As a paratext, the colophon’s functions can be summarily and quickly described. It marks the ending of a text. In the era before printing this was a necessity, so that later copyists would know that they had a complete text before them to reproduce. This is the case with many Egyptian and Akkadkian colophons. As such, a colophon is an assertion of authority. In marking the end of a text it pronounces that text to be in some way, “finished,” whole or complete. It also protects the text from any supplementation by its very visual presence, because any additional text would be clearly marked as literally and figuratively outside the bounds of the normative text.
By Thomas M. Bolin
Professor of Theology and Religious Studies
St. Norbert College
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