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Tovey, The Copts and the translations of the OT and NT

Reader comment on item: "Godless Saracens Threatening Destruction":
in response to reader comment: Explanation of the Holy One of Israel - In Hebrew Terms or Greek?

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Jan 4, 2021 at 15:18


The linguistic landscape in Egypt in late antiquity, and before of the Arab invasion in 642 AD, was as follows: Egyptians spoke their native language the Egyptian language (the script is now called Coptic script which is Greek alphabet with extra 6 consonants for consonants that were not in the Greek alphabet. Translations to Coptic of the OT and NT were made in the five dialects of the language. However, the most important is the Sahidic dialect which is the dialect of Upper Egypt and also the dialect used for writing the books of the "Library of Nag Hammadi" and it is really Classical Coptic.

Now, Greek was the language of the government, the educated elite as well as Alexandria. The New Testament was translated from the Greek original (Koine Greek) in the various dialects of the Egyptian language. As for the OT translations to Coptic, the source was the Greek version of the Septuagint (i'm not aware of translations from Hebrew to Egyptian). And there are plenty of fragments as well as complete books that are extant. No doubt that the dry climate helped in protecting the papyri from decay and this is why we have plenty of fragments and complete books.

Egypt also had a significant Syrian presence preserved in today's Deir el-Syrian with the Peshitta both OT and NT already available as early as the late second century AD


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