The Westcott And Hort Text Under Fire -- By: William Wallace

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 078:309 (Jan 1921)
Article: The Westcott And Hort Text Under Fire
Author: William Wallace


The Westcott And Hort Text Under Fire

William Wallace

The Convocation of Canterbury undertook in the year 1871 the revision of the version of the New Testament published in 1611. Before the Canterbury Revision saw the light in 1881, there had been repeated omens of disaster. The first was the refusal of the Northern Convocation of York to cooperate with the Southern body in this undertaking. This indicated that the Church of England was divided in opinion as to the advisability of attempting to improve the Authorized Version. The second was the invitation extended to Dr. Vance Smith, a Unitarian, to become one of the Revisers. This action aroused the suspicion that the new version would not be orthodox. After the work had been finished, Alexander Gordon boasted that many texts, such as “sending strong delusion “and “knowing the terror of the Lord,” had been softened; and Dr. A. P. Peabody, in the Andover Review, expressed his satisfaction that no more sermons would be preached from the text, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” A third unfavorable circumstance was the monopoly granted to Oxford and Cambridge Universities, which, to reimburse themselves for the twenty thousand pounds invested in the enterprise, had to sell the Revision at a prohibitive price. A fourth was the protest sent by the Bishop of St. Andrew’s to each of his fellow Revisers against the admission of so many uncalled-for and unnecessary corrections. The Bishop’s indignation was so intense that he refused to sign a testimonial to Bishop Ellicott, the chairman of the Company. A fifth blunder was the secret sessions. There was no attempt to conciliate the public. No samples of the work were sent out for examination and criticism. The public was compelled to receive what the Revisers thought best to give them. Sim-

ilar secrecy was maintained as to the Greek text which had been adopted. The Westcott and Hort text, which was confidentially laid before the Revisers, was not published until five days before the Revision was issued. Another suspicious circumstance was the declaration that the Apocrypha would be included in the Revision. The exclusion of the Apocrypha from all issues of the British and Foreign Bible Society had been in force for nearly fifty years. This was a reactionary move, which was sure to arouse the opposition of all who were devoted to the circulation of an unadulterated Bible. Finally, it was an unavoidable misfortune that the Revision was finished before the language used by the apostles had been interpreted by means of the mass of contemporary documents found in the papyri of Egypt.

However, the Revisers generally had great hopes that the reward of their ten years of labor would be the universal ac...

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