There are many Copt Christians in Egypt, Africa, and the United States. This group of ancient Christians is believed to have gotten their name from the ancient Egyptian they spoke.
Given that Christian practices and doctrines are based on the Bible, reading the Bible is necessary for understanding the history of the Coptic Christian Faith. It is also great for spiritual nourishment and finding solutions for the situations faced in everyday life.
You may be curious about which language and bible version is commonly used today. You may also be conflicted about which version to use for your bible study. In this article, we will cover Coptic orthodox bible versions available and bible versions commonly used.
There has been a large number of Coptic Versions of the Bible. Both the Old and New Testament versions existed in Fayyumic, Akhmimic, Bohairic, Mesokemic, and Sahidic, the different Coptic dialects. These versions go as far as the 2nd century. Today, only partial copies of the Coptic Orthodox bible are available.
Logic would dictate that Coptic Christians should read the Bible in Coptic. However, it’s no secret that Coptic has become almost extinct. Only a few people are capable of speaking and reading it fully. Today, it is mainly used in clerical or liturgical services.
This is not to say that Coptic Christians aren't making an effort to keep the language alive. In support of their ancestral language, Copts are learning how to read it. Young Copts learn Coptic in Sunday School.
Thanks to history, Arabic soon became the main language that bibles were read in Egypt. According to historians, reading the Bible in Arabic dates back to the 9th century. This was after Arabs conquered Egypt. At first, Christians were a bit concerned and felt it went against their heritage. It was not until the 12th century that the church’s written language was mainly Arabic.
This is a trend that still exists. In Egypt, the prominent language is Arabic. This language has been highly absorbed. It only makes sense that most Christians read the Bible in Arabic. However, it doesn’t only apply to Copts living in Egypt. There are those living in the Diaspora that read it in Arabic.
Copt Christians who are in the Diaspora and have no understanding of Arabic or Coptic are likely to read the Bible in English. Fortunately, there are English versions that are considered acceptable. This includes the Revised Standard Version, King James Version, and the New King James Version. Another accepted version is the Orthodox Study Bible which contains the Deuterocanonical books.
Regardless of whether you read the Bible in Coptic, Arabic, or English, the key is to make it a daily habit. We must realize that one is not a Christian because he was born in a Christian family or because of the values instilled by the parents. Instead, we should recognize that a true Christian takes the time to grow in faith by studying the Holy Scriptures and understanding them.