Review of Layton, Coptic Grammar, Second Edition


2006. Review of Layton, Coptic Grammar, Second Edition. Orientalia , 75 (1) , pp. 132–133.
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The second edition of Bentley Layton’s A Coptic Grammar with Chrestomathy and Glossary: Sahidic Dialect, so quickly replacing the first of 2000, can only be viewed with gratification, answering as it does the evident demand that it must imply. The main improvement and real expansion of the present edition is in its Index of Citations. (“Revised and Expanded With an Index of Citations”: the question of what constitutes “revision” — see Glenn E. Snyder’s review in RBL 3 (2005) — and the valency-grammar snag of whether “expanded with” can be seen as an alternative construction to “expanded by”, need hardly be addressed here. However, a list, technically easy to compile, of additions, omissions and replacements could have prevented misunderstanding and forestalled protest.) The Index of Citations is especially useful for Shenoute؛ in fact, it can serve as the basis of a “Shenoutean sub-grammar” (e.g. in isolating exclusively or predominantly Shenoutean usage — consider the Conjunctive, p. 283, or adnominal xe- in negative environment, §483). But it also brings home rather sharply a striking imbalance in documentation, as well as the programmatic limitations of the Grammar’s corpus database, already commented on in reviews of the first edition. One regrets that the author has not exploited the rare opportunity of a new edition coming out so soon after the first, to provide at the least some highlights for the grammatical usage of more Sahidic texts, from the Pistis Sophia to non-literary sources (including documents and such specialized textemes as medical prescriptions) and such “Late Sahidic” genres as martyrologies and other patristic sources, and cases like Drescher’s Legends, which are grammatically distinctive and probably illuminating for their glimpses into Coptic colloquial usage.

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