Current Textual Criticism Theory: An Evaluation of Claims of Reliance on Westcott and Hort -- By: Andrew S. Hudson

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 02:1 (Spring 1998)
Article: Current Textual Criticism Theory: An Evaluation of Claims of Reliance on Westcott and Hort
Author: Andrew S. Hudson


Current Textual Criticism
Theory: An Evaluation of Claims
of Reliance on Westcott and Hort

Andrew S. Hudson

Assistant Professor Of Biblical Studies
Pillsbury Baptist Bible College

In recent years, the KJV-only movement has created a renewed interest in the Textus Receptus.1 D. A. Waite and the Dean Burgon Society are at the forefront of this movement. Since 1971, Waite has conducted seminars and written over 270 books and pamphlets in support of the King James Version of the Bible and the TR which underlies it.2

TR proponents, like Waite and the Dean Burgon Society, criticize all translations of the Greek New Testament that are based on the Critical Text3 rather than the TR. One of the primary reasons for vilifying the CT is the text’s alleged reliance on Westcott and Hort and their method of textual criticism. TR proponents often appeal to the work of Dean John

William Burgon4 to support their claims for TR superiority. Burgon wrote several books in defense of the TR. He spent a good deal of time pointing out the errors of Westcott and Hort’s text and textual theory. He also criticized the English Revised Version of the Bible which was based on Westcott and Hort’s text. TR proponents reason as follows: since modern versions of the Greek New Testament are based on Westcott and Hort’s theory, and since Burgon effectively disproved their theory, then all modern versions of the Greek New Testament are inferior.5

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the TR proponents’ appeal to Burgon to criticize the modern CT is unjustified. The proof for this claim will be presented in three steps. First, TR proponents’ claims that the modern CT is based on Westcott and Hort’s theory and text will be illustrated. Second, it will be shown that members of the United Bible Society6 committee that produced the modern CT have moved beyond Westcott and Hort’s textual theory. In fact, most modern scholars agree with most of Burgon’s criticism of Westcott and Hort. Therefore, vilification of Westcott and Hort and their textual theory is somewhat irrelevant to the accuracy of the modern CT.7 Third, an answer will be suggested for the resemblance of the modern CT to Westcott and Hort...

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