B.F. Westcott and the Inspiration of the Bible

by James May[1]


[T]hey [the various sections of the Bible] are yet legibly stamped with the Divine seal as ‘inspired by God’ in a sense in which no other writings are. ~ B.F. Westcott


The Patriarchs communed with God and made covenants with Him. Little by little He was withdrawn and shrouded in more awful majesty. His voice alone was heard through the Prophets. ~ B.F. Westcott


The Bible, no less than the Church, is Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic: Holy, for they who wrote it were moved by the Holy Spirit. . . . ~ B.F. Westcott


[T]he Evangelic records, however fragmentary (not contradictory) as a history, are complete as a revelation. ~ B.F. Westcott[2]



      Despite the title, the essential concern of this paper is not with the nineteenth century Anglican bishop and editor of the Greek New Testament, Brooke Foss Westcott. This may seem an especially odd announcement from one who has spent most of his spare time for the past several months reading almost four thousand pages of Westcott’s writings. No, the concern here is with a cadre of men (and one woman) who have woven an elaborate web of false information in defense of a novel theological heresy generally known as King James Onlyism. This position teaches that the only English Bible that is truly the Word of God is the KJV, that all modern Bibles are to a greater or lesser extent the result of Satan’s attack upon the Scriptures, and that everyone who has contributed to the production or distribution of modern Bibles is at best duped, and at worst a willing instrument of the devil. For the enlightened, Westcott clearly falls into the willing-instrument-of-the-devil category.


      The author has no desire to defend the theology of the former Bishop of Durham, and although many points of his theology are orthodox, he also embraced a number of positions that are clear deviations from the fundamental teachings of the Bible. If the King James Only people had trained their guns solely upon his errors (and one must wonder why they have not), there would be nothing to write. Instead they have produced such a caricature of Westcott as to be laughable were the topic not so serious. The distortion of his views against clear evidence demonstrates a perverse commitment to advance their heresy at any cost. A basic falsity  pervades King James Only writings, such that anything said is suspect, even when supported by supposed documentation. The quoting of sources proves nothing when done by those willing to cut and paste out of all context. For example, John Burgon, former defender of the Byzantine text, may be quoted:


I shall have no difficulty in convincing myself that St. John’s Gospel, from the xivth to the xviith chapters inclusive, is not inspired.[3]


Anyone willing to examine these words in their full context will discover that the Dean has been dealt a grave injustice, but one no worse than the injustice that has been committed against Brooke Foss Westcott by those who proclaim themselves great defenders of truth. To be perfectly candid, I have grown weary of professed Bible-believing brethren who exhibit little concern for careful research, accurate information, and truthful reporting. This represents a distressing conclusion, but one that has forced itself upon me as I have traced many KJV Only quotations back to their original sources, only to be confronted by the painful truth. While the web of false information propagated in defense of the KJV cannot be quickly unwoven by one as limited in time, resources, and ability as myself, perhaps this short paper can at least loosen a few strands and thereby give some indication of the true nature of the “facts” that are claimed in support of KJV Onlyism.


The Accusers


Since the days of 7th Day Adventist cult leader Benjamin Wilkinson, most King James Only literature of any substantial length has taken a slap at Westcott and his compatriot Hort. It is one of a list of standard items first included by Wilkinson, then propagated by Jasper Ray, David Fuller, and finally “a multitude which no man could number.” For the KJO, once false information has been repeated enough times, it becomes “documentation.” It is therefore well documented that Westcott did not believe the Bible to be God’s Word, but expended his energies attacking and discrediting Scripture. Certainly there are many who have fallen into this trap who have little knowledge of history or biblical studies, who simply repeat what they have heard or read, and who are in no position to defend the errors which they unknowingly have embraced. There are men, however, whose training and academic credentials should render them doughty warriors against the “scoundrels” behind modern Bibles. I have chosen three such men, all of whom possess earned doctorates, to represent what one would expect to be the most credible attacks against B.F. Westcott’s view of Scripture. The  three are Donald Waite, Th.D., Ph.D., James Sightler, M.D., and David Sorenson, D.Min. Before considering some of the charges that these men have made, a word concerning terminology is in order.




      The same things can be said using many different words. We cannot judge another’s theology by whether he expresses that theology using the exact terminology that we would use, especially when we have clothed our beliefs in non-biblical terms. We cannot conclude that the biblical writers disdained the Trinity because they never used the word. We cannot charge the Apostle John with disbelieving in justification because he chooses other terms to describe salvation. Waite charges that Westcott “omits any mention of verbal, plenary inspiration, or biblical inerrancy or infallibility.”[4] Actually Westcott used at least three of these five terms to define Scripture, while only one of the terms occurs in the Bible, and a writer may advocate the truths that the words affirm without using particular terminology. So let’s make it perfectly clear that Westcott uses the terms “inspired,” “verbal,” “infallible,” and “inerrant” to describe the character of Scripture no less often than the Bible itself does. The real question then is whether Westcott expresses with either these words or with other words the truths that these terms convey.


Inspired Men, Inspired Words


As president of the Dean Burgon Society, D.A. Waite is perhaps the most prominent and certainly one of the most prolific leaders of the King James Only movement. His organization draws its name from the nineteenth century Anglican priest, biblical scholar, and contender for the faith, Dean John Burgon. Unfortunately, the Dean is not available to protest the misuse of his good name.[5] Burgon wrote a series of books against the Revised English Version of 1881 and its underlying Greek text (usually the text of Westcott and Hort). Burgon’s scholarship, research, and argumentation are infinitely more palatable than that of the leaders of his organizational namesake. It is difficult to find words to characterize the argumentation and accusations that flow so freely from the pen and lips of Dr. Waite, they be so bold, so outrageous, so wrong. Some years ago Waite birthed and sent out into the world a booklet entitled, The Theological Heresies of Westcott and Hort. His attack upon the doctrine of Scripture held by Westcott begins:


Westcott wrongly claimed the “messengers” were “inspired” rather than only their words. Westcott wrote:


(Hebrews 1:2 [sic]) in the prophets . . . In whatever way God made Himself known to them, they were His messengers, INSPIRED by His Spirit, not in their words only but as men; . . . (W-Hebrews, op. cit., p. 6).


This is a HERESY which many have accepted even to our day. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, however, is very clear to refer that which is “God-breathed” or “INSPIRED OF GOD” only to the “ALL SCRIPTURE,” or that which has been written down in words! The MEN  were NOT “INSPIRED” according to the Bible’s clear statement here—only their WORDS were “INSPIRED OF GOD” or “GOD-BREATHED,” (Waite, The Theological Heresies of Westcott and Hort, p. 8).


      Dr. Waite asserts that it is “HERESY” for any to claim that those who wrote God’s Word were inspired.[6] His support for this is II Timothy 3:16, where he most interestingly avoids the translation “given by inspiration of God” as found in the King James Version. The first of his alternative translations reflects the wording in the New American Standard Bible (inspired of God) and the second that of the New International Version (God-breathed). Is it not surprising that he finds the KJV deficient here? The wording of the KJV does not suggest precisely the same meaning as that of the NASB or of the NIV. While the latter two versions focus our attention upon the result of God’s action (inspired or God-breathed Scripture), the KJV draws the process more into view (“given by inspiration”). Why does Waite do this? Because he wants to focus upon the product rather than upon the process in his witch-hunt for Westcott. God produced the Scriptures through men and the process that he used to do so was inspiration. Common theological usage by virtually all Bible-believing Christians denotes the process by which the Holy Spirit moved holy men of God in the writing of Scripture as “inspiration.” In this sense, the men clearly were “inspired,” that is “moved by the Holy Ghost,” (II Peter 1:21), and this is exactly what the wording of II Timothy 3:16 as given in the KJV suggests. Waite avoids this clear implication so as not to ruin his argument.


      In hurling his accusation, Waite fails to address the Scripture passage upon which Westcott makes his comment. Westcott is relating that which Hebrews 1:1 [not 1:2 as given by Waite] clearly states: “God  . . . spoke in time past unto the fathers in the prophets.” Yes, the KJV has “by,” but the skeptic should observe the many, many times where the KJV has translated this Greek preposition as “in.” Other prepositions more commonly relate the idea of “through.” Waite (although he does not single out this issue) cannot dismiss these comments unless he can show the deficiency in Westcott’s interpretation (which is hardly interpretation at all).


With Waite’s assertion before us that it is heresy to call the men who wrote the Bible “inspired,” we ponder the words of John Burgon:


. . . proof that a mighty Christian meaning does actually underlie the unpromising utterance of one of God’s ancient Saints, is,--that an Inspired Writer declares it to exist there, (Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation, p. 213).


And the root of it all is our assumption that an inspired Apostle must perforce argue like any other uninspired man, (Ibid., p. 216).


So according to the twisted logic given above, the man after whom the Dean Burgon Society is named, the society of which Donald Waite is president, is a heretic.


Waite’s greatest blunder, however, totally eviscerates all else that he charges. Westcott clearly states that the WORDS of the prophets were given by inspiration. His exact statement is, “In whatever way God made Himself known to them [the prophets], they were His messengers, inspired by His Spirit, not in their WORDS only but as men; . . . ”[7] Is it not strange that Dr. Waite fails to point out to his readers that this is a clear statement of verbal inspiration? Perhaps no stranger than the inability of his followers to see it for themselves.


Lest any reader suspect that I have chosen to rebut the weakest of Waite’s arguments on this issue, let me give my assurance that the opposite is in fact the case. Under the same heading in his booklet are four other propositions even less worthy of discussion than the above pathetic offering.


Sightler, Westcott, Essays and Reviews


      A frontal assault upon historic, orthodox Christianity and the Bible upon which it stands was launched in March of 1860 by the publication in England of a book of seven essays written by seven English churchmen, six of whom were members of the clergy. Its innocuous title, Essays and Reviews, did not reveal the true heart of authors for whom Christianity was no longer a supernatural religion delivered by prophets and apostles who spoke words of absolute truth. Two of the essays may be noted as most germane to this paper. The third essay, entitled “On the Study of the Evidences of Christianity” by Baden Powell was, in simple language, a denial of biblical miracles. The final essay, authored by Benjamin Jowett and occupying forty percent of the book, ran under the heading “On the Interpretation of Scripture.” Jowett’s message was that the Bible should be interpreted like any other book because—to use Burgon’s apt description—it is like any other book, i.e., it is not inspired. Essays and Reviews generated great controversy and was the object of both praise and rebuttal. One of those who laid plans to refute the book was B.F. Westcott. One would hardly come to such a conclusion reading Sightler’s perversion of the true incident. He makes it sound as if Westcott, along with Hort and Lightfoot, desired that the message of Essays and Reviews should be accepted:


In December 1860 Brooke Foss Westcott, F.J.A. Hort, and J.B. Lightfoot planned to write a book which would mitigate the objections of many English clergymen to Essays and Reviews, which had just appeared, only one year after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species. They thought of the proposed book as a “via media” between Essays and Reviews and “traditionalism.”[8]


      Several points need to be made to answer this charge fully. First, Westcott believed that theological statements often went far beyond Scripture in their definitions of doctrine, and were therefore overly dogmatic:


I have at times fancied that it is presumptuous in us to attempt to define, and to determine what Scripture has not defined; to limit when Scripture has placed no boundary; to exact what the Apostles did not require; to preach explicitly what they applied practically. The whole tenor of Scripture seems to me opposed to all dogmatism, and full of all application; to furnish us with rules of life, and not food for reason; but perhaps I carried this idea too far, for as men will reason, it may be necessary to erect landmarks and prescribe bounds. I only wish men would pay more attention to acting and less to dogmatizing.[9]


He further believed that false positions always suffer a deficiency of logic and can therefore be answered with correct reason. He shared with John Burgon the belief that reason is an ally, not an enemy, in the defense of truth. The words of Westcott and Burgon are remarkably similar on this point:


But while this is so, there can be no opposition between Reason and Faith. If Reason is the energy of the sum of man’s highest powers — of his true self — then Faith is the highest energy of Reason. And it is most significant that the popular antithesis of Reason and Faith finds no place in Scripture. In Scripture the opposite to Faith is Sight, (Westcott, The Gospel of Life, p. xx).


The aid of Reason is not to be excluded; for what is Faith but the highest dictate of the Reason? Faith, (let us ever remember,) being opposed not to Reason, but to Sight! (Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation, p. cxxxix).


      These perspectives of Westcott’s (we are not seeking to evaluate them) explain his reaction to Essays and Reviews. He utterly rejected Powell’s contention that biblical miracles were not genuine and Jowett’s assertion that the Bible is not the Word of God given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but he also disagreed with the dogmatism and methodology by which Essays and Reviews was being assaulted. All of this can be seen in material from Westcott’s biography that has been conveniently passed over by Sightler:


He felt it to be imperative that the position taken up by the essayists should be seriously and reasonable assailed. He was most indignant with the Bishops for merely shrieking at the Essays, and declares that the language of Bishop Prince Lee about the Essays roused his indignation beyond expression. He was most anxious that Lightfoot and Hort should join with him in preparing a reply to the controverted volume, (Westcott, Life and Letters, Vol. I, p. 212).


I [Westcott] have been thinking much what can be done about the reckless assaults on Essays and Reviews. . . . But I do feel that the attacks made on Jowett (much as I think him in error) can only end in injuring the Truth. . . . Of all cares, almost the greatest which I have had has been Essays and Reviews and its opponents. The controversy is fairly turning me grey. I look on the assailants of the Essayists, from Bishops downwards, as likely to do far more harm to the Church and the Truth than the Essayists. The only result of such a wild clamour must be to make people believe that the voice of authority alone, and not of calm reason, can meet the theories of the Essayists, and thus to wholly give up Truth, and the love of it, to the other side. It would be impossible to find opinions more opposed to my own than those of the Essayists, and for this very reason, I am most anxious to see the error calmly and clearly pointed out, and not merely shrieked at. As far as I have seen, those who have written against the Essayists have been profoundly ignorant of the elements of the difficulties out of which the Essays have sprung,(Ibid., p. 215, emphasis added).


Of course I must wholly dissent from his [Jowett’s] views of Scripture language, and all the deductions which he draws from its uncertainty, (Ibid., p. 233).


      We have allowed Westcott’s own words to totally and undeniably refute the charge by Sightler that Westcott desired to “mitigate the objections of many English clergymen to Essays and Reviews.” Westcott stated clearly that he was totally opposed to the opinions expressed by the foul book. The only possible way that could be true was if he believed that the Bible is indeed the inspired Word of God. The material that we have considered is within a few pages of selections made by Sightler, and he had to have read that which would have disproved his accusation. Anyone who desires an honest, balanced analysis of Westcott will not find it in the writings of James Sightler.


Burgon, Westcott, Butler


      Dean John Burgon produced a powerful rebuttal to Essays and Reviews. Through his book we are able to compare the thinking of Burgon with that of Westcott on a number of key issues related to the inspiration of the Bible. It is not surprising that these two English clergymen reflect similar thoughts in their apology of the Christian faith, having both been students of Joseph Butler’s classic defense of Christianity, Analogy of Religion.


In the Analogy of Religion, Butler vindicates the truths both of natural religion and of Christianity by showing that they are paralleled by the facts of our experience, and that nature, considered as a revelation of God, teaches (though to a more limited extent and in a more imperfect way) the same lessons as the Scriptures. He proves that the evidence is the same as that upon which we act in our temporal concerns, and that perhaps it is left as it is, that our behavior with regard to it may be part of our probation for a future life. . . . His books are more pregnant with thought than any uninspired volumes of their size in the English language.[10]


      The clear impact of Butler upon Westcott is reflected by an entry that Westcott made in his diary for May 23, 1847, when he was but twenty-two years old:


I have never experienced more pleasure that in reading Butler again. I trust he has entirely dissipated my chief doubts. The few which remain may be removed by greater earnestness and prayer, I trust. May I be enabled before I decide on entering the Church, to fully believe and heartily conform to her teaching, (Westcott, Life and Letters, Vol. 1, p. 51).


      Ideas very similar to those expressed in the Analogy of Religion appear in Westcott’s later writings, and it appears likely that the approach to apologetics which he gained from Butler remained with him. The best evidence available suggests a life-long consistency in his thinking. His brother-in-law, who knew him well from childhood, observed:


As I read quite recently one of the Bishop’s latest books, Social Aspects of Life, when I caught there the echoes of so many thoughts to which I had known him give utterance in youthful days, I could not fail to be struck by the testimony that it bore to the continuity of his ideas and his views of life, and to recognize how indeed in his case it had proved true ‘that the child was father to the man,’ (Westcott, Life and Letters, Vol. I,  p. 20).


One cannot read through Burgon’s refutation in Inspiration and Interpretation without frequently “bumping into” quotations from and allusions to Butler’s work (see pp. 108, 138, 165, 219, and 236). One quotation will show the esteem in which the book was held:


But I have reserved for the last, a truly noble name,--which Mr. Pattison [one of the essayists], (with singular bad taste, to say no worse), mentions only to disparage. I allude to Dr. Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham; whose ‘Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature,’—remains, at the end of a century, unanswerable as an Apology,--unrivalled as a text-book,--unexhausted as a mine of suggestive thought, (Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation, p. cxxvii).


Double sense of prophecy


      We often proclaim that the Bible should be interpreted literally. This should not be taken to mean that the Bible does not contain figures of speech and other symbolic language. Perhaps we would do better to affirm that the Bible should be interpreted according to the normal rules of human language, and that what the Scriptures state, when thus interpreted, is true. There is, however, often a deeper meaning to the words of Holy Writ than the literal sense which flows upon the surface. Such an approach to interpretation can be strongly supported by many examples where the New Testament writers interpret both events and statements contained in the Old Testament. For example, when God in Hosea 11:1 says that he called his son out of Egypt, it is altogether obvious in the context that he is speaking of the nation of Israel. And while this is the literal meaning, Matthew 2:15 informs us that there is a far deeper application and fulfillment in the person of our Lord. Paul teaches us that there is far more than the surface significance to Abraham’s two wives, Sarah and Hagar, and their two sons. There is in fact a grand lesson of salvation by faith alone without the works of the law, (Galatians 4:21-31). This concept of a double meaning in Scripture presupposes that standing behind the human authors is the ultimate author, the Holy Spirit of God. In other words, one cannot embrace this idea without first believing that the Scriptures were indeed given by the inspiration of God.


      It is this concept which Benjamin Jowett, one of the essayists as noted above, specifically rejected in his allegation that the Bible should be interpreted like any other book, because it is like any other book, that is, it is not inspired. To quote Jowett’s words, as relayed by Burgon,


Is it not rather, an exploded fashion, which the age has out grown,--that fashion of supposing that there is sometimes a double sense in Prophecy, and that the Gospel is symbolized in the Law? (Essays and Reviews, p. 374, quoted by Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation, p. 167).


And as might have been anticipated, we again find Burgon quoting from Butler’s Analogy:


To say that the Scriptures, and the things contained in them, can have no other or farther meaning than those persons thought or had, who first recited or wrote them; is evidently saying, that those persons were the original, proper, and sole Authors of those Books, i.e. that they were not inspired, (Analogy, P. II ch. vii, quoted by Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation, p. 138).


What should be expected of Brooke Foss Westcott on this point? Did he, as one might suppose from Sightler, agree with the unbeliever Jowett that Scripture does not contain a double sense, or did he side with Burgon and Butler and agree with the position that demands that the Scriptures be viewed as God’s Holy Word? One reference will suffice (there are more):


With regard to 2 Thess. ii., as far as I can gather from your note, you have come to the same conclusion which I reached: that the doctrine of a “double-sense” applies as truly to New Testament prophecies as to those of the Old Testament . . . (Westcott, Life and Letters, Vol. 1, p. 170).


      Burgon argues at length than a denial of the double sense of Scripture is a denial of its inspiration, but just as importantly, he argues that the presence of the double sense is indicative of the Holy Spirit’s authorship. So according to Burgon’s argument, Westcott must have believed in inspiration. While we will soon consider more direct affirmations by Westcott of the inspiration of the Bible, those already considered are no less conclusive.


Uncertain text


      Another propensity of liberalism in Burgon’s day against which he warns in his rebuttal of Essays and Reviews is to assert that the doctrine of the Bible as the Word of God is of no practical value due to the large number of textual variants and the resulting uncertainly as to the words that were allegedly given by the Holy Spirit.


      You will perhaps be told hereafter, (I am speaking now to the younger men,) that quite fatal to this view of the question, is the state of the Text of Scripture: that no one can maintain that the words of Scripture are inspired, because no one can tell for certain what the words of Scripture are; or something to that effect, (Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation, pp. 118-19).


      Given their intimate acquaintance with New Testament variants, it is hard to imagine any two men more qualified, and if the general view held by King James Only advocates is correct, more inclined, to make this devilish assertion than the Cambridge duo of Drs. Westcott and Hort. They have left behind a record of their beliefs within the pages of their famous Greek New Testament:


      This brief account of the text of the New Testament would be incomplete without a word of caution against a natural misunderstanding. Since textual criticism has various readings for its subject, and the discrimination of genuine readings from corruptions for its aim, discussions on textual criticism almost inevitably obscure the simple fact that variations are but secondary incidents of a fundamentally single and identical text. In the New Testament in particular it is difficult to escape an exaggerated impression as to the proportion which the words subject to variation bear to the whole text, and also, in most cases, as to their intrinsic importance. It is not superfluous therefore to state explicitly that the great bulk of the words of the New Testament stand out above all discriminative processes of criticism, because they are free from variation, and need only to be transcribed. . . . If comparative trivialities, such as changes of order, the insertion or omission of the article with proper names, and the like, are set aside, the words in our opinion still subject to doubt can hardly amount to more than a thousandth part of the whole New Testament. . . . [I]n the variety and fullness of the evidence on which it rests the text of the New Testament stands absolutely and unapproachably alone among ancient prose writings.[11]


      It is not surprising that Westcott believed that the New Testament text was in such excellent condition; after all, he held that the books of the Bible demonstrate “the presence of a controlling power both in their composition and in their preservation,” a power which he asserts to be the Holy Spirit of God, (Westcott, The Bible in the Church, pp. 9, 72, 296). By neglecting this and many other inconvenient statements made by Westcott, Sightler is able to convince himself (but not those of us who know the truth) that Westcott “says that the writers of the Bible were not inspired but took various human sources and put them together by their initiative rather than under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” (Sightler, A Testimony Founded For Ever, p. 18). Dr. Sightler has either not done his homework or he has deliberately hidden the truth, for Westcott plainly states that those who wrote the Bible were “moved by the Holy Spirit,” that the Bible (here speaking of the canon) was “gradually built up by the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” and that the result is a Bible of “literal accuracy” and “absolute truth,” composed of “trustworthy documents,” (Westcott, The Bible in the Church, pp. 296, 72; The Gospel According to St. John, p. liii; Life and Letters, Vol. 1, p. 207; The Revelation of the Risen Lord, p. xi). We await the doctor’s retraction. It’s not difficult to see why KJO leaders neglect the truth: to embrace it would destroy their beloved heresy.





No axiom was more fundamental to 19th century liberalism than the assumption a priori that God does not “break into” history. This anti-supernaturalism of course precluded a belief in miracles, which formed perhaps the clearest dividing line between that which could be termed Christianity indeed and that which was Christianity in name only. The Bible is filled with miracles, and one cannot believe the Bible without believing in miracles, nor deny miracles without denying the Bible. We have already noted that the third segment of Essays and Reviews was a denial of biblical miracles written by Baden Powell. We will not belabor the point as we could with quotations again from Powell, Burgon, and yes, Butler, but will move immediately to a few quotations from Westcott:


By a miracle (using the word in its strictest sense) we mean a phenomenon which either in itself or from the circumstances under which it is presented, suggests the immediate working of a personal power producing results not explicable by what we observe in the ordinary course of nature.[12]


The Resurrection is either a miracle or it is an illusion. Here there is no alternative: no ambiguity. And it is not an accessory of the Apostolic message, but the sum of the message itself. Its unique character is the very point on which the first teachers of Christianity support all their arguments, (Ibid., p. 52).


Indeed taking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no single historic incident better or more variously supported than the Resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it, (Ibid., p. 137).


For if miracles are neither impossible, nor unnatural, if follows that the records of them cannot be inherently incredible, (Ibid., p. 52).


In like manner I have assumed that miracles are possible, and that the records of miracles are credible; that the Gospels are trustworthy documents; that the development of life corresponds to a divine purpose. . . . When the occasion arises I am prepared to defend what I have assumed, and I have done so elsewhere (Westcott, The Revelation of the Risen Lord, p. xi).


      There are many more passages in which Westcott expresses his belief in biblical miracles. Is this consistent with the constant charge that he was a liberal? There is no greater authority on this than Machen:


Yet miracles are rejected by the modern liberal Church, and with the miracles the entirety of the supernatural Person of our Lord. Not some miracles are rejected, but all.[13]


An example from Burgon


There appears to be a chronological contradiction in Scripture between the statement in John 19:14 that Jesus stood before Pilate at “about the sixth hour” and the narrative in Mark 15:25 that it was “the third hour when they crucified Him.” John appears to place the examination by Pilate after the crucifixion. Burgon comments upon the difficulty:


      The difficulty supposed is not an imaginary one. St. John says that when Pilate sat in judgment on the Lord of Glory, “it was about the sixth hour.” But since St. Mark says that at the third hour they crucified Him,--the two statements seem inconsistent, (Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation, p. 66).


Burgon then proposes to solve the difficulty with the supposition, first suggested by a Dr. Townson, that Mark followed the Jewish method of timekeeping, which would place the crucifixion at 9 a.m., whereas John followed the method of reckoning prevalent in Ephesus, which would have Jesus before Pilate at around 6 a.m. This discussion by Burgon is in a sermon where he is dealing with those who believe “that the Bible is full of inaccuracies and misstatements,” (p. 59). In other words, this is an example of apparent error that is used by those who deny the accuracy of the Word of God. No doubt B.F. Westcott would himself, if he had opportunity, use these passages to assert error in the Bible. According to KJV advocate Sorenson, he “regularly made remarks raising doubts concerning the infallibility and inerrancy of the New Testament text.”[14] Actually Westcott did comment upon this situation, and here are his words:


In this place it is admitted that the date of noon cannot be brought into harmony with the dates of St Mark (xv. 25). But if we suppose that the time approximately described was about 6.30 a.m. it is not difficult to fit in all the events of the trial: see p. 288. So far then the examination of the passages themselves is decidedly favourable to the supposition that the modern Western reckoning of the hours is followed by John. . . . There two passages furnish a sufficient presumption that St John, in using what is the modern reckoning, followed a practice of the province [Ephesus] in which he was living and for which he was writing.[15]


Westcott did far more, however, than defend against this one particular indictment of error in the Gospel record. He believed that as a group “the Gospels are trustworthy documents,” and that when we find difficulties that we are not able to resolve (as any careful student will), we can be sure that “a fuller knowledge if it had been given us would have removed them,” (Westcott, The Revelation of the Risen Lord, p. xi, pp. 17-18). He may not have used the word “inerrancy,” but these words describe exactly what those of us who hold to that doctrine affirm.


Westcott According to Sorenson


In the case of David Sorenson’s book, Touch Not the Unclean Thing, better grammar, fewer typographical errors, an attractive binding, and proper footnoting vis-à-vis other King James Only books, do not offset poverty of argument, the repetition of old, disproved assertions, and nonsensical reasoning. Just like other KJO writers, he makes bold assertions that simply are not true, he produces quotations which he tells us say one thing when we can plainly see that they say something else, and he presents himself as a noble defender of the Bible. The book is an adaptation of the major project for Dr. Sorenson’s Doctor of Ministry degree, which no one acquainted with the rigorous standards usually enforced for such graduate study would have supposed. Besides the fact that the book is so utterly wrong in most every aspect of its polemic, it suffers from lack of originality. A doctoral research project should present something new, which Sorenson most assuredly does not. In other words, any reader who has already suffered through Waite, Riplinger, and Sightler will find few insults to his intelligence that he has not already endured. After having read Doug Kutilek’s devastating review of the book,[16] one almost hesitates to inflict more punishment upon the hapless author, but inflict we must. We begin with a series of very similar statements repeated ad nauseam:


[1] However, Westcott and Hort never once announced a belief in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures in their voluminous writings, (Sorenson, Touch Not the Unclean Thing, p. 28,).


[2] As will be shown later, Westcott and Hort did not believe in verbal inspiration or inerrancy, (Ibid.).


[3] Regarding inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, never did either Westcott or Hort once make positive statements thereto in their voluminous writings. Rather, they either ignored the subject altogether or made light of it, (Ibid., p. 109).


[4] There is worth in stating again that nowhere in the writings of Westcott and Hort is any statement made that they believed in the verbal inspiration of the Bible or of its inerrancy. They always either were silent on the issue or wrote in such a way that their leanings against it were quite clear, (Ibid., p. 110).


[5] . . . there is every reason to believe that Westcott and Hort did not believe in verbal inspiration, inerrancy, or the infallibility of the Word of God. . . . To begin with, there is no written record in their voluminous writings where they profess to believe in inspiration, (Ibid., p. 168).


[6] The greater point is that Westcott and Hort never stated a belief in verbal inspiration, (Ibid., p. 170).


With all the talk of “voluminous writings” one might actually suppose that Sorenson had spent some time reading Westcott. The evidence suggests otherwise. In a statement as broad as it is false, Sorenson remarks:


Rather, they [Westcott and Hort] regularly made remarks raising doubts concerning the infallibility and inerrancy of the New Testament text, (Ibid., p. 170).


While there are several books by the Bishop which I have not read as part of my four-thousand page Westcott-fest, I am in a position to say, with no fear of contradiction, that the words written above by Sorenson are totally false. He is simply wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and that is all there is to it. Westcott most certainly did not regularly make remarks that raised doubts concerning the infallibility and inerrancy of the New Testament text. Unfortunately each individual can only test this claim by extensive personal reading, but the charge is in fact gratuitous[17] until Sorenson substantiates it with extensive examples, which he fails to do. We will shortly examine the only examples that he gives, and they are truly bizarre.


      Reading the other quotations which we have selected from Touch Not the Unclean Thing, many will have noticed that earlier Westcott material in this paper has already snared the doctor. Sorenson has stumbled badly, and it is plain for all to see: His bold claim that Westcott never, never, ever, even once said thus and so has made him an especially easy target. It will be interesting to see if Sorenson corrects these gross errors in future editions of his book. Of course if he is willing to start down that path, he can be corrected, point by point, right out of King James Onlyism.


      Sorenson alleges that Westcott never professed a belief in verbal inspiration, (concentrating for now upon verbal, see quotes 1, 4, and 6 above). We have already proven this to be false with the quotation from Westcott’s commentary on Hebrews 1:1, “In whatever way God made Himself known to them [the prophets], they were His messengers, inspired by His Spirit, not in their WORDS only but as men; . . .”, (The Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 8, bold added). We add one of several more quotations in our possession, “Of higher blessings which the Spirit of God still gives through the words which He inspired, I will not speak.” [18]


      Sorenson alleges that “there is no written record in their voluminous writings where they profess to believe in inspiration,” (Quote 5).  Westcott wrote, “the Bible contains in itself the fullest witness to its Divine authority. . . . [The parts of the Bible] are yet legibly stamped with the Divine seal as ‘inspired by God’ in a sense in which no other writings are,” (The Bible in the Church, pp. 14-15, bold added), and “. . . they who wrote it [the Bible] were moved by the Holy Spirit,” (Ibid., p. 296, bold added).


      Sorenson alleges that Westcott never once made “positive statements” regarding the inerrancy of the Bible, (Quote 3). Westcott said,


All I hold is, that the more I learn, the more I am convinced that fresh doubts come from my own ignorance, and that at present I find the presumption in favour of the absolute truth — I reject the word infallibility — of Holy Scripture overwhelming. Of course I feel difficulties which at present I cannot solve, and which I never hope to solve, (Life and Letters, Vol. 1, p. 207).


The Bible claims to be true, but it does not express the concept of truth with the word “infallibility.” We can hardly fault Westcott for following the example of Scripture by expressing a biblical truth with biblical language and rejecting non-biblical language. His express words are that he rejected “the WORD infallibility,” while making it abundantly clear that he believed in the “absolute truth” of Scripture. We should also note Westcott’s method of dealing with the difficulties that he found in the Bible (while we admit that all diligent students will be confronted with problems that they cannot solve). He attributed such difficulties not to actual errors (as one would expect a liberal critic to do), but rather to his own ignorance. This is a very powerful statement of Westcott’s belief in the truth of Scripture, which no amount of blather can remove. Westcott also said that the Gospel records are “not contradictory”[19] and that when we see what appear to be errors in the Bible “a fuller knowledge if it had been given us would have removed them,” (The Revelation of the Risen Lord, p. 44, p. 18). He further argued that our inability to fully harmonize the Gospel accounts should not lead us to abandon their absolute truth:


My chief object has been to show that there is a true mean between the idea of a formal harmonization of the Gospels and the abandonment of their absolute truth. It was certainly an error of the earlier Harmonists that they endeavored to fit together the mere facts of the Gospels by mechanical ingenuity; but it is surely no less an error, in modern critics, that they hold the perfect truthfulness of Scripture as a matter of secondary moment.[20]


His bizarre examples


      Sorenson has but two examples, both from the same passage, to support his claim that Westcott and Hort “regularly made remarks raising doubts concerning the infallibility and inerrancy of the New Testament text.” We reproduce at length so that no charge of taking out of context can be made:


In notes written by Westcott and Hort appended to their work The New Testament in the Original Greek, they make some revealing comments. They are veiled and at the end of the actual text, but they are there nevertheless. Referring to variants in the New Testament text, they make the comment, “But it is at least theoretically possible that the originality of the text thus attained is relative only17 (emphasis mine). Their reference to ‘the originality of the text’ can only refer to its originals — the autographa. In referring to it, they subtly suggest that the origins thereof are “relative.” Referring to texts “so near the autographs,” they go on to say that “complete freedom from primitive corruption would not be antecedently improbable.”18 Once again, they write in an oblique, doublespeak fashion. Let us therefore render this in plain English. They refer to texts “so near the autographs.” They then go on to speak of primitive corruption antecedent to (prior to) those texts as being probable. The manuscripts antecedent to those “so near the autographs” can only be the autographs themselves. They therefore refer to “primitive corruption” of the autographs as being probable. In other words, in their characteristic, theological mumbo-jumbo style of writing, they imply the autographs themselves to be corrupt. Can anyone find a hint of verbal inspiration or inerrancy here? (Touch Not the Unclean Thing, pp. 168-69, underlining added).


      Sorenson’s first error here is to state that the explanatory words appended to the Greek text were written by both Westcott and Hort. They were, in fact, written by Hort alone, (Westcott, Life and Letters, Vol. I, p. 399). Westcott did, however, profess complete agreement with Hort (Ibid.,  Vol. II, p. 84), and we are willing to grant his shared responsibility. Hort’s first transgression (according to Sorenson’s rewording) is that he claimed “the origins of the autographa are relative.” Now there’s an accusation: The origins of the autographa are relative? Quite a charge to refute, given the fact that it is nothing but jabberwocky. It is a silly, nonsensical statement that contains no information, and can therefore not be disproved. It suffers one other major flaw; it has nothing to do with what Hort actually said. In Hort’s statement “originality” does not mean “origin.” It rather means “degree of closeness to the original.” His point is that choosing among existing variant readings could, theoretically, result in a text of the New Testament with a relative degree of closeness to the original text rather than an absolute degree of closeness (an absolute degree of closeness would presumably denote a perfect copy).


      For the second example, drawn from the same paragraph in Westcott and Hort as the first, Sorenson asserts that Westcott and Hort claimed that primitive corruption of the autographa was probable. What can be said of such foolishness? Hort is not discussing the autographs, but rather copies very close in time to the autographs, and his entire point is that “complete freedom from primitive corruption” is probable! Perhaps Dr. Sorenson is confused by double negatives. We can help. In Hebrews 4:15 the Bible says, “we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” What does this mean? The easiest way to make it clear is to drop the two negatives “not” and “cannot.” So here it is: “we have a high priest which can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” We shall apply the same procedure to Hort: [referring to copies] “so near the autographs that complete freedom from primitive corruption would not be antecedently improbable.” We reverse the two negative words “not” and “improbable.” Then we obtain: [referring to copies] “so near the autographs that complete freedom from primitive corruption would be antecedently probable.” Sorenson has so twisted Hort’s words as to have him say the complete opposite of his actual statement.


      The material from Westcott and Hort is of such a difficult nature and Sorenson has made such a mess of it, that a fuller treatment is in order. The paragraph is discussing whether the New Testament text might need what scholars term conjectural emendation. An illustration will serve to define this term. Suppose a letter has been found containing these words, “After I parked the xxx in the garage, I walked next door to my sister’s house. When I came home several hours later, the car had cooled down, so I checked the radiator fluid.” In the letter there is a hole at the point above designated by “xxx.” If someone made a copy of the letter and in so doing decided that where the hole was, they would supply the word “car,” they would be engaging in conjectural emendation. With this in mind the full statement from Westcott and Hort can be read:


The office of criticism thus far has been to discriminate between existing various readings, adopting one and discarding another. But it is at least theoretically possible that the originality of the text thus attained is relative only, and that all existing documents are affected by errors introduced in the early stages of transmission. Here there is no possible ultimate criterion except internal evidence: but the history of the text of the New Testament shews the meeting-point of the extant lines of transmission to have been so near the autographs that complete freedom from primitive corruption would not be antecedently improbable, (Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek, Vol. I, p. 560, underlining added).


In this paragraph, Westcott and Hort observe that to this point they have considered a text of the New Testament constructed solely by choosing among actual readings from existing Greek manuscripts. They note that it is theoretically possible that the text thus constructed may not be exactly identical to the original text as written by the Apostles, that is, its originality may be relative. That would be the case if no existing copies had the exact wording of the original at various points. If that were the case, the true text would have to be determined using internal evidence rather than the evidence from the documents (any point at which this was done would be a conjectural emendation). The copies still in existence, however, were themselves made from other copies that were so close to the originals as to most probably be free from all corruption, hence conjectural emendation is not a necessary consideration. This is a rather free paraphrase, but it captures the essential points that Westcott and Hort were making.


F.C. Baur and the Tubingen School


Beginning a chapter in which he warns his readers of the theological liberalism of various editors of the Greek New Testament, including Westcott, Sorenson states:


The simple fact is that virtually all major textual editors of the nineteenth century were either directly or indirectly connected to German Higher Rationalism. Some were directly influenced by the University of Tubingen in Tubingen, Germany. For others, the influence was more indirect. But the influence was there nevertheless. The University of Tubingen, perhaps more than any other one place, was the seed plot for the theological Modernism and Liberalism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, (Touch Not the Unclean Thing, p. 162).


With sixteen of the following pages in Sorenson devoted to Westcott and Hort, one would certainly conclude that Westcott was a faithful follower of F.C. Baur and the Tubingen school. An examination of the evidence, however, will reveal this to be entirely false. Baur, whose name is practically synonymous with the radical liberalism of Tubingen, denied the historical accuracy of John’s Gospel, denied that the Apostle wrote the book, and dated its writing in the second century. As Haussleiter observed, in a book that Baur wrote in “1844 he attempted to use his critical principles to disprove the authenticity of the Gospel of John.”[21] It is worth noting that this is not an appendage to the critical views at Tubingen; it rather lies at the heart of the issue. As Geisler summarizes the situation,


F.C. Baur and his Tubingen school claimed that the first-century tension between Peter’s Judaistic form of Christianity opposed by Paul’s anti-Judaistic form found its reconciliation in John’s Gospel in the second century, thus insisting on a late date for John’s Gospel.[22]


So living in the midst of all of this liberal denial, what position did Westcott take? Did he indeed, as Sorenson implies, adhere to the critical position of the Tubingen school? Did he attack the integrity of the Word of God and deny the position that conservative Christians had held to for seventeen hundred and fifty years? We have been told that Westcott “regularly made remarks raising doubts concerning the infallibility and inerrancy of the New Testament text,” (Touch Not the Unclean Thing, p. 170). No, he did not attack the Bible here; he rather defended its integrity and historical authenticity. As a modern conservative New Testament scholar notes:


It is interesting to notice that Westcott, who held firmly to the Johannine authorship, was well aware of the three reasons that A. M. Hunter gives for rejecting it. . . . Westcott long ago took notice of these (and other) points. But he held that other considerations out-weighted them, and that the best solution to the problem on the basis of the evidence available is to see John the Apostle as the author. Westcott has not so much been confuted as bypassed. Nobody seems to have dealt adequately with his massive argument.[23]


From his own words it can be demonstrated that Westcott affirmed what the liberal critics denied (John’s authorship of his Gospel) and denied what they affirmed (that the Gospel was historically unreliable):


The Author of the fourth Gospel was the Apostle John, (Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John, p. xxi).


But while we make the fullest acknowledgement of these truths, we affirm also that the literal accuracy of the contents of the Gospel is not in any way prejudiced by the existence of this particular purpose, (Ibid., p. liii, emphasis added).


Neither the apostolic authorship nor the historical trustworthiness of the narrative is affected by the admission that the writer fulfils his work, according to his own words, with an express purpose in view (Ibid., emphasis added).


It should be noted that the liberals of Westcott’s day, as illustrated by the quote from Geisler above, believed early Christian doctrine developed over a period of time and that different groups of the New Testament books were written at different points in that development and thereby reflect doctrine at the stage when they were written. Westcott totally rejected this cardinal belief of German criticism and rather held that


the representative forms of doctrine which are recognized in the New Testament — or, in other words, the characteristics of the different groups of books of which it is made up — were simultaneously present in the Church from the first, (Westcott, The Bible in the Church, p. 73).


So much for Westcott being a devotee of the Tubingen school, and so much for another batch of moonshine from the King James Only distillery. The title of Sorenson’s book enjoins us to touch not the unclean thing. We must believe that sticking one’s hand in the pig sty in order to fling mud at Brooke Foss Westcott is a violation of this admonition. If there is ever a time when the most careful and thorough research is called for, it is when the object of one’s enterprise is to enumerate the faults of others. In this regard, Waite, Sightler, and Sorenson have failed miserably.


Westcott’s Argument for Inspiration


Westcott provides a powerful argument for the Divine origin, Divine authority, and inspiration of the Bible that is both simple and sublime. He notes that on the human side the Bible is composed of documents that arose by no process of cooperation or common enterprise. That is to say, the biblical writers did not assemble together and lay out a plan to guide the formation of Holy Writ. In fact, just the opposite is the case. The authors were frequently widely separated both by time and geography. They wrote as occasion demanded, generally to meet immediate circumstances. Their writings are often fragmentary as a history, though complete as a revelation (as Westcott states it). Any who find the word “fragmentary” disturbing are invited to do as I have done recently, and make a careful study of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ as recorded in the four Gospels. It becomes immediately obvious that we have been given only parts of the story. Despite this human side of the Bible (and Burgon himself admitted that the Bible is both human and Divine, on the analogy of Christ), it exhibits a marvelous unity and harmony, such as can only be explained by recognizing God as the ultimate author. Here is the argument in Westcott’s own words:


Humanly speaking, they arose out of passing circumstances and were designed to meet occasional wants. That annals and prophecies and letters, thus (apparently) casual in their origin, should combine into a whole marvelously complete and symmetrical in its spiritual teaching is, indeed, a clear intimation of the presence of a controlling power both in their composition and in their preservation, (Westcott, The Bible in the Church, p. 9).


It seems to follow from what has been said, that the Bible contains in itself the fullest witness to its Divine authority. If it appears that a large collection of fragmentary records, written, with few exceptions, without any designed connection, at most distant times and under the most varied circumstances, yet combine to form a define whole, broadly separated from other books; if it further appear that these different parts when interpreted historically reveal a gradual progress of social spiritual life uniform at least in its general direction; if without any intentional purpose they offer not only remarkable coincidences in minute details of facts, for that is a mere question of accurate narration, but also subtle harmonies of complementary doctrine; if in proportion as they are felt to be separate they are felt also to be instinct with a common spirit; then it will be readily acknowledged that however they came into being first, however they were united afterwards into the sacred volume, they are yet legibly stamped with the Divine seal as ‘inspired by God’ in a sense in which no other writings are, (Ibid., pp. 14-15).


. . . the books which remain [those that form the NT] do combine to form a perfect whole, yet this completeness is due, not to any conscious co-operation of their authors, but to the Will of Him by whose power they wrote and wrought, (Ibid., p. 61).


The narratives of the Gospels admit of the most manifold combinations, not because they are constructed artificially, but because they are true records of the Truth. Everything tends to show that the intricate relations which exist between them were not the result of any conscious purpose, but of that Inspiration which led the Evangelists to preserve only such details as have a lasting and representative interest. This they did from different points of sight; and each special aspect of truth  admits of a perfect combination with the others both in its parts and as a whole, (Westcott, Characteristics of the Gospel Miracles, pp. xi-xii).


The student may [examine any minute aspect of the Gospels] and his feeling will be, a wonder, which increases with time, at the fullness and subtlety of the connections by which each part of the Holy Scripture is bound to all others; and this feeling is the noblest homage to its Inspiration, (Westcott, Characteristics of the Gospel Miracles, pp. xi-xii).




      Whatever virtues Westcott displayed in life, he had, by his own admission, many faults. Dealing with those faults as a means of protecting others against them would be no vice. Imputing to him against all clear evidence faults that he did not possess is wicked and malicious and totally unbecoming of any who profess the matchless name of Jesus Christ. Are there any problems with Westcott’s view of Scripture? Most assuredly there are, but his faults (which we have not discussed) do not negate the positive aspects of his theology in this area. His view was essentially conservative with several noteworthy blemishes. Why have we not covered the blemishes? Because our concern here is not with Westcott, but rather with the credibility of the King James Only leadership. They are entirely unable to do what we have not attempted to do, that is, present a balanced view of Westcott. The problem with a balanced view is that it will reveal a flawed man, but not the villain that their corrupted Bible theory requires. What the KJO have done with the multitude of their false accusations is to destroy their own credibility. We have applied an important test to the King James Only leadership, and they have failed it miserably. The simple fact is that their books are filled with the same kind of false information concerning every aspect of their position.


[1] Copyright 2003, James Richard May. This paper may be reproduced in its entirety for free distribution. All other rights reserved.

[2] The Bible in the Church (2nd ed., 1866; rpt. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), pp. 14-15; The Gospel of Life (London: Macmillan and Co., 1892), p. 38;  The Bible in the Church, p. 296; The Revelation of the Risen Lord (6th ed. London: Macmillan and Co., 1898), p. 44.

[3] John Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation (London: J.H. and Jas. Parker, 1861), p. 111.

[4] D.A. Waite, The Theological Heresies of Westcott and Hort (Collingswood, NJ: The Bible for Today Press, 1979), p. iv.

[5]Gary Hudson, Why Dean Burgon Would Not Join the Dean Burgon Society

[6] Waite fails to note or discuss Westcott’s distinction between the prophets inspired in their words and inspired as men. His fuzziness intrudes into my rebuttal. I have dealt with his argument as written.

[7] B.F. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews (2nd ed., 1892; rpt. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), pp. 8.

[8] James Sightler, A Testimony Founded For Ever (Greenville, SC: Sightler Publications, 1999), p. 222.

[9] Arthur Westcott, The Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott. 2 vols. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1903), Vol. I. pp. 160-61.

[10] “Butler, Joseph,” Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, eds. James Strong and John McClintock, Vol. I, p. 441.

[11] Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), Vol. I, pp. 560-61. While it may be objected that these are Hort’s words, Westcott clearly concurred.

[12] B.F. Westcott, The Gospel of the Resurrection (4th ed. London: Macmillan and Co., 1879), p. 35.

[13] J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1923), p. 107.

[14] David H. Sorenson, Touch Not The Unclean Thing (Duluth, MN: Northstar Baptist Ministries, 2001), p. 170.

[15] B.F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John (1881; rpt. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971), p. 282.

[16] In his always interesting electronic newsletter, As I See It, Vol. 5, No. 12, available as a link to www.kjvonly.org.

[17] In logic a gratuitous assertion is one made without any evidence. There is no requirement that the assertion be answered until evidence is forthcoming. With no evidence offered, a simple denial of the assertion is sufficient for its refutation.

[18] B.F. Westcott, Characteristics of the Gospel Miracles (London: Macmillan and Co., 1859), p. ix, bold added.

[19] We note that the four Gospels are filled with parallel accounts which present many challenges for those of us who accept them as not contradictory.

[20] B.F. Westcott, Introduction to the Study of the Gospels (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1902), p. xii, bold added.

[21] J. Haussleiter, “Baur, Ferdinand Christian, and the Later Tubingen School,” The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, ed. Samuel M. Jackson (1907; rpt. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977), Vol. II, p. 9.

[22] Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), p. 310.

[23] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,  1971), p. 9.