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Paratexts of the Bible. Analysis and Edition of the Greek Textual Transmission

Final Report Summary - PARATEXBIB (Paratexts of the Bible. Analysis and Edition of the Greek Textual Transmission)

ParaTexBib draws attention to a neglected phenomenon. The Bible has been copied innumerable times, thousands of manuscripts survive. In the Greek realm, about 10% of the extant patrimony of manuscripts transmit Biblical texts. However, these artefacts contain more than just Biblical text. All sorts of smaller items can usually be found: prologues, tables of contents, titles, synoptic tables, exegetical or lexicographical notes, prayers, poems, colophons and many more. Last, but not least, many of these manuscripts are adorned by magnificent (or not so magnificent) miniatures. The present project is the first systematic analysis of these so-called paratexts. For the largest sector of Biblical manuscripts, namely Gospel books, a substantial part of the surviving material has been analyzed. Data on more than 1500 Greek manuscripts (out of ca. 2400 items) can be found and searched on the site www.manuscripta-biblica.org.
“Manuscripta Biblica” is also the name of the series in which critical editions of such paratexts appear (publisher de Gruyter). The editions are available electronically as well, and they give an important contribution to the understanding of the culture of transmission of the Bible. Many paratexts were neglected by previous research because they are either too small or too rare or methodologically difficult. The interaction between a conventional edition and a database allows for a new approach. The basic assumption is that each manuscript is not only a witness to a remote original text (“Urtext”), but primarily a witness to itself, i.e. to an act of writing and reading in any given moment of time.
Several hundred paratexts have been made accessible by ParaTexBib. They are a key to the wealth of Biblical manuscripts as objects of research in their own right. Finally, one of the benefits of the project is that it opened up the doors for other research, both in funded projects and individual initiatives. The work on Biblical paratexts has only just begun.