Novum Testamentum Graece

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Novum Testamentum Graece

Novum Testamentum Graece ( Latin for 'Greek New Testament') has been the title of original-language editions of the New Testament since Erasmus of Rotterdam , which are based directly on the traditional Greek text ( Textus receptus ) and / or Greek manuscripts .

In more recent times, this title has been understood to mean, in particular, a scientific edition of the text of the New Testament. This text-critical edition (currently in its 28th edition) is overseen by the Institute for New Testament Text Research at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster . It is also known as " Nestle - Aland " (NA) after its first editors .


The German theologian and Orientalist Eberhard Nestle presented the first edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece in 1898. The aim of the edition was to bring together the then new scientific text editions by Tischendorf , Westcott / Hort and Weymouth . The text was constituted by the majority of the three editions (from the 3rd edition onwards, the Weymouth edition was replaced by the edition by Bernhard Weiß ). The meaning of the textus receptus that had prevailed until then began to wane. Nestle was already using a so-called text device , which recorded the text output he used.

In the 13th edition of 1927, his son Erwin Nestle developed the basics of the text apparatus that is still used today. There, for the first time, the readings of the manuscripts, translations and ancient references themselves were placed in the foreground. From the 17th edition it also began to deviate from the purely mechanical majority text of the above-mentioned three editions and to allow changes based on new knowledge.

With the 21st edition from 1952, Kurt Aland became an employee of the edition. Since then, the apparatus has been gradually compared with the original manuscripts. Above all, the papyri from the 2nd and 3rd centuries that have been newly found since 1930 were also included.

With the 26th edition of 1979, the text of the Novum Testamentum Graece is identical to the text edition of the Greek New Testament . However, it offers the much more extensive apparatus and differs in terms of paragraph structure, orthography and punctuation. Both editions are now being looked after by the Institute for New Testament Text Research in Münster. In the 26th edition, Kurt Aland also redesigned the form of text and apparatus that is still valid today. The 27th edition kept the text of the 26th edition, but expanded the apparatus, the 28th edition changed the text in about 30 places in the Catholic letters and thus corresponds to the text of the Editio Critica Maior , which is also published by the INTF .

Text-critical method

The texts of the New Testament are preserved in over 5000 Greek manuscripts. None of them is the autograph of a New Testament script. In a process of tradition that has lasted for centuries, continuous copying has resulted in text variants (so-called readings ) that are partly due to writing, hearing or understanding errors, partly represent deliberate changes because the copyist cannot (no longer) understand the original or he is familiar with the Text format was not agreed ( revision or collation ). Such readings can reflect the interpretation tradition of a certain region or time and are therefore of great importance not only for the text scientist and exegete , but also for historians . In addition to manuscripts in Greek, old translations, especially into Latin , Coptic or Syriac, are among the important sources of the New Testament text tradition.

These manuscripts form the starting point for all engagement with the New Testament and are today the basis of every translation into modern languages. The Novum Testamentum Graece is a reconstruction of the Greek texts of the New Testament on the basis of text-critical decisions about the value of a manuscript for the text passage in question. For the reconstruction, the respective readings are first collected (collated), grouped and then evaluated according to various criteria. These criteria include:

  • The age of the handwriting
  • Evidence in many manuscripts
  • The testimony in independent manuscripts
  • The shorter reading ( lectio brevior ) takes precedence over the more detailed
  • The reading is independent of parallel passages
  • The more difficult reading ( lectio difficilior ) takes precedence over the easier one
  • The text corresponds in style and language to the context and the characteristics of the author
  • The most original version is probably the one from which the origin of all other readings can best be explained
The critical characters of the Nestle-Aland

As a result of this evaluation, the Novum Testamentum Graece offers the reconstruction of the Greek text in the main text and, in an extensive apparatus, information on the text witnesses for the selected and the alternative readings. This method provides the scientifically oriented reader of the text or the translator with the tools to understand the reconstruction and, if necessary, to make a different, responsible decision about the preferred text form.

With this form of methodology and presentation, the Novum Testamentum Graece differs fundamentally from other text editions of the New Testament, such as the Textus receptus and the majority text, which derive their textual form from a certain text tradition, without its prerequisites and the growth of this form in detail to document.

The main sources for the Novum Testamentum Graece are referred to by the editors as permanent witnesses because of their age and importance . These include B. the following manuscripts in Greek:

  • The papyri z. B. 45 , 66 , 75 (2nd to 3rd century)
  • Codex Sinaiticus ( , 4th century)
  • Codex Vaticanus ( B , 4th century)
  • Codex Bezae (also called Codex Cantabrigiensis , D , 5th or 6th century)

With the exception of the Codex Vaticanus (in the Vatican since 1475 ) and the Codex Bezae, the above-mentioned manuscripts were only found again in the 19th or 20th century and therefore offer a quality of text traditions that has not been accessible since the New Testament beginnings 3rd edition are also based on the Novum Testamentum Graece .

New Testament language

Even if the work of Jesus and his disciples initially took place in the Aramaic language area, the 27 writings of the New Testament are all written in Greek. The language of the New Testament is the so-called Koine Greek, which differs from classical Greek by simpler forms. Koine Greek was the language that, as a common lingua franca, held together the diversity of the peoples and languages ​​of Asia Minor and Palestine in the time of Caesar and Octavian . It was later the official language of the Byzantine Empire and was gradually pushed back from the early Middle Ages in the course of the Ottoman conquests.

Since the New Testament consists of 27 individual writings from very different historical , regional , social and religious contexts, great linguistic differences can be determined. The Greek of Mark or Matthew , which is closely based on the Aramaic linguistic world, is kept very simple and simple. The good Greek of the Pauline letters or the pseudo- Pauline letters (e.g. the so-called Letter of Paul to the Ephesians ) stands out clearly from this. The reflective language of the Gospel of John is almost philosophical , but it still has structural echoes of Hebrew.


The Novum Testamentum Graece contains the selection of books as they were recorded in the canon of the New Testament in the Christian churches.

See also


  • Eberhard Nestle , Barbara Aland , Kurt Aland : Novum Testamentum Graece. 28th edition. German Bible Society, Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-438-05159-2 .
  • Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland: The Text of the New Testament. Introduction to the scientific editions as well as the theory and practice of modern textual criticism. German Bible Society, Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-438-06025-6 .
  • Wilhelm Egger : Methodology for the New Testament. Introduction to linguistic and historical-critical methods. St. Benno Verlag, Leipzig 1987, ISBN 3-7462-0441-0 (licensed edition by Herder Verlag, Freiburg i. Br. 1987).
  • Eberhard Nestle: Introduction to the Greek New Testament. 3rd, revised edition. Göttingen 1909 ( digitized version ).
  • Udo Schnelle : Introduction to New Testament Exegesis. 6th edition. Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-525-03230-7 .
  • David Trobisch : The 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland. An introduction. German Bible Society, Stuttgart 2013 (also in English).

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