On a Fresh Revision of the English New Testament was first read at a clerical meeting in order to address misunderstandings and misconceptions about Bible translations in general and English revisions in particular. Lightfoot penned it during the early years of the committee meetings for the revision for the English New Testament—a committee he was later invited to join.
Lightfoot defends the necessity of a fresh revision of the English Bible. He bases his argument on historical precedent and contemporary necessity. He outlines the broad history of Bible translation and revision, beginning with St. Jerome’s revision of the Latin Bible, the development of the authorized versions, and other important historical parallels. He also argues that a new revision would correct false readings, update archaisms, fix incorrect grammar and lexicography, and offer a new treatment of names and titles.
The ease with which [Lightfoot] passes . . . from one subject to another, from a review of commentaries on St. Paul’s Epistles to an emendation of the text of Euripides, from an investigation of the meaning of ‘Caesar’s household’ to the position of the Long Walls at Athens, represents the work of [one] who regards the New Testament as the goal of all his studies.
—Brooke Foss Westcott, author
Lightfoot’s research is characterized by clarity and precision, and a historical sense that sees the details within the larger movement of history.
Joseph Barber Lightfoot (1828–1889) was born in Liverpool. He attended King Edward’s School in Birmingham before enrolling at Trinity College, Cambridge. He edited the Journal of Classical and Sacred Philology from 1854 to 1859.
In 1852 he was elected a Fellow of Cambridge, and was ordained in 1854. He became tutor of Trinity College in 1857, professor of divinity in 1861, and anon of St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1871. Lightfoot preached regularly and participated in various ecclesiastical activities. He gained enormous popularity for his defense of the New Testament in response to Walter Richard Cassel’s Supernatural Religion. Lightfoot also participated on the committee for an English revision of the New Testament.
In 1879, Lightfoot became Bishop of Durham, where he continued his theological study, writing, and preaching. In addition to the works included in this collection, Lightfoot also wrote commentaries on Galatians, Philippians, and Colossians and Philemon. Lightfoot was succeeded as bishop by his lifelong friend, Brooke Foss Westcott.