Skip to main content

Search LearnTheBible

Bible Preservation - Wescott and Hort - The Men Behind the Modern Versions

  1. THE MEN
    1. Brook Foss Westcott (1825-1901)
      1. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge
      2. Ordained a deacon and priest in 1851
      3. Held various offices in the university and the church including honorary chaplain to the queen, select preacher at Oxford, professor of divinity, bishop of Durham.
      4. The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia says He is one of the brightest examples of English scholarship and industry, and is as remarkable for the fine quality of his work as for the number of volumes he produced.
      5. The Encyclopedia goes on to say that He was in demand as a speaker on topics of national, industrial, and social interest and was instrumental in solving a labor dispute that could have affected the United Kingdom.
      6. Author of many books and commentaries
      7. Best remembered with his work, with Hort, for the production of The New Testament in the Original Greek (2 volumes 1881) and for his work on the Revised Version translation committee.
    2. Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892)
      1. Entered Cambridge in 1846 and won a fellowship in 1852
      2. Ordained Anglican priest in 1856
      3. Became vicar (local pastor) in 1857
      4. Described as being sensitive and shy.  Hort thought that this limited his usefulness in his charge.
      5. Taught intermittently at Cambridge
      6. Lectured in theology there from 1872-1878
      7. Chiefly remembered for his work as member of the Revised Version translation committee
    1. Bibliology (Inspiration, Interpretation)
      1. Denial of Infallibility - I too must disclaim setting forth infallibility in the front of my convictions.  All I hold is, that the more I learn, the more I am convinced that fresh doubts come from my own ignorance, and that at present I find the presumption in favour of the absolute truth I reject the word infallibility of Holy Scripture overwhelmingly.
      2. Denial of a literal Genesis 1-3 - No one now, I suppose, holds that the first three chapters of Genesis, for example, give a literal history I could never understand how any one reading them with open eyes could think they did. Westcott, 1890
      3. Denial of Pauls vision - That is (Revelation 1:1) Paul speaks of God as enabling him to have an inner vision and perception of his son Hort
      4. Denial of Revelation through Christ (cp. With John 1:18) - (Revelation 1:1) The conception of the book is not that the primary Revealer is Christ, though by the will or permission of God ; but the primary Revealer is God Hort
      5. Failure to Divide between Israel and the Church
        1. (John 5:36) The new church grew out of the old church, as its proper consummation. Westcott
        2. It is possible that the above reference should be John 5:46. Learn The Bible
        3. on 1 Peter nor is it less characteristic that he dwells on the significance of the conception of the Christian church as the true Israel by which all the Apostles were united Hort
    2. Theology Proper
      1. The Universal Fatherhood of God - (John 10:29) The thought, which is concrete in verse 28, is here traced back to its most absolute form as resting on the essential power of God in His relation of universal Fatherhood. Westcott
    3. Anthropology
      1. Divine spark in man
        1. (John 17:22)  Viewed from another pint of sight it is the revelation of the divine in man realized in and through Christ Westcott
        2. * (1 John 2:18) while the lie of Antichrist was to teach that man is divine apart from God in Christ Westcott
        3. (Hebrews 2:7-8A) In spite of his frailty man recognizes his divine affinity Westcott
        4. (Hebrews 2:8) For man, as he is, still retains the lineaments of the divine image in which he was made.  He is still able to pronounce an authoritative moral judgment: he is still able to recognize that which corresponds with the nature of God Westcott
      2. Belief in evolution
        1. (Hebrews 7:10) Each man is at once an individual of a race and a new power in the evolution of the race Westcott
        2. (Hebrews 1:2) The universe may be regarded either in its actual constitution as a whole or as an order which exists through time developed in successive sages.  There are obvious reasons why the latter mode of representation should be adopted here. Westcott
        3. Have you read Darwin?  How I should like a talk with you about it!  In spite of difficulties, I am inclined to think it unanswerable.  In any case it is a treat to read such a book. Hort to Westcott (in Grady's Final Authority)
      3. Soul-nature
        1. (1 Peter 2:11) It is by this time sufficiently recognized that the modern religious sense of the term soul, as the highest element in man, is founded on a misunderstanding of the New Testament and it is dangerous to build an absolute psychology on such passages a 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Hort
        2. (1 Peter 1:5) salvation of souls In these and similar phrases we must be aware of importing into soteria the modern associations connected with the religious use of the word soul. The soul in the bible is simply the life and to save a soul is the opposite of to kill Hort
    4. Pneumatology - (1 Peter 1:12) (by a holy spirit sent from heaven) Hort
    5. Eschatology
      1. Heaven a state, not a place
        1. (John 1:18) The bosom of the Father (like heaven) is a state and not a place Westcott
        2. (1 Peter 1:5) (reserved in heaven) It is hardly necessary to say that this whole local language is figurative only Hort
      2. Mistaken nature of eternal life; eternal life present onlyt only
        1. (John 5:24) (hath eternal life) He who knows the Gospel and knows that the Gospel is true cannot but have life. Eternal life is not future, but present Westcott
        2. (1 John 5:20) The life eternal is essentially present, so far as it is the potential fulfillment of the idea of humanity. Westcott
      3. No second death - (Revelation 2:11) (the second death) Then as to the order of promises, the second death stands between the Garden of Eden and the Manna.  It might thus be either the deluge, as Bishop Temple implies, well called the second death in contrast to the expulsion from the Garden.  It probably is a combination of the deluge and Sodom, the Waterflood and the Fire- Flood. Hort
      4. Second coming of Christ a process
        1. (1 Peter 1:7) (at the revelation of Jesus Christ) There is nothing in either this passage or others on the same subject, apart from the figurative language of Thess., to show that the Revelation here spoken of is to be limited to a sudden preternatural theophany.  It may be a long and varying process, though ending in a climax. Hort
        2. Note:  preternatural means the differing from that which is normally found in nature, supernatural.
    6. Christology
      1. John 2:24-25 Christ not divinely omniscient
        1. (he knew what was in man) Only on rare occasions does He ask anything, as if all were not absolutely clear before his eyes. But St. John exhibits this attribute of complete human knowledge most fully. At other times it appears to be the result of an insight which came from a perfectly spiritual sympathy, found in some degree among men. A careful study of these passages seems to shew beyond doubt that the knowledge of Christ has its analogues in human powers.  His knowledge of the Son of Man, and not merely knowledge of the Divine Word, though at each moment and in each connection it was, in virtue of His perfect humanity, relatively complete. Westcott
        2. (John 4:1) (When therefore the Lord knew ) Nothing implies that the knowledge of the Lord was supernatural Westcott
      2. Christ not equal in nature with the Father
        1. (John 5:18) He called God His own Father (Romans  vii.32) His Father in a peculiar sense making Himself equal with God, by placing His action on the same level with the action of God.
        2. (John 10:30) (I and my Father are one).  It seems clear that the unity here spoken of cannot fall short of unity of essence.  The thought springs from the equality of power (my hand, the Fathers hand); but infinite power is an essential attribute of God; and it is impossible to suppose that two beings distinct in essence could be equal in power. Westcott
      3. Jesus a created being (JFWs doctrine) - (Revelation 3:15)  The words might no doubt bear the Arian meaning the first thing created Hort
    7. Soteriology (taken from Gradys Final Authority)
      1. I am very far from pretending to understand completely the ever reviewed vitality of Mariolatry I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-worship and Jesus-worship have very much in common in their causes and results Hort
      2. We maintain Baptismal Regeneration as the most important of doctrines almost all Anglican statements are a mixture in various proportions of the true and the Romish view; 2nd, the pure Romish view seems to me nearer, and more likely to lead to, truth than the Evangelical. Hort
      3. I do thing we have no right to exclaim against the idea of the commencement of a spiritual life, conditionally from Baptism, any more than we have to deny the commencement of a moral life from birth Westcott
      4. While yet an infant you were claimed for God by being made in Baptist an unconscious member of His Church you have as your birthright a share in the kingdom of heaven Hort writing to his eldest son on his confirmation.
      5. * Unless otherwise noted, citations taken from D.A. Waites Heresies of Westcott & Hort
      6. Printed by The Bible for Today
    1. Development
      1. Preparation began in 1853
      2. Each man worked independently, and then they compared their work
      3. The work is recognized as the most important contribution to the scientific criticism of the New Testament text which [has] yet been made.
    2. Introduction to the Greek Text
      1. Written chiefly by Hort
      2. Presented their new textual theory
    3. Their Theory
      1. The New Testament is to be treated as any other book. Westcott and Hort are credited with doing for the science of textual criticism what Newton did for physics. Though textual criticism had been around for years, it was now boiled down to an exact science.
      2. Genealogy there are four principle types of text
        1. The Western
          1. This text type tended to modify and paraphrase
          2. Represented by D and the Old Latin
        2. The Neutral
          1. Represented by B and Aleph
          2. These two represent the best preservation of the original manuscripts
        3. The Alexandrian
          1. Purer than the Western text type
          2. Tended to polish the text
        4. The Syrian
          1. The latest form
          2. Borrowed from the other types
      3. Conflation
        1. Readings from various texts were combined to form new texts with combined readings.  These must be older than the manuscripts from which they were combined.
        2. Hort argued that the Syrian text type is a combination of the Neutral (best) and the Western (already modified and paraphrased).  Inversions in the Syrian (where an editor took the Syrian and another text to combine readings) Hort claimed did not exist.  This conveniently made the Syrian text type much older than what was originally claimed.
        3. One writer, cited by Pickering, says this is the keystone of their theory (page 35)
      4. Lucian Recension
        1. Hort suggested that the Syrian text must in fact be the result of a recension performed deliberately by editors
        2. Lucian (d. 311) was proposed as the leader who authorized/oversaw the work which was completed

          sometime before 350 AD.  Other scholars after Hort were dogmatic in their parroting of his theory.
        3. There is no historical evidence for the so-called Lucian Recension.
        4. Hort now had removed the Syrian text, the Peshitta, out of the second and third centuries, thereby giving the more earnest heed to B, and then Aleph.
      5. As has already been stated, Westcott and Hort regarded B and Aleph to be of higher value and to be closer to the original autographs than the other texts/types of texts.  The combined readings of these two were to be regarded as genuine.  B, coupled with other texts, also gave weight to the genuine character of readings.
      6. There are many other problems with the theory they proposed.  For instance, one cannot count the various number of NT mss. (roughly 5250 at present) as separate witnesses.  Even though 90-95% agree with one another, they all represent a single corrupted text and, therefore, can only be counted as one witnessitness.
      7. Though modern scholars reject the notion of a neutral text type, they do not reject Horts faulty foundation for rejecting the Syrian text.
    1. In 1870 Convocation of Canterbury, Anglican bishop Samuel Wilberforce made a motion to revise the Authorised Version.
    2. Thirty-seven scholars were chosen to work on the Old Testament, while twenty-nine worked on the New Testament.  The number who were actually working at any one time was actually less.
    3. A specially revised edition of the Westcott and Hort text was used for the translation.  The result was compared with the 1611 edition of the Authorised Version.
    4. The New Testament was published in England in May 1881 and in the US the same month.month.
    5. The Old Testament came out four years later in May 1885
    6. Three million copies of the NT sold within the first year after publication
    7. Reception of the new translation was at first not friendly (see Scofields preface for example), but eventually began to win more people over time.
    8. The American edition using the same Greek text came out as the 1901 ASV.