Saturday, September 13, 2008

Magazine article about Coptic John 1:1

The November 1, 2008 issue of The Watchtower magazine, currently printing 37.1 million copies per issue in 169 different languages, has a significant article that mentions the Sahidic Coptic translation of John 1:1.

The title of the article is: Was the Word “God” or “a god”?


Hn tehoueite nefshoop ngi pshaje
Auw pshaje nefshoop nnahrm pnoute
Auw neunoute pe pshaje

A literal translation of the Sahidic Coptic:

In the beginning existed the word
And the word existed in the presence of the god
And a god was the word

Unlike the contemporaneous versions in Syriac and Latin, the Sahidic Coptic language has both the definite and indefinite grammatical articles in its syntactical system. The Coptic translators used the Coptic definite article in identifying the God that the Word was with, and they used the Coptic indefinite article in identifying the divinity of the Word. This is a feature in both the Sahidic and the Bohairic Coptic versions.