Monday, July 23, 2007

An Interesting Coptic Resource

Coptic grammarian Bentley Layton has a new book, Coptic in 20 Lessons: Introduction to Sahidic Coptic With Exercises & Vocabularies (Peeters Leuven, 2007)

In this book on page 7, Layton diagrams Coptic John 1:1c literally as:

auw ne. u.noute pe p.Saje
And past tense marker- a-god is the-Word

He also provides the traditional English rendering "And the Word was God." But the traditional English rendering is at variance with the literal Coptic translation, which is clearly "And the Word was a god."

On page 34 of his grammar, Layton observes that Coptic ou.noute pe could signal adjectively "he is divine." But when referring to entities, the translation would be "he is a god."

Therefore, Coptic John 1:1c, auw ne.u.noute pe p.Saje can be rendered authoritatively as "the Word was a god," or "the Word was divine," "the Word was a divine being," or similar, since the Coptic construction here is indefinite.

For the same reason, the Coptic version does not support a definite rendering like "the Word was God," despite this being traditional.