Saturday, April 25, 2015

Differences between early Nestle editions of the New Testament?

Nestle’s first edition (1898) involved the mechanical process of comparing the text of Tischendorf with that of Westcott & Hort. When they agreed Nestle printed the text; when they disagreed he consulted R.F. Weymouth (1892) and printed the majority decision. Then for the third edition (1901) he discarded Weymouth and instead used B. Weiss (1894-1900) for the casting vote.

Presumably that required some changes in the printed text, although it is said that these were limited to ‘only the most important alterations’ until the thirteenth edition (1927), where Nestle finally reviewed the text to make it fully confirm to the majority principle.

This narrative (based on Aland and Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 19f) suggests that the text of Nestle must have had three different forms reflecting these three editions with revisions. But in a footnote the Alands also say: ‘the old plates of the 1898 edition remained in use for the Nestle text even through the twenty-fifth edition’ (p. 20 note 46). So can anyone who knows about all this enlighten me a bit further?


  1. I do not know about the exact process that was used in printing the earlier Nestle editions (anyone?). But surely printing plates can be "edited"/"corrected", and that was what Eberhard en Erwin Nestle did, edition after edition. One can witness how the plates wear out, until in NA25 rough and smooth breathings are hardly distinguishable (especially when combined with an accent). The NT text itself did not change much over the editions; the most important change for the text block was the introduction of the text-critical signs in the 13th edition. Far more important and continuous were the changes in the apparatus.

  2. It seems Dirk raised this question before: