Westcott and Hort (mis?)quotes

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by dwmoeller1, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    A large part of the KJVO argument seems to center around vilifying the doctrinal beliefs and motivations of Westcott and Hort. There are two main ways in which this is done:
    1. Make unsupported claims or quotes about their beliefs and practices.
    2. Give sourced quotes which seem to indicate their heretical beliefs.

    Since I haven't read Westcott and Hort extensively, I won't bother to deal with the first way in which W and H are represented. I will merely point out that unsourced claims are effectively worthless in debate or argument and should be treated as such if the proponent is unwilling or unable to source their claim. I will also note that citing a secondary source which does not itself source its claims is just as worthless as citing nothing at all. Claims should be able to taken back to some primary source so that the evidence can be properly weighed. Otherwise, you are just as likely to be dealing with, at best, mistaken claims, or, at worst, made up claims as dealing with accurate information. So, in short, the first type can safely be ignored.

    It is the second category which interests me. There is a substantial number of sourced quotes floating around which, if they accurately represent W and H's beliefs, would add some weight to concerns over translations which are based on their work. So, the question is: "Do these quotes accurately represent W and H's beliefs?"

    Fortunately I ran across electronic copies of the sources for these quotes and was able to look at them in context. The quotes I have examined so far have uniformly been blatant misrepresentations of what W and H were actually saying. I try to examine as many W and H quotes that I can find in this format:
    1. give the supposed quote which implies heretical belief on their part
    2. give the quote directly from its source with surrounding context
    3. compare and contrast the two to see if the purported quote really represents what W and H writes.

    I will not seek to defend the beliefs of W and H beyond what I actually quote from them - as I said, I am not really familiar with their writings. Nor do I wish to get into the wider debate of KJVO or not. My sole purpose is to examine the purported quotes and see if there any substance to them. Feel free to disagree with my analysis, but please don't take things personally or resort to fallacies. The former I will ignore while the latter I will call you on. I hope to stick with the facts as much as possible but I am certain there will be some room for reasonable disagreement.

    And if you have a quote you would like me to deal with, please feel free to post it.
     
  2. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    1. 1. The purported quote:"Our Bible as well as our Faith is a mere compromise." (Westcott, On the Canon of the New Testament, p. vii). "

    What Westcott actually wrote:
    "However imperfectly this design
    has been carried out, I cannot but hope that such a
    method of inquiry will convey both the truest notion of
    the connexion of the written Word with the living body
    of Christ, and the surest conviction of its divine authority.
    Hitherto the co-existence of several types of
    Apostolic doctrine in the first age and of various parties
    in Christendom for several generations afterwards has
    been quoted to prove that our Bible as well as our Faith
    is a mere compromise. But while I acknowledge most
    willingly the great merit of the Tubingen School in
    pointing out with marked distinctness the characteristics
    of the different books of the New Testament, and their
    connexion with special sides of Christian doctrine and
    with various eras in the Christian Church, it seems to
    me almost inexplicable that they should not have found
    in those writings the explanation instead of the result of
    the divisions which are traceable to the Apostolic times."

    First note that the misquote come after Westcott's statement that he hopes his work will convey his surest conviction of the divine authority of Scripture. For a quote which supposedly shows W's questioning of the divine nature of Scripture its not off to a good start.

    Note secondly that while the misquote is made to look at a complete sentence, it is actually the second half of sentence. It should instead appear like this: "...our Bible as well as our Faith is a mere compromise." This form would, of course, make the accuracy of the quote more questionable - anyone knows that taking meaning from a part of a sentence is problematic at best. Ok, so its clear that the quote wouldn't pass the standards of a junior high paper, but does that mean it doesn't accurately represent W's beliefs?

    When the full context is seen it becomes apparent that such is not the case. The misquote gives the false impression that Westcott is saying that the Bible and our Faith is a "mere compromise". However, what Westcott points out is that others (not Westcostt, as the misquote misleads one to think) see Christian doctrine as a product of compromise between competing ideas. Contrary to the (totally misleading and inexcusable) misquote, Westcott states that he disagrees with this view, and, in fact, finds it inexplicable.

    So, with misquote 1. we see a blatant abuse of proper rules of quoting, and a quote which, removed from its context, misleads one into thinking Westcott believes the exact opposite of what he really believes.
     
  3. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    2. The purported quote: "He never speaks of Himself directly as God, but the aim of His revelation was to lead men to see God in Him." (Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John, p. 297). "

    What is actually said: [This is a commentary on John 20:28] "And (omit) Thomas.. . My Lord and my God~\
    The words are beyond question addressed to
    Christ (saith unto him), and cannot but be
    understood as a confession of belief as to His
    Person (comp. 'Syn. CEc.' v. Can. iz, De
    tribus capitulis') expressed in the form of an
    impassioned address. The discipline of selfquestioning,
    followed by the revelation of tender
    compassion and divine knowledge, enabled
    St Thomas to rise to the loftiest view of
    the Lord given in the Gospels. His sublime,
    instantaneous confession, won from doubt,
    closes historically the progress of faith which
    St John traces. At first (ch. i. i) the Evangelist
    declared his own faith : at the end he
    shews that this faith was gained in the actual
    intercourse of the disciples with Christ. The
    record of this confession therefore forms the
    appropriate close to his narrative; and the
    words which follow shew that the Lord accepted
    the declaration of His Divinity as the
    true expression of faith. He never speaks of
    Himself directly as God (comp. v. 18), but
    the aim of His revelation was to lead men to
    see God in Him."

    Well to start with, we can at least say that the quotation hasn't been blatantly abused. However, it still has some big problems due to it being removed from its context.

    The quote is an attempt to show that Westcott did not believe in the deity of Christ. What is so ironic is that the misquote is pulled from a section where Westcott is arguing for the exact opposite. In Westcott's analysis, this verse is a direct statement of Christ's deity - the fact that Christ is Lord and God. The misquote ignores the larger argument and focuses on a minor comment.

    A comment which, btw, is true. Christ never directly says "I am God". Even statements like "Before Abraham was, I am." are not direct statements of Christ's deity. Certainly any Jewish hearer is going to be taking this statement as Jesus ascribing to Himself characteristics reserved to God, but still it is an indirect statement of Christ's deity. So, Westcott can't be faulted for making what is a perfectly accurate statement. Only removed from its context can it be made to seem that this is a denial of Christ's deity. In context though it is clear that W means nothing of the sort since he is in the middle of affirming that same deity.

    The only quibble one might legitimately have here is with his concluding "the aim of His revelation was to lead men to see God in Him." There are two reasonable ways in which this statement of "see God in Him" could be taken.
    1. Nowadays when we say something like "seeing Christ in Him" we clearly aren't assigning deity to that person. We mean instead that we see Christ reflected in his attitudes, actions, words, etc. In fact, such a usage would an implicit denial of the person's deity since it has the person of Christ inhabiting their actions/attitudes/etc. which makes them distinct from God. This is the meaning the KJVO quoter would assign to this statement. And, if the quote is removed from its context its not an unreasonable take. (Although, I do suspect that its an anachronistic way of reading it, but I don't have the resources show that one way or the other right now. Those who insist on this take though would do well to confirm this one way or the other.)

    2. An equally reasonable take (if not typical in Evangelical-speak) is a more literal one. That is, one would "see God in Him" in a literal sense - because He is God.

    By itself, the sentence gives no clues to what W meant. But put it in its context and it becomes evident that W is aiming that the second sort of meaning. W's statement is made in the context of the fact that Thomas has come to the realization of Christ' divinity. So W makes this statement about "see God in Him" because he is commenting on a verse which is an example of this. Thomas "see's God in Christ" very clearly in the second sense.

    So, this quote, while not a blatant abuse of W's statement is misleading by having removed it from context. Reading the context would tend to prove the opposite of what the misleading quote would have you believe - W affirms the deity of Christ rather than denies it.
     
  4. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    3. Purported quote: "(John) does not expressly affirm the identification of the Word with Jesus Christ." (Westcott, Ibid., p. 16).

    What Westcott actually writes:
    "There is no effort on the part of the
    writer to establish, or to enforce, or to explain.
    He sets forth what is matter of experience to
    him with complete conviction and knowledge.
    Nothing can be farther from the appearance
    of introducing any new teaching. The Evangelist
    takes for granted that his readers understand
    perfectly what he means by
    " the Word,"
    "the Father." He does not expressly affirm
    but assumes the identification of the Word
    with Jesus Christ (i>. 17)."

    Another egregious misquote trying to show W and H deny Christ's deity. Ignore the context for now and just look at the sentence that is supposedly being quoted. Notice anything missing? Two VERY key words have been completely excised. No, John doesn't expressly affirm that the Word is Christ...John *assumes* this to be the case in his writing. So, while the misquote is trying to make it appear that Westcott is denying that Christ is the Word, the exact opposite is true. If anything, Westcott's stance is a stronger argument for the fact that Christ is the Word - its a fact so evident that it doesn't need to be expressly stated, John just assumes it to be true knowing the reader will as well. It doesn't need to be expressly stated because John knows that who the "Word" is will be perfectly understood by the reader.

    To put it in Evangelical-speak, this is John giving a personal testimony of his own experience.

    Again, if one looks at the quote in context (and w/o excised words) the attempt to make it appear as if Westcott questions the deity of Christ is shown to be the exact opposite of what Westcott is actually saying. W clearly affirms the identity of Christ as the Word.
     
    #4 dwmoeller1, Sep 11, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2010
  5. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    4. Purported quote: "(Rev. 3:14) might no doubt bear the Arian meaning, the first thing created." (Hort, Revelation, p.36).

    What Hort actually writes:
    "Prov. 8:22, kuvrio" e[ktisev me ajrch;n oJdw'n aujtou' eij" e[rga aujtou', tyv¢iarE ynIn:q;£. The words do not define the precise sense. On ajrchv, G794, as a term cf. Col. 1:18, and for the probable idea Col. 1:16. The words might no doubt bear the Arian meaning “the first thing created”: but they equally well bear the sense which the other Christological language of the book suggests, the being antecedent to all creation, in whom all creation came and comes to pass. Christ’s last testimony and His earliest function seem purposely combined. "

    Another blatant ripping out of context to reverse the import of what is actually written. The quote is given as evidence that H believes Christ was a created being (clear heresy). However, the context shows that this statement is given by Hort to merely show one possible reading (which is perfectly accurate - it is a possible reading). But Hort doesn't stop there. Instead of agreeing with this possible reading (as the misquote would have you believe) Hort goes on to say that an alternate reading is equally good - the reading that has Christ as antecedent to creation (ie. not a created being). It is clear that Hort believes the latter reading is what he agrees with.

    IOW, the misquote tries to have have Hort believing the exact opposite of what he actually believes.
     
  6. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    5. Purported quote: "We have no sure knowledge of future punishment, and the word eternal has a far higher meaning." (Hort, Life and Letters, Vol. I, p.149).

    What Hort actually writes:
    "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. . . ."

    Another example of what excising key words can do to the meaning of a statement. A blatant abuse of quotations. The misquote would have you believe that Hort denies sure knowledge of future punishment. Instead, the actual statement is that Hort denies sure knowledge of the *duration* of future punishment. This alone proves that Hort believes the opposite of what the misquote tried to prove. Clearly Hort believe in future punishment, otherwise why would there be any question about its duration.

    Oh, but maybe Hort doesn't believe in eternal punishment then since he denies sure knowledge of its duration? No, not at all. In fact, he is arguing for eternal being more than simply "long duration" and finds it impossible to believe in extinction. In short, he clearly holds to a future punishment and, while he might refuse to be dogmatic on this, believes it to be eternal in nature. The misquote again is shown to be the exact opposite of what Hort actually believes.
     
  7. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thats it for now. Feel free to add your own quotes with source cited and I will look them up.
     
  8. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    In your first post you mentioned the KJVO's use Westcott and Horts beliefs and etc. as a way to discredit their work.

    Let me tell you that just a week ago I used the fact that King James was certainly not a clean character and the KJVO responded that God can use anybody, even the evil to do His work.

    I do believe what he said, so that should answer your concerns about Westcott and Hort because the same KJVO has used a different argument when it suits the situation; such as Westcott and Hort. :thumbs:
     
    #8 Phillip, Sep 12, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2010
  9. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    2,872
    Likes Received:
    3
    Thank you for your efforts. I just purchased a newer short biography of Westcott yesterday with the purpose of learning more about the man.
     
  10. HankD

    HankD
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2001
    Messages:
    15,137
    Likes Received:
    320
    I don't have a quote except to say that their most vocal opponent - John Burgon never questioned the personal orthodoxy or theology of Westcott or Hort in any of the writings I have come across.

    His complaint was based upon their decision to give a small handful of early dated Alexandrian mss greater weight in revising the AV than those which were more aligned with the Traditional texts.

    He did say that certain of their choices would lead to what he considered a weakening of the deity of Christ but never accused W&H of not being heterodox RE: The Incarnation and Deity of Christ.

    e.g. In About 80 pages of his book The Revison Revised (parts of which can be found online) he questions their theories and methods of translation of 1 Timothy 3:16, appealing to other mss, patristic quotes, ancient versions but does not challenge their personal belief, integrity or make accusation of an agenda concerning the passage.

    Unlike many 20/21st century critics who see Burgon as a champion (although indeed all of these men were scholars).

    HankD
     
  11. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    Your point is well taken about God using the evil to accomplish his work. At the same time, King James was not a translator so the parallel you draw does not really address the concerns the KJVO put forth about the beliefs of the actual translators. IOW, if I were in the shoes of the KJVO I certainly wouldn't be satisfied with such a response to my concerns about W and H.

    Really though, as far as this thread goes, I am not so much concerned about the KJVO argument itself as much as the lies that it is based on. In effect, the quotes are so defamatory that no good thinker (much less Christian) should be spreading them. They were clearly fabricated with malicious intent and BOTH sides in this debate should be equally concerned about the truth of the matter.
     
  12. Rippon

    Rippon
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2005
    Messages:
    17,404
    Likes Received:
    328
    I couldn't agree more.
     
  13. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here are some I found being repeated on the BB:

    6. Purported quote: "The fact is, I do not see how Gods justice can be satisfied without every man's suffering in his own person the full penalty for his sins." Life and letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, (New York, 1896), Vol. 1, p. 120

    What Hort actually wrote:
    "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. I know that it
    can, for if it could not in the case of some at least, the whole
    Bible would be a lie ; but if in the case of some, why not of all'?"

    This quote is given to try and show that Hort denies the atonement. In fact, this is a case of ripping a statement out of context to make it mean something else. In context it becomes clear that Hort strongly *affirms* the atonement. Hort states that he doesn't understand how God's justice can be satisfied w/o every man suffering , BUT he knows that it can be. The first part is a statement of lack of understanding, not a lack of belief. In fact, he states that atonement must be true or else the whole Bible would be a lie!

    How's that for a misquote totally reversing the truth of the matter?

    7. Purported quote: "Certainly nothing can be more unscriptural than the modern limiting of Christs bearing our sins and sufferings to His death; but indeed that is only one aspect of an almost universal heresy." Life and letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, (New York, 1896), Vol. 1, p. 430

    Before I even give the actual writing, I must note that this one doesn't even make sense. It is given as evidence that Hort denies the atonement. However, a cursory reading even without the larger context makes clear that Hort is calling the modern limiting of Christ's atonement as heresy. So, evidently those who repeat these quotes to defame W and H not only don't bother to verify them from the primary source, they don't even read the truncated quotes carefully. Everyone would do well to make their own arguments carefully rather than cutting and pasting other's - helps to avoid foolish mistakes like this.

    What was actually written: "But I
    doubt whether that answers the question as to the nature of
    the satisfaction. 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."

    In this case, the context doesn't add much to what I have already commented on. I guess if a misquote won't do, then just hoping others will fail to read carefully must suffice.
     
  14. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    To be fair, it does appear that W and H rejected the substitutionary view of atonement - sometimes strongly and other times mildly. However, this is in no way heretical as the substitutionary view of atonement is by no means essential for orthodoxy (it doesn't even get formulated till nearly 1200AD). It is an "in house" debate and thus not a sufficient reason for division over a translation.
     
  15. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, yes and no, the King put some pretty tough regulations into effect on the translators. This included the fact they were not really supposed to look at any other manuscripts but those they were told to use; although many did anyway and the King James is really nothing more than an update of the Bishop's and other earlier Bibles, not a true translation. The point I am making is that what a person believes and what God can do with their capabilities are two different things because God is capable of keeping His Message alive and well even though the translators were actually Anglican Catholic or Episcopal in America today.

    My point is, the rumours about W&H can defame the character, but it does not necessarily make their translation work bad. Now, for Byzantine text form preferred; it would make a difference simply because most new translations prefer the ancient manuscripts from Alexandria to the modern (1400-1500) manuscripts the KJV translators used.

    I must say the KJV has been improved greatly in the 1769 version of today and the NKJV which is I believe on revision 2 now and will likely have more revisions to correct errors. But, then again, is the TR a reverse engineered document from the KJV based on its date of publication; I also believe there are two versions of the TR?

    My whole point in using the KJV is simply a comparison between a Bible translated by translators that did not hold our theology on many subjects, so if we are going to go by who the translators are, you would have to pick the Holman if you are Baptist. :thumbs:
     
  16. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    Understood and agreed. At the same time, we are warned to be wary of the things that come from evil and/or heretical men. So...

    ...if the quotes actually were accurate and it could be shown that W or H had seriously heretical beliefs, one should be (esp. those who don't know Greek/Hebrew and can't judge the accuracy for themselves), at the very least, very wary and cautious about their translation. So, I see and agree with your point, but the KJVO side also has a valid point...even if they take it too far, too inconsistently and don't bother to search out the truth of the matter when they spread these defamatory quotes.
     
  17. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have to agree with you. The problem is not so much the KJVO hardline belief (though that is another story, as you say and is a problem), it is the whether or not we wish to stick with the Critical Text or the Byzantine Text form. . . . and based on the statement you made regarding evil men, this is also true.

    What is difficult to understand is why do modern translators have so much problem determining which they think are the most accurate. Of course, then again, the smartest scientists are sometimes athiests. Though, there are exceptions.

    You make some good points.
     
  18. ReformedBaptist

    ReformedBaptist
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,894
    Likes Received:
    27
    The only thing that would help, unless I missed it, was the source your using.
     
  19. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    Link is in post #1 - "electronic copies" is hyper-linked to the sources.
     
  20. ReformedBaptist

    ReformedBaptist
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,894
    Likes Received:
    27
    Where someone gets the idea that the substitionary atonement of Christ isn't essential doctrine I will never know.
     

Share This Page

Loading...