Monday, January 29, 2018

List of Conjectures Accepted in Nestle Editions

Nestle 13th edition (1927)
Reading through a recently acquired Nestle 13th ed. I was surprised to find that the NA28 is not the first in this venerable edition’s line to use the diamond symbol. The current edition uses them, of course, to mark places where the editors couldn’t decide on the initial text.

In the 13th edition (and for some time beyond) it marks places where Erwin Nestle (son of Eberhard) thought that the majority principle used by his father had not led to the original text. In those cases, he marked his preferred reading with a diamond, explaining its use thus: “Some of these [places of textual difficulty], which must be considered original, are distinguished with the prefixed symbol ◆ in the apparatus, as Rom 5.1” (p. 12*).

A number of these diamond readings also happen to be conjectures and thanks to help from Jan Krans, I can present here a list of all the conjectures accepted by various Nestle editions. You can click on the link in parentheses to see more detail at the Amsterdam Database.
  1. Matt 2:6 (link)
  2. Matt 6:16 (link)
  3. Matt 12:33 (link); according to us not a true conjecture
  4. Matt 15:5 (link); actually only the omission of a iota subscript; 
  5. Mark 7:11 (link; = cj15781)
  6. Acts 7:38 (link)
  7. Acts 16:12 (link)
  8. Rom 13:3 (link; actually attested)
  9. 1 Cor 2:4 (link)
  10. 1 Cor 6:5 (link)
  11. 1 Cor 14:38 (link)
  12. 1 Cor 16:22 (link; just an editorial alternative)
  13. 2 Cor 3:3 (link; actually attested)
  14. 2 Cor 7:8 (link; also attested)
  15. 2 Cor 8:12 (link; just an editorial alternative)
  16. 1 Tim 4:3 (link)
  17. 1 Tim 5:13 (link)
  18. Rev 2:13 (link)
One of the reasons for noting this is because its easy to think that the conjectures printed at Acts 16.12 in NA27/28, 2 Pet 3.10 in NA28, and now Acts 13.33 in the ECM show a trend toward greater willingness to print a conjecture. But actually, these changes should be seen as a return to an earlier Nestle tendency and not an innovation or move away from it. In fact, based on the list here, the Nestle(-Aland) editions have grown more reticent to print conjectures since 1927 not less.


  1. PG,
    Thanks for the information, always better to have more. I am not really sure what value is signaled by this observation. Are you just noting the history of conjectures or are you arguing that since there were conjectures in earlier NA, we should expect/accept them going forward? Do you know if any of these were accepted into NA25/26? Checking the links it was not clear what editions included them.


  2. Thanks, Peter, for pointing these out. And thank you, Jan, for all the hard work you've done on conjectures! Very valuable information.

  3. I'm not a scholar so bear with me please. :-) Are all of these conjectures from NA13 still considered conjectures in NA28? Or do we now have evidence that makes any of their renderings more certain?


  4. Joel Eidsath1/29/2018 7:33 pm

    Very impressive! I had no idea of the existence of this database. Westcott and Hort obelized several dozen verses in their edition, marking verses where they thought that the manuscript evidence was not enough to make us sure of a text.

    Just now, I was able to look up cj10624, a verse where the NA27 gives some late manuscript evidence in the apparatus, the NA28 gives nothing, and Westcott and Hort devote several pages of discussion to.

  5. Yet those earlier Nestle editions, diamonds and all, still did not incorporate those conjectures as part of the main text, correct?

    If so, then this is not very different from the citation of numerous conjectures in the NA26/27 apparatus that similarly never became part of the main text of those editions.

    1. No, they didn't. But the reason was not because Erwin Nestle didn't think they were original (he did) it was because he was still following the editorial principle of his father which was to print the agreed text of 2 of 3 of his sources. So yes, it is different from what is happening in the NA26/27 apparatus.

      This is not a list of all places marked by a diamond in N13. It is all the places of conjecture marked by a diamond.

  6. Wait; after all that you're just saying that earlier editions merely mentioned conjectures in the apparatus?!

    NA27 had dozens and dozens of conjectures in the apparatus. Indeed, as you grant, that is not the same as actually putting a conjecture in the main text, which is what NA28 does twice. The "black diamond" option as used in NA28 just adds instability to the text.

    So . . . how is your last paragraph true?? Unless you are equating "printing conjectures" with "printing conjectures as part of the main text"?

    1. Ok. Let me try one more time.

      Note carefully: in Nestle 13, the reading Erwin Nestle thought was the original one is not always printed in the main text; sometimes it is printed in the apparatus instead. This was intended, I assume, to minimize interference with his father’s well-regarded edition and because the plates were set (cf. Aland-Aland, p. 20 n. 46). In these cases, Erwin marks the reading in the apparatus with a diamond. In 18 of these diamond-marked cases, the text so marked is also a conjecture. Ergo, in those 18 places, Erwin Nestle thought the original text had been lost and needed to be restored via conjecture. My point in this post was not to compare the willingness to print conjectures in the main text; it was to compare willingness to accept them as original. Capiche?

    2. I think with what JS stated and your reply, I have my answers to my questions above, expect PG, is your point historical and/or intended to validate the conjectures in the text of NA 28 and alert us to expect more?


    3. Uh no. The main point was just to put the present number of conjectures into historical context. Relatively speaking, the NA28 has very few conjectures in light of its history.

  7. Peter Gurry,

    << Uh no. The main point was just to put the present number of conjectures into historical context. Relatively speaking, the NA28 has very few conjectures in light of its history. >>

    Still not apples:apples.

    NA27 had a lot more conjectures /in the apparatus/ than NA28 does, since someone decided to stop listing them.

    And NA28 has more conjectures in its text (two, not considering combinations of adjacent textual contests) than the Nestle-Aland compilation has ever had in its text before.

    Both of those sentences are true, right?

    1. Okay, one last try, James.

      In this post, I’m not interested in what part of the page the conjecture is printed on. I’m interested in whether the editor(s) thought the conjecture was original or not. By that metric, N13’s editor (Erwin Nestle) has 18 and NA28 has two.

  8. I find it interesting that in the (Erwin) Nestle 20th edition of 1950 the German and Latin prefaces still mention the diamond symbol (pp.6*, 41*). However, that symbol is not present or discussed in either the English or Swedish prefaces (p.62*, 64*, 91*), even though all three prefaces continue to utilze the lozenge symbol to indicate places where Nestle 20 does not follow the HTW reading of earlier editions.

  9. A comment about the diamond readings as a whole, not just those referring to conjectures: One could thus classify this edition as a diplomatic one, although the main text is not a MS but an eclectic text (itself not necessarily reflecting the elder Nestle's opinion in every case, if I understand right).