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Chris Smith

My JWHA Paper on the Egyptian Alphabet

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The videos I watched were the seven part one by Brian Hauglid, and no it didn't show any of the image slides because of apparent copyright protection.

Copyright protection? Hmmm, if I recall correctly copyright protection didn't become a concern until Hauglid started taking a beating from critics.

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Copyright protection? Hmmm, if I recall correctly copyright protection didn't become a concern until Hauglid started taking a beating from critics.

I don't know if Hauglid really takes a beating. His editing with Gee and Tvedtnes on the Traditions About the Early Life Of Abraham is brilliant. Perhaps Hauglid was showing one of Brent Metcalf's images. Brent apparently copyrights everything even his post here.

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dblagent007:

... until Hauglid started taking a beating from critics.

Really?

Please elaborate for us. Tell us exactly how Professor Hauglid was "taking a beating"? On what points? You see, I do know why Brian decided to cease discussing any of these things on message boards. And it certainly wasn't because he felt he was "taking a beating." That is a myth concocted after the fact by triumphalist Metcalfe acolytes. But I am quite conscious of the particular point Brian was trying to make immediately prior to the cessation of the discussion. Indeed, I took up the debate from that point and demonstrated to the satisfaction of many that Metcalfe's argument concerning a disputed reading was, in fact, incorrect. The reading Brian and I argued for at that time will be the reading that appears in Brian's forthcoming The Textual History of the Book of Abraham.

So, again, tell us exactly how and why you believe Hauglid was "taking a beating from critics."

I look forward to your reply.

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Copyright protection? Hmmm, if I recall correctly copyright protection didn't become a concern until Hauglid started taking a beating from critics.

I think you don't recall correctly; that is, if I recall correctly. Me thinks that one of the reasons Mr. Metcalfe has been slow, oh so slow, to publish his images of the KEP--the high quality images he has had since at least 1985--has been copyright concerns, the Church's copyright, not his. I may be mistaken, but I don't think so. If I am, I'm confident Brent will correct me.

Of course, the main reason Metcalfe hasn't published his long-promised text-critical analysis of the KEP (he said sometime around 2003 that he would publish it on the Prophet's 200 birthday) is an open question. I have my thoughts, but I try not to mind read out loud. It's so unbecoming.

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Please elaborate for us. Tell us exactly how Professor Hauglid was "taking a beating"? On what points? You see, I do know why Brian decided to cease discussing any of these things on message boards.

Since you apparently know why don't you just tell us? I admit that I am speculating based on Hauglid's confession that he was a little green about the issues and that he wanted to communicate about the issues in private.

While you are at it, perhaps you can confirm whether a version of the video was put up that showed the presentation and the images only to be taken down later. And, perhaps you can explain exactly who's copyright was potentially being infringed.

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Since you apparently know why don't you just tell us? I admit that I am speculating based on Hauglid's confession that he was a little green about the issues and that he wanted to communicate about the issues in private.

While you are at it, perhaps you can confirm whether a version of the video was put up that showed the presentation and the images only to be taken down later. And, perhaps you can explain exactly who's copyright was potentially being infringed.

I learned long ago to only tell "double agents" just as much as they absolutely must be told in order to still continue obtaining from them the information in which I am interested. To my knowledge, you currently possess no information in which I am interested, therefore I will tell you nothing.

I do note that you carefully avoided answering my specific question to you:

... tell us exactly how and why you believe Hauglid was "taking a beating from critics."

You're very good at spouting a talking point here and there, but you've given no indication that you have any appreciation for the various arguments, let alone an understanding of their relative significance to the larger questions. However, feel free to prove me wrong. If you can.

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I think you don't recall correctly; that is, if I recall correctly. Me thinks that one of the reasons Mr. Metcalfe has been slow, oh so slow, to publish his images of the KEP--the high quality images he has had since at least 1985--has been copyright concerns, the Church's copyright, not his. I may be mistaken, but I don't think so. If I am, I'm confident Brent will correct me.

Uh, what does this have to do with Hauglid's presentation? Anijen speculated that Hauglid was using Brent's photos, but I'm pretty sure that is incorrect.

As for Metcalfe's copyright issues, he has addressed this claim numerous times. My recollection is that the photos were commissioned and paid for by Ashment or Christensen. In any event, the photographer is the original holder of the copyright. The photographer can sell and/or transfer the copyright to whomever he/she wants to. If Brent has copyright problems it would be because there is a problem in the chain of copyright ownership from the photographer to Brent. As far as I can tell the Church doesn't even have a claim since the photographers were hired independently of the Church. If I recall correctly, the Church's beef wasn't about the copyright, but rather it felt misled about the purpose of the photographs.

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Uh, what does this have to do with Hauglid's presentation? Anijen speculated that Hauglid was using Brent's photos, but I'm pretty sure that is incorrect.

As for Metcalfe's copyright issues, he has addressed this claim numerous times. My recollection is that the photos were commissioned and paid for by Ashment or Christensen. In any event, the photographer is the original holder of the copyright. The photographer can sell and/or transfer the copyright to whomever he/she wants to. If Brent has copyright problems it would be because there is a problem in the chain of copyright ownership from the photographer to Brent. As far as I can tell the Church doesn't even have a claim since the photographers were hired independently of the Church. If I recall correctly, the Church's beef wasn't about the copyright, but rather it felt misled about the purpose of the photographs.

Hauglid, apparently has newer, better scans/photos than Brent. I don't know whether he is concerned with copyright. Metcalfe on the other hand apparently does--with whom, I'm not sure. I only brought up Brent's apparent issue because of the way you attempted to slam Hauglid.

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I learned long ago to only tell "double agents" just as much as they absolutely must be told in order to still continue obtaining from them the information in which I am interested. To my knowledge, you currently possess no information in which I am interested, therefore I will tell you nothing.

Why is the reason the video was redacted a state-secret, Will? And you're certain it had no relation to Brian's confession that he was a little green about the BOA issues when he gave the presentation?

I do note that you carefully avoided answering my specific question to you:

I already told you my answer. It is telling that you, who happens to know the reason the video was redacted to remove embarrassing material, have clammed up on the issue. I would think that you would at least provide some excuse for Anijen so that he can maintain the illusion that the redactions were done for benign reasons.

Oh well, you already responded this way to Brent (clammed up) so I shouldn't expect more in the future.

You're very good at spouting a talking point here and there, but you've given no indication that you have any appreciation for the various arguments, let alone an understanding of their relative significance to the larger questions. However, feel free to prove me wrong. If you can.

Oh, I will feel free to do so. (I can't believe this is coming from the guy who originally started defending the BOA on the Internet without understanding the difference between the JS papyri and the KEP!)

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I would think that you would at least provide some excuse for Anijen so that he can maintain the illusion that the redactions were done for benign reasons
No illusions here I just don't know why they were not showed on the video and I was guessing. I keep up to date on this topic a lot and I have many books on Abraham but not so much (none, just FAIR papers) on the KEP and even less on any images of the KEP. I just wanted to be more informed on this so I can try to keep up.
(I can't believe this is coming from the guy who originally started defending the BOA on the Internet without understanding the difference between the JS papyri and the KEP!)
technically, all of us started not knowing the difference.

I also question the high quality of photos that are more than 20 years old. I am sure they were the best back in 1985.

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This thread has been enjoyable to read. What comedy. By the way, I remember Brent promising to publish his photos a decade ago. Way, way back when we were chatting on ZLMB. The one time we met in person, I remember him pulling out is laptop and showing me some of the high resolution images he had been "given" by someone else of early documents related to Joseph Smith and such. Heaven forbid he is critical of others taking their time though .... and yet here he is still playing the same kinds of games. Letting those who are part of his "inner circle" get to see the photos, posting little bits and pieces (with his own markings of course and commentary). Letting it slip that what he hasn't shown us is quite revealing and significant too. The dark robed priest guarding the sacred secrets. And yet, now that others are getting access to good images and documents, his own special place is being lost. Tragic. And what has Metcalfe really contributed to Abraham studies? Other than a decade and a half of innuendo across numerous internet forums, not really a whole lot. His most memorable contribution is his piece on the Book of Mormon priority of Mosiah (which was quite interesting) but not really about the Book of Abraham at all. And here, while he points out a lot of interesting things, his own point of view is so ideologically driven that he seems blinded to other interpretations of the same documents. Tragic really. And the name calling .... But he does have his cheerleaders. I grant you that. Don't get me wrong, I am not an Egyptologist, and I doubt I make a significant contribution to Book of Abraham studies personally, and I don't really have a bone in this argument right now. But it warms my soul to see the invective. Personally, I think most of the posturing is merely about trying to focus attention so narrowly on these esoteric issues that we simply forget that the Book of Abraham is much more than 3 verses long ...

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Hauglid, apparently has newer, better scans/photos than Brent. I don't know whether he is concerned with copyright. Metcalfe on the other hand apparently does--with whom, I'm not sure. I only brought up Brent's apparent issue because of the way you attempted to slam Hauglid.

Hauglid, et. al can likely get permission rather easily. If it's truly a matter of copyright, then Brent will never produce. Whomever it was that took the photos (wasn't it Steve Christensen) would likely be irrelevant in a proceeding court case. I think it is life of the author, then 70 years. The church as an organization would have a much longer waiting period (if memory serves). There's no way Brent's going to wait that long because by the time it's in the open domain, most of us will be dead. If I were giving legal advice--and I'm not--I would set up an LLC, place the photos in it and publish the critique and literally give the high-resolution scans supplement away at cost. Without monetary gain on the photos, there's little to be gained in a law suit. Moreover, the church never did anything about the Tanners (which I am surprised about). It appears that Brent has the intent to be a respectable critic in the field, and has been much more choosy in the things he undertakes as opposed to the Tanner whores who prostituted anything they could get their hands on. Brent generally doesn't speak unless he's thought about it...and unless he really did something dirty, I can't very well see anything coming of it.

There's also the argument that there's fair use, in that its a review of the documents. Moreover, because the church is likely to never 'commercialize' these photos anyway, I doubt there would be much of a case that such value was lost.

Of course, if my butt was on the line, I'd hire a lawyer before doing anything. And I'm sure Brent has...

Now Brent: Stop the speculation. Is the copyright issue the thing stopping you? And assuming it is, what counsel have you gotten?

PacMan

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Why is the reason the video was redacted a state-secret, Will? And you're certain it had no relation to Brian's confession that he was a little green about the BOA issues when he gave the presentation?

I already told you my answer. It is telling that you, who happens to know the reason the video was redacted to remove embarrassing material, have clammed up on the issue. I would think that you would at least provide some excuse for Anijen so that he can maintain the illusion that the redactions were done for benign reasons.

DBL,

Just to keep you honest, there are a good many people with much to contribute in many fields whom prefer to stay behind the scenes. I haven't met Brian, but I do recall the statement somewhere that he doesn't like this sort of stuff (open debate, etc.). He's a researcher and an academic...not a debater. Believe it or not, and it is both foolish and unfair to conflate one's reclusivity with one's strength of position. There are those in my own family whom are very, very knowledgeable...but I would win in a debate in their area of expertise on rhetoric and B.S, simply because they do not like debate, nor do they do it well when they do. Then there are others that will never loose a debate upon things they know nothing about. Even I can make a fool of myself in proclaiming I know my own name. Don't focus on the fog too much, or you'll just get lost.

Now if you're Al Gore having won a Nobel Peace Prize, Academy Award, and go around presenting rubbish to all sorts of people for millions of dollars but yet refuse to debate any number of ridiculous claims, I'd tend to hold such an individual to a different standard. Call me idiosyncratic.

PacMan

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Moreover, because the church is likely to never 'commercialize' these photos anyway, I doubt there would be much of a case that such value was lost.

I believe Hauglid's publication will contain high resolution photos of the KEP. If so, then everyone will be able to analyze them.

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Since I really haven't studied the BoA question much at all over the years, and I am entirely unaquanted with the arguments on both sides, so I may have the advantage of looking at the question with fresh eyes.

Forgive me if this has already been addressed, but when Michael H. Chandler, on July 3rd of 1835, came to Joseph Smith to have him translate some characters from the Egyptian papyrus, and Joseph gave him an interpretation, which Chandler certified three days later (see History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.16, p.235), then by what means was Joseph able to provide the interpretation?

Was he working from a pre-written Egyptian alphabet? Or, did that come later? (The first mention I could find where Joseph was working on the alphabet was July 19th of 1835--see History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.17, p.238)

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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I believe Hauglid's publication will contain high resolution photos of the KEP. If so, then everyone will be able to analyze them.

True. And ducks quack.

Best,

PacMan

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dblagent007:

It is telling that you, who happens to know the reason the video was redacted to remove embarrassing material, have clammed up on the issue.

I

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Since I really haven't studied the BoA question much at all over the years, and I am entirely unaquanted with the arguments on both sides, so I may have the advantage of looking at the question with fresh eyes.

Forgive me if this has already been addressed, but when Michael H. Chandler, on July 3rd of 1835, came to Joseph Smith to have him translate some characters from the Egyptian papyrus, and Joseph gave him an interpretation, which Chandler certified three days later (see History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.16, p.235), then by what means was Joseph able to provide the interpretation?

Was he working from a pre-written Egyptian alphabet? Or, did that come later? (The first mention I could find where Joseph was working on the alphabet was July 19th of 1835--see History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.17, p.238)

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

First, what did Chandler "certify?" It wasn't the translation, but that Joseph's knowledge of Egyptian decipherment was consistent with the science of that day...however limited. In fact, it is complete error to assume to suggest anything more than this (which apparently both the History of the Church and a number of critics both do). What this implies is that Joseph told him a thing or two about what he thought about Egyptian, but says nothing about the correctness of the translation/revelation. That distinction is not solved.

If Chandler was being honest, than it further supports the notion that Joseph, et. al knew of the nature of Egyptian characters...being phonetic, etc. It seems absurd to believe that Chandler--perhaps the only man in the Americas with Egyptian mummies--had missed over 13 years of research on the matter (assuming we're starting with Champollion's landmark piece and altogether skipping Young, beginning in the 18th Century). To suggest otherwise necessarily impugns Chandler's integrity and I find no reason to do so.

One more interesting tidbit:

History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 238, re: July of 1835:

"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".

What seems most clear is that the "translation" was of an alphabet--not the narrative. And it seems from the quote that the alphabet and grammar was ancillary to an extant BoA. In fact, I don't recall that Joseph ever said that he was translating the narrative itself, but rather simply from the "Egyptian records." I could be wrong on that...but it'd be most interesting if I were not.

The other thing that makes the critics explanation fuzzy, is that the whole process was antithetical to the BoM translation process. If Joseph (assuming the fraud) was to maintain himself as a seer, he would have had to produce the material with the same rigor as the BoM. If he spent all this time constructing the alphabet and grammar as an intermediate step to arrive to translation, the mere claim of seership begins to crumble! He would have had every motivation to actually produce something...and then--as he had with multiple languages and biblical text--go back and figure out how the pieces fit.

The critical explanation doesn't fit, because it paints a picture of Joseph purposefully telling the world: I'm not totally sure--still trying to figure it out.

PacMan

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Will,

We may disagree about what Chandler was "certifying." I am not convinced he was certifying the translation--that's not what the certification said. However:

So, at least two translation sessions preceded the commencement of this

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Will,

We may disagree about what Chandler was "certifying." I am not convinced he was certifying the translation--that's not what the certification said. However:

Excellent...and consistent with what I suggested above.

PacMan

Chandler didn't know squat about anything. All he was doing was making a show. He would have "certified" that Joseph Smith flew to the top of an oak tree, fired lightning from his fingertips, and then did three somersaults and a half-twist on the way down before landing on his feet--so long as the $2400 was in cold, hard cash.

The "certificate" from Chandler is utterly meaningless. The only thing significant about the entire account is that Joseph Smith had the papyri overnight, and he "translated" some part of it. Then, two days later, he resumed his translation, getting far enough along that he knew he was dealing with a book of Abraham and a book of Joseph.

Not until July 17th did any mention of a project to develop an Egyptian "grammar" occur. They worked on it on and off all during the summer, then finally gave the whole thing up, and beginning in October, Joseph proceeds to "translate" once again. Later, Phelps attempts to resurrect the grammar project, and they eventually produce the bound GAEL. But that was most likely not until some time in 1836, long after the "translation" of a significant portion of the BoA had already occurred.

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First, what did Chandler "certify?" It wasn't the translation, but that Joseph's knowledge of Egyptian decipherment was consistent with the science of that day...however limited. In fact, it is complete error to assume to suggest anything more than this (which apparently both the History of the Church and a number of critics both do). What this implies is that Joseph told him a thing or two about what he thought about Egyptian, but says nothing about the correctness of the translation/revelation. That distinction is not solved.

Without reading anything into or out of the historical record (HoC), here is what I see as the facts: Chandler brought to Joseph some characters from the Egyptian papyri, Joseph interpreted them, and Chandler certified that Joseph's interpretation corresponded in the most minute matter with the information Chandler obtained from the "most learned" he had met with around the country.

I don't have access to Joseph's journal or the Joseph Smith papers, so I am not sure if there is any more historical data that may sheds more light on this specific event. But, I would be pleased if anyone (Will?) has anything to offer.

If Chandler was being honest, than it further supports the notion that Joseph, et. al knew of the nature of Egyptian characters...being phonetic, etc.

Perhaps. But, this doesn't really answer my question: "by what means was Joseph able to provide the interpretation?"

Clearly, it wasn't by way of the Egyptian alphabet and grammar that commenced being written some 13 days after the event in question.

Looks to me like Will may have a viable answer. How that may be possible given how absurd and clueless he is alleged to be, is anyone's guess. A miracle, perhaps? :P

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Will,

I agree Chandler isn't particularly important. Clearly Joseph had something...and lots of it, before the GAEL translation. That's noteworthy. But I also believe that there's no reason to adulterate the history if it can be avoided. If Chandler did not certify to the translation, then there's no evidence that Chandler believed a strict translation had been done. Clearly he would have seen the narrative revelation, but he didn't certify to that one way or another. I think it's all too easy to bash on Chandler, but I don't see any reason to do so. He said what he said in the certification, and it didn't mention a thing about any "translation." It's most noteworthy that any statement of correct translation would have been easy produce--particularly if he were simply interested in the cash. But he didn't, but rather simply said that Joseph's understandings with Egyptian decipherment were current with the science of the day.

PacMan

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Joseph translated the BoA by means of the "Urim & Thummim" (the seerstone).

Unless I'm confused on my sources (and I don't have time at present to search through my folder on that topic) it was Oliver Cowdery who recorded that Joseph used the "U&T" to translate whatever he subsequently showed to Michael Chandler in order to obtain the "certificate." It might have been Phelps who wrote that, but I think it was Cowdery. I know I should simply be able to remember details like that off the top of my head, but (as I've noted repeatedly in the past couple years) this third teenager I'm working through is really taxing my brain. :P

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Wade,

Without reading anything into or out of the historical record (HoC), here is what I see as the facts: Chandler brought to Joseph some characters from the Egyptian papyri, Joseph interpreted them, and Chandler certified that Joseph's interpretation corresponded in the most minute matter with the information Chandler obtained from the "most learned" he had met with around the country.

Look:

This is to make known to all who may be desirous, concerning the knowledge of Mr. Joseph Smith, Jun., in deciphering the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic characters in my possession, which I have, in many eminent cities, showed to the most learned; and, from the information that I could ever learn, or meet with, I find that of Mr. Joseph Smith, Jun., to correspond in the most minute matters.

That's what he said. He's not attesting to the translation, but that his knowledge of deciphering was consistent with contemporary science. Indeed, the certification would have been worthless if he had done so, because he himself had no idea how to translate.

Perhaps. But, this doesn't really answer my question: "by what means was Joseph able to provide the interpretation?"

Clearly, revelation. I think Joseph looked at it, shook it, turned it upside down, tried to pick out meaning, and it was revealed. He saw the big picture before he understood the pieces...and that was the purpose of the GAEL.

Clearly, it wasn't by way of the Egyptian alphabet and grammar that commenced being written some 13 days after the event in question.

Will's definitley on to something there. I'm also interested to see if Joseph ever talked about translating the narrative, as opposed to the A&G, or the Egyptian records.

PacMan

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Will,

I agree Chandler isn't particularly important. Clearly Joseph had something...and lots of it, before the GAEL translation. That's noteworthy. But I also believe that there's no reason to adulterate the history if it can be avoided. If Chandler did not certify to the translation, then there's no evidence that Chandler believed a strict translation had been done. Clearly he would have seen the narrative revelation, but he didn't certify to that one way or another. I think it's all too easy to bash on Chandler, but I don't see any reason to do so. He said what he said in the certification, and it didn't mention a thing about any "translation." It's most noteworthy that any statement of correct translation would have been easy produce--particularly if he were simply interested in the cash. But he didn't, but rather simply said that Joseph's understandings with Egyptian decipherment were current with the science of the day.

PacMan

Pac,

I'm just trying to emphasize the fact that Chandler wasn't in a position to really "certify" anything. Ostensibly, he was comparing Joseph's "translation" to a "translation" of certain characters that he had, supposedly, obtained from "learned" people "in many eminent cities."

Here's the text of the certificate:

This is to make known to all who may be desirous, concerning the knowledge of Mr. Joseph Smith Jun., in deciphering the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic characters in my possession, which I have, in many eminent cities, showed to the most learned; and, from the information that I could ever learn, or meet with, I find that of Mr. Joseph Smith, Jun., to correspond in the most minute matters. Michael Chandler, Traveling with, and proprietor of, Egyptian mummies.

H.C. 2:235.

The fact is that there was hardly anyone in the U.S. at the time who was in a position to translate Egyptian, so I don't know who Chandler could have consulted on these things. That's part of the reason I am convinced that Chandler was just putting on a show, and that he was really only interested in getting top dollar for his mummies and papyri.

One report seems to suggest that Charles Anthon was one of the "learned men" whom Chandler had consulted:

The morning following [July 5, 1835] Joseph came with the leaves which he had translated, which Oliver Cowdery read, and Mr. Chandler then produced the translation of Professor Anthon as far as the Professor could translate it. Dr. Riggs, who was present at the reading, says that the translation of the Prophet and the Professor agreed so far, but "there was one language Professor Anthon could not translate which the Prophet did."

Tullidges Quarterly Magazine 3/3 (1885): 282-83.

The bottom line is that Joseph did translate, and after the Saints collected sufficient coin to buy the papyri, he proceeded to translate more:

(July 6-8, 1835)

... the Saints at Kirtland purchased the mummies and papyrus, a description of which will appear hereafter, and with W.W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc.,-a more full account of which will appear in its place, as I proceed to examine and unfold them.

H.C. 2:236.

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