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David Bokovoy

Kevin Barney

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In the most recent addition to the Studies in the Book of Abraham series entitled Astronomy, Papyrus and Covenant, Kevin Barney has contributed what in my mind amounts to an extraordinary contribution to our understanding of the Joseph Smith facsimiles.

In the article, Kevin suggests that

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Without diminishing whatsoever the unique properties of Kevin's paper, and they are many, it should be noted that the late Dr. Nibley and Michael Rhodes had already suggested this kind of thing. Barney has simply expanded upon it, and in so doing has added considerably to the legitimacy of the argument.

Having recently read both Barney's paper and the extracts from the Apocalypse of Abraham which are contained in Traditions from the Early Life of Abraham, I noted again the seeming relationship between the scene portrayed on the hypocephalus and the experiences of Abraham as described in the Apocalypse. Nibley also mentions the motif as being associated with the shield of Homer's Hephaestus. The distinct elements of those above and beneath, or on either side of a great divide, are present in each case, and form the backdrop for Abraham's journey through the heavens. And yet, we are dealing in each case with artwork that seems bound to Ptolemaic Egypt, rather than of more ancient origin.

The illustrations which are associated with our Book of Abraham most certainly do not have antecedents in the period during which Abraham lived. Abraham did not draw them, nor could they have been drawn during his lifetime, for the motifs themselves are of much later production.

Considering this, Kevin makes some very cogent observations:

We have a tendency when looking at the facsimiles to think of Abraham as well schooled and articulate in Egyptian religion, as if he were some sort of an Egyptian priest.  But this is only an assumption.  Although according to the biblical canon Abraham visited Egypt, we do not even know whether he learned the Egyptian language, much less became knowledgeable in the Egyptian mysteries.  The attempt to sacrifice Abraham did not take place in Egypt, and Abraham received his revelation of the heavens ouside of Egypt.  When Abraham finally did go to Egypt due to famine, he taught the Egyptians astronomy.  But note that Abraham was the one doing the teaching, not vice versa.  For all we know, he may have communicated with the Egyptians in his own language through interpreters.

Defenders of the Book of Abraham have long sought to understand Joseph's explanations of the facsimiles in terms of conventional Egyptian religious interpretations.  ... I believe that this activity is appropriate and necessary, as far as it goes.  But what if we were to take this activity to its logical conclusion: suppose we were to succeed in showing that Joseph's explanations in every way matched those of the Egyptians themselves?  That might (or might not) satisfy the critics, but then what would be their religious value to us?  Do we worship Atum-Re?  Should we revive the Egyptian cultus?  It seems to me that these documents have religious value to us only if they are reinterpreted in accordance with Semitic sensibilities as applying to events in the life of Abraham.

The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources, Kevin L. Barney, in Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, edited by John Gee and Brian H. Hauglid, Provo, UT 2005, p. 115

The question becomes, then, not what these things meant to the Egyptians, but rather what they were made to mean by those presumably Jewish individuals who adapted them to illustrate the story of their great patriarch Abraham.

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And thanks, David, for your contribution as well.

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Hypothetical "Egyptian-Jewish redactors" can have unlimited knowledge and abilities. Their ambiguous nature leaves them open to answer any question and sheltered from direct criticism. My "hypothetical Jewish redactor" writes Vedic Sanskrit texts with his toes and holds the world record on Tetris.

Kevin does provide three examples where Jews adapted Egyptian iconography for another purpose. But to create a mysterious Jewish redactor for the Book of Abraham seems highly speculative and far from rigorous.

There is obviously a severe disconnect between the extant papyrus and the Book of Abraham. Rather then imagining the text through the Semetic eyes of a fictional redactor why not put Joseph in the same process and argue for pure revelation. It accomplishes the same goal but leaves out the imaginary reconstructions.

Phaedrus

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Phaedrus:

Hypothetical "Egyptian-Jewish redactors" can have unlimited knowledge and abilities. Their ambiguous nature leaves them open to answer any question and sheltered from direct criticism. My "hypothetical Jewish redactor" writes Vedic Sanskrit texts with his toes and holds the world record on Tetris.

You are misrepresenting Kevin

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We must start, I suppose, from the proposition that a work may be both pseudepigraphic and scriptural.

Both Daniel and Deuteronomy come to mind as books which fit this bill, as it is highly unlikely that Daniel and Moses had anything to do with their production as the books have come down to us.

Accordingly, understanding the worldview of the nameless author behind the production of both of these books helps us to understand the books.

Likewise an understanding of the worldview and intentions of our proposed nameless author of the BoA helps us to understand how much of Egypt was really intended in the Facsimiles.

I'm not sure how you answer that question. Kerry Shirts has spent a lot of time trying to get behind what the Egyptian iconography means in the context of the legends/myths surrounding the principal players depicted. I have always maintained that this is the best starting point: understand what the pictures mean, then see how they relate to the revealed text.

What a marvelous modern age we live in!

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USU78:

Kerry Shirts has spent a lot of time trying to get behind what the Egyptian iconography means in the context of the legends/myths surrounding the principal players depicted.

Yeah, that Shirts guy is pretty crazy (:P), but he has uncovered quite a bit of information that supports the claim that Abraham was equated with Osiris, not to mention how the initiates are to assimilate the qualities, and even become the embodiment of the various gods represented in the judgment scene.

I was fascinated by many parts of his paper that he circulated at the conference. Now that I've chewed on some of it for awhile, I think I need to read it again.

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Hello Phaedrus ut,

===Hypothetical "Egyptian-Jewish redactors" can have unlimited knowledge and abilities.

More so than say Dtr1, Dtr2, Deutero-Isaiah etc.?

===Their ambiguous nature leaves them open to answer any question and sheltered from direct criticism.

While I admit that Kevin

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===And thanks, David, for your contribution as well.

You're welcome Charity. I'm really glad to see that you're up and feeling better.

Warm regards,

--David

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Wouldn't a discussion like this be suitable for the "Pundits" forum?

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===Hypothetical "Egyptian-Jewish redactors" can have unlimited knowledge and abilities.

More so than say Dtr1, Dtr2, Deutero-Isaiah etc.?

Whether it's redactor for J E D P or dtr1 & dtr2 the reconstructions are based upon the biblical textual criticism. The evidence comes from linguistics and source critical analysis. They are born of the evidence not pure speculation to fill the gaps where evidence is missing.

I did find Kevin Barneys work interesting, and I'm all for taking creative approaches to problem solving. It very well could be either my ignorance or personal bias that I failed to find the theory convincing. I'm open to that possibility.

In addition, I noticed how you completely ignored the tetris comment. Are you unable or unwilling to engage my claims? :P

Phaedrus

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um, I held the world Tetris (NES) high score...for a time...until some faker doctored a photo and passed my score by almost 300,000 points. I think I've ruled out his score as being even mathematically possible. I know how fast level 29 is...I was there. He did not get one line past that. Still irks me to this day....

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Hello Phaedrus ut,

===Whether it's redactor for J E D P or dtr1 & dtr2 the reconstructions are based upon the biblical textual criticism. The evidence comes from linguistics and source critical analysis. They are born of the evidence not pure speculation to fill the gaps where evidence is missing.

But the Book of Abraham contains considerable evidence for a connection with the ancient Semitic world. The illustration I provided concerning the council theme is only one of many.

What do we do with a book that features such links?

I would argue that since the BofA contains these types of connections, many of which were unknown to 19th century audiences, Kevin

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DB:

But the Book of Abraham contains considerable evidence for a connection with the ancient Semitic world. The illustration I provided concerning the council theme is only one of many.

What do we do with a book that features such links?

I am planning to initiate a thread (in the pundit forum) on this very topic as soon as I have completed the essay I am writing on it.

I am thoroughly fascinated and even astounded by the numerous connections between the Joseph Smith Book of Abraham and several works of known antiquity which simply were not available to anyone in 1835

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Hi David et al, I was lying in bed reading the transcripts of the current thread and I had to jump up and make some cursory comments. First of all, I have no intention of commenting on a virtual unknown such as a redactor, but there are some other comments relating to the practice of assimilation I would like to make.

Regarding this example of biblical adaptation, C. Uehlinger notes that

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David,

Semitic texts from the ancient Near East that feature stories of the divine council of gods typically begin with a crisis in which the head God calls together the gods of the council to resolve the dilemma. During the council, a series of proposals are offered. Finally, a

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Finally, Kevin

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Hello Ace,

David, are you suggesting that the Semitics, including the Jews, borrowed this from the Egyptians? Could it not have been just as easy to assimilate the legend from the war against the Sumerian Tiamat?

There are different recensions of the combat myth featured within the Bible. The Leviathan statements have clearly been influenced by ancient Canaan and perhaps, as suggested by Uehlinger, from ancient Egypt. Tiamat appears in other forms. I do believe that the struggle with Sea ultimately derives from Mesopotamian (my views have been influenced by Thorklid Jacobsen).

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David,

This from http://www.nauvoo.com/nauvoo_beautiful.html

A Professor Joshua Seixas was hired by Joseph Smith and his associates to leach them Hebrew. They originally hired another teacher who turned out to be very unsatisfactory, but they were determined to learn the language as well as they could. So, On November 21, 1835, they agreed to send someone to New York to find a Jew who was more qualified to teach them.

David

And where did Joseph Smith gain his knowledge concerning the council of Gods? I believe that it was in part from his work with the BofA:

The book of Abraham was published in 1835. Professor Seixas wasn't available until 1836. So I assume he is not the other "part" where JS could have learned this. But perhaps from the previous teacher who was giving him lessons in 1835, the same year the BOA was published.

Your argument rests in the fact that he could not have learned this info in the 19 century, so from what else would he have learned it. Unless you mean prophecy.

I agree with you that the BOA is authentic, I am merely anticipating the critics.

And I'm sure they would want to know if the Jews had knowledge of what Isaiah 6 meant in the 19 century. If they did, I'm sure many might cry he learned this from his teacher before Seixas (even if he wasnt very good).

They also might say he possibly pieced the info together from the use of We in Genesis and the knowledge that God sent his son to create all things and be the savior of mankind. From that we can glean a plurality of Deities sent one(Jesus) and that that one was the creator and savior of mankind.

It is good evidence and I can see how this is strong evidence for the BOA. But I can also see loopholes the critics will use.

Afterall, the critics have used far flimsier arguments in the past to deride strong evidence.

How would you answer these questions?

Ps. I posted this on another one of your threads about El and recieved no response. I think it applies better here about the BOA. This seems like it might be evidence to me.

This is slightly off topic but I heard Jehova mentioned so I was wondering if anybody knows if Y'shua is Jehova.

I've seen around on web sites like http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/i.../14_6/messenger

that Yshua, the Angel of the Lord's presence, is Jesus, which sounds an awful lot like

Abraham1:

15 And as they lifted up their hands upon me, that they might offer me up and take away my life, behold, I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God, and the Lord ahearkened and heard, and he filled me with the vision of the Almighty, and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands;

16 And his voice was unto me: aAbraham, Abraham, behold, my name is Jehovah, and I have heard thee, and have come down to deliver thee, and to take thee away from thy cfather

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== But the Book of Abraham contains considerable evidence for a connection with the ancient Semitic world. The illustration I provided concerning the council theme is only one of many. What do we do with a book that features such links?

This argument is somewhat incoherent, since the illustrations you provided were Facsimile 3 from the JS papyri, and a Mesopotamian cylinder seal. I

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Kevin,

Welcome back. I assume you're a new father -- again. Congrats. I trust everything went well.

I agree with your observations as to the Egyptian identities of the figures in Facsimile #3. Are you aware of the frequency with which Abraham was identified as Osiris in other ancient sources? It is a very common motif. In addition, Kerry Shirts circulated at the FAIR conference a very interesting article which discusses the very problems you cite. It is NOT unusual, and he give examples, to have individuals of either sex associated with the various figures in this classic judgment scene. Or, perhaps more accurately stated, this endowment scene.

I'll bet if you're nice to him he would e-mail you a copy. It's about 25 - 30 pages long or I would type it up for you.

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