An introduction to the Coptic language in the Sahidic (southern) dialect. Coptic was the vernacular language spoken and written in Egypt during the Roman, Byzantine, and Arab periods (until about 1300 CE) and as such is important for studying the history of pre-modern Egypt. It preserves some of the oldest known translations of the Bible, many apocryphal and "heretical" books that illustrate the wide diversity of ancient Christianity (e.g., the Gospels of Thomas and Mary), as well as sermons, saints lives, monastic instructions, and liturgical manuals that still constitute the literary culture of the Coptic Orthodox Church today. In addition, a plethora of "magical" papyri illustrate medical and religious practices; personal letters reveal the lives of everyday people; and hordes of business documents (contracts, wills, governmental petitions, receipts, etc.) have proved important for understanding Roman and Byzantine economies. As Roman Egypt was a highly bilingual society, there are even instances of Classical Greek literature translated into Coptic (e.g., selections of Homer and Plato), which offer a unique witness to how such texts were received by Egyptians. Our goal this semester is to cover fifteen of twenty lessons in the grammar book. The remainder will be covered in the second semester.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM; AS LCD; UC LA