Translation of “The story of Joseph the Carpenter” (Coptic apocrypha) now online

Anthony Alcock has uploaded to an English translation of a 4th century Coptic apocryphon, The story of Joseph the Carpenter.  It’s here:

The text, in the Bohairic dialect of Coptic, was published by Paul de Lagarde in Aegyptiaca, (Göttingen, 1883), which is online here, with a pointer to the Google books volume (inaccessible to non-US readers).

The text was issued without a table of contents, and Dr Alcock has thoughtfully provided one:

Joseph the Carpenter: 1-37.
Dormition of Mary: 38 – 63
Wisdom of Solomon: 64 – 106
Ecclesiastes: 107 – 206
Psalms: 207 – 208
Apostolic Canons: 209 -291

He writes:

The principal text of Joseph the Carpenter is in Bohairic, with a complete Arabic text and fragments of a Sahidic text.

The Arabic text, published by Georg Wallin in Leipzig 1722 with a Latin version, is in Paris (the Bibliothèque Nationale).

M.R. James used the Latin version to provide a summary of the text for his Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford, 1924) p.84ff.

The Sahidic fragments are in Rome (Catalogus codicum copticorum 1782 no. 121). Only sections 14 to the beginning of 24 of the Sahidic version have survived.

The English version is based on the Bohairic, and reference is made from time to time to the other two versions.


The major study of this story was published in 1951 by Siegfried Morenz (Die Geschichte vom Joseph dem Zimmermann, Berlin and Leipzig).

Marvellous!  Get it while it’s hot.


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