Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Migne's Patrologia Graeca

Although there are better editions of many of the more prominent Greek patristic and Byzantine authors, the fullest collection — and for many works the only edition — is in J.-P. Migne's Patrologia Graeca.

People with access to large academic libraries can walk in and pull the appropriate volumes off the shelves, but those who don't have access or who would prefer an electronic version have several options.

  • Mischa Hooker at Loyola University in Chicago has a very useful set of links to Google Books scans of not only the PG but also many other works useful for the study of Christian and Jewish origins and history. I originally started to write about the benefits and drawbacks of the Google Books project at this point but decided that would be better left for another post. For now, be aware (if you're not already) that there are serious quality control problems with many scans, sets — including the PG — are frequently incomplete, poor cataloging makes searching of titles incomplete, word search results are unreliable, and much of the collection is inaccessible outside the United States without skirting Google's IP detection by using a proxy server.

  • Twenty-two main authors (and possible some minor ones included in their volumes) are represented in whole or part at the Bibliothèque nationale's Gallica site. On the whole, Gallica scans are free of the quality control problems of Google Book Search. (Electronic files of early books are sometimes from microfilms, though, and those tend to be somewhat less legible.) The interface leaves something to be desired, but it's improved over the years.

  • The entire set is available in image form from the Religion and Technology Center with on-line access or on DVDs or an external hard drive. The cost starts at $400 for a set for an individual and goes to over $3,000 for institutions in North America and Western Europe. DVDs of individual volumes can also be ordered by individuals for $25 each plus shipping. It's expensive but complete.

  • Page images of the PG are apparently included in Logos Bible Software's Seminary Library collection, a large collection of scanned theological books in the public domain. A subscription to this costs $150 per year. (Unusually, perhaps even archaically, Logos hosts a number of Usenet newsgroups at news.logos.com; this doesn't seem to be accessible via Google groups or Gmane, but if you're curious, you can use the Opera browser and simply paste in news://news.logos.com/greek and retrieve articles that way; otherwise you can add the server manually to a newsreader.)

  • The Greek texts from many volumes are available in .pdf form from a European academic institution and subsequent to that site going live were downloaded from there to at least one other. I had linked to both in the original version of this blog post but I've now omitted them because Maria Pantelia, director of the Thesaurus Linguae Gracae project, has informed me that the versions of texts provided at that first site were pirated from the last TLG CD-ROM, 1800 files and over 800MB (many more texts are now available through the TLG web interface). Although the contents of the TLG and PG are not identical, where they overlap the editions used by the TLG will be superior except in the relatively few cases where the TLG reproduces the PG (as for example with the Pratum Spirituale of John Moschus, although in this particular case there are some related texts from more modern editions). The price to individuals for access to the TLG is not quite nominal enough for casual use — $100 for a year or $400 for four years — but for the selection and quality of the texts it's certainly well worth it if you're active in the field; there's also a demo version with a handful of works from 34 authors.

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