Thursday, May 05, 2016

Warfield’s Review of Westcott & Hort

Princeton Seminary has put their old journals online. These go back to 1825 with the Biblical Repertory. There are plenty of essays from the bright lights of Old Princeton. Among the articles is Warfield’s 32-page (!) review of Westcott and Hort’s GNT.

The PDF is available at Here’s a great diagram offered as an illustration of WH’s genealogy of the NT text (p. 340):


Yesterday I also came across some of Warfield’s reviews of Burgon, Scrivener, Kenyon, and a few others. These are from a 1932 reprint. You can download them here.


  1. Thanks Peter, that is indeed quite the review in both length and affirmation of W-H. I really appreciated how Warfield explained the necessary process from 1st printed text to a critical text, enlightening for sure.


  2. This chart also appears in Schaff 1883:

    A Companion to the Greek Testament (1883)
    Philip Schaff

    So far I do not see either scholar referencing the other scholar or the actual source of the graph.

    And I looked at this neutral text morass a bit back on 2011

    [textualcriticism] Fenton Hort, western non-interpolations, the pure (true) text and the neutral text
    Steven Avery - March 13, 2011

    And I acknowledge that trying to see how well Warfield is working with the turgid prose of Hort is not my priority du jour. :)

    Steven Avery

  3. Warfield says at the end of his review: "The individuals who will feel called upon to oppose them will pass quietly away and leave no successors.” Not his best prophetic moment.

    1. Wishful thinking perhaps.

    2. Warfield apparently claims more than even W-H themselves:

      "Others assuredly in due time will prosecute the task with better resources of knowledge and skill, and amend the faults and defects of our processes and results. To be faithful to such light as could be enjoyed in our own day was the utmost that we could desire. How far we have fallen short of this standard, we are well aware.” (W-H Introduction, sec. 425).

  4. Wait, how far off do you think he was?

    I guess part of it comes down to how broadly we draw the boundaries around the W-H position.

    If we draw them very narrowly and require absolute adherence to the details of their model and theory, then I suppose then that no one today could be counted as a follower of W-H, and Warfield could not have been more wrong.

    But if we draw the boundaries more broadly, as I suspect most would, and group under the W-H legacy all who reject a dogmatic received text in favour of an eclectic text derived from the critical application of text critical principles,which in final result agrees with the W-H tex more than it disagrees? If w draw it that broadly, then surely we'd conclude that the overwhelming majority of textual critics are the successors of W-H, and that their basic method has carried the day.

    In other words, I think Warfield was basically right.

  5. Warfield: "“It is first proved, from the citations of the fourth century fathers, that the cursive type of text existed fully formed in that century, i.e., in MSS contemporary with B and Aleph. Thus, the mere fact that our only extant fourth century MSS represent the opposite forms of text is not at all conclusive as to the greater age of those forms.”

    Quite a concession there. How often does one hear, nowadays, the admission that the text typically found in minuscules was displayed in non-extant MSS contemporary with Vaticanus and Sinaiticus?

  6. Warfield: "“The Syrian preserves nothing from antiquity not in the pre-Syrian.” And: “The Syrian text abounds in conflate readings.”

    Is there anyone here who believes that either of those two statements is true?

  7. Warfield (page 343, footnote) -- "The fact that a small portion of Aleph is from the same hand that wrote B"

    . . . what was that "fact" again?!

  8. Warfield: “The further scoff so often ventured, that the discovery of a fourth century MS of Syrian type would revolutionize criticism and utterly change the balance of evidence of course is equally meaningless. Such a discovery would have absolutely no effect on either.”

    What that means: if someone found, tomorrow, a codex of the New Testament as old as Sinaiticus, with contents identical or nearly identical to RP-2005, it would have absolutely no impact. (Thus the only way the Byzantine Text can be proven to have existed in the 200's, it seems, is for it to show up in the early papyri, which, due to climate-conditions, are limited in their geographic range to Egypt, and would thus tend to display the local text, rather than the text of other locales such as Asia and Syria.)