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Chris Smith

My JWHA Paper on the Egyptian Alphabet

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The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal arrived today, with my article "The Dependence of Abr. 1:1-3 on the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar" inside. It's very exciting to see my name in print! I can't say I'm happy with all the editorial decisions that were made. Their overall effect on the syntax and flow may have been more bad than good, and in at least one place a sentence was reworded so that its meaning was distorted. I guess I should have asked to see proofs before it went to press. But such are the hazards of publication, I suppose, and I'll take what I can get. I'm very pleased that my piece was accepted.

A quick summary of the major conclusions:

1) Joseph Smith was the primary author of the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, although his scribes came along for the ride as participant-observers.

2) The Alphabet and Grammar was not reverse-engineered from the Book of Abraham, as some have claimed. Rather, Abraham 1:1-3 was created by cobbling together a number of Alphabet and Grammar entries. This was done prior to September 1835.

3) A few other verses in the Book of Abraham also borrow from the Grammar, but apparently the use of the Grammar as a translation key quickly petered out because it was too laborious.

Among the highlights of the paper, we find:

1) The name for Egypt given by the Grammar is a nineteenth-century Egyptianization (Ah=meh=strah) of Josephus's Hellenization (Mestre) of the Hebrew name (Mizraim) for Egypt (anciently called Kemet).

2) Joseph Smith's parents implied that the idea of using an Egyptian alphabet as a translation key was initially designed for use with the Book of Mormon.

3) Smith was already experimenting with creating an Adamic alphabet prior to the arrival of the papyri in Kirtland. The Egyptian Alphabet follows roughly the same plan as a May, 1835 "Specimen of the original language", and in fact incorporates material from that earlier document.

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Wow, impressive! When you say "we find," do you mean us collectively as the readers, or did you collaborate on the paper with someone? Either way, congratulations, and I am interested to see the responses to your findings! :P

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When you say "we find," do you mean us collectively as the readers, or did you collaborate on the paper with someone?

"We," collectively. (Or the royal "we," if you prefer.) I was the sole author, although I did get help and feedback from great folks like Brent Metcalfe, Don Bradley, and Sam Brown.

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Hi Chris. I believe that Joseph Smith was the author of the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. This knowledge has come to me through deep study and warm feelings given to me from God.

Joseph Smith knows full well what he did on this earth. I rejoice in that thought! I can prove nothing, however. But, I believe you will get to meet Joseph Smith in the hereafter and ask him anything you want according your heart's desire.

Paul O

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I haven't published any papers on the KEP but allow me my opinion of your points;

1) Joseph Smith was the primary author of the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, although his scribes came along for the ride as participant-observers.
I think it has been proven by handwriting experts that W W Phelps, Warren Parrish, Oliver Cowdery, F G Williams and Willard Richards in their own handwriting proves it was more than Joseph (being primary) and much more than "came along for the ride" as you describe.
2) The Alphabet and Grammar was not reverse-engineered from the Book of Abraham, as some have claimed. Rather, Abraham 1:1-3 was created by cobbling together a number of Alphabet and Grammar entries. This was done prior to September 1835.
IMO I think Abraham 1:1-3 was an exercise for aforementioned scribes to practice some their translation abilities (or lack of).
3) A few other verses in the Book of Abraham also borrow from the Grammar, but apparently the use of the Grammar as a translation key quickly petered out because it was too laborious.
Perhaps like Oliver Cowdery trying to translate the Book of Mormon and failing, these brethren tried to make some sense out of the hieratic characters and failed.
1) The name for Egypt given by the Grammar is a nineteenth-century Egyptianization (Ah=meh=strah) of Josephus's Hellenization (Mestre) of the Hebrew name (Mizraim) for Egypt (anciently called Kemet).
I cant comment on this because I haven't read about this too much.
2) Joseph Smith's parents implied that the idea of using an Egyptian alphabet as a translation key was initially designed for use with the Book of Mormon.
BoM=1830 BoA=1835 isn't that putting the horse before the cart, or am I misunderstanding your point (which is quite possible)? If the BoM is already published in English and the plates taken back, Why would you need a key? I don't understand this, forgive my confusion just trying to know what you mean.
3) Smith was already experimenting with creating an Adamic alphabet prior to the arrival of the papyri in Kirtland. The Egyptian Alphabet follows roughly the same plan as a May, 1835 "Specimen of the original language", and in fact incorporates material from that earlier document.
This is also new to me and I cant comment, however I know Joseph was deeply interested in learning even mastering languages, so it could be. Do you have a source for this info?

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From reading up from experts like John Gee, and Brian Hauglid I came to see the KEP as not a dictated work like the Book of Mormon or JST but more as attempts to copy from manuscript to manuscript. I believe there is sufficient evidence as pointed out by both experts many examples of dittography, abundance of punctuation corrections, deletions, additions etc.

IOW I think the KEP were merely practice pads for language study.

I may be up in the night but I remain unconvinced. To be fair I have not read your paper (just your post). Where can I read it for free(source)?

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Congratulations Chris!

Having been privileged to see an advance copy of the manuscript, I must say that it is a very fine paper, filled with much new information that makes a very strong case.

I can't say I'm happy with all the editorial decisions that were made. Their overall effect on the syntax and flow may have been more bad than good, and in at least one place a sentence was reworded so that its meaning was distorted. I guess I should have asked to see proofs before it went to press. But such are the hazards of publication, I suppose, and I'll take what I can get.

This is unbelievable. They never showed you their changes before going to print? What kind of journal are they running?

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Hi Chris. I believe that Joseph Smith was the author of the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. This knowledge has come to me through deep study and warm feelings given to me from God.

Joseph Smith knows full well what he did on this earth. I rejoice in that thought! I can prove nothing, however. But, I believe you will get to meet Joseph Smith in the hereafter and ask him anything you want according your heart's desire.

Paul O

...he says, and then runs off to snicker at the inside joke he and Chris just shared.

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Congratulations Chris. I just received my copy yesterday and started reading your piece. Well done my friend.

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...he says, and then runs off to snicker at the inside joke he and Chris just shared.

Paul is a believer, at least last I checked.

This is unbelievable. They never showed you their changes before going to print? What kind of journal are they running?

It's a very good journal, run by very good people... but no, I didn't get to look over the changes. Maybe it was an oversight.

Anijen,

So far as I am aware, John Gee and Brian Hauglid and co. have not particularly opined on the Egyptian Alphabet being dictation vs. copying. Nibley believed the Egyptian Alphabet manuscripts were simultaneously dictated, if I recall correctly (though he seemed to think the scribes were getting creative or something as they went).

As for the Book of Mormon alphabet, Mother Lucy says in her family history that JS copied a Reformed Egyptian Alphabet and Harris took it to Anthon, with the implication that once Anthon translated the characters this alphabet could be used to translate the plates. JS Sr. said in an 1830 interview that the last page of the gold plates was an "alphabet of the unknown language". He implied that these are the characters Harris took to Anthon.

And as for the "specimen of the original language," it is known only from a May 26, 1835 letter from W. W. Phelps to Sally Phelps. Phelps added the specimen as a postscript, without any explanatory commentary. His copy may have been the only one, or (as seems to me more likely) may have been copied from a lost or unknown original.

The specimen is arranged in four unlabeled columns. The left-hand column contains Adamic characters. The next two columns seem to contain the names and sounds of these characters. The last column provides English interpretations. Anyone who's seen the Egyptian Alphabet documents will recognize the format.

The specimen is loosely based on a March, 1832 revelation (just published for the first time ever as part of the Joseph Smith Papers) that gave several Adamic words and their interpretations (such as Ahman, angloman, etc.). However, the 1832 revelation did not use this four-column format and did not give actual Adamic characters. So, the "specimen" introduced some new elements and seems to have presaged a more systematic revelation of the original language.

That's all I have time for at the moment. Peace,

-Chris

P.S. if anyone wants to read it they can PM me with an email address for a copy.

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Paul is a believer, at least last I checked.

Are we talking about the same Paul Osborne from MDB?

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Thanks for the source. The following video on the KEP, Hauglid makes very strong answers to some of the KEP questions. I don't know if you have seen it or read the transcripts but if you have the time I would be interested if you could refute his logic? Perhaps you have in your paper I will pm you with my email address so I can read it. Thanks.

Investigating the Kirtland Egyptian Papers: Myths and Realities, Brian Hauglid, 2006 FAIR Conference (YouTube Video)

edited to add I only linked part one but once your there you can view all of them.

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Are we talking about the same Paul Osborne from MDB?

Yes.

An interesting, colorful believer, but a believer.

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Yes.

An interesting, colorful believer, but a believer.

Hmmm...then I still question the sincerity of the post.

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Hmmm...then I still question the sincerity of the post.

You shouldn't. Paul has reservations about current leaders, but when it comes to Joseph Smith and the KEP and the Book of Abraham, he's sincere in believing them inspired.

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You shouldn't. Paul has reservations about current leaders, but when it comes to Joseph Smith and the KEP and the Book of Abraham, he's sincere in believing them inspired.

Then I stand corrected. My apologies to Paul.

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Sounds like a very demanding academic journal.

Maybe you can publish a paper discussing the merits of colonial slavery and post a thread about it on a African American message board such as Cocoa Lounge.

I hope you get the attention you have been craving.

This from someone who undoubtedly holds FARMS publications in high regard.

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Sounds like a very demanding academic journal.

Maybe you can publish a paper discussing the merits of colonial slavery and post a thread about it on a African American message board such as Cocoa Lounge.

I hope you get the attention you have been craving.

That was a bit over the top.

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This from someone who lacks the ability to put a thought together. Please tell me you are an editor of the useless journal he published in...

Is this your equivalent of a temper-tantrum?

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"We," collectively. (Or the royal "we," if you prefer.) I was the sole author, although I did get help and feedback from great folks like Brent Metcalfe, Don Bradley, and Sam Brown.

Look at me look at me, someone give me some sort of attention.

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Is this your equivalent of a temper-tantrum?

Nope, are you still seeking attention and attempting shock value on an LDS message board?

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Look at me look at me, someone give me some sort of attention.

Truly bizarre... I'm letting the mods know that an adolescent has hacked your account.

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Truly bizarre... I'm letting the mods know that an adolescent has hacked your account.

Coming from the adult that is a known religious bigot and spends a good portion of each day spewing hatred and bigotry.

Do not post again in this thread. Mod.

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