Versioning Machine allows for the comparison of the three versions
of the "Debate between the Body and the Soul" included
on this site. In order to facilitate
the comparison of word choice and word order, the stanzaic order
of the three poems has been rearranged so that the same stanzas
might be compared
between the versions with ease – even though a particular
stanza might occur in three separate narrative positions in each
version. This method of comparison also permits the easy identification
of which stanzas are not shared amongst the versions, enabling the
reader to view the similarities and differences between the versions
Reorganizing the stanzas in this way necessitates that all three versions are arranged against a base text. To this end, the proposed original version of the poem presented by Wilhelm Linow in his 1889 edition of the debate has been followed. It is not suggested that this base text is the correct text or the most authoritative ordering of the stanzas. The Vernon, the Auchinleck and the Laud manuscripts each offer an independent rendition of the debate, and each can be read in their original entirety on the "Manuscripts" page.
To document when stanzas are reordered, two numbers have been attached to each section of verse. The first number indicates the stanzaic order of the original text proposed by Linow, and the second number in parenthesis corresponds to the position that stanza held in its original version. When no corresponding stanza is present in a version, a dash ("—") is used to indicate the absent content.