These are texts which grow by the addition of material from time to time, by the same author or under the guidance of the same proprietorship. A court chronicle (perhaps extending over centuries) and a personal diary (perhaps abandoned after only a few days) are extreme but typical examples. The Accretional type, where the various additions form a single text (as with the Analects, the school text of the Confucians of Lu over two centuries) should be distinguished from the Accumulated type, which produces rather a collection of separate texts (as with the Gwandz, the archive of a Chi-based group of political philosophers over an even longer period).
Accretional texts typically grow at the head or tail of the previous material, or both; other patterns also occur. Addition at the end of a previous text is the easiest process, in most writing mediums, and is the default expectation. Postposed accretions in a philosophical text will normally be developments of previous doctrine. Additions at the beginning (preposed materials) are in principle more emphatic; they will encounter the reader before any of the earlier material, and they may be meant to relabel or recontext that material. Accompanying such additions, there may also be self-interpolations, which typically enforce homogeneity at the points where the new material most seriously threatens it. Such gestures may signal doctrinal shifts or tactical decisions on the part of the proprietors.
Where the accretions added to a text are relatively few in number and relatively large in extent, it is more convenient to speak of a Layered Text; the two are not rigorously separable, and Accretional is recommended as the cover name for both, or as the default term for uncertain cases.Chinese Examples
Chun/Chyou. The chronicle of Lu, regularly augmented with new entries from its inception in 0721 until at least 0479, and probably until the fall of Lu in 0249. Only the earlier of these two portions is preserved, through a copy made for their own purposes by Confucius's descendants, the Kung family of Lu. The unit of addition is an entry recording an event; an entry rarely exceeds a dozen characters. The chronicle itself is organized in terms of the four-season year, and headings for the season are sometimes given even when no events are recorded for that season (see the entry in the Figurate Texts section). There is evidence that new information was not added immediately to the chronicle, but kept in a preliminary file for later verification (in the case of seeming portents) or for summary in a single entry (in the case of extended events such as a continued drought). What we have is the final edited version.
Analects (Lun Yw). The house record of the Confucian school of Lu, preserving and extending the ideas and influence of Confucius from his death in 0479 to the fall of Lu in 0249. The unit of composition is the single saying or anecdote of Confucius (see LY 4:3), but the unit of addition to the text is a set of such sayings, in most cases organized on a groundplan of 24 sayings grouped in 4 thematic sections (see Analects 5; for an overview of all chapter groundplans, see Brooks Original Appendix 1).
Exactly how was the new material added to the old? There is evidence that, at least toward the end of the process, a new saying of "Confucius" was first composed and recorded in a draft chapter, and then given out for memorization by the students in the school. When a sufficient number of written sayings had accumulated, they might be rearranged in more satisfactory form. With the final Analects chapter (our LY 20), the compilation process was interrupted near its beginning, so this rearrangement never took place, and we find that the last saying recorded in the draft chapter was not present in the memorized text as reconstituted in early Han from the memories of living Confucians. Thus it had not yet been assigned to them for memorization (though the preceding two sayings had been assigned, and were in their version). This accident, the interruption on the text in the process of implementation, establishes the fact that the Analects, in this period, was a written text subsequently memorized, and not an oral text subsequently transcribed. For the situation some centuries earlier, at the beginning of the text, compare Analects 4.
Mwodz 46-50. This sequence of chapters within the Mician corpus, lasting from the middle 04c to the middle 03c, might be called the Mician Analects. Uniquely in the Mician writings, its chapters have the form of a series of sayings by the founder Mwodz, and it presents Mwodz himself as a school head, very much in the manner of Confucius; it even implies a Lu origin for Mwodz (an implication which is not borne out by indications elsewhere in the text). It has been shown that in content, these chapters parallel in detail the contents of LY 12-18 (see Brooks Original Appendix 3), more closely at first (the high Hundred Schools period), and less so at the end (perhaps reflecting the disorganization that Tswei Shu detected in the last chapters of the Analects).
The likely model for this Analects-like Mician accretional sequence was the Analects itself, and we take MZ 46-50 as the text record of the Mician school of Lu. The MZ 46-50 sequence, and the material in each chapter of that sequence, seem to be in strict chronological order of composition, and not to have been subject to artistic rearrangement before being finalized as chapters. This lack of a second artistic effort is typical of the straightforward and clunky Micians, as distinct from the more stylistically aware Confucians.
Dau/Dv Jing. A long series of short modules, gradually put together by the proprietors of an 04c meditation group, whose productive life lasted to the middle of the 03c. Over time, the meditation group gradually transformed itself into a governmentally connected statecraft group. During the period when the meditation element was primary, new chapters were added simultaneously to the head and tail of the text, producing an onionlike effect. During the period when the statecraft element was primary, corresponding roughly to the second half or "Dv Jing" of our text, the addition of new material was exclusively at the tail of the preceding material. For the DDJ as source material for other constructions, see under Rearranged and Juxtaposed.
The accretional formation process of the DDJ, originally inferred from the structure of the received text, has been strikingly confirmed by the archaeological recovery of a version of the text, probably copied in the early 03rd century, which does not draw on the final 15 chapters of the received text. For details, see Gwodyen Causerie, elsewhere on this site.
Mencius. There are actually two accretion sequences in the text as we have it. The posthumous Mencian school split into two groups in c0300, shortly after the death of Mencius. One group, as we infer, remained in Tvng, where Mencius was last employed and where he had an official residence; they probably continued to be politically in touch with the court of Tvng, and retained custody of the school writings, which over the next half century they expanded into what is now Mencius 1-3. For the splinter group, which produced MC 4-7, see below. The two house texts were at some later point combined (or Juxtaposed) into one. Within that combined text, the MC 4-7 series may originally have stood first (for the switch, see under Rearranged). Both schools, as far as they are represented in our text (from which however the Latter Han commentator Jau Chi has excised four chapters which he regarded as inferior) came to an end with the final conquest of Lu by Chu in 0249.
Mencius 4-7. This series of chapters within the larger Mencius reflects activity within a group of Mencius's followers who split off from the main successor school in c0300, and perhaps located in Dzou, Mencius's birthplace. They increasingly explored the philosophical aspects of Mencius's teachings, including the use of mental concentration techniques which evidently go back to Mencius himself (see the probably conversation transcript MC 2A2). Mencius 4-7 represent successive increments in the record of this more philosophical group, and thus constitute one accretional text. It is clear that the single chapters were themselves not instantaneous products, but took shape over a certain amount of time. The question of chapter overlap is not settled at present: It is not firmly known whether, say, MC 5 was entirely finished before MC 6 was begun.
Sundz 1-12 . The title means "Master Sun," and from LSCC 14 we know that in Chin times this was still construed as the 04c Chi general Sun Bin. It is not a treatise, but a progressive series of memos. The early ones include a topographical checklist and some leadership maxims, each progressively updated in subsequent memos. Still later come a series of more thematic writings, which begin to discuss such high-level topics as the relation between the military force and the civil government. The contents, including the development shown in the successive chapters, agrees well with the middle and late 04c, the time of Sun Bin's activity, though this does not confirm his authorship. New chapters were typically placed in front of older ones, consistent with their function in updating, and to an extent replacing, the earlier ones. The increasing difficulty of besieging defended cities is a point of particular interest. Framing devices in Sundz 1 and 12 suggest that the accretion process was ended, and the text intentionally rounded off, at the cosmologically nice number of 12 chapters. For the later history of the text, see Layered and Extended.
Jwangdz 4:4-7. This portion of Jwangdz 4 is a series of vignettes of persons or things hiding out so as to camouflage their usefulness, and avoid coming fatally to the attention of exploitive persons or governments. The series ends (4:7) with a denunciation of Confucius for his folly in seeking to hold office in times so dangerous to office-holders. So far the chapter is a standard example of accretional growth (with some adjustment of early examples by the inventors of later examples). But 4:7 drew a stinging response from the Confucius school of Lu which so impressed the Jwangdz 4 group that the later growth of that text was Redirected.
Sun Bin. The Han military writers, not content with expanding the classical Sundz, redefined that general (under the new name Sun Wu) as belonging to an earlier epoch, and then compiled a new series of military essays attributed to the historical 04th century general Sun Bin. Their extent (eventually 89 chapters and 4 chapters of diagrams) precludes integral composition, and the Sun Bin was probably put together in parallel with the extended Sundz, by a series of military experts.
Maha-Parinibbana Sutta. Most Buddhist Sutras (Pali: Suttas) are Integral texts, composed to deal with the problem of a moment. This long text is exceptional in having an accretional structure that extends over a considerable period of time; the segmentation by Pande is in the right direction. The text appears to witness at its early end the purely mendicant phase of Buddhism, and at its late end (signaled by the framing matter which has been placed at its beginning), a period of official recognition by a secular state. This probably refers to Asoka's patronage of Buddhism, and links that portion of the Sutta with Asoka's efforts (documented in his stone inscriptions) to reform an already established monastic Buddhism. The text thus subtends the whole period of the institutional crystallization of the religion. Among the stages which it records is the developing sense that, given the later importance of Buddhism, it was it was inappropriate to have the Buddha himself die in some little jerkwater town. This thought is interesting because an echo of it appears in a datable Chinese text, thus establishing a terminus ante quem for that stage of consciousness, and a fortiori for the death of Buddha, the key event in what little is directly known of Indian chronology.
The Gospel of Mark is recognized by most scholars as the earliest, and therefore the most historically authoritative, of the four Gospels. This makes the question of its nature especially sensitive. As with the Analects, the method of self-interpolation was used in Mark, while the text was still in its proprietary stage, to adapt it to the current needs of the community which it reflects, and also to maintain some homogeneity in the resulting narrative. The basic motivation for new material was theological update, as the early Markan community went through several different ways of conceptualizing the recently executed Jesus. For the import of one such addition, see under Interpolated.
The implication of that new matter (and of several similar increments) is that the beliefs of early Christianity developed only gradually following the death of its founder. Whether or not to follow out such implications leads to a parting of the ways between the modern faithful and the modern analytical. It is inevitable that this should be so. It is the instinct of faith to refer all truth back to the founder of the faith. A doctrine which grows and mutates over time is a structure with altogether different affinities.
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