Kurt Aland

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Kurt Aland (around 1988)

Kurt Aland (born March 28, 1915 in Steglitz near Berlin ; † April 13, 1994 in Münster / Westphalia ) was a German Protestant theologian and professor of New Testament introductory studies and church history .


Kurt Aland was the son of Paul Aland and his wife Anna Aland. From 1933 he studied Protestant theology at the Friedrich Wilhelms University in Berlin . He passed his theological exam before the examination board of the Brotherhood Council of the Confessing Church on March 23, 1938. During his studies he worked on the magazine of the Confessing Church, Junge Kirche . In the ideology-critical brochure Wer fälscht? , which was directed against the National Socialist Mathilde Ludendorff , among others , he clearly positioned himself on the side of the Confessing Church. He obtained his licentiate in 1939 from Hans Lietzmann . Unfit for military service due to a war injury (1940), he took over the editing of the Theologische Literaturzeitung in 1941 and, after the death of his teacher Hans Lietzmann, increased professorial duties. In 1941 he completed his habilitation and in 1944 he was ordained a Protestant pastor in Berlin-Steglitz.

After the Second World War , Kurt Aland was appointed associate professor at the theological faculty of the Humboldt University in Berlin and in 1947 as a full professor at the theological faculty of the University of Halle while also teaching in Berlin. In 1952, together with Konrad Onasch , he founded the “Institute for Denominational Studies of the Orthodox Churches” at the University of Halle.

Aland's critical attitude towards the Marxist regime in the GDR and his membership and activities in the Spirituskreis led to persecution by the GDR authorities. In 1953 he was taken into custody for three months on charges of smuggling watches to West Berlin . He was also accused of having had contacts with the investigative committee of freedom lawyers and the RIAS . Aland spoke out several times publicly against the oppression of the churches and the freedom of teaching in the GDR. Because of "malicious inhibition of the socialist transformation of the universities" Aland was dismissed on July 14, 1958 by the university without notice. Aland fled to West Berlin in September 1958. Its 8,000-volume library was incorporated into the university library.

In September 1958 Aland initially received an “all-German assistant position” at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster , until he became an associate professor in 1960 and a full professor in 1961. Aland did not accept a call from the University of Chicago in 1960. In Münster he founded the Institute for New Testament Text Research , which he headed until 1983, and in 1979 the Münster Bible Museum , which was unique in the world for many years. With the publication of the Novum Testamentum Graece, known as Nestle- Aland , the institute gained worldwide importance.

Aland's first marriage to Ingeborg Aland had three children. In 1972 he was married to the theologian Barbara Aland in his second marriage .

The grave of the theologian Kurt Aland in the Münster Central Cemetery .


In a time of increasing specialization, also within theology, Kurt Aland can be regarded as one of the last representatives of both comprehensive and thorough historical and theological scientific work.

New Testament textual criticism

In the field of New Testament textual criticism , his work and that of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, headed by his wife Barbara Aland after his retirement in 1983, are globally trend-setting. He is the author of a large number of text-critical publications. Most famous is the completely revised edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece (Nestle / Aland) 1979. The focus of his work was the intensive and sometimes adventurous search for old manuscripts, the evaluation of which continues to this day. This text basis serves the scientific work on the New Testament with the aim of the closest possible approximation to the "original text" of the New Testament.

Kurt Aland made several trips, including to the monasteries of Russia and Greece, with which the "discovery" and documentation of numerous New Testament manuscripts was connected. In addition, he worked, among other things, through the Hermann Art Foundation for the Promotion of New Testament Text Research , in which personalities from politics, business and society have gathered since 1964, to promote and support the Institute for New Testament Text Research.

With the Institute for New Testament Text Research, Kurt Aland has shown himself to be a great ecumenist who left the narrow framework of German Protestantism far behind.

Church history

Another focus of his work was his church history work, both in the early church area, as in the history of the Reformation, the more recent church history of Pietism and the beginning revival movement. Critics highlight the depth and breadth as well as Aland's extensive knowledge of sources. This gives Aland's individual works on church history a presence and liveliness, which is an important aspect in terms of scientific didactics.

Aland initiated and participated with publications in numerous scientific discussions, among others on the subject of baptism and infant baptism with Joachim Jeremias and Karl Barth , and on the question Did Peter die a martyr in Rome? (Discussion with Karl Heussi ). He discussed the timing and veracity of Martin Luther's 95 theses with Hans Volz , Erwin Iserloh and Klemens Honselmann , as well as the beginnings of Pietism with Johannes Wallmann .

Aland also paid attention to quantitative aspects in historical questions. So he compared the first two volumes of Biblia Patristica and found that there are fewer parallels to the letters of Paul recorded in them for the third century than for the second century.

Kurt Aland was of the fundamental conviction that all historical work ultimately depends on the knowledge, reliability and accessibility of its sources, and he endeavored to evaluate the sources in a balanced manner. He criticized z. B. the tendency among Patrists and New Testament scholars to late dating the origin of individual New Testament texts. It seemed more appropriate to him, within a possible dating framework, to assume a mean value rather than the latest possible date. He made the following recommendation:

"The first reliable testimony from the Church Fathers also means an indication of the time of writing, which must be set two to three decades in advance, at least according to the average values ​​that the historian reckons with."

Kurt Aland's estate is in the archive of the Westphalian Wilhelms University of Münster .


Kurt Aland receives the large Federal Cross of Merit with a star (1983)

Kurt Aland received the following honorary doctorates:

He received the following awards:

Kurt Aland was a member of the following academic academies:

The American Society of Biblical Literature made him an honorary member. In addition, Aland was made an honorary member for life of the American Bible Society in 1966 .


Theological books

  • Spener studies. 1943. (= Works on the history of Pietism I. Works on church history . Volume 28.)
  • Church history drafts. Old Church - Reformation and Lutheranism - Pietism and Awakening Movement. 1960.
  • Infant Baptism in the New Testament and in the Old Church. An answer to Joachim Jeremias. In: TEH. NF 86, 1961.
  • About the change of faith in the history of Christianity. 1961.
  • Baptism and infant baptism. 40 sentences on the statements of the New Testament and the historical findings, on the modern debate about it and the conclusions from it for church practice - at the same time an examination of Karl Barth's doctrine of baptism. 1971.
  • New Testament drafts. 1979. (= Theological Library , NT. 63.)

Works on the philology of the New Testament

  • The gospel. Urtext and German translation. A selection from the New Testament. Edited by Lic. Kurt Aland . Ernst Heimeran Verlag, Munich 1940.
  • Bible and Bible texts with August Hermann Francke and Johann Albrecht Bengel. In: Pietism and the Bible. 1970, pp. 89-147 (= AGP , 9).
  • A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament. 3. Edition. 1971.
  • with Barbara Aland: The Text of the New Testament. Introduction to the scientific editions as well as the theory and practice of modern textual criticism. 2nd Edition. Stuttgart 1982. 1989, ISBN 3-438-06011-6 .
  • The basic deed of faith. A report on 40 years of work on your text. In: Report of the Hermann Art Foundation for the Promotion of New Testament Text Research for the Years 1982 to 1984. 1985, pp. 9–75.
  • The New Testament - reliably transmitted. The history of the New Testament text and the results of modern text research. 1986. (= interesting facts about the Bible. 4.)
  • Text and text value of the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Volume I-III. 1987ff. (= Work on New Testament text research. )

Essays on Church History

  • Methodical remarks on the Corpus Paulinum by the Church Fathers of the second century. In: Adolf Martin Ritter (Ed.): Kerygma and Logos. ... Festschrift for Carl Andresen on his 70th birthday. Göttingen 1979, pp. 29-48.

Editorial activity

  • Theological literary newspaper . Monthly for the entire field of theology and religious studies . Founded by Emil Schürer and Adolf von Harnack. With the assistance of Professor D. Ernst Sommerlath, Leipzig. Publisher from 1941 to 1958.
  • Texts and studies on the history of early Christian literature .
  • Sources on the history of the papacy and Roman Catholicism. Volume 1: From the beginnings to the Tridentinum. Row II: The Church after the 2nd Vatican Council. Volume 1: The years 1966 and 1967.

New Testament Philology

  • (Ed.) Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum. Locis parallelis evangeliorum, apocryphorum et patrum adhibitis. 1963.
  • Complete concordance with the Greek New Testament, based on all modern critical text editions and the textus receptus , in conjunction with Harald Riesenfeld , Hans-Udo Rosenbaum , Christian Hannick , Bernhard Bonsack, newly compiled under the direction of Kurt Aland. 1975 ff.
  • Computer concordance on the Novum Testamentum Graece by Nestle-Aland26 and the Greek New Testament3. Edited by the Institute for New Testament Text Research and the Computer Center of the University of Münster, with the special participation of H. Bachmann and WA Slaby. 1977.
  • (Ed. With M. Black, CM Martini, BM Metzger, A. Wikgren) Novum Testamentum Graece. Post Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle.
  • Luther German. Study edition in 10 volumes and 1 register volume. 4th edition. Göttingen 1991, ISBN 3-8252-1656-X . Corresponds to Kurt Aland (Ed.): Martin Luther. Collected Works. CD-ROM. Direct Media Publishing, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-89853-163-5 . Both editions in today's German.
  • (Arrangement with Barbara Aland) Novum Testamentum Latine. Novam Vulgatam Bibliorum Sacrorum Editionem secuti apparatibus titulisque additis. 1984.
  • (Edited with Barbara Aland) Greek-German dictionary on the writings of the New Testament and early Christian literature by Walter Bauer . 6th edition. Institute for New Testament Text Research / Münster with the special participation of Viktor Reichmann. 1988.


Web links

Commons : Kurt Aland  - collection of images, videos and audio files


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Homepage of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg .
  2. ^ Kurt Aland - In Memoriam , 1995, p. 15.
  3. ^ Münster University Archives .
  4. ^ A b c Karl-Alfred Odin: Discoverer and science organizer by high grace. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . March 28, 1985.
  5. The New Testament was rewritten. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. April 16, 1994.
  6. 50 years of the Institute for New Testament Text Research , speech by Horst Köhler on December 9, 2009.
  7. Kurt Aland: Infant Baptism in the New Testament and in the Old Church. An answer to Joachim Jeremias. 1961.
  8. ^ Kurt Aland: Baptism and Child Baptism. 40 sentences on the statements of the New Testament and the historical findings, on the modern debate about it and the conclusions from it for church practice - at the same time an examination of Karl Barth's doctrine of baptism. Gütersloh 1971.
  9. Kurt Aland: The death of Peter in Rome. Comments on his denial by Karl Heussi. In: Kurt Aland: Church history drafts. Gütersloh 1955, pp. 35-104.
  10. Kurt Aland: The Reformers: Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli, Calvin. with an afterword to the history of the Reformation. 4th edition. Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh 1986, ISBN 3-579-05204-7 .
  11. Kurt Aland: Philipp Jakob Spener and the beginnings of Pietism. In: PuN. 4 (1977/1978), pp. 155-189.
  12. ^ Aland: Methodical remarks on the Corpus Paulinum. 1979, p. 40 f .: "In general, a downward trend can be determined ..." To explain this finding, Franz Stuhlhofer pointed out : The use of the Bible from Jesus to Euseb. Wuppertal 1988, p. 20, points out that the volume for the 3rd century shows fewer NT parallels overall, and that the decrease in the Pauline letters fits in accordingly.
  13. ^ Aland: Methodical remarks on the Corpus Paulinum. 1979, pp. 46 and 44.
  14. ^ Annual report of the university archives , 2014.
  15. a b c d Text, Wort, Glaube , p. 13.
  16. ^ History in Science and Education . Volume 34, p. 740.
  17. ^ Westfälische Nachrichten , October 26, 1985.
  18. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. November 1, 1985.
  19. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , December 11, 1993, small reports .
  20. ^ Homepage of The Lutheran Historical Society of the Mid-Atlantic ( Memento of February 28, 2014 in the Internet Archive ).
  21. ^ Homepage of the British Academy ( Memento from January 28, 2015 in the Internet Archive ).