Christian H. Bull on Plato in Coptic
At the next Classics seminar, on October 8, Christian H. Bull (University of Oslo) will speak on "Plato in Upper Egypt: Ideological Interpolations in a Coptic translation of Plato’s Republic." The abstract follows. All are welcome to attend.
Coptic, the last phase of the autochthonous Egyptian language developed in the third century CE, was used almost exclusively for Christian texts; translations of the Bible were of course of prime importance for evangelization in the Egyptian countryside, but sectarian literature was also translated, most famously the Manichaean texts from Medinet Madi and the Nag Hammadi Codices. The latter is known as a main repository of so-called Gnostic texts, but also includes a brief, unattributed excerpt from Plato’s Republic (588b-589b), so garbled that it took decades for researchers to realize its identity. In his paper Christian Bull argues that the Coptic translator of Plato not only misunderstood the original, but also intentionally interpolated it so as to reflect an Origenistic Christian viewpoint. This will in turn shed some light on the Christian reception of Plato in Late Antique Upper Egypt.