While anxious not to claim too much for his material and unwilling to give a final expression of judgment on disputed readings, until his table of mss. is perfected, he ventures to think that for substantial purposes of translation, if not for the nicer ones of a new text, the material and method which he has made use of will be substantially conclusive.
The following translation has been made first from the text of Herding and then corrected from the manuscripts in all places where the evidence was clearly against the edition. In places where the evidence is fairly conclusive the change has been made and a brief statement of evidence given in the notes. When the evidence is really doubtful the reading has been allowed to stand with evidence generally given.
The materials of evidence used are 1. eight mss. collated entire by the translator A. Parisinus (Corbeiensis or Sangermanensis 7 cent.) T. Vaticanus Reg., 7 cent.; 25 Veronensis, 8 cent.; 30 Vercellensis 8 cent.; 31 Monspessalanensis 8 or 9 cent.; a Monacensis 8 cent.; e Vindobonensis 8 or 9; H. Parisinus 10 or 9.
2. Occasional support from readings gathered by him from other mss., chiefly 10 Cassenatensis 9 cent.; 21 Florentinus, 11 cent.; 32 Toletanus 13 cent.; 40 Guelferbyrtinus, 10? cent.
3. Readings from mss. mentioned by other editors.
4. The various editions, but mainly confined to Vallarsi and Herding in Jerome, Fabricius and Herding in Gennadius.
The translator has examined nearly 90 mss. and secured more or less readings from nearly all with reference to an exact table. The readings of several are extensive enough to have pretty nearly the value of full collations. Quotations are occasionally made from these (e.g. from 10, 21, 29, 32, 40, etc.) but practically quotations from the eight mentioned mss. cover the evidence and without a table more would rather obscure than otherwise.
There is no opportunity here to discuss the relative value of these used. It may be said however that they are the oldest mss., and include pretty much all the oldest. Though age itself is by no means conclusive, the fact that they certainly represent several independent groups makes it safe to say that a consensus of seven against one or even six against any two (with certain reservations) or in the case of Gennadius of 5 against 2 is conclusive for a reading. As a matter of fact against many readings of Herding and even of Vallarsi, are arranged all these mss., and against some nearly all or even every ms. seen, e.g. Her. p.73 d.12 reads morti dari with Migne-Fabricius but all these mss. have mutandam and so 91.22 "seven" for "eight." On p.161.7. Her. omits Asyncritus against mss. and all modern eds., so 44.3. "Ponti," 51.7 "ut quidem putant;" 77.25. "firmare" and a score of other places.
Of course this is not enough evidence or discussion for a critical scholastic text but for the practical illustrative purpose in hand will serve. Any evidence which does not give a well digested genealogy of mss. and the evidence for their classification must be reckoned as incomplete, -- all that the above evidence can claim to do, is to give the translator's judgment respecting the readings and illustrative evidence, but it is not probable that the completed table will alter many (if any) of these readings which are given in view of a tentative table which will likely prove final.
The Translation itself. The plan of this work includes (a) a translation, in which the translator has tried to give a fair representation of the text in a not too ragged form but has failed to improve on the original. The works were written as science rather than literature and have many facts but no style. The translator has therefore aimed rather at representing these facts than at producing a piece of polite literature. (b) Notes are subjoined including, first the brief biographical data which every one wants first to orient himself by, secondly textual notes, and thirdly, occasional explanatory notes.