July 1, 1998 Issue
by Brett Hickey

The Lord's church is well aware of the apostles unique role in relaying God's word to mankind. This faith-giving fact is based largely on John 16:13 where the Scriptures record that the Holy Spirit would "guide the apostles into all truth." Even the babe in Christ knows as well that there have been no apostles for about 1900 years.

With this fresh on your mind, imagine if you will, twelve of our most talented and educated preachers starting an elite club and calling themselves "Apostles." In light of I Cor. 4:6, that would make many Christians very uncomfortable.

Beyond that, picture an even more elite group within this Apostles club calling themselves "the three." Men daring to profane that sacred office would repulse and alarm most Christians - and, well it should!

You will probably be surprised to learn that this is exactly what happened in the Anglican Church from 1850-1881. "The three" are B.F. Westcott, F.J.A. Hort and J.B. Lightfoot. It is an unfortunate coincidence that these same "Apostles" ushered in the revolutionary Greek text responsible for so much chaos and controversy. Many are hesitant to concede that these "apostles" revived the "true revelation" that had disappeared for 1500 years.

Do members of the Lord's church have a right to know who laid the foundation for most of the modern versions? I think we do! In light of I John 4:1, before brethren follow the prophets who recommend retiring the King James Version, they deserve to know a little about these 19th century apostles.

Fenton John Anthony Hort

The ringleader of this group, the mastermind behind the Westcott-Hort Greek text of 1881, is F.J.A. Hort. His son Arthur, not an enemy with an axe to grind, published two volumes of his Life and Letters. These books are real eye-openers! Hort was a liberal Anglican. That's not a slur, but how Hort repeatedly describes himself. Well then, what is a liberal Anglican? Listen to Horts personal description. He wrote, Mary worship and Jesus worship have very much in common in their causes and results. i  I am inclined to think that no such state as 'Eden ever existed. ii  I am inclined to think (Darwins book) unanswerable...it is a treat to read such a book. iii  But the book which has most engaged me is Darwin... it is a book that one is proud to be contemporary with.  iv

Looking For Ghosts?

Westcott and Hort were charter members of the Ghostly Guild. These highly respected scholars spent time looking for ghosts! Not only are ghost hunting, spiritualism and channeling foolish and immature, but they are condemned by scripture.  v

If the reader is not already alarmed, surely he would be concerned that F.J.A. Hort and his fellows believed not in the infallibility of scripture. vi  Can we blindly trust the spiritual discernment of such men? Must we accept the unproven theories of men admittedly enamored with Charles Darwin?

Wisdom Of Man Or Power Of God

The Westcott-Hort Greek text contradicts the Received Text (KJV) in the form of 10,000 additions, omissions and changes. After considering both sides of complicated textual issues, the answer to our present difficulty may be expressed by the apostle Paul in I Cor. 2:4-5: And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of mans wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Will we trust the "wisdom of men" or the "power of God"? Westcott and Hort deny that God has preserved his word down through the ages. They deny that the power of God is manifested in the preservation of His word in over 5000 Greek manuscripts. Instead the Christian is to place his confidence in the cunningly devised theories of scholars.

If the true gospel can be traced back to the completion of the New Testament canon -- if the true gospel has been preserved for us today in over 5000 manuscripts over the centuries from various parts of the civilized world -- if the quotations of the so-called early 'church fathers' (200-600A.D.) substantiate essentially this same Greek text -- has God not clearly demonstrated his great power in un mistakable terms?

Let me illustrate how mans wisdom attempts to overshadow what appears to be the awesome power and providence of God. In a criminal trial the testimony of 500 witnesses harmonized beautifully. Two others give conflicting testimony. They contradict not only the 500, but each other. One lawyer says that this proves the 500 were in collusion and that one or both of the other witnesses hold the truth. Hort enlists this kind of reasoning to defend his controversial New Greek text. Hort claims that it is impossible for so many MSS to agree so completely and yet be independent (significant authorities disagree). vii  Consequently, Hort rejects the reading reflected in the KJV for one found in a scant minority of MSS. Hence, the modern versions. Hence, doubt cast on such critical passages as Mk. 16:16 and Acts 8:37.

Was F. J. A. Hort just a rebellious young man who never grew up? Barely exposed to Greek texts at age 23, this famous Anglican called the Greek text reflected in our King James Version, "vile" and "villainous." viii It was the height of arrogance and presumption for a novice to make such bold denunciations. Nevertheless, his unrelenting attacks on what many still consider the word of God as a matter of history.

Hort's mother was a staunch conservative. Arthur Hort relays, The Oxford Movement filled her with dread and anxiety as to its possible effects on her son. She was unable to enter into his theological views, which to her school and generation seemed a desertion of the ancient ways...

Notice, these were not the words of a radical KJV defender, but Horts own letters combined with the accounts of the scholars son and mother. Hort spent the rest of his life defending his early prejudice against the Traditional Text.

Did Hort Have Something To Hide?

Consider this excerpt from a letter he wrote to Bishop Westcott in 1861:

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.  x

This is F.J.A. Hort --the man Neil R. Lightfoot extolls for giving the "deathblow" to the KJV. An unlikely hero, for sure! This is the same man that devised a set of theories that overturned the testimony of the overwhelming majority of surviving manuscripts (80-90%).

i Life and Letters of F.J.A. Hc p. 50.

ii Ibid.,p.78.

iii Ibid., p. 414.

iv Ibid., p. 416.

Lev. 20:6,27; Deut.l8:9-12; Is. 8:19

vi Hort, p. 400, 421 -425.

vii Metzgff, The Tet of the New Testment, pp. 159- 175

viii Hort,. p. 211.

"Ibid., p. 7.

Ibid., p. 445.

vi Hort, p. 400, 421 -425.

vii Metzgff, The Tet of the New Testment, pp. 159- 175

viii Hort,. p. 211.

ix "Ibid., p. 7.

x Ibid., p. 445.

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