Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Anthony the Great, Pachomius the Great, Shenoute
Post Reply
Shenoute
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:23 pm

Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by Shenoute »

This thread is for discussion about Chapter 1 of the Gospel according to John in Coptic.
Whether you read Coptic or not, comments are welcome about the Coptic text itself, its relationship with other versions, etc.

Horner's Sahidic edition (1911)
Horner's Bohairic edition (1898)
Sahidic text at Coptic Scriptorium

Greek text (Nestle-Aland 28)

Vulgate
(Stuttgart)

Shenoute
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by Shenoute »

To get the ball rolling, here are some reading notes on verses 1-19.

v. 1 ϩⲛ̄ ⲧⲉϩⲟⲩⲉⲓⲧⲉ "In the beginning"
The Sahidic translation differs from the Bohairic one, which uses the Greek loanword ϧⲉⲛ ⲧⲁⲣⲭⲏ.
An older proto-Bohairic witness, P. Bodmer III (possibly 4th c.; Kasser 1958), uses the indefinite article (ϧⲉⲛ ⲟⲩⲁⲣⲭⲏ) for both John and Genesis.

ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡⲉ ⲡϣⲁϫⲉ
I seem to recall that the use of the indefinite article here is seen as capital by Jehovah's Witnesses because it somehow supports their theological views on Jesus' divinity (don't quote me on that). Much is also made of Lambdin writing that "the use of the Coptic articles, both definite and indefinite, corresponds closely to the use of the articles in English" (Introduction, p.5). Taken together, these facts are seen as supporting their translation "And the word was a god".
Of course, they generally forget to quote Lambdin in full and to acknowledge that his Introduction is not a reference grammar. Lambdin was painting the broad picture (just before nuancing it) and the use of Coptic articles shows plenty of specificities when compared to English.
Still, I think the use of the indefinite here is interesting.

v. 4 ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲱⲛϩ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲟⲩⲟⲓⲛ ⲛ̄ⲣ̄ⲣⲱⲙⲉ "And the life was the light of men"
The text I'm reading (5th c.; P. Palau Rib. 183; Quecke 1984) apparently assimilates ⲛ in front of ⲃ, ⲗ and ⲣ on a regular basis. Hence ⲛ̄ⲣ̄ⲣⲱⲙⲉ instead of ⲛ̄ⲛ̄ⲣⲱⲙⲉ.

v. 9 ⲡⲟⲩⲟⲓⲛ ⲙ̄ⲙⲉⲉ ⲉⲧⲣ̄ ⲟⲩⲟⲓⲛ ⲉⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲡⲉ ⲉϥⲛⲏⲩ ⲉⲡⲕⲟⲥⲙⲟⲥ "it is the true light shining for every man(,) coming to the world"
I remember reading about some ambiguity in the Greek about the "coming to the world" clause. Does it refer to the light or to "every man"?
Jerome chose the latter (hominem venientem) but the Nova Vulgata has the former: Erat lux vera, quae illuminat omnem hominem, veniens in mundum.
P. Palau Rib. 183 doesn't help choosing between the two since circumstancial ⲉϥ- can refer to both.
Ms. Pierpont Morgan M569 (a 9th c. manuscript), has solved the ambiguity by using a relative clause ⲉⲧ-: ⲡⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓⲛ ⲙ̄ⲙⲉ ⲉⲧⲣ̄ ⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓⲛ ⲉⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲉⲧⲛⲏⲩ ⲉⲡⲕⲟⲥⲙⲟⲥ "the true light that shines for every man who is coming to the world".

v. 12 ⲁϥϯ ⲛⲁⲩ ⲛ̄ⲧⲉⲝⲟⲩⲥⲓⲁ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲩϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛ̄ϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲛ̄ⲧⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ "he gave them the power to become children of God"
What triggers the use of ⲛ̄ⲧⲉ is not always clear to me. Layton §148 explains that ⲛ̄ⲧⲉ "expresses the subsumed natural relationship of part to whole, component to system, offshoot to source, etc.—the first term being the part and the second being the whole." Seen in this light, I guess it may make sense to differentiate between humans being "children of God" and Jesus being "the Son of God".
But I'm not sure I find this entirely convincing. For instance, the sentence here can be compared to:
- ϫⲉⲕⲁⲥ ⲉⲧⲉⲧⲛϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛ̄ϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲙ̄ⲡⲉⲧⲉⲛⲉⲓⲱⲧ "so that you become children of your father" (Mt 1:45)
- ϫⲉⲕⲁⲥ ⲉⲧⲉⲧⲛϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛ̄ϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲛ̄ⲧⲉ ⲡⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓⲛ "so that you become children of the light" (Jn 12:36).
Almost identical sentences, very similar context, and yet one uses ⲙ̄, the other ⲛ̄ⲧⲉ.

User avatar
mahasacham
Textkit Member
Posts: 166
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:05 am

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by mahasacham »

I was a little confused on the controversial section of John 1:1

ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡⲉ ⲡϣⲁϫⲉ

Does the "ⲛⲉ" go with "ⲡⲉ" to make it a past continuous converter? otherwise a really wacky interpretation is "their gods were the word" hahahahaha.....i mean i have heard that John is the most gnostic gospel

Shenoute
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by Shenoute »

Yes, John can be somewhat hard to parse. Should have gone with Matthew if we wanted simple narratives :D

I guess that, in a vacuum, it's possible to read ⲛⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ as "their gods". Of course, context alone kind of rules out this reading here since no "they" have been mentioned so far.

But no matter what reading of ⲛⲉ- we adopt, ⲡⲉ has to be the copula, not part of the imperfect pattern ⲛⲉ....ⲡⲉ. Otherwise we're left with only Noun1 Noun2 as a nominal sentence and I don't think that's possible.

User avatar
mahasacham
Textkit Member
Posts: 166
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:05 am

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by mahasacham »

1:13 ⲛⲁⲓ̈ ⲉⲛϩⲉⲛⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲁⲛ ⲛⲉ ⲛ̅ⲟⲩⲱϣ ⲛ̅ⲥⲛⲟϥ ϩⲓ ⲥⲁⲣⲝ ⲟⲩⲇⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲙ̅ ⲡⲟⲩⲱϣ ⲛ̅ⲣ̅ⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ⲛ̅ⲧⲁⲩϫⲡⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲙ̅ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ.

I was having trouble with this part.

"ⲉⲛϩⲉⲛⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲁⲛ ⲛⲉ". Not sure what ⲉⲛϩⲉⲛⲉⲃⲟⲗ is. Send like a complex proposition but not sure how it relates to the rest of the sentence.

Shenoute
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by Shenoute »

I think the difficulty lies in the not-so-obvious fact that ⲉⲃⲟⲗ (ϩ)ⲛ̄ can turned into a noun by being preceded by the article: ⲟⲩ-ⲉⲃⲟⲗ (ϩ)ⲛ̄ X > "a from-X".
For instance:
- ⲡⲁⲓ ⲟⲩⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙ̄ⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲡⲉ "This one is a from-them" (Mk 14:69)
- ⲡⲧⲏⲣϥ ⲇⲉ ϩⲉⲛⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙ̄ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲉ "The whole is things from God" (2Cor 5:18).

It is often found in combination with ⲧⲱⲛ "where" to ask/tell about someone or something's origin:
ⲡⲃⲁⲡⲧⲓⲥⲙⲁ ⲛ̄ⲓⲱϩⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ ⲟⲩⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲧⲱⲛ ⲡⲉ. ⲟⲩⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ̄ ⲧⲡⲉ ⲡⲉ.
"The baptism of John, it is a from-where? It is a from-Heaven" (Mt 21:25).


In John 1:13:
ϩⲉⲛⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛ̅ⲟⲩⲱϣ ⲛ̅ⲥⲛⲟϥ ϩⲓ ⲥⲁⲣⲝ > "(things) from desire of blood and flesh"
ⲉⲛ...ⲁⲛ is the negation.
ⲛ̅ⲟⲩⲱϣ ⲛ̅ⲥⲛⲟϥ ϩⲓ ⲥⲁⲣⲝ is rejected after the copula (cf. Lambdin 5.1 ⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲡⲉ ⲙ̄ⲡⲟⲩⲏⲏⲃ "He is the son of the priest").

I hope this helps!

big_anemone
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:01 am

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by big_anemone »

https://library.oapen.org/bitstream/han ... sAllowed=y

This is a (free!) link to a newish critical edition of John in Coptic.

User avatar
mahasacham
Textkit Member
Posts: 166
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:05 am

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by mahasacham »

Awesome!

User avatar
mahasacham
Textkit Member
Posts: 166
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:05 am

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by mahasacham »

Shenoute wrote: Tue Aug 23, 2022 5:42 pm I think the difficulty lies in the not-so-obvious fact that ⲉⲃⲟⲗ (ϩ)ⲛ̄ can turned into a noun by being preceded by the article: ⲟⲩ-ⲉⲃⲟⲗ (ϩ)ⲛ̄ X > "a from-X".
For instance:
- ⲡⲁⲓ ⲟⲩⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙ̄ⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲡⲉ "This one is a from-them" (Mk 14:69)
- ⲡⲧⲏⲣϥ ⲇⲉ ϩⲉⲛⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙ̄ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲉ "The whole is things from God" (2Cor 5:18).

It is often found in combination with ⲧⲱⲛ "where" to ask/tell about someone or something's origin:
ⲡⲃⲁⲡⲧⲓⲥⲙⲁ ⲛ̄ⲓⲱϩⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ ⲟⲩⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲧⲱⲛ ⲡⲉ. ⲟⲩⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ̄ ⲧⲡⲉ ⲡⲉ.
"The baptism of John, it is a from-where? It is a from-Heaven" (Mt 21:25).


In John 1:13:
ϩⲉⲛⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛ̅ⲟⲩⲱϣ ⲛ̅ⲥⲛⲟϥ ϩⲓ ⲥⲁⲣⲝ > "(things) from desire of blood and flesh"
ⲉⲛ...ⲁⲛ is the negation.
ⲛ̅ⲟⲩⲱϣ ⲛ̅ⲥⲛⲟϥ ϩⲓ ⲥⲁⲣⲝ is rejected after the copula (cf. Lambdin 5.1 ⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲡⲉ ⲙ̄ⲡⲟⲩⲏⲏⲃ "He is the son of the priest").

I hope this helps!

I forgot about the old ⲟⲩ in front of the preposition trick.

Shenoute
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by Shenoute »

Nice find, big_anemone, thanks!

Not much to say about verses 20-34. After the lofty prologue, things get more down-to-earth. I like the to-and-fro between John the Baptist and the priests/Levites/Pharisians: "Who are you? Are you X? - No. - So, you're Y? - No. - Ok, but you have to give us something. (...) - So, if you're neither X nor Y nor Z, why are you baptising?" etc.

v. 23 ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲧⲉ ⲧⲉⲥⲙⲏ... "I am the voice..."
I noticed the female copula ⲧⲉ so I guess I was unconsciously expecting ⲡⲉ. The Pierpont Morgan manuscript M569 has ⲡⲉ here.

ϩⲓ ⲡϫⲁⲓⲉ "in the desert"
I must have seen this dozens of times but I still notice the use of ϩⲓ with ϫⲁⲓⲉ: the desert is something you're "on", not "in".

v. 26 ⲃⲁⲡⲧⲓⲍⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ̄ ⲟⲩⲙⲟⲟⲩ vs. ⲃⲁⲡⲧⲓⲍⲉ ϩⲙ̄ ⲡⲙⲟⲟⲩ v. 33 "to baptise in water"
I don't know what nuance i expressed here, if any.

Shenoute
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by Shenoute »

v.39 ⲁⲙⲏⲉⲓⲧⲛ̄ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲧⲉⲧⲛⲁⲛⲁⲩ "Come (pl.) and you will see"
while v. 46 makes use of the conjunctive ⲁⲙⲟⲩ ⲛⲅ̄ⲛⲁⲩ "Come (sg.) and see"

v. 46 ⲉⲣⲉϣ ⲟⲩⲁⲅⲁⲑⲟⲛ ⲛⲁϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ̄ ⲛⲁⲍⲁⲣⲉⲑ "Will a good thing be able to come out of Nazareth?"
The auxiliary -ϣ "to be able to" comes before the nominal subject, contrary to what happens with a suffixal subject.

v. 48 ⲉⲙⲡⲁⲧⲉ ⲫⲓⲗⲓⲡⲡⲟⲥ ⲙⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲉⲣⲟⲕ ⲛ̄ϩⲟⲩⲛ ϩⲁ ⲧⲃⲱ ⲛ̄ⲕⲛ̄ⲧⲉ "Before Philippe called you under the fig tree"
At first I thought ⲛ̄ϩⲟⲩⲛ could be read with ⲙⲟⲩⲧⲉ: ⲙⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛ̄ϩⲟⲩⲛ "to invite" but v. 50 ⲁⲓⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲣⲟⲕ ⲛ̄ϩⲟⲩⲛ ϩⲁ ⲧⲃⲱ ⲛ̄ⲕⲛ̄ⲧⲉ "I saw you under the fig tree" shows that ⲛ̄ϩⲟⲩⲛ just reinforces ϩⲁ "under" here.

v. 51 ⲛⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙ̄ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲉⲩⲛⲁ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲩⲛⲏⲩ ⲉⲡⲉⲥⲏⲧ "The angels of God going up and coming down"
Here ⲛⲁ is the verb "to go", not the future auxiliary. In this role, it is of course far less common than ⲃⲱⲕ in Sahidic but it seems that ⲛⲁ is often used in collocation with ⲛⲏⲩ. Maybe forming something similar to English "to-and-fro". Crum CD 217b-218a has some nice exemples from Shenoute (among others):
ⲉⲛⲧⲁⲩϫⲟⲟⲥ ⲟⲛ ⲛⲧⲉⲓϩⲉ ϫⲉ ⲡⲟⲩⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲟⲩⲁⲙⲟⲣⲣⲁⲓⲟⲥ ⲡⲉ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲟⲩⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲟⲩ ⲙⲟⲛⲟⲛ ϫⲉ ⲉϥϥⲓ ϩⲁⲡⲉⲧⲟ ⲛⲛⲟⲉⲓⲕ ⲉⲧⲉϥϣⲉⲉⲣⲉ ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ⲉϥⲣϩⲟⲩⲉⲙⲉ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉϥⲟ ⲛⲁϥ ⲛϣⲃⲣⲟⲩⲱⲙ ϩⲓⲥⲱ ⲉϥⲛⲁ ⲉϥⲛⲏⲩ ϩⲙⲡⲉϥⲏⲓ ⲛⲑⲉ ⲛⲟⲩϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲟⲩⲥⲟⲛ (Leipoldt 1908, p. 76, l. 10-14)

And in the same way, "Your (f.) father is an Amorite" is said about a father, not only because he puts up with his daughter's adulterer, but rather loves him all the more and he is his eating- and drinking-buddy, coming and going in his house like a son and a brother"

Sic etiam : "Pater tuus Amorrhaeus est" de patre quodam dictum est, non solum, quia filiae adulterum tolerat, verum eum plus diligit et ipsi in edendo et bibendo sodalis est, domum eius frequentat more filii et fratris (Wiesmann 1931, p. 42, l. 8-11)

Shenoute
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by Shenoute »

How are you doing, mahasacham? Should we move on to chapter 2?

User avatar
mahasacham
Textkit Member
Posts: 166
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:05 am

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by mahasacham »

Yeah i think I got most of chapter one. So we can move to chapter 2.

But real quick. I was having trouble with this verse.

1:15 ⲓ̈ⲱϩⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ ϥⲣ̅ⲙⲛ̅ⲧⲣⲉ ⲉⲧⲃⲏⲏⲧϥ̅ ⲁⲩⲱ ϥⲁϣⲕⲁⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙ̅ⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲡⲁⲓ̈ ⲡⲉ ⲛ̅ⲧⲁⲓ̈ϫⲟⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲃⲏⲏⲧϥ̅ ϫⲉ ⲡⲉⲧⲛⲏⲩ ⲙⲛ̅ⲛ̅ⲥⲱⲉ᷍ⲓ ⲁϥϣⲱⲡⲉ ϩⲁ ⲧⲁϩⲏ ϫⲉ ⲛⲉϥⲟ ⲛ̅ϣⲟⲣⲡ̅ ⲉⲣⲟⲓ̈ ⲡⲉ

Not sure about the mechanics of this phase. ⲁϥϣⲱⲡⲉ ϩⲁ ⲧⲁϩⲏ. Does ⲧⲁϩⲏ mean to cause to stand? Or is it a preposition.

Shenoute
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: Coptic Reading Group: Gospel of John, Chapter 1

Post by Shenoute »

Great! I'll create the thread for chapter 2.

About ⲧⲁϩⲏ, it's the feminine noun ϩⲏ "fore part, front, beginning", preceded by the definite article and the 1st p. sg. possessive. Here it is used in conjunction with the preposition ϩⲁ "under, in, at, ...". Literally, ϩⲁ ⲧⲁϩⲏ is something like "at my front" > "before/in front of me".

Post Reply