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Kevin Graham

Book of Abraham

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Who Knows:

If the BOA was already completed, and the scribes were just trying to match the text to the symbols, why doesn't the KEP exactly match the BOA? Why are there corrections, insertions, etc.?

1. The few changes (and the one Brent tried to pawn off on us is not a change to the BoA text at all!) in the text are insubstantial and inconsequential.

2. There was an interim of five years (at least) between the translation (or revelatory reception) of the first one and a half chapters of the BoA and the final publication of the entire book.

3. In actuality, the KEP Ms.#4, which is in the hand of Willard Richards, is the printer's manuscript for the publication of the BoA. To my knowledge, it matches the published BoA in every respect.

If that were the case, don't you think the church would be 'flooding the market' with high quality photos?

No, not necessarily.

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1. The few changes (and the one Brent tried to pawn off on us is not a change to the BoA text at all!) in the text are insubstantial and inconsequential.

The doc. i was looking at (MS2 I think - it's on pg. 3 of this thread) had quite a few differences - it was the first couple verses of chapter 1 of the BOA.

2. There was an interim of five years (at least) between the translation (or revelatory reception) of the first one and a half chapters of the BoA and the final publication of the entire book.

ok...

3.  In actuality, the KEP Ms.#4, which is in the hand of Willard Richards, is the printer's manuscript for the publication of the BoA.  To my knowledge, it matches the published BoA in every respect.

I haven't seen that. Link? But the fact that some of the KEP matches, and some doesn't indicates to me it was a working copy of the literal translation by JS - which was tinkered with later on to produce the final copy of the BOA.

If that were the case, don't you think the church would be 'flooding the market' with high quality photos?

No, not necessarily.

Why not? And I'll turn it around on you - why does brent withholding photos lead you to conclude that he's hiding something - while the church would not be?

I'm off to play some golf - will check in later.

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Brent and Jungle,

Consider:

The deleted word "whereunto" immediately precedes its corrective emendation "unto"

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P.S. Out of curiosity Kevin, how much did Brent pay for the photos? And considering the church has the rights to them (if the photos were indeed originally released under the understanding it was for a church project), how much do you think they

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PacMan:

P.S. Out of curiosity Kevin, how much did Brent pay for the photos? And considering the church has the rights to them (if the photos were indeed originally released under the understanding it was for a church project), how much do you think they

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PacMan:
P.S. Out of curiosity Kevin, how much did Brent pay for the photos? And considering the church has the rights to them (if the photos were indeed originally released under the understanding it was for a church project), how much do you think they

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Provis,

== But I consider Nibley's argument that these men could simply NOT have believed that a single Egyptian character could represent over 100 English words (not once, but repeatedly!) to be a valid observation.

It is an observation but isn't a valid observation unless it has support, but by what mind-reading capability does Nibley propose to say that three early 19th century scribes would know Egyptian well enough to know that one character couldn't produce entire paragraphs? It simply begs the question, and I say it is without merit because the fact is Egyptian was generally unknown in the early 19th century, especially in America.

The Rosetta Stone - which was the primer used to finally tell us how to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs - was discovered in Egypt in 1799, just thirty-six years prior to this project, but the scholarly work on it that determined its significance wouldn't arrive until the 1820's when Champillon did his work on it. The point is, for all anyone knew, each character could represent entire books. The concept of characters representing mnemonic devices was not entirely unknown. Who were these men to correct Joseph on how much text a single Egyptian character could entail?

Further, it was Nibley who suggested a possible "supercryptogram," method in the translation; that being a deeper level of hidden translation. And according to apologists like Kerry Shirts and John Tvedtnes, this theory is supportable, as they call it the "mnemonic device" theory.

Also, the Egyptian papers reveal some interesting concepts of how characters meaning something enirely different according to their "degree." One character twisted a "degree" would produce an entirely different sentence. I think Paul Osborne could explain this better, but the point is there is plenty of evidence that they actually believed an Egyptian character could produce entire sentences or even paragraphs.

== I really wish we had a full set of high quality photos of the manuscripts. I have now become convinced that there is a strong apologetic just waiting on the release of such photos.

What is it that convinces you? So far your only evidence is that Brent has yet to publish them, therefore, by implication, he must be hiding something. I need something more than this. The simple fact that Nibley, Gee and others have had access to them, yet they have not seen what you perceive to be true, kinda undermines your confidence.

== My ideas on this topic are evolving rapidly in consequence of the discussions we've had. And, as I have indicated in other posts, the more I examine the KEP, the more I am convinced that they do not represent an attempt at translation.

That's fine, although I must say I do not share in your assessment.

== And my concern with "waiting for Metcalfe's book" in order to get a glimpse of the manuscripts is that I know very well that Brent is cognizant enough of the possible apologetic angles, that he will be careful to not expose anything from the manuscripts that would tend to weaken his own arguments.

Again, the fact is Nibley, Gee and others have long since had access to the originals. If there were better, or even slightly tenable apologetic arguments to be made, I am certain we would have seen them by now.

== I don't like being at his mercy to obtain un-edited copies of the contents of the KEP.

Un-edited? Do you really believe he manipulated the photos to hide some amazing LDS apologetic?

== I have been exchanging e-mails with Gee regarding some of my observations, but I'm not convinced that he is grasping the significance of the argument that, if the translation was completed prior to the production of the KEP, then the KEP represent something far different than what the critics claim they do.

I see no reason to believe it was completed before this project went underway. There seems to be no evidence for it. In 1835-1837 the KEP papers were prepared, and it would be at least another seven years before we hear anything else about the Egyptian text, and that is when the BoA would be published in 1842. I am inclined to believe that the final manuscript for the BoA took place sometime inbetween that 7 year gap, not before it.

== And I suppose that is my only objective at this point: to establish that the KEP mean something other than what Brent would like to convince everyone that they mean.

Well naturally that should be every apologist's objective. But Brent needs to do very little convincing here, as even a basic surface analysis of the situation convinces most people that this is precisely what it was. There is no reason to take an of this out on Brent.

== Did they believe that the translation emanated from the Book of Breathings and were attempting to retrofit the text to what they felt was its origin in order to understand the meaning of the Egyptian? I don't know.

Perhaps, but even if this were true, this still implies that these men believed the BoA came from the Breathings text, which is what the traditional LDS apologetic position has flat out denied. So it still causes problems.

== But I think it is clear they are not the production of an attempt to translate, although it remains to be discovered and articulated what they do, in fact, represent.

I acknolwedge this as a possibility, but I still need more evidence. Until then it is hardly "clear." What seems to be certainly "clear" is that these men believed the Breathings text had a special relationship with the BoA.

== I would like to invite you to once again review at least the middle portion of Nibley's analysis in The Meaning of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. I readily dismiss his attempt to establish an argument for questioning the motives of Phelps, Parrish, et al., but I think he makes cogent observations about the relationship (or lack thereof) between the A&G and the other manuscripts; the various properties of Mss.#2 and #3,

I promise to look over it sometime tomorrow and give you might thoughts, or reassessment if necessary.

== and that there is really nothing but conjecture to indicate that Joseph Smith was necessarily involved in what Phelps, Parrish, and Williams were attempting to achieve.

Well, conjecture decorated with Smith's signature makes for a compelling conjecture.

== I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks again for your gracious acknowledgment of the receipt of my e-mail.

Not a problem, and I appreciate your email.

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Time for another hot bath. By the way, I feel pretty good about my opinions - because they are right.

:P

Paul O

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Now that I've had occasion to closely examine the portions of Ms#2 that we've seen, that manuscript alone has convinced me that this was anything but a dictation! Your assertion that it is obvious entirely eludes me. There are so many things that object to such an explanation!

I

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Also, the Egyptian papers reveal some interesting concepts of how characters meaning something enirely different according to their "degree." One character twisted a "degree" would produce an entirely different sentence. I think Paul Osborne could explain this better, but the point is there is plenty of evidence that they actually believed an Egyptian character could produce entire sentences or even paragraphs.

Well, it isn't as though I haven't tried. I wish I had some help, though. The KEP is a goldmine and tapping into it is an adventure.

Jah-oh-eh

Flo-ees

Flosisis

Kliflosisis

VehKliflosisis

Kolob

Ahmeos

Alchibeth, Alkobeth, Alkubeth

Iota toues Zip Zi

Ahmehstrah

Ah

j0178207.gifj0178214.gif

Paul O

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Kevin,

I have a difficult time believing the scribes believed one character translated into a whole paragraph. That is an INCREDIBLE stretch!! I don't know of their fluency, but Joseph Smith for one had at least studied a number of languages. Can you name even ONE language that packs so much meaning in one character? Chinese characters are made of components that give meaning, but there is NO character that would give a full paragraph. For this to substantiated, I'd need at least one example (and I'm not talking about a translation with a paranthetical interpretation or description). It is ridiculous they would have been that precocious.

Paul,

For one, the photo copy you offered looks like used bathroom tissue (I can honestly say I don't understand what you are getting at). Secondly, concerning the photos that Provis is speaking of (posted in this thread), they are incredibly fluent. And the problem with the 116 pages wasn't that Oliver wrote them incorrectly...but they were lost! There was no reason for 3 seperate transcriptions...but 3 copies (as you point out) yes! You are making an assumption that is simply not applicable. Did Joseph dictate punctuation? Can you support that notion?

They are school teachers only who offer their colored opinions to suit their own agenda. They should be challenged.

That's their only reason? And what's your reason? You're being ridiculous in your sweeping generalization.

Regards,

PacMan

P.S. Paul, I did want to say thanks for link to the Comparing Translation Manuscripts paper. What I see is that Parrish very well could have been the original, and Williams a copy, because he didn't make some of the same mistakes (Egyptians vs. Chaldeans, for example). What would help me understand your view better, is if you could point to an example of when there is a mistake by Williams, which is not perpetuated by Parrish...is there?

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== I have a difficult time believing the scribes believed one character translated into a whole paragraph. That is an INCREDIBLE stretch!!

Why is it an "incredible stretch" given that within the same box of documents there were some other papers that actually prove this is what they believed? Paul Osborne provided numerous examples from these papers. Whether you find it to be a "stretch" or not is irrelevant. The point is that these men clearly didn't.

== I don't know of their fluency, but Joseph Smith for one had at least studied a number of languages. Can you name even ONE language that packs so much meaning in one character?

Well, if you read much of Kerry Shirts you'll see that he points out the use of mnemonic devices in certain strands of Hebrew, particularly Kabbalism. But you are still avoiding the fact that the same documents already provide an "Egyptian Alphabet" manuscript which proves Smith really believed this. Whether or not you do doesn't matter.

We know Smith believed this because one of the manuscripts is in his handwriting, whereby he offers five different meanings for this little squiggly line:

img_1st.gif First Degree- Kiahbroam: That which goes before, until an other time, or a change by appointment, The first, faithful, or father, or fathers

img_2nd.gif Second Degree - Kiahbroam: Coming down from the beginning. To some place or fixed period The first in lineage, or right in lineage

img_3rd.gif Third Degree - Kiahbroam: First reckoned in chronology = coming down from the beginning First born right or blessings

img_4th.gif Fourth Degree - Kiahbroam: Change from the first; by coming from the beginning by right, of birth, or lineage

img_5th.gif Fifth Degree - Kiahbrahoam: Coming down from the beginning

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Kevin,

I said,

For this to substantiated, I'd need at least one example (and I'm not talking about a translation with a paranthetical interpretation or description).

The examples provided (of characters with lengthy 'translations') were (if I understood them correct) nouns and were being described. For example,

"Jah-oh-eh: The earth including its affinity with the other planets; with their governing powers which are fifteen: the earth, the sun, and the moon; first in their affinity; including one power."

The nature of those you listed are similar to this. They expressly look like inserted definitions!

Characters do not include a definition of themselves. That doesn't make sense. As a translator, it makes perfect sense for Joseph to have added the description because English speakers wouldn't understand the term. I am asking for a translation of a conscious train of thought as 'appears' to be the case in the beginning chapter of Abraham, not definitions that are part of good translation. These are two completely different things.

Again, my request of an example stands. It is clearly (to me) not clear.

Ciao,

PacMan

P.S. I am also curious as to your analysis of my evidence that editing occured after (rather than during) translation.

P.S.S. Thanks Paul

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What would help me understand your view better, is if you could point to an example of when there is a mistake by Williams, which is not perpetuated by Parrish...is there?

Williams - "offering up their children unto THEIR dumb idols (BAbr MS 1a, p. J)

Parrish - "offering up their children unto THESE dumb idols (BAbr MS 1b, p. S)

BofA - "offering up their children unto THESE dumb idols (BofA 1:7)

Paul O

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They are school teachers only who offer their colored opinions to suit their own agenda. They should be challenged.

That's their only reason? And what's your reason? You're being ridiculous in your sweeping generalization.

1. True [x] False [ ]

They are only school teachers NOT GA's

2. True [x] False [ ]

They offer their opinions

3. True [x] False

They have an agenda

4. True [x] False [ ]

They should be challenged

Paul O

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KG:

It is an observation but isn't a valid observation unless it has support, but by what mind-reading capability does Nibley propose to say that three early 19th century scribes would know Egyptian well enough to know that one character couldn't produce entire paragraphs? It simply begs the question, and I say it is without merit because the fact is Egyptian was generally unknown in the early 19th century, especially in America.

The news of Champollion's deciphering work had made its way "over the pond" at least to the extent that it was known that Egyptian was a phonetic language. That simple piece of knowledge alone would certainly have been known. Not only that, but Joshua Seixas had long since come and gone from Kirtland and is most likely the origin of Joseph's knowledge that Egyptian was read right to left (at least it is usually). In any event, I just think it defies logic to believe that Phelps, for one, who was well versed in Latin and Greek, would have considered a single symbol capable of rendering such a large quantity of English text. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that my conjecture is speculative. But so is every other statement regarding the KEP! And this is perhaps the most pertinent point I can make. In the first place, it's not like any particular special training qualifies one individual more than another to have a better chance of deciphering the mystery that is the KEP. We each examine the strange collection of documents that comprise this collection and then proceed to draw necessarily speculative conclusions. And, quite understandably, a whole variety of explanations result. The hermeneutical obstacles are all but insurmountable in this case.

One last comment on the notion that a basic understanding of the nature of Egyptian was completely unknown to any of these men: It is fascinating to me how the critics of Joseph Smith will assert, in all seriousness, that the mere presence of some obscure reference in a rare book in a university library somewhere within a 100 mile radius of Palmyra is sufficient to attribute to the man a knowledge of, say, the fact that some ancient records, somewhere, had been engraved on metallic plates. In fact, the current approach of people like Dan Vogel is to attribute an almost superhuman scope for the acquired knowledge of the Prophet. But when it comes to the notion that Egyptian was a phonetic language, and the exploits of Champollion (an extremely popular and widely reported news story), then Joseph and all of his associates become ignorant backwoodsmen once again.

Further, it was Nibley who suggested a possible "supercryptogram," method in the translation; that being a deeper level of hidden translation. And according to apologists like Kerry Shirts and John Tvedtnes, this theory is supportable, as they call it the "mnemonic device" theory.

I find this notion insupportable. I can accept the notion that the mummies and scrolls were simply a catalyst for revelation long before I would go down this path. It's a candidate for the application of Ockham's razor, in my estimation.

Also, the Egyptian papers reveal some interesting concepts of how characters meaning something enirely different according to their "degree." One character twisted a "degree" would produce an entirely different sentence. I think Paul Osborne could explain this better, but the point is there is plenty of evidence that they actually believed an Egyptian character could produce entire sentences or even paragraphs.

I have noted the whole "degree" business. I understand its implications, and I'm aware that Paul thinks it has merit. But I regard it as another candidate for "the razor."

== I really wish we had a full set of high quality photos of the manuscripts. I have now become convinced that there is a strong apologetic just waiting on the release of such photos.

What is it that convinces you? So far your only evidence is that Brent has yet to publish them, therefore, by implication, he must be hiding something. I need something more than this. The simple fact that Nibley, Gee and others have had access to them, yet they have not seen what you perceive to be true, kinda undermines your confidence.

Perhaps so. I would, nonetheless, like to have a look at the entire collection. Nibley did have that access, and he came away entirely convinced that the portion of the text to which they refer had already been revealed prior to the creation of these papers. I've given some of the reasons for which I believe the same. I would like to explore that angle further -- with the aid of images of the full collection.

== My ideas on this topic are evolving rapidly in consequence of the discussions we've had. And, as I have indicated in other posts, the more I examine the KEP, the more I am convinced that they do not represent an attempt at translation.

That's fine, although I must say I do not share in your assessment.

I understand that you have become persuaded that they do in fact suggest a translation process. I cannot account for that, since you don't seem to be prejudiced towards the conclusion. I also honestly feel I have not approached the question with an inflexible prejudice, and yet I do not see persuasive evidence of the same thing that you do. I confess to being confused by what I see, since nothing seems to make any sense whatsoever. But (speaking primarily of Phelps' Ms.#2, for which we have the best photo) I see a text written in such a fashion as to contradict, rather than support, the notion that he was acting as a scribe for an oral dictation.

Now, understand that I approached my examination ready to admit that it would look like a scribal transcription. My conviction regarding the antiquity of the text of the Book of Abraham would have been unaffected either way. But that is not what I see. The simple factor of the precise punctuation is, to me, a strong argument against the thesis. If anyone would have known how to apply punctuation to a text, it was Phelps. But you can't place semi-colons at the end of a phrase without knowing that another related phrase is going to follow it. And the placement of Phelps' semi-colons is, in my estimation, not a retrofit but rather an integral part of the completely fluid and uninterrupted flow of script from his pen.

== I don't like being at his mercy to obtain un-edited copies of the contents of the KEP.

Un-edited? Do you really believe he manipulated the photos to hide some amazing LDS apologetic?

I have no reason to suspect that he has except for my conviction that, were there something he believed would aid the apologetic cause, he would hide it as long as he could. I don't have anywhere near the confidence you seem to have in Metcalfe's objective dedication to the truth. I have observed Metcalfe's approach to the "truth" for almost twenty years now, and I know that he is a committed enemy of the restored gospel and the man who restored it. He will manipulate quotes and data, and heap non sequitur upon non sequitur in his attempts to discredit Joseph Smith. He seeks to destroy people's faith, and his lies have been instrumental in the alienation of many people from the church, and I don't see his reformation on the horizon.

I see no reason to believe it was completed before this project went underway. There seems to be no evidence for it. In 1835-1837 the KEP papers were prepared, and it would be at least another seven years before we hear anything else about the Egyptian text, and that is when the BoA would be published in 1842. I am inclined to believe that the final manuscript for the BoA took place sometime inbetween that 7 year gap, not before it.

I'm not suggesting that the BoA was completed before the KEP were produced. Only that the portion to which the KEP refer was completed before this "project" (or whatever it is) got underway.

== Did they believe that the translation emanated from the Book of Breathings and were attempting to retrofit the text to what they felt was its origin in order to understand the meaning of the Egyptian? I don't know.

Perhaps, but even if this were true, this still implies that these men believed the BoA came from the Breathings text, which is what the traditional LDS apologetic position has flat out denied. So it still causes problems.

I am increasingly disinclined to deny this. In fact, the gist of my own personal evolving apologetic for this whole issue is that (sometime after the purchase of the Egyptian artifacts) Joseph Smith received, via the Urim and Thummim, the first chapter and a half of the book. That he subsequently believed it to be a "translation" after the manner of the Book of Mormon seems clear from the record. But I wonder if he alone is responsible for coming to the conclusion that the "translation" was from the scrolls accompanying the mummies. If so, then I am not surprised if he and his associates eventually attempted to "learn" Egyptian armed with their "primer" of the 1 1/2 chapters of "translated" Book of Abraham. However, the fact of the matter was that the "translation" was more akin to that of the Book of Moses and D&C 7 than it was to the Book of Mormon. Therefore, they struggled for awhile to make sense of the Egyptian text in light of the corresponding English they commenced with, and then quickly abandoned the enterprise when it became apparent it was beyond their capacity.

And I don't think the Lord was too seriously concerned about their misconception in this matter. His interest was in getting the text of the Book of Abraham to his church -- let the people decide if it's scripture or not, and then figure out the rest on their own.

Joseph obviously labored, on and off, to make some sense of the Egyptian for the remainder of his life. But it is apparent to me that he was never much of a conventional translator, though I believe he was a prophet, seer, and revelator, and that he channeled ancient texts from the heavenly archive to an modern earthly document.

I am clearly not an inerrantist when it comes to Joseph. I revere him as a prophet, but I am cognizant of his limitations as a man -- as were most of those who surrounded him during his lifetime. The fact that people like W. W. Phelps could become alienated from him and then ultimately return "to the fold" in abject humility is a powerful tribute to his (Joseph's) calling as a prophet. These men recognized his flawed humanity, but they overlooked it on account of their conviction that he was a divinely-appointed channel of light and truth. I share the same conviction.

Again, I appreciate your comments and continue to regret the bad start we got off to. Hopefully that will all be forgotten in a few weeks.

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hermeneutical

Oh goody, you're tipping your hand - revealing yourself, you are. Listen, I'm not as high flown as you!

Welcome to the board.

:P

Paul O

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hermeneutical

Oh goody, you're tipping your hand - revealing yourself, you are. Listen, I'm not as high flown as you!

Welcome to the board.

<_<

Paul O

High flown?

Or do you perhaps mean "highfalutin"?

highfalutin

One entry found for highfalutin.

Main Entry: high

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Hi friends,

When the cat is away, the apologists will play! icon12.gif

I've spent the last two days transcribing early-19thC sources that discuss the attempted immolation of Abraham (a.k.a. the sacrifice of Abraham; cf. Abr. 1, Fac. 1), and with great success. While chatting with Dan Vogel via fiber optics this afternoon, I stumbled across yet another source from 1829.

I'll try to set aside some playtime this weekend to add a few more thoughts on this thread.

I'm glad that so many FAIR readers are immersing themselves in BoAbr issues. But please understand that there aren't enough hours in the day to address the "Oh yeah, well what about this?" apologetics of those who don't even grasp the rudiments of the discussion. In any event, I'm sure that I can help clear the apologetic congestion that's attempting to asphyxiate the manuscript limpidity.

My best,

Brent

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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Cat-in-the-Hat (Brent),

I apologize I missed your reply (as you're aware, miss a couple hours and there's plenty of reading to catch up on).

The point that the colon was changed to a semi-colon is irrelevant--I think you missed mine. That it exists indicates that the scribe indisputably knew a listing was to follow. Due to how transcription is done, and (more relevant) that Joseph, "uttered slowly and very distinctly," makes the facts of punctuation incompatible with the dictation hypothesis. If they were writing as Joseph dictated, the scribe(s) would not have known to add such punctuation. How would you explain this?

I'd also be interested in your explanation of why "unto" was crossed out, it being the very next word anyway (I submit it was redundancy editing for reasons I have already posted).

Cheers,

Horton

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Provis,

== The news of Champollion's deciphering work had made its way "over the pond" at least to the extent that it was known that Egyptian was a phonetic language. That simple piece of knowledge alone would certainly have been known. Not only that, but Joshua Seixas had long since come and gone from Kirtland and is most likely the origin of Joseph's knowledge that Egyptian was read right to left (at least it is usually).

But you are again making all sorts of leaps that are unsubstantiated. First of all it is not at all clear whether Champollion's recent research had made its way to Joseph Smith. We are talking about a work that was written just a decade earlier, in French, not English, and was published on the other side of the planet. What evidence is there that Smith, living in rural America (where Egyptology was hardly a major interest), had access or was even aware of this man and his work? According to this interesting history article (http://www.uwm.edu/Course/egypt/0100/discoverersA.html)

"The great mistake of most scholars before Champollion was to miss this point and to suggest that Hieroglyphs were merely symbols which represented concepts or ideas."

In fact this was such a common assumption that Champollion himself made this mistake in his initial work. So why would it be far-fetched for the KEP contributors to make the same assumptions? I think it is perfectly plausible, if not highly probable, that a few men in rural America would follow the common pre-Champollion assumptions here. There is simply no evidence that they were on the cutting edge of Egyptology. If this were true, I suspect Smith wouldn't have made so many errors in his translations. He jumped into the effort to translate because he didn't know his translation could be verified by ground-breaking research that was currently taking place on the other side of the planet. If he knew this, don't you think he would have been more careful?

Secondly, Joshua Seixas was a Jewis Rabbi who helped Smith with his Hebrew, and had no knowledge of Egyptian whatsoever. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

== In any event, I just think it defies logic to believe that Phelps, for one, who was well versed in Latin and Greek, would have considered a single symbol capable of rendering such a large quantity of English text.

Again, you guys keep making statements like "it is clear," it is "far-fetched," and now it "defies logic" as if this were so obviously true. But when you have nothing to support these assertions, and in fact, there is considerable evidence against them, this amounts to nothing but rhetoric.

== Nevertheless, I acknowledge that my conjecture is speculative. But so is every other statement regarding the KEP!

Not so. It is wrong to imply that our positions are equal because they equally rely on assumptions. Some assumptions are based on evidence.

== One last comment on the notion that a basic understanding of the nature of Egyptian was completely unknown to any of these men: It is fascinating to me how the critics of Joseph Smith will assert, in all seriousness, that the mere presence of some obscure reference in a rare book in a university library somewhere within a 100 mile radius of Palmyra is sufficient to attribute to the man a knowledge of, say, the fact that some ancient records, somewhere, had been engraved on metallic plates.

I was thinking the same exact thing about how LDS apologists could actually have the audacity to suggest Joseph Smith would have been completely ignorant of a map mentioning Nahom; a map we know was available to him if he frequented a library. Yet, at the same time he and his cohorts must have been completely familiar with the cutting edge in Egyptology as it was presented in French, over in Europe.

== In fact, the current approach of people like Dan Vogel is to attribute an almost superhuman scope for the acquired knowledge of the Prophet.

Come on now, the hyperbole is too obvious. It isn't "superhuman" to suggest it is plausible, nay probable, that a man writing about a history of the Arabian penninsula just might take time out to look at the available maps.

== But when it comes to the notion that Egyptian was a phonetic language, and the exploits of Champollion (an extremely popular and widely reported news story), then Joseph and all of his associates become ignorant backwoodsmen once again.

They didn't need to be "ignorant backwoodsmen" because even scholars during the day were slow to pick up on Champollion's conclusions, including Champollion himself! The fact is, the assumption that these glyphs represented concepts or ideas was the norm among scholars, so why would it be far-fetched that Smith and his cohorts worked off of that common assumption?

== I find this notion insupportable.

Why? Kerry Shirts and John Tvetdness have done quite a bit to support this. The theory needs work to be sure, but to say it is unsupportable is itself unsupportable. http://www2.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/mnemonic.htm

== I have noted the whole "degree" business. I understand its implications, and I'm aware that Paul thinks it has merit. But I regard it as another candidate for "the razor."

But with all due respect, you're speaking as someone who has done absolutely no work in this arena. Paul has spent quite a bit of time addressing this over the years. He has a full collection of the KEP (though in black and white). The Egyptian papers make it perfectly clear that these men really did believe a single character could produce lines of English text.

Further, we also have to remember the JST which was considered a "translation" even though it worked off of no Hebrew text at all. Smith entered entire sentences where there was no Hebrew text supporting it. It was his own concept of "translation via revelation" that allowed him to enter commentary out of proportion with the translated text. So to say this couldn't have possibly been a translation because of this is also undermined by Smith's unique concept of translation.

== Nibley did have that access, and he came away entirely convinced that the portion of the text to which they refer had already been revealed prior to the creation of these papers.

But he presents no compelling evidence that has withstood the test of scrutiny. His only alternative explanation for what these papers represent, doesn't make a lick of sense.

== I understand that you have become persuaded that they do in fact suggest a translation process.

Yes, the list of evidences supporting this is considerable, whereas the counter evidence is basically speculative.

== I cannot account for that, since you don't seem to be prejudiced towards the conclusion.

I am prejudiced towards the most likely case, according to a basic deduction of the facts. It might get in the way of faith, but that is no reason to reject logic. If this wasn't a translaton, then what was it? I am not comfortable in the "we don't know exactly therefore it is wrong to draw a conclusion" argument. That is weak. Thee is plenty of evidence for one to draw a reasonable conclusion.

== I also honestly feel I have not approached the question with an inflexible prejudice, and yet I do not see persuasive evidence of the same thing that you do.

Well, I don't think it is necessary to atomize this thing further, trying of figure out why we don't agree. I know there are plenty of LDS who do not agree, but the majority of those who actually know anything about this seem to. I really don't dwell on the "why" some people don't agree. I can probably guess why, if it really mattered to me.

== I confess to being confused by what I see, since nothing seems to make any sense whatsoever. But (speaking primarily of Phelps' Ms.#2, for which we have the best photo) I see a text written in such a fashion as to contradict, rather than support, the notion that he was acting as a scribe for an oral dictation.

You guys keep asserting this, but what is your evidence? Why on earth would three men be writing the same text with the same errors, and why would these men all include the same Egyptian symbol to the same exact corresponding text? Nobody has offered a logical or even plausible alternative as to what they were trying to do.

== Now, understand that I approached my examination ready to admit that it would look like a scribal transcription. My conviction regarding the antiquity of the text of the Book of Abraham would have been unaffected either way. But that is not what I see. The simple factor of the precise punctuation is, to me, a strong argument against the thesis.

It is an argument, but not a strong one. I am not even sure how you think this argument makes any sense.

== If anyone would have known how to apply punctuation to a text, it was Phelps. But you can't place semi-colons at the end of a phrase without knowing that another related phrase is going to follow it. And the placement of Phelps' semi-colons is, in my estimation, not a retrofit but rather an integral part of the completely fluid and uninterrupted flow of script from his pen.

So you are telling me that if I transcribe an oral dictation and then go back and add periods, commas, semicolons, etc., that you would be able to tell whether or not I made these corrections during or after the dictation? What is your method here? And how do you explain the fact that the scribes made the same mistakes? Unless it was from dictation, the chances of them making the same errors is quite simply beyond the realm of probability.

== I'm not suggesting that the BoA was completed before the KEP were produced. Only that the portion to which the KEP refer was completed before this "project" (or whatever it is) got underway.

OK, and why do you think that? And how does this in any way mitigate the impact of the text corresponding to Egyptian characters from a scroll that supposedly has nothing to do with it?

== I am increasingly disinclined to deny this.

OK, so if you deny that the Breathings text couldn't have been the source, then how do you explain the Breathings text's relationship to the BoA translation? Do you believe it was the source? If not, then how is it that these men were smart enough to know what some French scholar had published in Europe, but they were so stupid that they copied from the wrong scroll!?

== Again, I appreciate your comments and continue to regret the bad start we got off to. Hopefully that will all be forgotten in a few weeks.

Consider it forgotten.

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Hello,

After reading this thread (whew!) I wanted to contribute a couple of thoughts (mostly for the reason that I want to be able to look at this thread in the future by clicking on "find all posts by this member" under my profile). At first I thought it was a valid argument that a scribe would not believe that a character could translate into a 100 words. But if they had faith in JS combined with the fact that there was no way that they could not know that a language could not translate in such a way, then it does stand to reason that they could have given JS the benefit of a doubt on this one. The other thing I want to bring up is the fact that JS and company DID make some kind of grammar guide to the Egyptian language. The fact that JS did produce a grammar guide and that one is found with the papyri should not be seen as a mere coincidence. Even if JS had produced another and the KEP was someone else's guide, there still remains the fact that the translation of the papyri was believed or claimed to be a literal translation based on the actual grammar guide that JS produced:

The remainder of this month I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients. (History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 238)

This afternoon labored on the Egyptian alphabet, in company with Brothers O. Cowdery and W. W. Phelps, and during the research, the principles of astronomy as understood by Father Abraham and the ancients unfolded to our understanding, the particulars of which will appear hereafter. (History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 286)

Exhibited the alphabet of the ancient records, to Mr. Holmes, and some others" (History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 316).

Jon

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Jon's comments just turned on a light.

If Smith and co. were familiar with the Rosetta Sone and Champollion's work in France, then why on earth try to come up with an Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar in the first place?

The purpose of this effort was to provide the world with a Rosetta Stone, which already existed! Obviously they were not aware of the latest in Egyptological scholarship.

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"immolation ... asphyxiate ... limpidity"

Uh oh, Brent's using really cool words again.

Now he's really pissed. :P

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Jon,

Except as I recall, their efforts were never particularly fruitful. They worked on it (and I think it was Parrish who seemingly obsessed about it) but didn't get particularly far. I don't know that their 'Alphabet and Grammar' can be considered their Rosetta Stone.

My questions is what gave them the idea that a character could resuslt in hundreds of words of text? Their experience with languages did just the opposite...give them reason to believe that it doesn't happen.

(Also, the little quote you have about the BOM after your name...if you would like me to point out the ridiculous nature of the argument in another forum, I'd be happy to.)

Best,

PacMan

P.S. Kevin: Being 'aware' of something and having 'access' to that same thing is not synonomous. Considering the world they lived in, it is more feasible that they had heard about these French findings in a newspaper, etc., and thought 'maybe we can figure it out too.' I think (given the timeline) that is the most logical explanation of what their association with the findings were--they new the major findings, but had no specifics. There's plenty of neat things I read in the newspaper, but it doesn't mean I have access to them.

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