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William Schryver

Missing Papyrus

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I would like to work with Prof. Gee in this regard and would be happy to share my results with him if he's interested in a collaboration. I think it would serve everyone's interest if he and Chris took the same set of measurements and came to an agreement in this regard.

Amen! I hope there will be cooperation among scholars on matters of measurement. As you say, it would be in everyone's interest to at least be able to agree on the fundamental data informing the discussion. Without that, people will simply talk past one another, with little possibility of meaningful dialogue on other issues. I wish I had anything useful to add on this topic, so I could help us all move beyond this measurement impasse.

I wonder if a disinterested party could also take measurements? Anyone already involved in the present discussion will probably not be seen as disinterested, but there might be some who could be. Michael Rhodes, for instance, is LDS and therefore clearly not against the Book of Abraham; but his own way of making sense of the book doesn't rely on missing papyrus, correct? So I would imagine that everyone would agree measurements made by Rhodes would done in an unbiased way. And if he also used measuring techniques informed by all participants in the present discussion.... Wishful thinking? Or can we drag Michael Rhodes to Salt Lake? ;-)

Don

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DB:

Michael Rhodes, for instance, is LDS and therefore clearly not against the Book of Abraham; but his own way of making sense of the book doesn't rely on missing papyrus, correct?

I found this statement quite interesting. I, of course, have made it quite clear for years that I believe Joseph Smith received the Book of Abraham via revelation; that he almost certainly never knew what Egyptian text corresponded to that revelation; that it is possible, in my mind, that God may simply have used the papyri as relics to serve as a "catalyst" for the revelation he gave to the Prophet. This, of course, is more or less identical to what Mike Rhodes thinks on the topic. As far as my having written a paper about the length of the missing portion of the scroll of Horos, it came about almost by accident, as I was not previously interested in that particular angle on the issues. Nevertheless, I was convinced that the contemporary witness testimony was being unfairly maligned by the critics, and that there were indeed indications that there had been a scroll of significant length even after the mounted fragments had been removed.

After re-reading John Gee's FARMS Review article where he first mentioned the Hoffmann formula for calculating the length of the scroll from the winding measurements, it occurred to me that the key was knowing how thick papyrus really was. Thus was set in motion the chain of events that have led to me making this post on a bright sunny Sunday morning.

Let it be known, henceforth and forever, that I couldn't care less if there was a long scroll or not! Knowing for certain that the scroll of Horos was only about 4 feet long when the men in Kirtland first pulled it from its encasing tube would have zero effect on my view of the Book of Abraham as scripture. Zero. I have simply followed the evidence where it has led. In my judgment, the evidence is persuasive in this particular case: there was a lot more to the scroll of Horos than the critics want us to believe. This latest measurement of the thickness of the papyri is yet another piece of evidence that suggests there was a long roll.

Whether there was an Abraham text on that missing portion of scroll is something we can never know; I have never conjectured otherwise. One will search in vain on this thread for any evidence that I have even hinted at such a thing.

Indeed, I think you'd be surprised to learn that none of the people associated with LDS apologetics with whom I have had frequent conversations on these questions relies on the reality of "missing papyrus" in order to make ends meet in their understanding of the origins of the Book of Abraham. For everyone I know, it's entirely a peripheral question; one with some degree of interest, but not one with much significance either way.

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Whether there was an Abraham text on that missing portion of scroll is something we can never know; I have never conjectured otherwise. One will search in vain on this thread for any evidence that I have even hinted at such a thing.

http://www.mormonapo...__p__1208717096

Nevertheless, I do believe that there was an Egyptian text of the Book of Abraham on the scroll of Horos. Not only that, but I have come to believe that the Document of Fellowship Written by Isis had a logical relationship (in the mind of the scroll's owner) with the Book of Abraham text that I believe followed it on the scroll. I believe that it constituted (in a manner of speaking) Hor's "temple recommend."

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Do you find it ethically challenging to misrepresent evidence, or does it come naturally?

Of course, I am well aware of the fact that I have spoken elsewhere about my theories concerning the relationship of the Document of Fellowship to the Book of Abraham. That's why I very specifically wrote:

One will search in vain on this thread for any evidence that I have even hinted at such a thing.

I've tried to be very careful to not mix the concepts on this thread, nor in the paper I have written on the topic.

Now, as for what I wrote on that other thread? That is precisely what I think. I believe there is a plausible relationship between the Document of Fellowship Written by Isis and a putative Book of Abraham.

That said, my point above is that my view of the BoA would not be altered if we definitively knew that there was no Abraham text on the scroll. Of course, we don't know that, and the evidence is overwhelming at this point that there was a considerable amount of scroll material beyond the fragments that survive.

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Incidentally, when one examines JSP-I (the lion couch vignette) with the naked eye, or under magnification (I did both) it is obvious that Richard Parker (and several others) are just plain wrong when suggesting that Abraham's right hand is actually the wing of a bird!

Parker wrote, way back in 1968:

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Hey Will,

Could you articulate for us what it was on the papyri that made the hand/wing issue so clear to you? Thanks,

-Chris

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Hey Will,

Could you articulate for us what it was on the papyri that made the hand/wing issue so clear to you? Thanks,

-Chris

I might. But first answer me this: do you agree with Parker or Bell on this question?

.

.

.

(I'm leaving for a while now and won't be able to check out your response until later ...)

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I might. But first answer me this: do you agree with Parker or Bell on this question?

I'm undecided.

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I'm undecided.

Really?

Why?

Lanny Bell believes the evidence is conclusive.

And yet, apparently, you do not.

Only having seen photographs of JSP-I prior to Friday, I was still quite persuaded that it was a hand, and not a wing. Seeing both hands under magnification (and with the naked eye, too) I was even more persuaded that there is simply no doubt about it.

So, again, on what basis do you remain "undecided"?

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Mostly because a) it would be unusual, b ) there's possible wing speckling at the edge of the fragment, c) it looks a little different from the other hand, and d) although it would be odd to have an open and closed wing on the same document, we do find this in the Ta-shere min BoD. At the same time, I'm quite sympathetic to the arguments Bell and others have forwarded, and it does look rather more like a hand than a wing.

(I'm a bit baffled, by the way, that I am demanded to justify being undecided, but when asked to explain your own absolute certitude you avoid the question. I only bring this up because it seems to be a pattern on your part lately to ask lots of penetrating questions but never to provide any answers. It makes for some rather frustrating and one-sided conversations.)

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Mostly because a) it would be unusual, b ) there's possible wing speckling at the edge of the fragment, c) it looks a little different from the other hand, and d) although it would be odd to have an open and closed wing on the same document, we do find this in the Ta-shere min BoD. At the same time, I'm quite sympathetic to the arguments Bell and others have forwarded, and it does look rather more like a hand than a wing.

(I'm a bit baffled, by the way, that I am demanded to justify being undecided, but when asked to explain your own absolute certitude you avoid the question. I only bring this up because it seems to be a pattern on your part lately to ask lots of penetrating questions but never to provide any answers. It makes for some rather frustrating and one-sided conversations.)

I recall reading someone claim that there was "wing speckling". Frankly, I don't know what they're talking about. It's a freaking hand. It looks just like the other one. It's only become controversial because people with presuppositions are so inordinately inclined to believe such things as "wing speckling."

As for the alleged "one-sided conversations," it only seems that way to you because you refuse to notice the substantive arguments that I make. You routinely dismiss them as "absurd," or something equivalent. In that respect, you've begun to emulate your mentor quite well. That's too bad, if you ask me. But, hey, I understand how well it plays in certain quarters, so I don't really begrudge you resorting to it when the rewards are so enticing.

In any event, if you want to know why I reached the conclusion I did in respect to the question of "hand" vs. "wing tip," it's because, quite simply, it's obviously a hand and not a wing tip. No more complex than that.

Of course, you're certainly free to have your conclusions dictated by your presupposition that Joseph Smith was just "making it all up" as he went along.

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To me it's clearly a wingtip. Isis must be present in order give birth to Horus below. Horus is gathering up Osiris' body parts to help him get resurrected.

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Mostly because a) it would be unusual, b ) there's possible wing speckling at the edge of the fragment, c) it looks a little different from the other hand, and d) although it would be odd to have an open and closed wing on the same document, we do find this in the Ta-shere min BoD. At the same time, I'm quite sympathetic to the arguments Bell and others have forwarded, and it does look rather more like a hand than a wing.

(I'm a bit baffled, by the way, that I am demanded to justify being undecided, but when asked to explain your own absolute certitude you avoid the question. I only bring this up because it seems to be a pattern on your part lately to ask lots of penetrating questions but never to provide any answers. It makes for some rather frustrating and one-sided conversations.)

By the way, there are several elements of the facsimiles from the Joseph Smith Papyri that are "unusual." That's what makes them so intriguing. They are not "common" funerary documents at all. They're very unique in many ways. I'm sure John Gee would love to tell you all about it, had you not burned your bridges with him so thoroughly.

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People can judge for themselves.

wing.jpg

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People can judge for themselves.

wing.jpg

Yes, they can. And they will.

But I can tell you right now that all the photos I have seen (and particularly the one to which you've linked) pale in comparsion to the actual document. I was, quite frankly, amazed at their clarity and beauty. Especially the scroll of Semminis. It was simply stunning!

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I'm sure John Gee would love to tell you all about it, had you not burned your bridges with him so thoroughly.

I made a negative comment about John Gee a long time ago, and apologized profusely both in public and in private, both at the time and long afterward, and even had a cordial telephone conversation and a brief but cordial email exchange. Only thereafter did he stop communicating with me. I'm not sure what I did to burn my bridges so thoroughly, but probably having friends and acquaintances of his put negative words into my mouth on numerous occasions didn't help.

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Hi Will,

I recall reading someone claim that there was "wing speckling". Frankly, I don't know what they're talking about....

No doubt. And you don't recall who made the claim?

In any event...

It looks just like the other one. It's only become controversial because people with presuppositions are so inordinately inclined to believe such things as "wing speckling."

Are you sure it "looks just like the other one"?

Consider a few comments I posted almost a decade ago here.

Irrespective of whether the strokes are the remnants of a hand or wing, one thing is certain: John Gee fudged the image to make it look like a hand.

This isn't about ideological obstinance, it's about scholarly integrity.

My best,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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This isn't about ideological obstinance, it's about scholarly integrity.

Yes, well, in my experience, one man's "scholarly integrity" is often another man's "ideological obstinance."

I trust you have read Lanny Bell's fairly recent article on this topic? He doesn't appear to have any ideological dog in this race, and he sees a hand rather than a wing.

At any rate, I will likely have occasion again in the very near future to make some detailed observations of the original, in which case I will document specific reasons for which I am feel certain it is a hand, as opposed to the general impression I have expressed above. Afterwards I will report on those observations.

In the meantime, I will only add that I have always considered your arguments (or rather, those made by Ashment which you cite) from the ZLMB thread a bit underwhelming.

Furthermore, I think you wrongly impugn Gee's intentions, as well as his "scholarly integrity." But that is hardly breaking new ground in your case.

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Hi Will,

I encourage our readers to weigh the evidence for themselves on whether John Gee correctly represented the strokes as I discuss here.

Here are the relevant images:

Figure 1

(pJS 1 detail)

pjs1_bird_wing-and-hand_72dpi.jpg

Figure 2

(Enlargement of the two sketches)

pjs1_wing-and-hand_72dpi.jpg

Figure 3

(Enlargement of the two sketches with guides)

pjs1_wing-and-hand_guides_72dpi.jpg

Figure 4

(Blotches for bird feathers on wings and torso)

pjs1_bird_72dpi.jpg

Figure 5

(John Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri [Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000], 38)

gee_strokes.jpg

Cheers,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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Hi Will,

I encourage our readers to weigh the evidence for themselves on whether John Gee correctly represented the strokes as I discuss here.

Here are the relevant images:

Figure 1

(pJS 1 detail)

pjs1_bird_wing-and-hand_72dpi.jpg

Figure 2

(Enlargement of the two sketches)

pjs1_wing-and-hand_72dpi.jpg

Figure 3

(Enlargement of the two sketches with guides)

pjs1_wing-and-hand_guides_72dpi.jpg

Figure 4

(Blotches for bird feathers on wings and torso)

pjs1_bird_72dpi.jpg

Figure 5

(John Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri [Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000], 38)

gee_strokes.jpg

Cheers,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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Hi Greg,

After all these years you never fail to leave me bewildered.

So in what way do you believe that John Gee correctly represented the strokes here...

Figure 5

(John Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri [Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000], 38)

gee_strokes.jpg

I look forward to your incisive analysis.

Cheers,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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So in what way do you believe that John Gee correctly represented the strokes here...

Figure 5

(John Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri [Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000], 38)

gee_strokes.jpg

His intent is actually quite plain to one not motivated to find fault where none is to be found. He was simply trying to emphasize that there appear to be four distinct lines representing fingers. That's also what I believe. In fact, I don't believe this photo is entirely representative of the original document. Unfortunately, I did not specifically look at the locus with this controversy in mind, but I will make a note to do so when I return to SLC between now and the end of the month.

That said, (as Greg correctly notes) had Gee intended to deceive readers in any way by "connecting the dots," then why would he have placed the photo containing the "dots" directly beside the one where he is trying to illustrate the finger strokes?

Hello?! Anybody home?

Your allegations are entirely without merit. And your continuing imputation of ill-intent on the part of Professor Gee is entirely unfounded, and is more a reflection on you than it is on him.

At any rate, I may have more to report on this question between now and Thanksgiving.

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For once, I'm inclined to agree with William. I see Gee's drawing as his proposed reconstruction, not as a misrepresentation of the photograph. It's not unlike Ed Ashment's reconstruction, although Ed's use of a different ink color for reconstructed portions helped clarify what he had added and what was original.

But, I can't help but notice that the finger Gee extends to connect the two dots does not appear to be the right angle, even if it can be shown that the papyrus is damaged here (which possibility I do not discount). I think that for one to get a viable reconstruction, one would need to make the dots belong to two separate fingers.

And since I'm an equal opportunity critic, I've always found the way Ashment restored the head of the ba bird to be a bit odd. He seems to make the mouth into the eyes, the chin into the mouth, and the beard into the neck. The result is a very funny looking head.

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For once, I'm inclined to agree with William. I see Gee's drawing as his proposed reconstruction, not as a misrepresentation of the photograph. It's not unlike Ed Ashment's reconstruction, although Ed's use of a different ink color for reconstructed portions helped clarify what he had added and what was original.

But, I can't help but notice that the finger Gee extends to connect the two dots does not appear to be the right angle, even if it can be shown that the papyrus is damaged here (which possibility I do not discount). I think that for one to get a viable reconstruction, one would need to make the dots belong to two separate fingers.

And since I'm an equal opportunity critic, I've always found the way Ashment restored the head of the Horus hawk to be a bit odd. He seems to make the mouth into the eyes, the chin into the mouth, and the beard into the neck. The result is a very funny looking head.

This is truly a red letter day! And right on the heels of a long and pleasant chat with Don Bradley last night. Man, I'm feeling so much good will right now I might just have to hit my thumb with a hammer to restore my equilibrium.

Anyway, you're up bright and early. For a Californian. Must be that extra hour you got yesterday, eh?

OK, I have tons of real work to do today, so I'm outta here ...

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Hi Greg,

After all these years you never fail to leave me bewildered.

So in what way do you believe that John Gee correctly represented the strokes here...

Figure 5

(John Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri [Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000], 38)

gee_strokes.jpg

I look forward to your incisive analysis.

Cheers,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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