Friday, August 07, 2015

Eberhard Nestle on His First Edition

15
The publisher’s advertisements
at the back of the edition
list “E. Nestle” as the editor.
Just recently, I came across Eberhard Nestle’s report in the Expository Times on the first edition of his Greek New Testament. I found this by way of Warren A. Kay’s helpful article “The Life and Work of Eberhard Nestle” (in The Bible as Book: The Transmission of the Greek Text, ed. Scot McKendrick and Orlaith O’Sullivan, [2003], pp. 187-199).

I do, however, have a problem with Kay’s description of the article as a “glowing review of the anonymous Greek New Testament [which] was written by none other than Nestle himself” (p. 193; emphasis mine). In the first case, it seems to me that this is much more of a report than a review and second, while it is true that Nestle is not listed on the title page of his first edition, his name is clearly given as the editor of the various formats advertised at the back of the book (see image). So I don’t think it’s right to call it anonymous.

The article itself is a very interesting read. You get a sense of Nestle’s frustration with the continued publication of the Textus Receptus, due in no small part to the British and Foreign Bible Society’s distribution of it—even in Germany. His frustration didn’t last long though. Just six years later, the BFBS adopted Nestle’s text for their own edition, thus marking, in the Alands’ words, “the final defeat of the Textus Receptus, nearly four hundred years after it was first printed” (Text, p. 19).

‘The Greek Testament’ of the Bible Society of Stuttgart


WHEN O. v. Gebhardt published in 1881 his Greek and Greek-German Testament, he was induced to this undertaking by the intention to counteract the practice of the British and Foreign Bible Society to circulate in Germany nothing but reprints of the Textus Receptus (see the statement in the Preface of the bilingual edition, p. v): His editions, however, were not cheap enough to reach this effect. As late as 1893–94 the British and Foreign Bible Society made at Cologne a reimpression of the Textus Receptus in 12,200 copies, and went on to circulate of it in Germany and Switzerland about 1600 copies per annum (see the Annual Reports of the Society). It seemed necessary to make a more decided effort against this practice, and therefore the Wurttembergian Bible Society at Stuttgart published lately a Greek Testament with a critically revised text, but as cheap and as nice as any of the Society’s reprints of the Textus Receptus. The text is based on a collation of the editions of Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, and Weymouth; it gives on the margin all their differences, from Acts onwards, also those of the new recension of Bernhard Weiss. But it gives further, at the foot of the pages, a selection of manuscript readings, not to be found in the editions just mentioned, for the Gospels and Acts, chiefly from the Codex Bezae at Cambridge; and it places thus in the hands of the poorest student materials which were hitherto accessible only to those who were in possession of the larger critical editions. The outer margins contain all references to the O.T. and many parallel passages. The Greek type was expressly cut for this work, to be as clear and large as it was possible in a pocket edition. Bishop Westcott, in a letter to the editor, called it ‘an admirable specimen of typography.’ It is sold in all forms of binding and arrangement, from one shilling onward, in one vol., in two parts, in ten parts with case; on writing-paper and interleaved; in Greek and German, the German text being the Revised one, but giving on the margin a full comparison of Luther’s last edition of 1545.

There is probably no Bible Society on the Continent which is more heartily thankful for the good work the British and Foreign Bible Society has done in Germany than the Wurttembergian in Stuttgart,—Dr. Steinkopf, the well-known secretary of the London Society, was our countryman,—but must it not seem disgraceful to repeat and circulate, at the end of the 19th century, the clerical errors made by Erasmus in 1516? Westcott-Hort conclude their N.T. with a motto taken from our countryman, J. A. Bengel, that we must not enlarge the shortcomings of our predecessors, nor anticipate or hinder the progress of the future, but that each time must show faithfulness in minimis et maximis. In the same connexion Bengel says that every particle gold remains gold, but that just therefore it is the duty of the pious to apply all energies to the textual criticism of the N.T., and not to circulate as gold what is not gold. By what pleas can one be justified in repeating a grammatical monstrum like the καίπερ ἐστίν (Rev 17.8), or as words of St. John, what Erasmus translated from the Latin Vulgate (Rev 22.19–21), because the only MS. which was at his disposal was defective?

It would be the best reward for the great expense which the Bible Society of Stuttgart has spent on this undertaking, if other Societies would make a large use of it; and if last, not least, the greatest of all, which in other directions is as splendidly managed, the British and Foreign might be induced to give up its present praxis, at least in Germany.
EB. NESTLE.

Source: Eberhard Nestle, “‘The Greek New Testament’ of the Bible Society of Stuttgart,” Expository Times 9 (1897–98): 419–420. (PDF here)

15 comments :

  1. Incidentally, I read this review in German at the residence of Jan Krans a week ago.

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    1. Can you write a discussion on the difference between the "initial text" vs "original autograph"? And why Dr. Kloha who reviewed Nestle Aland 28th edition:

      "Third, this edition reflects a shift in assumptions about what the evidence allows one to reconstruct. Where previous generations, emboldened by a confidence in science which was possible only in the Enlightenment, claimed to be able to reproduce the “New Testament in the Original Greek,” late twentieth century scholars have known that extant evidence reaches only back to the second century, and that for only a scattering of passages. There may be nearly 150 years between the original writing/delivery of a New Testament text and the now-preserved manuscripts. Given the strong dependence on a genealogical method, this edition claims only to to reconstruct the “Ausgangstext,” or the “Initial Text,” defined as follows.."

      http://concordiatheology.org/2012/10/a-new-edition-of-the-greek-new-testament/

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  2. It looks anonymous. Nestle does not name himself as the compiler anywhere in the article itself.

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    1. Yes, but isn't this how most people wrote about themselves at the time? He does quote a letter from Westcott to the editor after all.

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    2. I wasn't alive in 1899; nevertheless I'd say that this is how one writes to *not* say, "The edition which I am endorsing is the one I myself have made," and how one write to *not* say, "The editor to whom Westcott wrote is me."

      I don't see any way to avoid the conclusion that Nestle engaged in a bit of subterfuge via this recommendation-article.

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    3. If you hadn't made this comment I wouldn't have realized he meant a letter to himself. When I read "Bishop Westcott, in a letter to the editor, called it ‘an admirable specimen of typography.’" I thought he meant like an op-ed piece in a newspaper, not a letter to the editor of the GNT (i.e. himself)...

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  3. I read the review just the other day, but I may be mistaken about the German, perhaps it was this version.

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  4. It was the English version (at least that is the only one I can have shown you).

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  5. By the way: the advertisement-page in the picture: was that from the individual issue of The Expository Times, or from an annual?

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    1. It's from the back of Nestle's first edition which is why I don't see how Kay can say it was anonymous.

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    2. Is there any way to deduce if Eb. Nestle knew, or didn't know, about the advertisement at the time he wrote the review-article?

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  6. It is interesting that in his Einfuhrung to the New Testament (1899) Nestle refers to the edition as the Stuttgarter NT. Other editions generally get an editor in the margin but not this one: Wettstein, Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott-Hort, Weymouth, B. Weiss, O. v. Gebhardt, Stuttgarter NT., Schjott, Baljon ... Others produce an Edition (Ausgabe), but that is not used of the Stuttgarter NT. He does say it "was prepared by me" (von mir bearbeiteten). So maybe he was more or less humble/realistic about the extent of his own contribution. Indeed the comparison between W&H and Tischendorf which is at the heart of the 1898 edition was already done by von Gebhardt, so maybe Nestle didn't recognise his method as very significant.

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    1. My guess is that the work as comissioned by the Württembergische Bibelanstalt was as a "work for hire" arrangement, similar to what had been the practice with the various 19th-century Bagster editions, the name of the editor/compiler omitted as a matter of course. And technically, for the purpose of the text of that edition, Nestle indeed was basically only a "compiler" rather than a direct "editor".

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  7. The layout is different, using bold etc. in the third edition (1909), but the general point is there (see page 27) https://archive.org/details/MN42075ucmf_3

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  8. "the BFBS adopted Nestle’s text for their own edition"
    Adopted, or adapted? I've heard both.

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