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The production of the Patrologia Latina Database was undertaken with the advice and assistance of an Editorial Board. The board resolved from the beginning that the database should contain the whole of the Patrologia Latina. No part of the text - prefatory material, various kinds of notes, appendices - was to be omitted. The Patrologia Latina was and is a bibliographic monument, not just to patristic and medieval thought, but to philological and theological learning during the modern period. If offers not only an incomparable selection of texts from the second to the thirteenth centuries, but also a library of humanistic and ecclesiastical scholarship from the sixteenth century onwards. Each of these kinds of text can be searched separately in the database; none has been omitted.
The Patrologia Latina was originally printed in 217 volumes (bound as 218 in quarto) from 1844 to 1855. There were two series: the series prima, volumes 1-73, (Tertullian to Gregory the Great), 1844-1849; and the series secunda, volumes 74-217, (Gregory the Great to Innocent the 3rd), 1849-1855. The four volumes of indices were added from 1862-1865.
Migne himself reprinted volumes up to 1865, at which time he sold the literary rights for the Patrologia Latina to the firm of Garnier in Paris. In February of 1868, a fire destroyed Migne's presses and his printing plates. Garnier had already begun reprinting parts of the Patrologia Latina three years earlier and proceeded to reprint the entire set by 1880. Unfortunately, these reprintings - and all subsequent editions by Garnier - are inferior in a number of respects to Migne's own first editions. Consequently the Patrologia Latina Database has been based exclusively on the copies of the first edition of the texts and the indices.
Although Migne originally intended the Patrologia Latina to span the whole history of Latin Christianity up to the eve of the Reformation, he judged in the end that it would be wiser to conclude the series with the year 1216. After that year, as he well knew, the explosion of philosophical and theological writing made it impossible for any series, however ample, to include even representative portions of the principal texts. Hence the main chronological sequence of authors in the Patrologia Latina runs from about AD 200 to AD 1216.
In several places, however, Migne did incorporate later medieval texts as integral parts of the series. He did so especially where a text written after 1216 was traditionally attached to an earlier work, often as a commentary on it or an introduction to it. It is impossible to consider these later medieval texts as `secondary' even though they fall outside the main chronology of the Patrologia Latina. Migne conceived the series, not as stratified into primary and secondary texts, but as illustrating the progress of a unified if immensely complicated theological tradition.
While wanting to respect his evident wishes, we have felt it necessary to help users of the database by distinguishing roughly between the `medieval' and 'modern' authors contained in it. This rough division will permit users to exclude `modern' texts from their searches that is, to exclude most of the introductory and explanatory material from a standard search. We have categorised authors as `medieval' or `modern' according to modern scholarly practice by taking the year 1500 as our guide. While this or any year cannot serve to mark the end of things `medieval' and the beginning of things `modern', it does serve as well as any to capture the sense of the two terms for modern scholarship.
Since the editorial board took as its first principle the obligation to keep Migne's best text intact, it further resolved not to intrude into the Patrologia Latina with textual emendations. The database reproduces the text of Migne without subtraction or addition. It does not attempt to register questions raised by later scholarship about Migne's versions. The user of the Patrologia Latina Database should view it with the respectful and critical eyes that would be used for the printed volumes on which it is based. However the Editorial Board decided that it would benefit the user for more recent bibliographic information to be included in the coding of the data. Consequently, individual documents have been given a code to denote reference to one or more of the following three standard reference works.
DEKKERS (Eligius). Clavis patrum latinorum qua in novum Corpus Christianorum edendum optimas quasque scriptorum recensiones a Tertulliano ad Bedam commode recludit Eligius Dekkers opera usus qua rem praeparavit et iuvit Aemilius Gaar. Pp. xxiii. 461. Brugis, 1951. 8o. (Code C)
Pour revaloriser Migne. Tables rectificatives par Mgr. P. Glorieux. Pp. 82. Lile, 1952. 8o. (Code G)
Ad utramque J. P. Migne Patrologiam Supplementum sive Auctarium Solesmense. Solesmis, 1900, etc. 8o. (Code S)
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