“Editing a text belongs to the oldest of scholarly activities”

Editing a text belongs to the oldest of scholarly activities, since scholarship functions not only through the modality of transmission by memorization, but also by writing down and publishing ideas, traditions and useful texts. This was the activity of ancient libraries, which were privileged centres of learning, teaching and research, academies comparable to modern universities and research centres. The first edition of Homer’s verse in the Alexandrian library offered clear-cut criteria to scholarship in defining what is an author’s reading and what can be deemed spurious text. The same or similar criteria were adopted when producing the Christian edition of the Bible in Origen’s Hexapla and in editions made in Christian medieval centres like abbeys, monasteries and church libraries. The humanist renaissance of ancient literature was nothing but a philological movement of editing and translating texts and commenting on them. Finally, German enlightened research on Greek, Roman, and subsequently “Oriental” literature started by putting together criteria and rules to render ancient texts readable for contemporary audiences.

Giuseppe Veltri, “From The Best Text To The Pragmatic Edition: On Editing Rabbinic Texts”, in The New Testament and Rabbinic Literature, eds. Reimund Bieringer, Florentino García Martínez, Didier Pollefeyt, Peter Tomson (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2010), 63.

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