Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Resources for the study of Sahidic Coptic


A Coptic Grammar With Chrestomathy and Glossary-Sahidic Dialect - Bentley Layton
Harrassowitz Verlag ISBN: 3447042400

Coptic Grammatical Chrestomathy. A course for academic and private study - Ed. A. Shisha-Halevy.
Peters Leuven ISBN:90-6831-139-5

An Introductory Coptic Grammar (Sahidic Dialect) - J. Martin Plumley

Outline of Sahidic Morphology - Lance Eccles

On Difiniteness of the Coptic Noun Article - Helmut Satzinger
Actes du IVe congrès copte : Louvain-la-Neuve, 5-10 septembre 1988 / édités par Marguerite Rassart-Debergh et Julien Ries. p. 74-78

Editions of the Sahidic Coptic text

Biblia Sahidica: Iermias, Lamentationes (Threni), Epistula Iermiae Et Baruch (Texte Und Untersuchungen Zur Geschichte Der Altchristlichen Literatur) published by Walter de Gruyter(Hardcover) ISBN: 3110174049

The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect,Otherwise Called Sahidic and Thebaic - George William Horner. 7 volumes. Many years out of print, very rare.
Some selections here here

Sahidica (new Testament) by J. Warren Wells
soon available for the logos program
now available in print
also many thanks to Robert Hommel for producing an e-sword module

Das Markusevangelium saidisch: Text der Handschrift PPalau Rib. Inv.-Nr. 182 mit den Varianten der Handschrift M569 - Hans Quecke

Das Lukasevangelium saidisch: Text der Handschrift P Palau Rib. Inv.-Nr. 181 mit den Varianten der Handschrift M 569 - Hans Quecke

Das Johannesevangelium saidisch: Text der Handschrift PPalau Rib. Inv.-Nr. 183 mit den Varianten der Handschriften 813 und 814 der Chester Beatty Library und der Handschrift M 569 - Hans Quecke


A Coptic Dictionary - W. E. Crum.
also with a new foreword by James M. RobinsonWipf & Stock Publishers ISBN: 159752333X

A Concise Coptic-English Lexicon second edition - Richard Smith
Society of Biblical Literature ISBN: 0-88414-039-3

Other studies

Pilological Studies on the Coptic Versions of the Gospel of John
Thesis submitted in accordance with the requirements of the University of Liverpool for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy - Manal Yousry Gabr July 1990
Available from the British Thesis Service
This thesis studies the quality of the Coptic translation of John in various dialects. Dr Gabr works through a range of grammatical catagories carefully comparing the Coptic to the Greek. Is the Coptic a naturally flowing Coptic text that has been translated sense for sense and is therefore representative of the Coptic language in a way comparable to documents composed in that language? Or it is a somewhat awkward 'translation' Coptic that overly refletcs peculiarities of the source language?


Macquarie University Sydney

P. J. Williams

Introduction to Biblia Sahidica

What is Sahidic Coptic?

Coptic is the last stage of the Egyptian language. Though the origins of Coptic are in the ancient hieroglyphics and subsequent demotic script of middle Egyptian, Coptic utilizes the Greek alphabet with the edition of a number of Egytian letters. The Coptic language came to have a number of dialects, they reflect different stages of the language in time and also in place (the exact relationships between the dialects and areas of their use during different periods remains cloudy).

Sahidic is an early dialect of Coptic (or was at least prominent early on), it is principally associated with Upper Egypt, though in its prime Sahidic may have been spoken over a wider area. It was used from about the first century C.E. onwards.

The Translation of the Holy Scriptures into Coptic

The Holy Bible was translated into all of the Coptic dialects. The Sahidic version was produced before about the third century CE. The translator/s worked from what we today consider the most accurate Greek texts, and they translated the Greek very responsibly. They produced a very accurate and naturally flowing Sahidic version.

The reservoir of manuscripts
to be added

Importance to the study of the transmission of the canonical Christian writings (New Testament) and establishment of the authentic Greek text of the Christian Scriptures through text critical analysis.
to be added

Editions of the Sahidic Coptic text.

The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect,Otherwise Called Sahidic and Thebaic - George William Horner. Many years out of print, volumes very rare.
Some selections here

Sahidica by J. Warren Wells
soon available for the logos program
now available in print

Need for a modern text critical edition

Horner's work is a superb critical edition, based for the most part on a great number of small fragments. However, since Horner completed his work a large corpus of manuscripts unknown to Horner have become available. Many of these manuscripts are early and complete, where as for the most part Horner relied on later fragments. The Sahidica version makes use of some of these more weighty witnesses, but it is far from being a full critical version. Additionally, whilst Joseph Wells has done a superb job, the Sahidica text contains the odd transcription error which may have been introduced in the PHI version.
The study of Biblia Sahidica requires the production of a modern text critical edition with full apparatus. Such a tool would serve translators and text critics.

How can any text critical edition of Novum Testamentum Graece claim excellence, when a primary source for the study of the transmission of the NT text has not been fully consulted?

Value of the Sahidic version for scholars focused on studying the Koine Greek of the NT.
to be added

Monday, October 16, 2006

John 1:1

Interesting renderings of Biblia Sahidica
(coming are Luke 23:43 & Revelation 3:14)

John 1:1
The Greek text of this verse has been the subject of much controversy. A controversy that focuses on the QEOS of the third copulative clause. How in Greek should a Pre- Verbal Anathrous Predicate Nominative Singular Count Noun be rendered? Should it be seen as definite or indefinite? If as a third option it is seen to be primarily qualitative, does it still retain the nature of a substantive? There is much theologically guided debate. Many different translations have been offered. The translator's of the Sahidic Version knew Koine better than anyone today can claim to; they grew up immersed in it because it was an important international language in their day. How did they understand the Greek, as reflected in their translation?

1:1a Hn tehoueite nefshoop nci pshaje
1:1b Auw pshaje nefshoop nnahrm pnoute
1:1c Auw neunoute pe pshaje

In the third clause we have neunoute, which means "a god". There can be no question about whether this word is definite or not; it is clear, it has the indefinite article ou. This is something that the Greek language does not have. Greek has the definite article and employs zero article. In Greek when there is zero article (anathrous) a noun may be definite or indefinite. In Greek QEOS has no article so there is a question about whether it is definite or indefinite. The same question can not be asked about the Coptic. Coptic employs the definite, indefinite and zero articles and the translator's chose the indefinite article ou.

A literal translation would therefore be "and a god was the Word" or "and the Word was a divine being"
Does such a translation convey the sense of the Coptic indefinite article?

In Coptic the indefinite article is sometimes used with abstract nouns and mass nouns so it does not precisely correspond to the English indefinite article.
So the Coptic oumoou (a water) = "some water" and oume (a truth) = (a particular) "truth" where as in contrast tme (the truth) = "truth" (in general).
The word noute here is neither an abstract noun or a mass noun, it is count noun.
Dr Leyton in his Coptic Grammar, writes concerning the use of the indefinite article with the word noute:
"The indef. article is part of the Coptic syntactic pattern. This pattern predicates either a quality (we'd omit the English article in English: "is divine") or an entity ("is a god"); the reader decides which reading to give it. The Coptic pattern does NOT predicate equivalence with the proper name "God"; in Coptic, God is always without exception supplied with the def. article. Occurrence of an anarthrous noun in this pattern would be odd."
So Dr Leyton says that the syntactic pattern that includes an indefinite noun can convey the sense of:
1) quality "is divine"
2) entity "is a god"
The reader decides.
He does not say that a noun can technically become an adjective when it has ou, but rather it can convey the sense of an adjective. The Coptic language elsewhere uses the prefix n with noute to technically make it an adjective, "divine". (Smith says for one use of n- "forms adjectives", see also Crum 231 a)
The English indefinite article conveys a similar sense to the Coptic as used here. It can simply categorize or it can convey various degrees of quality, so that in some cases an indefinite noun may approximate an adjective.
For exampe "you are a sinner" conveys quality and may be alternatively put "you are sinful"
When a subject is identified as a member of a class, to some degree the characteristics of the class are in view, and this remains true across languages.
ounoute is technically an indefinite noun, and the full sense of it is conveyed by means of the English indefinite article "the Word was a god". Still a translator may perceive that contextual emphasis is more on quality than entity, and choose to use an adjective "and the Word was divine" to convey the sense.
This translation is offered by Manal Gabr, in his thesis Philological studies of the Coptic versions of the Gospel of John. It is the convention of this thesis to offer the English rendering of the New King James Version when comparing passages in Coptic and Greek, but for the author to offer his own translation when he feels that the NKJV does not accurately reflect the Coptic. So the grammarian does not consider the NKJV's 'the Word was God' to accurately reflect the Coptic.
A third option, is to convey quality and entity with equal force
"and the Word was a divine being"

What is certain, and some might find it disturbing, is that the translation that has stood for centuries as the traditional English rendering, namely "the Word was God" can not be got from the Sahidic text. It just can not stretch to it.

It has been the tradition to include the capital letter with "God" at 1:1c. In English, capital letters are only used with proper nouns, such nouns are specific and can not be contrasted in number. As proper names in English are specific, "God" in the traditional translation reads as definite.

QEOS and noute are both count nouns, they should only be given an initial capital letter if they are contextually used as proper nouns. When in English one reads "the Word was with God and the Word was God", "God" in both cases must have the same referent. This is also the case if the Greek QEOS of 1:1c is considered definite like the QEOS in the previous clause. If "God" in 1:1b is the Father, then the traditional translation teaches that the Word is the Father. Such a teaching is called embryonic Sabellionism. Many Trinitarians now recognize this as an implication of viewing QEOS in 1:1 c as definite.

The truth is that QEOS in 1:1c is not definite as the Sahidic Version explicitly testifies.

The verse should be literally translated "and the Word was a divine being" or "and the Word was a god*".

*In the Holy Scriptures, both angels and men are at times called "gods"(Ex 4:16; 7:1; Ps 8:5; 82:1,6) this does not mean that there are many rightful objects of worship, a pantheon of deities. Rather those called gods, are called such because of characteristics they have or roles they play. The one called the Word is superior to those men and angels previously mentioned, how much more so then, can the Word be properly called a god(Joh 10:34-36), though he is not the supreme One, the Father, who we alone call God and who alone is given the respect and devotion for being such.