Fenton John Anthony Hort

English New Testament scholar


April 23, 1828
November 30, 1892
Related topics
Apostolic Fathers, Church of England, Bible, Criticism, interpretation, etc., Commentaries,


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Fenton John Anthony Hort was born in Dublin, Ireland. He was educated at Rugby, and then Trinity College, Cambridge, becoming a fellow in 1852. He became Huslean Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. He taught most of his life there and became closely associated with two other famous Cambridge scholars, J. B.Lightfoot and B. E Westcott. There is little doubt that Hort was the greatest genius in the Cambridge school.

Hort is most known for his work in New Testament textual criticism and for purporting the theory that Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus (along with a few other early manuscripts) represented a text that most closely replicated the original writing. Hort called this text the Neutral Text (According to his studies, the Neutral Text described certain manuscripts that had the least amount of textual corruption ) This is the text that Hort, together with his friend B. F. Westcott, relied upon for compiling their edition called The New Testament in the Original Greek-a work they took twenty- eight years to complete.

Hort, with his friends B. F. Westcott and J. B. Lightfoot, had planned to collaborate in writing a commentary on all the books of the New Testament, but they did not realize their collective goal. Lightfoot completed commentaries on some Pauline Epistles; Westcott completed his work on Hebrews, John, and the Epistles of John; but Hort did not complete any books before he died because he was occupied with producing the English Revised Version and was known to be a perfectionist. However, after his death, it was discovered that he had written on James and 1 Peter. A dozen of Hort's works were published posthumously; some of these works incude Judaistic Christianity (1894,) The Christian Ecclesia (1897), and his Hulsean Lectures of 1871, which dealt with philosophical theology.

Hort's most influential work was his Introduction to The New Testament in the Original Greek (1882), wherein Hort detailed the critical principles that he and Westcott followed in making their edition of the Greek New Testament. Another monograph, Two Dissertations (1876), defends the reading "only God" in John 1:18, a reading that appears in the earliest Greek manuscripts.

Hort was more than a brilliant scholar- he was also an involved churchman. He was particularly interested in social issues and supported the work of E D. Maurice and Charles Kingsley, both leaders in the British social gospel movement. Nevertheless, Kingsley's own theological position was conservative.

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