Learning by doing again – Recensio part 6

I’ve now collated my Latin text – all 6 sentences of it – with 2 early editions and 24 manuscripts.  I have at least another 6-10 manuscripts accessible to me to collate.

As I thought, this is a case where you have to learn by doing.  You have to attempt to collate the text and manuscripts, somehow, anyhow, just guessing how, in order to learn how to do it, and how not to do it.  Then you go back and do it properly.

I’d like to record a couple of things which are emerging from my first pass.

Point 1.  Don’t alter your “base text” in mid-collate.  If you do, the early parts of your collation become uncertain.

The “base text” does not matter at all.  It is NOT your final text.  Rather it is some “textus receptus” that you found in a crummy early edition.  It’s a random text.  But…. it’s the text against which you collate.  Unless you want to record every word of every witness, you have to have something where your silence says “the text at this point in the manuscript is the same as the ‘base text'”.

I have indeed made this mistake already.  What I should have done is have another line, which is my proposed text.  That I could alter as I choose.

Point 2.  Expect to collate more than once.

When you start, you don’t know how the text varies.  You don’t know if it varies only in individual words, or if whole chunks are involved. So take this part of the text:

favet**, credite mihi, favet nostrae devotioni.

Now you have to compile your collation using a) the word or phrase, followed by b) the manuscript shelfmark.  Doing it the other way doesn’t work for more than about three manuscripts.  So you gaily put something like this:

favet – Angers 802, Arras 462, Milan P113supp

and you mark which “favet” in the base text.

But as you proceed, you find that you’ve goofed.  You should have recorded both “favet”s separately.  Your notes start to change, until you reach something like this:

REDO THE WHOLE THING “favet, credite mihi, favet” (he favours) – Mom.; erased BNF 2627, Fal., Angers 802, Arras 462, Milan P113supp, BNF 1864; BNF 5287, BNF 5296C, BNF 5344  RECHECK, BNF 5573, BNF 11750, BNF 12600, Saint-Omer 715
“adjuvat credite michi et favet” – BNF 5284, BNF 5345
“adjuvat…adjuvat” – BNF 5360, BNF 5607, BNF 18303, BNF NAL 2335, Rouen 1383
“adjuvat” (=he helps) – Wien ONB 12831 (15th), Orleans 342, BNF 989 RECHECK

The unit of variation isn’t the individual “favet” but the pair favet…favet.  There are four possible combinations of “favet” and “adjuvat“.  You’ve got to record this part of the text differently.  You would have done it differently from the start, had you known.  You’re going to have to go back to the first few manuscripts and see how they look against what you now know about the variability of the text.

So… your first pass through the collation process is really just a means to learn what the “units of variation” are.

Point 3.  Note down any cases that explain a divergence of reading.

I’ve been wondering why I have variations between “expectet” and “expectat“.  But I have now come across the practice of writing “expectet” as “expect&“.  That abbreviation at the end, in some versions of book hand, looks almost identical to a lower-case “a” with a “t” right against it.  So that by itself explains the “at” variant.

Likewise, as we saw in a previous post, in Beneventan minuscule I was really uncertain what the word was.  It looked to me like “notata“.  But someone who knew the hand told me it was “nacta“.  The collation shows that these are the two main variants of the text at that point.  Conclusion?  An early ancestor of every manuscript of the “notata” family was written in a Beneventan book hand, and the scribe misread it – just as I did – when he made a copy in Carolingian book hand.  The text was composed in Naples, so the existence of such a copy in Beneventan is almost inevitable.

I’ve also noted that some manuscripts use the Tironian symbol for “et” (=”and”).  Usefully there is a unicode character for it: ““.  When the “” is faint and narrow – and it often looks just like the lower portion of an “i” -, then the scribe may simply not see it.  It can quite easily be mistaken for text on the other side of the leaf.  I found myself looking twice, in one manuscript.  So the presence or absence of an “et” is not necessarily significant.

Point 4.  The early editions are bad stuff.  The editors have introduced changes which are not found in any manuscript, and seem entirely unnecessary.

I have not, of course, examined every manuscript.  But I’ve looked at rather a lot now.  There is a consistent pattern of differences, between the manuscripts on the one hand, and both of the early editions (in different places) on the other.  I know that people tend to assume that the editors just printed what they had before them.  I am less sure of this now.

I’m going to carry on with the collate, and process the remaining half-dozen manuscripts into the working document.  But once I reach the end, I will do it all again; except that this time, I know what to look for.


The fragile world of online research tools

It’s after lunch on a rainy Saturday, the central heating is on, and it’s New Year’s Eve.  I have my can of diet coke and some crisps.  Time to download and collate some more manuscripts of John the Deacon!

First, off to the Bollandists site, the BHLms, here, to find out which manuscripts are next in the list.  Then to the Bibliothèque Nationale Français site to find them!

But what is this!?!  Aaargh!  Woe!  Eheu!

The front page is up, but clicking on “Recherche” gives an error message!  It’s not there.

What now?  Panic panic!

There’s an email address on the bottom of the front page.  Together with a “last updated 1998” (!)  I don’t have a good feeling about this.  I email anyway.  It bounces.

I go to the Bollandists main site and send an email.  No reply.  They’re probably busy monking out or something.  No doubt the site is actually maintained by some underpaid Belgian who’s off for the weekend.

I try again at the BHLms site.  This time I get the sign-in page!  But it just spins after that, then gives a 500.  The database is probably down.

I have a directory of manuscripts.  Luckily for me, I did a copy and paste of the results for BHL 6108 and stuck it in a Word document.  Phew!  I am saved!  I can proceed.

But what if I had not?  My work would have been completely stopped.

The world-wide web is a fragile,ephemeral thing.  When we rely on tools which are online only, we rely on the continued perfect functioning of the most complex and fragile machine in human history.  All it takes is a power outage and it is gone.

“The Cloud” is just a marketing lie.  There is no “Cloud”.  There is just a bunch of computers in a room somewhere, owned by someone else, with a  power supply and a network connection.  That’s it.  It is madness to rely upon this.  Especially in days when the most powerful people seem determined to ensure that there is not enough power to sustain society.

Update: it is now back. Clearly there is an automatic script to restart these things.  But… it’s a warning.


A translation query in Augustine’s “Treatise against the Jews”

I received today an interesting query about an old post from 2015 in which I give an English translation of Augustine’s Adversus Judaeos.  This involves some looking up, so I thought I would blog about it.

Daniel Boyarin’s “Carnal Israel”  begins with a brief quote from Augustine’s Tractatus adversus Judaeos, (vii, 9)  which reads as follows:

‘Behold Israel according to the flesh’ (1 Cor. 10:18). This we know to be the carnal Israel; but the Jews do not grasp this meaning and as a result the prove themselves indisputably carnal.

You translate these verses differently:

‘Behold Israel according to the flesh,’ we know to be the natural Israel; but the Jews do not grasp this meaning and as a result they prove themselves indisputably natural.

I understand carnal and natural to be similar words, but with very different connotations.

The full title of the book is Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture, and there is a preview here.  I could not discover where Mr. Boyarin got his translation, but it appears at the very start of his book and he needs the meaning of “carnal” here.

The words that I reproduced in  my post are those of the Fathers of the Church series translator, p.402-3.  I modified this only to remove “thee” and “thou” in a couple of places.  Here it is, with a bit of context.

We know, of course, the spiritual Israel about which the Apostle says: ‘And whoever follows this rule, peace and mercy upon them, even upon the Israel of God.’ The Israel, however, about which the Apostle says: ‘Behold Israel according to the flesh,’ we know to be the natural Israel; but the Jews do not grasp this meaning and as a result they prove themselves indisputably natural.

The first place to start is with the Latin, which is online here.  The translation has altered the chapter divisions (drat them), but indicated the Patrologia Latina division, which is chapter 9.

Novimus quidem Israel spiritualem, de quo dicit Apostolus, Et quicumque hanc regulam sequuntur, pax super illos et misericordia, et super Israel Dei (Galal. vi, 16): istum autem Israel scimus esse carnalem, de quo idem dicit, Videte Israel secundum carnem (I Cor. x, 18). Sed ista isti non capiunt, et eo se ipsos carnales esse convincunt.

The next place to look is at the bible text referenced, in the Latin.  This is online here.  Augustine would most likely have used an Old Latin text rather than the Vulgate, but they probably did not differ here.

18 Videte Israel secundum carnem: nonne qui edunt hostias, participes sunt altaris?

18 Behold Israel according to the flesh: are not they, that eat of the sacrifices, partakers of the altar?

We may as well have the Greek also:

18 βλέπετε τὸν Ἰσραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα· [a]οὐχ οἱ ἐσθίοντες τὰς θυσίας κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου εἰσίν;

It’s a little hard to translate that first phrase, especially without paraphrasing.   I was a little surprised to see that modern versions like the NIV, NRSV and even the ESV simply fail to translate κατὰ σάρκα.  The KJV (and of course the Douai) do translate it.  I confess that this omission seems worrying to me.

The passage in 1 Corinthians is talking about idolatry.  If you take part in a heathen sacrifice, you become part of the worship.  As part of this, Paul uses the analogy of an ordinary observant non-Christian Jew, sacrificing at the temple, who becomes part of that worship.  So the sense is about Jew versus Christian here.

Based on this, I can respond to the original query.  Both “natural” and “carnal” have the same meaning here – ordinary, worldly, not someone who has become a Christian and lives by the Holy Spirit and obeys His commandments.  But in our age of pornography, I think “carnal” today has gained a meaning which is not intended here, of worldly vices and indulgence.

So I can see why the 1950s translator decided to avoid it, to avoid that conclusion.  It may also be that in 1950s America it was difficult to use in print a word that might seem anti-semitic.


A discontinued edition of Chrysostom’s “Adversus Judaeos”

There’s a fascinating blog post this morning from Guillaume Bady at the Chrysostom blog:  L’édition interrompue des Sermons contre les juifs et les judaïsants de Jean Chrysostome.  Using Google Translate:

The discontinued edition of John Chrysostom’s Sermons Against the Jews and Judaizers

Published on December 26, 2022 by Guillaume Bady

The edition of Sermons against the Jews and Judaizers for Christian Sources has been interrupted for many years, in particular because the collations of the manuscripts have been lost due to the irretrievably obsolete format of the files which contained them. Taking note of this lasting interruption, Rudolf Brändle, who is at the origin of the company, wanted the work already done, if not publishable, to be formatted and put at least in a certain way to available to researchers.

At the request of R. Brändle, I therefore composed the Sermons in a volume of 670 pages and had 10 copies printed for the authors (R. Brändle, Wendy Pradels and Martin Heimgartner). R. Brändle has deposited a copy in the Basel University Library (in the fund that bears his name) and I have deposited another in that of Christian Sources.

The 670 pages include a foreword and the general introduction by R. Brändle, several chapters by M. Heimgartner and W. Pradels, the introduction to the history of the text by W. Pradels, a bibliography (all these elements going up to p. 200), and, also by W. Pradels, a new Greek text made on the basis of collations that have unfortunately disappeared, and a working translation with minimal annotation.

There’s more at the link.

I wonder what happened here.  It sounds as if electronic materials have become corrupted, or something of the kind.  If so, this is a major disaster, and a warning to us all.

Dr Brändle has done rightly in taking steps to preserve the work done.  But what a disaster!  To get so far, but no further!

I wonder if the team could be persuaded to release a PDF of the file to the world?


Merry Christmas, everyone!

It is Christmas Eve.  A silence falls across the land.  All the shops are shut, and the sound of the motorcar falls silent at  last.  Those rushing to and fro are at home around the Christmas tree.

Some have gone to sing carols at the village church.  Others are with them in spirit, if not in body.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day.  Let us remember it, and honour it.

Merry Christmas to all my readers!  May you find blessing.


Learning by Making a Collation – Recensio part 5

I’ve commented before on “learning by doing”, how you have to actually attempt something in order, not to do it, but to find out how to do it.  You never get it right first time, because when you make your first attempt, what you’re actually learning is how not to do it.  When you try again, you know what to avoid.  Here are some notes from my experiences.

A few days ago, I changed tack, more or less by accident.  Chapters 14 and 15 of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas – in the early editions – are clearly spurious, and I’ve neglected them.  But I started work on John’s text with chapter 15, because it was only half-a-dozen sentences.  A year on, rather guiltily, I thought that I should return to it, and apply the lessons learned over the year to the translation.

Inevitably I used my machine-generated collation of the two early editions, and noted the variants; and then, equally inevitably, I started using the PDFs of the manuscripts that I have on disk.

Because this “chapter” is not actually authentic, the lessons learned about the manuscripts may not apply to the genuine portions of the text.  But never mind.

Because the text is so short, I felt able to collate the whole chapter.  This was rather a good thing, because you could do so much more, and you felt much more positive about the experience.  You could feel the wind in your hair.  You really could collate all the manuscripts; although your apparatus swiftly got very big!

Angers BM 802 - the start of the text

Here’s the first sentence.  I’m only 16 manuscripts and 2 editions into the task:

Laetemur ergo**, carissimi, laetemur in domino, et diem** festum sancti Nicolai** salubriter ** celebremus**, quoniam si nos ille concorditer festivos** inspexerit, favet, credite mihi, favet** nostrae devotioni.**

Let us, then, rejoice in the Lord, dearest friends, let us rejoice, and celebrate wholesomely the feast-day of Saint Nicholas, for, whether he examines** our festive selves amicably, he favours, believe me, he favours our devotion.**

** FUTP – hidden future.
** favet takes dative

Now here’s a look at my working notes for the apparatus so far.  Note that I quickly found that you absolutely must have each variant on a separate line, variant first, witnesses later.  This bulked up the stuff quite a bit.

** “in domino et” — Mom., Angers, Milan P113supp, Arras 462, BNF 989, BNF 2627, BNF 5287, BNF 5344, BNF 5360
“in domino” (omits “et”) — Orleans 342 (a space, tho)
“in domino ut” – BNF 1864, BNF 5296C
“Laetamur ergo in domine carissimi” – Fal.
“Laetamur ergo fratres karissimi laetamur in domino” – BNF 5573
“Laetamur itaque fratres karissimi laetamur omnes in domino et diem festum sanctissimum nicholai devotis mentibus celebremus: quia si nos concordes conspexerit sue intesse festivitati? adjuvat credite michi et favet nostrae devotioni” – BNF 5284,  BNF 5345 are an abbreviated version of the text.
** “diem”: Mom., default
“dum” – Fal.;
“venerabile” – Orleans 342; BNF 989;
“hunc venerabile” – BNF 5360
“diem venerabilem” – BNF 5607
** “festum sancti Nicolai” – Mom., default.
“festum sanctissimi patroni et pastoris nostri Nicolai… more text … celebremus” – BNF 5287.  Seems to be text added to create a pattern on page.
“festum venerabilem sanctissimi viri nicholai” – BNF 5344
** “salubriter” – Mom., default.
“solenniter” (solemnly) – Fal.
** “celebramus” – Mom, Fal;  OTHERS?
“celebremus” – check all mss viewed before BNF 2627
“celebremus” — BNF 2627, BNF 5284, BNF 5287, BNF 5296C, BNF 5344, BNF 5345, BNF 5360, BNF 5573, BNF 5607
** “festinos” – Mom. (checked against PDF);
“festivos” – Fal.,  default.
**  (REDO) “favet, credite mihi, favet” – Mom.; erased BNF 2627, Fal., Angers 802, Arras 462, Milan P113supp, BNF 1864; BNF 5287, BNF 5296C, BNF 5344  RECHECK, BNF 5573
“adjuvat credite michi et favet” – BNF 5284, BNF 5345
“adjuvat…adjuvat” – BNF 5360, BNF 5607
“adjuvat” (helps) – Wien ONB 12831 (15th), Orleans 342, BNF 989
** “devotioni” – Mom. Fal., etc; – treat as default, signal only others.
“devotionem” – Orleans 342, BNF 5607
“devotion3” – BNF 1864

You’ll note that I write “default” in places.  Originally I started out indicating every variation, other than minor word order stuff, for every manuscript.  I ended up with huge long lines of witnesses.

After a while I decided to erase the biggest list, where the others were just one or two witnesses, and replace it with “default”.  It doesn’t mean that I am going to accept that reading, just that I will only signal deviations from it.  This is just to reduce the sheer bulk.  I’m still not sure that I did right here.  It conceals just how many witnesses there are for each reading.

In some cases I misunderstood what the “unit of variation” is.  So initially I noted “favet” as the variant; only to find that the whole phrase varies, from “favet, credite mihi, favet” (“he favours, believe me, he favours…”) in all sorts of ways.  Either or both “favet” can be replaced with “adjuvat” (helps), and other words can appear.  When I found this, I realised that I would need to recollate for this phrase, rather than the note that I put originally just on “favet”.

Here we get the same old lesson.  The first time through is just a trial run.  You don’t know what you need to look out for until you’ve finished, at which point you will need to redo portions of it.  You can’t just collate the text once.

In this case the “variation unit” was larger than one word.  I’ve had three or four places, so far, in which I have discovered this only after a dozen manuscripts have been collated.  Of course I can’t be sure if I looked that closely at the other words in the newly enlarged phrase, so I’ll have to go back and redo.

In some cases, I only noticed later.  I didn’t notice that “celebramus” varied until I was well in.  So of course I wasn’t really looking for it in the early manuscripts.

In some cases I just could not read the manuscript.  So I made a note, and carried on.  Maybe it would become intelligible later.

This did indeed happen in one place yesterday.  The day before there was a mysterious word inserted in one place, that I couldn’t even read – 5 letters, following “NIcholaus”.  But later that day I came across a manuscript with a different variant – “Nicholaus mirreorum litie”.  Even that was baffling, until I realised it said “Nicholas of Myra in Lycia”!  The baffling word “litie” was “Lyciae” with a medieval twist.  Ho hum.

As you actually write the collation, you become uncomfortably aware of how subjective it is.  You always ignore clutter.  So… again, once you have your draft collation, you will need to go back and try again.

I’m doing all this to prepare a translation, so it is helpful to add the English meaning of the alternatives sometimes.

I have 53 manuscripts on disk, and the number is growing all the time, thanks to the wonderful, wonderful accessibility of the manuscripts held at the Bibliothèque Nationale Français in Paris.  You can find almost anything by shelfmark starting from here, although some are still microfilms.  The monochrome versions are harder to work with, when you are navigating around the text, looking for a “Laetamur”.  The medieval scribes used colour to indicate the start of paragraphs, which is a big help for the eyes.  Without it, you can miss your bit in the mass of apocryphal miracle stories.

What I do is go to the Bollandists site, the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Online.  My text is BHL 6108, so I search for that, and display the list of manuscripts by “fond”, i.e. the library holding it.   And once you hit “Paris, BNF lat. 12345”, you’re in easy street.  The BHLO will tell you the folio numbers.  Well, I keep another tab open with the BNF entry point, go and find it, display the manuscript, download it, and mark up the folios I want in the PDF.  (I sort of wish that I could contribute my markers back to the BNF site, but of course you can’t.)  Once I’ve found the “Laetamur, karissimi, laetamur” bit, I can then collate it against my working file.

That’s what I’ve been doing, and, actually, it’s rather fun!

I’ve still got quite a few BNF manuscripts to go.  Not all of them actually contain my text – the BHLO is not 100% accurate.

French manuscripts are generally rather accessible.  The IRHT website helps you find non-Paris manuscripts.  Outside of France it is hit and miss.  The accessibility of English manuscripts is a disgrace.  American manuscripts are few, but not much better.  Italian manuscripts, other than those in the Vatican, are generally not online.  The Vatican ones would be much, much more helpful, if you could download them, but at least most of them are there.  Still, in five years I imagine this will improve out of all recognition.

As ever, I hope these notes will be useful to people coming to collate a text for the first time.  The first time, you’re just working out where everything is.  Your second pass is the real thing.


The Alcobaca manuscripts – catalogue located, and lots online at Lisbon!

In my last post, I referred to a manuscript of the Alcobaca monastery in Portugal, number 113.  Afterwards I started to search for information.  I discovered that the modern catalogue in three volumes by Thomas L. Amos, The Fundo Alcobaça of the Biblioteca Nacional, Lisbon (1988), is online at Archive.org!

  • Vol. 1 – https://archive.org/details/HMMLAlcobaca1
  • Vol. 2 – https://archive.org/details/HMMLAlcobaca2
  • Vol. 3 – https://archive.org/details/HMMLAlcobaca3

This was excellent news, and I naturally looked for manuscript 113 in volume 1.  But it wasn’t there!  The manuscripts had two numbers – a Roman number, and a modern Arabic number. The monastery was suppressed long ago and its holdings ended up in the Biblioteca Nacional, and the Arabic number is what they use.

Doing Ctrl-F in the file – ah, the excellence of searchable PDFs – revealed that my manuscript was CXIII, now 414.  So off I went to volume 3, and there it was, on page 178.  It was volume 3 of a set of homilies.

But this did not refer to St Nicholas!  So I did another Ctrl-F, and found an incipit at the back, on – by coincidence – page 414:

[Text] Nicholaus itaque ex illustri prosapia ortus …. 414: 141a-.

Fortunate for me that I had forgotten to search for “Nicolaus”, and had used “Nicho”!  And this told me that the folio was 141a.  (By now all these 1’s and 4’s were starting to get confusing!)

I then wondered whether any of these Alcobaca manuscripts were online.  There is a website: https://bndigital.bnportugal.gov.pt/project/codices-alcobacenses/

But it is very hard to use.  It doesn’t allow you to enter shelfmark, only author, title, etc.  I searched for “V”, for Vita, and got nothing.  Then for H, for Homilies; and on the third click, I found MS 414 here.  Blessedly it has a 108Mb download and a monster 2.4Gb download!  So useful!!!  Thank you!  It is supposed to have an IIIF manifest too, but the link took me elsewhere.

[Homiliário / copiado por João Pecador]. – [Alcobaça, 1201-1300]. – [1] f., [2] f. papel, [254], [1] f. (2 colunas, 27 linhas) : pergaminho, il. color. ; 412×290 mm

But a link here was provided to the full catalogue.  Not that this said anything about Nicholas!

I downloaded the PDF and went to page 282 (i.e. folio 141 x 2), and then down a bit, and there it was!  BHL 6104, the start of John the Deacon.

Alcobaca 414, start of John the Deacon

Even better, it started Sic omnis materia, rather than the much more common materies, and someone had written in a correction.

The PDF also comes with some useful bookmarks.

But then disaster!  I tried to add a bookmark of my own and I could not!  The blessed PDF was “secured”, drat it.  Even though everything was marked “public domain”.  I can’t mark it up.

I shall poke around some more.  I might write them a polite note.  I shall try to find the IIIF manifest.

Update: The Biblissima page here gave the IIIF manifest, thankfully, even though the website did not.


Delving into old references in the BHL

One of the problems with skim-reading is that you miss stuff.  You can stare at the same pages repeatedly, and never see some of the things on the page.

Last night, I noticed some stuff in the St Nicholas material in the Bibliographia Hagiographica Latina.  There is no excuse for not having read it carefully enough, but I’d missed out on some material of interest.

Under BHL 6109, the spurious “chapter 15” of the Life by John the Deacon, the BHL gives the reference to the Falconius edition.  But it also makes clear that there are two variants of this text, labelled BHL 6108 and 6109.  The ending is different, labelled alpha and beta.  And the note reads:

Var. lect. Catal. Brux. I. 314, 1º (ibi clausula β).

What on earth was this?  Well, a look at the start of vol.1 showed that it was the Catalogus codicum hagiographicorum Bibliothecae Regiae Bruxellensis. Pars I, Codices Latini membranei, published in 1886 and online here, or so I thought (that proved to be “pars I, tomus II” – the real volume is pars 1 tomus 1, here).  So it ought to be a manuscript with a different ending, in the Brussels library, on page 314.  This turns out to be the “Codex signatus no. 1960-62” – the codex designated 1960-62.  The Vita of Nicholas starts on folio 2r, apparently, and continues to f.47.

Oddly this is the first time I have seen someone refer to the edition of C. Falconius as “Carminius” (!)  But he includes the whole text of “chapter 15” alright, but in a different and abbreviated form.

Now I have seen that the hagiographic copyists are pretty casual about the text.  They abbreviate or summarise at the drop of a hat.  So I suspect that is what we are dealing with here.

The rest of the manuscript – which does not appear to be online – contains more Nicholas material.  Some of this is given at full length over many pages in the catalogue.  So, if you want to work with Nicholas material, this is useful stuff. Yet all you have is these few words in the BHL, which I had  never truly looked at.

   *   *   *   *

Next, there is Exc., that is “Excerpta”.  The first item, “Bonaventura, Comment. de Alcobacensi mss. bibliotheca (Conimbricae, 1827), 233-35 (prologus)”, is the “Commentariorum de Alcobacensi mss”, on the Spanish Alcobacensis mss, and is online here.  The book is exactly as described and prints from the manuscript the text of the prologue of John the Deacon’s work.  This is useful, because it exhibits the interesting variant “materia” rather than the normal “materies“.  All the manuscripts I have seen print the latter, but the editio princeps printed the former.  This makes it a genuine minor variant, of use to classify manuscripts and to fit the editio princeps into a stemma.  Into my working file it goes.  If only one could verify this against the manuscript!  The text hides which manuscript this is, but it seems to be Ms. Alcobacensis 113 (so p.227), containing twelve Vitae Sanctorum.  Mr Bonaventura does not trouble to share with us any information about on which folio the Vita of Nicholas may be found, however.

My only fear here, however, is that the editor has printed Mombritius rather than the manuscript.

   *   *   *   *

The next item is wild:

Unger (C. R.), Heilagra manna sögur, II (1877), 51-52.

Call me an idiot, but that isn’t German.  Googling the phrase produces a Wikipedia article, Saints’ Sagas:

Saints’ sagas (Old Norse heilagra manna sögur) are a genre of Old Norse sagas comprising the prose hagiography of medieval western Scandinavia.

Urg.  But the book is online.  It was printed in “Christiania”.  Googling eventually tells me that this is Oslo in Norway.  Apparently it was only renamed Oslo in 1925, later than the publication of the book.  As specified, on page 52 (online here) there is the Latin text of the prologue of John the Deacon, along with what is presumably the Old Norse translation of it. Again this has “materia”.  Clearly there is a text tradition in that form somewhere.

Where does the Latin come from, tho?  The reader is left to ponder.  Is it from a “Codex Resenianus”?  The book is, of course, in Norwegian, which does not help one bit.  So I run the OCR in my elderly copy of Adobe Acrobat Pro 9.  But meanwhile I discover a copy of volume 1 online here.  Maybe that will explain.  I find a discussion on p.15, here.  In Norwegian.

But suddenly I remember that Abbyy Finereader Pro 15 includes a screen reader, and handles Norwegian:

Nikolaus Saga erkibyskups I. Den latinske Legende Andes i Speculum Historiale Lib. 13 Capp. 67—81, forkortet i Legenda Aurea P. 22—29. De som Appendix 1 trykte 2 Pergamentblade 655 qv. III, ere Levninger af en Codex fra den første Del af det 13de Aarhnndrede; Appendix 2, et Pergamentblad i det Norske Rigsarkiv, har tilhørt en Codex ældre end 1350, og har, efter dette levnede Fragment at dømme, hart Jertegnene i en fra de andre meget forskjellig og vidtløftigere Form.

Nikolau« Saga erkibyskups II. Denne vidtløftigere Nikolaus Saga er efter Indledningsbrevet til Bogen oversat eller bearbeidet af Broder Berg Sokkason, der 1325 blev Abbed til Munkajiverä: da han her kalder sig slet og ret Broder, har han maaske ndført dette Arbeide for han blev Abbed, altsaa for 1325. Som Grundlag for sit Verk har Broder Berg benyttet <Vita beati Nicolai episcopi» af Johannes Barensis (fra Bari i Neapel), dog har Ovcrsætteren betydelig ndvidet og forøget sin Original, i al Fald saaledes som denne foreligger i «Mombritii Sanctuarium»; han har desuden ogsaa benyttet andre Kilder, saaledes ved Afsnittet om Drømmene, Cap. 69 S. 86, der er taget af Gregors Dialoger Bog IV Cap. -18. De første 4 Capitler mangle ganske i Originalen, det samme er Tilfieldet med Slutningen af Cap. 6, Capp. 7—10 og Fortellingen om Basilisken og Hermelinen i Cap. 13. Enkelte Partier bar Oversætteren ndeladt, men det er dog lidet i Sammenligning med, hvad han har lagt til. Hvor han beraaber sig paa «meistari Johannes>, gjengives dennes Udtryk gjerne nøiagtigere. Til Sammenligning er Johannes’ Brev til Athanasius trykt i latinsk Original under Texten.

De her benyttede Haandskrifter ere:

Cd. Holm. 16 qv. paa Pergament omtrent fra Aar 1400, særdeles godt skreven; hvert Capitel er udstyret med illumineret Begyndelsesbogstav, hvilken ofte indeholder en Tegning, der har Hensyn til Capitlets Indhold. Foran og bag i Bogen ere to Blade, som oprindelig have været blanke; det tredieBlad optages af Prologen og Johannes’ Brev til Athanasius; Broder Bergs Sende-brev tinde* derimod ikke i denne Bog. Forsiden af det følgende fjerde Blad optages af et Billede af St. Nicholaus, paa dette Blads Bagside og femte Blads Forside lindes atter denne Helgens Billede sammenstillet med andre Personer, og paa femte Blads Bagside begynder atter Sagaen, og fortsættes da uafbrudt til Bl. 60…..

Um yes, quite.  Thankfully the miracle of Google translate gives us:

Archbishop Nikolaus’ Saga II. According to the introductory letter to the book, this more extensive Nikolaus Saga was translated or edited by Brother Berg Sokkason, who in 1325 became abbot of Munkajiverä: since he here calls himself simply brother, he may have carried out this work because he became abbot, i.e. for 1325. As Brother Berg has used the «Vita beati Nicolai episcopi» by Johannes Barensis (from Bari in Naples) as the basis for his work, however, the translator has significantly expanded and enlarged his original, at least as it appears in the «Mombritii Sanctuarium»; he has also used other sources, such as the section on dreams, Cap. 69 P. 86, which is taken from Gregor’s Dialogues Book IV Cap. – 18. The first 4 Chapters are completely missing in the Original, the same is the case with the End of Cap. 6, Chap. 7-10 and the Tale of the Basilisk and the Ermine in Cap. 13. The translator omitted certain parts, but it is little in comparison with what he has added. Where he refers to «meistari Johannes>, his expression is often reproduced more precisely. For comparison, John’s letter to Athanasius is printed in Latin Original under the Text.

The manuscripts used here are:

Cd. Holm. 16 qv. on parchment approximately from the year 1400, extremely well written; each chapter is equipped with an illuminated initial letter, which often contains a drawing that refers to the content of the chapter . At the front and back of the book are two leaves which were originally blank; the third leaf is taken up by the Prologue and John’s letter to Athanasius; Brother Berg’s sending letter, on the other hand, is not in this book. The front of the following fourth leaf is occupied by a picture of St. Nicholaus, on the back of this page and on the front of the fifth page, this saint’s picture is shown again, juxtaposed with other persons, and on the back of the fifth page, the saga begins again, and is then continued uninterrupted to Bl. 60.  …

I would infer from this that the Latin is NOT from a Norwegian manuscript, but from Mombritius.  The Bollandists have been deceived.  But well-done them to locate the item!


It’s starting to work! – Recensio part 4

This afternoon I went to my draft text and translation, and, as per my last post, starting from the top, looked for a place in the text where the editions differed in meaning.  I did not have to go far before I found this place, on “in vocem” or “in clamationem“.

Latin and English text, working notes

To those wondering how I got this, remember that I started my task by creating an electronic text of the Falconius edition, and then translating the whole thing, one sentence at a time.  But when I had finished, I decided that the Mombritius edition text was better.  So I created an electronic text of that, and then I compared the two texts electronically (using dwdiff – but it could have been several tools).  This got me a list of differences.  Then I revised my translation to follow Mombritius.  As I went through the difference list, in order to do so, I noted down the differences that seemed significant to me.  That is, I ignored typos, spelling differences, etc., and only took those where a difference of meaning was apparent.  I noted the meaning as well!  The result was this document, which I am using to work on the text.

Verum, quia scio me penes literatissimos magistros inefficacis esse sermonis, ideo deprecor omnes, qui hujus operis studiosi lectores accesserint, ut non facillimam prorumpant inclamationem,** et me indoctum meque** judicare inertem incipiant.

Until today, I had the Mombritius text, “in vocem” here.

So, just as I did earlier, I opened up my directory of manuscripts, and I started to work my way down the files.

Screen grab of directory in Windows Explorer

Note that I’ve found it endlessly useful to include the century in the file name.

Of course each time I go looking for a passage in the PDF of the manuscripts, I add bookmarks and sticky notes to where I found it.  This does make navigation easier.  I have not attempted to mark up everything in one pass in advance.  Rather I am doing what I need to do as I need it.  After all, I can always come back!

Here is the current state of BNF lat. 2627:

Bookmarks and sticky notes in a manuscript PDF

Apologies for the size.

I found book marks by just picking up on red initials.  So in that picture, I didn’t bother to bookmark Mane itaque – because it’s not one of the main divisions in the text like Pontificalis or Praeterea.  But I could have done.

On my first pass, I added a sticky note for where I was looking at Nacta / Nactus / Notata.  Three lines down, there is “O novi iacob stropha”, from this morning.  I only add a sticky for that where there is an omission, because I always know that it’s just below the Nacta text.

Notice that the sentences in this 11th century manuscript all begin with a small capital.  The big red capitals allow you to find big places in the text.  Once you’re on the right page, the small capitals allow you to find the sentence you want.  When I was looking for these two places, I found myself looking for “Rumpe”!  Because that was a line or two above.

These little tricks all allow you to speed things up.

But back to what am doing right now.  Well, I clicked on every one of those manuscripts.  And I noted down the reading.

I started, of course, with:

** Mom. “in vocem”; Fal. “in clamationem”, crying out against; Corsi: “in cachinnationem”, in immoderate laughter.

Initially I added the manuscripts after the editions.  But actually it’s better to turn it around, and give the text, with the edition against it, and then add manuscripts on the end.

So I ended up with this:

  • “in vocem” – Mom., Lipp. Means nothing.
  • “in clamationem” or “inclamationem”, crying out against, criticism, abuse – Fal., Angers BM 802 (11th ), Balliol 216 (13th), Harley 3097 (1124), BNF lat. 196 (12th), BNF lat. 5284 (13th), BNF lat. 5308 (12th), BNF lat. 5346 (13th), BNF lat. 5624 (13th), BNF lat. 989 (10th), BNF lat. 1864 (14th), BNF lat. 2627 (11th), BNF lat. 18303 (before 968), Bruges BP 402 (13th), Cambridge CCC 9 (11th), Durham B.IV.14 (12th), Fribourg L 5 (13th), Milan P113supp (10th), Munich Clm 3711 (11th early), Orleans BM 342 (10th), Vat. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro A.5 (11th), Vat. lat. 1197 (11th), Vat. lat. 9668 (12th), Vat. reg. lat. 477 (12th), Vat. reg. lat. 496 (11th), Wien ONB 12831 (15th),

“in cachinnationem”, jeering, immoderate laughter – Corsi, Berlin theol. lat. qu.140 (11th), Linz 473 (13th), Munich Clm 12642 (14th),

Because I did this immediately after the last post, some of the manuscripts started to sound familiar!  That group at the bottom had an eccentric reading for the “O novi Iacob stropha” search too.  It’s a group, a family of manuscripts that share common errors.  This is precisely what we are looking for: a way to group manuscripts in order to get a stemma if we can.

The first collation I did took quite a while.  The one this afternoon was quicker.  This one took very little time.  Why?  Because I’m getting used to it, and developing my way of working.

Of course I am lucky to have four different early editions.  If I did not have this, if I only had one, then I would have to manually read through a manuscript PDF and manually compare it with my electronic text.  If I didn’t have an electronic text at all, I would have to transcribe one manuscript, and use that as my framework electronic text – not my final text – to translate, and on which to hang readings, in order to analyse the text.

I am rather enjoying this!  Maybe I’ll look for another passage next!