Verse numbers of ancient texts

The “verse numbers” you see on most ancient texts not exactly “decided” by a particular person or group. Scholars use the line breaks in the original source texts.The process usually begins with stabilization and preservation of the material itself. Then some kind of sorting and editing to find the order and arrangement of the pieces. Then a facsimile is prepared by photographing the pieces, sometimes with infrared or other techniques to improve clarity. A transcription is made of the words and characters in the original language. There is often a good amount of interpretation in this step as the texts are not always clear and readable. The facsimile edition will be distributed to other scholars for interpretation, translation and commentary. Good examples of the process can be seen in the work performed with recent finds like the Nag Hammadi Library or the Dead Sea scrolls.

This image shows a photographic facsimile of part of the Psalm scroll (11Q5 or 11QPs) from the Dead Sea scrolls. It includes a transcription of one column of the scroll. Notice how the line breaks in the transcription match those in the facsimile and how the transcription is broken and fragmentary at line 18.

Here is an English translation of column 19 of the same scroll. It is also fragmentary at line 18.


~ by severalfourmany on May 6, 2013.

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