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

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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.

WOW!!!!!

Do you realize how universal that sentence is?

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I do kinda wish the Church would make an official statement on the BoA, or at least the KEP.

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I do kinda wish the Church would make an official statement on the BoA, or at least the KEP.

And a statement on where the BoM lands are. It would put a few out of business possibly but it'd solve alot of misconceptions.

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And a statement on where the BoM lands are. It would put a few out of business possibly but it'd solve alot of misconceptions.

It would do no such thing. There still would be those with differing interpretations and who would disagree with the official statement, if one could be made sans revelation on the subject. A group of people once had a discussion with a critic of the Church some years back. When all was said and done, this critic stated that even if a sign were found in Mesoamerica, that had a Book of Mormon city name on it, it would only become a point for discussion and not an outright support for belief in the Book of Mormon.

Yet, the fact that would be the case actually is consonant with the purposes of the Book of Mormon, and why it is that the Lord has not seen fit to reveal the exact place (although Meldrum and others of his ilk think that the current Brethren are wrong and that Joseph Smith really knew by revelation where it all took place). Even the Book of Mormon states that it is to be a trial of faith to see whether people will believe and whether they would be able to receive the greater things afterward. See 3 Nephi 26:8-11 (1-12).

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It would do no such thing. There still would be those with differing interpretations and who would disagree with the official statement, if one could be made sans revelation on the subject. A group of people once had a discussion with a critic of the Church some years back. When all was said and done, this critic stated that even if a sign were found in Mesoamerica, that had a Book of Mormon city name on it, it would only become a point for discussion and not an outright support for belief in the Book of Mormon.

Yet, the fact that would be the case actually is consonant with the purposes of the Book of Mormon, and why it is that the Lord has not seen fit to reveal the exact place (although Meldrum and others of his ilk think that the current Brethren are wrong and that Joseph Smith really knew by revelation where it all took place). Even the Book of Mormon states that it is to be a trial of faith to see whether people will believe and whether they would be able to receive the greater things afterward. See 3 Nephi 26:8-11 (1-12).

Well, if this church is all about revelation from living prophets I'm ready for it. And the time is now. Maybe they should make it a matter of prayer as they did with blacks in the priesthood. Alot of people are possibly getting ripped off or mislead when going on the BoM land tours, etc. And we have the rife between believers on both sides, the one side being the ilk as you put it. This subject is causing a rift enough that might have lasting consequences, pitting member against member. It's time for the church to come out on one side or the other or they should put it to rest by saying it wasn't given for us to know and that further speculation should be stopped.

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Well, if this church is all about revelation from living prophets I'm ready for it. And the time is now. Maybe they should make it a matter of prayer as they did with blacks in the priesthood. Alot of people are possibly getting ripped off or mislead when going on the BoM land tours, etc. And we have the rife between believers on both sides, the one side being the ilk as you put it. This subject is causing a rift enough that might have lasting consequences, pitting member against member. It's time for the church to come out on one side or the other or they should put it to rest by saying it wasn't given for us to know and that further speculation should be stopped.

Or, people can grow up and learn to be peacemakers.

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WOW!!!!!

Do you realize how universal that sentence is?

The sad thing is, I agree with that assessment. That is why I am having a hard time justifying purchasing it. It has some good stuff in it, but is loaded with a lot of crap. And, while it is true that I have collected anti-Mormon literature from time to time, there are so many other books that I can justify purchasing before that one. If Ritner had stuck with the Egyptian stuff and kept it a professional Egyptological production, it would be a whole lot easier to make the decision, plunk down the cash, and just purchase the book.

There are other considerations in addition with respect to this book, and that is that there are a couple portions of translation that are speculative and do not fit the facts of the case, such as the translation of column 4. Granted, he does use a question mark but still there are problems. This does not fit with the fact that there is no room for a second bird in the reconstruction most commonly offered to readers of standard fare on the Book of Abraham and that his speculative translation could not fit in the full column if it were still extant.

He also offers a translation of "justification" there where I am unaware of a word that means such that could actually fit there in the manner suggested. Ritner's offering would require at least two columns, and that is likely what was there. However, the suggested translation of the extant last word has little 'justification' (pun intended) in my view. The text that is extant contains a broken ending to a word and a two-character word that better fits the context of sacrifice than of the Egyptian concept of justification.

But, what would sacrifice have to do with a mere funerary vignette and the critics' assessment thereof? That is the question of the day, isn't it? But, does Ritner allow for such a meaning? Not that I recollect.

Of course, I do not at present own my own copy so the memory might be off a smidgen. Those who have their own copy would know whether I remember the details correctly. :)

Edited by MormonMason
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The sad thing is, I agree with that assessment. That is why I am having a hard time justifying purchasing it. It has some good stuff in it, but is loaded with a lot of crap. And, while it is true that I have collected anti-Mormon literature from time to time, there are so many other books that I can justify purchasing before that one. If Ritner had stuck with the Egyptian stuff and kept it a professional Egyptological production, it would be a whole lot easier to make the decision, plunk down the cash, and just purchase the book.

There are other considerations in addition with respect to this book, and that is that there are a couple portions of translation that are speculative and do not fit the facts of the case, such as the translation of column 4. Granted, he does use a question mark but still there are problems. This does not fit with the fact that there is no room for a second bird in the reconstruction most commonly offered to readers of standard fare on the Book of Abraham and that his speculative translation could not fit in the full column if it were still extant.

He also offers a translation of "justification" there where I am unaware of a word that means such that could actually fit there in the manner suggested. Ritner's offering would require at least two columns, and that is likely what was there. However, the suggested translation of the extant last word has little 'justification' (pun intended) in my view. The text that is extant contains a broken ending to a word and a two-character word that better fits the context of sacrifice than of the Egyptian concept of justification.

But, what would sacrifice have to do with a mere funerary vignette and the critics' assessment thereof? That is the question of the day, isn't it? But, does Ritner allow for such a meaning? Not that I recollect.

Of course, I do not at present own my own copy so the memory might be off a smidgen. Those who have their own copy would know whether I remember the details correctly. :)

I'm hoping it comes to your local public library, if it isn't already, so we can have a believer's POV!

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Well, if this church is all about revelation from living prophets I'm ready for it. And the time is now. Maybe they should make it a matter of prayer as they did with blacks in the priesthood. Alot of people are possibly getting ripped off or mislead when going on the BoM land tours, etc. And we have the rife between believers on both sides, the one side being the ilk as you put it. This subject is causing a rift enough that might have lasting consequences, pitting member against member. It's time for the church to come out on one side or the other or they should put it to rest by saying it wasn't given for us to know and that further speculation should be stopped.

What makes you think they haven't prayed? Have you thought about that? You used the analogy of Blacks and the Priesthood. Were you aware that there are at least two times that it had been prayed about before? Both John Taylor and David O. McKay did it. In both cases the answer was that the policy should continue. (Even then, there were exceptions made). It was not until the time of Spencer W. Kimball that the answer was given that the policy should end. We are on the Lord's timetable, not our own.

The Lord has not yet seen fit to answer on the subject, so the policy of the Church will remain--until that day that he answers and provides--that we do not know the precise locations of the events of the Book of Mormon and that the official position of the Church is that there is no official position on Book of Mormon geography.

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I'm hoping it comes to your local public library, if it isn't already, so we can have a believer's POV!

I've flipped through a copy at a bookstore but, as I said, I have not found a good reason to justify wasting my money on it at the moment. I have both of the professionally done texts published by NAMI and that makes it that much harder to justify just handing over my cash for something so blatantly anti-Mormon in nature. Maybe one day I might consider a used copy but I just don't know right now. There are so many better books and uses with greater positioning for the money. :)

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So do we just eject the comments about how the scrolls were extremely long? Is that now proven false or do non-LDS simply toss it aside as it challenges those who disagree with missing scrolls?

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So do we just eject the comments about how the scrolls were extremely long? Is that now proven false or do non-LDS simply toss it aside as it challenges those who disagree with missing scrolls?

There is nothing proven. And, no, I do not see the need for us to cast aside the idea of missing material since the evidence available insists upon missing material. Critics have to say otherwise, though, because if they didn't it would undercut their argumentation. And, they know it.

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I do kinda wish the Church would make an official statement on the BoA, or at least the KEP.

I don't think the LDS Church could say anything that would make the situation better, unless the church picked the "catalyst" theory, which is the most academically-plausible hypothesis, and the only one that is not falsifiable. Making the authenticity of the Book of Abraham non-falsifiable would go a long way toward neutralizing the Book of Abraham problem. The Book of Mormon has long-benefited from similar efforts.

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I don't think the LDS Church could say anything that would make the situation better, unless the church picked the "catalyst" theory, which is the most academically-plausible hypothesis, and the only one that is not falsifiable.

Judging from your oft mis-comprehending and convoluted posts. I don't consider you to be in a good position to rightly determine what is "academically-plausible" let alone what hypothesis have or haven't been "falsified" in this regard

More to the point, though, the Church has made an official statement on the BoA by including it within its canon--i.e. that it was translated by revelation and is thus scripture.

The Church hasn't made an official statement about the KEP because those document, and their purpose in particular, are entirely irrelevant to the intent and purpose of the Church (which is to bring us to Christ and enable us to become like him).

Making the authenticity of the Book of Abraham non-falsifiable would go a long way toward neutralizing the Book of Abraham problem. The Book of Mormon has long-benefited from similar efforts.

In terms of spiritual faith, the only valid and divinely instituted test of the truth or falsity of the Book of Abraham is the same as for all scripture (Moroni 10 and Alma 32). For those of us who understand this and have applied these tests, it has neutralized or rendered meaningless whatever problems may be attributed by man to the scriptures.

Those who rely solely on the arm of flesh may see it differently.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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I don't think the LDS Church could say anything that would make the situation better, unless the church picked the "catalyst" theory, which is the most academically-plausible hypothesis, and the only one that is not falsifiable. Making the authenticity of the Book of Abraham non-falsifiable would go a long way toward neutralizing the Book of Abraham problem. The Book of Mormon has long-benefited from similar efforts.

The evidence of the extant portion of the scrolls themselves, as well as supporting eyewitness accounts, suggest that there are indeed missing sections of the scrolls in Joseph Smith's possession. That is beyond question. The real question that faces everyone is the content of what was missing and how much. This academic scholarship can not tell us with certainty. In such a circumstance there is no need to fall back to any other theory or hypothesis at the present time.

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Yes. Here: http://maxwellinstit...e=review&id=699

Click the PDF link on the page and read the PDF version for better formatting.

MM Thanks!!

(Is it just me or does Gee's Hor scroll length estimate of 1250 CM from an initial winding length of 9.5 cm seem a bit problematic?- Wouldn't that require the thickness of the papyrus not to exceed 50 microns? Maybe my math is off.)

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More to the point, though, the Church has made an official statement on the BoA by including it within its canon--i.e. that it was translated by revelation and is thus scripture.

Which is not inconsistent with the catalyst theory.

In terms of spiritual faith, the only valid and divinely instituted test of the truth or falsity of the Book of Abraham is the same as for all scripture (Moroni 10 and Alma 32). For those of us who understand this and have applied these tests, it has neutralized or rendered meaningless whatever problems may be attributed by man to the scriptures.

Those who rely solely on the arm of flesh may see it differently.

If you really believed that all you need is a manifestation from the Holy Spirit, then why do you spend so much time bolstering your belief in the Book of Abraham via reliance on the "arm of flesh"? With something like the catalyst theory, no reliance on the "arm of flesh" is necessary. The Book of Abraham is the word of God, regardless of what the "arm of flesh" (be it in the form of Ritner, Ashment, Gee, Rhodes, Nibley, or whoever) tells us about the Chandler papyri.

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The evidence of the extant portion of the scrolls themselves, as well as supporting eyewitness accounts, suggest that there are indeed missing sections of the scrolls in Joseph Smith's possession. That is beyond question. The real question that faces everyone is the content of what was missing and how much. This academic scholarship can not tell us with certainty. In such a circumstance there is no need to fall back to any other theory or hypothesis at the present time.

My point was that the "missing scroll" theory is falsifiable. Indeed, it is already not looking very good as a viable theory. The "missing scroll" theory does not plausibly address Smith's translation of the Facsimiles and the reference to them in the text, and is severely challenged by the fact that the manuscripts reference characters from the surviving papyri. So somebody, most likely including Smith (how could Smith not be in the loop here), thought they were translating the surviving Hor scroll. Thus, the "missing scroll" theory starts out with two strikes against it, and the existing apologetic counter-explanations are all speculative and come across as defensive and baroque.

Compare that with the simplicity of the "catalyst" theory, where no "creative Egyptology" is required. All you have to explain is how Joseph Smith could have been mistaken that Abraham was the author of what was literally written on the papyri. (But you have to ask that question if you put your faith in the "missing scroll" theory, too, at least with respect to the Facsimiles.)

Edited by Cobalt-70
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If you really believed that all you need is a manifestation from the Holy Spirit, then why do you spend so much time bolstering your belief in the Book of Abraham via reliance on the "arm of flesh"? With something like the catalyst theory, no reliance on the "arm of flesh" is necessary. The Book of Abraham is the word of God, regardless of what the "arm of flesh" (be it in the form of Ritner, Ashment, Gee, Rhodes, Nibley, or whoever) tells us about the Chandler papyri.

Former Senator Alan Simpson put it most appropriately on Tuesday May 15, 2012, in Washington, DC:

"An attack unanswered is an attack believed." (Peterson Fiscal Summit, 2012, broadcast on C-SPAN)

Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, even if (as Brigham said): "No man's opinion is worth a straw."

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My point was that the "missing scroll" theory is falsifiable. Indeed, it is already not looking very good as a viable theory. The "missing scroll" theory does not plausibly address Smith's translation of the Facsimiles and the reference to them in the text, and is severely challenged by the fact that the manuscripts reference characters from the surviving papyri.

PLease explain how "the 'missing scroll' theory is falsifiable" as a matter of logic.

In fact, among the currently available Joseph Smith Papyri we have only a few fragments of the original collection of papyri purchased by Joseph from Michael Chandler. As John Gee has pointed out, a complete audit of the fragmentary evidence indicates that within the JSP (indicated also by the KEP) there were papyri belonging to at least five separate persons: (1) Horos, son of Osoroeris & Chibois, (2) Semminis, daughter of Eschons, (3) Amenothis, son of Tanoub, (4) Noufianoub, and (5) Sesonchis. There may have been, and probably were, several more.

Though there are definite relationships in subject matter, none of the available papyri appear to constitute the actual detailed original Egyptian text of the Book of Abraham – only the iconotropic Facsimiles can be tested in the canonical sense (Wilson’s Documents A, E, and F), and they are used merely as theological adjuncts and illustrations to the main text (Abraham 1:12,14). In the case of Facsimile 2, some representation on the order of the Metternich Stela would have been as useful as a hypocephalus. Moreover, it was normal for Old Kingdom texts to be recopied on papyri from Roman times!! So, what we really need to know is how long were the various scrolls, and were there other texts thereon? Since Andrew Cook and Christopher Smith got the math wrong on their estimate of the Hor Scroll length, we cannot go by what they did.

. . . is severely challenged by the fact that the manuscripts reference characters from the surviving papyri. So somebody, most likely including Smith (how could Smith not be in the loop here), thought they were translating the surviving Hor scroll. Thus, the "missing scroll" theory starts out with two strikes against it, and the existing apologetic counter-explanations are all speculative and come across as defensive and baroque.

"Baroque" even. Hmm. I should have thought that a good argument would not need to be accompanied by ad hominems.

Will Schryver has shown conclusively that William W. Phelps began this cipher-key work before the arrival of the Egyptian papyri and mummies in Kirtland, and he was the “dominant force” in continuing that effort – which probably also utilized an already extant, complete Book of Abraham text along with significant portions of already extant revelations (D&C 76 and 88). KEP is useful, but is not a mind-reading device.

Compare that with the simplicity of the "catalyst" theory, where no "creative Egyptology" is required. All you have to explain is how Joseph Smith could have been mistaken that Abraham was the author of what was literally written on the papyri. (But you have to ask that question if you put your faith in the "missing scroll" theory, too, at least with respect to the Facsimiles.)

Or the theories of mnemonics (a cue-word list), cryptography, a Smith pseudepigraphon, etc. Theories are fine, but do they comport with reality? Just how "simple" is the catalyst theory, and does it provide better mechanical results than the mnemonic theory? And do we need to cast aspersions on Egyptology or Egyptologists in the process?

When you say that "all you have to explain is" why you are still beating your wife, you assume what has to be proved. QED. You haven't even bothered to ask the hard questions about the Book of Abraham. Instead, you're dancing around the subject. Why?

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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MM Thanks!!

(Is it just me or does Gee's Hor scroll length estimate of 1250 CM from an initial winding length of 9.5 cm seem a bit problematic?- Wouldn't that require the thickness of the papyrus not to exceed 50 microns? Maybe my math is off.)

Check your math. It was the last extant winding that was stated to be 9.5 cm.

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My point was that the "missing scroll" theory is falsifiable. Indeed, it is already not looking very good as a viable theory. The "missing scroll" theory does not plausibly address Smith's translation of the Facsimiles and the reference to them in the text, and is severely challenged by the fact that the manuscripts reference characters from the surviving papyri. So somebody, most likely including Smith (how could Smith not be in the loop here), thought they were translating the surviving Hor scroll. Thus, the "missing scroll" theory starts out with two strikes against it, and the existing apologetic counter-explanations are all speculative and come across as defensive and baroque.

Compare that with the simplicity of the "catalyst" theory, where no "creative Egyptology" is required. All you have to explain is how Joseph Smith could have been mistaken that Abraham was the author of what was literally written on the papyri. (But you have to ask that question if you put your faith in the "missing scroll" theory, too, at least with respect to the Facsimiles.)

I disagree. We already know there was missing material. The real questions before us are "where?" and "how much?" And, the fact that characters were taken from the front of the Horos roll fits quite well with the current state of the evidence. If the Book of Abraham was spliced into the Horos scroll before being rolled up and before the Lector Priest had gotten his hands on it, much like what was done with the Papyrus of Ani (two separate copies of the Book of the Dead spliced together: a stock copy and a custom copy) it is not hard to see why people working with the papyri would have started with the characters at the front of the composite roll. If you aren't an Egyptologist and don't know where the end of one text and beginning of another is (particularly if the Lord isn't telling at first), you will make an assumption and start at the beginning if you were going to try to match up the characters to translated text.

Also, if the facsimiles are at the front of the roll, they would indeed be be referenced in the text, particularly if explanatory interpretations were written in by the person who spliced the papyri. If you wanted to hide a text in funerary literature to prevent someone finding it and destroying it, you would use something that could be seen as standard or close to standard funerary fare--with a few tweaks, You also would place the warning instructions at the front of the roll after the initial vignette so a Lector priest, while perplexed as a result of reading the warning instructions so soon, would not look further and would do as he was taught to do and hand it over for placement on the body and burial.

The extant Kirtland Egyptian Papers are aborted in nature. None of them are complete and that is evidence of a project that was abandoned for whatever reason. The extant Horos scroll has several incongruities with funerary literature and whoever put together the Horos scroll was a horrible scribe. The man the scroll was buried with was of considerable importance and yet he gets a craptacular Book of Breathing to permit him to breathe in the afterlife.

The first vignette is not of a dead man but of a living man. The positioning of the figures on the vignette is very unusual for a funerary vignette. Only the man's back is on the bier, not the legs, and the priest is between the bier and the man's legs, not behind or in front as would be expected. Both hands are up when only one is expected.

The extant word in column four of the text column in the vignette is one that refers to the subject of sacrifice. There is a crocodile in the water near the bier. That has sacrificial connections. What on earth would sacrifice have to do with the subject matter of the text of the Book of Breathing and the initial vignette if this vignette is only funerary in nature?

Some have now claimed that this scene is of a resurrection (obviously, embalming is not an option since the fellow on the bier is very much alive) but where else has a resurrection scene ever been portrayed this way? Resurrection vignettes have one arm up, one at the side, or have the person in a reclining position. None have the priest between the bier and the person on the bier. Additionally, the fellow on the bier in the Joseph Smith papyrus is clothed. That is very unusual since resurrection motifs tend to portray the rising Osiris either nude or mummiform.

I think that as time goes on we will find that a single theory does not fit all the known facts and that some blend will result as more evidence comes forth or is located. I tend to lean toward a subtle blend of missing scroll and catalyst. To me, the whole of the extant evidence points that way.

Edited by MormonMason
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Check your math. It was the last extant winding that was stated to be 9.5 cm.

Gee says

"For the scroll of Hor, the initial winding is 9.7cm, the last winding is 9.5 cm and there are 7 windings in total."

I believe these winding lengths are from the extant pieces from which he is projecting a scroll length of 1250.5 cm using the Hoffmann formula

I know this is rough but here is how I did the math. I used Excel to do a straight line projection of an initial length of 9.7 and a final length of 2.5 whose totals would equal 1250.5 cm.

In order to get a scroll length of 1250.5 cm from an initial winding length of 9.7, and a maximum length of 2.5 cm at the last winding, it requires 217 windings.

The outer diameter of the scroll (based on the 9.7 winding) is 3.08 cm and the inner projected diameter (based on Hoffmann restriction of a minimum of 2.5 cm - which could actually be set to zero and make very little difference) is .795 cm.

3.087 cm - .795 cm gives us an effective diameter of 2.292 diameter within which the 217 windings must occur.

Since we are looking at the difference from one winding to the next adjacent winding to determine the maximum thickness the papyrus could have (this would mean no white space between layers throughout the entire roll) we are looking at the difference in the radius between two adjacent windings.

So we divide the effective diameter by 2 to get the effective radius. 2.292 /2=1.146 effective radius.

Divide the effective radius by the number of windings 1.146/217 gives us a maximum thickness of 53 microns.

Like I said, it's rough, so I am open to how / where I made a mistake.

Edited by CA Steve
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