This electronic edition of the Old Latin manuscripts of St John's Gospel is the initial stage of a full edition of the Old Latin materials for this Gospel in the series Vetus Latina. Die Reste der Altlateinischen Bibel nach Petrus Sabatier neu gesammelt und herausgegeben von der Erzabtei Beuron. The second stage consists of the collection and addition of patristic citations of the Gospel. This division was adopted for two reasons. The first is that the Gospels are unique in the Old Latin Bible, in that the main text-types are represented by extant manuscripts and not by citations. The transcriptions (and their apparatus) thus provide a framework to which the citations may then be added. The second reason is more pragmatic: the rules with regard to length and size of project of the Arts and Humanities Research Board, which funded both this work and its continuation, are such that the preparation of the full edition required to be split into two stages. The transcribing and editing of the manuscripts made a suitable first stage with its own worthwhile results.
The Verbum Project, as we called it, began in October 2002 and ran for three years within what was then the Centre for the Editing of Texts in Religion (now the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing) in the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham. Although free-standing, it built upon and shared ideas with the Principio Project, whose goals included a similar electronic edition of the Greek majuscule manuscripts of John. The project was directed by David Parker, while Jon Balserak and Philip Burton worked full-time on the project, the latter having responsibility for the practical decision-making. They produced the bulk of the transcriptions, although Hugh Houghton (who was working on a doctoral thesis more closely related to the patristic citations) and David Parker also made contributions. The production of the electronic edition and most of the proofreading have been undertaken by Hugh Houghton.
The methodology followed was to make transcriptions following the TEI guidelines as applied by other editions which have used the same software to make the edition, namely Peter Robinson's Collate programme, with further modifications to suit the special needs of biblical manuscripts as already developed by the Münster Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung and the Principio Project (itself a project within the International Greek New Testament Project). These conventions aim to reproduce the page of each manuscript as nearly as possible, recording the original spelling, the use of abbreviations (including indication of the nomina sacra by a superline over the second letter), formatting with columns, lines, spaces and running titles, and variations in the form of letters such as capitals or digraphs (e.g. æ). The use of tagging also permits the indication of lacunae or gaps, letters which cannot be clearly made out, erasures, and corrections to the text.
Since the Old Latin manuscripts were produced at many different times (between the fourth and twelfth centuries), in many locations and have different degrees of difficulty in their interpretation, we have had to vary the strict application of our transcription rules. For example, it would not have been feasible to record every abbreviation in the twelfth-century Codex Colbertinus, but we could in the fourth-century Veronensis. There follows therefore a list of witnesses, with an explanation of how we have produced each transcription and a statement of what is included or omitted. Most transcriptions include page layout, superscriptions and subscriptions and running titles. Corrections are always indicated: where this involves the addition or deletion of text, the null reading is represented by OM. Missing text is reconstructed where only a few letters or words are missing, but not in longer lacunae. Spaces used as punctuation marks are sometimes recorded.