Manuscript glosses

Stephen Hodge s.hodge at PADMACHOLING.PLUS.COM
Wed Jun 3 00:06:15 UTC 2009

Dear Michael,

Of cours, I am aware of the virtually universal custon of writing 
corrections in the margins ~ indeed, I have worked with mss myself which 
have these.

However, what I am translated versions of a text, I can isolate short 
phrases or single words that have been accidently incorporated int the body 
text at a later date by scribes who did not understand the significance of 
what they saw.

To recap, some of the incorporated words were presumably rubics for 
sub-headings or topics of interest in the midst of otherwise unbroken 
swathes of text.  These I assume from their current positioning to have been 
written supra-linearly as one would expect, at the beginning of the section 
of interest. Then there are glosses, usually for disambiguation, which may 
have been variously supra- or sub-linear.  Finally, there are glosses/ short 
comments  which judging from their current positions could only have been 
sub-linear as they are, as I mentioned, at some remove from their related 
textual material.

Any corrections that were marked marginally (lef / right / top / bottom) 
have presumably been correctly utilized and so are undetectable.

What I think one can see here are manuscripts that were used intensively by 
their owners and marked-up for their convenience in various ways at 
different stages of development.  This in itself has some relevence to ideas 
about the manner in which Mahayana texts (my area) especially were 
circulated and used, as aspects of this is crucial to an understanding of 
the development of Mahayana in its early days.  Generally, the thinking 
seems to be that mss fragments found in Central Asia (and perhaps the 
Gandhari items) were worn-out or otherwise discarded library copies no 
longer needed that were respectfully deposited out of harm's way.  These all 
seem to be overall free of annotations, interlinear or otherwise, though one 
does encounter some marginal corrections ~ though I am aware of what is 
found in the published Gandhari mss.  I imagine that ancient librarians may 
not have changed much in some of their attitudes over the centuries, and one 
thing that no librarian likes is people writing their own comments in books. 
So the mss ancestors of the translated texts I am looking at are more likely 
to have been privately owned copies, for at least some of their 
transmissional history.

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge 

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