Scribal conjecture is a concept used to describe readings that arise when copyists or scribes deliberately make corrections of their own in the text they are copying because, for one reason or another, they are dissatisfied with the source text’s reading. For conjectures done by modern editors, cf. divinatio.

As a conjecture, a scribal conjecture is distinguished from a correction based on manuscript readings, that is through the collation of witnesses (cf. Trovato 2014, 152; and for a wider discussion of the use of the term 'conjecture', Krans 2013, 614-617).


– Krans, Jan. 2013. "Conjectural Emendation and the Text of the New Testament." In The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research, ed. by Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes, 2nd ed., 613-635. Brill: Leiden.
– Trovato, Paolo. 2014. Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Lachmann’s Method: A Non-Standard Handbook of Genealogical Textual Criticism in the Age of Post-Structuralism, Cladistics, and Copy-Text. Foreword by Michael D. Reeve. Firenze: edizioni.

In other languages

DE: Kopistenkonjektur, Konjektur eines Kopisten
FR: conjecture de copiste
IT: congettura del copista / congettura scribale


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