"One of the real values to the Coptic is that the language, the Egyptian of Jesus day, was written using Greek characters with 6 additional ones. In effect Coptic was a close cousin to Koine Greek. Many words simply were transliterated and incorporated into Coptic. The Coptic translator would not be bridging as much of a gap, as say from Koine Greek to Latin. Remember that the LXX was done in Alexandria [Egypt] and a large colony of Greek speaking Jews existed there from Alexander's time. It also became a large center of "Christian" thought. The Coptic is the best reflection of what a Greek or a Greek speaking Jew would have understood John 1:1 to have been saying." - message from anotherpaul1 on 'Reasoning' (MSN Groups).
Translating John 1:1: The Coptic Evidence
(Solomon Landers, September 2006)
The Coptic translation of John 1:1
It is becoming well-known that the primary Coptic translations of John 1:1c - the Sahidic, the proto-Bohairic, and the Bohairic - do not render it "the Word was God," as is common in many English versions, but "the Word was a god," found notably in theNew World Translation.
The significance of this is remarkable.
First, the Coptic versions precede theNew World Translation by some 1,700 years, and are part of the corpus of ancient textual witnesses to the Gospel of John.
Second, the Coptic versions were produced at a time when the Koine Greek of the Christian Greek Scriptures was still a living language whose finer nuances could be understood by the Coptic translators, so much so that many Greek words are left untranslated in the Coptic texts.
Third, the Coptic versions do not show the influence of later interpretations of Christology fostered by the church councils of the 4th and 5th centuries CE.
The Greek text of John 1:1c says,kai qeoV hn o logoV an anarthrous preverbal construction that can be literally rendered as, "and a god was the Word."
Likewise, the Sahidic Coptic text of John 1:1c reads,[Coptic letters inserted here look like: agw NegNogte pe pwace], an indefinite construction that literally says "and a god was the Word."
Coptic grammarians agree that this is what the Coptic says literally. But the theological presuppositions of certain grammarians [trinitarian] do not allow them to be satisfied with that reading. Just as they attempt to do with the Greek text of John 1:1c, certain Evangelical scholars seek to modify the clear impact of "a god was the Word." But whereas the Greek text allows for some ambiguity in an anarthrous construction, the Coptic text does not allow for the same ambiguity in an indefinite construction.
Unlike Koine Greek, Coptic has not only the definite article, but the indefinite article also. Or, a Coptic noun may stand without the article, in the "zero article" construction. Thus, in Coptic we may find : [Coptic looks likepNogte], "the god," [OgNogte], "a god," or [Nogte], "god."
The Sahidic Coptic indefinite article is used to mark "a non-specific individual or specimen of a class: a morpheme marking an element as a non-specific or individual or specimen of a class ("a man," "other gods," etc.)." - Coptic Grammatical Chrestomathy (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 1988), A. Shisha-Halevy, p. 268. - http://www.jehovah.to/exe/translation/coptic.pdf