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Barbara Aland, née Ehlers (born 12 April 1937 in Hamburg, Germany) is a German theologian and was a Professor of New Testament Research and Church History at Westphalian Wilhelms-University of Münster until 2002.
After having completed her degree of Theology and Classical Philology in Frankfurt, Marburg and Kiel, she received the Ph.D. (dissertation on the Socratic Aischines) in 1964 in Frankfurt/Germany. In 1969, she gained her licentiate at the “Oriental Faculty” of Pontificio Istituto Biblico in Rome, Italy. In 1972, she could habilitate in Göttingen about the Syrian gnostic Bardesanes of Edessa. Since 1972 she acted as a private lecturer, later on, she became professorship for “Church History and New Testament Research with eminently consideration of Christian Orient” at the Evangelisch-Theologischen Fakultät in Münster, Germany. In 1983, she became director of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (which was founded in 1959 by her husband Kurt Aland) and also the Bible Museum.
This institute achieved worldwide significance by publishing the “Nestle-Aland” – Novum Testamentum Graece and the UBS Greek New Testament. Until her retirement, Barbara Aland was also the director of Hermann-Kunst-Stiftung for Promotion of New Testament Research. She is still working academically in her retirement.
Aland gained an international profile due to the work on the Novum Testamentum Graece and the Greek New Testament, which she carried out with her husband Kurt Aland. Both of them collaborated significantly with an international and interconfessional group of theologians on the approvement and updating of the “Nestle-Aland” – Novum Testamentum Graece and also “Greek New Testament.” These editions (published by the Institute in Münster) form the basis of apprenticeship and research worldwide. The Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament Text is now in its 28th edition.
She published the first installments of the “Editio Critica Maior” in 1997. This edition was the first to be based on the complete tradition of Greek manuscripts, patristic citations, and ancient versions.
In 1999, she was a founding member of the “Academia Platonica Septima Monasteriensis”, which does not focus its attention primarily on the works of Plato, but rather on the writings of his early interpreters, from ancient times until the Renaissance. The Academy’s goal is to promote the study of Platonist writings.
History of the Nestle-Aland Edition
In 1898, Eberhard Nestle published the first edition of his Novum Testamentum Graece. Based on a simple yet ingenious idea it disseminated the insights of the textual criticism of that time through a hand edition designed for university and school studies and for church purposes. Nestle took the three leading scholarly editions of the Greek New Testament at that time by Tischendorf, Westcott/Hort, and Weymouth as a basis. (After 1901 he replaced the latter with Bernhard Weiß’s 1894/1900 edition.) Where their textual decisions differed from each other Nestle chose for his own text the variant which was preferred by two of the editions included, while the variant of the third was put into the apparatus.
The text-critical apparatus remained rudimentary in all the editions published by Eberhard Nestle. It was Eberhard Nestle’s son Erwin who provided the 13th edition in 1927 with a consistent critical apparatus showing evidence from manuscripts, early translations, and patristic citations. However, these notes did not derive from the primary sources, but only from editions.
This changed in the nineteen-fifties, when Kurt Aland started working on the edition by checking the apparatus entries against Greek manuscripts and editions of the Church Fathers. This phase came to a close in 1963 when the 25th edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece appeared; later printings of this edition already carried the brand name “Nestle-Aland” on their covers.
The 26th edition, which appeared in 1979, featured a fundamentally new approach. Until then, the guiding principle had been to adopt the text supported by a majority of the critical editions referred to. Now the text was established on the basis of source material that had been assembled and evaluated in the intervening period. It included early papyri and other manuscript discoveries, so that the 26th edition represented the situation of textual criticism in the 20th century. Its text was identical with that of the 3rd edition of the UBS Greek New Testament (GNT) published in 1975, as a consequence of the parallel work done on both editions. Already in 1955 Kurt Aland was invited to participate in an editorial committee with Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, Alan Wikgren, and at first, Arthur Vööbus, later Carlo Martini (and, from 1982, Barbara Aland and Johannes Karavidopoulos) to produce a reliable hand edition of the Greek New Testament.
The first edition of the GNT appeared in 1966. Its text was established along the lines of Westcott and Hort and differed considerably from Nestle’s 25th edition. This holds true for the second edition of the GNT as well. When the third edition was prepared Kurt Aland was able to contribute the textual proposals coming from his preliminary work on the 26th edition of the Nestle-Aland. Hence, the process of establishing the text for both editions continued to converge so that eventually they could share an identical text. However, their external appearance and the design of their apparatus remains different because they serve different purposes. The GNT is primarily intended for translators, providing a reliable Greek initial text and a text-critical apparatus showing variants that are relevant for translation. In the case of the passages selected for this purpose, the evidence is displayed as completely as possible. The Novum Testamentum Graece is produced primarily for research, academic education, and pastoral practice. It seeks to provide an apparatus that enables the reader to make a critical assessment of the reconstruction of the Greek initial text.
John 1:18 Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε·* ⸂μονογενὴς θεὸς⸃ ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο⸆.
Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012), Jn 1:18.
John 1:18 ⸂ ο μονογενης θεος 𝔓75 א1 33; Clpt ClexThd pt Orpt
¦ ο μονογενης υιος A C3 K Γ Δ Θ Ψ ƒ1.13 565. 579. 700. 892. 1241. 1424 𝔪 lat syc.h; Clpt ClexThd pt
¦ ει μη ο μονογενης υιος Ws it; Irlat pt (+ θεου Irlat pt)
¦ txt 𝔓66 א* B C* L syp.hmg; Orpt Did
⸆ ημιν Ws c syc
Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: NTG Apparatus Criticus, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012), 293
The text of the 26th edition of the Nestle-Aland was adopted for the 27th edition also, while the apparatus underwent an extensive revision. The text remained the same, because the 27th edition was not “deemed an appropriate occasion for introducing textual changes”. Since then the situation has changed, because the Editio Critica Maior (ECM) of the Catholic Letters is now available. Its text was established on the basis of all the relevant material from manuscripts and other sources. The ECM text was adopted for the present edition following approval by the editorial committee of the Nestle-Aland and the GNT.
Few female Bible scholars if any have ever held such a position and respect. Even so, we would be remiss if we did not mention that Barbara was of the school of higher criticism (Biblical Criticism), Historical-Critical Interpretation, which has been the field of interpretation that has subjectively called into question the validity of God’s Word, full inerrancy of originals, infallibility. She never taught this as a professor, not has she even penned a hermeneutic book in this area of study. Nevertheless, to not mention such and have an unaware reader happen onto this knowledge, it might give the impression of our praising her means that we are praising that form of interpretation. This is not the case, CPH and our authors are of the objective Historical-Grammatical Interpretation. Finally, we should not leave this article without saying the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament is the closest that we have ever been to having the entirety of the words of the original Greek New Testament. However, it is not perfect, for they do lean a little too heavily on Reasoned Eclecticism instead of the Documentary Approach. Reasoned Eclecticism is supposed to be an objective, evenhanded evaluation of internal and external evidence. However, within the discipline of textual criticism today, eclecticism can be viewed as a preference for internal criteria in deciding variant readings in opposition to external criteria. The degree to which this is done has led to two recognized types of eclecticism, most often called “thoroughgoing” and “reasoned.” The former ignores external criteria while the latter accords value to it. In practice, internal and external criteria usually point to the same readings. When they conflict, however, thoroughgoing eclecticism prefers the choice of internal criteria, while reasoned eclecticism may allow external evidence priority over internal. This has only impacted very few textual choices out of about 134,600 words in the Greek NT. Nevertheless, it needed to be mentioned. Nevertheless, the 1881 Westcott and Hort (WH) Greek text is 99.5% the same as the 2012 Nestlé Åland (NA) Greek New Testament. This, even after the discovery of 140+ Greek New Testament papyri manuscripts, many dating to the second and third centuries A.D. This evidences the tremendously good job WH did. If we combine the WH with the NA, we get to a 99.99% reflection of the original words of the original Greek New Testament.
None of these ends of article comments should take away from one of the greatest textual scholars of the 20th and 21st centuries. Barbara Aland is as renowned as the modern-day giants Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, Metzger, and Kurt Aland, her husband, just to mention a few. When you can mention only one name of a first and last name and the entire world of your field immediately knows who is being spoken of you, you have left your mark.
by Wikipedia and Edward D. Andrews
 “[WestG] [AKT] Zum 70. Geburtstag von Barbara Aland”. Web.archive.org. Retrieved Saturday, August 18, 2019.
 Raimund Lakmann. “Academia Platonica”. Academia-platonica.de. Retrieved Saturday, August 18, 2019.
 Nestle Aland Novum Testamentum Graece: History, http://www.nestle-aland.com/en/history/ (accessed June 12, 2016).