BMCR 2008.02.53

Koptisches Sammelbuch III. (KSB III). MPER XXIII, 3. Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer)

, Koptisches Sammelbuch III. (KSB III). MPER XXIII, 3. Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer). Munich and Leipzig: K.G. Saur, 2006. viii, 276. €84.00.

The third volume of the Koptisches Sammelbuch (hereafter KSB) appeared only two years after the second (2004), while the first volume was published in 1993. The accelerated pace of publication doubles the pleasure of receiving this indispensable tool for the study of Coptic documents. 1690 individual texts now appear on the pages of this series, a quasi-gold mine of every type of Coptic documentary text. As the editor mentions in the preface, there is already material selected for another volume, and to this we look forward.

The volume is made up along the lines familiar from its two predecessors.1 Modeled on Preisigke’s Sammelbuch Griechischer Urkunden aus Ägypten, whose first volume appeared in 1915 and is regularly produced since, the KSB volumes likewise constitute a collection of every kind of documentary text in Coptic written on any kind of surface (not only papyrus and parchment, but also clay, cloth, stone and wood, as well as paper), and published previously in journals or miscellaneous publications rather than in dedicated text volumes. Unlike its Greek counterpart, texts in KSB are arranged by content, not by place and year of publication. The Greek SB also publishes in the same volume all texts that appear together in a given publication or journal; by contrast, this is not the case with KSB.

KSB III comprises letters (nos. 1261-1364), various kinds of official documents (nos. 1365-1433), lists (nos. 1434-1448), many epigraphical texts (nos. 1449-1586) — including graffiti (nos. 1514-1582) —, numerous grave stelas (nos. 1587-1647), a small group of various text types (nos. 1648-1654), a few school exercises (nos. 1655-1661), and some still unidentified fragments (nos. 1662-1690). The text collection is followed by the usual indices and concordances, which include two novelties: a list of addenda and corrigenda to the two previous volumes, KSB I and II (pp. 269-271), as well as a ‘Koptische Berichtigungsliste’ (pp. 271-276). The latter is particularly welcome, and a poignant reminder of an important gap in our bibliography.

Having worked with KSB over the years, this reviewer wishes to record a small but recurrent query about the principles of text selection. In what order or according to what criteria texts are included in a KSB volume has never been clear. Each volume offers some surprise about what is “in”, and in some cases the choice is unexpected. Contrary to the Greek SB, which initially excluded documents published in papyrological series that provided word indices, the KSB volumes do include such editions. The decision to reprint texts previously edited, for example, in P.Kell.Copt. (no. 1374), P.Koeln (nos. 1325, 1326, 1446, 1649), or P.Mil.Vogl. (nos. 1314, 1315, 1381) — the same practice may be observed in earlier volumes, for example with P.Mon.Apollo (KSB II 811, 923) or P.Mich.Copt. (KSB I 146-222) —, besides being difficult to explain, may cause confusion, as the question will arise whether to cite a particular text e.g. as P.Kell.Copt. 44 or KSB III 1374.2

Another and perhaps more important issue is the accessibility of Coptic texts. KSB as a rule does not offer translations on its entries. Many times, however, the KSB entries improve the text of the original edition or suggest alternative readings. As a result, these texts may occasionally take on a completely different meaning. In such cases, it may be useful to offer a translation, especially for the benefit of those who have no or very little knowledge of Coptic.3 Even further, KSB entries reproducing early editions of texts that have never been translated could fill a gap by adding a first translation. In this way, KSB would not only function as a useful research tool for the specialist, but also substantially improve access to these mystifying texts for a much larger community of scholars interested in Coptic documentary sources.

These quibbles are, of course, only minor. The new KSB volume, like its predecessors, is a pleasure to use and greatly facilitates work on Coptic papyrology and epigraphy.

I append some notes on points of detail, intended for the specialist (the transliteration of Coptic follows in the main the conventions adopted for the Coptic texts in PHI-7):4

p. 4, no. 1268, lines 1-2: perhaps read AshOEI, or IS (for EIS) AKAshοει line 4, perhaps read two imperatives, KT tiPWN Af, since the imperative PONAf (from PWWNE) looks far from ideal.

p. 14, no. 1292: A revised version of this text will appear in ZPE 162 (2007).

p. 31, No. 1325: page numbers accidentally given twice; line 6: read ETBHTf for ETBHHTf “because of him.”

p. 32, no. 1327, line 2: perhaps read ρ]ανα[κ, cf. e.g. P.Vat. Copt. Doresse 7 (= Analecta Papyrologica 13 (2001) 65), line 5: EshWPE AIRANAK.

p. 173, no. 1671, line 2: perhaps read εις πσναψ ννη[τ for νατ line 3: perhaps the name Ares is the subject of the verb TAMIO, so that one could consider reading, “(someone)] μν αρης ταμιο [“; another possibility would be to read hι]τν αρης, for the man who makes the delivery, and to have a new sentence start with the imperative ταμιο; line 5: probably read: ε].


1. The only striking difference of this volume from its predecessors is its outer appearance. While one had become fond of the tastefully designed paperback volumes, one now has a medium-brown hardbound copy with gold lettering, as the publisher has changed, from Hollinek to Saur (now de Gruyter).

2. One may think that the three texts first published in P.Mil.Vogl. IV were included because this volume otherwise contains Greek papyri, so that the Coptic texts might be overlooked. This might have been thought of P.Koeln X too, though here the Coptic texts occupy many more pages. However, the Checklist provides details of all papyrological volumes with Coptic texts, so that duplication is hardly necessary. Another implicit criterion for inclusion seems to be that the first edition appeared in a journal, but this criterion does not apply if the text has been republished in a volume dedicated to editions. Such is the case with no. 1374, a papyrus from Kellis, which was first published in a journal; its inclusion in KSB would have been appropriate if it had not been republished in P.Kell.Copt., which exclusively contains Coptic texts from Kellis.

3. Sometimes one may wish to know why this or that reading has been preferred or why a new paleographical dating has been made (e.g. in no. 1320). Perhaps it is the format of KSB that does not allow much room for discursive notes, but this may be at the expense of clarity.

4. I have noticed very few typos, not worth reporting. In one case, a different abbreviation should have been used:, Pap. Flor. XVIII, not P.Flor. XVIII (no. 1415).