Coptic Adaptations of Saadiah Gaon’s Judaeo-Arabic Translation of the Torah

A Medieval Coptic Hebraism? Coptic Adaptations of Saadiah Gaon’s Judaeo-Arabic Translation of the Torah, Their Transmission and Textual Practice

Ronny Vollandt

In the framework of the Working Group "The Learned Practices of Canonical Texts," this project examined Saadiah’s Tafsīr, an Arabic translation of the Pentateuch of originally Jewish provenance, which became a foundational text also of the Coptic Church. Its study and preservation had to be cultivated vigilantly. The project explored which text-critical functions it fulfilled as a point of comparison to other Arabic versions of the Pentateuch, and which learned textual practices this kind of scholarship entailed. In a larger context, this research set out to investigate whether there is sufficient evidence to speak of medieval Coptic Hebraism, in which the Tafsīr and the scholarly, text-critical occupation with it, had the function of acquainting Coptic intellectuals with the otherwise inaccessible Hebrew Urtext of their own biblical text in Coptic.