The Coptic Language and Bible
Glory to God through Christ Jesus!
The Coptic language is a language which was used in Egypt from around 200 BC to 1700. It was "an adaptation of the Greek alphabet with the addition of six or seven signs from Demotic to represent Egyptian sounds the Greek language did not have."
The reason why I am adding information about the Coptic language to this website is because many ancient Coptic bibles have been found, and they almost always follow the Septuagint Greek, and have helped to PRESERVE the ancient Greek Septuagint versions of the Old Testament!
Here is a graph I put together comparing the Greek alphabet with the Coptic alphabet. In each box you will see two sets of letters. The Coptic is on top and the Greek below. I also listed the name of the letter, unless it has the same exact name as the Greek letter.
There are 32 letters in the Coptic alphabet. The first 25 are derived from Greek letters that have their origin in the Egyptian Hieroglyphic script (via the Phoenician alphabet). The last 7 letters are directly derived from the Egyptian Demotic Script.
There have been many Coptic books of the bible which have been published with many critical notes, which, to me, are fascinating to read. These men's extensive works have greatly helped to spur my interest in learning the Coptic language and studying these bibles. And their work has encouraged me to study God's word more. It's fascinating to think that when the Lord and His parents went to Egypt, the Coptic language was the main language used there. (Matthew 2:13–23)
Here are some books you can view in the PDF format:
There are also TWO sets of the New Testament translated into English from the Coptic, Northern Dialect (1898) and Southern Dialect (1911). Both of these sets are in parallel format (Coptic and English) and provide and extensive critical apparatus with notes in English, Latin and Greek!
"The two main dialects, Sahidic and Bohairic, are the most important for the study of early versions of the New Testament. The Sahidic was the leading dialect in the pre-Islamic period. The earliest Bohairic manuscripts date to the 4th century , but most texts come from the 9th century and later."
"There have been many Coptic versions of the Bible, including some of the earliest translations into any language. Several different versions were made in the ancient world, with different editions of the Old and New Testament in all four of the major dialects of Coptic: Bohairic (northern), Fayyumic, Sahidic (southern), Akhmimic, and Mesokemic. Biblical books were translated from the Alexandrian Greek version.
The Sahidic was the leading dialect in the pre-Islamic period, after the 11th century Bohairic became dominant and the only used dialect of the Coptic language.
Partial copies of a number of Coptic Bibles survive. A considerable number of apocryphal texts also survive in Coptic, most notably the Gnostic Nag Hammadi library. Coptic remains the liturgical language of the Coptic Church and Coptic editions of the Bible are central to that faith."