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Nestle-Aland's Novum Testamentum Graece
Eberhard Nestle
Kurt Aland

Novum Testamentum Graece is the Latin name of an original Greek-language version of the New Testament. The first printed edition was the Complutensian Polyglot Bible by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, printed in 1514, but not published until 1520. The first published edition of the Greek New Testament was produced by Erasmus in 1516.

Today the designation Novum Testamentum Graece normally refers to the Nestle-Aland editions, named after the scholars who led the critical editing work. The text, edited by the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung (Institute for New Testament Textual Research) is currently in its 28th edition, abbreviated NA28. The Nestle-Aland text is the primary source for most contemporary New Testament translations, although most are translations of the edition that was available at the time of translation. The Nestle-Aland text is also the standard for academic work in New Testament studies.

The title Novum Testamentum Graece can also be applied to the United Bible Societies (UBS) edition which contains the same base text (the latest UBS 5th ed contains the text from the NA28). The primary difference between the Nestle-Aland and UBS editions is that the latter is aimed at translators and so focuses on variants that are important for the meaning whereas the former is aimed at textual critics and other scholars and so includes the relevant variants for that purpose.


The Greek text as presented is what biblical scholars refer to as the "critical text". The critical text is an eclectic text compiled by a committee that examines a large number of manuscripts in order to determine which reading is most likely to be closest to the original. They use a number of factors to help determine probable readings, such as the date of the witness (earlier is usually better), the geographical distribution of a reading, and the likelihood of accidental or intentional corruptions. In the book, a large number of textual variants, or differences between manuscripts, are noted in the critical apparatus—the extensive footnotes that distinguish the Novum Testamentum Graece from other Greek New Testaments.

Most scholars view uncial text as the most accurate; however, a few authors, such as New Testament scholar Maurice A. Robinson[1] and linguist Wilbur Pickering,[2] Arthur Farstad and Zane C. Hodges claim that the minuscule texts (the Byzantine text-type) more accurately reflect the "autographs" or original texts than an eclectic text like NA28 that relies heavily on manuscripts of the Alexandrian text-type. This view has been criticized by Gordon Fee[3] and Bruce Metzger[4] among others. Since the majority of old manuscripts in existence are minuscules, they are often referred to as the Majority Text. It is worth noting, though, that the Majority Text as a whole is classified by the editors of the NA28 (of whom Metzger is one) as a "consistently cited witness of the first order," meaning that whenever the text presented differs from the majority text this is recorded in the apparatus along with the alternate reading.[5] Other consistently cited references include the full corpus of papyri manuscripts available to the authors as well as a wide range of other manuscripts including a selection of both minuscules and uncials.[5]

The Novum Testamentum Graece apparatus summarizes the evidence (from manuscripts and versions) for, and sometimes against, a selection of the most important variants for the study of the text of the New Testament. While eschewing completeness (in the range of variants and in the citation of witnesses), this edition does provide informed readers with a basis by which they can judge for themselves which readings more accurately reflect the originals. The Greek text of the 28th edition is the same as that of the 5th edition of the United Bible Societies The Greek New Testament (abbreviated UBS5) although there are a few differences between them in paragraphing, capitalization, punctuation and spelling.[6] The critical apparatus is different in the two editions; the UBS4 edition is prepared for the use of translators, and includes fewer textual variants, but adds extra material helpful for translators.



The first edition published by Eberhard Nestle in 1898 combined the readings of the editions of Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort and Weymouth, placing the majority reading of these in the text and the third reading in the apparatus. In 1901, he replaced the Weymouth New Testament with Bernhard Weiss's text. In later editions, Nestle 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. In the apparatus only a few minuscules were included.[7]

Kurt Aland became the associate editor of the 21st edition in 1952. At Erwin Nestle's request, he reviewed and expanded the critical apparatus, adding many more manuscripts. This eventually led to the 25th edition of 1963. The most important Papyri and newly discovered Uncials, as 0189, a few Minuscules (33, 614, 2814), occasionally also lectionaries were taken into account.[8]

The great manuscript discoveries of the 20th century had also made a revision of the text necessary and, with Nestle's permission, Aland set out to revise the text of Novum Testamentum Graece. Aland submitted his work on NA 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 before it was published as the 26th edition of Nestle-Aland.

Members of the Editorial Committee of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament comprise:

  • UBS1, 1966
  • UBS2, 1968
Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce Metzger, Allen Wikgren.
  • UBS3, 1975
Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo Maria Martini, Bruce Metzger, Allen Wikgren.
  • UBS4, 1993
Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo Maria Martini, Bruce Metzger
  • UBS5, 2014
Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo Maria Martini, Bruce Metzger in co-operation with the Institute for New Testament Textiual Research, Münster[9]

In 2011 the Global Board of the United Bible Societies appointed a new editorial committee that will prepare future editions of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece as well as of the Greek New Testament. The committee consists of Christos Karakolis (University of Athens, Greece), David Parker (University of Birmingham, United Kingdom), Stephen Pisano (Pontifical Biblical Institute, Italy), Holger Strutwolf (University Münster, Germany), David Trobisch (Museum of the Bible/Green Collection Oklahoma City, USA) and Klaus Wachtel (University Münster, Germany).[10]

The 28th edition of Nestle-Aland reproduces the text of NA27 (the same text used in UBS4 and UBS5) and presents a thoroughly revised critical apparatus and a rewritten introduction and appendices.

A more complete set of variants is listed in the multiple volume Novum Testamentum Graecum – Editio Critica Maior. A small number of textual changes in the most current edition were incorporated in the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland,[11] published in 2012. Papyri 117-127 were used in this edition.

Current editions[edit]

The NA28 text is published by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (the German Bible Society).

Accuracy of the New Testament[edit]

In The Text of the New Testament, Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland compare the total number of variant-free verses, and the number of variants per page (excluding orthographic errors), among the seven major editions of the Greek NT (Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, von Soden, Vogels, Merk, Bover, and Nestle-Aland) concluding 62.9%, or 4999/7947, agreement.[12] They concluded, "Thus in nearly two-thirds of the New Testament text, the seven editions of the Greek New Testament which we have reviewed are in complete accord, with no differences other than in orthographical details (e.g., the spelling of names, etc.). Verses in which any one of the seven editions differs by a single word are not counted. This result is quite amazing, demonstrating a far greater agreement among the Greek texts of the New Testament during the past century than textual scholars would have suspected […]. In the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation the agreement is less, while in the letters it is much greater"[12] For over 250 years, New Testament scholars have argued that no textual variant affects key Christian doctrine.[13]

Book Verses Variant-free verses Percentage Average variants per page
Matthew 1071 642 59.9% 6.8
Mark 678 306 45.1% 10.3
Luke 1151 658 57.2% 6.9
John 869 450 51.8% 8.5
Acts 1006 677 67.3% 4.2
Romans 433 327 75.5% 2.9
1 Corinthians 437 331 75.7% 3.5
2 Corinthians 256 200 78.1% 2.8
Galatians 149 114 76.5% 3.3
Ephesians 155 118 76.1% 2.9
Philippians 104 73 70.2% 2.5
Colossians 95 69 72.6% 3.4
1 Thessalonians 89 61 68.5% 4.1
2 Thessalonians 47 34 72.3% 3.1
1 Timothy 113 92 81.4% 2.9
2 Timothy 83 66 79.5% 2.8
Titus 46 33 71.7% 2.3
Philemon 25 19 76.0% 5.1
Hebrews 303 234 77.2% 2.9
James 108 66 61.6% 5.6
1 Peter 105 70 66.6% 5.7
2 Peter 61 32 52.5% 6.5
1 John 105 76 72.4% 2.8
2 John 13 8 61.5% 4.5
3 John 15 11 73.3% 3.2
Jude 25 18 72.0% 4.2
Revelation 405 214 52.8% 5.1
Total 7947 4999 62.9 %  


Earlier translations of the Bible, including the Authorized King James Version, tended to rely on Byzantine type texts, such as the Textus Receptus. A number of translations began to use critical Greek editions, beginning with the translation of the Revised Version in England in 1881-1885 (using Westcott and Hort's Greek Text). English translations produced during the twentieth century increasingly reflected the work of textual criticism, although even new translations are often influenced by earlier translation efforts.

A comparison of the textual and stylistic choices of twenty translations against 15,000 variant readings shows the following rank of agreement with the Nestle-Aland 27th edition:[14]

Abbreviation Name Relative agreement
NASB New American Standard 1
ASV American Standard Version 2
NAU New American Standard (1995 update) 3
NAB New American Bible 4
ESV English Standard Version 5
HCS Holman Christian Standard 6
NRSV New Revised Standard Version 7
NET New English Translation 8
RSV Revised Standard Version 9
NIV New International Version 10
NJB New Jerusalem Bible 11
REB Revised English Bible 12
JNT Jewish New Testament 13
GNB Good News Bible 14
NLT New Living Translation 15
DRA Douay-Rheims (American edition) 16
TLB The Living Bible 17
MRD Murdock Peshitta translation 18
NKJV New King James Bible 19
KJV King James Version 20

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robinson, Maurice A. and William G. Pierpont (2005). The New Testament in the Original Greek: Byzantine Textform. Southborough: Chilton.
  2. ^ Pickering, Wilbur (2012). The Identity of the New Testament Text III. Eugene: Wipf and Stock.
  3. ^ Fee, Gordon (1979). "A Critique of W. N. Pickering's The Identity of the New Testament Text" Westminster Theological Journal, 41. 397-423.
  4. ^ Metzger, Bruce (1992). The Text of the New Testament. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. 290-293.
  5. ^ a b Novum Testamentum Graece (1993) Barbara and Kurt Aland, eds. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. 12*.
  6. ^ Elliott, J. K. (1996). "A Comparison of Two Recent Greek New Testaments", The Expository Times, Volume 107, Number 4, pages 105-106.
  7. ^ Michael W. Holmes, From Nestle to the `Editio Critica Maior`, in: The Bible as Book: The Transmission of the Greek Text, London 2003, p. 127. ISBN 0-7123-4727-5
  8. ^ Michael W. Holmes, From Nestle to the `Editio Critica Maior`, in: The Bible as Book: The Transmission of the Greek Text, London 2003, p. 128. ISBN 0-7123-4727-5
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ University of Bremen list of textual updates for Nestle-Aland 28
  12. ^ a b K. Aland and B. Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions & to the Theory & Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, 1995, op. cit., p. 29-30.
  13. ^ Wallace, Daniel. "The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical?". Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  14. ^ T.E. Clontz (2008), The Comprehensive New Testament. Clewiston: Cornerstone Publications. ii, iii, vii; graphs on iii and back cover.

External links[edit]

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Thu, 15 Jan 2015 04:09:11 -0800

"In the case of the 1959 translation, Biblia Hebraica [Hebrew and Aramaic] was used for the Old Testament and Novum Testamentum Graece [Greek] for the New Testament," said spokeswoman Mims Turley. The society said it was also working on a new ...

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I read all of this in Nestle's Novum Testamentum Graece, 21st Edition. But you can probably find it in almost every translation on the planet. Reply · Like. · September 19, 2013 at 4:24pm. Warren Heitzenrater · Duke. Ri Cameron ,thanks for asking. And ...
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