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Egyptological Connections to Joseph Smith's explanation of Book of Abraham facsimile No. 1, figure 9

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Question for All:

Bearing in mind that the first quoted passage below has been described as false by the author of the second quoted passage, I would like to throw out a challenge to all willing to participate (even those who have not been previously involved in this discussion) to identify the substantive differences (if any) between the first quote and the second, with particular attention given to the summary sentences (bolded and underlined) from each.

The text does not read "... god like unto Pharaoh." It reads "... a god like unto that of Pharaoh." "That" in the sentence is a referent not to Pharaoh (nor to his image, as it were), but to the "god of Pharaoh." In other words, the phrase could be rendered equally as "a god like unto the god of Pharaoh."
In the phrase "a god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt," the adjective "like" modifies the noun "god," comparing this "god" to "that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt" (Abr. 1:13). Put simply, this "god" isn't Pharaoh's deity but rather a god "like" Pharaoh's deity.

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Brent,

Am I correct in assuming that you concur with the conclusion that the Abr. 1:4

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Brent:

Hi Kerry,

Given your responses thus far, I can only assume that you're unfamiliar with the textual history of Abraham 1:6, 13, 17

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The textual history of Abrhaam is interesting, but irrelevant to the finished product. That alone is the scripture we are beholden to. All the preliminary information, dabblings, noodlings, changes, expansions, deletions are fun to know about, but in the final end, it is, after all, the actual Book of Abraham in printed form which is the scripture, and which I am discussing. It is to the final form of essays which get printed, published, and valid, not preliminary manuscripts and re-writes. So, yes, the manuscript evidence has nothing to do with the final scripture which says the croc is "the idolatrous God of Pharaoh." It is fundamentally irrelevant that this designation is not in the manuscripts earlier. It *IS* in the Book of Abraham, and therefore the scripture we work with. This is honestly not that hard to grasp is it? Why do you keep trying to go to the manuscripts when we ALL have the finished product? The history of the text is fascinating, but the end product is what counts, yes?

The textual critics *have* to range over the earlier manuscripts that leave us appalled, because so much changed through the mind of Joseph Smith. Just because the Translation Texts are way before 1880 A.D. does not mean they, along with the Grammar - post 1835 A.D. times, that their teachings are irrelevant whatsoever. I have found numerous historians who exactly range all over the extant materials in order to understand them. Someone is simply wrong. Who gets to make the dividing line? Who gets to set what a so-called "proper" text is for our time? Is it only acceptable for 1880? 1851? etc. What is the criteria? Which manuscripts are allowed and why some but not others? I mean, who gets to set the rules, when in point of very fact, the historians themselves, mind you, used ALL their manuscripts through the church archives to continue their teachings?! This is simply modern bias. It actually is astounding to read (yes, it is time we READ the KEP stuff already!) the GAEL (ca 1835 A.D.) teachings, and realize that these same teachings, along with further developments are to be had in the Book of Abraham (ca 1835 A.D. - 1842 A.D.), are STILL BEING USED. But is the range of almost 7 years uncomfortable? What do we do then, *ignore* the Translation Texts? That's just bias silliness on our modern thinking. It would grind research to a halt. Do we really think the ideas found in, oh say, the 1880 BoA are ONLY valid to research back to when they date? what is it, in some cases, a few fragments to 1851 A.D.? That obviously is not when the IDEAS originated, or were explained. To find parallels in the facsimiles, even if they go back to 1835 A.D. is entirely valid in tracing origins. Why would that bother us?

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Hi Will,

Do you see a difference between the "god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt" (Abr. 1:13) and the "god of Pharaoh" (Abr. 1:6, 17)?

(That is the point I think you're missing.)

Am I correct in assuming that you concur with the conclusion that the Abr. 1:4

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Do you see a difference between the "god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt" (Abr. 1:13) and the "god of Pharaoh" (Abr. 1:6, 17)?

(That is the point I think you're missing.)

To clarify this point, if "god of Pharaoh" is taken to mean god made in the image of Pharaoh, then the phrase in question may be taken to mean, "god like unto that [made in the image] of Pharaoh, king of Egypt."

This is awkward phrasing, I agree, but it is comprehensible in at least two ways: 1) It might mean that the idol in front of the bedstead was an imitation of some other Pharaoh-shaped idol, perhaps back in Egypt. 2) It may be that "god" refers to the figure given at the beginning, such that the passage is basically saying, "the god-figure given at the beginning is like unto the god made in the image of Pharaoh."

Peace,

-Chris

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Brent Metcalfe:

Do you see a difference between the "god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt" (Abr. 1:13) and the "god of Pharaoh" (Abr. 1:6, 17)?

The

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Brent:

You're merely bearing your idiosyncratic testimony of what constitutes a scriptural text, not enunciating a rigorous method for analyzing such a text.

Kerry:

Brent, you are merely bearing your own idiosyncratic non-testimony without refuting any of the actual Egyptological information. You have yet to begin discussing the evidence. Are you going to pretend that the finished product as we have in the Book of Abraham is not scripture, while the early musings, notes, and rough drafts *are* the scripture? Good luck with that. I know why you are saying this. You simply refuse to touch the actual text of the scripture of the Book of Abraham. And for good reason...... It is the Book of Abraham that is on trial, as Nibley noted so long ago, not Joseph Smith. To test the Book of Abraham we use it, not the mere notes and rough drafts of earlier compositions. Those are *never* voted on *as* scripture, while the Book of Abraham is. The earlier notes were *never* presented AS scripture, while the Book of Abraham is. If you have a case for proving the earlier notes are more scriptural and important than the final draft, please do, by all means, present your case. So far all I see here is mere assertion.

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It is the Book of Abraham that is on trial, as Nibley noted so long ago

Why do you suppose Nibley kept mum for so long about the existence of the papyri? Could it have been to keep the case from coming to trial?

Are you going to pretend that the finished product as we have in the Book of Abraham is not scripture, while the early musings, notes, and rough drafts *are* the scripture?

You've insisted that all sorts of evidence from all over the world, dating back to 3500 BC, be admitted to help answer the question as to whether the crocodile is pharaoh.

Brent is requesting that sources from the northeastern states, dating from 1820-1842 AD, be admitted to help answer the question as to whether the crocodile is pharaoh.

Why should your evidence be admitted and Brent's excluded?

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Mortal Man:

Why do you suppose Nibley kept mum for so long about the existence of the papyri? Could it have been to keep the case from coming to trial?

What

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The reservation is back the other way, Will. ;-)

I guess you mean that you dispute my conclusion. If so, why?

Let's review what we know:

  • Ab4 (Parrish) is a copy of an earlier manuscript.
    `
  • All five gods are listed in the first instance (and only the first instance) of the roster (Abr. 1:6).
    `
  • No other extant Kirtland-era manuscripts attest a listing of all five gods.

The two obvious possible conclusions are: 1) Ab4 was copied from/informed by a now-lost Ms Q; or 2) "Koash" was first introduced in Ab4.

Since we all know that you and Brent hold that option #2 is the correct choice, what text-critical evidence do you believe supports such a conclusion?

I look forward to your reply.

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The two obvious possible conclusions are: 1) Ab4 was copied from/informed by a now-lost Ms Q; or 2) "Koash" was first introduced in Ab4.

Since we all know that you and Brent hold that option #2 is the correct choice, what text-critical evidence do you believe supports such a conclusion?

I have neither time nor inclination to debate the textual history of the translation manuscripts at the moment. But you're well-aware that I don't find the Q hypothesis persuasive. If there was no Q, then clearly "Koash" was first introduced in MS 1.

Occam's Razor recommends that we avoid hypothesizing "missing" entities unless we have genuinely persuasive reasons for doing so. So, the onus is not on me to show that there could have been no Q, but rather on you to show that there are good reasons to believe there was one.

I'm curious as to why you think Koash was omitted from MSS 2 and 3 if they, too, are copies from this mysterious Q manuscript.

By the way, the Spalding-Rigdon crowd is going to love your Q theory. I am credibly informed that Jockers has now "discovered" Rigdon's wordprint in the Book of Abraham. :P

Peace,

-Chris

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Mortal Man:

What

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CS:

I have neither time nor inclination to debate the textual history of the translation manuscripts at the moment.

Translation manuscripts? Say it over and over while you can. The life of that myth is on its last legs

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Are you sure? If so, how so? And if Joseph Smith chose to introduce this fifth god in Ab4 at this particular juncture, then explain why he suddenly forgot what he was doing just a few sentences later!

So your theory is that Joseph suddenly forgot what he was doing in the Q manuscript, instead? And then his scribes omitted it from their practice manuscripts, but Parrish neglected to omit it in manuscript 1? Yes, I can see how that theory is the simpler explanation.

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So your theory is that Joseph suddenly forgot what he was doing in the Q manuscript, instead?

Someone forgot something somewhere along the way--that much is quite evident.

And then his scribes omitted it from their practice manuscripts ...

"Practice manuscripts?" I've never employed the term. I consider it meaningless.

Besides, you're the one making the assumption that Ab2 and Ab3 were based on the same Ms as was Ab4. I don't believe that assumption is warranted.

... but Parrish neglected to omit it in manuscript 1?

I suspect Parrish merely copied what he saw. That's what scribes making copies do.

Yes, I can see how that theory is the simpler explanation.

It has the distinct virtue of being supported by evidence. You see, Chris, the document cannot be easily dismissed. It is what it is: a copy, and as such it must necessarily reflect the nature of its exemplar(s). And this copy contains a listing of five gods at Abr. 1:6--a condition not seen in the other manuscripts upon which the critics have assumed it was based. That, my friend, constitutes a problem for your theories. One of many.

Were it the only difficulty facing the "translation manuscripts" hypothesis, it might be surmountable. But it's not.

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It is what it is: a copy, and as such it must necessarily reflect the nature of its exemplar(s).

So in your view, when one makes a copy one cannot change the text at all in the process?

That would explain a lot about where you're coming from... but obviously I don't agree.

Oh, and am I understanding you correctly that now there are two missing Q manuscripts, one of which mentions Koash and the other of which does not?

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So in your view, when one makes a copy one cannot change the text at all in the process?

One can certainly change a text while copying it. Is that what you believe happened? If so, why do you suppose that Joseph Smith (who is the one I presume you believe dictated the "change") chose to add a fifth god to the list on the first instance, and yet, on the very next page, he suddenly forgets that he's adding a fifth god to the lists?

Bear in mind that this addition of "Koash" constitutes the only substantive change in this entire portion of the text! So it's not like they had a whole lot else to keep in mind, was it? We're talking about a single editorial modification, if we are to believe your explanation for the locus, and yet they just can't keep it in mind from one page to the next?!

I'm afraid Occam's famous razor requires something more logical as a solution to this seeming mystery.

Oh, and am I understanding you correctly that now there are two missing Q manuscripts, one of which mentions Koash and the other of which does not?

It is, of course, impossible to conjecture as to whether or not the missing manuscript(s) all contained a reference to a fifth god. All we can say with confidence is that at least one of them must have.

That said, we positively know that Ab4 was copied from more than one manuscript. In fact, the evidence suggests it could have been cobbled together from as many as three or four separate manuscripts! And somewhere, on one of those manuscripts that Parrish was consulting to produce this particular document, the name of the fifth god was listed in the first instance of the roster of idolatrous gods, and Parrish therefore included it.

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Whichever one Kerry was referring to.

How 'bout some pictures?

Imsety.jpg

At any rate, this whole discussion ignores the subtle fact that there were no pharoahs during Abraham's probable lifetime. Nevertheless, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Abraham was being sacrificed upon a Chaldean bedstead to the idolatrous god of a future proper noun. How does that piece of the puzzle fit together with the other pieces to form an overall picture? If "the priest of Elkenah was also the priest of Pharoah" and Pharoah was a crocodile, then are we to understand that Chaldea was full of crocodiles or that it would be full of crocodiles later on? Also, what about the customary sacrifice of "men, women, and children", not to mention triple virgins, to the "dumb" idol "god of Pharoah" by the hill called Potiphar

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  • Ab4 (Parrish) is a copy of an earlier manuscript.
    `
  • All five gods are listed in the first instance (and only the first instance) of the roster (Abr. 1:6).
    `
  • No other extant Kirtland-era manuscripts attest a listing of all five gods.

The two obvious possible conclusions are: 1) Ab4 was copied from/informed by a now-lost Ms Q; or 2) "Koash" was first introduced in Ab4.

Since we all know that you and Brent hold that option #2 is the correct choice, what text-critical evidence do you believe supports such a conclusion?

Lectio brevior (Latin for "shorter reading") is one of the key principles in textual criticism, especially biblical textual criticism. The principle is based on the widely accepted view that scribes showed more tendency to embellish and harmonise by additions and inclusions than by deletions. Hence, when comparing two or more manuscripts of the same text, the shorter readings are more likely to be closer to the original.

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Thanks for the textual criticism primer, Andrew. I really appreciate it. You're on a veritable wikipedia roll today!

Now, since you believe invoking lectio brevior is apropos and, presumably, meaningful in this case, please feel free to elaborate on your reasoning. [Hint: I don't think you've thought this one through very well.]

Otherwise, keep boning up on your textual criticism. It might come in handy one day.

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Why do you suppose Nibley kept mum for so long about the existence of the papyri? Could it have been to keep the case from coming to trial?

You've insisted that all sorts of evidence from all over the world, dating back to 3500 BC, be admitted to help answer the question as to whether the crocodile is pharaoh.

Brent is requesting that sources from the northeastern states, dating from 1820-1842 AD, be admitted to help answer the question as to whether the crocodile is pharaoh.

Why should your evidence be admitted and Brent's excluded?

Because the Book of Abraham *claims* to be ancient, and so, following proper textual criticism, we FIRST look and see if there are any fits from the provenance the documents claim. That is ENTIRELY learned from the Dead Sea Scrolls scholars who claimed the scrolls were nothing else than a *Medieval* forgery. But they claimed to come from earlier, and so the proper scholarship is to go to when THEY fit, and check into them. This proved they were not merely a plant, or Medieval forgery. Nibley noted that Blass, and others have said this is the proper textual criticism method. How come you are so averse to doing it the way the scholars do?

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You're on a veritable wikipedia roll today!

It just seems to me that you're making up your own set of rules as you go along, which I confess, I'm not privy to.

the text-critical evidence does strongly suggest is that the putative Ms. Q, from which Ab4* was at least partially copied/informed, clearly listed five gods at Abr. 1:6, and in the order we see in the presently published version of the Book of Abraham.

It is, of course, impossible to conjecture as to whether or not the missing manuscript(s) all contained a reference to a fifth god. All we can say with confidence is that at least one of them must have.

That said, we positively know that Ab4 was copied from more than one manuscript. In fact, the evidence suggests it could have been cobbled together from as many as three or four separate manuscripts! And somewhere, on one of those manuscripts that Parrish was consulting to produce this particular document, the name of the fifth god was listed in the first instance of the roster of idolatrous gods, and Parrish therefore included it.

As far as I can tell, whenever faced with discrepancies between texts, your cardinal guiding rule is to postulate a set of missing manuscripts, which must have said whatever you think they should have said in order to support your prearranged conclusion. Could you please send me the Wikipedia link for this principle?

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