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Chris Smith

A Challenge From John Gee

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Professor Gee,

Of what relevance could translating Egyptian be to the study of early Mormon history? JS didn't translate Egyptian. You have proposed that the text he translated is missing. So no matter how good you are at translating Egyptian, it won't help you. You don't even dispute that the characters in the left margins of the translation papers are incorrectly translated, although you question the relationship between the two. And for that theory your knowledge of Egyptian is useless. What about JS's translation or interpretation of the characters on the facsimiles? Does your expertise in Egyptian help you explain your way out of that? Hardly. No one (not even Noel, I believe) has questioned your ability to translate Egyptian. What is at issue is your theories about how the JS Egyptian papyri connect with the Book of Abraham. Basically, your idea that the missing papyri contain the missing text of Abraham is wishful thinking, the fallacy of possible proof, and downright silly, according to your mentor. The question I have for you is: are you an Egyptologist who happens to be interested in the Book of Abraham, or are you an apologist who became an Egyptologist so that you could browbeat your opponents with irrelevant feats of erudition?

If there has been ad hominal attacks, I don't approve of it; but most of the points made by the critics involve the non-technical aspects of the debate. I hope you realize that your test, if taken seriously, would apply to many of your defenders as well, some of whom go into vast detail on things Egyptian. You quote Nibley, but how bright was his light and long his rope when he tried to explore the Egyptian caverns? And was his wild theories about JS's scribes trying to learn Egyptian by working backwards from JS's translation beyond criticism from all except the Egyptologist?

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The point? To question the competence of a critic and put off engaging that person's specific criticism.

:P Just a guess.

I can see that at least one person admits he is not qualified to criticize, but wants to import someone else's criticism.

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I can see that at least one person admits he is not qualified to criticize, but wants to import someone else's criticism.

Um... no. I just want to see Gee answer the criticism instead of hiding behind a written exam.

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So you would be just as satisfied with a professor teaching the NT who didn't know a lick of Greek...after all, one can talk about elements that aren't "translational" and just skip the words in the text you are talking about.....wow.

I knew more Greek than my NT professor at BYU by his own assessment. It wasn't much but I had him beat. What should we make of that?

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One, last thing I do not believe what is at issue here is whether a layman should be able to discuss, criticize or delve into these questions; but rather, whether a layman has the standing to make declarations of fact concerning the scholarship, intelligence and competence of an professional without having the necessary skill-set to pass such a judgment. Unfortunately, this happens all too often on this board.

This is my problem with what happens on the board and elsewhere; it's not the discussion or even criticism of the topic, it's how the evaluation of the experts appears to be done. A footnote is found to be less than someone has assumed it to mean, the scholar doesn't take the alleged problem with one footnote as seriously as the lay critic does and suddenly the scholar is being represented as a dishonest and untrustworthy, etc. Other variations on this theme seem to be appearing all the time.

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The best lawyers were the ones that sat in the court room each day, who had been there for years. A lot of the time it's the same facts but a different face. They know how the judge is going to rule on these facts. But then each court was different.
I believe it's this way in any field, even knowing personalities and their history, their pet projects and theories, etc. will make you more effective in working in that field.

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your idea that the missing papyri contain the missing text of Abraham is wishful thinking
If someone doesn't know anything about papyri, how is this a credible conclusion? Wouldn't making a truly educated guess, a theory about the possible currently unknown contents depend on a knowledge of the contents of other papyri and an ability to examine the likelihood of what we currently have being linked with something that related to Abraham?

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I think certain things are helpful but not necessarily necessary when discussing a matter. It's a question of what bears in the matter.

Recently, some critics have talked about the papyri themselves, not the translation, and come to conclusions that apologists have pointed out to be under-educated and unnecessarily drawn.

Perhaps another list of questions, on the papyri--which is what most of the discussion has been on--would be better for the situation, (edit:) than questions on translation.

On the other hand, to hear people like ** and ** sputter their stuff, when I could post a few of their past posts that show them to be quite hypocritical--with ** lying/ libelous misrepresentation, and ** completely unwilling to engage opposing criticism and also being misleading and maybe more, it hardly shows well for these critics to criticize like this.

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I think certain things are helpful but not necessarily necessary when discussing a matter. It's a question of what bears in the matter.

Recently, some critics have talked about the papyri themselves, not the translation, and come to conclusions that apologists have pointed out to be under-educated and unnecessarily drawn.

Hi Grego--

I think you're attempting to be tactful here. But, I really don't know what exactly it would mean for a critic (or, alternatively, an apologist) to be "pointed out to be under-educated and unnecessarily drawn."

But, I would like to know about ** doing ** with regard to ** re **.

I wasn't able to parse that, precisely. Though, I do get that you don't agree with critics of BoM, I think.

Best.

**

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If someone doesn't know anything about papyri, how is this a credible conclusion? Wouldn't making a truly educated guess, a theory about the possible currently unknown contents depend on a knowledge of the contents of other papyri and an ability to examine the likelihood of what we currently have being linked with something that related to Abraham?

How does one gauge the likelihood of the existence of a one-of-a-kind document?

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IOW, some critics have come to conclusions that, had they known more about the issue, they probably wouldn't have suggested as being so concluded.

Yes, I have not named ** and ** , but they are posters and might recognize my interactions with them on certain past threads where these issues came up and I specifically pointed them out; hopefully they will remember these times themselves, and will come to the conclusion that hey, maybe I should be a little better.

-=-=-=

Though, I do get that you don't agree with critics of BoM, I think.

Depends on the arguments and reasoning. I disagree with most critics of the BoM; yet I often disagree more strongly with Sorensen and Gardner--two staunch BoM "scholars", for example.

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On another thread I had inquired about Dr. Gees' schedule for publication of a follow-on to his book A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri. In the introduction to that book, published in 2000, Dr. Gee said that he is "currently preparing a larger study that will provide a fuller discussion" (of the Papyri issues) "with references."

I'm looking forward very much to reading the study/book when it is released.

I assume Dr. Gee is monitoring this thread and so perhaps could provide us a status report.

Thank you.

As I mentioned to you on that same thread, I personally asked Dr. Gee about that, and he said he has not been able to do so due to other things that have a monopoly on his time.

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How does one gauge the likelihood of the existence of a one-of-a-kind document?

What exactly do you mean by a "one-of-a-kind" document here?

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First, he states, "I am regularly vilified as incompetent by people who in some cases have not attended college, and usually masquerade behind pseudonyms. Yet, when I read their responses, I wonder about the competence of these critics." This is a valid point-- if you are going to challenge his competence (read: an expert) you should at least show that you have the requisite skills to actually challenge said competence. So far, no one has taken this challenge up.

I do not challenge Gee's competence. I challenge his conclusions and the way he presents them. His book presents itself as a guide to basic information about the papyri, but it proceeds to state matters of opinion as if they were matters of fact. It also omits or glazes over important pieces of information. No indication is given that certain important claims made in the book are hotly contested by people on both sides of the faith-commitment fence. I have identified a number of specific problems with the book during my posting history on this forum, so please don't tell me to "put up or shut up" (as one poster did earlier in the thread); I have most certainly "put up."

I have already apologized for asserting that Gee "lied". That statement was inappropriate. However, I do think that my specific criticisms of Gee's book should either be answered or conceded; I don't see the bearing of the present "Challenge To Critics" on the validity of my criticisms.

As for my own credentials, I have a bachelor's degree in Biblical studies and am enrolled in a Christian History MA program. I have read a lot on Mormon history and the Mormon scriptures, including a large quantity of material about the Book of Abraham. I have studied photocopies of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers extensively on my own. I am well-versed in the basics of historical methodology. I have checked quite a few of John Gee's facts and footnotes, and have done a little browsing in books on Egyptian texts, religion and history. I own Michael Rhodes' critical edition of the papyri and am familiar with its contents, and also have copies of all the other translations that have been made of the Book of Breathings. I have demonstrated my grasp of the issues I've commented on, I think, on this and other forums. So Gee hasn't called any "bluff" of mine.

I don't intend to take up Dr. Gee's challenge. This is a transparent attempt to silence critics by holding them to outrageous standards defined by his own areas of interest and expertise (despite their irrelevance to the issue at hand). In other words, he's making a power play: attempting to set himself up as the sole authoritative interpreter of what the historical record has to say about the Joseph Smith Papyri. I will not be subjugated by Gee's Alabama literacy test.

-CK

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I have already apologized for asserting that Gee "lied". That statement was inappropriate. However, I do think that my specific criticisms of Gee's book should either be answered or conceded; I don't see the bearing of the present "Challenge To Critics" on the validity of my criticisms.

Apologies are more convincing when you aren't continuing the slander on other boards.

So Gee hasn't called any "bluff" of mine.

He sure has. You took on Seyffarth and you now get to deal with Seyffarth's translations and standard translations if you want to be taken seriously while you badmouth somebody who can.

I don't intend to take up Dr. Gee's challenge. This is a transparent attempt to silence critics by holding them to outrageous standards defined by his own areas of interest and expertise (despite their irrelevance to the issue at hand). In other words, he's making a power play: attempting to set himself up as the sole authoritative interpreter of what the historical record has to say about the Joseph Smith Papyri. I will not be subjugated by Gee's Alabama literacy test.

How convenient since you can't pass the literacy test that would be standard for anyone expecting to be involved in a corner of Egyptology. We are fed up with people who claim to be in advanced Bible studies but pretend that knowing languages doesn't give anyone an edge. Sure you can talk about the BOA without Egyptian but the minute the translation comes up the one who doesn't know the it can only parrot those who do. That is when the badmouthing starts to get rid of the Mormon expert without further ado. If you want to have a discussion here then show some respect until you know as much as those you are slandering.

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Sitting back as an observer, it's precisely threads like this that make me love this board. I know there will be a conversation years from now in which someone will remark "If only we had the days when John Gee even made a post here, and numerous critics responded, including Dan Vogel." I know a lot of emotions get stirred up in such threads. But for people like me, they are sure fun to watch. :P

That being said, I do understand some of John Gee's motivations (he does seem to be the favorite punching bag of critics, and it looks like it finally brought him to the point of responding). And I also some of the critics reservations of this test (Dan Vogel did a nice job explaining why you don't need to know everything about Egyptology to give relevant opinions on the Book of Abraham).

That said, I do think there are some important reasons for the questions. One portion of the BoA debate revolves around whether Joseph Smith translation of the facsimiles are acceptable or just pure bunk. Another is whether explaining text must be attached immediately adjacent to (or even on the same roll of) the vignette. Another is whether vignettes can have more than one direct meaning. Another is whether various types of Egyptian books are even culturally capable of containing something like the Book of Abraham on them. This is where John Gee can show that his background allows him to better answer these questions than most of us are.

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Apologies are more convincing when you aren't continuing the slander on other boards.

1) Accusing someone of telling a lie is not prima facie slander, especially if I back up the claim.

2) I have withdrawn my bald accusation that John Gee told a lie, but I have not withdrawn either my criticisms of his book and article or my conviction that he misrepresented the facts-- intentionally or unintentionally.

3) I have not "continued the slander" on "other boards". I explained over there to Will Schryver why I "suspect [Gee] of duplicity" (and I do suspect him of duplicity), but I have not declared him a liar there or here since apologizing for that bald accusation.

He sure has. You took on Seyffarth and you now get to deal with Seyffarth's translations and standard translations if you want to be taken seriously while you badmouth somebody who can.

I "took on Seyffarth"? And now I have to deal with "Seyffarth's translations and actual translations"? You don't seem to understand the nature of the discussion. I have criticized Gee's work for two reasons: 1) his extrapolation from Seyffarth's statement is desperate and frankly incorrect, and 2) his book presents his conclusion from said extrapolation as if it were self-evident fact. I only minimally have to deal with "Seyffarth's translations" to know how to respond to Gee's argument, and I certainly don't have to deal with "actual translations" except insofar as they have already been provided by competent scholars.

How convenient since you can't pass the literacy test that would be standard for anyone expecting to be involved in a corner of Egyptology.

I have criticized Gee's history, not his Egyptology.

Sure you can talk about the BOA without Egyptian but the minute the translation comes up the one who doesn't know the it can only parrot those who do.

Translation hasn't come up, so this is a non-issue, but perhaps you could explain to us why it's a bad thing for us to refer to the translations of scholars like Michael D. Rhodes, Robert K. Ritner, Klaus Baer? Do you doubt that their translations are competent? They are certainly more than sufficient for the purposes of evaluating a statement by Gustavus Seyffarth that has little to do with issues of translation.

-CK

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I have not "continued the slander" on "other boards". I explained over there to Will Schryver why I "suspect [Gee] of duplicity" (and I do suspect him of duplicity), but I have not declared him a liar there or here since apologizing for that bald accusation.

-CK

It looks to me like you are continuing the slander here, ck. Duplicity. Do you understand what the word means?

I am offended on Dr. Gee's part. If you cannot deal with ideas without slandering people you should move on to something else.

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What exactly do you mean by a "one-of-a-kind" document here?

While there are many examples of Books of Breathings, the Book of Abraham is one of a kind. So, to avoid the fallacy of possible proof, how does one argue that the BOA was probably in the missing portions of the JS papyri?

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While to me it all seems pretty cut and dry, I NEVER claim expertise. Mr Gee, And DCP were mentioned in a post I read on another board. And it seemed to me that at least on the surface their argument is valid, and relevant to the topics in this thread. I would like to hear, Mr. Gee's (Or DCP's) response to some of these very specific questions/concerns/facts. Please if you choose to respond, keep the points to the facts. I really only want to hear WHY they are wrong or right. I am not interested in hearing how poor their scholarship is, let your answer do the talking. If you do not have time or are unable to answer these concern's I will understand.

Regards,

Sentinus

Most LDS Apologists of the Book of Abraham believe, maintain, and proclaim that the Book of Breathings text ((also known as Shait en Sensen) "Breathing permit" for the priest Hor text) is Not the source from which the Book of Abraham. Hugh Nibley maintained and proclaimed this. John Gee maintains and proclaims this. And of course, Even the 'Chief' LDS Apologist Daniel C. Peterson maintains and proclaims this.

Here is what Daniel C. Peterson wrote in the January 1994 Ensign:

"Critics have long attempted to make a case against the book of Abraham. They argue that some ancient texts do not support the book. They point to the fragments of the Joseph Smith papyri that we now possess and claim that since the contents of these papyri bear little obvious relationship to the book of Abraham, the book is a fraud; but Hugh Nibley has made an exhaustive study of these claims and has shown that the papyri we now have were probably not the ones from which Joseph Smith translated the book of Abraham." http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dl...

Despite Daniel C. Peterson, wanting the readers of the Ensign to not believe that the Book of Breathings text ((also known as Shait en Sensen) "Breathing permit" for the priest Hor text) is not the source for the Book of Abraham (by providing a footnote to some of Hugh Nibley BofA Apologetics, which had a lot of it already been refuted before the year of 1994 (1)), the evidence is very overwhelming that the Book of Breathings text is indeed the source for the Book of Abraham.

Here is what Kevin Graham wrote and quoted from Brent Metcalfe on the รข??FAIR"/MA&D Message Board many, many months ago there:

We also get all these wild excuses as to how the Breathings text couldn`t have possibily been the source for the BoA translation, but not one single LDS apologetic even acknolwedges the many reasons to believe it was. Here is a list provided by Metcalfe:

Facsimile 1 is the opening vignette in the Breathing Permit of H

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I do not challenge Gee's competence. I challenge his conclusions and the way he presents them. His book presents itself as a guide to basic information about the papyri, but it proceeds to state matters of opinion as if they were matters of fact. It also omits or glazes over important pieces of information. No indication is given that certain important claims made in the book are hotly contested by people on both sides of the faith-commitment fence. I have identified a number of specific problems with the book during my posting history on this forum, so please don't tell me to "put up or shut up" (as one poster did earlier in the thread); I have most certainly "put up."

I have already apologized for asserting that Gee "lied". That statement was inappropriate. However, I do think that my specific criticisms of Gee's book should either be answered or conceded; I don't see the bearing of the present "Challenge To Critics" on the validity of my criticisms.

As for my own credentials, I have a bachelor's degree in Biblical studies and am enrolled in a Christian History MA program. I have read a lot on Mormon history and the Mormon scriptures, including a large quantity of material about the Book of Abraham. I have studied photocopies of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers extensively on my own. I am well-versed in the basics of historical methodology. I have checked quite a few of John Gee's facts and footnotes, and have done a little browsing in books on Egyptian texts, religion and history. I own Michael Rhodes' critical edition of the papyri and am familiar with its contents, and also have copies of all the other translations that have been made of the Book of Breathings. I have demonstrated my grasp of the issues I've commented on, I think, on this and other forums. So Gee hasn't called any "bluff" of mine.

I don't intend to take up Dr. Gee's challenge. This is a transparent attempt to silence critics by holding them to outrageous standards defined by his own areas of interest and expertise (despite their irrelevance to the issue at hand). In other words, he's making a power play: attempting to set himself up as the sole authoritative interpreter of what the historical record has to say about the Joseph Smith Papyri. I will not be subjugated by Gee's Alabama literacy test.

-CK

You list a lot of credentials, none of which seem to make you any sort of expert on egyptology, which, I believe, is the crux of Gee's dispute; that non-experts are acting as experts; and falsely-so.

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DUPLICITY 1 : contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action; especially : the belying of one's true intentions by deceptive words or action.

Thesaurus Entry Word: duplicity

Function: noun

Text: the inclination or practice of misleading others through lies or trickery <we were lucky not to be taken in by his duplicity> -- see DECEIT

It is a jaw dropper that you can put it in print that calling somebody duplicitious isn't calling them a liar CK.

I "took on Seyffarth"? And now I have to deal with "Seyffarth's translations and actual translations"? You don't seem to understand the nature of the discussion. I have criticized Gee's work for two reasons: 1) his extrapolation from Seyffarth's statement is desperate and frankly incorrect, and 2) his book presents his conclusion from said extrapolation as if it were self-evident fact. I only minimally have to deal with "Seyffarth's translations" to know how to respond to Gee's argument, and I certainly don't have to deal with "actual translations" except insofar as they have already been provided by competent scholars.

You don't understand the nature of this board. I'll explain it one more time for you. You have taken it upon yourself to judge an experts competence when all you can do (by your own admission) is parrot other people. You think you are qualified to judge an expert's evaluation of Seyffarth when you admit that you are only using somebody else's words and you admit you have to use translations provided by 'competent scholars' which means you have no way of knowing anything for yourself, your only criteria is putting competent in front of what you use and liar in front of what you don't use. How convenient and how easy and how arrogant and how outrageous. It isn't going to happen on this board anymore and anybody who thinks they can continue to use gutter tactics against Mormons on a Mormon board is going to get a wake up call. You have been given an opportunity to deal with the 'incompetent, duplicitious, desparate' Dr. Gee head on and you have refused it! 'Nuff said, keep the gutter tactics on boards where name calling is considered a fine and dandy substitute for knowledge.

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While to me it all seems pretty cut and dry, I NEVER claim expertise. Mr Gee, And DCP were mentioned in a post I read on another board. And it seemed to me that at least on the surface their argument is valid, and relevant to the topics in this thread. I would like to hear, Mr. Gee's (Or DCP's) response to some of these very specific questions/concerns/facts. Please if you choose to respond, keep the points to the facts. I really only want to hear WHY they are wrong or right. I am not interested in hearing how poor their scholarship is, let your answer do the talking. If you do not have time or are unable to answer these concern's I will understand.

Regards,

Sentinus

I agree! There is no harm in incorrectly assuming your opponent is sincere.

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Dear Moderators,

All persons should submit a statement truthfully stating that

their submission is their own work. I will evaluate the results and send to the moderators, the pseudonym and the test results in the form of a score. My answers coincide with the standard published

Egyptological versions of these texts and images, so I am not introducing anything that is idiosyncratic.

With all due respect for Prof. Gee, I don

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You list a lot of credentials, none of which seem to make you any sort of expert on egyptology, which, I believe, is the crux of Gee's dispute; that non-experts are acting as experts; and falsely-so.

Then the audience for the book is only those that can pass the challenge? Are we not competent to check foot notes, historical assertions and cases where opposing expert opinion is maybe inappropriately left out of the presentation.

Lets turn the tables with a hypothetical and see what you think.

Suppose that I am an academic that is also a faculty at Maharishi University. Suppose that I have some physical arguments to show that the mystical field theory promoted by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi might have something to it and so maybe his disciples really can levitate etc.

I write a book about it but I don't make most of my claims too controversial but some parts are very controversial.

Now suppose you read my book and find that is seems that my theories rely on some ideas about the nature of gravity that have been claimed debunked by Steven Hawking and other but I don't mention this. You also notice that some of my sources don't seem to say what I claim.

Not suppose that you ask me about in some forum and to your surprise my reaction is to ask what your credentials are and then throw out the equations below and demand that you interpret their significance and translate them into classical tensor notation.

Am I being a bully?

Maybe I actually was remiss in not mentioning that my theory goes against standards physics. Maybe my bad references really were suspicious. In any case, should I not just respond to the questions in a way suitable to my audience?

equations.gif

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