Four Watches linked - Project details

Four Watches linked: Digital edition of a mystical treatise from the late Middle Ages

'Four Watches' linked is an editing project funded by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture (MWK) as part of the Pro*Niedersachsen programme. The object of the planned open access edition is a mystical short treatise from the 14th century written in German. The treatise has not yet been edited or analysed in terms of its significance for the history of piety.

The core of the text is the idea that 'the soul' — or 'the human being' or 'the virgin', depending on the redaction of the text — has kept four so-called watches in a mystical sleep before being united with God, i.e. has prepared itself for this union through various steps such as imitating the works of Christ. The treatise, which has survived in at least eight manuscripts, contains numerous allusions to other mystical texts, above all by Meister Eckhart. In some of the manuscripts the treatise is also integrated into a so-called composite treatise, which is composed of quotations. The transmission of the text can be assigned to different environments (from urban settings to well-known reform monasteries). The place of the treatise in the history of piety will be analysed in accompanying publications.

The portal for the edition will make the textual variance accessible in different formats: a dynamic synoptic presentation of the individual versions, critical editions of the three redactions and (for a group of related manuscripts) a genetic edition. A continuous lemmatisation of the text and a linking of the lemmata with the ‘Frühneuhochdeutsches Wörterbuch’ (Niedersächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen) is also planned. The implicit connection of the treatise with other texts (through paraphrase or quotation) will be traceable in the edition, as the passages from the reference texts will be made accessible. In addition to the edition of the Four Watches, the project will ultimately offer a paradigmatic solution for editing texts with numerous intertextual connections to other texts. The portal for the edition is scheduled to go live at the end of the project period (end of 2026).


Project board at the SUB Göttingen

Project staff at the SUB Göttingen

SUB Göttingen departments / units involved in the project