Book Series Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, vol. 32

Coptic Legal Documents

Law as Vernacular Text and Experience in Late Antique Egypt

Leslie S.B. MacCoull (ed)

  • Pages: 214 p.
  • Size:175 x 255 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2010

Out of Print
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53380-3
  • Hardback
  • Out of Print

This volume makes available for the first time fifty Coptic legal documents on a range of subjects from the sixth to eighth centuries, with an introduction that places them in historical context.




"MacCoull's greatest service is that through this publication she has made these texts available for readers less familiar with the field and its publications, in a language and format that makes them easily accessible." (Petra Sijpesteijn, in: Early Medieval Europe, 2012, n° 20 (4), p. 483-485)

"On ne peut que féliciter l'auteur pour cette anthologie. Ce genre d'ouvrage manque effectivement en papyrologie copte et peut pourtant s'avérer précieux, tant pour les coptisants que pour les spécialistes du droit comparé." (Naïm Vanthieghem, dans: Le Muséon, 127 (2014), fasc. 1-2, p. 234-235)


This volume contains annotated English translations of fifty selected legal documents originally written in the Coptic language, dating from the mid-sixth to the mid-eighth centuries. They include land transfers, sales, wills, property divisions, and intergenerational disputes. The choice of which language to use in recording their transactions was meaningful for the documents’ framers. The introduction sets the texts in their historical contexts of the changing society of Egypt, first under Byzantine rule, then under Islamic rule. Since the originals are in a language not known to most classicists and medievalists, making the documents available in English should enable them to be read, studied, and appreciated by a wider audience.