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Most modern translations of the New Testament rely on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. One of the editors of the recent editions of this Greek New Testament is scholar Barbara Aland. This article provides a brief history of the Nestle-Aland text and a brief biography of Barbara Aland.

The Nestle-Aland Text

Barbara Aland and the Nestle-Aland Greek New TestamentThe Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament is the primary source for most contemporary New Testament translations and is a standard resource for academic studies of the New Testament.

The first edition, published by Eberhard Nestle in 1898, combined the readings of the editions of Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, and Weymouth. In 1901, Nestle replaced the Weymouth New Testament with Bernhard Weiss’s text. In later editions, he began noting the attestation of certain important manuscripts in his apparatus.

Eberhard’s son Erwin Nestle took over after his father’s death and issued the 13th edition in 1927. This edition introduced a separate critical apparatus and began to abandon the majority reading principle.

Kurt Aland (1915-1994) became the associate editor of the 21st edition in 1952. At Erwin Nestle’s request, Kurt reviewed and expanded the critical apparatus, adding many more manuscripts, and while doing so, he founded the Institute for New Testament Textual Research. This institute eventually achieved worldwide significance by publishing the Novum Testamentum Graece (Nestle-Aland), 25th edition, in 1963.

The great manuscript discoveries of the 1900s made further revisions of the text necessary and, with Nestle’s permission, Kurt Aland set out to revise the text of Novum Testamentum Graece. Aland submitted his work to the editorial committee of the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (of which he was also a member) and it became the basic text of their third edition (UBS3) in 1975. Four years later it was published as the 26th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. (Source)

The 27th edition was “re-edited at the Institute for New Testament Textual Research Münster/Westphalia under the direction of Barbara and Kurt Aland. The text of this edition is identical to that of the 26th edition, but the critical apparatus and the appendices have been thoroughly revised. Those textual witnesses that are essential to the constitution and the history of the text are more precisely selected and clearly arranged. A new appendix deals with special information regarding the source material.” (Source)

The 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament was published in 2012. Daniel Wallace has written a short article about it, including a few comments about the corresponding ESV diglot, here.

The photo below of Barbara and Kurt Aland was taken in 1988. (Wikimedia)

Barbara and Kurt Aland (1988) (Wikimedia Commons)

Barbara Aland  

Barbara Aland and the Nestle-Aland Greek New TestamentThe photo shows Barbara Aland receiving the “Knight’s Cross” of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, July 2011. (Wikimedia)

Kurt Aland’s wife Barbara (b. 1937) is a renowned scholar in her own right. Until 2002, she was the Professor of New Testament Research and Church History at the Westphalian Wilhelms-University of Münster. Barbara has earned two doctoral degrees, plus she has received three honorary doctorates and several prestigious awards.

In 1982 Barbara joined the editorial committee of the Nestle-Aland text and co-wrote Der Text des Neuen Testaments: Einführung in die Wissenschaftlichen Ausgaben Sowie in Theorie und Praxis der Modernen Textkritik with her husband.

In 1983 she became the director of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (INTF) at Münster (which was founded in 1959 by her husband.) The main task of this institute is to research the textual history of the New Testament and to reconstruct its original Greek text. The original text is worked out by analyzing all the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, all the early translations of the New Testament, and all excerpts from the patristic writers where they quote New Testament verses. (Source)

Barbara herself was primarily responsible for the first volume of Editio Critica Maior (1997). “The Editio Critica Maior of the New Testament exhibits the history of the Greek text through its first millennium as documented in manuscripts from the second century onward. It provides scholars engaged in the tasks of exegesis and textual criticism with all the relevant materials found in Greek manuscripts, patristic citations, and the versions. The evidence cited includes many textually significant manuscripts that have hitherto been either slighted or completely ignored.” (Source)

This work is continually being added to. A fourth volume, which is on the Catholic Letters, is the most recent addition to the Editio Critica Maior. Volume IV was edited by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland (deceased), Gerd Mink, Holger Strutwolf, and Klaus Wachtel. (Kurt Aland died in 1994 but his name continues to be included as his work forms much of the basis of subsequent publications.) This new volume on the Catholic Letters is the reason the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland text was produced.

Barbara Aland is listed first as one of the editors (listed in alphabetical order) of the Nestle-Aland 27th (fourth revised) edition and 28th edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece.

Barbara Aland editor

More and more Christian women are obtaining academic qualifications and scholarly expertise in theological and biblical studies. Women scholars are involved in most of the English translations of the more recent Bible versions, and several scholars, such as Lynn Cohick, Beverly Gaventa and Karen Jobes are writing superb Bible commentaries.

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1 thought on “Barbara Aland and the Nestle-Aland Greek NT

  1. Thanks for this Margaret, as in my coming research for my senior thesis project, this may be a source I can use.


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