Westcott and Hort

Textual criticism cannot be divorced entirely from theology. No matter how great a Greek scholar a man may be, or no matter how great an authority on the textual evidence, his conclusions must always be open to suspicion if he does not accept the Bible as the very Word of God (in FULLER, p.157).

The character and beliefs of those involved in such vital matters as the text and translation of the Bible cannot be overlooked. Scripture tells us that those handling the inspired word of God must themselves be spiritual men. (1 Cor. 2:11-16)

Because of the enormous influence the theories of Drs. Westcott & Hort has had upon the majority of modern Bible scholars and revisionists, they could be termed as, "The Fathers of the new Bible versions." These men boasted between themselves about their secretly held heretical doctrines, and their hatred for the Word of God.

A few selected letters for quick reference

Horts Darwinism
Hort's Hatred of the TR, and Westcott and Hort's Occult Influence
Horts Eden
Hort's 'Roman' Baptism
Hort's Romanism
Westcott's Romanism
Westcott's Doubt of Miricles
Hort's Purgatory
Hort believed Satan to be more worthy of accepting Christ's payment for sins than God.

Most of the material is from The Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westeott, by his son, and The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, written by his son, Arthur Fenton Hort, (published in 1896).

In his preface, Hort Jr. says concerning his father,

"His published work could give but a partial view of the man" ... "In all that he wrote his real self in shown, and nowhere more than in his letters" ... "I should add perhaps that in his letters he was wont to express his opinions with considerable freedom; he would unburden himself to a friend with a remarkable absence of reserve which otherwise characterized his utterances. For this very reason it would not be right to give to the world without a caution, views which he never meant for publication." (Life & Letters of F.J.A. Hort, Vol.I, pp. 7-8 Preface.)

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy of teachers who would be men "of corrupt minds," with hidden motives, "reprobate concerning the faith." 2Tim 3:8.

The following quotes from their diaries and letters demonstrate their opposition to evangelical Protestantism and sympathies with Rome and ritualism. Many more examples could be given. It especially records Hort's departure from the Bible believing faith of his mother, to the place where he was willing to believe that the “Ransom” price was paid to the Devil, but never to the father. (Life & Letters of F.J.A. Hort, Vol.I, p. 428. CF Hebrews 9:14).

The fact that Hort’s first recorded statement of antipathy toward what he called that "Vile Textus Receptus" is contained in a letter in which he also states that he, Westcott, and others were founding members of an occult investigation society which they name "The Ghostly Guild." should ring alarm bells. (Life & Letters of F.J.A. Hort, Vol.I, p. 211.)

Westcott believed that the second coming of Christ was just a spiritual coming:

"As far as I can remember, I said very shortly what I hold to be the 'Lord's coming' in my little book on the Historic Faith. I hold very strongly that the Fall of Jerusalem was the coming which first fulfilled the Lord's words; and, as there have been other comings, I cannot doubt that He is 'coming' to us now." (Life, Volume II, p. 308.)
And also that Heaven is not a real place "No doubt the language of the Rubric is unguarded, but it saves us from the error of connecting the Presence of Christ's glorified humanity with place; 'heaven is a state and not a place.'" (ibid., p. 49.)
"Yet the unseen is the largest part of life. Heaven lies about us now in infancy alone; and by swift, silent pauses for thought, for recollection, for aspiration, we cannot only keep fresh the influence of that diviner atmosphere, but breathe it more habitually." (ibid., p. 253.)

Westcott was also deeply devoted to John Newman, the Roman Catholic defector who took 150 Church of England clergymen with him. Those of his disciples who did not make the physical change to Romanism, made the spiritual change, though many, like Westcott, never admitted it except in his letters.

Chronology of the Revision, and Beliefs

1825 Jan. 12th - Brooke Foss Westcott born at Birmingham.

1828 Apr. 23rd - Fenton John Anthony Hort born at Dublin.

Of his father’s mother, Hort Jr. writes:

"She was a woman of great mental power, which she brought to bear on every detail of daily life ... Her religious feelings were deep and strong. Circumstances had made her an adherent of the Evangelical school, and she was to a certain degree hampered by it; the Oxford movement filled her with dread and anxiety as to its possible effect on her son. She was unable to enter into his theological views, which to her school and generation seemed a desertion of the ancient ways; thus, pathetically enough, there came to be a barrier between mother and son. ...it is sad that he should have had to recognize that the point of view was different. She studied and knew her Bible well, and her own religious life was most carefully regulated." (Life, Vol. 1, p. 7)

Hort Jr. concerning his father:

"A word is perhaps necessary to explain his religious development...he had been brought up in the doctrine of the evangelical school .. the effects of this training were doubtless modified in the atmosphere of Rugby ... at a not much later period however he outgrew the evangelical teaching, which he came to regard as sectarian..." Life, Vol.1. p. 41
"“Hence he was led to seek firmer foundations than he could find in the evangelical position .. He could not discover the religious philosophy which he desiderated." (Ibid. p.61)

1846 Oct. 25th - Westcott:

"Is there not that in the principles of the "Evangelical" school which must lead to the exaltation of the individual minister, and does not that help to prove their unsoundness? If preaching is the chief means of grace, it must emanate not from the church, but from the preacher, and besides placing him in a false position, it places him in a fearfully dangerous one." (Life, Vol.I, pp.44,45).

Oct., 22nd after Trinity Sunday - Westcott:

"Do you not understand the meaning of Theological 'Development'? It is briefly this, that in an early time some doctrine is proposed in a simple or obscure form, or even but darkly hinted at, which in succeeding ages,as the wants of men's minds grow, grows with them - in fact, that Christianity is always progressive in its principles and doctrines" (Life, Vol.I, p.78).

Dec. 23rd - Westcott:

"My faith is still wavering. I cannot determine how much we must believe; how much, in fact, is necessarily required of a member of the Church." (Life, Vol.I, p.46).

1847 Jan., 2nd Sunday after Epiphany - Westcott To His Fiancée:

"After leaving the monastery we shaped our course to a little oratory which we discovered on the summit of a neighboring hill…Fortunately we found the door open. It is very small, with one kneeling-place; and behind a screen was a 'Pieta' the size of life (i.e. a Virgin and dead Christ)...I could not help thinking on the grandeur of the Romish Church, on her zeal even in error, on her earnestness and self-devotion, which we might, with nobler views and a purer end, strive to imitate. Had I been alone I could have knelt there for hours." (Life, Vol.I, p.81).

1848 July 6th - Hort To Ellerton:

"We must not expect ever to get to the bottom of the meaning of baptism. One of the things, I think which shows the falsity of the Evangelical notion of this subject, is that it is so trim and precise ...no deep spiritual truths of the Reason are thus logically harmonious and systematic...hence I never expect to get completely round to comprehend, the idea of baptism. But I believe that we agree ... that Maurice’s view ... is the true one. Is the Holy Spirit given only in baptism? (I mean of course, not till baptism) or given before, but increased in baptism, or lastly, is it given to every human creature, and is baptism only its seal and assurance? This is a point on which I should like to have a long talk with Maurice himself ...we maintain ‘Baptismal regeneration’ as the most important of doctrines. Almost all Anglican statements are a mixture of the true and the Romish view: 2nd. the pure Romish views seems to me nearer and more likely to lead to truth than the Evangelical...the fanaticism of the bibliolaters, among whom reading so many 'chapters' seems exactly to correspond to the Romish superstition of telling so many dozen beads on a rosary...still we dare not forsake the Sacraments, or God will forsake us ...I am inclined to think that no such state as 'Eden' (I mean the popular notion) ever existed, and that Adam's fall in no degree differed from the fall of each of his descendants, as Coleridge justly argues." (Life, Vol.I, pp.76-78).

Maurice, a son of a Unitarian minister, was dismissed from his position as Professor of English Literature and history, at King’s College London, in 1853, because of his unorthodoxy on the subject of eternal punishment. Hort constantly referred to Maurice in adulation and praise.

Hort Jr. tells us the sad story:

"Maurice’s teaching was the most powerful element in his religious development, satisfying many a want which had hitherto distressed him." (Life, Vol.1, p. 42)

As a young man, Hort submitted himself and his thinking to the verdict of Maurice on the most important doctrines:

"His mind ran much on theological difficulties, and his perplexities caused at times deep depression. The result was that he wrote to Maurice a long letter on Eternal Punishment and Redemption..." (Ibid., pp 91,92)

Hort's Devil:

"Now if there be a devil, he cannot merely bear a corrupted and marred image of God; he must be wholly evil, his name evil, his every energy and act evil. Would it not be a violation of the divine attributes for the Word to be actively the support of such a nature as that?" (Life, Volume I, p. 121.)

Hort's Hell:

"I think Maurice's letter to me sufficiently showed that we have no sure knowledge respecting the duration of future punishment, and that the word 'eternal' has a far higher meaning than the merely material one of excessively long duration; extinction always grates against my mind as something impossible." (ibid., p. 149.)
"Certainly in my case it proceeds from no personal dread; when I have been living most godlessly, I have never been able to frighten myself with visions of a distant future, even while I 'held' the doctrine." (ibid., p. 122.)

Aug. 11th - Westcott:

"I never read an account of a miracle (in Scripture?) but I seem instinctively to feel its improbability, and discover some want of evidence in the account of it." (Life, Vol.I, p.52).

Nov., Advent Sunday - Westcott:

"All stigmatise him (Dr.Hampden) as a 'heretic,'...I thought myself that he was grievously in error, but yesterday I read over the selections from his writings which his adversaries make, and in them I found systematically expressed the very strains of thought which I have been endeavouring to trace out for the last two or three years. If he be condemned, what will become of me?" (Life, Vol.I,p.94).

Hort's Atonement

1849 Nov 16th - Hort to Maurice:

"Since you have been chosen rather to guide us in the old ways, which God made, and not you, surely the aid you have already given is a pledge of your willingness to assist us again in discerning the eternal order among all the confusions that beset us, and to bear with the perverseness which more than anything blinds our eyes. (2Cor 4:4) I have therefore resolved to ask you to guide me, if you can, to a satisfactory solution of a question which has long been tormenting me ... I mean the question whether any man will be hereafter punished with never ending torments, spiritual or physical." (Life., Vol. 1, p. 116)

A string of questions, doubts, and guesses follow which reveal how completely Hort’s mind was confused. Hort was no longer able to distinguish the truth:

1Cor 14:33 "For God is not the Author of confusion."


"The fact is, I do not see how God's justice can be satisfied without every man's suffering in his own person the full penalty for his sins." (Life., Volume I, p. 120.)

1849 Nov 16th - Hort to F.D. Maurice:

"O that Coleridge, while showing the notion of a fictitious substituted righteousness, of a transferable stock of good actions, obscured the truth of man’s restoration in the Man who perfectly acted out the idea of man, had expounded the truth, (for such I am sure, there must be) that underlies the corresponding heresy, (as it appears to me) of a fictitious substituted penalty." (Ibid., Vol. 1 p. 120)

1849 Nov 16th Hort to Maurice:

"May I take this opportunity of asking what you mean (in Kingdom of Christ first edition Vol. 1, page 45) by the phrase, “The satisfaction offered to the evil spirit, by giving up to him all that he can rightly claim while all that is real and precious is redeemed out of his hands?" (Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 122)

Maurice’s reply was such that eleven years later, Hort makes this awesome statement:

"I confess I have no repugnance to the primitive doctrine of a ransom paid to Satan neither am I prepared to give full assent to it. But I can see no other possible form in which the doctrine of a ransom is at all tenable; anything is better than the notion of a ransom paid to the father." (Life, Vol. 1, p. 428)

1849 Nov 16th Hort to Maurice:

"Finally St. Paul’s mysterious words, ‘Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.’ (But I have laboured so utterly in vain to apprehend in any measure what this idea is, that I hope you will deepen and widen the hints that you have already given." "I am quite conscious that I have given but few distinct objections to the common belief, (Redemption through the Blood of the Lamb - C.J.C) in what I have written, but so indeed it must be; language cannot accuratley define the twinge of shrinking horror which mixes with my thoughts when I hear the popular notion asserted." (Even without the blasphemous adjuncts which too often accompany it)" (Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 122)

Hort’s sympathy with “notorious heretics” is understandable when in Vol. 1, Page 445 he refers to himself and Westcott as holding doctrines which "will undoubtedly be treated as dangerous heresy." This of course he wished to hide until such times as the Westcott & Hort Greek text fastened itself into areas of the thought life of the scholars, from which subsequent exposure of his vast errors could not easily dislodge it.

About the heretical Maurice, the son of a Unitarian minister, Hort said:

"I have been deeply influenced by his books. To myself it seems that I owe to them chiefly a firm and full hold of the Christian faith; but they have led me to doubt whether the Christian faith is adequately or purely represented in all respects in the accepted doctrines of any living school." (Life., Vol. 2 p. 155)

What about the “twinge of shrinking horror” of which Hort speaks? We have seen that Hort believed numerous, “doctrines of devils.” Satan and his host of servants fear the “Blood of the Lamb” (see Rev 12:11). By the shedding of His blood, our Lord Jesus secured our redemption, and “spoiled principalities and powers” (Col 2:16). Does the doctrine of Redemption through blood, offend or sound foolish to anyone reading this article? The “twinge of horror” or the feeling that it is “foolish” is explained by the Apostle Paul:

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (1Cor 1:18.)

The Blood is one of the things that is readily took out of our modern Bibles. (See Tables)

1849 CHRISTMAS DAY - Hort to John Ellerton:

"It was with the greatest difficulty that I screwed out time to write to Maurice; and that I should have deferred, but that the question was daily driving me mad." (Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 124)

Hort was caught in a web of false doctrine at an early age.

1850 May 12th - Hort To Gerald Blunt:

"You ask me about the liberty to be allowed to clergymen in their views of Baptism. For my own part, I would gladly admit to the ministry such as hold Gorham's view, much more such as hold the ordinary confused Evangelical notions...I do not think that Gorham’s views would have been tolerated in the early ages. I am not aware of their existence for many centuries except in notorious heretics." (Life, Vol.I, p.148).

1850 Oct 15 - Hort to Westcott - On Evolution:

" . . . I do not see why the inconceivableness of a beginning is any argument against any theory of development. The contrary theory is simply a harsh and contradictory attempt to conceive a beginning. That we are in doubt about the early history of organic life arises not from an impotence of conception, but from the mere fact that we were not there to see what, if it were taking place now, we certainly could see. The beginning of an individual is precisely as inconceivable as the beginning of a species...It certainly startles me to find you saying that you have seen no facts which support such as view as Darwin's...But it seems to me the most probable manner of development, and the reflexions suggested by his book drove me to the conclusion that some kind of development must be supposed."(Life, pp.430,431)

1851 Feb. 7th - Hort:

"Westcott is just coming out with his Norrisian on 'The Elements of the Gospel Harmony.' I have seen the first sheet on Inspiration, which is a wonderful step in advance of common orthodox heresy." (Life, Vol.I, p.181).

1851 Dec. 21st - Westcott ordained "priest" in Church of England.

1851 Dec. 20th - Hort to John Ellerton:

"I had no idea till the last few weeks of the importance of texts, having read so little Greek Testament, and dragged on with the villainous Textus Receptus. Think of that vile Textus Receptus leaning entirely on late MSS.; it is a blessing there are such early ones" (Life, Vol.I, p.211).

Hort is refering to the corrupt Codex B. (Vaticanus), and probably Codex L - Regius at Paris, a carelessly written manuscript which often supports Vaticanus readings. Later in 1859 the Codex Sinaiticus, in which its finder Tischendorf, noted twelve thousand alterations, appeared. These he considered the “oldest and best” mss. From where did Hort get this antipathy to the Textus Receptus so early in his career? How did he conceive the ingenious theories to minimize the fact that the Textus Receptus, (the Greek text underlying the King James Version of the Bible), is without doubt representative of a very high percentage of all Greek manuscripts? Hort was never able to produce a vestige of historical evidence for his carefully spun out theories. It just does not exist.

The statement which immediately follows Hort’s describing the sacred text as “Vile” is most revealing.

"Westcott, Gorham, C.B.Scott, Benson, Bradshaw, Laurd, etc. and I have started a society for the investigation of ghosts and all supernatural appearances, and effects, being all disposed to believe that such things really exist, and ought to be discriminated from hoaxes and mere subjective delusions; we shall be happy to obtain any good accounts well authenticated with names. Westcott is drawing up a schedule of questions. Cope calls us the 'Cock and Bull Club;' our own temporary name is the 'Ghostly Guild.'" (Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 211.)

In 1Timothy 4:1, Paul tells us, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith (this is precisely what Hort did) giving heed to seducing spirit’s and doctrines of demons." It was just a short step from abandoning doctrines fundamental to the faith, to that of “giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.”

One of the early pioneers of modern Spiritualist inquiry was the Ghost Society at the University of Cambridge, England. Alan Gauld has recorded in The Founders of Psychical Research the founding and objective of the Ghost Society:

"In 1851 was founded at Cambridge a Society to 'conduct a serious and earnest inquiry into the nature of the phenomena vaguely called supernatural,' and a number of distinguished persons became members." (Alan Gauld, The Founders of Psychical Research, (Schocken Books, New York, 1968), p. 66.)

The Society For Psychical Research directly succeeded the Cambridge Ghost Society. The Society for Psychical Research: An Outline of its History, written in 1948 by the president, W. H. Salter, provides the following record:

"Among the numerous persons and groups who in the middle of the nineteenth century were making enquiries into psychical occurrences may be mentioned a society from which our own can claim direct descent. In the Life of Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, by his son, A. C. Benson, will be found, under the year 1851-2, the following paragraph:

"Among my father's diversions at Cambridge was the foundation of a 'Ghost Society,' the forerunner of the Psychical Society [meaning the S.P.R.] for the investigation of the supernatural. Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort were among the members. He was then, as always, more interested in psychical phenomena than he cared to admit."

"Lightfoot and Westcott both became bishops, and Hort Professor of Divinity. The S.P.R. has hardly lived up to the standard of ecclesiastical eminence set by the parent society." [parenthesis in original]" (W.H. Salter, The Society For Psychical Research: An Outline of its History, London, 1948, pp. 5,6.)

1852 Westcott Writing to his future wife: John Newman was the Roman Catholic defector who took 150 Church of England clergymen with him.

"Today I have again taken up 'Tracts for the Times' and Dr. Newman. Don't tell me that he will do me harm. At least today he has done me good, and had you been here I should have asked you to read his solemn words to me. My purchase has already amply repaid me. I think I shall choose a volume for one of my Christmas companions." (Life, Volume I p. 223)

This was written after Newman had defected to Rome

Wilkenson adds,

"By voice and pen, the teaching of Newman changed in the minds of many their attitude toward the Bible. Stanley shows us that the allegorizing of German theology, under whose influence Newman and the leaders of the movement were, was Origen's method of allegorizing. Newman contended that God never intended the Bible to teach doctrines."

1853 Jan.-Mar. - Westcott and Hort agree upon a plan of a joint revision of the text of the Greek Testament, a project that was to occupy most of their remaining lives. Their careers were spent mostly in academic positions rather than pastorates.

Hort a member of a SECRET SOCIETY

"Yet he found time to attend the meetings of various societies, and in June joined THE MYSTERIOUS COMPANY OF THE APOSTLES ... He remained always a grateful and loyal member of the secret club ... He was mainly responsible for the wording of the oath that binds the members to a conspiracy of silence."

Before consenting to join, he asked Maurice’s advice. (Vol. 1 Page 170-171.)

Apr. 19th - Hort to Rev. John Ellerton:

"One result of our talk I may as well tell you. He (Westcott) and I are going to edit a Greek text of the New Testament some two or three years hence, if possible. Lachmann and Tischendorf will supply rich materials, but not nearly enough; and we hope to do a good deal with Oriental versions. Our object is to supply clergymen generally, schools, etc., with a portable Greek text which shall not be disfigured with Byzantine corruptions." (Life, Vol.I, p.250).

June - Mr. Daniel Macmillan suggests to Hort that he should take part in an interesting and comprehensive 'New Testament Scheme.' Hort was to edit the text in conjunction with Mr. Westcott; the latter was to be responsible for a commentary, and Lightfoot was to contribute a N.T. Grammar and Lexicon. (Life, Vol.I, pp.240,241).

Sept. 29th - Westcott to Hort:

"As to our proposed recension of the New Testament text, our object would be, I suppose, to prepare a text for common and general use...With such an end in view, would it not be best to introduce only certain emendations into the received text, and to note in the margin such as seem likely or noticeable - after Griesbach's manner?...I feel most keenly the disgrace of circulating what I feel to be falsified copies of Holy Scripture (a reference to the A.V.?), and am most anxious to provide something to replace them. This cannot be any text resting solely on our own judgment, even if we were not too inexperienced to make one; but it must be supported by a clear and obvious preponderance of evidence. The margin will give ample scope for our own ingenuity or principles...my wish would be to leave the popular received text except where it is clearly wrong." (Life, Vol.I, pp.228,229).

Nov. 4th - Hort:

"I went down and spent a Sunday with Westcott...We came to a distinct and positive understanding about our Gk. Test. and the details thereof. We still do not wish it to be talked about, but are going to work at once, and hope we may perhaps have it out in little more than a year." (Life, Vol.I, p.264).

Westcott and Hort start work on their Greek text.

1854 Hort to Rev. John Ellerton: He might not of believed in a literal devil and a literal hell but he was a believer in the fictious Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory.

"I agree with you in thinking it a pity that Maurice verbally repudiates purgatory, but I fully and unwaveringly agree with him in the three cardinal points of the controversy:
(1) that eternity is independent of duration;
(2) that the power of repentance is not limited to this life;
(3) that it is not revealed whether or not all will ultimately repent. The modern denial of the second has, I suppose, had more to do with the despiritualizing of theology then almost anything that could be named."
(ibid., p. 275.)
Also while advising a young student he wrote:
"The idea of purgation, of cleansing as by fire, seems to me inseparable from what the Bible teaches us of the Divine chastisements; and, though little is directly said respecting the future state, it seems to me incredible that the Divine chastisements should in this respect change their character when this visible life is ended.
"I do not hold it contradictory to the Article to think that the condemned doctrine has not been wholly injurious, inasmuch as it has kept alive some sort of belief in a great and important truth."
(ibid., Volume II, pp. 336,337)

1856 Feb. ? - Hort ordained "priest" in Church of England.

Mar. 20th - Hort:

"I think I mentioned to you before Campbell's book on the Atonement, which is invaluable as far as it goes; but unluckily he knows nothing except Protestant theology" (Life, Vol.I, p.322).

1857 Feb. 23rd - Hort to Westcott:

"I hope to go on with the New Testament text more unremittingly" (Life, Vol.I, p.355).

First efforts to secure revision of the Authorised Version by five Church of England clergymen.

1858 Oct. 21st - Hort:

"The principle literary work of these years was the revision of the Greek Text of the New Testament. All spare hours were devoted to it." (Life, Vol.I, p.399).

1858 Oct. 21st - Hort to Rev.Rowland Williams:

"Further I agree with them [Apostate authors of "Essays and Reviews"] in condemning many leading specific doctrines of the popular theology as, to say the least, containing much superstition and immorality of a very pernmicious kind...The positive doctrines even of the Evangelicals seem to me perverted rather than untrue...There are, I fear, still more serious differences between us on the subject of authority, and especially the authority of the Bible. . . If this primary objection were removed, and I could feel our differences to be only of degree, I should still hesitate to take part in the proposed scheme. It is surely likely to bring on a crisis; and that I cannot think desirable on any account. The errors and prejudices, which we agree in wishing to remove, can surely be more wholesomely and also more effectually reached by individual efforts of an indirect kind than by combined open assault. At present very many orthodox but rational men are being unawares acted upon by influences which will assuredly bear good fruit in due time if is allowed to go on quietly; but I fear that a premature crisis would frighten back many into the merest traditionalism." (Life, Vol.I, p.400).

Westcott resented the Bishop of Manchesters' criticism of the apostate authors of the heretical "Essays and Reviews" - "But his language about the Essays and Reviews roused my indignation beyond expression." (Life. Vol.1. p. 279)


In the year 1860, controversies surfaced with the publication of the ‘Origin of Species’ and ‘Essays and Reviews’. Discussion of these two books fills a large part of his letters for some months.

Hort to B.F. Westcott:

"...Have you read Darwin? How I should like to talk with you about it! In spite of difficulties, I am inclined to think it unanswerable. In any case it is a treat to read such a book." (Life, Vol.I, p.416)

1860 Apr. 3rd - Hort to John Ellerton:

"But the book which has most engaged me is Darwin. Whatever may be thought of it, it is a book that one is proud to be contemporary with. I must work out and examine the argument in more detail, but at present my feeling is strong that the theory is unanswerable. If so, it opens up a new period." (Life, Vol.I, p.416).

1860 May 1st - Hort to Lightfoot:

"If you make a decided conviction of the absolute infallibility of the N.T. practically a sine qua non for co-operation, I fear I could not join you, even if you were willing to forget your fears about the origin of the Gospels." (Life, Vol. I, p.420).


"As I was writing the last words a note came from Westcott. He too mentions having had fears, which he now pronounces 'groundless,' on the strength of our last conversation, in which he discovered that I did 'recognize' 'Providente' in biblical writings. Most strongly I recognize it; but I am not prepared to say that it necessarily involves absolute infallibility. So I still await judgment."

And further commented to a colleague:

"But I am not able to go as far as you in asserting the absolute infallibility of a canonical writing." (ibid., pp. 420-422)

May 4th - Hort to Lightfoot:

"I am also glad that you take the same provisional ground as to infallibility that I do." (Life, Vol.I, p.424).

May 5th - Westcott to Hort:

"For I too 'must disclaim settling for infallibility.' In the front of my convictions all I hold is the more I learn, the more I am convinced that fresh doubts come from my own ignorance, and that at present I find the presumption in favor of the absolute truth -- I reject the word infallibility - of Holy Scripture overwhelming." (Life, Vol.I, p.207).

May 18th - Hort to Lightfoot:

"It sounds an arrogant thing to say, but there are very many cases in which I would not admit the competence of any one to judge a decision of mine on a textual matter, who was only an amateur, and had not some considerable experience in forming a text." (Life, Vol.I, p.425).

1860 August 14th 1860 Hort to B.F. Westcott:

"It is of course true that we can only know God through human forms, but then I think the whole Bible echoes the language of Genesis 1:27 and so assures us that human forms are divine forms."


August 16, 1860 Hort to B.F. Westcott:

"Perhaps we may be too hasty in assuming an absolute necessity of absolutely proportional suffering. I confess I have no repugnance to the primitive doctrine of a ransom paid to Satan though neither am I prepared to give full assent to it. But I can see no other possible form in which the doctrine of a ransom is at all tenable; anything is better than the notion of a ransom paid to the Father."

1860 Oct. 15th - Hort to Westcott:

"I entirely agree - correcting one word - with what you there say on the Atonement, having for many years believed that "the absolute union of the Christian (or rather, of man) with Christ Himself" is the spiritual truth of which the popular doctrine of substitution is an immoral and material counterfeit...Certainly nothing can be more unscriptural than the modern limiting of Christ's bearing our sins and sufferings to His death; but indeed that is only one aspect of an almost universal heresy." (Life, Vol.I, p.430).

1860 Oct 15th, - Hort to Westcott:

"It certainly startles me to find you saying that you have seen no facts which support such view as Darwin’s. But I do see immense difficulties in his theory, some of which might by this time have been removed, if he had understood more clearly the conditions of his problem. But is seems to me the most probable manner of development, and the reflexions suggested by his book drove me to the conclusion that some kind of development must be supposed." (Life & Letters, p. 431)

1860 Nov 9th, - Hort to MacMillan:

"Another last word on Darwin. ... I shall not let the subject drop in a hurry, or, to speak more correctly, it will not let me drop. It has completely thrown me back into natural science, not that I had ever abandoned it either in intention, or altogether in practice. But now there is no getting rid of it any more than of a part of oneself." (Ibid., pp 433-434)

Hort, who was totally deceived himself, accomplished in the religious realm, what Darwin succeeded in doing in the scientific realm; namely the deceiving of the great majority of “experts.”

1861 Apr. 12th - Hort to Westcott:

"Also - but this may be cowardice - I have a sort of craving that our text should be cast upon the world before we deal with matters likely to brand us with suspicion. I mean, a text, issued by men already known for what will undoubtedly be treated as dangerous heresy, will have great difficulties in finding its way to regions which it might otherwise hope to reach, and whence it would not be easily banished by subsequent alarms." (Life, Vol.I, p.445).

1861 Dec 4 Hort to Westcott:

"My chief impression is a strong feeling of incapacity to criticize, partly from want of knowledge, and still more from not having fully thought out cardinal questions, such as the relation of ‘philosophy’ and ‘faith’; e.g., you seem to me to make (Greek) philosophy worthless for those who have received the Christian revelation. To me, though in a hazy way, it seems full of precious truth of which I find nothing, and should be very much astonished and perplexed to find anything, in revelation…Without condemning anything you have said on the Stoics, I yet feel you have not done them justice. The spiritual need which supported, if it did not originate, their doctrine is, I think, profoundly interesting, above all in the present day."

1862 Apr. 30th, May 1st - Hort:

"It seems to be clearly and broadly directed to maintaining that the English clergy are not compelled to maintain the absolute infallibility of the Bible. And, whatever the truth may be, this seems just the liberty required at the present moment, if any living belief is to survive in the land." (Life, Vol.I, p.454).

1864 Sept. 23rd - Hort to Westcott:

"I believe Coleridge was quite right in saying that Christianity without a substantial Church is vanity and dissolution; and I remember shocking you and Lightfoot not so very long ago by expressing a belief that 'Protestantism' is only parenthetical and temporary. In short, the Irvingite creed (minus the belief in the superior claims of the Irvingite communion) seems to me unassailable in things ecclesiastical." (Life, Vol.II, p.30,31).

NOTE: About the Irvingite [Catholic Apostolic] movement; David J. Engelsma writes in "Try the Spirits -- A Reformed Look at Pentecostalism" (1988);

"It is noteworthy that the Irvingite movement, a precursor of Pentecostalism in England in the 1800s, named after its leader, Edward Irving, did appoint twelve apostles. In doing so, the movement was consistent. It is also worthy of note that, although it hesitates to call them apostles, Pentecostalism today is ascribing to its leaders powers that only apostles possess: a personal, absolute authority over the church, or fellowship; new revelations of His will for the church from God; extra-Biblical teachings which are binding upon the saints."

This was written in 1988; today the Latter Rain Movement claims it will soon have 35 Apostles. Westcott and Hort also belonged to the mysterious "Company of Apostles." Vera Alder's New Age handbook, When Humanity Comes of Age, foretells a Council of Twelve which would reign with Antichrist in the New World Order:

"The World Government and its Spiritual Cabinet of 12, headed by 'the Christ' will study all archaeological archives… From it, the Research Panel would develop the 'New' Bible of a World Religion which would be the basis of future education." (Vera Alder, When Humanity Comes of Age, New York: Samuel Weiser, 1974, p. 39.)

1864 Sept. 28th Hort to Westcott:

"I must take the chance of your misunderstanding me for the present, and merely state one comprehensive belief, that perfect Catholicity has been nowhere since the Reformation (strictly indeed it was cruelly injured by the Filioque, and the Athanasian Creed), and that since then we have had the pre-eminence in constitutional Catholicity, and (not ‘Rome’ but) the churches that hold to Rome in historical Catholicity." (Life, Vol.II, p.31,32).

1865 Sept. 27th - Westcott:

"I have been trying to recall my impressions of La Salette (a marian shrine). I wish I could see to what forgotten truth Mariolatry bears witness; and how we can practically set forth the teaching of the miracles".

Nov. 17th - Westcott to Rev. Benson:

"As far as I could judge, the 'idea' of La Salette was that of God revealing Himself now, and not in one form but in many." (Life, Vol.I. pp.251,252).

Oct. 17th - Hort to Westcot:

"I am very far from pretending to understand completely the ever renewed vitality of Mariolatry. But is it not much accounted for, on the evil side, by the natural revertence of the religious instinct to idolatry and creature worship and aversion to the Most High; and, on the good side, by a right reaction from the inhuman and semi-diabolical character with which God is invested in all modern orthodoxies-Zeus and Prometheus over again? In protestant countries the fearful notion, ‘Christ the believer’s God’ is the result. In Romish countries the Virgin is a nearer and more attractive object, not rejected by the dominant creed; and the Divine Son retires into a distant cloud world with the Father, ... Another idea has lately occurred to me: is not Mariolatry displacing much worship of scattered saints, and so becoming a tendency towards unity of worship? ... I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-Worship and ‘Jesus’-Worship have very much in common in their causes and their results. Perhaps the whole question may be said to be involved in the true idea of mediation, which is almost universally corrupted in one or both of two opposite directions. On the one hand we speak and think as if there were no real bringing near, such as the NT tells of, but only an interposition between two permanently distant objects. on the other we condemn all secondary human mediators as injurious to the one, and shut our eyes to the indestructible fact of existing human mediation which is to be found everywhere. But this last error can hardly be expelled till Protestants unlearn the crazy horror of the idea of Priesthood." (Life, Vol. 2 pp 49-51

The Zeus and Prometheus reference concerns Greek mythology. Zeus had ordained that humans should do without fire for cooking meat to force them to eat raw flesh. Prometheus stole fire from Mount Olympus and brought it down to man. Zeus swore vengeance on Prometheus and had him chained naked to a pillar in the Caucasus Mountains. Every day a vulture came and feasted on his liver which was restored each night. After enduring this agony for years Prometheus was released by Hercules with the consent of Zeus. Thus Prometheus becomes the great friend of man, who suffers for his love of man by being punished by the great god, Zeus. The Athenian dramatist Aeschylus presents the picture of the supreme God with his father’s curse resting upon him. Reconciliation is accomplished, when Zeus’ wrath is abated.

In another essay he makes Zeus advance from such cruelty to wisdom. And Zeus’ initial vicious conception of justice, ending in chaos, is succeeded by a wiser more gentle concept. Who can fail to see in Hort’s blasphemous comparison a diabolical distortion of the glorious doctrines of the atonement?

When Hort says that all modern orthodoxies invest out God with a semi-diabolical character he simply reveals the influence of the occult in his thinking.

2Cor 4:3-4 "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not."

The Bible teaches that unbelief is the result of the ‘occult’ working in the mind.

1867 Oct. 17th - Hort:

"I wish we were more agreed on the doctrinal part; but you know I am a staunch sacerdotalist, and there is not much profit in arguing about first principles." (Life, Vol.II, p.86).

1870 Westcott and Hort print tentative edition of their Greek N.T. for private distribution only. (This they later circulated under pledge of secrecy within the company of N.T. revisers, of which they were members).

Feb. 10th - Southern Convocation of Church of England resolve on desirability of revision of A.V. Northern Convocation declines to cooperate.

May - Committee of 18 elected to produce a Revised Version.

The 7 members of the N.T. Committee invite 18 others, making 25.

1870 May 14, Hort to Rev. J.Ll. Davies:

"No rational being doubts the need of a revised Bible; and the popular practical objections are worthless. Yet I have an increasing feeling in favor of delay. Of course, no revision can be final, and it would be absurd to wait for perfection. But the criticism of both Testaments in text and interpretation alike, appears to me to be just now in that chaotic state (in Germany hardly if at all less than in England), that the results of immediate revision would be peculiarly unsatisfactory. I John 5:7 might be got rid of in a month; and if that were done, I should prefer to wait a few years." (Life, Vol.II, p.128).

May 29th - Westcott to Hort:

"though I think that Convocation is not competent to initiate such a measure, yet I feel that as 'we three' are together it would be wrong not to 'make the best of it' as Lightfoot says. Indeed, there is a very fair prospect of good work, though neither with this body nor with any body likely to be formed now could a complete textual revision be possible. There is some hope that alternative readings might find a place in the margin." (Life, Vol.I, p.390).

June 4th - Westcott to Lightfoot:

"Ought we not to have a conference before the first meeting for Revision? There are many points on which it is important that we should agreed. The rules though liberal are vague, and the interpretation of them will depend upon decided action at first." (Life, Vol.I, p.391).

July 1st - Westcott to Hort:

"The Revision on the whole surprised me by prospects of hope. I suggested to Ellicott a plan of tabulating and circulating emendations before our meeting, which may prove valuable." (Life, Vol.I, pp.392,393).

July 7th - Hort:

"Dr. Westcott and myself have for above seventeen years been preparing a Greek text of the New Testament. It has been in the press for some years, and we hope to have it out early next year." (Life, Vol.II, p.137).

1870 July 7 - Hort:

"It is quite impossible to judge the value of what appear to be trifling alterations merely by reading them one after another. Taken together, they have often important bearings which few would think of at first . . . The difference between a picture say of Raffaelle and a feeble copy of it is made up of a number of trivial differences . . . We have successfully resisted being warned off dangerous ground, where the needs of revision required that it should not be shirked . . . It is, one can hardly doubt, the beginning of a new period in Church history. So far the angry objectors have reason for their astonishment." (Life, pp.138,139)

1870 Sept 1st Concerning another heretic. Hort boasts to Dr. Lightfoot.

"...It is, I think, difficult to measure the weight of acceptance won beforehand for the revision by the single fact of our welcoming an Unitarian, if only the Company perseveres in its present serious and faithful spirit." (Life., Vol. 2, p. 140)

1870 Aug Hort to Westcott: Concerning the above Unitarian taking part in the communion service at Westminister June 2nd. 1870, Hort argues for the soundness of the decision to accept a Unitarian at the communion service.

"There is the strangest blindness about the Unitarian position, and the moral damage that would have been done to the acceptance of the revision by the laity if unitarians had been outlawed as such."

NOTE: Unitarians deny the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dr. G. Vance Smith, a Unitarian scholar, was a member of the Revision Committee. At Westcott's suggestion, a celebration of Holy Communion was held on June 22nd before the first meeting of the N.T. Revision Company. Dr. Smith communicated but said afterwards that he did not join in reciting the Nicene Creed and did not compromise his principles as a Unitarian. The storm of public indignation which followed almost wrecked the Revision at the outset. At length however Dr. Smith remained on the Committee).

1871 Nov 12 - Hort to the Bishop of Ely:

"So also the uniqueness of the great Sacrifice seems to me not to consist in its being a substitute which makes all other sacrifices useless and unmeaning, but in its giving them the power and meaning which of themselves they could not have. He (Maurice) may have dwelt too exclusively on the idea of sacrifice which is suggested in Hebrews 10:5-10, and he may have failed to make clear that sacrifice is not the only way of conceiving the Atonement." (Life., p. 158)

At 48 years of age the mysterious antagonism to the Atonement still manifests itself.

1876 Ascension Day Hort to Ellerton:

"I must say .. that the idea expressed in the hymn, “Still ... His prevailing death He pleads” has no apostolic warrant, and cannot even be reconciled with apostolic doctrine."

1881 Bishop Ellicott submits the Revised Version to the Southern Convocation.

May 12th - Westcott and Hort's "The New Testament in the Original Greek" Vol. I published (Text and short Introduction).

May 17th - the Revised Version is published in England, selling two million copies within four days. It fails however to gain lasting popular appeal.

Sept. 4th - Westcott and Hort's "The New Testament in the Original Greek" Vol.II published (Introduction and Appendix).

Oct. - first of Dean Burgon's three articles in the Quarterly Review against the Revised Version appears.

1882 May - Ellicott publishes pamphlet in reply to Burgon, defending the Westcott and Hort Greek text.

1883 Burgon publishes The Revision Revised, including a reply to Ellicott.

Westcott's view that Moses and David are poetic characters whom Jesus Christ referred to by name only because the common people accepted them as authentic.

1890 Mar. 4th - Westcott:

"No one now, I suppose, holds that the first three chapters of Genesis, for example, give a_literal history - I could never understand how any one reading them with open eyes could think they did - yet they disclose to us a Gospel. So it is probably elsewhere. So it is probably elsewhere. Are we not going through a trial in regard to the use of popular language on literary subjects like that through which we went, not without sad losses in regard to the use of popular language on physical subjects? If you feel now that it was, to speak humanly, necessary that the Lord should speak of the 'sun rising,' it was no less necessary that he would use the names 'Moses' and 'David' as His contemporaries used them. There was no critical question at issue. (Poetry is, I think, a thousand times more true than History; this is a private parenthesis for myself alone.)" (Westcott, Arthur, Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott. Volume II, p. 69.)
..Also, "David" is not a chronological but a spiritual person.
(ibid., p. 147)

1890 May 1st - Westcott consecrated Bishop of Durham.

1892 Nov. 30th - death of Hort.

1901 July 27th - death of Westcott.

1908 The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia discusses the Westcott-Hort theory: "Conscious agreement with it or conscious disagreement and qualification mark all work in this field since 1881."


NOTE: Emphasis throughout the essay are the author’s.



Hort, A.F., Life and Letters of Fenton J.A. Hort, MacMillan and Co., London, 1896, vols. I,II.

Westcott, A., Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, MacMillan and Co., London, 1903, vols. I,II.

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been the chief accusation (whether justified or not) of the unconverted from that day to this present day: "The preacher is in it for the money!"

This, Paul most certainly did not do! Yet, ponder the wording in 2 Corinthians 11.

Though there have been exceptions (c.f. Spanish Catholics plundering Aztec temples), "robbing temples" has not been a common charge laid against professed Christian leaders. But certainly, "robbing churches" is!

The KJV wording gives a long-term application for those who would "fleece the flock."
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Strain "At", or "Out" a Gnat

THE CRITIC SAYS: "This misprint in the King James Version has never