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About mapman

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    Senior Member: Divides Heaven & Earth

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  1. It seems to me that resources are better spent on reaching out to people more likely to be open-minded. Arguments could be made that the subreddit provides a space for venting or whatever, but from what I've seen it is more of cesspool that just tends to make people angry instead of working through their pain. The community seems pretty similar to the atheism subreddit in a lot of ways, and neither are particularly interested in considering alternative views that contradict their narratives. r/latterdaysaints actually has some pretty good discussions, and a variety of viewpoints represented, so maybe they would be better (r/dankchristianmemes is my favorite religion-themed sub though).
  2. I forgot to add that I don't think there is any way to tell whether the hieroglyphics or the BoA text were placed on the early manuscripts first. I think you could conclude that the first thing they did was draw a line down it, so I think it shows that they were at least planning on putting both characters and text before they started writing it out. I think it was Gee who suggested that the characters could just be decoration, but that seems pretty implausible to me. Yeah, the first three verses from what I understand are the only ones which share exact phrasing with the "alphabet" documents. There obviously are lots of similar themes and concepts shared with the rest of the BoA, but there is no obvious textual dependence. The first three verses are also noticeably more complex and repetitive compared to the rest of the text. The three oldest BoA manuscripts (the ones with the characters written in a column on the side) also show that the first three verses were produced separately first. The oldest one only goes through verse three (until another scribe added on more afterwards), and the other two start on verse 4. I'm convinced that the Egyptian alphabets precede these first three verses, and that these verses are based off of the alphabets. What I disagree with Christopher Smith is that the GAEL precedes the first three verses as well. The GAEL is an expansion of the previous alphabet documents, but if you look at the order of the words, they are the same except that the characters and words associated with the first three verses are moved to the top of the list, which to me means that the GAEL actually postdates the first three verses. The GAEL probably precedes the rest of the BoA, but like I said, I don't think there are any direct textual connections between the rest of the GAEL and the rest of the BoA. From what I can gather, the Egyptian alphabet documents were meant to be something of a dictionary as part of the on-going project of restoring the "pure language" of Adam, and so they were a related but separate project from the BoA translation. They are divided into five "parts," of which the first part is apparently based on the documents related to Katumin that were from a separate papyrus roll, the second part incorporates stuff from previous revelations on the pure language and don't even come from the papyrus, and the rest of the characters come from the part of the papyrus immediately to the right of Facsimile 1. I imagine if they had the chance they would have added explanations from the rolls thought to contain the writings of Joseph, etc.
  3. The best paper I've read on the topic is "The Dependence of Abraham 1:1-3 on the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar" by Christopher Smith. It doesn't get into the tedious debates about how long scrolls were and stuff, just attempts to show that the first three verses are dependent on the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. From my personal research, I actually disagree with his interpretation, but I think it's a pretty good paper. I think the polemics around the Book of Abraham have tended towards over-simplified explanations. People tend to either want to prove that the Book of Abraham text was received before any of the Egyptian alphabet stuff, while other people want to make it seem like the whole Book of Abraham is based off of the alphabet stuff. In my opinion, they were parallel projects that influenced each other. I'm happy to explain further if you're interested. In any case, from Joseph Smith's journals you can see that he was entirely on board with the whole Egyptian alphabet project, and the papers demonstrate that they believed that at least the beginning of the Book of Abraham text came from the papyrus immediately to the left of "Facsimile 1" which still exists.
  4. I was thinking of the people that buy into the escaping and recovering from Mormonism idea that congregate at places like the exmormon subreddit who join a community instead of just stop going to church like most people. But you're right that's a more accurate comparison. There are communities of Latter-day Saints that are very knowledgeable about the history as well.
  5. I've only read the treasure seeking article, but at least in that case the author definitely seems to depend heavily on a couple of authors that wrote on the topic back in the 80s and 90s (Mike Quinn and Dan Vogel). There's nothing wrong with those authors, both have done very useful research, but it seems to indicate a lack of depth in understanding and comes off as unprofessional as there have been numerous books and articles written on the topic since then. I got a degree in history, so maybe I expect too much of people, but I feel like if you are going to pretend like you are promoting more accurate history than what the church has made, then you need to get an actual historian to write the articles. In my opinion the Gospel Topics essays aren't the most amazing things ever either, but they are much better than what Dehlin's come up with. It disturbs me that people are so easily convinced that one particular book or article has the "true" history of what happened. It's always a good idea to read multiple takes on a topic. I think this is especially true in the realm of religious history. While your average ex-Mormon might be aware of more historical facts than your average church member, I don't think there's any reason to think that they are any better at doing history. It's seems like a lot of people just switch from wholehearted belief in one narrative to wholehearted belief in another. To be fair, not everyone has the time or resources to do lots of historical research. But I'm convinced that a lot of our historical narratives are going to be revised by historians in the future, and it probably won't look like neither the church's current narratives or the anti-Mormon narratives.
  6. What I don't get is how Elder Oaks seems to think these kids should've known better. How could they have known better if it's not in the handbook and not ever taught in general conference or in church publications? He's got to be aware that it's not actually an official policy, right? I want to be charitable, but lately Elder Oaks just seems to be in an entirely different universe from my reality sometimes.
  7. Masonic histories that were available in the early 1800s often included these stories. Like this book, for example. It makes me wonder how much of the Masonic myths Joseph Smith was aware of. From what I understand all of the medieval Masonic manuscripts trace their origins back to Egypt. The Egyptian mysteries were traced back to the antediluvian stone pillars that were supposed to have been rediscovered by the Egyptians and were written by Enoch in some versions of the story. That's a really old story and shows up in Josephus and lots of other places. Alchemy and hermeticism also traditionally traced their origins to this same story. Whether there is any truth to it, it's hard to say. I'm doubtful whether any of the specific rituals can be traced back that far, but some aspects of the general esoteric worldview and cosmology can be plausibly traced back to antiquity.
  8. I wrote my previous comment off the top of my head, so it turns out that I didn't remember exactly what the sources said about Walter's journey to Europe. A while ago I collected what I believe is a more or less complete collection of sources that mention Luman Walter. Since the question of what Joseph Smith might have come into contact with from Walter seems relevant, I thought I'd copy all the sources that talk about Walter's travels and education (there are more than I remembered): Brigham Young sermon, 19 July 1857: Elizabeth Kane journal, 15 January 1873: Clark Braden speech, 1884: "Doctor of Olden Days Used Herb Remedies," Geneva Daily Times, 26 July 1929: It seems like the sources agree that he went to Europe, though what he studied differs. Brigham Young said he was studying to be a priest, Artemisia Snow said he received a "scientific education", Clark Braden says he studied mesmerism/animal magnetism, and his grandson apparently believed he studied at a medical college. The earliest sources on what types of things he practiced or believed in: "Escape from Justice," Concord [New Hampshire] Gazette, 1 September 1818: "Book of Pukei" Chapter 1 [parody of the Book of Mormon], Palmyra Reflector, 12 June 1830: The way he's portrayed in the earliest sources seems to be a mixture of folk beliefs (treasure seeking, conjuration, etc.) and ceremonial magic (magic circles, using an old book, etc.). It's possible that he learned animal magnetism, but it isn't evident in the earliest sources, and the only source that claims that is a late hearsay account (1880s) that uses it to explain the alleged mesmeric power Joseph Smith held over his followers. He's also portrayed as being deceptive and trying to appear more mysterious or knowledgeable than he really was in the Palmyra newspapers in the 1830s. If that's true, then it's possible that he didn't go to Europe at all, but made up the story to boost his reputation.
  9. Luman Walter's early life is not well documented. There is one source that says that he studied in Europe and another that said he went to Paris. That's all we know about that. The story goes that he ran away from home when he was a little kid and went to Europe by himself. I don't think there is good enough documentation to know that he really went, it could have just been a story. Even if he did, there's no way to know who he came into contact with. He was a "doctor" later in life, but it was more like herbs and potions than normal medicine. His father and a couple if his brothers were also "doctors", so I don't think it was necessarily new for him. He also continued to do treasure seeking after he moved south of Palmyra later in his life. His obituary described him as "eccentric", so he didn't rebrand himself really.
  10. You're right that he phrased that strangely. It could just have his name mentioned in the document. I'm having a hard time imagining what could be 120 pages, maybe someone's journal?
  11. His appearance and sexuality are completely irrelevant, so let's just stick to talking about the manuscript and his public activities.
  12. Do we have any numbers on percentage of candidates that are Latter-day Saints vs. those that get elected?
  13. I'm pretty skeptical too, but he apparently has experience dealing in real artifacts, so I think it is possible he found some significant document. I think it is possible he is portraying it in a way to make it sound more exciting than it really is, as I suspect his descriptions of Oliver Cowdery's Book of Mormon are.
  14. Just noticed this exchange in the comments on the Facebook post: Commenter: "will a copy of the manuscript you mentioned make it into the Joseph Smith papers project? If not I highly suggest you make copies available. I want to read it!" John Hajicek: "they don't have a reciprocal policy." C. "and therefore you don't intend to give access to the document? Will you make this document available for research?" JH. "I intend to obtain a reciprocal agreement." So it sounds like he is considering making it available to the Joseph Smith Papers Project if they can make a deal if I understand correctly. I'm not sure what a reciprocal policy means.
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