Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Stanley Porter Assesses Westcott and Hort

Here's Stanley Porter's remarks about Westcott-Hort (See Porter's How We Got the New Testament):

Almost since the advent of modern textual criticism and efforts to establish the Greek text of the New Testament—that is, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present—there has been recognition of the possibility of changes to manuscripts that would indicate the theological and other contexts in which these texts were being copied. Thus, although Westcott and Hort, who published the first eclectic text based on early majuscule (capital letter) manuscripts from the fourth century, especially Codex Sinaiticus (01 ℵ),²⁶ asserted that “there are no signs of deliberate falsification of the text for dogmatic purposes,”²⁷ a claim that they subsequently attempted to defend,²⁸ this claim was scrutinized by a succession of textual scholars. This scrutiny came from at least two quarters. Westcott and Hort’s opponents who defended the Textus Receptus, a text based on the Greek text published first by Erasmus in the sixteenth century on the basis of several late minuscule (lowercase writing) manuscripts,²⁹ accused the transcribers of the early majuscule manuscripts, for example, of deleting the two longer endings of Mark’s Gospel (e.g., Mark 16:9–20, the longest, but usually referred to as the long ending) and of questioning the authenticity of the pericope of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53–8:11).³⁰ Those who defended the kind of text advocated by Westcott and Hort also registered concern for due recognition of later theological and other textual changes.

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