Francis Karl Alter

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Francis Karl Alter (German: Franz Karl Alter) (1749–1804), a Jesuit, born in Silesia, and professor of Greek at Vienna, was an editor of the Greek text of the New Testament.[1] His edition was different from those of Mill, Wettstein, and Griesbach, because he used only the manuscripts housed at the Imperial Library at Vienna.[2] It was the first edition of the Greek New Testament that contained evidence from Slavic manuscripts themselves, as opposed to Christian Frederick Matthaei's editions (1803-7), also claimed (by Bruce Metzger) to be the first to contain evidence from the Slavic version of the New Testament.[1]

Alter used twelve manuscripts of the Gospels (U, 3, 76, 77, 108, 123, 124, 125, 219, 220, 224, 225), six of the Acts (3, 43a, 63a, 64a, 66a, 67a), seven of the Pauline epistles (3, 49p, 67p, 68p, 69p, 70p, 71p), three of the Apocalypse (34r, 35r, 36r), and two Evangelistaria ( 45, 46). He also used readings from the Coptic Bohairic version (edited by David Wilkins in 1716), four Slavonic codices and one Old Latin codex (i). Most of these Vienna codices were also examined by Andrew Birch.[3]

Marsh gave this opinion:

"The text of this edition is neither the common text nor a revision of it, but a mere copy from a single manuscript, and that not a very ancient one".[4]

It was not the Textus Receptus, and it was not an important edition for textual criticism, but Alter's comparison of Slavic and Greek texts did provide material for future textual criticism.[2]

Alter also edited Homer's Iliad (1789) and Odyssey (1794) and wrote an essay on Georgian literature (1798).


  • Novum Testamentum Graecum, ad Codicem Vindobonensem Graece expressum: Varietam Lectionis addidit Franciscus Carolus Alter, 2 vols. 8vo, Vienna, 1786-1787.
  • Cicero, de finibus bonorum et malorum et de fato (Wien 1786).
  • Ueber Georgianische Litteratur (Wien 1798).
  • Philologisch-kritische Miscellaneen (Wien 1799).
  • Beitrag zur praktischen Diplomatik für Slaven (Wien 1801).
  • Beitrag zur Diplomatik (1801).


  1. ^ a b Bruce M. Metzger, Bart D. Ehrman, "The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration", Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 168.
  2. ^ a b S. P. Tregelles, The Printed Text of the Greek New Testament, London 1854, p. 692.
  3. ^ Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose (2005) [1894]. A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, Vol. 2. London: George Bell & Sons. p. 220.
  4. ^ Marsh, Lectures, part II, 1848, p. 148.

External links

  • at the Alfred Hamy's Jesuit Portrait Gallery
  • ADB:Alter, Franz Karl
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