Coptic language course at Cambridge in November

Quite by accident I see that a weekend course in Coptic is on offer at Madingley Hall at Cambridge, at the Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education which runs leisure courses.  It starts at 19:15 on Friday 19 November 2010, and ends at 14:00 on Sunday 21 November 2010.  It costs £350 residential and £240 otherwise.

This course will introduce students to the basics of reading Coptic (Sahidic dialect). No prior knowledge of the Egyptian language, or of Greek, will be assumed. Language teaching will be interspersed with contextual sessions, explaining the development of Coptic and examining different genres of Coptic text. 

Over the millennia, the language of ancient Egypt was written in different scripts: hieroglyphs, hieratic, demotic and Coptic. Coptic was the final stage of ancient Egyptian, and used the Greek alphabet (plus some additional signs) to record the language spoken by indigenous Egyptians in the late Roman, Byzantine and early Arab periods. Coptic continues to be used in the liturgy of the Egyptian Christian Church. Many surviving Coptic texts reflect the milieu of Egyptian and early eastern Christianity; these include Biblical works, hagiographies, monastic works and apocryphal gospels of the type preserved in the Nag Hammadi codices. Texts such as personal and business letters, spells and legal contracts tell us about the day-to-day life of the ordinary Egyptian. 

This might be quite interesting to do, if the spare cash is available and I’m not too knackered after a week’s work.  Not that it would give you much information, but it must give you something, and is probably better than sitting there by yourself with a grammar.

2 thoughts on “Coptic language course at Cambridge in November

  1. Coptic in a day-an-a-half? That is leisure! and ambitious! I once signed up for a course at the Biblicum with the late Rev. Hans Quecke – to discover I was the only student (and Biblicum policy was: ‘even with one student the course goes on’). Preparation for Mon-morning class devoured every weekend for a year… I don’t since take fright when confronted with a Coptic text (given grammar-dict help), but it was “hell”… Hebrew/Syriac were easy rides by comparison.
    Good luck (if you attempt it)!

  2. To be honest the inevitable superficiality does tend to put me off a little. If I am to give these people a weekend of my life, I want to get somewhere with it.

    But then I can’t read a word of Coptic, so anything would probably be better than nothing. I shall wait and see how I feel about it after a couple of weeks of my new job.

    I am interested to hear that Coptic is much harder than Syriac. I didn’t think Syriac was that hard, in the little I did of it. Oh well.

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