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Chris Smith

My JWHA Paper on the Egyptian Alphabet

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Honestly Will, given your professed interest in this topic I'm surprised you haven't discovered this by now. It's really quite clear once you grasp a few basic concepts. I'd explain them to you but I sense skepticism in your post. Until you open your mind and have a little faith in the prophet, I'm afraid your stupor of thought will persist.

Don't insult posters and especially don't do it by making fun of Mormon scripture. Clean up your act or get out of the thread.

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Metcalfe:

If nothing else, you're a skilled phisherman and an adept baiter.

If nothing else.

I can say with considerable confidence that your July 1835 date for Abraham 1

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Honestly Will, given your professed interest in this topic I'm surprised you haven't discovered this by now. It's really quite clear once you grasp a few basic concepts. I'd explain them to you but I sense skepticism in your post. Until you open your mind and have a little faith in the prophet, I'm afraid your stupor of thought will persist.

That was uncalled for.

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That was uncalled for.

Nah ... that was nothing compared to most of what is served up in my behalf. It didn't even make a ripple on my "offended" meter.

Besides, knowing I have the truth on my side, I can take all the mocking and disparagement in stride.

Pray instead for our dear Brother Cook, that he might again find his faith--before the summer is past, the harvest is ended, and his soul forever unsaved. :P

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That was uncalled for.

Yeah, that's why a moderator addressed it earlier. Didn't you see it?

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Yeah, that's why a moderator addressed it earlier. Didn't you see it?

hmm them moderators are getting quicker. I read the post and replied after I read it and then read the rest of them and noticed the mod had commented on it. Once again a day late....

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What I found odd about this is the inclusion of a column for "sounds". I had to ask myself what is the point of "sounds" if this alphabet/grammar was intended to translate scripture? There really is no need for sounds when translating scripture. Then it hit me, sounds are a key element in learning to read and speak languages. The existence of a column for sounds, then, suggest to me that the alphabet/grammar was intended for learning the Egyptian language, rather than to translate scripture.

I agree. The Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar was created primarily as an educational text, to serve in offering the brethren a mastery of ancient Egyptian language. (I argued this earlier in the thread, as well.) But of course, the point of mastering an ancient language is to be able to use it, including in translation. So the educational purpose and the translation purpose are entirely complementary.

It's quite comparable, really, to the study of Hebrew that followed shortly thereafter. Joseph longed to be able to read the scriptures in the original languages.

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Hi Will,

  • Did Parrish say he took dictation of any of the text of the Book of Abraham?

No.

On the other hand, did Parrish say he didn't take dictation of any of the text of the Book of Abraham?

No.

  • Do the first three chapters represent the whole of the Book of Abraham?

No.

  • Did Joseph Smith purport to translate "hieroglyphics" that were not associated with the text of the Book of Abraham?

Absolutely.

There are several hieroglyphics for which Joseph Smith provided "translations."

No doubt.

Excluding BA1b (folder 3) and BA2 (folder 1), which contain text from the BoAbr proper, Warren Parrish's handwriting only appears in the translations of two characters

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Wade,

This an excellent observation. Sincere kudos. It deserves and will receive a mention in the forthcoming analysis of the grammar and alphabet pages. I will not forget who it was that first suggested it. Your name will appear in the accompanying footnote.

Your too kind. But, yet again I must credit you with prompting the thought. If you remember a number of pages back in the thread, you posted a letter from Phelps which contained an excerpt from an alphabet/grammar presumably of the Adamic language. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the letter was dated May of 1835, which would place it around the time that Phelps moved into Joseph's home, and may mark the turn towards heightened interest I mentioned earlier. When I looked more closely at the graphic of the letter (using Photo Shop), I saw that it, like Phelps' alphabet/grammar (Mss. #3) had columns for symbols, letters, and sounds. This caused me to think that since Phelps and Joseph weren't translating scripture in May of 1835, then there had to be some other purpose for the creation of the Adamic alphabet/grammar, and this is when it occurred to me that the same may well be true of the KEP. So, nice going! ;)

In other words, the Phelps letter you posted is yet another piece of evidence supportive of my working hypothesis that the KEP in general, and the alphabet/grammar in particular, were intended as a tool for learning the language rather than for translating scripture. :P

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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I agree. The Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar was created primarily as an educational text, to serve in offering the brethren a mastery of ancient Egyptian language. (I argued this earlier in the thread, as well.) But of course, the point of mastering an ancient language is to be able to use it, including in translation. So the educational purpose and the translation purpose are entirely complementary.

It's quite comparable, really, to the study of Hebrew that followed shortly thereafter. Joseph longed to be able to read the scriptures in the original languages.

Indeed it is. And it certainly helps, particularly early on when first learning a new language, that there is an existing translation to act as an instructional guide.:P

It makes little sense for complete novices (which is what Smith and Phelps were even as late as 1842), to attempt right off the bat to translate for the purpose of persoal reading, let alone to produce scripture for the Church. ;)

Besides, as Nibley astutely points out regarding Phelps' Mss. #3, it didn't take long before the attempt to learn Egyptian alphabet/grammar peterred out, thus rendering the alphabet/grammar of little use to the novices in reading Egyptian, let alone their portending to produce scripture thereby.

In other words, while the ultimate intent in learning the Egyptian language may have ultimately been to translate for the personal reason of reading foreign material in the original language, the learning process got nowhere near far enough to allow for that. Even still, the intent wasn't to translate scripture for the Church as a whole, but to educate, and the scriptures were, instead, translated by the gift and power of God, as consistently witnessed to by friend and foe.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Indeed it is. And it certainly helps, particularly early on when first learning a new language, that there is an existing translation to act as an instructional guide.:P

A pre-existing translation is not necessary when one is receiving one's alphabet and grammar by the gift and power of God.

It makes little sense for complete novices (which is what Smith and Phelps were even as late as 1842), to attempt right off the bat to translate for the purpose of personal reading, let alone to produce scripture for the Church. ;)

Sure it does, when one has just translated "an alphabet to the Book of Abraham" by the gift and power of God. Presumably that's what Abraham put the alphabet there for, after all.

A suggestion, Wade. Perhaps instead of speculating about what sequence of events makes sense to you, you should focus on the textual and historical evidence of what actually did happen. Just sayin'.

-Chris

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In any case, I am confident that Brian and I, from two entirely different angles of argument, can prove that ...the first three chapters of the Book of Abraham occurred long before Warren Parrish ever came on the scene in late October 1835.

I would say the odds of that approach zero. But I look forward to the attempt.

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I would say the odds of that approach zero. But I look forward to the attempt.

With your sense of probabilities, permit me to advise you to stay away from Vegas. Or, in your case, Reno. :P

-

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With your sense of probabilities, permit to advise you to stay away from Vegas. Or, in your case, Reno. :P

With my sense of probabilities, I can tell you that's good advice for anyone!

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Hi Chris,

As mentioned earlier, I don't see that you and I are all that far apart in our thinking. You and I agree that the intent of the KEP was to learn the Egyptian language, with the potential of one day Joseph and others being able to read that language.

We also agree that Abr. 1:4 - 5:21 was directly translated by the gift and power of God, as consistently attested to by friend and foe.

Where we disagree is whether the first three verses of Abr. 1 were translated using the alphabet/grammar, as you suggest, or whether those verses were directly translated by the gift and power of God like the remainder of the BoA, as I suggest.

Even here you and I aren't all that far apart in our beliefs. I presume that we agree that at least the words comprising the first couple of lines of Abr. 1:1 were translated by the gift and power of God--with you believing the words were first divinely translated into the alphabet/grammar and then copied, as a key, to the manuscript, whereas I believe they were divinely translated directly to the manuscript. No critical difference there.

At best, then, we differ most on the means by which two verses (Abr. 1:2-3) were translated. For now, I can live with that. We will just have to wait for Will's highly anticipated paper to see which of us is right--not that it makes the least bit of difference either way to the verity of the restored gospel and the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith as Seer and Revelator. :P

A suggestion, Wade. Perhaps instead of speculating about what sequence of events makes sense to you, you should focus on the textual and historical evidence of what actually did happen. Just sayin'.

Fortunately, I am capable of, and have been able to do both. ;)

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Joseph Smith appointed Parrish his and God's scribe via revelation; an appointment that would involve ancient records and transcribing God's word. Smith's journal records (in Parrish's handwriting) no less than four occasions where Smith spent the day translating the Egyptian texts. The notion that all Parrish did over these four days was inscribe a few lines on the word Kolob is inane; the notion that Parrish inscribed some no longer extant texts is fanciful

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Metcalfe:

There is no "'Kolob' character from Facsimile #1.

Yes, of course I meant Facsimile #2, as I had previously made quite clear, notwithstanding my mistype above.

And if you mean Facsimile 2, there is no documentary or chirographic evidence that Warren Parrish was involved in the translation of the hypocephalus

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Hi Wade,

I hope this helps.

At the risk of sounding uncharitable, no, it doesn't help. I appreciate your exuberance, but someone who uses the published History of the Church as if it were a primary source has little to offer that "helps" in understanding the historical intricacies of the Kirtland period.

For example, you claim that

Fredrick G. Williams had been called to be Joseph's scribe in Sept. of 1835, and still functioned in that capacity for who knows how long in conjunction with Parrish--not to mention Williams was also appointed thereabouts by Joseph to be the editor of the Northern Times (a Church newspaper).

Williams actually began as Smith's scribe in 1832 and is addressed as such in revelation as early as 1833. So your "Sept. of 1835" date is moot. Williams' scribal participation with Parrish in November 1835 is well known and fully consistent with my dates for the BoAbr manuscripts.

Hi Will,

I'm content to let you have the last word as you progressively foray into more speculative terrain.

All the best,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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Hi Wade,

At the risk of sounding uncharitable, no, it doesn't help. I appreciate your exuberance, but someone who uses the published History of the Church as if it were a primary source has little to offer that "helps" in understanding the historical intricacies of the Kirtland period.

For example, you claim that:

Williams actually began as Smith's scribe in 1832 and is addressed as such in revelation as early as 1833. So your "Sept. of 1835" date is moot. Williams' scribal participation with Parrish in November 1835 is well known and fully consistent with my dates for the BoAbr manuscripts.

Hi Brent,

I am sorry it wasn't of help to you personally. Perhaps it may prove useful to others.

However, with all due respect, and as commendable as it is for you to privilage primary sources, it may prove useful for you to learn of the historical intricacy: that the calling of scribe or clerk or recorder etc., even when extended by way of revelation, isn't necessarily for perminent duration--i.e.the remainder of the person's life.

It wasn't uncommon for men to be called to, or be utilized multiple times sparadically in the same or similar positions. Such was the case with Williams, who served on and off as scribe from 1832 - 1838, and was not only called by way of revelation in March of 1833, but he was again formally called to that postion on Sept 14 of 1835, and this in conjunction with Oliver Cowdery being called as Recorder for the Church (a postion he had also been formely called to in April of 1830) and W.W. Phelps being called to edit and print a book of hymns in conjuction with Emma (he had also been formally called to be "printer to the church' in July of 1831).

I realize that it may be somewhat amazing that I would have learned this given my reliance on secondary sources like the History of the Church and the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. But, I suppose miracles do happen. :P

Anyway, speaking of historical intricacies, what struck me most in my research of the period in question (mid 1835 to mid 1838), wasn't so much the participation in the KEP of all the men I mentioned in my previous post, but the relative lack of participation of Sidney Rigdon, who you may recall was substantially involved, as a scribe, during the translation of the Bible as well as the last two chapters of the Book of Moses, and who, during the summer of 1835, was on the committee, along with Joseph and Oliver and Phelps and Williams, to compile the Doctrine and Covenants.

One may well wonder why Sidney's name seems conspicuously not to crop up among the KEP, and why we don't hear about him participating in the Hebrew and Greek and Latin classes that were all the rage from 1835 to 1836? Is it possible that he wasn't interested in learning new languages? And, if so, doesn't that suggest that the KEP, like the afore-mentioned language classes, was intended for learning the Egyptian language, and not for producing new scripture? I happen to think so. ;)

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Hi Wade,

However, with all due respect, and as commendable as it is for you to privilage primary sources, it may prove useful for you to learn of the historical intricacy: that the calling of scribe or clerk or recorder etc., even when extended by way of revelation, isn't necessarily for perminent duration--i.e.the remainder of the person's life.

...

I realize that it may be somewhat amazing that I would have learned this given my reliance on secondary sources like the History of the Church and the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. But, I suppose miracles do happen.

*good grief!* Where on earth have I ever made such an idiotic claim, Wade?

In May 2003, I noted on ZLMB that Frederick G. Williams

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Williams even prepared an itemized bill for services rendered covering August 1832

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That's where we find this interesting entry:

See, I told you so!

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Hi Wade,

*good grief!* Where on earth have I ever made such an idiotic claim, Wade?

Please, Brent. There is no call to get testy. I don't know what "idiotic claim" you had in mind (your word, not mine), but, while over a half decade ago on ZLMB you may have mentioned William's Sept. 1835 call as scribe, you did say just yesterday on this thread here, that: "Williams actually began as Smith's scribe in 1832 and is addressed as such in revelation as early as 1833. So your 'Sept. of 1835' date is moot."

My point was to demonstrate that it wasn't moot. He was, in fact, formally called to the position of scribe on Sep 14, 1835. And, there must have been a reason to call him to that position then. Logic suggests to me that the reason was because he wasn't acting in that position at the time, but it was thought best that he should going forward--likely because the two men who were mostly acting as Joseph's scribes previous to the 14th (Oliver Cowdery and W.W. Phelps) were called at the same time to serve in different positions (Recorder for the Church and publisher of hymns, respectively). This means that while Cowdery and Phelps had, prior to the 14th, been more intimately involved than Williams in working with Joseph on the Egyptian project, the intent may have been to somewhat reverse those roles going foreward. From what I have been able to gather, prior to the 14th, Williams had been more actively engaged with exhibiting the mummies, while Cowdery and Phelps had been more actively engaged in working with Joseph on the papyrus.

This suggests to me that the formal call extended to Williams on the 14th, was not an insignificant event in regards to the BoA issues--though, admittedly, it appears from the historical record that at least through the 1st of October of 1835, Cowdery and Phelps continued to be more involved than Williams in working with Joseph on the Egyptian alphabet, but, if KEPA 2 is any indication, Williams later became more of a participant in writing the manuscripts. In fact, the timing of William's call, as well as that of Warren Parrish the end of October of 1835, may provide at least some circumstantial evidence to suggest that KEPA 2 post-dates the first portion (Abr. 1:1-3) of KEPA 1, and predates the later portion (Abr. 1:4 - 2:18) of KEPA 1 as well as all of KEPA 3.

[Edit: In re-reading Brian's edited version of Nibley's "the Meaning of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers," I noticed that footnote #15 supports this contention. It states: "What Mss. #1 and #4 tell us is that Mss. #2 and #3 (ca. 1835) are the earliest of the four manuscripts and are more significant than was earlier thought. It is also clear that Ms. #1 (ca. 1835) is a copy of Ms. #3 and that Ms. #4 is the latest of the four Book of Abraham manuscripts (1841/42) and is likely the printer

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