Definition of Works, Textparts and Narrative Units

Definition of works and Assignment of IDs

We consider a work any text with an independent circulation. This does not mean it has to be alone in a manuscript. A text which sometimes is added to another is also an independent work. So Genesis is a work as Pentateuch is a work which contains it. But Chapter 1 of Genesis is not a work, it is a part of the work Genesis.

Works should not be confused with Narrative Units. To decide whether the text you are dealing with is a work or a narrative unit, consider Orlandi 2010, A Terminology for the identification of Coptic Literary Documents. A work "only refers to fixed contents and a precise sequence", see Bausi 2010, 34 n3

Works, textparts and Narrative Units:

  • Texts provided with an independent circulation get an individual record with a first-level ID (such as LIT1931Mashaf), all others are textparts.

  • Texts which typically form part of other texts are equally assigned an independent firs-level ID/record if they also have an independent circulation. For example, the Anaphoras contained in LIT1960Mashaf (Maṣḥafa qǝddāse) all have their independent ID and a derived ID in LIT1960Mashaf: the independent abstract work LIT1099Anapho (ʾAkkʷateta qʷǝrbān za-qǝddus Hǝryāqos za-hagara Bǝhnǝsā) is what is identified with the @xml:id AnaphoraMary inside Maṣḥafa qǝddāse.

  • For these texts (both circulating as independent units and part of another unit), a <div> should also be created in the work record of the unit containing them, with a @corresp giving the individual ID, in order to show the full content of a collection in correct order.

                        <div type="textpart" subtype="chapter" corresp="LIT1099Anapho" xml:id="AnaphoraMary">
                        <label>Anaphora of Mary</label>

    Example 1

    The text is then identified as a textual unit but also as part of the text where it is contained with reference to its independent ID. This corresponds to making a statement as
                        <relation active="LIT1960Mashaf" name="saws:contains" passive="LIT1099Anapho"></relation>

    Example 2

    You can then decide in a manuscript record what is more appropriate to point to, if it is better to point to the independent unit directly or if this is in a manuscript as part of another unit. See for example LIT1960Mashaf#AnaphoraMary in Frankfurt, Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg, Frankfurt Ms. or. 15 and LIT1099Anapho in Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Aeth. 15.

  • If a textpart has an individual circulation in traditions other than the Ethiopic, all information on this text should be given in the <div>: multiple titles can be inserted, with bibliography linking to the IDs of these titles, relations for the authors of the titles, etc.

  • For text portions (paragraphs, chapters, miracles, etc.) which are extant as different versions in multiple recensions of the same work or even in different works, a Narrative Unit is created.

  • The existing records inherited from the EAe index that do not have an independent circulation in Ethiopic should be deleted.

See as example LIT1931Mashaf.

Often the first problem to face is which records and how many to make. We accept as a principle to create the maximum number of record as it is sensible and to state the minimum number of relations needed among them with a view on expanding them potentially to all what is not essential, in order to clarify their relation with each other. It might happen that different researchers have different opinions on the relation between the versions and the manuscripts and in this we will be able to host them all.

For example. If the Work A has four versions 1, 2, 3 and 4, 1 being a short version of 2 and 3 a later version of 4 while 2 and 4 differ from one another only in the order in which the content is organized, there will be 5 records, one for the abstract work, one for each version. While the abstract work will point to each of the 4 version with relations and might contain a general description of the work, each of the version will have clearly defined relations with the others and the abstract Work.

A further example: a text which is made of parts which can occur in different order within different manuscripts. This will have 1 Work record, describing the ideal or majoritarian, or standard sequence, while each witness (Manuscript) will contain the specific order of the parts in it.

Create a new record for every different version, recensions, etc. and then express the diverse relations between the records with relation elements. This should be clearer and leave space for more differing opinions than to try to express the relations within one single record.

This page is referred to in the following pages

Revisions of this page

  • Dorothea Reule on 2018-04-26: editing of the Work section of the guidelines
  • Pietro Maria Liuzzo on 2018-04-30: first version of guidelines from Wiki