Publication Year Ranges in Zotero

At present, Zotero’s “date” field doesn’t properly handle publications made over a range of years (e.g., 1950–1960). Instead of including the full range in the corresponding note or bibliography entry, only the first year of the range would be presented (e.g., 1950).

If the Range Has an End

There is, however, a workaround that depends on entering the following syntax in an item’s “extra” field: issued: [first year]/[last year]. Thus, for example, if the extra field has issued: 1950/1960, Zotero would properly output a range of publication dates (thus: “1950–1960”).

If the Range Is Open-ended

If you need to reference a series or multivolume work that isn’t yet complete, SBL style defers to the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed., §14.144. In such cases, this requires a trailing en dash (thus, e.g.: “1931–”).

The proper input for this use case is adding the following to the appropriate resource’s “Extra” field: issued: "[first year]–". Note the quotation marks carefully. Those are important to get Zotero to provide exactly the output you’ve specified and prevent the processor from removing the trailing en dash as it generates your output.

So, for example, if the extra field has issued: "1931–", Zotero would properly output a range of publication dates with no end year and a trailing en dash (thus: “1931–”).


According to the Zotero forums, “better support for various date formats in the Date field itself is planned,” but there hasn’t been any indication of when this might be forthcoming. Until then, these workarounds should prove immensely useful for these kinds of situations.

For other discussion of Zotero, see these posts.

Header image provided by Zotero via Twitter

Gaventa, “Romans 13”

SBL Press logoThe newest issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature contains Beverly Gaventa’s essay, “Reading Romans 13 with Simone Weil: Toward a More Generous Hermeneutic.” According to the abstract,

Simone Weil’s interpretation of the Iliad as a “poem of force” has resonances with Rom 1–8, reinforcing the question of how Rom 13:1–7 belongs in the larger argument of Romans. Seeking a generous reading of 13:1–7 along the lines of the generosity Weil extends to the Iliad, I first take Pharaoh as an example of Paul’s understanding of the relationship between God and human rulers and then propose that Paul’s treatment of human rulers coheres with his refusal in this letter to reify lines between “insider” and “outsider.” I conclude with a reflection on the need for generosity in scholarly research and pedagogy.

For the article’s full text, please see JBL in print or online. I’ve now added it too to the Romans bibliography also.

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 also has Migne’s patrologies indexed. For PL, vol. 17, 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., 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).


  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.

SBLHS student supplement and “ibid.”

According to SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed., §§1, 3, 4.3.6, supports the use of “ibid.” From those descriptions, conventions look to be the same as for the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., §14.29.

As an easy (and free) reference for students, SBL also provides a Student Supplement to the SBLHS.  One of the courses I’ve been teaching has a comparatively heavier emphasis on getting to know the nuts-and-bolts of SBL style. And a keen-eyed student, pointed out that page 4 of the Student Supplement has consecutively numbered footnotes 78 and 79. Both notes are for the same source, but the second (note 79) does not use the “ibid.” notation.


The SBLHS blog now conveniently has a contact link for sending questions and comments to the SBL staff.So, I took this opportunity to try out this invitation. In response to my inquiry, the SBL staff kindly clarified and confirmed that the Student Supplement‘s reading is indeed an erratum. It should have “80” or “81” to replace the note number that currently reads “79” on page 4. Kudos to the SBL staff for taking the time to do so!