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

Periodic Report Summary 3 - PARATEXBIB (Paratexts of the Bible. Analysis and Edition of the Greek Textual Transmission)

The project analyzes the transmission of the Biblical text from a new perspective. While biblical manuscripts have so far been largely analysed as witnesses to an original text (“Urtext”), this project approaches each manuscript as a single witness to an act of reading and re-interpreting the text. For that purpose the material accompanying the main text (“paratexts”) are carefully studied. Virtually all biblical manuscripts have some of these features. Examples include brief introductions, biographies, tables of contents, poems, cross-references, prayers, and indexes. In this project, the analysis is limited to Greek manuscripts of the New Testament (although other languages and other texts are planned for future research). This still leaves an enormous corpus of material: ca. 3200 manuscripts survive. In the first phase of the project the decision for a further limitation has been taken: only manuscripts of the four gospels are analyzed (which is about three quarters of the preserved patrimony).
In the reporting period more than half of this enormous number has been looked at, registered and partly described in a database. This was possible due to the fact that many manuscripts are now available digitally in the database “New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room (NTVMR)”, run by the “Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF)” in Münster. However, this database is meant primarily for transcriptions and critical editions of the biblical text; it is not suitable for the registration of metadata and paratexts. Hence, the description is done in the framework of “Pinakes” ( run by the “Section grecque” of the “Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (IRHT)”. All descriptions are immediately and freely accessible via the Pinakes public user interface. Along with the description of manuscripts most relevant texts have been classified and assigned to specific “oeuvres”. This will help in the next step. Several unedited texts have been identified in the process, some of them of great interest.
For the second phase of the project, a series of critical editions of relevant paratexts is planned. These editions will appear in print and electronically in the series “Manuscripta biblica” with the publisher “de Gruyter”. Furthermore, the electronic availability (and searchability) of the material will greatly improve by the development of our own public user interface. Preliminary work for these important extensions of the project has been done in the reporting period.