Eager to begin holding my peace, but here goes...

I lump modern editors together with ancient scribes because they do the
same things. Sometimes they restore a more primitive reading. Other
times they make a complete mess of it. Consider these:

(1) A modern editor examines available evidence and synthesizes a text
then submits it to the publisher who prints it (sometimes).
(2) A scribe gets hold of the nearest exemplar and copies it, possibly
consulting other exemplars in the process.
(3) A corrector alters the text of one manuscript based on the text of
another. (Apologies to rock-chiselers.)

What's the difference between (1), (2), and (3)? I think that it is more
to do with the mechanics of production than anything else. Taking a long
view of history, when some other revolution overtakes the electronic
one, people might try to integrate the hand-copied, mechanically
printed, and TEI encoded versions of a text. What would they think of
special elements created to distinguish editors of our era from their

Perhaps the difference between the our camps is to do with focus. One
cares about the object (e.g. manuscript) and therefore wants to
distinguish textual renditions within it from contemporary opinions on
those renditions. The other camp cares about the text and therefore sees
all opinions about what that text might be in the same light.


Tim Finney

On Mon, 2007-01-29 at 16:09 +0000, Gabriel BODARD wrote: 
> Surely the distinction, Tim, is not between pre- and post-Gutenberg
> editors, but between the editor who writes on the very manuscript
> (papyrus, stone, etc.) that we are describing, and the one who is
> conjecturing, restoring, expanding, or otherwise improving the text for
> an external edition. (I appreciate that this distinction is much clearer
> in epigraphy than it is in manuscript studies, where sometimes there
> will be ambiguous instances; occasional ambiguity is no reason not to
> have a clear system in place.) So if a late Byzantine scribe has
> scrawled on a much older manuscript, we as editors have no choice but to
> record that in our edition of the text/object. But if an early modern
> editor prints an edition and conjectures some wild emendations, we don't
> have to record that in the description of the text at all (although we'd
> probably mention it in an apparatus).
> Of course ancient and modern editors are often doing the same thing in
> principle, and in their own minds, but the essential difference is what
> they are doing to the piece of papyrus/stone that we're commenting on.
> The editorial conjectures you print in the text (or tag in the text)
> depend on your judgement. What scribal annotations you record is
> entirely down to what is on the page. That's why we have to preserve a
> very clear distinction between how we tag them.
> Thanks for the ref to the V marginalium: very entertaining!
> Cheers,
> Gabby
> Tim Finney a écrit :
> > It still seems to me that scribes and editors, whether lazy, drunk,
> > incompetent or otherwise, are fundamentally and self-evidently doing the
> > same thing--conveying what they think the text is or should be.
> > 
> > It is self-evident that I am rather outspoken on this, so I will hold my
> > peace. I suppose that I can live with the convention of using
> > <sic>/<corr> for post-Gutenberg editors and <add>/<del> for
> > pre-Gutenberg ones.
> > 
> > As a parting shot, I recount the following from Codex Vaticanus at Heb
> > 1.3, where we get a rare insight into the mind of a scribe. The first
> > hand wrote φανερων. A much later hand made some changes indicating he
> > (very unlikely to be she in this case) thought the correct reading was
> > the more common φερων. A yet later scribe wrote in the margin, "Bad and
> > stupid [scribe]! Leave the old [reading] alone. Don't change it!" 
> > 
> > Here are relevant images:
> > 
> >
> > 
> > So, is this scribal change better represented by using <add>/<del> or
> > <sic>/<corr>?
> > 
> > Best
> > 
> > Tim Finney