Egyptian Versions of the Holy Scriptures

Egyptian Versions Of The Holy Scriptures.

After the death of Alexander the Great the Greeks multiplied in Egypt, and obtained important places of trust near the throne of the Ptolemies. The Greek language accordingly began to diffuse itself from the court among the people, so that the proper language of the country was either forced to adapt itself to the Greek both in construction and in the adoption of new words, or was entirely suspended. In this way originated the Coptic, compounded of the old Egyptian and the Greek. (See Tattam, Egyptian Grammar of the Coptic, Sahidic, and Bashmuric Versions, 2d edit. Lond. 1863.) SEE COPTIC LANGUAGE. There is a version in the dialect of Lower Egypt, usually called the Coptic, or, better, the hemphitic version; and there is another in the dialect of Upper Egypt, termed the Sahidic, and sometimes the Thebaic. See Davidson, Bibl. Criticism, 2:206 sq.; Scrivener, Introd. to N.T. page 270 sq.; Westcott, N.T. Canon, page 322 sq.

1. The Memphitic version of the Bible. — The O.T. in this version was made from the Septuagint and not from the original Hebrew. It would appear from Munter (Specim. verss. Daniel Copt. Romae, 1786) that the original was the Hesychian recension of the Sept. then current in the county. There is little doubt that all the O.T. books were translated, though many of them have not yet been discovered. Although this version (not the Thebaic) seems to be that exclusively used in the public services of the Copts, it was not known in Europe till Dr. Marshall, of Lincoln College, contributed some readings from it to bishop Fell's New Testament (Oxford, 1675). The Pentateuch has been published by Wilkins (London, 1731, 4to), by Fallet (Paris, 1854 sq.), and by De Lagarde (Leipz. 1867, 8vo); the Psalms at Rome (1744 and 1749) by the Propaganda Society. In 1837 Ideler published the Psalter more correctly; and in 1844 the best critical .edition, by Schwartze, appeared. The twelve minor prophets were published by Tattam (Oxon. 1836, 8vo), and the major prophets by the same (1852). Bardelli published Daniel (Pisa, 1849). A few pieces of other books were printed at different times by Mingarelli, Quatrembre, and Munter. The N.T., made from the original Greek, was published by Wilkins, with a Latin translation (Oxford, 1716). In 1846 a new and more correct edition was begun by Schwartze, and continued, but in a different manner, after his death, by Botticher (1852, etc.). In 1848-52, the "Society for promoting Christian Knowledge" published the N.T. in Memphitic and Arabic (Lond. 2 volumes, fol.). The text was revised by Lieder. The readings of this version, as may be inferred from the place where it was made, coincide with the Alexandrine family, and deserve the attention of the critic. Unfortunately, the version has not yet been adequately edited. It belongs perhaps to the 3d century. See Davidson, in Home's Introd. 2:66.

2. The Thebaic. — This version was also made from the Greek, both in the O. and N.T., and probably in the 2d century. Only some fragments of the O.T. part have been printed by Munter, Mingarelli, and Zoega. In the N.T. it agrees generally, though not uniformly, with the Alexandrine family. Not a few readings, however, are peculiar; and some harmonize with the Latin versions. Fragments of it have been published by Mingarelli, Giorgi, Munter, and Ford.

3. The Bashmuric, or Ammonian. — Only some fragments of such a version in the O. and N.T. have been published, and very little is known concerning it. Scholars are not agreed as to the nature of the dialect in which it is written, some thinking that it does not deserve the name of a dialect, while others regard the Bashmuric as a kind of intermediate dialect between those spoken in Upper and Lower Egypt. Hug and De Wette are inclined to believe that it is merely the version of Upper Egypt transferred to the idiom of the particular place where the Bashmuric was spoken. The origin of this version belongs to the 3d or 4th century. See Tregelles, in Home's Introduct. 4:287299. SEE VERSIONS (OF THE BIBLE).

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