Printed Text with Commentary

Pope Clement V (ca. 1264–1314). 
Mainz: Peter Schoeffer, 13 August 1471. (06238)

This book provides an early example of text printed with surrounding commentary. The work consists of decretals, excerpts from papal letters establishing canon law, that were issued by popes Boniface VIII, Benedict XI, and Clement V. In this edition the decretals, printed in short paragraphs of large type, are surrounded by commentary printed in smaller type. This carefully controlled arrangement of two texts, originally developed by Jewish scribes for rabbinical commentaries, enables a particular passage of commentary to occupy the same page as the pertinent decretal. The amount of space allotted to the decretal expands or contracts, depending on the brevity or length of the commentary.

The relationship between the text and the commentary is clarified by the rubrication. Each section of the commentary begins with a short reiteration of the first words of the decretal, with the result that the commentary is marked with the same rubricated initial as the relevant passage in the decretal (in the exhibited opening, the initial D beginning the section De Judiciis appears twice on the left-hand page). Each keyword in the main text that has been underlined in red ink likewise corresponds to a passage of commentary that is introduced with a red or green paragraph marking. This rubrication system simplifies the reader’s task of locating related passages within the two texts.

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The Text Takes Shape
Printed Text with Commentary