Tuesday, October 17, 2006

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.
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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


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