Kurt Aland

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Kurt Aland
Kurt Aland 1915-1994.png
Born (1915-03-28)March 28, 1915
Berlin-Steglitz, Germany
Died April 13, 1994(1994-04-13) (aged 79)
Münster, Germany
Nationality German
Occupation Biblical scholar, textual critic, author
Notable work Greek New Testament, Novum Testamentum Graece, Categories of New Testament manuscripts, Institute for New Testament Textual Research, Synopsis of the Four Gospels

Ingeborg Aland (1941–1971),

Barbara Aland (1972–1994)
Children Christa, Detlef, Andreas
Theological work
Era 20th Century
Main interests New Testament Textual Criticism, Manuscripts of the New Testament

Kurt Aland (28 March 1915 – 13 April 1994) was a German theologian and Biblical scholar who specialized in New Testament textual criticism. He founded the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung (Institute for New Testament Textual Research) in Münster and served as its first director from 1959–83. He was one of the principal editors of Nestle-Aland - Novum Testamentum Graece for the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft and The Greek New Testament for the United Bible Societies.


Aland was born in Berlin-Steglitz. He started studying theology in 1933 at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Berlin (he also studied philology, archaeology, and history). On March 23 of that same year, he was examined before the Bruderrat (council of brothers) in the Bekennende Kirche (Confessing Church). During his studies, he worked for the journal of the Confessing Church, Junge Kirche (Young Church). In an ideological brochure, Wer fälscht? (Who is lying?), written against Mathilde Ludendorff, he confirmed the position of the Confessing Church and identified with them. In 1939 he studied for his bachelor's degree under the guidance of Hans Lietzmann. In 1940 he was released from military service; and in 1941, after Lietzmann's death, he took over the responsibilities of editing the Theologische Literaturzeitung (the only German theological magazine at that time). He graduated that same year, and in 1944 was ordained as minister of the parish of Berlin-Steglitz.

After World War II, Aland became a lecturer on the theological faculty of the Humboldt University of Berlin. In 1947 he was appointed professor ordinarius in Halle (Saale).

Aland disapproved of the Marxist government of East Germany, and was persecuted as a result. In 1953 he was accused of smuggling watches to West Berlin and was kept under arrest for three months. Aland frequently spoke out against various forms of state oppression directed at churches and also demanded freedom of speech in East Germany. In July 1958, he lost his job at the university. However, in September of that year, he successfully escaped to West Berlin. His 8000-volume library was incorporated into the University Library.

In 1958 he became a professor at the University of Münster, Germany. Aland rejected a professorship of the University of Chicago in 1960.[1][2] In Münster he founded the Institute for New Testament Textual Research ("Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung") in 1959, which he directed until 1983. Furthermore, he founded the world's first "Bible museum" in 1979, which was unique in the world for many years. His institute achieved worldwide recognition by publishing the Nestle-Aland - Novum Testamentum Graece and The Greek New Testament for the United Bible Societies.

Aland was married twice. His first marriage was to Ingeborg Aland (they had three children together). In 1972 he married Barbara Aland. He died in Münster, Germany in 1994.


Kurt Aland was representative of increasing specialism within theological-historical studies.[3] In the field of New Testament research, his work (and also the work that he did together with his wife Barbara Aland in the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster) is internationally acclaimed.

The focus of his work began as an intense and adventurous search for old manuscripts on several expeditions to abbeys in Russia and Greece (amongst others). He discovered numerous manuscripts of the New Testament, whose evaluation is still in progress.[4] Most notable among his work was the newly arranged edition of Novum Testamentum Graece (Greek New Testament) in 1979 (also called Nestle-Aland).[3] This textual foundation for the New Testament exemplifies a scholarly mentality aimed at achieving the highest possible convergence with the "original text."

Furthermore, he acted in the Hermann-Kunst-Stiftung, which was founded in 1964 by Hermann Kunst, a good friend of Aland. Many important figures within politics and economics participated in the sponsorship of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research.

Another priority in his life was church history, being concerned with the early church, the Reformation, and movements such as pietism and revivalism.

Aland received critical acclaim for his profundity and comprehensive knowledge of the textual sources for the New Testament. His contemporary presence is one of relevance, having contributed to modern scientific methodology.[3] Aland was of the opinion that every work within historical research stands on its adherence to reliability and accessibility.

The Nachlass of Kurt Aland is provided in the University Archives of the University of Münster, Germany.[5]


Kurt Aland achieved the following honorary doctorates:

He received the following awards:

Kurt Aland was a member of the following academies:

The American Society of Biblical Literature elected him an Honorary Member. Furthermore, Aland was elected an Honorary Life Member in 1966 by the American Bible Society.[6]


Kurt Aland wrote and published a huge number of books and even more articles in magazines; his bibliography lists 477 publications. [13] Therefore, the following list provides only an excerpt of his work.

Books translated or written in English language:

  • Greek New Testament by Kurt and Barbara Aland (and others), German Bible Society; 5 Revised edition (August 2014); ISBN 978-1619701397
  • Novum Testamentum Graece - Nestle-Aland by Kurt and Barbara Aland (and others), German Bible Society; 28 Rev Blg edition (December 1, 2012), ISBN 978-1619700468
  • Synopsis of the Four Gospels Edited by Kurt Aland, United Bible Societies, 1985, ISBN 978-0826705006
  • The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism by Kurt and Barbara Aland, 1987, ISBN 978-0802840981
  • Did the Early Church Baptize Infants? by Kurt Aland, Wipf & Stock Pub (February 9, 2004), ISBN 978-1592445417
  • Catholic Letters: Text and Suppliementary Material (Editio Critica Maior: Novum Testamentum Graece) by Kurt and Barbara Aland (and others), German Bible Society; Rev Mul edition (October 2013), ISBN 978-1619700451
  • A History of Christianity: From the Beginnings to the Threshold of the Reformation (History of Christianity) (Volume 1) by Kurt Aland, Fortress Pr (February 1985), ISBN 978-0800607258
  • A History of Christianity: From the Reformation to the Present (Volume 2) by Kurt Aland, Fortress Pr (September 1986), ISBN 978-0800607593
  • New Testament Textual Criticism, Exegesis and Church History A Discussion of Methods (Contributions to Biblical Exegesis & Theology) by Kurt Aland and J Delobel, Peeters (January 1, 1994), ISBN 978-9039001059
  • Four reformers: Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Zwingli by Kurt Aland, Augsburg Pub. House (1979), ISBN 978-0806617091
  • Martin Luther's 95 Theses by Kurt Aland, Concordia Publishing (December 30, 2004), ISBN 978-0758608444
  • The correspondence of Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg by Kurt Aland, Camden, Maine : Picton Press, c1986, 1993
  • Saints and Sinners - Men and Ideas in the Early Church by Kurt Aland, Fortress Press (1970), ASIN B0006CPJSU
  • A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (3. ed.) by B. M. Metzger and the Editorial Committee of the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (K. Aland, M. Black, C. M. Martini, B. M. Metzger and A. Wikgren), 1971;
  • The New Testament : Ancient Greek with Today's English Version by Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce Metzger and Allen Wikgren, American Bible Society (1966), ASIN B002ULOMFG

Books in German language:

  • Spener-Studien, 1943, (=Arbeiten zur Geschichte des Pietismus I. Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte vol. 28);
  • Kirchengeschichtliche Entwürfe: Alte Kirche - Reformation und Luthertum - Pietismus und Erweckungsbewegung, 1960.
  • Die Säuglingstaufe im Neuen Testament und in der alten Kirche. Eine Antwort an Joachim Jeremias, (=TEH; N.F. 86), 1961; Über den Glaubenswechsel in der Geschichte des Christentums, 1961;
  • Bibel und Bibeltexte bei August Hermann Francke und Johann Albrecht Bengel. In: Pietismus und Bibel, (=AGP; 9), 1970, 89-147;
  • Taufe und Kindertaufe. 40 Sätze zur Aussage des Neuen Testaments und dem historischen Befund, zur modernen Debatte darüber und den Folgerungen daraus für die kirchliche Praxis - zugleich eine Auseinandersetzung mit Karl Barths Lehre von der Taufe, 1971;
  • Neutestamentliche Entwürfe, (=Theol. Bücherei, NT; 63), 1979;
  • Der Text des Neuen Testaments. Einführung in die wissenschaftlichen Ausgaben sowie in Theorie und Praxis der modernen Textkritik (with Barbara Aland), 1982, 1989; English translation
  • Die Grundurkunde des Glaubens. Ein Bericht über 40 Jahre Arbeit an ihrem Text. Em: Bericht der Hermann Kunst- Stiftung zur Förderung der Neutestamentlichen Textforschung für die Jahre 1982 bis 1984, 1985, 9-75;
  • Das Neue Testament - zuverlässig überliefert. Die Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Textes und die Ergebnisse der modernen Textforschung, (=Wissenswertes zur Bibel; 4), 1986;
  • Text und Textwert der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, vol. I-III (=Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung), 1987 ff.;

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Kurt Aland - In Memoriam, 1995, p. 15'
  2. ^ Archive of the University of Münster/Germany
  3. ^ a b c Odin, Karl-Alfred (28 March 1985), "Entdecker und Wissenschaftorganisator von hohen Gnaden", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German) .
  4. ^ German speech of the President of Germany Horst Köhler in 2009
  5. ^ http://www.uni-muenster.de/Archiv/jahresbericht2014.html
  6. ^ a b c d Text, Wort, Glaube, S. 13.
  7. ^ Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht. Band 34, S. 740.
  8. ^ Westfälische Nachrichten, 26.10.1985
  9. ^ FAZ, 1.11.1985
  10. ^ Kleine Meldungen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 11. Dezember 1993
  11. ^ Homepage of The Lutheran Historical Society of the Mid-Atlantic
  12. ^ "Kurt Aland (1915 - 1994)" (in Dutch). Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  13. ^ "Kurt Aland - In memoriam" 1995, by the Hermann Kunst-Stiftung zur Förderung der neutestamentlichen Textforschung

External links[edit]