Kurt Aland

Kurt Aland was a German theologian and biblical scholar who specialized in New Testament textual criticism. He founded the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung 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. On 23 March that year he was examined before the Bruderrat in the Bekennende Kirche. During his studies, he worked for the journal of the Confessing Church, Junge Kirche. In an ideological brochure, Wer fälscht?, 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. 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.
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. In Münster he founded the Institute for New Testament Textual Research 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. In 1972 he married Barbara Aland. He died in Münster, Germany in 1994.


Kurt Aland was representative of increasing specialism within theological-historical studies. In the field of New Testament research, his work 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. He discovered numerous manuscripts of the New Testament, whose evaluation is still in progress. Most notable among his work was the newly arranged edition of Novum Testamentum Graece in 1979. 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 relevant, having contributed to modern scientific methodology. Aland was of the opinion that every work within historical research stands on its adherence to reliability and accessibility.
The archives of Kurt Aland are provided in the University Archives of the University of Münster, Germany.


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.


Kurt Aland wrote and published numerous books and articles in magazines; his bibliography lists 477 publications. Therefore, the following list provides only an excerpt of his work.

Books translated or written in English