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read/download important information, and reviews of Wells` work. PDF
A Few Notes Concerning
Mr. Joseph Warren Wells' Edition of the
Sahidic and Bohairic Texts of the New Testament
copyright © 2007, Mr. Gary S. Dykes
1
New Testament scholars and students are indebted to Mr. Wells
for his work on the text of the Coptic New Testament. His algorithmic
skills and his long interest in the Sahidic text are beginning to bear fruit.
Such fruit enables enhanced abilities for those who work with the Coptic
texts. Mr. Wells is probably the first person to actually present a work
which is a nucleus for a true standardized text of both the Sahidic and
Bohairic texts. At this point in time, the texts (as standardized texts) are
still being perfected, yet even at this stage we can observe the obvious
benefits.
Once a finalized standard text results, we can then use it as a
collation base, and begin to add tons and tons (hopefully) of weighty
evidence and manuscript readings. Without going into great detail, the
benefits of Mr. Wells' work are:
Ø Coptic abbreviations are written out in full
Ø Minimal use of accents, tremas and supralinear strokes.
Ø Separation of single word "phrases" into their individual parts of
speech (prepositions written as separate words et al).
Ø Standardization of punctuation
Ø The digital database is easy to work with, no Unicode needed.
Mr. Wells admits his indebtedness to the labors of the folks
involved with the PHI CD, as well as to the labors of Mr. Hany Takla, and
the editions of numerous published texts of the Coptic New
Testament(s).
2
As concerns Mr. Wells' Sahidic text:
It is almost identical with that of the work of Mr. Hany Takla of the
St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, especially in the Pauline
Corpus. However, Wells has improved Takla's work by presenting more
consistent data as regards the separations of pronouns and prepositions
from their objects and or nouns, this improvement was accomplished via
database comparisons via computer.
Despite the improved word divisions, both Takla and Wells rely
heavily upon Horner's work on the Sahidic text, however Takla better
reflects the earlier Sahidic text of the Beatty papyri, as stated in his
"introduction" to the Coptic CD, which introduction is here reproduced:
The Gospels
Source:
Bohairic Text: Oxford Bodleian Library, Ms Huntington 17, 1174 AD, paper, 20 lines.
Exceptions from the margin readings of the manuscript:
Mt 10:42
Mt 13:43
Mt 17:21
Mk 6:37
Mk 7:16
Mk 11:26
Mk 15:28
Lk 4:17
Lk 14:27
Lk 22:43
Lk 22:44
Lk 23:17
Lk 23:34
Lk 23:38
Jn 14:19
English Text: King James Version, 1611 AD
Greek Text: Nestle-Aland 26th edition
3
Lycopolitan Text: Cambridge University Library, British Foreign Bible Society Ms. ???,
4th century AD, papyrus, 2 columns
Middle Egyptian Text: New Jersey, Princeton University, Codex Scheide, 4-5th Century
AD, parchment. (St. Matthew only)
Old Bohairic Text: Geneva Bodmer Library Ms. III, 4th century AD, papyrus
Sahidic Text:
1. St. Matthew: New York Pierpont Morgan Library, M569, 8-9th Century AD,
parchment, 1-col.
2. St. Mark: Barcelona P.Palau Rib. Inv. -Nr.182, 5th century AD, parchment, 2columns.
3. St. Luke: Barcelona P.Palau Rib. Inv. -Nr.181, 5th century AD, parchment, 2columns.
4. St. John: Barcelona P.Palau Rib. Inv. -Nr.183, 5th century AD, parchment, 2columns.
Edition:
Bohairic Text: Horner, the Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern Dialect,
Oxford 1898-1905. v.1 (Matthew-Mark), v.2 (Luke-John)
English Text: Online Bible version 6.0 KJV-module, electronic version.
Greek Text: CCAT Greek New Testament electronic version.
Lycopolitan Text: Thompson, The Gospel of St. John According to the Earliest Coptic
Manuscript, London 1924. (St. John only)
Middle Egyptian Text: Schenke, Das Matthaus-Evangelium im Mittelägyptischen Dialekt
des Koptischen (Codex Scheide), Berlin, 1981. (St. Matthew only)
Old Bohairic Text: Kasser, Papyrus Bodmer III. Evangile de Jean et Genese I-IV,2 en
Bohairique. Louvain CSCO T.177 Script. Copt. T. 25 (Text), CSCO T.178 Script. Copt.
T.26 (French Translation). (St. John only)
Sahidic Text:
1. St. Matthew: Perez, G. A., El evangelio di San Matteo en Copto Sahidico, Madrid
1984.
2. St. Mark: Quecke, Das Markusevangelium Saidisch, Barcelona 1972.
3. St. Luke: Quecke, Das Lukasevangelium Saidisch, Barcelona 1977.
4. St. John: Quecke, Das Johannesevangelium Saidisch, Barcelona 1984.
Method of editing:
Bohairic Text: Same text as the printed edition with italicized additions from other
manuscripts.
The pointing system was revised to make the text more understandable grammatically
4
English Text: Same as the electronic edition
Greek Text: Same as the electronic edition, except for changing the notation of the
verse numbers to match the parallel text.
Middle Egyptian Text: Same as the printed edition
Lycopolitan Text: Same as the printed edition.
Old Bohairic Text: Same as the printed edition.
Sahidic Text: Same text as the printed edition with the pointing system was revised to
make the text more uniform
The Pauline Epistles
Source:
Bohairic Text: London British Library, OR.424, 1307 AD, paper
Exception from Paris National Library Copte 65, 1609 AD, paper:
Rm 16:24, 2Tes 1:2
English Text: King James Version, 1611 AD
Greek Text: Nestle-Aland 26th edition
Sahidic Text: Dublin, Chester Beatty Library Ms A., 600 AD, parchment
Edition:
Bohairic Text: Horner, The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern
Dialect, Oxford 1898-1905. v.3
English Text: Online Bible version 6.0 KJV-module, electronic version.
Greek Text: CCAT Greek New Testament electronic version.
Sahidic Text: Thompson, H., The Coptic Version of the Acts of the Apostles and the
Pauline Epistles in the Sahidic Dialect, Cambridge 1932
Method of editing:
Bohairic Text: Same text as the printed edition with italicized edition from other
manuscripts.
5
The pointing system was revised to make the text more understandable grammatically
English Text: Same as the electronic edition
Greek Text: Same as the electronic edition, except for changing the notation of the
verse numbers to match the parallel text.
Sahidic Text: Same text as the printed edition with the pointing system was revised to
make the text more uniform
The Catholic Epistles
Source:
Bohairic Text: London British Library, OR.424, 1307 AD, paper
English Text: King James Version, 1611 AD
Greek Text: Nestle-Aland 26th edition
Sahidic Text: New York Pierpont Morgan Library, M572, 9th Century AD, parchment
Edition:
Bohairic Text: Horner, The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern
Dialect, Oxford 1898-1905. v.4
English Text: Online Bible version 6.0 KJV-module, electronic version.
Greek Text: CCAT Greek New Testament electronic version.
Sahidic Text: Schussler, Die Katholischen Briefe in der Koptischen (Sahidischen)
Version, CSCO T.528, Script. Copt. T.45, Louvain 1991
Method of editing:
Bohairic Text: Same text as the printed edition with italicized edition from other
manuscripts.
The pointing system was revised to make the text more understandable grammatically
English Text: Same as the electronic edition
Greek Text: Same as the electronic edition, except for changing the notation of the
verse numbers to match the parallel text.
6
Sahidic Text: This is a hybrid text incorporating the different manuscripts used in the
edition with the pointing system revised to make the text more uniform
The Acts of the Apostles
Source:
Bohairic Text: London British Library, OR.424, 1307 AD, paper
Exception from the manuscript margin readings(?): 1:11, 15:34
Sahidic Text: Dublin, Chester Beatty Library Ms B., 600 AD, parchment
English Text: Online Bible version 6.0 KJV-module, electronic version.
Greek Text: CCAT Greek New Testament electronic version.
Edition:
Bohairic Text: Horner, The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern
Dialect, Oxford 1898-1905. v.4
English Text: Online Bible version 6.0 KJV-module, electronic version.
Greek Text: CCAT Greek New Testament electronic version.
Sahidic Text: Thompson, H., The Coptic Version of the Acts of the Apostles and the
Pauline Epistles in the Sahidic Dialect, Cambridge 1932
Method of editing:
Bohairic Text: Same text as the printed edition with italicized edition from other
manuscripts.
The pointing system was revised to make the text more understandable grammatically
English Text: Same as the electronic edition
Greek Text: Same as the electronic edition, except for changing the notation of the
verse numbers to match the parallel text.
Sahidic Text: Same text as the printed edition with the pointing system was revised to
make the text more uniform
7
Revelation
Source:
Bohairic Text: London British Library, OR.8773 (Curzon 128), 1320 AD, paper.
Exception: 9:15
English Text: King James Version, 1611 AD
Greek Text: Nestle-Aland 26th edition
Sahidic Text: London, British Library, OR.6803, 12th century AD, paper
Exception: 1:1-8a missing, 22:15-21 (a Berlin MS)
Edition:
Bohairic Text: Horner, The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern
Dialect, Oxford 1898-1905. v.4
English Text: Online Bible version 6.0 KJV-module, electronic version.
Greek Text: CCAT Greek New Testament electronic version.
Sahidic Text: Budge, Coptic Biblical Texts in the Dialect of Upper Egypt, London 1912.
First 8-1/2 verses missing, last 7 verses supplied from Goussen, Studia Theologica,
Leipzig, 1895.
Method of editing:
Bohairic Text: Same text as the printed edition with italicized edition from other
manuscripts.
The pointing system was revised to make the text more understandable grammatically
English Text: Same as the electronic edition
Greek Text: Same as the electronic edition, except for changing the notation of the
verse numbers to match the parallel text.
Sahidic Text: Same text as the printed edition with the pointing system revised to make
the text more uniform
__________________________________
Above material from: COPTIC CD Volume 1. St. Shenouda the Archimandrite
Coptic Society, Los Angeles, 1998. (Mr. Hany Takla - editor).
8
It is to be noted that Mr. Takla used Thompson's work for the text
of the Pauline epistles. Hence Takla's text is much more ancient than
that proposed by Wells. This was a sound move as Horner, in the
Sahidic, is known to be lacking. But there are numerous textual
differences between Thompson's work and Horner's. So a standardized
text needs to be produced which Mr. Wells has apparently done.
However, earlier, the folks at the University of Pennsylvania
produced a text of the Sahidic which was eclectic. Dr. Bentley Layton
later oversaw its proofreading and production resulting in the PHI CD
text (the Packard Humanities Institute).
The problem with the PHI text was/is there is no documentation
existing which explains why they chose such-and-such a reading. As one
reads the Sahidic, it usually follows Thompson's text, then suddenly it
switches to a reading via Horner. In 1997 or 1998, I pointed out a now
famous change in the text of the PHI Coptic CD at Romans 16:26, [on the
TC-List web site] where suddenly a reading from Horner is injected. This
occurred as such changes were deemed appropriate by Dr. Layton and
Brakke. Note the copy below, of a 1997 letter from Dr. Brakke:
9
10
The folks at PHI state that Thompson was the base text(s) for the
Pauline epistles, via Brakke's own admission, below:
The above FAX copy was received from Brigitte Comparini, of PHI.
It shows the list of sources sent to them by Brakke of his work on the
PHI/University of Pennsylvania Coptic text. Clearly we can see that
Brakke and Layton utilized a single source for the Pauline epistles, but
they moved from Thompson to Horner without warning or notice!
11
Thus the resulting PHI text as produced by Brakke and Layton, will
not be considered as any sort of a standardized edition. Nor is it being
updated or revised, so it lies dormant.
However, it is useful for those who need to examine the
supralinear strokes and tremas, et al. Below is a sample of the PHI text
of I Corinthians 1:1,2, using the font as supplied by Mr. Gary S. Dykes:
1.1 teproskorinqious: paulos papostolos ettaH\m \mpe\x\s \i\s
Hit\mpouwS \mpnoute m\nswsqenhs pson
1.2 eusHai+ \ntekklhsia \mpnoute tai+ etSoop H\nkorinqos. nett\bbhu
H\mpe\x\s \i\s nettaH\m etouaab. m\nouon nim etepikalei \mpran \mpenJoeis
\i\s pe\x\s H\mma nim \ntau n\mman.
Now compare the above PHI text with Wells, Sahidic below:
×-01-01= paulos papostolos ettaHm mpecristos ihsous Hitm
pouwS mpnoute mn swsqenhs pson
×-01-02 eusHai ntekklhsia mpnoute tai etSoop Hn korinqos.
nettbbhu Hm pecristos ihsous nettaHm etouaab. mn ouon nim
etepikalei mpran mpenJoeis ihsous pecristos Hm ma nim ntau
nmman.
Here is the Sahidic and Bohairic from Takla:
12
Below is a copy of Horner's Bohairic text. It is from I Corinthians
6:13 - 9, on its facing page Horner provides an English translation with
more apparatus! (Pauline Epistles freely available from Google!).
13
Finally, it behooves me to show a sample from the 1904 work of
Balestri, below a copy of a page his Sahidic text:
Note, he provides a fine apparatus of the variants seen in the
numerous Coptic manuscripts he used (noted in his introduction).
14
It is hoped that Mr. Wells' text will not meet the same fate as that
which befell the haphazard PHI Coptic text. To avoid such a fate, he
needs to clearly justify why such and such a reading occurs. Or he
needs to precisely follow a single printed edition (as Takla did of
Thompson's text of the Beatty papyrus of the Pauline Epistles and Acts).
Mr. Wells notes that the PHI text has its flaws. Consequently, he
moves to produce his new edition, named SAHIDICA. He states:
" A new text of the Sahidic New Testament has been developed. It is called the
Sahidica text and is based on the Coptic New Testament developed by the
Packard Humanities Institute (PHI). In turn, the PHI version was based on the
edition by George Horner."
Here, below is a reproduction of Wells' sources: Borrowed from J.W.
Wells' site: www.sahidica.warpco.com [also - www.sahidica.com]
The development of the Sahidica text has, from its inception, been based on automated
systems. More specifically, it has been developed using proprietary analysis,
formatting, and pattern-recognition software created by the editor. The Sahidica text
was based on The Coptic New Testament, an electronic publication, which was edited
by David Brakke (Cop0001.Txt on PHI-CD 5.3 dated 7/2/91. Los Altos. Packard
Humanities Institute. 1991).
However, the Sahidica text is very different from the PHI version. Literally thousands of
changes have been made to the text. These changes involve primarily specific
standardization and a partial level of clitic disintegration (i.e. the separation of certain
proclitic words). Such changes were made to enhance readability and simplify
statistical analysis of the text. Changes to the actual content of the text are fewer in
number and have been made only where the PHI version has errors or idiosyncratic
readings that fail to represent the overall Sahidic textual tradition.
Most of these changes have been made by pattern-recognition and analysis software,
developed for this purpose by the editor. In turn, the resultant text has been further
analyzed, validated, and formatted using automated systems.
At this juncture, it is important to make a clarification. As in the case of the master text
for first Peter (mentioned above), the resultant Sahidica text was not produced by the
automated systems. Rather, it was produced by hand using the information supplied by
the automated systems. Therefore, while automation does much of the collation and
analysis, editorial decisions are still left to the editor.
15
Sahidica Version Basis
Except for the general epistles, the primary basis of the Sahidica text is the same as
the basis of the PHI text. In addition to comparing PHI with its source documents,
additional documents have been collated with a view to giving a better representation
of the overall tradition of the Sahidic version. The basis of the Sahidica text is given
below.
Section
Primary Basis
Collated Primarily Against
Pierpont Morgan Library M-569
Bodmer XIX
Mark
PPalau Rib. Inv.Nr.182
Pierpont Morgan Library M-569
Luke
PPalau Rib. Inv.Nr.181
Pierpont Morgan Library M-569
John
PPalau Rib. Inv.Nr.183
Pierpont Morgan Library M-569
Acts
Chester Beatty B (Copt.Ms.814)
Berlin P.15926 + British Museum
MS Or.7594
Pauline
Chester Beatty A (Copt.Ms.813)
Pierpont Morgan Library M-570 +
M-571
JamesJude*
Pierpont Morgan Library M-572
Pierpont Morgan Library M-573 +
M-601
Berlin MS Or.408 = British Museum
Ms Or.3518
British Museum MS Or.6803
Matthew
Revelation
*Note: First Peter was collated primarily against the Crosby-Schøyen Ms.193.
___________________________________________
An impressive list of sources, but his resulting text is mixed, and
we students can only wonder as to which resource generated such-andsuch a reading. I find that Wells followed the Thompson text rarely when
it differed from Horner's text. Where did he accept a reading which
differs from say, Horner? He needs to show/mark these differences.
I tested some of the new Wells Sahidic text in Romans and I
Corinthians. (NOTE: I refer to this work of Wells not as the SAHIDICA
text, but rather abbreviated as WS, the Bohairic being WB). I discovered
16
that he followed the edition of Horner almost exclusively. He did not
apparently incorporate any readings from the Morgan Pierpont MSS, nor
from Thompson, even when both agreed against Horner.
It has also been observed that none of the keyboards (font
mappings) of the True Type fonts are equivalent, all three (PHI, Takla,
Wells) differ. Of the three I prefer the PHI mapping as it includes
paratextual (trema and supralinear marks, and "slings") which are easy
to input.
Below is a copy, again via Brigitte Comparini of PHI of their font
mapping scheme, with some additional data I requested. With this data I
was able to map one of my fonts to produce an easier to read PHI output
(at least easier to read in my experience). My font for rendering the PHI
Coptic CD, is freely available upon request.
17
18
It is further to be noted, that none of the three digital Coptic
producers, utilized Balestri's work of 1904. Though fragmentary, it is an
accurate work and presents texts from the seventh through 10th
centuries. Certainly a third witness would have been useful when Brakke
and Layton needed to make an editorial decision. (Though Layton states
[in a personal letter to me], that he was not responsible for the proofreading, yet he was the senior editor!).
Mr. Wells plans [or, he hopes to] to add variant readings to his
work, which will clarify the textual sources for each variation from
Horner or Takla. Once his "standardized" text is clearly validated, then
we can fully rely upon it. Perhaps we can assist with the validation
process. Until then [ when all variations betwixt Thompson and others
are noted in an apparatus] much testing of Wells' Sahidic text remains.
Good free PDF versions of Wells' texts are offered on the site:
www.biblical-data.org (navigate to the versions/Coptic pages)
As concerns Wells' Bohairic text:
His Bohairic text rarely deviates from Horner in the Pauline
epistles (and herein Horner's text is quite good). However, as opposed
to Takla, Wells actually joins word units which traditionally were not
united. Below is a sample from I Corinthians 1: 2:
×-01-02 nTekklhsia ntefnouT qh etSop Qenkorinqos nh
etautoubwou Qenpcristos ihsous nh etqaHem eqouab nem ouon
niben eqmouT efran mpenCois ihsous pcristos Qenmai niben ntwou
nem ntan.
19
This is just the opposite of his methodology seen in the Sahidic
version! One may especially note the union of the preposition !en (1en)
with its following object or noun. Wells has yet to explain such behaviors!
His Bohairic text, even as published, needs to be corrected, as I found
some minor errors.
IN CONCLUSION
Wells' Sahidic text, should become our standard text. Separating
the word units is a great advancement over previous timid attempts. The
text is better understood when word divisions reflect modern linguistics,
and the database is much easier to work with. The resulting text is also
much easier to read and compare to other languages as well. Perhaps
Mr. Wells can provide for the supralinear strokes and the trema as well
in a future version, though they are not really necessary and perhaps
just are an added font formatting burden. Personally, I think I prefer the
clean text without the tremas and connective/supralinear strokes!
As for his Bohairic text, it is a nice database to work with, but the
word divisions need more standardization, and the text needs
proofreading, errors are seen.
Mr. Wells! may your labors continue to bear fruit, and for what has
already been produced, I for one, am grateful!
20
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