Funds sought to translate Bible into modern Coptic

Marburg, Germany - A German professor and Coptic Christians are seeking funds to translate the whole Bible into Coptic, a language that descends from the ancient Egyptian tongue spoken by the pharaohs.

Egyptology professor Rainer Hannig said the project would last eight years and require 500,000 euros (620,000 dollars).

The Coptic Christians of Egypt speak Arabic and generally use Arabic-language bibles, but some hope to revive the old tongue in daily use.

"Coptic Christianity has both a Catholic and Orthodox character and has its own pope in Cairo," Hannig explained Saturday. Some 20 million people round the world belong to the church.

The translation project will be overseen by the Brenkhausen Coptic Christian Monastery near the German town of Hoexter, he said.

Hannig, who teaches at nearby Marburg University, said the existing bible in Coptic was in a very old dialect and did not include all the books of the bible.

"We want it to be a bible that ordinary people can read," said the professor.