Brooke Westcott and Fenton Hort, 19th century theologians and Bible scholars, did groundbreaking work in textual criticism. Their scholarship advanced the science of textual criticism and bolstered the claim that the biblical text has been accurately preserved.
What did Westcott and Hort have to do with the text of the Bible? Who were Westcott and Hort?
Textual criticism works to remove changes, correct errors, and eliminate additions made by previous translators. Translators use many manuscripts and records, often choosing wording or meaning from some manuscripts while dismissing others. When Westcott and Hort did their work, they found very little change had occurred to scriptures over the centuries. The men produced The New Testament in the Original Greek in 1881, advancing the belief that centuries of translation work did extremely little to change the Bible.
However, Westcott and Hort's work was not perfect. Some scholars are critical that they relied too much on the manuscripts Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, and employed the "shorter is earlier" theory too strongly. Because of these criticisms, no modern translation stems from their work.
Additionally, Westcott and Hort's personal beliefs were heretical at times. This gives critics more ammunition to dismiss their work, especially those who adhere to the King James Only movement. Remember though that many respected church fathers, such as Origen, Jerome, and Augustine, also had some rather odd beliefs that do not parallel orthodox Christianity.
The important thing about Westcott and Hort is their work, and the work of others, that shows the multitudes of translations, languages, and versions of the Bible throughout the centuries has preserved nearly every word and thought and phrase accurately. The one-half of one-percent of changes from nearly 2,000 years of work that can be found are non-important, non-doctrinal ideas.
What is textual criticism?
Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus – What are they?
The Critical Text – What is it?
What is the preservation of the Bible? Is the doctrine of preservation biblical?
Does the translation process affect the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible?
Truth about the Bible