Electronic Texts: Scotus and Ockham

If it’s as cold where you are as it is here in Boulder, then you’re probably huddled in front of a glowing computer screen, warming your innards in the gentle light of medieval texts. So this seems like a good time to mention a few electronic resources that may have escaped your notice.

What has surely has not escaped your notice is the long-standing and superb Corpus Thomisticum edited by Enrique Alarcón. In addition to the searchable Latin texts, there’s a very helpful guide to the best published edition of each work, as well as Schütz‘s old but still very useful Thomas-Lexicon, a frequently updated Thomistic bibliography, links to pdfs of many of the Leonine editions, and more.

The point of this post, however, is to spread the word that the work of Scotus and Ockham is also now available electronically, in searchable form. I know of two sources for this material. Unfortunately, neither is free, but both are well worth going to some trouble to get access to.

First, there is Past Masters. You probably know about Past Masters because it has long offered searchable access to quite a few medieval texts: Abelard (Latin), Anselm (English and Latin), Aquinas (English), and Augustine (English and Latin). Recently, Past Masters has reached an agreement with the Franciscan Institute that allows it to offer several new medieval items:

  • the whole of Ockham’s Opera philosophica et theologica;
  • all five volumes of Scotus’s Opera philosophica
  • various other Latin-English Scotus volumes published by the Franciscan institute, including the two Wolter-Bychkov volumes of Reportatio 1-A, and the Etzkorn-Wolter translation of the Metaphysics questions.
  • various works of Bonaventure

A notable feature of these offerings is that what they give you is an image of the printed page, which is appealing, though it has the drawback of making it impossible (so far as I can find) to cut and paste long stretches of text into another document.

Alas, even if your library already subscribes to Past Masters, it will have to pay extra to acquire this new material.

Second, there is the Library of Latin Texts offered through Brepols. I have dim memories of using, back in the dark ages of computing, something on a disk called Cetedoc. That’s now given way to an online version.The amount of material available here is quite overwhelming. It is mainly not philosophical, although even so there is quite a lot of philosophy here, though mainly classical and early medieval. Still, for later medieval, there is some Bonaventure, some Francis of Marchia, some John Pecham, quite a bit of Peter Abelard, all of Thomas Aquinas, and now all of Ockham’s Opera philosophica et theologica.

The Ockham text is formatted quite differently here. You don’t see the original printed page at all – you just get a rather small window of text, which I found awkward to navigate around in, and which also doesn’t allow for cutting and pasting l0ng stretches of text. Indeed, the more I tried to use the Brepols search engine, the more frustrating I found it. It is certainly much better than nothing, but it is not nearly as user friendly as it ought to be, and not nearly as good as Past Masters. (Except in the number of texts it provides access to.)

What I’ve been describing is all found on what’s now known as LLT-A. That’s distinguished from something new, called LLT-B, which my wonderful librarian has promised to get me, but which I don’t have access to yet. I’m looking forward to getting it, because it promises (I quote):

the Vatican editions of the Ordinatio and the Lectura of John Duns Scotus, letters of Erasmus, the Opus maius of Roger Bacon…

And presumably still more beyond that. I suppose some readers will be way ahead of me on this; I’d welcome further information.

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