A further update on Migne’s “Patrologia Latina”

SBL Press has clarified its guidance about citing J.-P. Migne’s Patrologia Latina based on the discovery that various year’s printings of certain volumes within Patrologia Latina have differences. Among these differences are variations in the column arrangements for the texts contained in Patrologia Latina. The Press’s initial recommendation was that

authors always check a PL volume title page to ensure that the printing is dated 1865 or earlier. If the publication or printing date is 1868 or later, we encourage authors to find an earlier printing of PL to cite.

The Press has subsequently “discovered that there are also variations between Migne’s original editions and his own later reprintings prior to transferring the rights to Garnier.” Consequently, the Press’s new recommendation is that

authors always check a PL volume title page to ensure that the printing is dated 1855 or earlier. If the publication or printing date is 1857 or later, we encourage authors to find the original printing of PL to cite. (underlining added)

As a further curiosity in this complex discussion, I noticed earlier today that James Dunn’s Word Biblical Commentary volume on Romans refers to the same testimony by Ambrosiaster as I went in search of the week before last (xlviii). Elsewhere, Dunn’s introduction copiously indexes its discussion to relevant primary literature. But, on Ambrosiaster’s comment, one is simply told

(text in SH [Sanday and Headlam], xxv–xxvi, and Cranfield, 20)

Sanday and Headlam refer to Ballerini’s edition of Ambrosiaster rather than to Migne’s, as does Cranfield. But, one wonders if the indirect citation of Ambrosiaster through these other authors derives, at least in part, from dynamics like those here that make the references of previous scholars rather more obscure.

For further discussion of the Patrologia Latina question, please see the SBL Handbook of Style blog and the initial question and update posts here.

Migne’s “Patrologia Latina”: Mystery solved

There’s some fun to be had in hunting up references to and citing instances where volumes from Migne’s Patrologia latina exist in different versions.

The folks at SBL Press have kindly resolved the mystery. Most significantly, SBL Press notes,

According to the Patrologia Latina Database … , PL’s printing history can be divided into two distinct periods. Jacques-Paul Migne initially published the 217 volumes of PL over a twelve-year period, 1844–1855. Migne reprinted volumes as needed for another decade, then sold the rights to the Paris publisher Garnier. Unfortunately, in February 1868 a fire destroyed Migne’s presses and printing plates, which meant that Garnier, which had begun reprinting some PL volumes in 1865, was the only source for future reprints—all of which were produced on plates other than Migne’s originals. These plates differed substantially in some cases and are considered in general “inferior in a number of respects to Migne’s own first editions.”

What does this mean for researchers today who need to cite PL? SBL Press recommends that authors always check a PL volume title page to ensure that the printing is dated 1865 or earlier. If the publication or printing date is 1868 or later, we encourage authors to find an earlier printing of PL to cite. (emphasis added)

For additional discussion, suggestions about finding earlier printings, and recommendations for how to cite the later batch of printings if need be, see the SBL Handbook of Style blog.

Fun with multiple editions of Migne’s Patrologia Latina

Engraved portrait of J.-P. Migne
J.-P. Migne [PD-1923]
The past couple days, I’ve come across a pair of references in Cranfield’s and Moo’s Romans commentaries to comments by Ambrosiaster about the origin of the Christian community in Rome, and I’ve been curious to give this reference a look. Both authors cite the reference as found in J.-P. Migne’s Patrologia latina, vol. 17, col. 46 (Cranfield, xiii, 17n2; Moo, 4n7).

My go-to index for online PDFs from Migne’s Greek or Latin patrologies is Documenta Catholica Omnia. The index for PL, vol. 17, indicates that cols. 45-184A are Ambrosiaster’s commentary on Romans. Clicking through to the archived PDF, however, I noticed the first column in the document was col. 47. The Latin quotation as excerpted by Cranfield occurs in col. 48 (not 46, per Cranfield’s and Moo’s citations).

Where to find it?

Not wanting to miss anything (and also somewhat intrigued by the two different sets of column ranges indicated by Documenta Catholica Omnia), I kept hunting and recalled that Patristica.net also has Migne’s patrologies indexed. For PL, vol. 17, Patristica.net has three links listed where the text is available.

The link to Internet Archive refers to a text dated 1879 and apparently scanned previously in coordination with Google. The column arrangement for this file matches the one provided by Documenta Catholica Omnia.

Patristica.net, however, also provides two links to Google Books (1, 2). These texts are dated 1845 and have a different column arrangement that corresponds to the one implied by the references in Cranfield and Moo. (Interestingly too, the 1845 text refers to 13 Pauline epistles, the 1879 text only to 12.) So, mystery solved: Cranfield and Moo apparently used the 1845 rather than the 1879 printing of PL, vol. 17, to make these references.

How to cite it?

As a side-note (that doesn’t, of course, apply to Cranfield’s or Moo’s texts), the SBL Handbook of Style provides a specific citation format for Migne’s patrologies (§6.4.6). Footnoting Ambrosiaster per the handbook then should result in something like (cf. the handbook’s example and the PDF of the cited volume of Gregory’s works):

  1. Ambrosiaster, In epistolam ad Romanos 3 (PL 17:[46 / 48]a).

PL seems to be treated as a static text, not needing a publication date. But, for situations like the one noted here, perhaps an amendment like

  1. Ambrosiaster, In epistolam ad Romanos 3 (PL 17 [1845]:46a).

or

  1. Ambrosiaster, In epistolam ad Romanos 3 (PL 17 [1879]:48a).

might be helpful. Or, is there a definite way of handling this situation already implied in the SBL Handbook that I’m just overlooking?

Update: the official word

SBL Press has subsequently given an official recommendation about handling the situation described above.