Review article of: Gardner, Iain; Alcock, Anthony; Funk, Wolf-Peter: Coptic Documentary Texts from Kellis Volume 2. P. Kellis VII. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2014 (Dakhleh Oasis Project Monographs 16)


Fifteen years on, we now have the second volume of fourth-century documentary texts – mainly letters – from Kellis (present-day Ismant el-Kharab, in the Dakhleh oasis), editing seventy-five new documents, added to the forty-five published in 1999.1 In fact, these are “two halves of a single work” (p.4).

Given the syntactical and dialectal peculiarities of “dialect L*”, we by now have a corpus well worthy of its own systemic grammar, with the impressive second installment also serving as control, to evaluate the impressions given by the first.2 Here too we have an admirable edition, textual apparatus, translation and commentary – this reviewer would be grateful for a more intensive grammatical annotation. The edition, classified mainly by provenance and sender, follows an introduction (a brief one; that of Kellis I serves both volumes), including dating of texts (p.5f.), and is followed by exhaustive reasoned indices.

I shall dwell here briefly on syntactical highlights, remarkable or striking constructions, taking up a few points of grammar, as well as a few critical comments on analysis and translation. This elegant work and the rare privilege of “discovering” a “new”, extensively documented dialect, and at the same time a rich trove of grammatical features in so early a source are any linguist’s and philologist’s wistful vision – to say nothing of such enviable collaboration of leading scholars.

See also: Coptic
Last updated on 01/18/2018