Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nestle's Novum Testamentum Graece (First Edition)

Today, a colleague of mine presented me with a copy of Nestle's first edition of Novum Testamentum Graece. It is nice to see (and have) it. I have a number of different N/NA editions but this one was missing. The apparatus, of course, is very thin in comparison with modern editions (based as it is on a few other editions rather than textual witnesses). On the other hand, there is a lot of room for annotation - on every page there is a blank facing page.

I take the opportunity to recommend Michael D. Marlowe's "Annotated Bibliography of New Testament Textual Criticism" which gives this entry for the edition:

Nestle, 1898. Eberhard Nestle, Novum Testamentum Graece cum apparatu critico ex editionibus et libris manuscriptis collecto. Stuttgart: Privilegierte Württembergische Bibelanstalt, 1898; 2nd ed. 1899; 3rd ed. 1901; 4th ed. 1903; 5th ed. 1904; 6th ed. 1906; 7th ed. 1908; 8th ed. 1910; 9th ed. 1912.

Nestle created his first text (1898) by comparing Tischendorf 1869, Westcott and Hort 1881, and Weymouth 1892, and placing in his text whichever reading was followed by two of the three. In the margin all differences between the three are recorded. For the third edition (1901) he replaced Weymouth with Weiss 1894. Originally the marginal apparatus showed only the minority readings of the three editions from which the text was constructed, plus the readings of the Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis in a separate paragraph below. For each edition Nestle added more information to the lower margin, making direct reference to many different manuscripts, versions, and Fathers.

Nestle died in 1913, and his son Erwin was appointed to be the editor beginning with the tenth edition (1914). See Nestle 1927.


  1. Just for fun and surety, can you verify that Nestle 1898 at Mark 4:8, 4:20 reads ψιλη?
    ἐν ... ἐν ... ἐν ...

  2. 4:8: three times EIS

    4:20: three times EN (not hEN)

  3. Interesting.
    WH had EIS (not hEIS) EN EN in 4:8,

  4. Tischendorf and Weymouth have EIS, EIS, EIS against WH.
    When Nestle changed from Weymouth to Weiss in the 3rd edition, the words became EIS, EN, EN.

  5. For those in the US or those who know how to handle tricky proxy settings, I may point out that Nestle's first and second editions can also be found downloadable at Google Books (as well as some of the early Greek+German editions). "Seek, and ye shall find".

  6. Jan Krans,

    And, the 1904 edition can be found at in a very readable pdf format. Nestle's Intro to NTTC can be found there as well. The site is a veritable gold mine of resources for research.

  7. Tommy,

    I'm curious since you have a 1st edition Nestle text. Are the NT books in the order of the Latin Vulgate or Luther's order (i.e., ending with Heb, James, Jude, Rev)? I happened upon a copy of a 2nd edition (1899) of Nestle on, and I was surprised to see the books in Luther's order. I found a 4th (1904) and 5th (1906) edition of Nestle on, and the NT books there are in the standard Latin order. So I'm curious as to the order of the NT books in the 1st (1898) and 3rd (1903) editions of Nestle.

    Here's the link to the second edition:

    I must admit that this intrigues me. I wasn't aware of any Bibles after the 16th century doing this. I knew the Bibles of Tyndale, Coverdale, "Matthew," and Taverner in English followed Luther's order, and other XVI-century Bibles in Swedish, Dutch, Swiss, and Danish, but I wasn't aware of Nestle doing this in the late XIX century.

    Thanks in advance,

  8. Jeff, in the first and second Nestle editions, Hebrews is found between 3 John and James (the "Catholic Epistles" thus comprising 1-2 Pet, 1-3 John, Heb, and Jude, in that order).
    In the third edition, Heb is put at its "normal" location at the end of the Pauline letters; indentation in the table of contents still sets it somewhat apart. There is no comment on the change in the introduction.

  9. Thanks, Jan. The link I posted above for the 2nd edition, shows Hebrews between 3 John and James so the last 4 books are Heb, James, Jude, & Rev, which is the way Luther arranged his NT. Is that the way the 1st edition has it also?

    I'm not that familiar with editions of the German Bible. Do any German Bibles after the XVI century follow Luther's arrangement?

    Thanks for checking on this. I find this quite intriguing.

  10. Ok, yes, Jan, I see what you're saying... 1-2 Peter, 1-2-3 John, Heb, James, Jude, Rev. And yes, in the table of contents, Hebrews is indented in both Luther's order (1st & 2nd editions) and in the Latin order (3rd edition and on). I imagine Nestle indented Hebrews in both to indicate it's not really a Catholic epistle and it's not really a Pauline epistle?

    What I first saw this Table of Contents in the 2nd edition, I didn't immediately notice it as Luther's order since Luther separated the four (Heb, James, Jude, Rev) out below the other 23. But Nestle (1st & 2nd) has Luther's order for the 27, but with 5 groups (Gospels, Acts, Paul, Catholics, Rev).

    Thanks for your help. Sorry I misunderstood your initial response.

  11. Alexander Thomson8/02/2022 7:28 pm

    Good as Nestlé’s production was - and it was truly a small portable edition which many carried around daily - Souter’s 1910 edition was generally preferred, as it reflected the Revised Version New Testament widely used by academics and ecclesiastics and layfolk, and as it had a true apparaticus criticus. Though larger than Nestlé’s pocket volume, Souter produced a nice slim volume with India/Bible paper which also fitted upon the person. Of course, many had both productions, because prices were more geared to working folks’ income than is presently the case. Why do we not have such pocket or portable editions?