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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."

A quarter of a century has rolled away; much water has flowed under the bridges of scholarly research whence the general stream of Gnosticism has been surveyed with greater accuracy, and much good work been done on the special subject of the Coptic Gnostic documents. Though the first edition of this book was quickly exhausted and many requests were made for a second, I had hitherto refused to accede to this demand, still hoping that some English Coptic scholar would take the matter in hand. Indeed, at one time I was in high expectation that this would be achieved. Shortly before the War a friend, whom I had interested in the work, completed a version of the fine Untitled Apocalypse of the Bruce Codex, and was next to have attempted a translation of the P.S. But pressing interests and activities of a totally different nature connected with the War and its aftermath have absorbed all my friend's energies, and the version of the P.S. has been definitely abandoned. Nor can I hear of any other project of translation. This being the case, and as the utility of even a translation of a translation is evidenced by the keen demand for the volume in the second-hand market, I have at last decided to repeat my venture.

Saúde, mente e corpo
29 de julho
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