The Necromancers

This entry is part 1 of 15 in the series New Age Bible Versions

A cannonball, in the form of a new and altered Greek New Testament text, was catapulted in the 1880’s by two pirates. Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort; it carries its doctrinal deathblow into the laps of unsuspecting Christians holding translations of this text. These new versions exhibit deep trenches in the text as a result of this barrage. Clefts in the content include the ascension, the deity of Christ, the Trinity, the virgin birth, New Testament salvations (e.g., Paul, the Ethiopian eunuch, the thief on the cross) and an army of other victims. These two swashbucklers approached the written word with a sword much like the soldier who pierced the side of the living Word. The sound of a ‘New World Religion’ echoes back from these sounding boards framed with the theories and philosophies of Westcott and Hort. The body of standard Christian reference works affirm their pivotal and powerful role in this war of words. Scanning the major works will document the singularity and paramountcy of their role.

John R. Kohlenberger, a spokesperson for Zondervan, (publisher of the NASB, Living Bible, Amplified Bible, NIV, and RSV) is author of a Hebrew/NIV Interlinear, as well as Words about the Word: A Guide to Choosing and Using Your Bible. He discloses:

Westcott and Hort. . .all subsequent versions from the Revised Version (1881) to those of the present. . .have adopted their basic approach. . .[and ] accepted the Westcott and Hort [Greek] text 1

He goes on to salute Westcott’s, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, saying, “This century old classic remains a standard.”2 Christians may not return the salute, but ask why the work of esoterics are the “standards” and “classics” for the body of Christ.

Baker Book House, publisher of a half a dozen modern translations, also prints a bible selection guide entitled, The King James Debate. Author D.A. Carson admits:

[The] theories of Westcott and Hort. . .[are] almost universally accepted today. . .It is on this basis that Bible translators since 1881 have, as compared with the King James Version, left out some things and added a few others. Subsequent, textual critical work accepted theories of Westcott and Hort. The vast majority of evangelical scholars. . .hold that basic textual theories of Westcott and Hort were right and the church stands greatly in their debt. 3

The error of their textual theories and their recent abandonment by many scholars in spite of Carson’s last comment will be discussed in a later section. In spite of this increasing elbow room, their revised Greek text is still almost a mirror of that used to translate the NIV, NASB, and all other new versions. Dr. E.F. Hills, Princeton and Harvard scholar, impresses, the “New International Version. . .follows the critical Westcott and Hort text.”4 Phillip W. Comfort’s recent Early Manuscripts and Modern Translations of the New Testament concedes:

But textual critics have not been able to advance beyond Hort in formatting a theory. . .this has troubled certain textual scholars. . .5

Even abbreviated histories of the canon in reference works like Halley’s Bible Handbook and Young’s Concordance observe, “For the English speaking world the work of B.F. Westcott has proved abiding worth.”6 The New Testament Westcott and Hort Greek texts, which, in the main, are the exact original Bible words. . .”7 J.H Greenlee’s Introduction to the New Testament Textual Criticism (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm B. Erdmanns Publishers Co., 1964. p 78)adds:

The textual theories of W-H underlies virtually all subsequent in NT textual criticism.

Scholarly books, articles and critical editions of the Greek New Testament are slowly abandoning the readings of Westcott and Hort in their ‘Newest’ Greek texts. Yet the pews are piled high with W-H offerings like the NIV, NASB, and the Living Bible.

Wilbur N. Pickering, author of the Identity of the New Testament text (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1890) pp. 38, 42, 96, 90 reveals:

The dead hand of Fenton John Hort lies heavy upon us. (Coswell) The two most popular manual editions of the Greek text today., Nestles –Aland and U.B.S. ( United Bible Society) really vary little from the W-H text. Why is this? Westcott and Hort are generally credited with having furnished the death blow [to the KJV and the Greek text which was used for the previous 1880 years]. Subsequent scholarship has tended to recognize Hort’s mistake. The W-H critical theory is erroneous at every point. Our conclusions concerning the theory apply also to any Greek text constructed on the basis of it. [Nestle-Aland, UBS, ect.], as well as those versions based on such texts [NIV, NASB, Good News for Modern Man, NEB, L.B., ect.]

H.C Hoskier’s A Full Account of the Greek Cursive Codex Evangelism 604 ( London: David Nutt. 1890)., Introduction , pp. cxvi-cxvi and Codex B and Its Allies- A Study and an Indictment. (2 vols. London: Bernard Quaritch Ltd., 1914) note:

The text printed by Westcott and Hort has been accepted as ‘the true text’, and grammars, works on the synoptic problem, works on the higher criticism, and others have been grounded on this text. . .These foundations must be demolished.

Alfred Martin (former Vice President of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago) says:

[M]any people, even today, who have no idea what the Westcott-Hort theory is. . .accept the labors of those two scholars without question. . .an amusing and amazing spectacle presents itself: many of the textbooks, books of bible interpretation, innumerable secondary works go on repeating the Westcott and Hort dicta although the foundations have been seriously shaken, even in the opinion of former Hortians.

Since Westcott and Hort are the basis or foundation for the new translations, this chapter will document what objective secular historics say when inspecting these footings. The voices of Westcott and Hort, beckoning from their biographies, will further warn what’s gone on underground.

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