Saturday, May 9, 2009

Re-inventing verses Vs. Coptic Conservatism

Some modern translations appear to be so intent on preserving or promoting a particular theology, that they have changed the meanings of the verses, or pressed too far in theologizing the verses. A case in point is John 1:1. Not content even with the translation "the Word was God," at least one translation has "the Word was God Himself." (The New Testament, translated by Charles B. Williams, 1937) There is neither grammatical nor contextual authority for that. Far more in the spirit of what the apostle John actually wrote is a translation of John 1:1 similar to that by William Barclay (Westminster John Knox Press, 1968): "the nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God."

The beauty and significance of the Sahidic Coptic version is its general literalness and faithfulness to the context and spirit of the underlying Greek text(s). Below, we will consider several other Coptic renderings:

Romans 9:5 After mentioning Christ, does the sescond part of this verse refer to Christ as Almighty God, or does it have a second Being in view? The Coptic has pnoute etHiJn ouon nim petsmamaat Sa nieneH Hamhn. Interestingly, petsmamaat is the relative particle ( -) + the qualitative form of the Coptic verb smou (bless, praise), i.e., smamaat which means "be blessed." (Richard Smith's Coptic Dictionary, p. 27) Therefore, it could best be translated as a separate sentence referring, not to Christ, but to his Father: "God, who is over all, (is) the one who is blessed for ever." Whereas the Coptic text of Romans 9:5 has some ambiguity, it appears to be less so than the Greek, and points clearly to two entities -- Christ and God -- not to one God who is also Christ. (Compare the similar readings in the New American Bible and the Revised English Bible, i.e., "...from them by natural descent came the Messiah. May God, supreme over all, be blessed forever. Amen.")

Colossians 1:15. Some modern Bible translators don't like the concept of Christ being part of the creation by God, though that is what the Greek indicates literally. So, in their versions they change "firstborn of" to "supreme over" or "having primacy over" all creation. Colossians 1:15 in Coptic has no such mistranslation. It definitely and literally uses a Coptic term that unmistakably means "first-born," i.e. pSrp mmise, comprising the Coptic words for "first" and "born," or "generated." It customarily means "first born child." (Smith's Dictionary, p. 15) Coptic scholar George Horner's English translation of the Sahidic text correctly reads: "the firstborn of all creation" at Colossians 1:15. And the Coptic text specifically says "of" all creation, not "over" all creation.

What is a "Godhead"? This word at Colossians 2:9 (KJV, etc.) gives the wrong impression of some kind of three-faced god united in one head, as is found in some depictions of the Trinity in medieval church artifacts or paintings. The Sahidic Coptic version has tmntnoute, which simply means "divinity" in Coptic. (i.e., noute, "god," + the abstract prefix t.mnt-).

What about some of the various New Testament terms for Hell? Usually the Greek word hades is translated in the Sahidic Coptic version by the old Egyptian word amnte , meaning literally, "the west" (i.e., the place of sunset darkness; death). The Greek term gehenna is usually transliterated in the Coptic New Testament. The Copts had a 500-year influence of Greek to go by, and Greek was so well understood that some Greek words were naturalized in the text, rather than translated. For tartarus at 2 Peter 2:4 the Coptic version has p.noun, which signifies "the abyss, a deep place." The Bible associates neither conscious life nor torment with "Hell." The parable of the rich man in Hades was just that, a parable. And Gehenna was literally a garbage dump outside Jerusalem where fires were kept burning, to consume totally anything dead that was thrown there, not to torment it.


  1. That's interesting about Romans 9:5, As I recall Bruce Metzger used the SH as evidence for the trinitarian interpretation of this verse

  2. More Words for Clarification, Please

    Matt 25:46

    Excuse me again but I do so love the additional witness given by the Coptic... and I have not had time to read all the threads of what has been written .. Much less understand them all after, sorry .) I am asking light, about the word for “pruning”or “cutting off” in Greek Kolazos or Kolasin and what you know about it from the Coptic Witness. Is Coptic understood as well as the Greek? This word Kolazo, kolasin. It is what I have been researching and would like more. . . trying to dig deeper. It seems it is one of the things they deliberately try to keep hidden, hide- for the support of their doctrine of immorality of soul and eternal torment. . . Or just have never questioned like the blindingly simple Parosia, verses their translating coming!!! Can we get that word also?!!!? Matt24:3! Please!

    I know there are probably hundreds of other scriptures that show the wicked get cut off or are just gone...Prov 2:22. ( That is my next list)- but for now Could you please give us a literal translation of the cutting off word in Matt 25:46. Please shed some light on this by way of Coptic (and Greek if possible) wording. Please I am sorry if I bother you,

    I am al-most ready to do the Coptic in Twenty Lessons” thing:)!( So you can be spared my twenty questions!:)

    Also I was wondering if your web pages and threads could be organized according to “words” or scriptures? Or if it already is and I just cant see it?_ sorry again..It seems there is a lot more scriptures to compare besides John 1:1 It has been thoroughly exposed if any wants to dig deeply. Just look at the rest of the Bible and ask where does it say “God the Son”? Zero, Jesus the Father? Zero.! Where are all the spurious interpolations to be found and exposed? (thanks also for your list) The spurious scriptures Always occur in trying to incorporate the Trinity lie. But now lets smash the lies of Hellfire and eternal torment...Using the Coptic witness! That is what I would like to see on this blog.... a lot of other scriptures, thank you very much!

    Your Fellow Worker in arms,

    (and thanks again for the munitions)


  3. I appreciate this article as I have been doing a lot of studying myself. Thank you for your insight and work.