The goals of this translation
I've tried, as closely as possible, to follow what might be called the "principle of inter-text (or whole-text) consistency". To me, this means two things: (1) translating the same Coptic word or phrase in the same way, wherever it occurs, and (2) translating different Coptic words, however similar in meaning, differently. Ideally, the result would be a translation which would retain all of the root-word connections occurring in the original text, without introducing any new ones. This ideal, however, must be balanced against the necessity of making the English text somewhat understandable to the reader.

As usual, the devil is in the details. To take just one example, the Coptic word 'ebol', which generally means 'outward', is used with a variety of Coptic verbs, creating some really odd-sounding phrases when the same English word is used to translate every occurrence of it. Not that consistency leads to error, but rather that in this case (and others) it sometimes results in English phrases which make little sense. In spite of that, however, I have tried to stick to the principle of inter-text consistency as a general rule to translating GTh, deviating from it only (I hope) where common sense dictates.

Consider just one example of the contrasting results of applying to GTh the above translation principle, as opposed to what might be called the "principle of local harmony" (i.e., using whatever combination of words makes the sentence being translated sound most pleasing in itself): while most translators render the first line of GTh as 'These are the secret words...', I translate it as 'These are the hidden words...'. Not much difference in meaning, I submit, but the latter translation maintains the syntactical connection between line 1 and other sayings in the text which use the same Coptic root-word for 'hide'. It's arguable whether in general a translation ought to preserve such syntactic connections, but it certainly ought to if GTh might turn out to be, as I maintain, some sort of word-puzzle. -MWG, rev 02/13/97