Speaking of Westcott and Hort

Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901) and Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892), as I am sure most readers of The Preacher’s Library know, are the editors of a critical edition of the Greek New Testament (1881) that is the basis of the NA/UBS Greek text today and two of the translators of the New Testament (1881) of the Revised Version (1885). Together with Joseph Barber Lightfoot (1828-1889), they formed what was known as the Cambridge Triumvirate. Lightfoot was the most orthodox, Hort the least. Since most of what has been written about Westcott and Hort for the past 50 years has focused on the negative, I want to mention two books in my library about their life and work, written by British Methodist minister Graham A. Patrick, that are written from a neutral perspective: The Miner’s Bishop: Brooke Foss Westcott (OSL Publications, 2002; 2nd ed., Epworth Press, 2004) and F. J. A. Hort: Eminent Victorian (Almond Press, 1988). The first book is 282 pages, and focuses more on Westcott’s work. I must say that I had no idea that Westcott had fathered ten children, seven sons and three daughters. The work on Hort is more of a biography, but is only a brief 127 pages. While I don’t discount much of the negative press they have received, it is interesting to read a perspective not fueled by an agenda.

The Politics of the Revised Version

The first widely distributed and accepted modern version of the Bible was the Revised Version. The New Testament was issued first, in 1881, followed by the Old Testament with the New in 1885. Beginning with the publication of the New Testament, and continuing for several years, various books were issued in defense of the new Bible. Some of these touched on the history of the Revised Version, like Lectures on Bible Revision (Hodder & Stoughton, 1881), by Samuel Newth (1821-1898), one of the translators. If you are interested in a very scholarly, extremely detailed history of the translation of the Revised Version (written without an agenda), based in part on newly available material from the Westcott family archives, then The Politics of the Revised Version: A Tale of Two New Testament Revision Companies (T & T Clark, 2019) is your book. You can view the table of contents and the publisher’s description on the back cover here. I found the book fascinating. Although it contains much info on the role of Westcott and Hort, it also discusses the views and actions of many of the other translators.

David Daniell

David Daniell (1929-2016) was the founder of the Tyndale Society and its chairman from 1995 until 2005. He wrote the definitive biography of William Tyndale (c.1494-1536), the father of the English Bible. It was published by Yale University Press in 1994. The reason that I mention Daniell today at The Preacher’s Library is because, although he died in 2016, I didn’t find out about his death until today. He was a British scholar of not only Tyndale, but the English language. You can read his obituary here. Exact but modern-spelling editions of Tyndale‚Äôs 1534 NT and the portions of the OT that Tyndale translated were edited by Daniell and published by Yale University Press in 1989 (NT) and 1992 (OT). It is interesting to read and note phrases, sentences, and verses in Tyndale that read exactly like the King James Bible.

Another important work by Daniell was his 900-page history of the English Bible titled The Bible in English (Yale, 2003). He references the second edition of my book Archaic Words and the Authorized Version in a lengthy endnote 5 from chapter 25 on page 823. Regarding my book, the first edition was published in 1996, the second in 1999, and the third in 2011. If you are not familiar with the book, it provides an explicit and comprehensive examination of every word in the Authorized Version that has been deemed archaic, obsolete, antiquated, or otherwise outmoded. You can read the full description of the book here.