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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What is the Coptic Language and Why is it Important?

"The Coptic language was spoken in Egypt in the centuries immediately following Jesus' earthly ministry, and the Sahidic dialect was an early literary form of the language. Regarding the earliest Coptic translations of the Bible, The Anchor Bible Dictionary says: 'Since the [Septuagint} and the [Christian Greek Scriptures] were being translated into Coptic during the 3rd century C.E., the Coptic version is based on [Greek manuscripts] which are significantly older than the vast majority of extant [still-existing] witnesses.'"

[A significant fact concerning the Coptic language is that, unlike the Greek, it used an indefinite article ("a" or "an" in English).

So in NT Greek for example, the literal translation of John 1:6 is, "came to be man having been sent forth ...." But Bible translators always render 'man' here as 'a man.' This is because the Greek did not use any form of an indefinite article, and it had to be understood and supplied by the English translator.]

The Coptic, however, DID use a form of an indefinite article ('a' or 'an' in English).]

"Hence," says the WT article, "the Coptic translation supplies interesting evidence as to how John 1:1 would have been understood back then. What do we find? The Sahidic Coptic translation uses an indefinite article with the word 'god' in the final part of John 1:1 Thus, when rendered into modern English, the translation reads: 'And the Word was a god.'" - Nov. 1, 2008 Watchtower; page 25