Citing Lexica per SBLHS2

The SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed., contains fairly sparse treatment of how to cite lexicographic sources (§6.3.7), and none of the provided examples address how to cite standard lexica for the biblical languages (e.g., BDAG, HALOT). This clarification is supplied in a post on the handbook’s blog. Footnoted citations should follow a form like:

BDAG, s.v. [entry]

HALOT, s.v. [entry]

The lexicon abbreviation is italicized or not depending on whether it abbreviates the lexicon’s title or the initials of the parties responsible for the work.

For additional examples, information, and discussion, please see the full post on the SBL Handbook of Style blog.

A further update on Migne’s “Patrologia Latina”

Recently, SBL Press clarified its guidance about citing J.-P. Migne’s Patrologia Latina based on the discovery that various year’s printings of certain volumes within Patrologia Latina have differences. Among these differences are variations in the column arrangements for the texts contained in Patrologia Latina. The Press’s initial recommendation was that

authors always check a PL volume title page to ensure that the printing is dated 1865 or earlier. If the publication or printing date is 1868 or later, we encourage authors to find an earlier printing of PL to cite.

The Press has subsequently “discovered that there are also variations between Migne’s original editions and his own later reprintings prior to transferring the rights to Garnier.” Consequently, the Press’s new recommendation is 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. (underlining added)

As a further curiosity in this complex discussion, I noticed earlier today that James Dunn’s Word Biblical Commentary volume on Romans refers to the same testimony by Ambrosiaster as I went in search of the week before last (xlviii). Elsewhere, Dunn’s introduction copiously indexes its discussion to relevant primary literature. But, on Ambrosiaster’s comment, one is simply told

(text in SH [Sanday and Headlam], xxv–xxvi, and Cranfield, 20)

Sanday and Headlam refer to Ballerini’s edition of Ambrosiaster rather than to Migne’s, as does Cranfield. But, one wonders if the indirect citation of Ambrosiaster through these other authors derives, at least in part, from dynamics like those here that make the references of previous scholars rather more obscure.

For further discussion of the Patrologia Latina question, please see the SBL Handbook of Style blog and the initial question and update posts here.

Fun with multiple editions of Migne’s Patrologia Latina

Engraved portrait of J.-P. Migne
J.-P. Migne [PD-1923]
The past couple days, I’ve come across a pair of references in Cranfield’s and Moo’s Romans commentaries to comments by Ambrosiaster about the origin of the Christian community in Rome, and I’ve been curious to give this reference a look. Both authors cite the reference as found in J.-P. Migne’s Patrologia latina, vol. 17, col. 46 (Cranfield, xiii, 17n2; Moo, 4n7).

My go-to index for online PDFs from Migne’s Greek or Latin patrologies is Documenta Catholica Omnia. The index for PL, vol. 17, indicates that cols. 45-184A are Ambrosiaster’s commentary on Romans. Clicking through to the archived PDF, however, I noticed the first column in the document was col. 47. The Latin quotation as excerpted by Cranfield occurs in col. 48 (not 46, per Cranfield’s and Moo’s citations).

Where to find it?

Not wanting to miss anything (and also somewhat intrigued by the two different sets of column ranges indicated by Documenta Catholica Omnia), I kept hunting and recalled that also has Migne’s patrologies indexed. For PL, vol. 17, has three links listed where the text is available.

The link to Internet Archive refers to a text dated 1879 and apparently scanned previously in coordination with Google. The column arrangement for this file matches the one provided by Documenta Catholica Omnia., however, also provides two links to Google Books (1, 2). These texts are dated 1845 and have a different column arrangement that corresponds to the one implied by the references in Cranfield and Moo. (Interestingly too, the 1845 text refers to 13 Pauline epistles, the 1879 text only to 12.) So, mystery solved: Cranfield and Moo apparently used the 1845 rather than the 1879 printing of PL, vol. 17, to make these references.

How to cite it?

As a side-note (that doesn’t, of course, apply to Cranfield’s or Moo’s texts), the SBL Handbook of Style provides a specific citation format for Migne’s patrologies (§6.4.6). Footnoting Ambrosiaster per the handbook then should result in something like (cf. the handbook’s example and the PDF of the cited volume of Gregory’s works):

  1. Ambrosiaster, In epistolam ad Romanos 3 (PL 17:[46 / 48]a).

PL seems to be treated as a static text, not needing a publication date. But, for situations like the one noted here, perhaps an amendment like

  1. Ambrosiaster, In epistolam ad Romanos 3 (PL 17 [1845]:46a).


  1. Ambrosiaster, In epistolam ad Romanos 3 (PL 17 [1879]:48a).

might be helpful. Or, is there a definite way of handling this situation already implied in the SBL Handbook that I’m just overlooking?

Update: the official word

SBL Press has subsequently given an official recommendation about handling the situation described above.

SBLHS student supplement and “ibid.”

According to SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed., §§1, 3, 4.3.6, supports the use of “ibid.” From those descriptions, conventions look to be the same as for the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., §14.29.

As an easy (and free) reference for students, SBL also provides a Student Supplement to the SBLHS.  One of the courses I’ve been teaching has a comparatively heavier emphasis on getting to know the nuts-and-bolts of SBL style. And a keen-eyed student, pointed out that page 4 of the Student Supplement has consecutively numbered footnotes 78 and 79. Both notes are for the same source, but the second (note 79) does not use the “ibid.” notation.


The SBLHS blog now conveniently has a contact link for sending questions and comments to the SBL staff.So, I took this opportunity to try out this invitation. In response to my inquiry, the SBL staff kindly clarified and confirmed that the Student Supplement‘s reading is indeed an erratum. It should have “80” or “81” to replace the note number that currently reads “79” on page 4. Kudos to the SBL staff for taking the time to do so!