Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Interesting Material from the Archives at Westcott House

Westcott House in the summer
This morning I spent some time going through a cabinet of material from B. F. Westcott kept at Westcott House in Cambridge (see here for details). Westcott founded the school in 1881 as Cambridge Clergy Training School and it took its current name only after his death.

The archives has a number of interesting things belonging to Westcott. There are about ten books that either he owned or that he gave to others. These include Hort’s copy of Tischendorf’s Greek Old Testament, H. B. Swete’s copy of Westcott and Hort’s Greek New Testament, and a copy of the Revised Version (NT) that Hort gave to Westcott.

The manuscript of Westcott’s
book on the history of the canon.
Speaking of Hort, there is this nice note to Westcott when the latter left Cambridge to become the Bishop of Durham: “… It does not often happen that two friends work together almost literally day by day for forty years; and now, in one sense, our end comes, and some words of farewell which are indeed God speed may well be spoken, & yet it is not the words themselves so much as the blessing of the presence.”

The archives also contain a number of Westcott’s original manuscripts from his published books including his History of the English Bible, History of the Canon of the New Testament, and his commentary on John.

But the most interesting item in the collection, as far as I’m concerned, is Westcott’s own copy of Eberhard Nestle’s first edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece (1898). This, of course, is the precursor to the Nestle-Aland edition we are all familiar with today. Westcott and Hort’s edition was one of the three that Nestle originally used to determine his own text. What makes the copy at Westcott House special is that it is the copy Nestle himself sent to Westcott as a thank you. Inside the front cover there is a short letter from Nestle.

Ulm, Germany
end of March
Dear Sir

It is my pleasant duty, after I have finished the edition of the Greek Testament, which I have undertaken for the Bible Society of Wurttemberg, to renew to you the expression of our sincerest thanks, for the permission so graciously granted to us, to make use for it of the Greek Testament revised by yourself and Professor Hort. As you will see from the copy, which will be forwarded to you by same post, your text is the one constituent factor of the new edition, and I testify once more with the greatest pleasure, I never handled a book made up with so much care and thoughtfulness in the smallest details as your edition. The forthcoming number of the Expository Times (and that of May) will bring the small list of Errata or Inconsistencies, which I have detected, while I was collating your edition with Weymouth and Tischendorf. I shall recommend it to your kind attention and remain in lasting thankfulness.
most faithfully
Eb. Nestle

Here’s a photo. (Sorry about the quality.)

Now, I can’t talk about Westcott House without mentioning my favorite feature: their tortoise named Hort. He literally gets put in a fridge for the winter to hibernate so I didn’t see him today. But during the warmer months, he can be seen trawling the courtyard for food. I’m told he used to have a friend named Lightfoot, but he lived up to his name and ran off!

“Hort” at Westcott House

1 comment

  1. Wow, I would love to make a visit like that! Thanks for posting. The detail about about tortoise is fantastic.