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Chris Smith

My JWHA Paper on the Egyptian Alphabet

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thews,

I don't believe the Book of Abraham or Alphabet and Grammar are true translations of anything. When I said you missed the "most pertinent point", all I meant was that your rebuttal to Charles was pretty far afield of the specific theory he's defending.

I do think there are some inaccuracies in the statements you've been making, and that you're relying on some pretty outdated sources, but I don't feel greatly motivated to reply in detail. At the very least, in future polemics I recommend you rely on the more current Egyptological attack on the BoA available here:

www.utlm.org/other/robertritnerpapyriarticle.pdf

Peace,

-Chris

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Yes, rely on the more recent "attack." ;)

If one must polemicize, it might as well at least be up-to-date, right? :P

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There are those in this forum who have no interest in conversing with a crude, ignorant person such as myself.

Just curious whether there is anyone willing to address the questions and issues I posted.

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thews,

I don't believe the Book of Abraham or Alphabet and Grammar are true translations of anything.

Well, Joseph Smith claimed to "translate" it, so by your logic Joseph Smith was wrong. Is this correct?

http://www.xmission.com/~research/about/books2.htm

There are three references in the LDS History of the Church (cited hereafter as DHC) for the year 1835 which mentions the Grammar and Alphabet. They are as follows:

1. "The remainder of this month, I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients." (DHC Vol. 2:238 for July 1835; written in the year 1843)

2. "This after noon labored on the Egyptian alphabet, in company with bro. O. Cowdery and W. W. Phelps: the System of astronomy was unfolded." (Diary of Joseph Smith, October 1, 1835, p.3; also in DHC Vol. 2:286)

In 1843 the diary notation was expanded adding: "and during the research, the principles of astronomy as understood by Father Abraham and the ancients unfolded to our understanding, the particulars of which will appear hereafter." ("Manuscript History of the Church," Book B-1, p. 622; also DHC Vol. 2:286)

3. "exhibited the alphabet of the ancient records to Mr Holmes and some others" (Diary of Joseph Smith, November 17, 1835, p. 45; DHC Vol. 2:316)

It is interesting that on October 1, 1835 Joseph Smith mentioned his scribes - Oliver Cowdery and William W. Phelps. Oliver Cowdery's handwriting does not appear in the bound Grammar and Alphabet but he wrote Egyptian MS. No. 5 and his handwriting appears on a page of Joseph Smith's Egyptian MS. No. 4 and in one small notebook (Egyptian MS. No. 6). The other scribe William W. Phelps wrote most of the Grammar and Alphabet (Egyptian MS. No.1), Egyptian MS. No. 2, Egyptian MS. No. 3 and Egyptian MS. No. 7. William W. Phelps' handwriting also appears on Translation Manuscript No.1 (first half of page 1) and Translation Manuscript No. 2 of the Book of Abraham. These two scribes wrote for Joseph Smith soon after the mummies and papyri were purchased. Significantly the DHC records the following:

". . . with W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics. . . ." (DHC 2:236 for July 1835; written in 1843; italics mine)

There is also one mention of translating in October 1835 as follows:

"this afternoon recommenced translating the ancient records." (Diary of Joseph Smith, October 7, 1835, p. 7; also in DHC 2:289)

Warren Parrish was appointed a scribe to Joseph Smith on October 29, 1835 as the following from the Diary of Joseph Smith makes explicit under that date:

"Br Parish commenced writing for me at $15.00 pr month" (Diary of Joseph Smith, October 29, 1835, p. 10; also DHC 2:293)

On November 14, 1835 the calling of Warren Parrish as scribe was mentioned in a revelation to Joseph Smith which stated in part:

". . . he shall see much of my ancient records . . . . he shall be privileged with writing much of my word, as a scribe unto me for the benefit of my people, therefore this shall be his calling until I shall order it otherwise in my wisdom and it shall be said of him in a time to come behold Warren the Lords Scribe, for the Lords Seer. . . ." (Diary of Joseph Smith, November 14, 1835, p. 36; also DHC 2:311)

When I said you missed the "most pertinent point", all I meant was that your rebuttal to Charles was pretty far afield of the specific theory he's defending.

And I asked you to elaborate, as I also asked him when he said I was wrong, but failed top quote anything specific as being wrong.

I do think there are some inaccuracies in the statements you've been making, and that you're relying on some pretty outdated sources, but I don't feel greatly motivated to reply in detail.

Then we must conclude you are in fact incorrect.

At the very least, in future polemics I recommend you rely on the more current Egyptological attack on the BoA available here:

www.utlm.org/other/robertritnerpapyriarticle.pdf

Peace,

-Chris

I have as much accurate data as I need to know what I'm talking about and I quote the sources for you to scrutinize if you chose to. If you don't wish to enlighten me on where you feel I'm incorrect, then please don't make a claim you cannot back up with data.

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I have as much accurate data as I need to know what I'm talking about and I quote the sources for you to scrutinize if you chose to. If you don't wish to enlighten me on where you feel I'm incorrect, then please don't make a claim you cannot back up with data.

Don't get snippy with Chris. He's actually trying to help you.

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Hmmm...

Otherwise I might not have been able to decipher this:

Mehitabel.jpg

Who would name a little girl "Mehitabel"?!!! Poor thing.

Really? Are you sure?

How about someone like William Wines Phelps whose father was Enon Phelps, and whose mother was Mehitabel Goldsmith.

Naming a child after a parent -- the nerve!

Cheers,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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Well, Joseph Smith claimed to "translate" it, so by your logic Joseph Smith was wrong. Is this correct?

Yes.

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Hi Will,

Anyone familiar with the rudiments of W. W.'s life would know why he would name his daughter Mehitabel -- you clearly didn't.

Moving on...

Chris,

One question I would like to pose is this:

Other than your (debatable) assertion that it is similar to what you believe Joseph Smith had done with the document he had Martin Harris take to Charles Anthon, what textual evidence from the page below do you believe ties the highlighted portion to Joseph Smith?

PhelpsLetter.jpg

Seriously?

Perhaps this will suffice: all but the last transliteration (third column from the left) and their English translations (to the right) owe their inspiration to a then unpublished revelation that Joseph Smith issued ca. March 1832.

Do you really not know this?

My best,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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Hi Will,

Anyone familiar with the rudiments of W. W.'s life would know why he would name his daughter Mehitabel -- you clearly didn't.

Moving on...

Seriously?

Perhaps this will suffice: all but the last transliteration (third column from the left) and their English translations (to the right) owe their inspiration to a then unpublished revelation that Joseph Smith issued ca. March 1832.

Do you really not know this?

My best,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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Hi Will,

Anyone familiar with the rudiments of W. W.'s life would know why he would name his daughter Mehitabel -- you clearly didn't.

Moving on...

Seriously?

Perhaps this will suffice: all but the last transliteration (third column from the left) and their English translations (to the right) owe their inspiration to a then unpublished revelation that Joseph Smith issued ca. March 1832.

Do you really not know this?

My best,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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There are those in this forum who have no interest in conversing with a crude, ignorant person such as myself.

Just curious whether there is anyone willing to address the questions and issues I posted.

Hi cd,

I'd be happy to address your questions and issues. Although, with Chris and Brent in the room, I may be overruled.

1. One theory is that these two texts are related, that the BOD is the basis for the BOA. Tvedtnes' gives a reasonable basis for that theory. Thus, JS played an active role in the KEP. I have refined this theory with some of my own ideas. It is interesting because it is a relatively simple to test. I have detailed this test elsewhere.

I'm not sure if you're asking a question here. By "BOD" are you referring to the Document of Breathings or the Book of the Dead?

2. The apologetic position, as I call it, is that these two texts are completely unrelated, just the results of some exercise in translation conducted by the scribes with little or no imput from JS.

That was Nibley's assertion. There are many apologetic theories for the papyri and the KEP. As far as I can tell, the most popular apologetic explanation for the BoA is the "Missing Papyrus Theory" combined with the "Scribes Did It Theory" for the KEP.

The scribes either grabbed some Egyptian text at random, without consulting JS, or JS deliberately gave them the wrong Egyptian scroll. There is another Egyptian scroll from which the BOA text is drawn.

Yup, that's probably the main apologetic position.

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The words "owe their inspiration to" are wiggle words of the highest order. Care to elaborate? And what "then unpublished revelation" are you referring to? Thanks.

Greg,

"owe their inspiration" = "very well could be" = "it is likely" = "most probably" = "very possible" = etc.

If you'd like more examples of this amazingly versatile literary device, I recommend a thorough reading of Dan Vogel's seminal work in this area: Joseph Smith - The Making of a Prophet.

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I certainly never knew, and hardly could have imagined (until Chris's recently published paper), that (at least according to you and Chris) this letter by W. W. Phelps proves that Joseph Smith himself had formulated this curious "grid system" for breaking down the meaning of the characters of ancient languages.

I don't think I ever made that claim for this particular letter. Especially not in isolation. (I don't generally use the word "proves" or its variations, since it implies a level of certainty that is rarely to be had in historical studies.)

Peace,

-Chris

P.S. Brent, are you saying that the characters were part of the March 1832 Adamic revelation?

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Hi Will,

The "Mehitabel" that I was referring to was W. W.'s mother -- that is, young Mehitabel's grandmother, not her "great-grandmother" as you suggest.

And above all, it is abundantly clear that you are completely unaware of the fact that much of the content of W. W.'s missive to Sally on the "pure language" owes its inspiration to a revelation that Joseph issued ca. March 1832.

Hi Greg,

Since I evidently have nothing new to add to Will's knowledge, I'm sure that he'll be able to provide the source within the next few minutes.

All the best,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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Hi Will,

Anyone familiar with the rudiments of W. W.'s life would know why he would name his daughter Mehitabel -- you clearly didn't.

Moving on...

Seriously?

Perhaps this will suffice: all but the last transliteration (third column from the left) and their English translations (to the right) owe their inspiration to a then unpublished revelation that Joseph Smith issued ca. March 1832.

Do you really not know this?

My best,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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Hi Will,

The "Mehitabel" that I was referring to was W. W.'s mother -- that is, young Mehitabel's grandmother, not her "great-grandmother" as you suggest.

And above all, it is abundantly clear that you are completely unaware of the fact that much of the content of W. W.'s missive to Sally on the "pure language" owes its inspiration to a revelation that Joseph issued ca. March 1832.

Hi Greg,

Since I evidently have nothing new to add to Will's knowledge, I'm sure that he'll be able to provide the source within the next few minutes.

All the best,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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Hi Will,

Furthermore, it wasn't really me, but only someone who looks like me and talks like me who was talking much earlier today about these things with one of our common acquaintances. Because, you see, discovering the reason a word like "Mehitabel" would appear in a letter by W. W. Phelps is probably a challenge that only few in the world would be able to meet.

With all the sincerity and erudition that I can muster: Huh?

Quizzically,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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*sigh*...

Greg,

Unless you've got a cool $100 to burn right now, I'd just wait a few months until the price drops.

So you do know the intimate relationship between Joseph Smith's revelation and W. W. Phelps' letter to Sally... or do you?...

My best,

</brent>

http://mormonscripturestudies.com

(

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thews,

Whatever tenants of buffoonery you seem complicit in promulgating, please be advised that you don't know nearly as much as you think you do. Let me give to quick examples before I try and catch a wink (gotta love EST).

1) Your understanding surrounding the history of the Rosetta Stone is incorrect. As such, you should stop gulping the erroneous rhetoric of those like Robert Ritner whom haven't the foggiest about what they're talking about. Ignoring Young altogether (whom Franklin, Jefferson, etc. were aware of and first stated Champollion's theory of phonetic alphabetization), Champollion's work was well circulated not only in Europe, but had crossed the pond and was well-disseminated in the States long before Joseph got into 'translating' Egyptian. [P.S. Translation was a very, loose term for Joseph. The Book of Moses is an example: completely a revelation without text, but still a 'translation']. Rittner's claim that "In 1835 in America, there was no one who could read ancient Egyptian. All knowledge of the language had been lost for centuries," Is simply wrong. Champollion's work had surfaced and began a broad distribution in the U.S. by the mid 1820's--published in some of the greatest journals and circulated in papers throughout the U.S. at that time.

What does this mean? First, the germane issue is whether Joseph and friends knew of the nature of Egyptian...not how to translate it. If Joseph, et. al knew about the nature of Egyptian characters (which I am compelled to believe that they did), the idea that the GAEL is illustrative of a on-going translation suggests nonsense and logical incoherence. Why would they treat the text in a manner which was known to be inconsistent with the latest science of the day? However, if the revelation came first--knowing it came from the papyri and believing it was limited to the text--the GAEL was a backdoor attempt to make it fit. A failure of reverse engineering, but an attempt nonetheless.

2) Your understanding of Kinderhook is greatly simplistic. CFR. The singular journal account which you implicitly state as fact is overzealous, and doesn't conclude as you wish it would. Moreover, the newspaper's announcement that Joseph would translate it does little to embarrass his seership without an announcement of subsequent findings. Your conspiracy lacks bite. And originality.

Cheers,

PacMan

P.S. All: Ignore my spelling conflations and grammatical equivocations. I'm simply to tired (and lazy) to go fix them all.

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The "Mehitabel" that I was referring to was W. W.'s mother -- that is, young Mehitabel's grandmother, not her "great-grandmother" as you suggest.

I think Will's thinking of Mehitabel the Cat from Archie & Mehitabel.

Archie was a cockroach.

R

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Great paper Chris - Thanks for sending me a copy to the land down under. I am doing a paper on

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Its been very hard to stay within 2000 words. Maybe you could look at it

and give me your critical comments since your speciality is church history.

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I think Will's thinking of Mehitabel the Cat from Archie & Mehitabel.

Archie was a cockroach.

R

But most importantly, Jeremiah was a bullfrog.

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Great paper Chris - Thanks for sending me a copy to the land down under. I am doing a paper on Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Its been very hard to stay within 2000 words. Maybe you could look at it and give me your critical comments since your speciality is church history.

Hey noel,

I'd be happy to give it a look. Don't expect too terribly much, though, since Bonhoeffer's not my specialty. I've only read a couple of his works, and seen a couple documentaries. Most likely I will simply praise your learning and intellect. :P

Is this something you're hoping to publish?

Peace,

-Chris

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