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The Supposed Autographa of John the Scot   By: (1871-1945)

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Vol. 5, No. 8, pp. 135 141, plates 1 11 October 13, 1920




{Transcriber's Note: ^ and {} around a number or letter signifies a superscript.]

In the fifth part of Ludwig Traube's Palaeographische Forschungen , (which I had the honor of publishing after that great scholar's death)[1] evidence was presented for Traube's apparently certain discovery of the very handwriting of John the Scot. In manuscripts of Reims, of Laon, and of Bamberg, he had observed certain marginal notes which were neither omitted sections nor glosses, but rather the author's own amplifications and embellishments of his work. Johannes had made such additions to his De Divisione Naturae in the Reims manuscript, and they all appear in that of Bamberg. In the latter manuscript there are fresh additions or enlargements as I shall call them in the present paper which have similarly been absorbed into the text in two manuscripts now in Paris. We thus have, in an interesting series, the author's successive recensions of his work. One of the shorter forms is the basis of the text published by Thomas Gale in 1681; the most complete form was edited by H. J. Floss in 1852 from the Paris manuscripts.[2] Though not venturing to carry out Traube's elaborate plans for treatment of the subject, I attempted to corroborate his belief that the notes were in the hand of Johannes. The evidence seemed conclusive to me at the time, and was not questioned, so far as I know, in any subsequent publication. In the summers of 1912 and 1913, however, I examined the manuscripts of John the Scot in Paris, in Reims, in Laon, and in Bamberg, and became convinced, most reluctantly, that his autograph is yet to be found. I here present the chain of facts that make this conclusion inevitable.[3]

Let us start with the hypothesis that the marginal notes discovered by Traube are in the hand of Johannes himself and let us support this hypothesis until it becomes too heavy to bear. Our first document is the Reims Manuscript 875 (= R ) of the De Divisione Naturae . This is the work of some six or seven writers, whose hands are sometimes hard to tell apart. Though it is the briefest and hence the earliest form of the text that I have found, it is not the original draft of the work. The scribes could not have taken it from the author's dictation, for they commit errors of various sorts that presuppose the existence of a text that they were copying.[4] This text, which is as near to the original as our present information permits us to come, I will call O .

Besides making corrections and additions in their copy of O , the scribes also insert marginal notes that have all the characteristics of the author's own amplifications of his work. This fact does not militate against our present hypothesis, if we assume that Johannes added these marginalia, or caused them to be added, in O , and that the scribes of R , at first forgetting to include them in the text of their new copy, later wrote them in the margin.[5] In some cases, as we might expect, a different ink is used. The insular hand (= I ), which we are assuming to be that of Johannes, corrects minor errors in these enlargements now and then.[6] This fact is entirely in accord with our hypothesis.

A number of enlargements omitted by the writers of the text were supplied not by them but by special correctors, who were assigned, it would seem, considerable portions of the manuscript to revise. Particularly important among these wide ranging correctors are two hands that I will call r^{1} and r^{2} . The former is a largish hand with some slight traces of Insular habits.[7] r^{2} is very similar, and indeed may be merely a smaller variety of r^{1} . In the specimen that I have reproduced, as is true of both r^{1} and r^{2} elsewhere, correction by I may be observed... Continue reading book >>

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