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maklelan

Dittography in the Abraham Translation Manuscripts

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Since we can't agree on the definition of "scribe"

I see no disagreement, I just see you equivocating as the evidence piles up against your ridiculous assumption.

then let me slightly modify my position to the following:

"Most early Christians were illiterate by modern standards and many of those who transcribed texts in the first three centuries A.D. couldn't read what they were copying."

Fair enough. Let's see the evidence now that many people who copied NT manuscripts couldn't read what they were writing.

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The cut-and-paste thing was only one of many speculations I've made in the past few weeks.

So now you are willing to claim it was your own concoction. Funny that had to happen only when you declared it an implausible speculation. It's a shame you were never able to respond to my criticisms of it.

I now consider that theory implausible, since the manuscript was written on the back.

And, of course, the numerous problems I pointed out which you were either unwilling and/or unable to acknowledge or address.

The more I study this issue the more I'm inclined to adopt Chris' position of not jumping to conclusions.

Chris is capable of responding to criticism, though. The position you're adopting is more the "run and hide" method of argumentation.

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Mortal Man writes:

I can't help it if "everyone" is intellectually lazy. Those who think like hammers see nothing but nails.
The problem with this, Andrew, is that there isn't anyone who disagrees with this position regarding the dittography in the Nag Hammadi text I provided. No one disagrees with the position. For you to suggest that this is merely intellectual laziness (without explaining why this is intellectual laziness) seems to me to be some kind of spurious claim to allow you to keep your position intact. I suspect that had you even known that such lengthy dittographs existed, that you wouldn't have made the original statement.
A) The scribe couldn't read what he was copying.

B) There was an interruption of some sort, which caused him to forget the words he just copied.

C) More than one person was involved in the transcription.

D) Some of the transcription may have been dictated.

That's fine. It's a lot of choices. It also means that there was an earlier text (in every single one of these cases). Since the cause of the dittograph is always a speculative concern, it is a less interesting question even than the fact that a dittograph exists.
Taking your point to its logical conclusion, we should assume then than the P manuscript of the BoM is one gigantic dittograph. Perhaps Oliver confused Moroni's "I" with Nephi's "I":

"I Nephi, having been born

...

I bid unto all, farewell."

This is really grasping at straws. It is a nonsensical argument. Contiguous (and nearly identical - if not identical) sections of text are the hallmarks of dittography. P does not contain a repeated section of this sort. Arguments, of course, have been made involving the possibility of dittography in fragments of works - but in general they involve works that are quite well known from multiple sources - otherwise it becomes simply too speculative to have any real value. In your case, you are suggesting that P was originally approximately twice as long as it is now, and that it was essentially two copies of the same material. To simply pull this out of your hat doesn't make it equivalent to the situation we are discussing here. What it really suggests to me though, is that you don't have much experience in discussing textual criticism, and it would probably help if you did some reading on the subject.
I don't see that I misread anything.
You linked to a statement from Brent Metcalfe explaining why he thought the misreading was valid (despite the fact that it wasn't a reading of what the text said - merely what he thought the text should say). You admitted that there was a misreading when you said this, in this thread here:
Who's misreading are you referring to? This issue was discussed over here.
The misreading is implied when you ask this statement:
I think Ko[r]ash looks a lot like Pharoah, don't you?
And you admitted that this idea came from Brent's misreading of the text when you said this:
As for the Imsety/Korash=Pharaoh thing, that is a discussion that goes way back and yes, I did first learn about it from Brent's posts.
The problem is that the Book of Abraham never says anything that can be literally read as meaning that "Ko[r]ash looks a lot like Pharoah", since the Book of Abraham suggests that there was "also a god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt." The problem is that (and Brent spelled this out just fine): "'god of Pharaoh' (Abr. 1:6, 17) is not grammatically equivalent to 'god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt' (Abr. 1:13)" This is a misreading of the text. Brent attempts to justify it by suggesting that the intention of the author was different from what the author actually wrote. However, the text is clearly ambiguous in the other places where it is not ambiguous here, and Brent's reading is a misreading of the text. Now, since you suggested that you weren't simply parroting Brent's ideas before us, I want to know how you resolve the misreading of the text in Abraham 1:13 on which the question that you asked is predicated.
"Most early Christians were illiterate by modern standards and many of those who transcribed texts in the first three centuries A.D. couldn't read what they were copying."

This is two statements. I think most of us don't have any problem with the notion that "most early Christians were illiterate by modern standards". But the second assertion: "many of those who transcribed early texts in the first three centuries A.D. couldn't read what they were copying" is absolute nonsense. I have explained why multiple times. The early manuscripts display evidence of intentional modifications to the text that could only be produced by someone who could actually read the text. Because of this, I want to see your evidence for this assertion - because I don't believe it at all. I think that you are getting your notion from Ehrman, but, I think that you probably don't understand his argument either.

Ben M.

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Dear William,

I had a long and pleasant phone conversation with Brent last Sunday in which your name came up. He and I both agree that you should publish your "conclusive" results as soon as possible, so that your name will be permanently and publicly attached to them.

Best Regards,

MM

Would that Brent would attach his name to something--permanently and publically.

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Dear William,

I had a long and pleasant phone conversation with Brent last Sunday in which your name came up. He and I both agree that you should publish your "conclusive" results as soon as possible, so that your name will be permanently and publicly attached to them.

Best Regards,

MM

What a coincidence! Just yesterday I had a long and pleasant lunch date with Paul Hoskisson, in which both your name and that of your new boon companion Metcalfe came up. Strangely enough, Paul and I agree with you and Brent: that I should publish my "conclusive" findings as soon as possible, so that my name will be permanently and publicly attached to them. In fact, we formulated a detailed plan for doing just that, beginning with an 50 - 60 page article that will expand upon the summary exposition I presented at the 2010 FAIR conference last month.

I hope that, in the meantime, your bosom buddy will seek treatment for his chronic hypogonadism such that he might participate in the debate I have proposed. How truly unfortunate it would be for him to leave the impression, in the eyes of friend and foe alike, that he is fearful of facing a mere "snake-oil salesman" in a public debate concerning the topic over which his unquestioned expertise has reigned supreme for so long.

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In fact, we formulated a detailed plan for doing just that, beginning with an 50 - 60 page article that will expand upon the summary exposition I presented at the 2010 FAIR conference last month.

Great! I am looking forward to being able to evaluate your full statement of your position.

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Great! I am looking forward to being able to evaluate your full statement of your position.

Not nearly as much as I am looking forward to your continuing pursuit of a career in professional anti-Mormonism. I guess it's a good thing your parents are willing to permit you to continue to live with them for the duration, since I've heard (in such a way as to believe it) that professional anti-Mormonism doesn't pay very well.

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Not nearly as much as I am looking forward to your continuing pursuit of a career in professional anti-Mormonism. I guess it's a good thing your parents are willing to permit you to continue to live with them for the duration, since I've heard (in such a way as to believe it) that professional anti-Mormonism doesn't pay very well.

You might be surprised. I'm getting a scholarship from a professional anti-Mormon association (the Mormon Hunter Foundation, or something like that) that has even made it possible to get my own apartment!

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You might be surprised. I'm getting a scholarship from a professional anti-Mormon association (the Mormon Hunter Foundation, or something like that) that has even made it possible to get my own apartment!

Congratulations Chris!

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You might be surprised. I'm getting a scholarship from a professional anti-Mormon association (the Mormon Hunter Foundation, or something like that) that has even made it possible to get my own apartment!

[A] consummation devoutly to be wished [for].

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[A] consummation devoutly to be wished [for].

Are you telling me you hope I'll shuffle off this mortal coil? :P

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Are you telling me you hope I'll shuffle off this mortal coil? :P

No! Perish the thought. Nor "off to Buffalo" neither.

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I suppose I should explain, since my sarcastic remark above was a bit obscure, that the organization that is funding my education here at CGU is actually the Howard W. Hunter Foundation-- decidedly not an anti-Mormon body. This reflects, I think, that not all Mormons view my contributions to the Mormon Studies discourse as negatively as William does. (Indeed, the reactions of my Mormon colleagues here at CGU have been almost uniformly positive.)

I also haven't lived with my parents for quite some time, except for spending some summers and vacations there to visit family and friends. Not that it's anyone's business where I live.

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I suppose I should explain, since my sarcastic remark above was a bit obscure, that the organization that is funding my education here at CGU is actually the Howard W. Hunter Foundation-- decidedly not an anti-Mormon body. This reflects, I think, that not all Mormons view my contributions to the Mormon Studies discourse as negatively as William does. (Indeed, the reactions of my Mormon colleagues here at CGU have been almost uniformly positive.)

I also haven't lived with my parents for quite some time, except for spending some summers and vacations there to visit family and friends. Not that it's anyone's business where I live.

I have no doubt that Loyd Ericson and other such CGU kindred spirits are fully supportive of your approach to Mormon Studies. Just don't be deceived into thinking that perspectives such as his are typical of "all Mormons" who are aware of your "contributions to the Mormon Studies discourse." Indeed, I'm quite confident that I am in a much better position to assess the attitudes of "most faithful Mormons" when it comes to your not-as-transparent-as-you'd-like-to-believe anti-Mormon agenda. Nevertheless, I, for one, look forward to your future "contributions to the Mormon Studies discourse" and hope that your initial contributions are typical of what will follow.

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A few years back I wrote two papers for my "Bible in the Nineteenth-Century" class at Wheaton-- one on Joseph Smith, and the other on John Henry Newman. Both were presented in class. When I was done reading the Newman paper, my professor grinned and said, "So you played Joseph Smith straight, but you threw Newman under the bus?" I suspect that what you perceive as "anti-Mormonism" is actually a general fascination with the weird and scandalous, and perhaps a bit of a childish penchant for tipping sacred cows. If anything, I am more sympathetic to Mormons and Joseph Smith than to other religious leaders and movements, because I've been studying you so long that the things in Mormonism that used to seem "weird" now seem fascinating, persuasive, and appealing.

Anyway, my next contribution, in Sunstone Magazine, will be a study of Mormon themes in the science fiction and fantasy of Orson Scott Card. That should be out in the next couple months. I trust you will find it sufficiently anti-Mormon in tenor and content to reinforce your beliefs about me.

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A few years back I wrote two papers for my "Bible in the Nineteenth-Century" class at Wheaton-- one on Joseph Smith, and the other on John Henry Newman. Both were presented in class. When I was done reading the Newman paper, my professor grinned and said, "So you played Joseph Smith straight, but you threw Newman under the bus?" I suspect that what you perceive as "anti-Mormonism" is actually a general fascination with the weird and scandalous, and perhaps a bit of a childish penchant for tipping sacred cows. If anything, I am more sympathetic to Mormons and Joseph Smith than to other religious leaders and movements, because I've been studying you so long that the things in Mormonism that used to seem "weird" now seem fascinating, persuasive, and appealing.

Anyway, my next contribution, in Sunstone Magazine, will be a study of Mormon themes in the science fiction and fantasy of Orson Scott Card. That should be out in the next couple months. I trust you will find it sufficiently anti-Mormon in tenor and content to reinforce your beliefs about me.

I'm quite certain that you will very deliberately produce many things that will run the gamut from "relatively neutral" to "almost friendly" in nature. Just like our good buddy Dan Vogel, who has produced many works of genuine value alongside his ... ahem ... less impressive material. But you should probably be aware that no one, and I mean no one in my circle of friends and acquaintances (associated with LDS apologetics) disagrees in the least with my assessment of you and your agenda.

We know who you are.

We understand your aims.

You have set out to pursue a career through which you will seek to persuade people, in your own peculiar way, that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is not of divine origin, that its founder was not a prophet of the living God, and that its scriptures are not the word of God.

No matter what innocuous, diversionary side projects you pursue along the way, I am confident your primary objective will remain constant.

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Well, William, thanks for the update on how I am viewed by you and your circle of friends. Since all of your friends apparently share your view of me, I can only conclude that you don't count me among them. That is unfortunate. We had a more collegial relationship, once upon a time.

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you should probably be aware that no one, and I mean no one in my circle of friends and acquaintances (associated with LDS apologetics) disagrees in the least with my assessment of you and your agenda.

Come now William, you're not fooling anyone with your barking and growling.

How could any 'circle of friends' be tighter than this?

40045_467537174072_118446609072_6322986_6579838_n.jpg

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The position you're adopting is more the "run and hide" method of argumentation.

Speaking of "run and hide" argumentation, where have you been since you posted this?

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Speaking of "run and hide" argumentation, where have you been since you posted this?

FYI: Dan, his wife, and child have been heavily involved in the process of moving from Utah County to British Columbia, where he will be for the next year or so.

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Come now William, you're not fooling anyone with your barking and growling.

How could any 'circle of friends' be tighter than this?

40045_467537174072_118446609072_6322986_6579838_n.jpg

What are talking about? I was just about to go Mike Tyson on him! He's just lucky it was too far of a reach for my old stiff back; he slithered away (crawling over a copy of the Book of Mormon in the process) before I could snatch a bite out of that cute little ear of his.

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I haven't spent a lot more time on this, but I did want to throw something out there. The Poenulus by Plautus has what has been termed as the "longest single case of dittography". I include it only as a point of reference. It is a problematic instance for several reasons. First, it occurs in both major recensions of Poenulus (meaning that it likely predates that major change that separated the two versions), it seems that the dittography was edited prior to the split in text families and independently edited afterward. It is quite possible in this case that the dittography was smaller than the duplicate endings now indicate, and that modifications were made following the dittography to make the text make more sense. It is also a possibility that it isn't a dittography at all, but caused by some other concern (like contaminatio - although this would be a problem rather unique to the kind of subject matter at hand). However, the text of Poenulus is perhaps the text with the most scribal changes in it comparing similar texts from its milieu. In the two major versions, hundreds of lines have been indicated as suspicious in this regard (often with one of the text lines simply missing this text that is found in the other). At any rate, the dittography that is identified covers lines 1371-1422 (the original material being found in lines 1315-1371). With a conservative estimate of 8 words a line, and 51 lines, that amounts to roughly 400 words of text.

Ben M.

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I haven't spent a lot more time on this, but I did want to throw something out there. The Poenulus by Plautus has what has been termed as the "longest single case of dittography". I include it only as a point of reference. It is a problematic instance for several reasons. First, it occurs in both major recensions of Poenulus (meaning that it likely predates that major change that separated the two versions), it seems that the dittography was edited prior to the split in text families and independently edited afterward. It is quite possible in this case that the dittography was smaller than the duplicate endings now indicate, and that modifications were made following the dittography to make the text make more sense. It is also a possibility that it isn't a dittography at all, but caused by some other concern (like contaminatio - although this would be a problem rather unique to the kind of subject matter at hand). However, the text of Poenulus is perhaps the text with the most scribal changes in it comparing similar texts from its milieu. In the two major versions, hundreds of lines have been indicated as suspicious in this regard (often with one of the text lines simply missing this text that is found in the other). At any rate, the dittography that is identified covers lines 1371-1422 (the original material being found in lines 1315-1371). With a conservative estimate of 8 words a line, and 51 lines, that amounts to roughly 400 words of text.

Ben M.

There you go. Thanks for finding that.

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There you go. Thanks for finding that.

A nice find but the point is now moot.

I'll see your "Haran" homoioteleuton and raise you the possibility that somebody confused Joseph with Terah.

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A nice find but the point is now moot.

I'll see your "Haran" homoioteleuton and raise you the possibility that somebody confused Joseph with Terah.

So I take it you're silently abandoning the notion that the majority of New Testament scribes were illiterate? Now you're hucking something else at the wall to see if it will stick. Let's take a look.

And having already employed the EAG to translate Abr. 1:1-3

I suggest you respond to my criticisms of this conclusion before using it as a premise for your argument. If you look you'll notice no one has responded to them yet.

Joseph prepares to switch gears in order to concentrate more directly on translating the Book of Abraham from the hieratic script on the sensen scroll.

So he decides to switch gears in the middle of the lacuna, and he starts by positing three more characters within that lacuna? This is how he concentrates more directly on translating from the hieratic script on the scroll?

With the harsh lesson of the lost 116 pages of Book of Lehi firmly implanted in his psyche, Joseph determines from this point forward to produce at least two copies of his BoA translation: one for himself and one for the printer (and none for Martin Harris!).

But why doesn't he copy Abr 1:1-3? He's putting a portion of his newly copied material on the same piece of paper as Abr 1:1-3. Why is Abr 1:1-3 not in danger of being lost while the rest of that page is? That's a rather critical oversight of your theory.

As they neared the end of second line of the papyrus, Williams experienced a brief phonetic crisis, thinking that Abram

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