Eberhard Nestle

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Eberhard Nestle.
Eberhard Nestle.

Eberhard Nestle (May 1, 1851March 9, 1913) was a German biblical scholar, textual critic, Orientalist, editor of Novum Testamentum Graece, and the father of Erwin Nestle.


Nestle was a son of the upper tribunal procurator (Obertribunalprokurator) Christian Gottlieb Nestle and his wife Sophie Beate Kleinmann. His half-brother from his fathers second marriage was classical philologist Wilhelm Nestle.

Nestle studied in the University of Tübingen from 1869 to 1874. His studies culminated in his doctoral thesis on the Hebrew and Greek text forms of the Book of Ezekiel. Afterwards he worked in the area of orientalism and wrote, among other things, a Syriac grammar. During his later years, his focus changed to textual criticism of the New Testament.[1]

Between 1898 and 1912 he worked as professor at the Evangelical Seminaries of Maulbronn and Blaubeuren.[1]

In 1880, he married Klara Kommerell (1852-1887) in Tübingen; they produced one son, Erwin Nestle. In 1887 his wife died after a short illness, and three years later, in 1890, Nestle married Elisabeth Aichele (1867-1944). In this second marriage, five daughters and one son were born.

In 1898 Nestle published an influential handbook of textual criticism, and in 1898 published the first edition of a Greek New Testament under the title Novum Testamentum Graece cum apparatu critico ex editionibus et libris manu scriptis collecto. The text of this Greek New Testament was combined with the editions of Constantin von Tischendorf (Editio octava critica major), The New Testament in the Original Greek of Westcott and Hort, and the edition of Richard Francis Weymouth. It was edited by the Wurttemberg Bible Society in Stuttgart. This edition eliminated the extremes of Tischendorf (partiality to Sinaiticus) and of Westcott and Hort (partiality to Vaticanus).[2]

This edition became influential when the British and Foreign Bible Society adopted it to replace the Textus Receptus. After a few years this edition received worldwide recognition as the best edition of the Greek New Testament. This edition took the place which formerly belonged to the Textus Receptus and became a "New Textus Receptus".

After the death of Eberhard Nestle his son Erwin Nestle (1883-1972) took over the publication and contributed substantially to a constant improvement of the editions.[3] Since 1952 the edition occurred with the cooperation of Kurt Aland (21st edition).[2] The theological standard work "Nestle-Aland" appeared from 1993 in the 27th edition.


  • 1. Eberhard Nestle. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). (German)
  • 2. Aland, Kurt; and Barbara Aland; Erroll F. Rhodes (trans.) (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 20. ISBN 978-08028-4098-L.

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