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Robert K. Ritner'S "The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri": A Complete Edition


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#1 Tacenda

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 12:14 PM

Has there been any discussion on this board concerning this book? I, of course, have not read it yet. Is this book legitimate?

http://mormon-chroni...seph-smith.html

Edited by Tacenda, 15 September 2012 - 12:14 PM.

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#2 calmoriah

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 12:34 PM

Legitimate in what sense?

PS: I am asking because of the problems with it Mormon Mason pointed out.

Edited by calmoriah, 15 September 2012 - 12:35 PM.

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#3 MormonMason

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 12:34 PM

I do not yet have my own copy but I have seen material from it. There is a lot of good stuff in it. But, there is also a lot of crap in it, too. I am still debating on whether I want to spend money on it. It is a tough decision.

Edited by MormonMason, 15 September 2012 - 12:34 PM.

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#4 Tacenda

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 12:38 PM

Legitimate in what sense?

PS: I am asking because of the problems with it Mormon Mason pointed out.


It's expensive to buy, should I waste my money on it? Just asking to see if anyone has read or heard of any research done on it.
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#5 MiserereNobis

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 01:05 PM

Interesting. I had started a thread on the Book of Abraham translation and am glad to have the link you provided, especially since there is an interview with the author. The LDS would find this problematic:

What parallels are there between the Book of Abraham and the papyri?

(Ritner) The only parallels between the Book of Abraham and the papyri are found in the Facsimiles (Ptolemaic in date [352-30 BCE.]) that are specifically described and referenced within the text of the [Book of Abraham (BoA hereafter)] itself. There is thus no possibility that the scenes, reworked from the papyri for the BoA, can be considered separate from the source of the BoA itself. Obviously, the papyrus containing the scenes is equally linked. The BoA just as clearly misunderstands these Facsimiles/Vignettes, with multiple confusions of standard imagery (for example: male vs. female vs. animal, specific deity images) and distorted interpretations of easily legible Egyptian text.

Some LDS scholars have suggested the source for the Book of Abraham may be on papyri that was lost or destroyed. How plausible is this proposal?

(Ritner) For the reasons given above, this idea is not possible. The various alternative theories for a "missing BoA text" are discussed in detail in my book, and all are shown to be false. Parallel texts, standard papyrus document size (not whole rolls manufactured for commerce), measurements of rolling, a supposed (but false) reference to a lost text by the early scholar Seyffarth, and internal BoA remarks on the Facsimiles all indicate that the "Breathing Permit of Hor" (P JS I) is the source of the fictional account of Abraham. The fictional nature of the tale is blatant not only from the Egyptian evidence, but also from Mesopotamian evidence, incorporated within this study for the first time.

How would you assess the work done on the Joseph Smith papyri by LDS scholars?

(Ritner) My parallel presentations [I.E. translations by other scholars for comparison] and copious notes indicate the range of problems with the LDS apologetic translations, but I would distinguish the contributions of apologists from those of other LDS scholars, such as Stephen E. Thompson(8) or Edward H. Ashment,(9) who have made very valuable and accurate studies of the Facsimiles. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the apologetic writings is the degree to which those translations support and often parallel Egyptological ones, demonstrating that the Joseph Smith interpretations are indefensible. Apologists can argue that the source text of BoA is lost, but they cannot deny the "translations" and "explanations" offered by Smith on the Facsimiles. Instead, they ignore them while translating the hieroglyphs as properly as possible, acknowledging Smith's published translations to be wrong. Michael D. Rhodes' treatment of the P. JS I Facsimiles [Facsimiles 1-3] is a classic example of this.


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#6 theplains

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 01:35 PM

I wonder how the author considers it a "complete" edition when he did not have the "complete" papyri. At $87.95US on
Amazon, I'll pass. But I'll reconsider if the LDS Church finds and translates any other parchments.

Regards,
Jim
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#7 MiserereNobis

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 01:40 PM

I wonder how the author considers it a "complete" edition when he did not have the "complete" papyri. At $87.95US on
Amazon, I'll pass. But I'll reconsider if the LDS Church finds and translates any other parchments.

Regards,
Jim


The quote from the interview I provided shows why. He argues that there is no missing papyrus -- that he has the source for the Book of Abraham. I don't know what his evidence is, but I'm just pointing out that he believes he has it.
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#8 Bill Hamblin

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 01:43 PM

The quote from the interview I provided shows why. He argues that there is no missing papyrus -- that he has the source for the Book of Abraham. I don't know what his evidence is, but I'm just pointing out that he believes he has it.


This is nonsense. Everyone knows there are missing papyri. The debate is, how much papyrus is missing.
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#9 Vance

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 04:46 PM

The quote from the interview I provided shows why. He argues that there is no missing papyrus -- that he has the source for the Book of Abraham. I don't know what his evidence is, but I'm just pointing out that he believes he has it.

I always find this argument amusing.

First they say the extant papyri IS the source of the BoA.

Then they go to great lengths to show that the extant papyri IS NOT the source of the BoA.

Then they conclude that Joseph Smith is not a prophet.

:crazy: :crazy: :crazy:
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#10 happy

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 05:41 PM

He also concludes the idea that the facsimiles must be on the same paper, when in fact if the papyrus is a copy of the original, and the facsimiles were reused on he funeral documents....... The possibilities are endless. This author condemns the BoA by forcing us all to only accept his own interpretations.
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#11 MormonMason

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 06:03 PM

If you want to read what we have plus a reconstruction of what we don't of the Book of Breathing owned by Joseph Smith, you can get that at the BYU bookstore. It is published by FARMS/NAMI with Michael Rhodes as editor and John Gee as general editor. It has the Egyptian text, the English translation, color plates, gray scale plates, and an Egyptian-English glossary--just like professional editions of like papyri. You can get that without all the extraneous anti-Mormon-oriented and other speculative crap in Ritner's publication. Another publication is done by the same group on the other extant papyri that are possessed by the Church, also without the extraneous crap. The titles are available at the following links:

http://www.byubookst...=439&design=439
http://www.byubookst...html&design=439

The latter of the two is pricey but worth it because it also deals with Egyptian text in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers that were copied off of a papyrus before that piece was lost. I will point out that there are a couple of errors in the former of the linked titles but these are minor and one of which resulted from consultation of Budge's publication containing the Kerasher Papyrus (which is missing a vignette in the publication for some odd reason). The other error involves column alignment but this might have been fixed since the last time I looked at it. Again, these errors are minor and most people won't care about them or even be aware of them.

And, Bill Hamblin is right. There are missing papyri, including a missing two columns of Egyptian text of the Book of Breathing and a possible missing vignette at the end of that text (some copies of the Book of Breathing have two vignettes at the end rather than just one). I also recall at least one eyewitness account describing a scene that is no longer extant among any of the Joseph Smith Papyri, namely, that of a male serpent standing with his tail and legs in tripod fashion, with its mouth close to the ear of a female character. This was stated by someone to have been in the Book of Abraham although it was never published and is now lost. This now missing vignette is briefly discussed in James R. Clark's The Story of the Pearl of Great Price, if I recall correctly. The Church only has a fraction of what Joseph Smith and the Church once owned.
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#12 aka

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 06:25 PM

This is nonsense. Everyone knows there are missing papyri. The debate is, how much papyrus is missing.


The debate is also concerning the accuracy of Joseph Smith's interpretations/translations of the facsimilies. We have Joseph Smith's interpretations of the facsimilies. Dr. Ritner claims the interpretations are in error and the errors are enough to question the Book of Abraham text.

Has an in-depth review of Dr. Ritners' book been published that directly address his claims and conclusions point by point?

If so, I'll appreciate very much a reference.

Thanks.
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#13 MormonMason

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 07:04 PM

I do not recall anything available as of yet. Here is the way I see it (as do others I know and do not know). It is not hard to hide another text within another text and roll them up together. All it takes are a few strips of fresh papyrus to join texts together into one roll. Most people are not aware of it but even the great Papyrus of Ani is actually not one text of the Book of the Dead but two joined together. One is a stock copy that had names added later and the other was a custom made roll of papyrus. But, because of how they are connected, most people actually thought (and many still mistakenly do think) that it was all one text.

What if that happened to the Hor Book of Breathing? Can anyone prove otherwise with the limited materials that we have got? I don't think so. Now, suppose that this other text offers alternative interpretations of the vignettes of the Book of Breathing in which the second text was enclosed. Has anyone else noticed the usage of phraseology in the Facsimiles in the published Book of Abraham that seem to imply something like that? Phraseology such as "is made to represent" and so forth? It is not hard to see that someone might have done something like that.

The interesting thing is that, unlike other copies of the Book of Breathing that have it, the set of instructions for the lector priest is at the very front of the scroll rather than at the end like the others. These instructions were traditionally read and then the scroll was rolled back up and placed in the coffin at the prescribed location (First Books of Breathing at the head, Second Books of Breathing at the feet, and composite clutched to the heart of the mummy, if I recall correctly). When the priest reached the instructions, it was time to place it on the body and close the sarcophagus. That lector priest never got a chance to see the rest of the scroll much less the Book of Breathing itself.

Additionally, there is much debate about the length of the Hor scroll these days. Now, a 7-meter long scroll fit into a roll that was about 3 centimeters in diameter in one museum. The Hor Book of Breathing papyri was originally part of a scroll that was 3.34 centimeters in diameter. These scrolls were rolled pretty tightly in Egypt. So, there is potentially up to just over 7 and possibly 8 meters of papyrus that could have been in that Hor Book of Breathing roll. Yet, one of the longest Books of Breathing known is just over 2.1 meters in length!

The question is, how much room was left and why would there be so much empty papyrus if there was nothing else on that long of a papyrus roll? Eyewitnesses stated that the Hor Book of Breathing, identified as the roll of Abraham, was long. Sayffarth stated that the portion he possessed was a scroll, and this was after the Hor Book of Breathing had been cut apart and mounted under glass and framed. The "Abraham roll" that Lucy Smith also had and was exhibiting was what was left after the Book of Breathing had been cut apart and mounted under glass.

The critics have to get past this data so they reinterpret it. They say Lucy Smith did not really have a long scroll; that was just what someone else said about it but must have been exaggerating. Or, they say that because there was an error of fact in one account that the rest of the account must be wrong, too. They say there never could have been a knife in the original so Joseph Smith must have just made it up and so did a hostile eyewitness when describing the papyri and what a guide said about it, and not mentioning that this portion of the scroll was missing if it actually had been in that entire portion at the time. They say the Hor scroll could never have been longer than so much and so it is impossible that there could have been more, and so on and so on.

But, the Egyptians rolled their papyri up tightly and sealed them with bitumen when they were to be buried. So, assuming that the Egyptians did the same with this roll as with others of the same genre of literature, we have a roll that was 3.34 centimeters in diameter. Inside a funerary scroll of like diameter over 7 meters of papyrus fit inside. What do we suppose was on the rest of that papyrus? Can we actually prove that there was nothing more attached to the same roll? No more than we can prove that there was more. But, the evidence is that there was more. It is scant and meager and anecdotal--but it is more than the critics think that they have.

Edited by MormonMason, 15 September 2012 - 07:48 PM.

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#14 CA Steve

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:36 PM

I wonder how the author considers it a "complete" edition when he did not have the "complete" papyri. At $87.95US on
Amazon, I'll pass. But I'll reconsider if the LDS Church finds and translates any other parchments.

Regards,
Jim


It is a complete edition in the sense that it translates all the papyri that Joseph Smith had that still exist and provides side by side comparisons of the previous translations done by Nibley, Rhodes, Gee and Wilson.

There is a lot of discussion about how much of the Hor scroll is missing. Don't we also have to assume that there is a sizable section of scroll missing from the other scroll, the Book of the Dead which would have contained The Book of Joseph?
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Nothing is settled yet, not only because the last precincts are never heard from in scienceand their report always comes as a shockerbut because we are far from getting the last word in religion either. For us the story remains open-endedat both endsin a progression of beginnings and endings without beginning or end, each episode proceeding from what goes before and leading to the next.

"The Expanding Gospel," in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless, 22

#15 MormonMason

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:56 PM

It is a complete edition in the sense that it translates all the papyri that Joseph Smith had that still exist and provides side by side comparisons of the previous translations done by Nibley, Rhodes, Gee and Wilson.

There is a lot of discussion about how much of the Hor scroll is missing. Don't we also have to assume that there is a sizable section of scroll missing from the other scroll, the Book of the Dead which would have contained The Book of Joseph?


There is definitely scroll missing from that one. That is a given because we have fragments of it that are copied onto paper but no longer extant as papyri. The Hoffman formula applied to it also shows lost scroll in agreement with the material facts in the case. Even in the pieces we now have of that scroll, there are pieces missing that someone patched before framing using fragments from the Hor Book of Breathing!
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#16 CA Steve

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 02:09 PM

There is definitely scroll missing from that one. That is a given because we have fragments of it that are copied onto paper but no longer extant as papyri. The Hoffman formula applied to it also shows lost scroll in agreement with the material facts in the case. Even in the pieces we now have of that scroll, there are pieces missing that someone patched before framing using fragments from the Hor Book of Breathing!


Someone has performed winding measurements on the Book of the Dead that was part of the collection returned to the Church? Where can I read more about that?
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Nothing is settled yet, not only because the last precincts are never heard from in scienceand their report always comes as a shockerbut because we are far from getting the last word in religion either. For us the story remains open-endedat both endsin a progression of beginnings and endings without beginning or end, each episode proceeding from what goes before and leading to the next.

"The Expanding Gospel," in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless, 22

#17 happy

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 02:56 PM

And the facsimiles might also simply be wrong. The BoA could have been on a different roll and Joseph tried to reverse translate it and took the wrong facsimiles. Those images do not make or break the textual content.
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#18 Robert F. Smith

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 04:54 PM

Has there been any discussion on this board concerning this book? I, of course, have not read it yet. Is this book legitimate?

http://mormon-chroni...seph-smith.html

I haven't seen any such discussion, but allow me to summarize the contents:
Robert K. Ritner, with M. Coenen, H. M. Marquardt, and C. Woods, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition: P.JS 1-4, and the Hypocephaus of Sheshonq (SLC: Smith-Pettit Foundation/Signature Books, 2011).
H. Michael Marquardt, "Joseph Smith's Egyptian Papers: A History," 11-56.
Marc Coenen, "The Ownership and Dating of Certain Joseph Smith Papyri," 57-71
Christopher Woods, "The Practice of Egyptian Religion at 'Ur of the Chaldees'?" 73-74

This is a blatant anti-Mormon production, i.e., no attempt to be even-handed -- instead, all assumptions are a priori negative and creation of straw men the order of the day.

For example, Christopher Woods opts for the most absurd view about the location of Abraham's birthplace (southern Mespotamia), even though he is well aware that major scholars argue that biblical Ur is in the north, in the vicinity of Harran. In his Anchor Bible translation-commentary of Genesis, for example, the late Ephraim Speiser saw Ur as "intrusive" because it was anachronistic, saying,

. The one fact beyond serious dispute is that the home of the patriarchs was in the district of Haran, and not at Ur. According to [Gen 12:1, 5], Haran was Abraham’s birthplace. The toponymic models for the names of Abraham’s close relatives have been found in Central Mesopotamia (see above). And the cultural background of many of the later patriarchal narratives is intimately tied up with the Hurrians of Haran and the regions nearby rather than with the Sumerians and Babylonians in the south. (Genesis, 80)


The eponyms Speiser refers to are
1. Nahor (Naḫur, Til-Naḫiri),
2. Serug (Sarugi, Sürüç),
3. Terah (Til-Turaḫi/Til-ša-Turaḫi),

Woods continues his mockery by a foppish wave of the hand in dismissing the very credible identification of Olishem in an Old Babylonian inscription, which would correctly place the sacrificial rite described in the Book of Abraham in north Syria, pretending that Olishem had to be en route from Harran to Canaan -- something which the text does not require. He also denies Egyptian influence in any part of Syria at that time. He is wrong.

The material remains from Byblos are instructive in general as to the degree of Egyptian influence at an early date, but one can discern specific points in relation to the Book of Abraham hypocephalus, e.g., Book of Abraham Facsimile 2:4 can be compared to a gold pectoral from the royal tombs of Byblos in the form of a falcon (Horus incarnate as the living Pharaoh) with outspread wings. A statue of Sn-wsrt-ʿnḫ, an Egyptian vizier, was also found at Ugarit. Indeed, according to Giovanni Pettinato, the then “Kingdom of Ebla” included Ebla, Ugarit, and Alalakh.

Manfred Bietak calls our attention to Egyptian connections with Ebla:

Contacts as this time with Ebla (Tell Mardikh) in Syria can be demonstrated by a scepter of King Hotepibre (early 13th Dynasty) found in an Ebla royal tomb. A statue of the same king was found . . . at Tell ed-Dab’a, together with statues of the last monarch of the 12th Dynasty, Queen Sobekneferu. It is not improbable that Tell ed-Dab’a, which was inhabited then mainly by Asiatics, played an important role in this king’s foreign relations.



P. Montet (along with modern biblical scholars) found the Abraham episode to fit “as naturally as can be into the XII dynasty,” i.e., during the Middle Kingdom, ca. 1991-1786/85 B.C. (for the 12th Dynasty). This was a time when the Pharaoh was termed nb n ḫЗst nbt, “Lord of every foreign-land,” a time when A. R. Schulman suggests “an administrative and possibly military domination of Asia by Egypt,” especially under Amenemḥet II and Sesostris III, ca. 1938-1849 B.C., and a time when “Semitic influences poured into Egypt . . , when . . . Palestine, Phoenicia, and southern Syria belonged to the sphere of Egyptian suzerainty.” As the late William F. Albright put it, while suggesting that we not use the modern definition of “empire,”

the Egyptian kings of the Twelfth Dynasty claimed suzerainty over Palestine and Syria, and certainly exercised it during much of the period, as we know from recent discoveries at Gezer, Byblus, Qaṭna, and Ugarit.


The late Yohanan Aharoni expanded on this more recently:

Egyptian stelae and statues of Middle Kingdom date have been found at Ugarit, Byblos and Beirut on the Phoenician coast: at Nerab beside Aleppo; at Qaṭna and Tell Ḥizzin in the Lebanese Beqʻ; and at Megiddo, Gezer and Tell el-ʻAjjul in Palestine.


The sovereignty of Egypt in Palestine and Syria was yet in effect during the 13th Dynasty reign of Ḫaseḫemreʿ Neferḥotep I, ca. 1740-1730 B.C., according to the Inscription of Yantin.

Finally, Wood appies the non sequitur of "regular worship of Egyptian gods at Haran," thus missing the point that the gods named are not at Harran and are identified with early Semitic names: Elkenah (hypocoristic for "El-creator-of-the-earth"), Shagreel ("Gates of El"), Libnah, Korash, etc. And they are not part of any known "regular" cult, but rather a syncretic, cooperative cult activity.

Edited by Robert F. Smith, 17 September 2012 - 04:46 AM.

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#19 CA Steve

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 05:05 PM

The Wood's article in Ritner's book is 2 pages long, hardly an effective measure of the book which is 283 pages long.
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Nothing is settled yet, not only because the last precincts are never heard from in scienceand their report always comes as a shockerbut because we are far from getting the last word in religion either. For us the story remains open-endedat both endsin a progression of beginnings and endings without beginning or end, each episode proceeding from what goes before and leading to the next.

"The Expanding Gospel," in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless, 22

#20 Bill Hamblin

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 05:20 PM

The Wood's article in Ritner's book is 2 pages long, hardly an effective measure of the book which is 283 pages long.


They didn't have to include that article. They choose to.
Having read much of the book, I can attest, it doesn't get any better. The non-Mormon authors simply have not made the effort to familiarize themselves with the issues or the relevant studies.
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