Malte Rehbein, Reconstructing the textual evolution of a medieval manuscript

This article presents the results of the work on kundige bok, one of Göttingen's town records, containing late medieval town law. Due to the fact that this law was frequently subject to change, the text itself was revised over and over again, giving evidence for its frequent use and its dynamic nature. What has come to us, is, thus, a multi-layered text in which all layers represent a different (e.g. chronological) stage of the town law. Consequently they have to be regarded, processed and represented equally. A dynamic text like this requires a dynamic representation. The article shows how an electronic scholarly edition of a multi-layered text can be created and used, first, to reconstruct the genesis of the text; second, to make this evolution understandable, processable and visible; and third, with the text as a witness to display the development of urban law and urban life in the Late Middle Ages. This article: outlines the challenge of editing a multi-layered medieval manuscript; discusses why this leads to a new understanding of a critical edition of such a text; and introduces the techniques used to create the electronic edition of kundige bok, in particular highlighting the linkage between the two dimensions of ‘text’and ‘time’ based on the TEI P5 scheme.

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