Scholarly writers often rely on references to or quotations of ancient texts to buttress and develop their arguments. When a text is not part of an accepted biblical canon, an author should cite some other publication that provides the text and/or translation of the work. This series of posts will address how the citations of some of the most common text collections should be formatted (see the preliminary list below).
We begin, however, with general observations about citing ancient texts.
1. Authors put ancient texts to a variety of uses: to document a claim being made, to illustrate or illuminate a statement, to provide a basis for comparison, and so on. The careful writer will reference ancient texts with a well-defined and reasonable purpose, not merely to fill space or to embellish a bibliography.
2. The intended function of a citation should govern the particular text collection referenced. For example…
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