward (1857-1926)

Pioneer American theorist of missions

Pfeiffer was a graduate of Capital University and Seminary, Columbus, Ohio, and served as a Lutheran pastor before joining the faculty there in 1899. From 1902 he taught in the seminary and was known as a strong advocate of missions. In 1908 he published Mission Studies, which went through several editions. It was the first systematic treatment of the theory and practice of misions in English. He showed awareness of this history of American missions and drew on the thought of Rufus Anderson, especially as reflected in the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions Outline of Missionary Policy (1856). But the structure of his work depended directly on the German missiologist Gustav Warneck. Although not a student of Warneck, he accepted Warneck’s theoretical framework. Pfeiffer divided his work into to parts: this history of missions, and the theory or principles of missions. He recognized that mission studies were as yet inadequately defined and deserved more careful development.

Wilbert R. Shenk, “Pfeiffer, Edward,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 533.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.


Digital Primary

Pfeiffer, Edward. Mission Studies: Outlines of Missionary Principles and Practice. Revised and expanded edition. Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern, 1912.


Pfeiffer, Edward. Evangelism: A Handbook for Workers. Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern, 1926.

_____. Freedom of Conscience, of Speech, and of Press. Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern, 1915.

_____. Missionary Stories for Juniors. Columbus: Lutheran Book Concern, 1925.


Huber, Donald L. Educating Lutheran Pastors in Ohio, 1830-1980: A History of Trinity Lutheran Seminary and Its Predecessors. Lewiston, NY, USA: E. Mellen Press, 1989.