Note: Caps not mine, but appeared in the original document.
This was not a piece of serious scholarship, and the argumentation offered to support the proposal offered shows breathtaking incompetence, along with a level of bias so extreme that inferences and arguments were not just ill-conceived, but downright bizarre.
Their reasoning is so sloppy and distorted toward their goal that it reminds me of the sort of thing I've read from various anti-cult apologists. I was so struck by this aspect of their approach that I Googled their names and found that they actually do participate in anti-cult apologetics (see the link below):
Their argument appears to have been born as a reaction to the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, which, combined with the sloppiness of their approach and oddness of their conclusions, suggests that a truly enhanced understanding of Coptic or even John 1:1 was not their real objective. It seems pretty clear that they merely sought to turn the tables, as Jehovah's Witnesses have appealed to the Coptic of John 1:1c to support the "a god" rendering found in the New World Translation published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
Since my criticisms are rather harsh, let me offer a few particulars.
Firstly, their approach was methodologically flawed in that they only examined how QEOS is rendered in Coptic. Their readers would have been better served if they had taken a broader approach and attempted to determine how the Coptic indefinite article is generally used when included in their translation of bounded nouns that originated in PNVS, SVPN, and other types of Greek clauses. I suspect that the reason they took such a narrow approach is because, had they included other bounded nouns in their sampling, then they would have reached very different results, and their apologetic would have fallen apart. The Bible is about "the one God" of Jewish and Christian monotheism, and so it is not surprising that most occurrences of the Greek QEOS (God) from the NT and the Coptic NOUTE (God) from the ancient Coptic translation(s) are definite nouns rather than indefinite nouns. In the NT, God is typically a proper noun, which usually functions like a proper name.
Secondly, the argumentation presented was just plain sloppy. For example, notice the following argument:
The point they seem desperate to massage from the data simply doesn't follow. Let me restate the pertinent data:
1. "Of the 25 instances of the AnNS [QEOS], the vast majority are reflected in the Sahidic Coptic version with the definite article (21/25; 84%). Of these, the vast majority are also in reference to the God of the Bible' (20/25; 80%)."
2. "[T]he Coptic translators were disinclined to use anything other than the definite article when translating [QEOS]."
3. "[T]he Coptic translators were so reluctant to use the indefinite article with [NOUTE] [that] our question must [be] 'what individual circumstances required the use of a disfavoured construction?"
Do you see what they're doing? They're actually suggesting that the Coptic use of the definite article in contexts where NOUTE is a definite noun implies that the use of the indefinite article with NOUTE should be considered a "disfavored construction"! This is preposterous. The only valid inference that we can make from the data is the rather obvious observation that the Copts would not be inclined to render definite nouns with the indefinite article.
Here's another example of their sloppy thinking:
Again, this contribution by Wright and Ricchuiti is not an example of serious scholarship; it is instead a rather flaccid attempt to bring the Coptic of John 1:1c into harmony with their preferred theology over against the Watchtower's NWT, which they oppose as part of their anti-cult apologetic. That we find this sort of thing coming from people associated with Dallas Theological Seminary is not particularly surprising. That Oxford University allowed this patent nonsense to be published in their respected Journal is most unfortunate, and I've informed them that they need better peer review if their journal is to retain its standing as a quality publication. Since JTS is a peer reviewed journal, dare I speculate that the reviewer(s) was/were also associated with DTS?
The truth about God and His Son is the truth, regardless what any minority or majority group has to say. Christians should not feel the need or succumb to the temptation to massage and distort language itself to support a preferred position.