Brooke Foss Westcott


January 12, 1825
July 27, 1901
Related topics
Church of England, Commentaries, Westcott, Brooke Foss,--1825-1901, Bible, History,


Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901), Bishop of Durham and New Testament scholar

Raised in Birmingham, Westcott later attended Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow in 1849. From his college days on he remained a close friend of J. B. Lightfoot and Fenton Hort, with whom he labored in producing some of the best Christian scholarship of the nineteenth century.

Beginning in 1853 Westcott and Hort worked together for twenty-eight years to produce a volume entitled The New Testament in the Original Greek (1881). Along with this publication, they made known their theory (which was chiefly Hort's) that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (along with a few other early manuscripts) represented a text that most closely replicated the original writing. They called this text the Neutral Text. (According to their studies, the Neutral Text described certain manuscripts that had the least amount of textual corruption.) This is the text that Westcott and Hort relied upon for compiling their edition of the Greek New Testament.

In 1870 Westcott was appointed regius professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and in 1890 he succeeded Lightfoot as bishop of Durham. He built upon the good foundation laid by Lightfoot, who had done much to reorganize the diocese. Westcott had a deep concern for the social and industrial problems of his diocese and on several occasions helped the coal miners.

Westcott, with Hort and Lightfoot, had planned to collaborate in writing a commentary on all the books of the New Testament, but the three did not realize their collective goal. (Lightfoot completed commentaries on some Pauline Epistles, and Hort made little progress.) Westcott, however, completed his portion on Hebrews, John, and the Epistles of John. These became classic commentaries still consulted and quoted by modern scholars.

Among other noted works, Westcott wrote History of the New Testament Canon and A History of the English Bible. He also served on the committee that produced the English Revised Version.

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