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ï~~ Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 48 (2011) 321-323 Leslie S.B. MacCoull. Coptic Legal Documents: Law as Vernacular Text and Experience in Late Antique Egypt. Medieval and Renais sance Texts and Studies 377 = Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and Renaissance 38. Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Re naissance Studies; Turnhout: Brepols, 2009. xxxiv + 214 pages. ISBN 978-0-86698-425-6. This volume presents annotated English translations of fifty Coptic legal documents, which span the years 569-772. After a brief introduction to the genre and some socio-historical observations, MacCoull provides for each document a thorough accounting of date, place, parties, object, sum (if any), witnesses, scribe, and previous bibliography. She introduces each document with a summary of contents and, when relevant, connects it to other documents involving the same people or similar issues. MacCoull has decided not to group the documents thematically because she wants to take the reader "on a tour of the culture and the persons that produced them." The chronological presentation allows one easily to see "the process of continuity-plus-change through time" and also to follow the fortunes and misfortunes of particular people and families. Some readers might be confused (as I was) upon first skimming the collection, because there is hardly any Coptic script used in the text, nor are there plates of the Coptic originals in the back. The annotations consist primarily of Greek loanwords, references to other similar documents, or interaction with secondary sources. The reasons for the lack of Coptic are good ones, however. First, the Coptic legal vocabulary seems to have been populated by Greek words to a greater degree than other Coptic was. More importantly, MacCoull has aimed for rigorous consistency in translation of legal terms, and she supplies a trilingual glossary at the end for readers who are looking for Greek/ Coptic terms and do not want to consult another source. The end result is a smooth English rendering of representative documents spanning over two centuries. Taken together they show how the "codified law of the Christian Roman empire was engaged with by living people in their everyday transactions, and how there was continuity even when a transformed Egypt became subject no longer to that empire but to the rule of the Islamic caliphate." Scholars will do well to use this book, coupled with the work of T.S. Richter, to gain a thorough understanding of a fascinating corpus of texts.1 1 T.S. Richter, Rechtssemantik undforensische Rhetorik. Untersuchungen zu Wortschatz, Stil und Grammatik der Sprache koptischer Rechtsurkunden (2nd ed., Wiesbaden 2008); idem, "Coptic Legal Documents, With Special Reference to the Theban Area;'
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