The Nubian Version of the New Testament is among the least-investigated and least-cited versions of the New Testament. The reason for this is simple: there is so little of it extant. Bruce Metzger, in his article "The Christianization of Nubia and the Old Nubian Version of the New Testament" (first released in 1963 and published in 1968 in New Testament Tools & Studies VIII Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian, pages 111-122), stated that "only about seventy verses are extant, and some of these are very imperfectly represented."
If you have never heard of the Nubian version, I recommend visiting http://www.nubianet.org/about/about_history10.html
and also reading Metzger's page-and-a-half profile of the Nubian version in "The Bible in Translation," on pages 50-51.
Nubia was not a single country, but three: Nobadia (with its capital city at Pakhoras (= Faras)) and Alodia (with its capital city at Soba (near Khartoum)) and Makuria (with its capital city at Dongola).
Metzger's NTTS article includes an entertaining summary of how Nubia was evangelized in the mid-500's. But considering that Athanasius (d. 373) states in "Letter to the Antiochans" (#10) [Migne PG 26, col. 808] that he consecrated Marcus as bishop of Philae (not too far from Aswan), and considering that a simple brick church-building was discovered at Faras that seems to have been constructed in the mid-400's, the accounts of how Nubia was evangelized may be regarded as accounts of how Nubia was *officially* evangelized, in a way that focused on the leaders of its government, after being initially evangelized by amateurs at some earlier time.
The primary witness for the Old Nubian version is a lectionary that was obtained by Carl Schmidt in 1966. It contains a series of readings for the equivalent of Dec. 20-26. The passages featured in the lectionary are, day-by-day, (1) Mt. 1:22-25, (2) Phil. 2:12-18 & Mt. 5:13-19, (3) Rom. 11:25-29, (4) Heb. 5:4-10 & Jn. 16:33-17:25, (5) Heb. 9:1-5 & Mt. 1:18-25, (6) Gal. 4:4-6 & Mt. 2:1-12, and (7) Rom. 8:3-7 (maybe a bit more).
The readings for Dec. 25 (#6) correspond to the readings in the Greek menologia for the same day.
Metzger extrapolated that "Since the extant sheets of the lectionary are numbered 100-115 and contain daily lessons for the 24th to the 30th of Choiak (= Dec. 20 to 26), it appears that originally the lectionary began with lessons for Sept. 1st (as do also the Greek menologia)."
Metzger analyzed the textual character of the Nubian version, but only in a preliminary way. First, he consulted F. L. Griffith's reconstruction of the Greek text underlying the Nubian lectionary's text. (Griffith's "The Nubian Texts of the Christian Period," published in 1913, can be accessed online.) From this he collected 12 variant-units (three from Mt. 1; six from Jn. 17; two from Galatians; one from Philippians), and compared them to the TR and to WH. The result: "The Nubian version agrees with the Textus Receptus against the Westcott-Hort text in six of the twelve variants . . . but it never agrees with Westcott-Hort against the Textus Receptus." Two readings in the Nubian version (at Mt. 1:24 and Jn. 17:8) are unique (although this may be because the Nubian version at these points is not translated with strict formality).
The Nubian version agrees with Byz in Mt. 1:24 by presenting the equivalent of DIEGERQEIS (having been raised) instead of EGERQEIS (having risen).
The Nubian version agrees with Byz in Mt. 1:25 by referring to "her firstborn son" (not merely "son" as in WH).
The Nubian version agrees with Byz in Jn. 17:12a by including the phrase "in the world."
The Nubian version agrees with Byz in Jn. 17:12 by referring to "whom" instead of "which."
The Nubian version agrees with Byz in Jn. 17:22 at the end of the verse by presenting the equivalent of ESMEN (are). However, this might be an effect of sense-to-sense translation.
The Nubian version agrees with Byz in Phil. 2:15 by presenting the equivalent of EN MESW. However, this too might be an effect of sense-to-sense translation.
So, while there are no clear examples of the Nubian version being allied with the Alexandrian Text against the Byzantine Text, there are only four clear examples of the Nubian version being allied with the Byzantine Text against the Alexandrian Text. In Galatians 4:6, though, the Nubian version agrees with B in the non-inclusion of O QEOS.
The readings in Mt. 1:25 and Jn. 17:12a provide some basis though thin and precarious for a suspicion that the base-text of the Nubian version was essentially Byzantine. But evidence from the lectionary is not the only witness to the Nubian version. In the course of the enormous salvage/scavenger efforts to preserve materials that would have otherwise been submerged by Lake Nassar, additional Nubian materials were discovered.
there is a picture of one side of a Nubian fragment that contains Rev. 14:6. (Clicking on the picture will summon a nice readable magnified image of the fragment.) As the description there says, this fragment was found at Qasr Ibrim, at the Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin.
In addition, there are some non-Biblical compositions in Nubian which contain utilizations of a variety of passages from the New Testament. One should be cautious with these materials, because if a composition in Language A was translated directly from Language B, the Scripture-utilizations it contains might only represent a form of Scripture known in Language A, not necessarily Language B. Nevertheless these witnesses are more than nothing.
If you consult Francis Griffith's "The Nubian Texts of the Christian Period," the author lists a few miscellaneous Nubian texts in his introduction mostly fragments and tomb-inscriptions. He then mentions British Museum Or. MS 6805 (from the 800's or 900's), and claims that Budge published a photo-replica of this MS in "Texts Relating to Saint Mena of Egypt and the Canons of Nicaea in a Nubian Dialect" (which is accessible online). Griffith proceeds to present the Nubian/Coptic text of "The Miracle of St. Menas," from this MS, and then he gives an English translation of it. (The plot: an Egyptian pagan woman, being childless, gives an egg to a Christian sailor to take up the river to a church where is the shrine of St. Menas, as a token of a prayer for a child. The sailor, though, forgets his task, and eats the egg. When he arrives at church to receive the eucharist, St. Menas appears to him in a terrifying vision. The sailor is so scared that he farts (or belches) out a rooster (from the dedicated egg, of course), which crows and flaps its wings. St. Menas takes the rooster and disappears; then he appears to the woman and gives her the rooster. The woman (and all the females in her household) becomes pregnant, and she and her family become Christians.
On page 24, Griffith turns his attention to the same lectionary that Metzger described: Kgl. Bibl. MS. Or. Quart. 1089, at Berlin.
On page 40, Griffith begins to describe Kgl. Bibl. Ms. Or. Quart 1020, which consists of a discourse ascribed to Christ, given to His disciples before His ascension. Griffith suspects that a note in this MS gives a production-date of 973. After presenting the text, he provides an English translation that begins on page 47. I would also draw attention to a feature that occurs as the scene of Christ's discourse is set: Peter asks Jesus, "O Lord, our God, we desire that thou shalt make us to know the mystery of the glorious (?) cross, (namely) through what cause, when thou shalt judge in justice, thou shalt come having with thee the symbol(?) of the glorious (?) cross; in order that, having heard in thy presence the reason of this, we may preach it in all the world."
Christ, in response, describes the Day of Judgment, and then tells His disciples, ""And now, my holy disciples (?), go forth into the whole world and preach that entering into it they may trust (?) the glorious Cross alone and . . . have these things, and . . . these, when that day cometh (?) . . . in this way become white (?). And ye apostles, having (?) heard these things from the mouth (?) of the Saviour, attend (?) the church and say, `Thine be the glory, O Father that art in the Son, Son that art in the Father together with the Holy Ghost, now and unto ages of ages, Amen; for he hath purified us at every time of love for us and favour.'" Beloved, if indeed ye desire to know the power of the Cross, hear its power."
Then a rhythmical section begins: "The Cross is the hope of the Christians; the Cross is the resurrection of the dead; the Cross is the path of them who have wandered (?); the Cross is the guidance of the blind (?)," etc., etc.
Putting together the words "we may preach it in all the world" and (especially) the words, "go forth into the whole world and preach," it looks very much like the author was familiar with Mark 16:15.
Further along, there is a clear utilization of Mt. 25:34.
On pages 63-64 Griffith describes an inscription which includes the phrase "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."
On pages 71-73 Griffith provides the Nubian alphabet. This is followed by a short grammar-primer. Then there are pages and pages of indices.
Plates are introduced on p. 134. These include a very nice picture of a double-leaf from the Nubian lectionary (which was reprinted in NTTS VIII as Plate II) and two pages, mutilated (which explains the abundance of "(?)" in Griffith's translation), from the "Hymn of the Cross" composition.
In addition, all sorts of resources and articles about all things Nubian are listed at
including some New Testament materials:
There's an article, "An Old Nubian version of Mark 11.611" in "Zeitschrift fur Papyrologie und Epigraphik" 44, pages 151-166.
And there's an article by M. Plumley and C. H. Roberts, "An Uncial Text of St Mark in Greek from Nubia" which appeared in JTS XXVII (1976) on pages 34-45. The document they describe = Uncial 0274, a fourth-century mutilated MS which is strongly Alexandrian and which contains Mark 6:56-7:4, 7:6-9, 7:13-17, 7:19-23, 7:29-29, 7:34-35, 8:3-4, 8:8-11; 9:20-22, 9:26-41, 9:43-10:1, and 10:17-22.
And another article, by Gerald Browne, "Heb. 5.4 in a graffito in the western annex of the Monastery on Kom H at Old Dongola," appeared in "Etudes et Travaux" 19, pages 210-215. (Browne appears to have been the expert when it comes to Nubia in general.)
And there are two interesting-sounding articles by S. Emmel: ""Preliminary reedition and translation of the Gospel of the Savior: New light on the Strasbourg Coptic Gospel and the Stauros-Text from Nubia" in Apocrypha 14, pages 953 (2003) and a 2005 article, "Ein altes Evangelium der Apostel taucht in Fragmenten aus Agypten und Nubien auf" in "Zeitschrift fur Antikes Christentum" 9, pages 8599.
Also, a little bit of the book "The Enthronement of the Archangel Michael" (composed sometime before 600; I wrote about it earlier) is extant in Nubian, in a copy in which the name "Michael" is written in red ink when it appears (though most of the text is written in black ink). A picture of a damaged page of this document is online somewhere.
Now it occurs to me that in Mark 11:6-11 (about the Triumphal Entry), there are variant-units in which the Alexandrian and Byzantine and Western readings are different enough to be plainly different when translated. And Hebrews 5:4 offers a translatable variant-unit too. So there is at least a chance that some basis exists in these fragments by which to more precisely identify the character of the Nubian version.
In addition, it has been reported that along with the 160 or so frescoes that were removed from the Faras cathedral before the Aswan Dam became operational, there were over 400 inscriptions, in Greek, Coptic, and Nubian. Probably not New Testament material, but it might be worth sifting through to make sure. Some of the frescoes are at the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum, and 67 of them are in the Warsaw Museum in Poland; most of these are on display. (A team of Polish researchers were responsible for the salvage of the cathedral at Faras, so they got to keep some of the frescoes.) I'm not sure where the inscriptions are; most of the Greek ones, at least, are probably listed in Adam Lajtar's "Catalogue of the Greek Inscriptions in the Sudan National Museum at Khartoum."
The materials recovered during the pre-Aswan-Dam rescue at Qasr Ibrim are supposed to include Nubian fragments of John, First Corinthians, and Revelation, and Coptic fragments of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and Greek fragments of Mark. For details (or, in some cases, a lack of details; sigh) see Paul Bowers' online PDF article, "Nubian Christianity: The Neglected Heritage" from the African Journal of Evangelical Theology (1985).
(Tangent: one of the frescoes from Faras is said to be particularly impressive: a representation of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There is also a nativity-scene in which two shepherds are given the names Arnias and Lekotes. The most efficient way to view pictures of details from eight of the Faras frescoes is to Google-image-search for "Poland stamp Faras.")
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.