Monday, July 31, 2017

An Online Lexicon of Stemmatology

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Typically, Biblical textual critics have not paid much attention to stemmatics—the study of relational trees—for the simple reason that these methods have never worked for the Old or New Testament on any sizable scale. But that is beginning to change as computers have brought with them new attempts to address the longstanding problem of contamination.

The problem is that the world of stemmatology can be hard to break into because of its technical nature. I certainly had difficulty with it when I started working on the CBGM.

So today I was happy to come across the Parvum lexicon stemmatologicum (PLS) which bills itself as “a scholarly digital resource providing explanations for technical terms related to stemmatology, a discipline of classical and mediaeval philology aiming at understanding the historical evolution of textual traditions.”

The editors are experts in the field and the entries I have looked at are reliable and helpful. To give you a flavor, here is the entry on “autograph”:
The word is derived from the Greek adjective αὐτόγραφος ‘written with one’s own hand’. In manuscript studies, an autograph is a witness written by the author himself. For texts from antiquity and the middle ages it is very rare that such autographs are today still extant (examples in Chiesa 1994). For scholars of stemmatology, matters become more complicated if the author revised the autograph, sometimes repeatedly. Copyists may copy revised and unrevised text or choose between the two, which may lead to a situation of having an archetype containing variants in some places. An example of an extant mediaeval autograph is the work Periphyseon by 9th century author John Scotus Eriugena (cf. Jeauneau & Dutton 1996) in Reims, Bibliothèque Municipale, 875. This manuscript is written in several hands, at least one of which seems to be the author’s. In case the author wrote only one autograph and it is extant, it is equivalent to the text’s archetype.

References
– Jeauneau, Edouard, and Paul Edward Dutton. 1996. The autograph of Eriugena. Turnhout: Brepols.
– Chiesa, Paolo, and Lucia Pinelli, eds. 1994. Gli autografi medievali: Problemi paleografici e filologici. Spoleto: Centro italiano di studi sull’alto Medioevo (CISAM)

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