Interpolation (manuscripts)

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An interpolation, in relation to literature and especially ancient manuscripts, is an entry or passage in a text that was not written by the original author. As there are often several generations of copies between an extant copy of an ancient text and the original, each handwritten by different scribes, there is a natural tendency for extraneous material to be inserted into such documents over time.

Literature written work of art

Literature, most generically, is any body of written works. More restrictively, literature refers to writing considered to be an art form or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage.

Manuscript document written by hand

A manuscript was, traditionally, any document that is written by hand -- or, once practical typewriters became available, typewritten -- as opposed to being mechanically printed or reproduced in some indirect or automated way. More recently, the term has come to be understood to further include any written, typed, or word-processed copy of an author's work, as distinguished from its rendition as a printed version of the same. Before the arrival of printing, all documents and books were manuscripts. Manuscripts are not defined by their contents, which may combine writing with mathematical calculations, maps, explanatory figures or illustrations. Manuscripts may be in book form, scrolls or in codex format. Illuminated manuscripts are enriched with pictures, border decorations, elaborately embossed initial letters or full-page illustrations. A document should be at least 75 years old to be considered a manuscript.

Interpolations originally may be inserted as an authentic explanatory note (for example, [ sic ]), but may also be included for fraudulent purposes. The forged passages and works attributed to the Pseudo-Isidore are an example of the latter. Similarly, the letters of Ignatius of Antioch were interpolated by Apollinarian heretics, three centuries after the originals were written. Charters and legal texts are also subject to forgery of this kind. In the 13th century a medieval romance, the Prose Tristan , inserted another prose romance, the Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal, in its entirety in order to reinterpret the Quest for the Holy Grail through the optics of the Tristan story. [1]

The Latin adverb sic inserted after a quoted word or passage indicates that the quoted matter has been transcribed or translated exactly as found in the source text, complete with any erroneous, archaic, or otherwise nonstandard spelling. It also applies to any surprising assertion, faulty reasoning, or other matter that might be likely interpreted as an error of transcription.

Ignatius of Antioch Early Christian writer, Patriarch of Antioch and martyr saint

Ignatius of Antioch, also known as Ignatius Theophorus or Ignatius Nurono, was an early Christian writer and bishop of Antioch. En route to Rome, where he met his martyrdom, Ignatius wrote a series of letters. This correspondence now forms a central part of the later collection known as the Apostolic Fathers, of which he is considered one of the three chief ones together with Pope Clement I and Polycarp. His letters also serve as an example of early Christian theology. Important topics they address include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

Forgery is a white-collar crime that generally refers to the false making or material alteration of a legal instrument with the specific intent to defraud anyone. Tampering with a certain legal instrument may be forbidden by law in some jurisdictions but such an offense is not related to forgery unless the tampered legal instrument was actually used in the course of the crime to defraud another person or entity. Copies, studio replicas, and reproductions are not considered forgeries, though they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations.

However, most interpolations result from the errors and inaccuracies which tend to arise during hand-copying, especially over long periods of time. For example, if a scribe made an error when copying a text and omitted some lines, he would have tended to include the omitted material in the margin. However, margin notes made by readers are present in almost all manuscripts. Therefore, a different scribe seeking to produce a copy of the manuscript perhaps many years later could find it very difficult to determine whether a margin note was an omission made by the previous scribe (which should be included in the text) or simply a note made by a reader (which should be ignored or kept in the margin).

Scribe person who writes books or documents by hand as a profession

A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of automatic printing.

Conscientious scribes tended to copy everything which appeared in a manuscript, but in all cases scribes needed to exercise personal judgement. Explanatory notes would tend to find their way into the body of a text as a natural result of this subjective process.

Modern scholars have developed techniques[ which? ] for recognizing interpolation, which are often apparent to modern observers, but would have been less so for medieval copyists.

The Comma Johanneum, for example, is commonly regarded as interpolation. The specific problem of Christian transmission of Jewish texts outside the Jewish and Christian canons is often described as Christian interpolation.

Christian interpolation is a subsidiary category of scribal interpolation in manuscript transmission. In textual criticism the term generally refers to the specific phenomena of textual insertion and textual damage to Jewish sources text during Christian scribal transmission, but may also refer to possible interpolation in secular Roman texts, such as the case of Tacitus on Christ.

See also

Western non-interpolations is the term named by F. J. A. Hort of the shortest texts of all the New Testament text types. The Alexandrian text is generally terse or concise; the Western text is larger and paraphrased at places; the Byzantine text is a combination of those two. Nevertheless, the Western text is in certain places shorter than the Alexandrian text. All these shorter readings Hort named western non-interpolations. Since the 19th century, scholars have preferred the shorter reading. It was the authentic text according to B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort. When they printed The New Testament in the Original Greek (1882), in almost all cases, it followed the Alexandrian text with the few exceptions that use the Western non-interpolations instead. According to Westcott and Hort, on some rare occasions Western textual witnesses have preserved the original text, against all other witnesses.

Archive institution responsible for storing, preserving, describing, and providing access to historical records

An archive is an accumulation of historical records or the physical place they are located. Archives contain primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime, and are kept to show the function of that person or organization. Professional archivists and historians generally understand archives to be records that have been naturally and necessarily generated as a product of regular legal, commercial, administrative, or social activities. They have been metaphorically defined as "the secretions of an organism", and are distinguished from documents that have been consciously written or created to communicate a particular message to posterity.

Preservation of documents, pictures, recordings, digital content, etc., is a major aspect of archival science. It is also an important consideration for people who are creating time capsules, family history, historical documents, scrapbooks and family trees. Common storage media are not permanent, and there are few reliable methods of preserving documents and pictures for the future.

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  1. On the Medieval technique of manuscript interpolation and the Prose Tristan, see Emmanuèle Baumgartner, "La préparation à la Queste del Saint Graal dans le Tristan en prose" in Norris Lacy, ed. Conjunctures (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994), pp. 1-14, Fanni Bogdanow, "L'Invention du texte, intertextualité et le problème de la transmission et de la classification de manuscrits" Romania 111 (190): 121-40 and Janina P. Traxler, "The Use and Abuse of the Grail Quest" Tristania 15 (1994): 23-31. Gaston Paris, in 1897, also noted the interpolation of a verse romance on Brunor in Prose Tristan.