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.

The SBL Greek New Testament Is Available for Download

Edited by Michael Holmes and produced in conjunction with Logos Bible Software, the SBL Greek New Testament is openly available for download in Logos, PDF, XML, OSIS, SWORD, CROSS, and Plain Text formats.

HT to Mark Hoffman for noting this new edition’s open availability.