Migne’s Patrologia Latina: Update

In a previous post, we discussed incongruencies surrounding the original printing of Jacques-Paul Migne’s Patrologia Latina (1844–1855) and the reprints by Garnier (1865). Upon further research, we discovered that there are also variations between Migne’s original editions and his own later reprintings prior to transferring the rights to Garnier. We would therefore amend our guidelines for citing Migne’s Patrologia Latina as follows:

According to the Patrologia Latina Database (here), PL’s printing history can be divided into at least three different periods. Jacques-Paul Migne initially published the 217 volumes of PL over a twelve-year period, 1844–1855.* Migne reprinted volumes as needed for another decade (through 1865), then sold the rights to the Paris publisher Garnier. Some volumes of Migne’s pre-Garnier reprintings were produced from different plates than his original publications, which introduces significant discrepancies in column numbering. So, for example, PL 30:537 in the original 1846 publication corresponds to PL 30:554 in Migne’s 1865 reprinting. To complicate matters further, in February 1868 a fire destroyed Migne’s presses and printing plates, which meant that Garnier, which had begun reprinting some PL volumes in 1865, was the only source for future reprints—all of which were produced on plates other than Migne’s originals. These plates differed substantially in some cases and are considered in general “inferior in a number of respects to Migne’s own first editions.”

What does this mean for researchers today who need to cite PL? SBL Press recommends that authors always check a PL volume title page to ensure that the printing is dated 1855 or earlier. If the publication or printing date is 1857 or later, we encourage authors to find the original printing of PL to cite.

Our original post has been updated to match these new guidelines.

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