Unreliable English translation of “History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church”?

The massive Arabic Christian history begun by Severus ibn Mukaffa in the 9th century and running down to our own times is a gem.  But I was looking at Google books today, and found a statement here in vol. 1 p. 211 of the Cambridge History of Egypt that the English translation published in Cairo in the 1950’s is unreliable.  The first four chunks were published by B. Evetts in the Patrologia Orientalis, are presumably sound, and are here.  5 chunks of the Cairo publication are at this site, and 3 more exist.  It’s a very hard book to get hold of, as I can testify!

This is the sort of thing that makes me wish that I was a rich man.  I’d just hire someone and fix the translation. 

4 thoughts on “Unreliable English translation of “History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church”?

  1. What wonderful blog. I have recently completed a rough draft of a Ph.D. dissertation that includes an English translation of the Georgian text and Greek epitome (as well as other fragments and florilegia extracts) of Hippolytus “On the Song of Songs.” I am looking for a potential publisher once the dissertation gets passed. Any suggestions?

  2. How wonderful — good for you! A translation is always of inestimable value, particularly something from a language like Georgian. Is there any way to obtain a copy of your dissertation? I’d love to see it.

    I would ask your supervisor about publishers; I, as an amateur, have no real idea. But your publication will probably be important for career purposes, so ask him.

    We have a number of series of English translations (none of which include the original text — woe!). Ancient Christian Writers, Fathers of the Church, and Liverpool University Press’ “Translated Texts for Historians” (which has a wider reach than the title implies) are all candidates. Oxford do an Early Christian Texts series, about which I know little.

    Print the text as well as the translation, if you can, in the most prestigious series you can.

    If there is any way to get something cut-down online, I would encourage that. After all, academic publication will be a couple of hundred copies at most, all sold to institutions, none of them read by anyone. A Swiss university makes the splendid thesis of Claudio Zamagni available as scans of the pages here (search for Zamagni).

    I have reposted your comment in the blog to raise its profile.

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