We’ve recently pre-pubbed a collection called the Sahidic Coptic Collection. I can hear the questions already:
- Why worry about a language like Coptic?
- What is Coptic, anyway?
- How could that ever be useful?
I’m sure there are other questions along those lines. The short answer to them all is that the Sahidic Coptic editions of New Testament writings are very valuable for text-critical purposes.
Yes, I can see the eyes rolling now, but please, keep up with me. For at least a little longer.
You see, the Sahidic Coptic editions of the New Testament were some of the first translations from the Greek New Testament into another language. And because Coptic has much affinity with Greek (sharing the most of the same alphabet and even sharing many Greek words) those who know a little Greek (like me) can muddle through Coptic after spending time to learn the alphabet and some basic vocabulary.
The resources in the Sahidic Coptic Collection make this a little easier for the Coptic neophyte (that’s where I am) and the folks who are big-time into Coptic.
Because the Sahidic Coptic editions we have are likely very early, they provide an early glimpse into the texts they are translations of. And because most editions are extremely (almost woodenly) literal, they can provide insight into the underlying text — helping in the quest to “establish the text” which is one of the first steps in any serious exegete’s process.
So let’s take an easy example from John 1.28 and see what we can find.