The CCSG edition of Anastasius of Sinai’s “Questions”

I thought I’d better sacrifice my Saturday and come up to Cambridge and actually look at the Corpus Christianorum edition of Anastasius of Sinai, before negotiations with Brepols to reprint extracts got much further. 

It’s a rainy day, here.  The university library is full of students, some with college scarfs, working away — for with the rain, what point in skiving off?  It brought back memories of doing the same when I was college.  I’m sat in the computer room, where I had to check which bits of Ambrose’s Commentary on Luke I need, before photocopying them from Riain’s translation.

The volume of Anastasius was to hand, and I started looking for questions 148 and 153.  But… there were none.  There was 103 questions and some more in an appendix.  What there was not, tho, was any indication of how to map the “traditional” numeration from Mai and Migne to this edition. 

Fortunately the introduction was in English.  But … there’s a learning point here.  Everyone who comes to my Eusebius volume will want to be able to locate the material referenced by other books against Migne or Mai or Beyer quickly and easily.  The very, very first thing they need, at the front of the book, is an explanation of how I have arranged the book, what I have printed, and where they can find the bit they want

Unfortunately the CCSG editor — who worked on the book for more than 30 years! — did not have a friend to tell him this.  I wasn’t completely certain, but it looks as if he simply didn’t edit some of the material from the Migne edition of Anastasius.  He doesn’t actually say so.  Instead he edits what he believes to be original.  That’s understandable; but it took me a frustrating half an hour thumbing through the book to come to that tentative conclusion.  This we must avoid with our book.

On the positive side, it means I don’t need the permission of Brepols to use their text, since they didn’t include the material!  And the only bit in question is the extracts from Jerome, differences totalling five words!  To use those five words, I have to hand them control of the circulation of the book, and pay them money.  Well… I think I can live without those five words.  But I will consider it.

Not that I am slagging off Brepols here.  I still don’t believe in the claim of copyright; it’s clearly a scam to claim copyright on an ancient author, by virtue of editorial tweaks to a few words here or there.  Indeed if you did that with a 19th century author, you would be firmly shown the door by a court.  But I think that Brepols, by their own lights, are dealing with me rather generously.  It is simply that someone like me, with a Creative Commons destination in mind, is not the sort of thing a business usually deals with. Indeed the new world of the web that is appearing all around us must be very confusing and threatening to many a publisher. 

I think that Brepols are genuinely trying to be flexible and to help, for an offline publisher.  And … they have staff to pay, like everyone else, so it is understandable that they don’t want to give away money.  In publishing it is the rights that give a “long tail” of income to a title. 

Leave a Reply