Home Contents Preface Foreword Introduction Ch. 3 Ch.5 Ch.11
Ch.12 Ch.13 Ch.14 Ch.15 Ch.20 Order Form  



Chapter 3

Westcott and Hort


   Westcott and Hort are the last names of two men who are regarded with genuine respect by many who are knowledgeable about the history of Bible translation. On the contrary, they have also been portrayed as villains by recent "King James Only" promoters.

   Westcott's son Arthur wrote approximately 940 pages about his father's life. The Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott is a two-volume work. These books contain many reproductions of letters written by the elder Westcott.

   Hort's son, also named Arthur, wrote approximately 980 pages about his father in a similar manner. Those two volumes are called Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort.


   Brooke Foss Westcott was born in Birmingham, England on January 12, 1825. Westcott received his education as an adult at Trinity College, in Cambridge, England, completing graduate school in 1851. Westcott went first to Harrow School to teach. After seven years he began serving in a series of progressively more prestigious church appointments, including in 1879 an appointment to the group of 36 honorary chaplains of the King of England.


   Fenton John Anthony Hort was born at Dublin, England, on April 23, 1828. He also attended Trinity College, beginning college the same year Westcott began graduate school.

Joint Efforts

   Westcott and Hort started "in the spring of 1853" to systematize New Testament criticism. Hort speaks of it this way: " In the spring of 1853 ...At that time a student aware of the untrustworthiness of the 'Received' text had no other guides than Lachmann's text and the second of the four widely different texts of Tischendorf. Finding it impossible to assure ourselves that either editor placed before us such an approximation to the apostlic words as we could accept with reasonable satisfaction, we agreed to commence at once the formation of a manual text for our own use, hoping at the same time that it might be of service to others."

    Hort's "golden words," as they have been called appear at the later parts of the Introduction p. 323. They are a poignant and eloquent expression of the wish of many who have labored to make the text of Scripture understandable and accessible to those who are hungry for insight and direction.

   In Hort's words: "It only remains to express an earnest hope that, whatever labour we have been allowed to contribute towards the ascertainment of the truth of the letter, may also be allowed, in ways which must for the most part be invisible to ourselves, to contribute towards strengthening, correcting, and extending human apprehension of the large truth of the spirit. Others assuredly in due time will prosecute the task with better resources of knowledge and skill, and amend the faults and defects of our processes and results. To be faithful to such light as could be enjoyed in our own day was the utmost that we could desire. How far we have fallen short of this standard, we are well aware; yet we are bold to say that none of the shortcomings are due to lack of anxious and watchful sincerity. An implicit confidence in all truth, a keen sense of its variety, and a deliberate dread of shutting out truth as yet unknown, are no security against some of the wandering lights that are apt to beguile a critic; but, in so far as they are obeyed, they at least quench every inclination to guide criticism into delivering such testimony as may be to the supposed advantage of truth already inherited or acquired. Critics of the Bible, if they have been taught by the Bible, are unable to forget that the duty of guileless workmanship is never superseded by any other. From Him who is at once the supreme Fountain of truth and the all-wise Lord of its uses, they have received both the materials of knowledge and the means by which they are wrought into knowledge; into His hands, and His alone, when the working is over, must they render back that which they have first and last received."

. . .  In 1881 Westcott and Hort's edition of the Greek Testament, which had been so long expected, at last appeared, and was widely welcomed as an epoch-making book, and acclaimed by some as the most important contribution to Biblical learning in that generation. The twenty eight years of patient labour represented by this work were begun and ended at Cambridge.

. . Although Westcott's appointment by the Queen of England was a considerable honor, he will always be remembered best for his part in preparing The Greek Testament known now to scholars as WH (for Westcott and Hort.)  It has long since taken its place as the latest product of sound criticism of the text of the New Testament, and as the text which is likely to be made the starting-point of any future investigations.

           (Partial text of chapter 3)