Westcott’s Commentaries

I previously mentioned a biography I had of Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901) and his work on the Revised Version. Although he is known primarily for his Greek New Testament that he edited with Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892), Westcott, contrary to Hort, was quite the writer. I want to focus here on just his commentaries, of which there are four: Gospel of John, Ephesians, Hebrews, and the Epistles of John.

The Gospel According to St. John: The Authorized Version with Introduction and Notes (1880) originally appeared in The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version (A.D. 1611): With an Explanatory & Critical Commentary & a Revision of the Translation, by Bishops & Other Clergy of the Anglican Church (known as the Speaker’s Commentary), edited by F. C. Cook (1804-1889). It was published separately in 1882 by John Murray. Regarding the few changes that were made, Westcott says: “I have corrected a few misprints, defined more exactly a few references, and changed two or three words and phrases which seemed liable to misapprehension. I have not however felt at liberty to make any other alterations or additions.” I own a copy of the “eighteenth impression” of 1937. Not sure if it was issued with a dust jacket. After Westcott’s death, The Gospel According to St. John: The Greek Text with Introduction and Notes (John Murray, 1908) was published in two volumes. It is based on the Westcott and Hort Greek text and the Revised Version. The prefatory note after the title page by Westcott’s son Arthur explains the differences between this and the 1882 volume on John.

Westcott’s commentary on Ephesians was also published posthumously: Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians: The Greek Text with Notes and Addenda (Macmillan and Co., 1906) was edited by and issued with a preface by J. M. S[Schulhof]. I own the Klock and Klock reprint of 1978 with with a foreword by Cyril J. Barber.

The Epistle to the Hebrews: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays was published by Macmillian in 1889. A second edition, which, according to Westcott, “is essentially a reprint of the former one,” was issued in 1892. I own the Eerdmans 1973 reprint.

The Epistles of St John: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays was published by Macmillian in 1883. A second edition, with some revision of the notes, but no changes in interpretation, was issued in 1885. A third edition, with some corrections, was issued in 1892. I own the Eerdmans 1957 reprint.

These commentaries, even without the Greek, are not light reading. The original commentary on John, since it is based on the Authorized Version and contains little Greek, is worth having. The others are only good as supplements to more modern commentaries, and then only when doing some serious, in-depth study. All of Westcott’s commentaries should be readily available online and from used book dealers.