Bible Search 
With Hebrew/Greek Word Links

Westcott and Hort

Brook Foss Westcott (1825–1901)

In 1844 Westcott entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was invited to join the secret society called Cambridge Apostles. (Becoming an Apostle involves taking an oath of secrecy and listening to the
reading of a curse, originally written by Apostle Fenton John Anthony Hort, around 1851. (4) )

After obtaining his degree, Westcott remained in residence at Trinity. In 1849 he obtained his fellowship; and in the same year he was ordained deacon and priest. Lifelong friends were Lightfoot, E.W. Benson and F.J.A. Hort. The inspiring influence of Westcott's intense enthusiasm left its mark upon these three men; they regarded him not only as their friend and counsellor, but as in an especial degree their teacher and oracle. He devoted much attention to philosophical, patristic and historical studies, but his main interest was in New Testament work. (

Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828–1892)

In 1850 Hort took his degree at Trinity College, Cambridge, being third in the classical tripos. In 1851 he also took the recently established triposes in moral science and natural science, and in 1852 he became fellow of his college. In 1854, in conjunction with J. E. B. Mayor and Lightfoot, he established the Journal of Classical and Sacred Philology, and plunged into theological and patristic study. He had been brought up in the strictest principles of the Evangelical school, but at Rugby he fell under the influence of Thomas Arnold and Archibald Campbell Tait, and his acquaintance with [Cambridge Apostles Founder] 
John Frederick Denison Maurice and Charles Kingsley finally gave his opinions a direction towards Liberalism [and Unitarianism]. (6

It is quite appropriate to examine the character, beliefs and practices of Westcott and Hort as opposed to strictly looking at their linguistic abilities. This is not an ad hominem attack on them. All the logic and ability in the world cannot overcome a faulty premise, since premise alone can render the most sound arguments and logical construction of textual theories false. And of course, premises are related to, or are revealed by a person's character and practices. 

Occult Involvement

Westcott and Hort founded several occult societies, two of which were The Hermes Club and The Ghostly Guild. These were not merely school-boy projects. They were created at one of the highest learning institutions in the world's largest imperial world-power at that time - Great Britian. Members of these clubs and the occult associations that they went on to found, such as The Society for Psychical Research started the modern New Age movement, became and were prominent members of British Royalty and politics, as well as occupied the highest positions in the Anglican Church including that which is equilavent to that of the Pope in the RCC, the Archbishop of Canterbury. To say that Westcott and Hort were well connected is an understatement.

Doing searches on some of the names, organizations and movements listed in the essay below are real eye-openers if you really want to know what was going on with the occult movement in the latter half of the 1800's and the connection that Wescott and Hort had to it.

The book, New Age Bible Versions has this to say about Wescott and Hort:

B.F. Westcott is identified as "a mystic" by the standard reference work of his day: The Encyclopedia Britannica (1911). Princeton University Press' book, The Christian Socialist Revival (1968, Peter d'A Jones) says B.F. Westcott was "a mystic" (p. 179). The highly respected Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics identifies both B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort as Alexandrian mystics (see 'Alexandrian Theology' et al.). The Occult Illustrated Dictionary makes reference to B.F. Westcott, Hort, and Lightfoot and their 'ghostly' games.

In a letter to his wife, 23 Oct 1864, Hort wrote (then age 36) :

"We had a pleasant evening, six of Westcott's Sixth Form boys dining with us .... Then we worked till near dinner, when we had a very nice little party, the two De Morgans, H. M. Butler, Farrar, Brady and his mother, and H. W. Watson. Mrs. Brady ... came in the evening. We tried to turn tables, but the creatures wouldn't stir. Both the De Morgans were radiant and pleasant."   

The phrase "we tried to turn tables" is a direct reference to an occult seance and "the creatures" that "wouldn't stir" is a clear reference to the spirits that Hort and his guests were invoking to establish communication with. Westcott and Hort were accomplished practicers of the occult. 

The sometimes promoted idea that these occult activities were only a part of Hort's younger days, is refuted by numerous quotes in New Age Bible Versions. Says that source ,"He speaks, as late as 1880 (age 55), about "fellowship with the spiritual world" and "the dominion which the dead have over us" (p. 439).

These statements are immediately prior to and even during the work of the King James Version revision committee commissioned in 1870 by the Anglican church that culminated in the release of the revised master greek text of 1881. However, we know that Wescott and Hort were secretly working on their revised greek text since at least as early as 1853 - 1857:
"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

Clearly, Wescott and Hort were Occult practictioners during the time that they were revising the Greek Text of the New Testament. Their Master Greek text of 1881 has become the "textus receptus" of the modern translations today with most people completely unaware of the historical occult connection.


Quotes Regarding Belief and Doctrine

1846 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: "After leaving the monastery we shaped our course to a little oratory...It is very small, with one kneeling-place; and behind a screen was a 'Pieta' the size of life (i.e. statue 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: "One of the things, I think, which shows the falsity of the Evangelical notion of this subject (baptism), is that it is so trim and deep spiritual truths of the Reason are thus logically harmonious and systematic...the pure Romish view seems to me nearer, and more likely to lead to, the truth than the Evangelical...the fanaticism of the bibliolaters, [Hort mocks those who believe the bible] ...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" (Life, Vol.I, pp.76-78).

1858 Oct. 21st - Hort: 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" (Life, Vol.I, p.400).

1860 Apr. 3rd - Hort: "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." (Life, Vol.I, p.416).

1865 Sept. 27th - Westcott: "I have been trying to recall my impressions of La Salette (a shrine of Mary). I wish I could see to what forgotten truth Mariolatry bears witness

1865 Nov. 17th - Westcott: "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).

1865 Oct. 17th - Hort: "I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-worship and 'Jesus'-worship have very much in common in their causes and their results." (Life, Vol.II, p.50).

In a private letter dated 1851, Mr. Hort betrayed his hatred toward the revered Textus Receptus when he wrote:

" I had no idea until 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 manuscripts."

Thus at only twenty-three years of age and having admitted to reading little of the Greek Testament, Hort concluded that the Textus Receptus was "vile" and "villainous." The more a person researches Mr. Hort, the more that an image emerges of him as a misfit with an axe to grind. Never mind that this master greek text had withstood the test of time and the scrutiny of a vast array of biblical language scholars far superior to him for the previous two and a half centuries; never mind that it was in near perfect agreement with over 99% of all known Greek manuscripts. This 23 yr. old professional victum knew that it was vile and spent the rest of his life trying to prove it. Driven by this hatred, he died an early death from "mental exhaustion".  "There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked." - Is. 48:22  

"heaven is a state and not a place" 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. Westcott, Arthur. Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, (New York, 1903). Vol. 2, p.49, 253  

Philo of Alexandria would have been proud of Westcott and Hort's allegorizing, spiritualizing, and pontificating. For the rest of us, who just want to read God's Word instead of intellectual balderdash.; I say thank the Lord for the internet so that these two elitest cancers can finally be radiated with light. 

Timeline for the Replacement of the Received Text with the Egyptian Text

1851 : Hort declares the Received Text to be Vile and Villainous at age 23 though he read very little of it.

1853 : Jan.-Mar. - Westcott and Hort agree upon a plan of a revision of the text of the Greek Testament.

- Apr. 19th - Hort: "He (Westcott) and I are going to edit a Greek text of the New Testament some two or three years hence, if possible." (Life, Vol.I, p.250).

- June - Commercial publisher, 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). When complete the sell 2 million copies in just a few days.

- 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" (Life, Vol.I, p.264).

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 fails.

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).

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).

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).

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 resolves that it is desirable to make slight revisions of the Authorized Version. 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.

-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).

-Aug. ? - Hort to 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.II, p.140). (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).

Year? - Hort wrote to Williams: “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 on by influences which will assuredly bear good fruit in due time, (Occult Assistance?) if the process is allowed to go on quietly; and I cannot help fearing that a premature crisis would frighten back many into the merest traditionalism” (Hort, Life of Hort, I:400).

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).

The only voice defending the Textus Receptus was Dr Scrivener, probably the foremost scholar of the day in the manuscripts of the Greek New Testament and the history of the Text. But he was systematically outvoted by the Cambridge trio and out-done by Hort’s powerful debating skill. When the revision was completed, they had altered the Greek Text in 5337 places, thus violating the original rule that had been set for the committee of not altering the Greek Text unless absolutely necessary to do so.

I conclude with this summary by Barbara Aho: 

The New Testament Scheme 

The progenitor of the Society for Psychical Research and the Fabian Society was the Cambridge University Ghost Society, founded in 1851. In 1853, two years after founding said Ghost Society, F.J.A. Hort and B. F. Westcott agreed, upon the suggestion of publisher Daniel Macmillan, to take part in "an interesting and comprehensive 'New Testament Scheme,'" that is, to undertake a joint revision of the Greek New Testament. (72) The project was withheld from public knowledge during the twenty years required by Westcott and Hort to complete the New Greek Text and during the subsequent ten years during which an English Revision Committee revised the 1611 Authorized Version. However, during this period of nearly thirty years, Drs. Westcott and Hort maintained their involvement in the Spiritualist pursuits of their various secret societies and political cabals: the Hermes Club, Ghost Society, Company of Apostles, and Eranus. The following entry appears in April, 1853 in The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort:

"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." (Italics in original) (73)

The elimination of "Byzantine corruptions" would be the substitution of minority (1%) Alexandrian manuscripts for the Textus Receptus, the Received Text which had been recognized for nearly two millennia of church history and which agrees with the majority (99%) of manuscripts extant. (74) Karl Lachmann (1793-1851) was professor of Classical and German Philology in Berlin, and also a German rationalist and textual critic who produced modern editions of the New Testament in Germany in 1842 and 1850. David Cloud expounds:

"(Lachmann) began to apply to the New Testament Greek text the same rules that he had used in editing texts of the Greek classics, which had been radically altered over the years… Lachmann had set up a series of several presuppositions and rules which he used for arriving at the original text of the Greek classics… He now began with these same presuppositions and rules to correct the New Testament which he also presupposed was hopelessly corrupted." (75)

Lachmann furnished the critical authority for Drs. Westcott and Hort in their formulation of a method of Textual Criticism, known as the Westcott and Hort Textual Theory. They hypothesized that that the original New Testament text had survived in near perfect condition in two manuscripts other than the Received Greek Text, which theory according to translators of the New King James Bible, "has since been discredited for lack of historical evidence." (76) In The Revision Revised, the brilliant textual scholar Dean John William Burgon refuted the claims of the Westcott-Hort Theory as:

"…the latest outcome of that violent recoil from the Traditional Greek Text, -- that strange impatience of its authority, or rather denial that it possesses any authority at all, -- which began with Lachmann just 50 years ago (viz. In 1831), and has prevailed ever since; its most conspicuous promoters being Tregelles (1857-72) and Tischendorf (1865-72) . . . Drs. Westcott and Hort have in fact outstripped their predecessors in this singular race. Their absolute contempt for the Traditional Text, -- their superstitious veneration for a few ancient documents; (which documents however they freely confess are not more ancient than the 'Traditional Text' which they despise;) -- knows no bounds." (77)

Dr. Hort had, in fact, repudiated the authority of Scripture, writing to a Rev. Rowland Williams in 1858, "There are, I fear still more serious differences between us on the subject of authority and especially the authority of the Bible." (78) To B.F. Westcott he wrote in 1860, "But I am not able to go as far as you in asserting the infallibility of a canonical writing." (79) In response to this admission of a heretical position, Westcott wrote:

"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." (80)

Constantin Tischendorf (1815-74) was a German textual editor whom Dr. Frederick Scrivener of the English Revision Committee ranked "the first Bible critic in Europe." Tischendorf traveled extensively in search of ancient documents and was responsible for finding the two manuscripts most relied upon in the Westcott-Hort Greek Text, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. Tischendorf discovered (c. A.D. 1844) the Vaticanus B manuscript in the Vatican Library and Sinaiticus Aleph in a waste basket in a Catholic Convent at the base of Mt. Sinai. (81) In The Revision Revised, Dean Burgon described for his English readers the corrupt character of the manuscripts primarily used by Westcott and Hort, not to revise the Textus Receptus, but to create an altogether new Greek Text.

"It matters nothing that all four are discovered on careful scrutiny to differ essentially, not only from ninety-nine out of a hundred of the whole body of extant MSS, besides, but even from one another. This last circumstance, obviously fatal to their corporate pretensions, is unaccountably overlooked. And yet it admits of only one satisfactory explanation: viz. That in different degrees they all five exhibit a fabricated text. . .We venture to assure [the reader] without a particle of hesitation, that Aleph, B, D, are three of the most scandalously corrupt copies extant: -- exhibit the most shamefully mutilated texts which are anywhere to be met with: -- have become, by whatever process (for their history is wholly unknown), the depositories of the largest amount of fabricated readings, ancient blunders, and intentional perversions of Truth, -- which are discoverable in any known copies of the Word of God." (82)

The manuscripts in question were found to derive from an underground of occult scripture within Christendom that has been passed through successive generations since the apostolic era. As the occult Traditions have sought to infiltrate and transform the secular establishment, the Church has historically been attended by an Alexandrian Tradition, which seeks to smuggle Gnostic doctrines into the Sacred Canon via the "revision" or "correction" of Scripture. Bible scholar, Dr. Herman Hoskier parallels the folly of Israel returning to Egypt to the Anglican scribes searching for inspired writings in the ancient house of bondage:

"Nearly all revision appears to center in Egypt, and to suppose all the other documents wrong when opposed to these Egyptian documents is unsound and unscientific . . . those who accept the Westcott and Hort text are basing their accusations of untruth as to the Gospellists upon an Egyptian revision current 200 to 450 A.D. and abandoned between 500 to 1881, merely revived in our day and stamped as genuine." (83)

73. Ibid., p. 250.

74. D.A. Waite, Th.D., Ph.D., Defending the King James Bible, The Bible For Today Press, 1992, pp. 54, 57.

75. David Cloud, Way of Life Encyclopedia, 1219 North Harns Road, Oak Harbor, WA 98277.

76. New King James Version, Preface, "The New Testament Text," Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.

77. John William Burgon, B. D., The Revision Revised, Dean Burgon Society Press, 1883, pp. 241-42, 270.

78. Arthur Hort, Vol. I., p. 400.

79. Ibid., p. 422.

80. Arthur Westcott, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 207.

81. John William Burgon, p. 319.

82. Ibid., pp. 11, 12, 16.

83. David Otis Fuller, pp. 141-43.