This term is applied to critical editions, as these are worked up on the basis of a critique of the published text, i.e. on the basis of careful study and analysis, such as the comparison of the various versions available (in the properly explained selection of versions used for comparison). A scholarly edition is arranged above all for research purposes, and is thus equipped with a scholarly annotation apparatus. This offers the researcher data in particular on the changes in the text made by the author and other publishers (or copiers, as the case may be), while a second set of notes (the so-called commentary) provides information about the sources on which the author drew in creating the work, identifying citations from the works of other authors, and depending on circumstances other data that might help orientate the user of the edition in interpreting the text. An edition prepared and annotated in this way is of the same value as the original text, as written or published by the author himself.
Scholarly editions of Comenius’ treatises were published as early as during the 19th century (e.g. the Great Didactic, the Overview of Physics). The work of a figure as important in the history of science and culture as Jan Amos Comenius undeniably was, is, however, a cultural monument in its own right, and must needs be treated as such. Scholarly editions are one form of care for the legacy of the great thinker. On the one hand they are an expression of respect and esteem, and on the other they enable the more effective protection of the original editions in print and the original manuscripts, which must be worked with only under special conditions in libraries. In addition, however, there is a need for a scholarly collected edition. Such an edition of all of Jan Amos Comenius’ works is not being attempted for the second time. The first attempt was the unfinished edition of Veškeré spisy Jana Amosa Komenského (‘All the Treatises of Jan Amos Comenius’); this was published by the Central Committee of the Teachers’ Union of Moravia, but of the planned thirty volumes only nine were issued between 1910 and 1938. Today, the Academia publishing house in Prague is issuing a collected edition entitled Johannis Amos Comenii Opera omnia; Comenius’ output has been divided into roughly thirty volumes, of which around a quarter have already appeared. The preparation of further volumes is being undertaken by an edition and interpretation team at the Philosophical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences.