The most significant early Christian translation of the New Testament is the one written in the Coptic language. Within this language, the Sahidic dialect is the most important for the Gospel according to John. This is due to the large number of manuscripts that are preserved, and due to the fact that translations into Coptic began very early on: already in the late second century translation work was initiated, whereas the manuscript tradition of the New Testament really first was begun at the end of the period of persecutions, that is, after the first decades of the fourth century. For this reason, the Coptic transmission is extremely important for the textual criticism of the New Testament.

The goal of the project is to make all of the Coptic manuscripts of the Gospel according to John available for the creation of a comprehensive critical edition of the Sahidic text. To this end, all of the known and accessible manuscripts of this text in the Sahidic dialect — six complete versions and approximately 160 fragmentary ones — will be consulted.

The results of the project will be extremely useful above all for Coptic studies. The results provide scholars of Coptic studies with an important tool for working with the text of the Sahidic version of the Gospel according to John. In this way, how this text was used at the time by Egyptian Christians can be understood. This edition is also significant for a better comprehension of the relationship between the Greek text and the Coptic text.

Principal Investigator

Hans Förster


September 2016 - May 2021


FWF Projekt P29315