Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Question for Cambridge Scholars

It is well known that Westcott and Hort supplied pre-publication fascicles of their in-progress Greek New Testament to the members of the English Revision Committee during the period 1870-1881, specifically as follows (from Hort, Introduction, p. 18):
The Gospels, with a temporary preface of 28 pages, were thus issued in July 1871, the Acts in February 1873, the Catholic Epistles in December 1873, the Pauline Epistles in February 1875, and the Apocalypse in December 1876.
These preliminary fascicles obviously were subject to comment and criticism from the Revision Committee, with the accepted and reasoned results of such being implemented into the final 1881 W-H edition. Hort notes (p. 18 once more) that “many corrections dealing with punctuation or otherwise of a minute kind, together with occasional modifications of reading, have been introduced into the stereotype plates within the last few months” prior to actual publication.

The question I have (knowing that certain of W-H’s letters and papers are stored within the Cambridge University Library) is whether any of these preliminary fascicles also are part of the Cambridge collection. If so, it would seem a fascinating study for someone first to reproduce in full the text of their “temporary preface”, and then to compile a collation of differences between the Greek text of the preliminary fascicles and that which actually was published.

(An added bonus would be the record of any handwritten notes that may have been placed on those fascicles by either Westcott or Hort).

Sounds like a good project for someone at Tyndale House to undertake.


  1. I respectfully disagree.
    What advantage would this give?
    I would say that there are more important jobs to do atm.
    Major MSS are waiting for analysis.
    When all these are done, perhaps then one can delve into the finer details like the history of TC. But since the laborers are so few I would say, do the necessary things first.

    Having said this I admit that I would certainly buy a book that describes the prehistory of the WH edition.

  2. Jan Krans presumably would differ, as shown by his careful investigative work on Easmus and Beza in relation to their Greek NT editions (Jan Krans, Beyond what is Written: Erasmus and Beza as Conjectural Critics of the New Testament. [Brill, 2006]).

    I also suspect that the further analysis of major MSS will be unlikely to alter anyone's textual theory or preferences, even while perhaps providing some new and useful information regarding textual and scribal minutiae.

    Nevetheless, both issues present valid areas for further historical investigation, and for those interested in the prehistory of a given edition, such research in itself would be of value.

  3. Well, ok, each to his own.

    But I think much basic work has to be done.
    Just think about the errors still in Metzger's "fourth". E.g. "The text of Jo 1-5:11 [of W] ... is mixed". No! W-sup is a first rate Alexandrian!

    Or the block mixing in codex L: How can a Mr. Racine take codex L as an Alexandrian witness for comparison with codex W in Mt, when L is clearly block mixed? L is Byz in ch. 1-17!

    No study on L since Tischendorf.
    Noting on 892.
    Etc., etc. ...
    Basically one needs a "Royse, Scribal habits" on all of these codices!
    Only then authoritative statements can be made.

  4. Wieland, to which study are you referring to when saying that W-sup is Alexandrian? Who has shown that Metzger is wrong here?

  5. This is the result of my own studies.
    W-sup is in a group with C and L. I wouldn't call these "mixed" in John.
    I would perhaps call A mixed, or Psi in John.
    Have a look here:
    Principal Component Analysis

  6. thx Wieland, that was interesting. I will, however, call it a C-type text with B-text and D-text variants. It's not a B-text, nor a D-text witness (and definitely not an A-text witness :)).

  7. I think Westcott material is mostly up at Durham. There is not much Hort material in Cambridge - his correspondence was 'sorted' and recopied out in a hand-written manuscript-book.

  8. PMH: I think Westcott material is mostly up at Durham. There is not much Hort material in Cambridge.

    Perhaps N.T.Wright should be persuaded to investigate his predecessor's material for the benefit of all....

    However, should it not be the case that at least one copy of the pre-publication fascicles of the developing W-H Greek text would be preserved within the Cambridge library? Has anyone ever checked?

  9. Stay tuned, MAR... You might get your wish.

  10. Foreward by Elden Jay Epp

    As early as 1870-1871, Westcott and Hort, both Anglican clergymen, shared their text of the Gospels and Epistles with the revision committee and (along with F. H. A. Scrivener) were accepted as the authorities on textual matters.

    Epp's dates are earlier than the Hort dates.

    Were there individual sheets handed out before the "successive instalments of the Greek text" referenced by Hort?

    This may be in Scrivener or Burgon, and some of the previous discussion on this might be in the Yahoogroups discussions. The actual early distribution may have been kept quiet.


    1. Alexander Thomson5/09/2021 6:07 pm

      Some years ago, when I was reading what some of the Revisers and their contemporaries had written, I came to the conclusion that the questions of the relationship between W+H and the Revisers and of their respective texts, could not be satisfactorily answered.Subsequently, in the critical editions (starting with those of Scrivener, Palmer, Souter, etc.), the presumed Greek text of the Revisers being used as the base text, even W+H's differences were simply treated as those of another critical edition. Later, I obtained Alan h Cadwallader's book, "The Politics of the Revised Version", for my pile of to-be read books. During lockdown, some of those books have been out on long loan, so I cannot say for sure, but I think that, from my quick skim of the book, he thought that W+H had had more involvement and influence than usually attributed to them. Perhaps someone in this group can give more details on Cadwallader's thoughts, please?

    2. Alexander, I haven’t had a chance to read all of Cadwallader’s book yet, but he did share a prepub of a key chapter with me. According to him, Westcott-Hort text had sixty-six unique readings in Matthew and none were adopted by the RV. I discuss some of this in my chapter on WH’s edition available here.

    3. Alexander Thomson5/10/2021 9:11 pm

      Peter, Thanks for that information, which seems to tend to confirm that the Revisers were not unduly influenced by the W+H work seen by them. (Interesting that it should me Matthew's Gospel that is in view - just as it was when Miller published his and Burgon's collation of the first ten chapters of that Gospel - showing a preferred text nearer the Majority/Byzantine than the Received. I believe that Burgon and Miller left other material = it would be interesting to see more of the shape of their Greek new Testament. I have asked for the return of Cadwallader : meanwhile. I shall read and study your linked article, for which many thanks.

    4. Hi Peter,

      What you write above could be easily misunderstood.

      Cadwallader was talking about variants from the TR, supported by Hort, that were NOT in Lachmann, Tischendorf or Tregelles!

      His source is:
      ‘Notes by F. J. A. Hort on the Text of the English Bible’ (CUL Ms Add 6950, ff. 99-102).

      And it might be interesting to find and study these 66 as an additional example of Hortian absurdities. And to see whether they made it to the 1881 GNT of W-H.

      Readers could easily think there were only 66 differences from the Received Text in Matthew, and there the real number is c.470, that were changes from the TR-AV text. Cadwallader p. 107-108

      Cadwallader is not as helpful as you might expect in unraveling the question of the editions distributed. He seems to be a bit blinded by the Stephanus 1550 edition. And I have placed some of his still helpful and relevant material on:

      notes on the Revision of 1881 - Alan Cadwallader

      Steven Avery
      Dutchess County, NY USA