Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Importance of the Sahidic Coptic version

The distinguished grammarian and Coptic scholar John Martin Plumley, former professor of Egyptology at Cambridge University and author of Introductory Coptic Grammar, (London: Home & Van Thal, 1948), had this to say about the significance of the Sahidic Coptic version:

"While there are limitations to the use which can be made of the Coptic version as an aid to the recovery of the original Greek text of the New Testament . . . it should also be recognized that by and large the Coptic version can be a valuable aid to the scholar engaged in textual criticism, and because in certain passages it preserves very ancient traditions of interpretation, it ought to be of considerable interest to the scholar working on the history and development of Christian doctrine." -- Quoted in The Early Versions of the New Testament, by Dr. Bruce M. Metzger


Anonymous said...
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Colin Maxwell said...

Can you give us the rendering of the Coptic John for the folowing verses? Is it "a god" or "God"?



Memra said...

John 1:6: "God" (p.noute)
John 1:12: "God" (p.noute)
John 1:13: "God" (p.noute)
John 1:18: "God: (p.noute)

In each verse above the Greek word theos (god) is anarthrous, but is the object of a preposition or a verb (i.e., either genitive or accusative case), so the Coptic translators saw the word "theos" in those verses as definite by context.

Matt13weedhacker said...

Hello Memra.

Excellent blog.

I have a question.

I remember reading through the forum on Coptic John 1:1 and somewhere it mentioned that the Boharic dialect version also was literally "...a god..." in the text, but the Cptic Church version just went with the standard Trinitarian rendering "...was God..." etc.

Is that true?

And can you post some information with references on that please.

Have great day.

Matt13weedhacker said...


Have a look at my Blog. See what you think.

I am a Jehovahs Witness.

Haven't published much yet, but I got a lot info to come.

Heres the link:

Matt13weedhacker said...


Hey sorry to bug you.

But if you have any info on other dialects other than Boharic and Sihadic that would be great.

Specifically on John 1:1c, of course.


Memra said...

Matt13, I have just seen your comments.

Thanks for the link to your blog. The depth of information on it is fantastic. Your blog is very useful and well-researched.

To clarify about John 1:1 and the modern Coptic Church: Both the Sahidic Coptic version (2nd/3rd century) and the Bohairic Coptic version (5th century) say that "the Word was a god" at John 1:1c, using the Sahdic and Bohairic indefinite article before the Coptic word for God.

However, in published works in English by the Coptic Church, the church does not quote from their own Coptic translations. Rather, they use the English King James Version to quote John 1:1.

Since Athanasius (4th century), the Coptic Church has become Trinitarian, and the King James Version is more suitable to their adopted Trinitarian beliefs than is their own Coptic Bible.

It is a shame that the Coptic Church does not use its own Bible for John 1:1, but now their Bible does not fit their adopted theology.

Matt13weedhacker said...

Hello Memra.

I have a question.

The Coptic version is an old and significant witness to NT readings.

I was wondering what it says at 1st Thessalonians 4:13 through to verse 16 about Jesus having the voice of an archangel. And Hebrews chapters 1 & 2. I was wondering how these are rendered in the Coptic?

Could you do a blog post on the subject?

Or if you just want to leave a reply here that would be fine.

Also Isa 9:6 and Malachi 3:1 and Psalm 8:3-6 in the OT version of the Coptic would be very helpful. I particuarly interested to see wether it follows the LXX in Isa 9:6 "Angel of Grand Counsel".

And if there are variants between the dialects of Coptic aswell in these verses.

Looking forward to your reply.


You can email me if you like at:

Matt13weedhacker said...

Hello Memra.

Sorry to be a pain.

But if you can find what the OT & NT Coptic versions say on these scriptures:

Gen 6:1-5; 16:7-13; 18:1-19:? (Angels at Sodom) 22:24-30; (Jacob wrestling with Angel) 48:15,16; (Redeeming Angel) Exo 3:1-6,14; 13:21; 14:19; 23:20-23; (Angel name in him) 33:1-3,14,15; Deuteronomy 4:37; Joshua 5:14,15; Judges 2:1; Chap 13; 1st Kings 22:19-22; 2nd Chronicles 18:18-21; Job 1&2 (Satan & Sons of God accounts) Psalm 103:19; 148:1,2; Isaiah 63:9-14; Ezekial 34:23,24; 37:25; Daniel 10:13, 20,21; 12:1; Zechariah 3:1-3;

Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 2:9-15; John 5:25,28,29; 8:26; 12:49; Acts 7:30,35,38,53; 1st Cor 10:1-4; Galations 3:19; 4:14; Heb 2:2; Jude 1:9; Revelation 1:1,5-7; 12:1-17; 19:13-16;

I know this is asking alot from you and your time.

Anything would be helpful and I would be grateful for what you do.

May Jehovah bless you in all you do.

Trish said...

May I ask where is this great facsimile of this Coptic Text!!? Where is the book,( or fragment) or what ever it is? Please help! I want to look closer at it. Where is it and Why is it not available for all to see?? ---- easily??? I searched, I see a study of Coptic is available and very much more. But to get us going- please post a large large picture some where .... I see small little images of this first of John Coptic, but I want to see very, very, very, up close and personal!! To see with my own two eyes-- Thank you very much! Please help! Please make this manuscript available or fragment picture available, for all to see if it is possible or help me find it. (Shall I start planning a trip?) Thank you very much, thank you before hand! Trish

Memra said...


For background information on the Sahidic Coptic text, see:

For the Sahidic Coptic text of the Gospel of John and the only English translation commercially available, see:

Memra said...


The last link should be:

Matt13weedhacker said...

Hi Memra.

I have a question on the Coptic text of Revelation 3:2

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:
"...before God-Greek, "in the sight of God." The three oldest manuscripts, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic, read, "before (in the sight of) MY God..."

But on my E-SWORD software it gives:

(CNT-ND-(eng)) Be thou then watchful, and confirm (the) remainder; otherwise thou wilt die: because I found not thy works fulfilled with my God.

(CNT-SD-(eng)) Become watchful, and confirm the rest also, these which are about to die: for I found not thy works fulfilled before God.

The Northern Dialect translation is from Henry Frowde

The Southern Dialect translation is from George William Horner.

Am I correct (or incorrect) in suspecting Horner has made bias reading here instead of what the literal Southern Coptic actually says?

Can you help?

Unknown said...

There is a problem with the polytheism of the Watchtower. The Watchtower proclaims the existence of two gods, one with a big "G" and the other with a small "g". This is in direct contradiction with the Bible, which teaches strict monotheism (the belief in the existence of only ONE God). The Bible clearly teaches that there is explicitly only ONE God in existence. There are no other big "G" Gods or small "g" gods. Both Jews and Christians strictly advocate that there is only ONE being who is God by nature. All else are false Gods (or gods).

The Watchtower's own New World Translation clearly teaches that there is only ONE God:

ISAIAH 43:10 "YOU are my witnesses," is the utterance of Jehovah, "even
my servant whom I have chosen, in order that YOU may know and have faith in me, and that YOU may understand that I am the same One. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none."

ISAIAH 44:6 This is what Jehovah has said, the King of Israel and the Repurchaser of him, Jehovah of armies, "I am the first and I am the last, and besides me, there is no God."

ISAIAH 45:5 I am Jehovah, and there is no one else. With the exception of me there is no God.

The Bible also teaches there is nothing in all of existence that even remotely shares His nature (or essence, or divinity).

The NWT supports this too:

1 CHRONICLES 17:20 O Jehovah, there is none like you, and there is no God except you in connection with all that we have heard with our ears.

ISAIAH 46:9 Remember the first things of long ago, that I am the Divine One, and there is no other God, nor anyone like me...

JEREMIAH 10:6 In no way is there anyone like you, O Jehovah.

With clear, strong words, you cannot mistake the message from each verse. There is nothing (whether person or thing) who is like Jehovah; who shares in His divine nature, or has a divine nature even remotely close to His. The John 1:1 renderings:

...and the Word was a god.
...and a god was the Word.
...and the Word was divine.
...and the Word was god-like.

are all in error by virtue of being contrary to biblical teaching. It has been demonstrated above that the Bible clearly teaches:

[1] there is only one being with the nature of God
[2] there are no other beings who share, or come close to sharing, that nature.

If you know of a being that does, then you know more than God; for as we have seen in the above texts, even God Himself knows of no other god or of any other being that is like Him.

The Word cannot be a god, for that flies in the face of biblical monotheism.

The Word cannot be god-like, divine, or godly, for that too flies in the face of biblical monotheism.

If John 1:1 is not a statement of quality, or a statement of entity, then what is it? WHAT is the Word? That is, of what essence is the Word? If he is the stuff of God then "the Word was God." If he is not of the same stuff as God, then what is he because he cannot be "a god", etc. What is John (or in this case, the Coptics) trying to tell us about the Word?

The Watchtower makes the Word out to be a god, divine, or god-like; making the Word a minor deity next to Jehovah. So there are two being in existence that have the stuff of godhood, Jehovah and the Word (Michael the archangel). This is in direct violation of biblical monotheism. Jehovah's Witnesses then are polytheists which puts them far outside the realm of biblical Christianity, and along side the Hindus and Mormons. For decades the Watchtower has clung to their translation of John 1:1. And they cling tightly to the Coptic translation to support their claim that Jesus is a god (another God besides Jehovah God). They must be consistent then when accepting this translation, and they whole heartily do. For the translation they cling to clearly states that there is another god besides Jehovah, which logically means Jehovah's Witnesses are inescapably polytheists.

Unknown said...

Thanks for mailing a lot of twisted crock all decent and thorough Bible readers will be able to see through the smoke and mirrors in this previous blog,,take care.

Unknown said...

Thanks for mailing a lot of twisted crock all decent and thorough Bible readers will be able to see through the smoke and mirrors in this previous blog,,take care.

JimSpace said...

Carl S above fails to take into account that Biblical monotheism is monolatrism, the consistent worship of only one divine person in the divine/supernatural realm inhabited by divine/supernatural persons. The one divine person who receives full devotion and worship is the almighty creator.

This is explained further at my blog:

Thus, having an Almighty God in the divine court is obviously not polytheism, but is the arrangement of monolatrism.

Interested persons can also read on my blog how Trinitarianism is an anathematic misrepresentation of Biblical monotheism.