Pistis Sophiaby George Robert Stow Mead
"In presenting the following translation to the English-reading public, I may say that I should not have ventured on such an undertaking if any Coptic scholar had undertaken the task, or I had heard that such a task was contemplated. In a matter of so great difficulty every possible liability to error should be eliminated, and it stands to reason that the translation… See more details below
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"In presenting the following translation to the English-reading public, I may say that I should not have ventured on such an undertaking if any Coptic scholar had undertaken the task, or I had heard that such a task was contemplated. In a matter of so great difficulty every possible liability to error should be eliminated, and it stands to reason that the translation of a translation must needs be but an apology for a first-hand version. Nevertheless I am not without predecessors. The Coptic MS. itself is in the first place a translation, so that even Coptic scholars must give us the version of a translation. I am persuaded also that the anonymous and very imperfect French translation (1856) in the Appendix to Migne's Dictionnaire des Apocryphes (vol. i.) is made from Schwartze's Latin version (1851) and not from the Coptic text. C. W. King in The Gnostics and their Remains (2nd ed., 1887) has also translated a number of pages of the Pistis Sophia from Schwartze. Some three or four years ago Mr. Nutt, King's publisher, sent out a notice proposing the publication of the whole of King's translation, but the project fell through. Last year (1895) I offered to edit this translation of King's, but was informed that the literary legatee of the deceased scholar was of the opinion that it would be unfair to his memory to publish a MS. that was in so incomplete a condition.
"In 1890 I had already translated Schwartze's Latin version into English and published pages 1 to 252, with comments, notes, etc., in magazine-form from April 1890 to April 1891. But I hesitated to put it forward in book-form, and should not have done so, but for the appearance of Amélineau's French translation in 1895. I then went over the whole again and checked it by Amélineau's version. I was further induced to venture on this undertaking, because the narrative, though dealing with mystical and therefore obscure subjects, is in itself exceedingly simple, and therefore mistakes cannot so readily creep in as into a difficult philosophical work. I, therefore, present my translation with all hesitation, but at the same time think that the English public, which is steadily increasing its interest in mysticism and allied subjects, will be better satisfied with half a loaf than with no bread."
- Library of Alexandria
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