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Evidence for the Book of Abraham

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1 hour ago, aussieguy55 said:

Paul Osbourne (aka Shulem )   has shown from the printer's plate that the nose on anubis/slave  has been chiseled out. When you look at it closely  why is Shulem's face curved inward.   Have you see the plate ?

While that seems quite plausible for a woodcut, is there some significance to that? (You must excuse me I make no claims about being up on the nuances of the various arguments)

1 hour ago, aussieguy55 said:

Chris Smith gave me permission to post a message he sent me. I was asking him about the issue of positivism.  "Yeah, I got into an argument about this with Alan Goff a few years ago. He's using positivism as a synonym for unreflective naturalism. Dan may or may not be a positivism in that sense, but truth be told I could really care less, because naturalism happens to be the correct philosophy, so if Dan is an unreflective naturalist then good for him for stumbling into a fruitful way of thinking."

I don't think the issue is being "unreflective" although it's been ages since the discussion so I may have forgotten something. For the record I think the positivist get an unfair rap and shouldn't be treated as boogeymen in philosophy. They also, especially Carnap, were pretty aware of the problems of positivism. But to my mind positivism ultimately doesn't matter that much. The place it does is in aspects of history where there's an other tradition that tends to bracket naturalism to better deal with other cultures and their cultural understanding as one explicates their history. Both honestly seem fine to me although I know this is controversial in some departments. Honestly though if I had a choice between positivism or out of control Foucault inspired relativism and power dynamics I'd take the positivism every time. So I confess I've never understood this line of critique too much.

2 hours ago, Dan Vogel said:

...he should also see that the catalyst theory is just a theory and isn’t privileged and as such needs to account for all the documentation, particularly the evidence for deception. 

I think this is correct. Further I'd say that those of us who accept the existence of revelation, angels and so forth can't just play those as a trump but have to argue for them happening in any particular case.

To me any apologetic that doesn't engage the evidence is poor apologetics. The whole point is to mount a defense. Perhaps a defense that relies on speculative theological claims as much as history but a defense nonetheless. If we don't engage the evidence then almost by definition we're not providing a defense. Certainly if our aim is to explain to those with mild doubts we're doing a poor job if we avoid the evidence they're encountering under a different narrative.

So while I obviously disagree with Dan on the existence of angels & revelation I think I completely agree on the basic stance towards evidence one must take. I just hope he puts the arguments in his video on a blog. <grin>

Edited by clarkgoble
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9 hours ago, Dan Vogel said:

 

This is totally incoherent nonsense and ad hominem masquerading as scholarship. It in no way responds to my videos. The anonymous critic doesn’t understand my position, which has nothing to do with denying the BOA is inspired. Scholarship can’t determine that. What scholarship can determine is that JS was involved with deception. If JS’s translation had no connection to the papyrus, why are there two references to Facsimile 1 in the first chapter if not by deception? The Valuable Discovery notebooks, Egyptian Alphabets, bound Grammar, and explanations of the Facsimiles are evidence of deception.

 

While scholars can’t talk about whether JS was inspired by God, they can discuss if JS believed he was inspired in some way while at the same time using deception. At the end of the video I raised the possibility that JS believed he was an inspired pseudepigraphist, which could be justified by the BOA itself.

 

So the anonymous apologist should agree with my criticisms of Gee’s and Muhlestein’s long-roll theory; he should also see that the catalyst theory is just a theory and isn’t privileged and as such needs to account for all the documentation, particularly the evidence for deception. In other words, the anonymous apologist can’t immunize his catalyst theory against scholarly investigation by calling it religion. JS didn’t simply dictate the BOA, his translation is tied to the Egyptian papyri. If the apologist wants to ignore that evidence, he doesn’t espouse a religious explanation—he espouses a bad theory.

My comments were based on discussions we have had already, I believe on Mormon discussions if not here.

The fact that it is not a translation is irrelevant to its spiritual value. 

Even if Joseph was deceptive it is no more relevant than if say the philosopher Kant was immoral. That would not take away from his philosophy.

I subscribe to the deflationary theory of Truth. It has been one of the most dominant views of the nature of Truth for the last 75 years.

Of course you are well acquainted with this theory.

Considering these facts please explain why your criticism of the value of the book of Abraham from a spiritual point of view is relevant, taking into account fideist  positions and the catalyst theory.

What Joseph thought of his own material is irrelevant. Since I know you have studied aesthetic theory enough to have taken courses in the relevance of the artist's intentions what relevance do his intentions have to the content of his work?

If you do not have a background in this area you are unqualified to comment on it within the paradigm I support.

 

Edited by mfbukowski

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16 hours ago, stemelbow said:

Thanks Clark.  I don't get mfbukowski's attack here.  He didn't address anything that Vogel says but just generally says something like "Vogel does not understand the difference between science and reigion" which is nonsense.   Make an argument for this statement if you think it true.  

The linked video does a good job at poking holes in some of the arguments by Gee and Muhlestein it seems to me.  I would be interested to see some responses.  

His argument is irrelevant to the value of Joseph's work in creating a spiritual paradigm, it would be like criticizing a Picasso painting because it does not represent reality.

The fact that it is tied to to the  facsimiles is no more relevant than saying that a Warhol painting is tied to Campbell soup.

The question at hand is what is the value of the object before us, as an aesthetic object. Evidence about Campbell's soup has nothing to do with the painting.

Of course it does not represent reality. That's the entire point of the creation.

Poetry does not rely upon facts to have value

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

His argument is irrelevant to the value of Joseph's work in creating a spiritual paradigm, it would be like criticizing a Picasso painting because it does not represent reality.

The video in question provides many refutations of many of Gee and Muhlestein's arguments.  If his argument is irrelevant, just know so are Gee and Muhlestein's.  

4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

The fact that it is tied to to the  facsimiles is no more relevant than saying that a Warhol painting is tied to Campbell soup.

The issue at questions is not the facsimiles but is whether the lost portion of the papyrus can reasonably be considered the source of the BoA.  

4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

The question at hand is what is the value of the object before us, as an aesthetic object. Evidence about Campbell's soup has nothing to do with the painting.

Of course it does not represent reality. That's the entire point of the creation.

Poetry does not rely upon facts to have value

 

I'm fine with, and it seems Dan is likely fine with, anyone thinking the BoA is scripture.   He's merely contesting arguments put forth by Gee and Muhlestein.  It seems to me your points have little to do with Dan's.  They are nothing more than personal attacks and irrelevant to the discussion.  

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5 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

My comments were based on discussions we have had already, I believe on Mormon discussions if not here.

The fact that it is not a translation is irrelevant to its spiritual value. 

Even if Joseph was deceptive it is no more relevant than if say the philosopher Kant was immoral. That would not take away from his philosophy.

I subscribe to the deflationary theory of Truth. It has been one of the most dominant views of the nature of Truth for the last 75 years.

Of course you are well acquainted with this theory.

Considering these facts please explain why your criticism of the value of the book of Abraham from a spiritual point of view is relevant, taking into account fideist  positions and the catalyst theory.

What Joseph thought of his own material is irrelevant. Since I know you have studied aesthetic theory enough to have taken courses in the relevance of the artist's intentions what relevance do his intentions have to the content of his work?

If you do not have a background in this area you are unqualified to comment on it within the paradigm I support.

 

I think you will have to take up the issue with both Gee and Muhlestein before even worrying about what Dan is saying.  As is clear, he's taken issue with their arguments.  It seems to me you too have taken issue with their arguments, suggesting as it is, that their arguments are irrelevant to the BoA.  I think all you've really done is attacked Dan while ultimately agreeing with him in principle.  

I shouldn't try to speak for Dan but I'd imagine he'd say something like, "hey if you want to consider the BOA scripture in spite of the many failures in arguments by Gee and Muhlestein, have at it.  No big deal here.  Believe what you want.  But let's not pretend there's good reason to put forth the missing scroll theory or that the catalyst theory is anything more than a faith proposition."  

Edited by stemelbow

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5 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

His argument is irrelevant to the value of Joseph's work in creating a spiritual paradigm, it would be like criticizing a Picasso painting because it does not represent reality.

The fact that it is tied to to the  facsimiles is no more relevant than saying that a Warhol painting is tied to Campbell soup.

The question at hand is what is the value of the object before us, as an aesthetic object. Evidence about Campbell's soup has nothing to do with the painting.

Of course it does not represent reality. That's the entire point of the creation.

Poetry does not rely upon facts to have value

 

What do you say about the deception by Joseph Smith in creating his BofA object?  Surely you realize that purporting to translate the facsimiles involved deception even if you espouse the catalyst theory?  The translations Joseph Smith rendered of the facsimiles were completely wrong.  Yet Joseph Smith claimed they were correct translations.  So, one has to deal with this deception, either by Joseph Smith or by God in allowing the deception.   One can still find value in a deception, I guess, but that doesn't change the fact that there was deception, maybe with pious intentions, but deception nonetheless.

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14 minutes ago, Exiled said:

What do you say about the deception by Joseph Smith in creating his BofA object?  Surely you realize that purporting to translate the facsimiles involved deception even if you espouse the catalyst theory?  The translations Joseph Smith rendered of the facsimiles were completely wrong.  Yet Joseph Smith claimed they were correct translations.  So, one has to deal with this deception, either by Joseph Smith or by God in allowing the deception.   One can still find value in a deception, I guess, but that doesn't change the fact that there was deception, maybe with pious intentions, but deception nonetheless.

You 2 can Run back and report like ...

Edited by Steve J

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On 12/17/2018 at 9:21 PM, Tacenda said:

I saw this quote listed on Bill Reel's FB feed. I wonder how true.

"For the record, I no longer hold the views that have been quoted from my 2010 book in these videos. I have moved on from my days as an "outrageous" apologist. In fact, I'm no longer interested or involved in apologetics in any way. I wholeheartedly agree with Dan's (Dan Vogel) excellent assessment of the Abraham/Egyptian documents in these videos. I now reject a missing Abraham manuscript. I agree that two of the Abraham manuscripts were simultaneously dictated. I agree that the Egyptian papers were used to produce the BoA. I agree that only Abr. 1:1-2:18 were produced in 1835 and that Abr. 2:19-5:21 were produced in Nauvoo. And on and on. I no longer agree with Gee or Mulhestein. I find their apologetic "scholarship" on the BoA abhorrent. One can find that I've changed my mind in my recent and forthcoming publications. The most recent JSP Revelations and Translation vol. 4, The Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts (now on the shelves) is much more open to Dan's thinking on the origin of the Book of Abraham. My friend Brent Metcalfe can attest to my transformative journey." ~ Brian Hauglid

I had heard this quote on one of the podcasts I listened to recently.  I really respect Hauglid and his honesty.  What a difficult position to be in. 

Mormons really are amazing creatures, as I have said before. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.  :P

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1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

The video in question provides many refutations of many of Gee and Muhlestein's arguments.  If his argument is irrelevant, just know so are Gee and Muhlestein's. 

My guess is that Mark would critique both of their approaches to scripture as done the same as what Dan Vogel does. Not to put words in Mark's mouth mind you. (I know he hates that) While I don't really get his more artistic view of scripture and clearly disagree, I'm not sure this line of reasoning really affects him much. I believe Mark is more sympathetic to say Ed Goble's view. It's a kind of extreme catalyst theory where Joseph merely appropriates the papyri to artistically see something in them. As such there's no real relationship of the Book of Abraham to the papyri in the 1st century context nor a historic Abraham context.

From what I can see Mark's position is somewhat similar to the "inspired fiction" model except that he thinks the very fiction/history distinction is meaningless. (Correct me if I'm wrong here Mark)

1 hour ago, Exiled said:

What do you say about the deception by Joseph Smith in creating his BofA object?  Surely you realize that purporting to translate the facsimiles involved deception even if you espouse the catalyst theory? 

Could you explain this? I don't see how it is deception under any of the catalyst theories - particularly if Joseph didn't know what was produced was unrelated to the papyri. While I don't agree with the stronger catalyst theories, it seems like under them there's no deception.

 

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13 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

While that seems quite plausible for a woodcut, is there some significance to that? (You must excuse me I make no claims about being up on the nuances of the various arguments)

 

37 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

Could you explain this? I don't see how it is deception under any of the catalyst theories - particularly if Joseph didn't know what was produced was unrelated to the papyri. While I don't agree with the stronger catalyst theories, it seems like under them there's no deception.

To me the significance is that if Joseph  didn't know that what he was producing  was unrelated to the papyri then he would not have made the effort to alter the woodcut, if that indeed is what happened. I have not looked at it so I don't know, but if indeed it was altered it would indicate Joseph thought that what was on the original facsimile was different from what he translating.

Edited by CA Steve

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35 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

My guess is that Mark would critique both of their approaches to scripture as done the same as what Dan Vogel does. Not to put words in Mark's mouth mind you. (I know he hates that) While I don't really get his more artistic view of scripture and clearly disagree, I'm not sure this line of reasoning really affects him much. I believe Mark is more sympathetic to say Ed Goble's view. It's a kind of extreme catalyst theory where Joseph merely appropriates the papyri to artistically see something in them. As such there's no real relationship of the Book of Abraham to the papyri in the 1st century context nor a historic Abraham context.

From what I can see Mark's position is somewhat similar to the "inspired fiction" model except that he thinks the very fiction/history distinction is meaningless. (Correct me if I'm wrong here Mark)

 

I'm in agreement with your comments.  I'm confused why mfbukowski responded as he did.  It seems he'd have to agree with Dan's arguments as per the lost portions of the papyrus.  

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15 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Could you explain this? I don't see how it is deception under any of the catalyst theories - particularly if Joseph didn't know what was produced was unrelated to the papyri. While I don't agree with the stronger catalyst theories, it seems like under them there's no deception.

 

The catalyst theory is really just an ad hoc justification to deflect from Joseph Smith's failure to accurately translate the facsimiles and papyri.  So, of course the theories will be defined as not including any deception. That's the whole point of them. Having said that, if one says the funerary text acted as a catalyst, how does one explain the facsimile translation mistakes? God deceived? Joseph Smith said he translated yet failed. So, either Joseph Smith deceived (likely) or God did.

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7 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

My comments were based on discussions we have had already, I believe on Mormon discussions if not here.

The fact that it is not a translation is irrelevant to its spiritual value. 

Even if Joseph was deceptive it is no more relevant than if say the philosopher Kant was immoral. That would not take away from his philosophy.

I subscribe to the deflationary theory of Truth. It has been one of the most dominant views of the nature of Truth for the last 75 years.

Of course you are well acquainted with this theory.

Considering these facts please explain why your criticism of the value of the book of Abraham from a spiritual point of view is relevant, taking into account fideist  positions and the catalyst theory.

What Joseph thought of his own material is irrelevant. Since I know you have studied aesthetic theory enough to have taken courses in the relevance of the artist's intentions what relevance do his intentions have to the content of his work?

If you do not have a background in this area you are unqualified to comment on it within the paradigm I support.

Based on what we've discussed before, spiritual value is completely subjective and can't be measured in any kind of scholarly way.  It is similar to how you might appreciate art or the people you love.  Scientologists find great spiritual value in their beliefs as do members of other religions all over the world.  

I just don't understand why you're making this point, it seems like you're walking into a discussion about specific and detailed arguments about evidence that can be evaluated through scholarship, and you're jumping into the middle of that discussion and trying to say that everyone should just stop debating this topic because philosophically none of this matters and its not important.  While you're entitled to your opinion about what is important and what you find personal spiritual value in, your point seems irrelevant to the specific merits of the debate.  

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42 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

To me the significance is that if Joseph  didn't know that what he was producing  was unrelated to the papyri then he would not have made the effort to alter the woodcut, if that indeed is what happened. I have not looked at it so I don't know, but if indeed it was altered it would indicate Joseph thought that what was on the original facsimile was different from what he translating.

By original facsimile you mean different from what was on the papyri he had? I guess I'm not quite following since it'd seem (since they had the original vignette) if there was something chipped out it was likely an error by the person making the wood cut. The woodcut would have been hand crafted and I could easily see such a mistake happening and just not being corrected.

If you think Joseph was responsible for the change on the woodcut from the papyri then wouldn't that indicate that Joseph thought what he was translating was related to the papyri yet different from what was on the papyri.

5 minutes ago, Exiled said:

The catalyst theory is really just an ad hoc justification to deflect from Joseph Smith's failure to accurately translate the facsimiles and papyri.  So, of course the theories will be defined as not including any deception. That's the whole point of them. Having said that, if one says the funerary text acted as a catalyst, how does one explain the facsimile translation mistakes? God deceived? Joseph Smith said he translated yet failed? So, either Joseph Smith deceived (likely) or God did.

Again let me note I'm skeptical of most of the catalyst theories. I'd agree they're designed to explain why Joseph used the papyri but the translation clearly isn't a book of breathings or so forth. However I guess I don't quite understand why the vignettes should be treated differently from the sn-sn document in any of the catalyst models. Surely one would treat them the same?

It seems to me that the biggest challenge to the catalyst theory are the various Kirtland Egyptian Papers. If that weird Kircher like  "grammar" is how the Book of Abraham text was produced then I think you'd have a point. I confess that outside of one or two verses there seems so little connected between those texts that I'm skeptical that was produced to produce the Nauvoo era Book of Abraham.

Edited by clarkgoble
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2 minutes ago, Exiled said:

The catalyst theory is really just an ad hoc justification to deflect from Joseph Smith's failure to accurately translate the facsimiles and papyri.  So, of course the theories will be defined as not including any deception. That's the whole point of them. Having said that, if one says the funerary text acted as a catalyst, how does one explain the facsimile translation mistakes? God deceived? Joseph Smith said he translated yet failed? So, either Joseph Smith deceived (likely) or God did.

Joseph had absolutely no ability to translate from one language to another.  All the evidence supports this.  That is why you see people redefining what is meant by the word translate, and even moving away from the word translate into using other words like revelation.  For apologists still trying to hold onto the old translate definition, its getting pretty lonely in that camp.  

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19 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

By original facsimile you mean different from what was on the papyri he had? I guess I'm not quite following since it'd seem (since they had the original vignette) if there was something chipped out it was likely an error by the person making the wood cut. The woodcut would have been hand crafted and I could easily see such a mistake happening and just not being corrected.

By original facsimile I am referring to what was on  the papyri when it arrived in Kirtland in 1935. As far as it being an error by Ruben Hedlock, the person responsible for actually making the woodcuts, if you have looked at the level of detail Hedlock produced in his engravings it is hard to imagine such an error occurring and being overlooked. They are beautifully done.

 Printing Plate for Facsimile #3

Also we know that Joseph was directly involved in the production & printing of the plates. For example we have this from Joseph Smith's journal on 1 March 1842:

Quote

During the fore-noon at his office & printing office correcting the first plate or cut of the Records of father Abraham, prepared by Ruben Hadlock for the Times & Seasons

and again on 4 March 1842 from Joseph's journal:

Quote

Exhibeting the Book of Abraham, in the original, To Bro. Ruben Hadlock, so that he might take the size of the several plates of cuts. & prepare the blocks for the Times & Seasons. & also gave instructions concerning the arrangement of the writing on the Large cut. illustrating the principals of Astronomy.

 

42 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

If you think Joseph was responsible for the change on the woodcut from the papyri then wouldn't that indicate that Joseph thought what he was translating was related to the papyri yet different from what was on the papyri.

We know from Facsimile #1 & #2 that Joseph was quite comfortable in reconstructing the lacuna. If the observation that he intentionally altered facsimile #3 is correct, then it is an example of him changing the original to fit his interpretations. How one interprets that action is guesswork, but certainly it could be viewed in a variety of ways.

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

My guess is that Mark would critique both of their approaches to scripture as done the same as what Dan Vogel does. Not to put words in Mark's mouth mind you. (I know he hates that) While I don't really get his more artistic view of scripture and clearly disagree, I'm not sure this line of reasoning really affects him much. I believe Mark is more sympathetic to say Ed Goble's view. It's a kind of extreme catalyst theory where Joseph merely appropriates the papyri to artistically see something in them. As such there's no real relationship of the Book of Abraham to the papyri in the 1st century context nor a historic Abraham context.

From what I can see Mark's position is somewhat similar to the "inspired fiction" model except that he thinks the very fiction/history distinction is meaningless. (Correct me if I'm wrong here Mark)

Could you explain this? I don't see how it is deception under any of the catalyst theories - particularly if Joseph didn't know what was produced was unrelated to the papyri. While I don't agree with the stronger catalyst theories, it seems like under them there's no deception.

 

You actually got it right!! ;)

Even the overall approval of Ed's position as I understand it, though he is difficult to understand, and I I'm often not quite sure of exactly what he means.

Perhaps seeing the book of Abraham as an aesthetic object or work of art is a new approach. I don't know.

If you look at facsimile 2 image 7 I think Joseph's own interpretation as given in his descriptions is quite explicit as a naive understanding of what is represented. Seen that way, it is a person giving signs and tokens and a temple context.

I'm convinced that's how the Book of Abraham was produced. Joseph naively looked at the images and guided by what he thought was the gift and power of God he created what he thought was a translation.

He was only half wrong. What he had as a result was given by the gift and power of God but was not a translation.

I have taken as many courses in art history and aesthetic theory as I have taken courses in philosophy. John Dewey essentially sees anything made by the human hand to be art, and has a very powerful aesthetic theory justifying that position.

The entire movement in art away from representation in the 20th century is simply a part of what was going on in the latter part of the 19th century in philosophy.

if I put it philosophically the correspondence theory represents literalism and representationalism in art.

The movement away from the correspondence theory is represented by abstract art.

Early19th century art is very exact and it's representationalism. and academic. At the end of the 19th century we have the impressionist and other movements which are totally divorcing themselves from representationalism 

It's the same thing we are seeing with the correspondence theory in philosophy during the same period, with the emergence of Pragmatism, Process philosophy, Phenomenology, the deflationary theory of Truth etc all moving away from literalism. The century starts out with positivism and ends with its death and total repudiation.

What we see in these discussions about the book of Abraham are totally positivist arguments, yes on both sides.

The whole trend is exemplified perfectly in Wittgenstein, whose early work defined positivism and later work destroyed it.

I am also totally convinced that Joseph completely thought he was translating the Egyptian by the power of God. 

So much for deception.

At least he got it half right, it was definitely by the power of God.

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19 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

I am also totally convinced that Joseph completely thought he was translating the Egyptian by the power of God. 

So much for deception.

At least he got it half right, it was definitely by the power of God.

I appreciate the added clarification.  As to the point of the BoA being created "by the power of God", that is still not a claim that anyone can objectively evaluate.  Its no more objectively true than saying the works of Nostradamus were created through the power of God.  Anything anyone claims is accomplished by the power of God is equally right by this definition.  

I know you know this, but I guess I feel its worth pointing out because of the exclusivity claims so prevalent in Mormonism. 

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3 hours ago, Exiled said:

What do you say about the deception by Joseph Smith in creating his BofA object?  Surely you realize that purporting to translate the facsimiles involved deception even if you espouse the catalyst theory?  The translations Joseph Smith rendered of the facsimiles were completely wrong.  Yet Joseph Smith claimed they were correct translations.  So, one has to deal with this deception, either by Joseph Smith or by God in allowing the deception.   One can still find value in a deception, I guess, but that doesn't change the fact that there was deception, maybe with pious intentions, but deception nonetheless.

No deception.

He thought they were translations.  And for my money, they were especially when you take into consideration the definitions for "translation" used in his community and time.

http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/translate

Quote

 

Translate

TRANSLA'TE, verb transitive [Latin translatus, from transfero; trans, over, and fero, to bear.]

1. To bear, carry or remove from one place to another. It is applied to the removal of a bishop from one see to another.

The bishop of Rochester, when the king would have translated him to a better bishoprick, refused.

2. To remove or convey to heaven, as a human being, without death.

By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see

death. Hebrews 11:15.

3. To transfer; to convey from one to another. 2 Samuel 3:10.

4. To cause to remove from one part of the body to another; as, to translate a disease.

5. To change.

Happy is your grace,

That can translate the stubbornness of fortune

Into so quiet and so sweet a style.

6. To interpret; to render into another language; to express the sense of one language in the words of another. The Old Testament was translated into the Greek language more than two hundred years before Christ. The Scriptures are now translated into most of the languages of Europe and Asia.

7. To explain.

 

Note that OUR definition of "translate" is NUMBER 6 of these 7 definitions while including in its connotation "to express the SENSE of one language into another" .  That is clearly not what we would call a "literal" translation.

I see no basis for the accusation of "deception" when it is clear Joseph thought they were literal translations.

The whole assertion that there was "deception" demands that we are able to peer into Joseph's brain and know what his motivations are.

No competent historian does that.

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34 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I appreciate the added clarification.  As to the point of the BoA being created "by the power of God", that is still not a claim that anyone can objectively evaluate.  Its no more objectively true than saying the works of Nostradamus were created through the power of God.  Anything anyone claims is accomplished by the power of God is equally right by this definition.  

I know you know this, but I guess I feel its worth pointing out because of the exclusivity claims so prevalent in Mormonism. 

For you and those who believe in correspondence there can be no "objective evidence" but to millions with another paradigm the evidence is massive and totally "objective"

Go ahead and try to define "objective" - but of course we have been through this probably a thousand times, right?

I have still not seen a coherent definition.  Have you read Thomas Nagel yet? Rorty?  James?  Dewey?  Heidegger? 

If you want to use philosophical terms your credibility depends on having read this stuff.

https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/iatl/activities/modules/ugmodules/humananimalstudies/lectures/32/nagel_bat.pdf

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48 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I appreciate the added clarification.  As to the point of the BoA being created "by the power of God", that is still not a claim that anyone can objectively evaluate.  Its no more objectively true than saying the works of Nostradamus were created through the power of God.  Anything anyone claims is accomplished by the power of God is equally right by this definition.  

I know you know this, but I guess I feel its worth pointing out because of the exclusivity claims so prevalent in Mormonism. 

"Equally right?"

By what standard?

And yes, philosophically within communities truth is contextual.  If you are mixing paradigms then of course the paradigms do not cohere with each other and none man's "right" is another man's "wrong"

Can you show any other coherent definition of what "right" could mean that is not contextual?  Why do you keep repeating this stuff without answering?  Please give me some basis for your definition of "right".

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"But most Mormons don't believe this!!"

Yes, and what does that matter??

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19 hours ago, Dan Vogel said:

So the anonymous apologist should agree with my criticisms of Gee’s and Muhlestein’s long-roll theory; he should also see that the catalyst theory is just a theory and isn’t privileged and as such needs to account for all the documentation, particularly the evidence for deception. In other words, the anonymous apologist can’t immunize his catalyst theory against scholarly investigation by calling it religion. JS didn’t simply dictate the BOA, his translation is tied to the Egyptian papyri. If the apologist wants to ignore that evidence, he doesn’t espouse a religious explanation—he espouses a bad theory.

"Just a theory"?  And your view is the "TRUTH?" Right?

Perhaps you should become acquainted with Kuhn's work regarding paradigms and how others show how they are considered "true" within a context for a given audience.

This is my major criticism of your position- that you think it is "True" without establishing or even referencing a theory of truth to substantiate it.

In short you are using your theory - which is also "just a theory"- to say the catalyst position is just a theory!

Of course they are both theories!!

And yes of course I am ignoring what you see as "evidence" within your paradigm which I see as erroneously applying your paradigm in a religious context in which your "evidence" is not "evidence" at all.

And if other Mormons want to debate that point while accepting your paradigm, that is their problem!  I see that as an unwise strategy. 

They should understand that the restoration brings with it the Restoration paradigms found in Moroni 10 and Alma 32- where religious truth is what is "sweet" to the person testing the theory.

Your argument is reminiscent of Boghossian's "Fear of Knowledge"  https://www.amazon.com/Fear-Knowledge-Against-Relativism-Constructivism/dp/0199230412

To put his complex argument into a few words, he maintains that relativism cannot be "True" because it debates the meaning of "truth".  And so supposedly it cannot be "true" because the view itself says there is no "truth" at least in the context under discussion.

Unfortunately for his argument the relativist reply is "Yes that is exactly right- my paradigm is no more true or false than yours"

Relativists know that even relativism is only "relatively true" within a paradigm and with in a community context.   If Mormons want to debate the evidence with you while accepting your evidence AS evidence, using the same "rules" you use,  I think all of you are making the same mistake.

But of course that assertion can only be justified through discussion of the assertion which involves issues in philosophy and theology.  Should you want to go there, I would love to move the discussion in that direction.

Quote

In other words, the anonymous apologist can’t immunize his catalyst theory against scholarly investigation by calling it religion.

Yes of course I can do that and it is exactly what I am doing.

If you want to debate the validity of that approach that is another discussion entailing the "equal validity" of opposing paradigms.

Edited by mfbukowski
incorrect link

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1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

By original facsimile I am referring to what was on  the papyri when it arrived in Kirtland in 1935. As far as it being an error by Ruben Hedlock, the person responsible for actually making the woodcuts, if you have looked at the level of detail Hedlock produced in his engravings it is hard to imagine such an error occurring and being overlooked. They are beautifully done.

They're impressive given the inherent limitations I suppose. I didn't know that they're lead not wood - I was going by Ritner's paper which said they were woodcuts. Thanks for the link. I hadn't known the JSP had the original plate. Lead suggests they were easier to make than wood. So that reduces the probability of a mistake. Unfortunately we don't have the original papyri here so we don't know if a portion was missing and reconstructed as appears to be the case with facsimile 1. Comparing facsimile 1 with the original vignette though there clearly are lots of small differences so I think it's pretty plausible this was a mistake or reconstruction.

vig1.jpg.835fe1c8771b67a666f1c3ec8674854c.jpgfac1.jpeg.dc59e3260ff3f7e82488139847f25b6c.jpeg

Do we know what condition the original was in when the lead plate was made. Given facsimile 1 it may well be that the vignette for facsimile 3 was damaged. (Again, my apologies for not knowing all the nuances here) Given the erroneous reconstructions for the lion couch I'm not sure why we should assume that's not going on in facsimile 3. Even if the lead is scraped off intentionally (not at all clear) it could just have been that Hedlock, Joseph or someone else didn't like the reconstruction.

Looking at the lead plate for fac 1 it seems about on part with fac 3 in roughness. We know the "hands" of the "victim" reconstructed actually are filling in for something else entirely based upon similar vignettes. I'd imagine the same thing happened with facsimile 3. Without the original papyri for fac 3 I'm not sure we can say too much.

2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Perhaps seeing the book of Abraham as an aesthetic object or work of art is a new approach. I don't know.If you look at facsimile 2 image 7 I think Joseph's own interpretation as given in his descriptions is quite explicit as a naive understanding of what is represented. Seen that way, it is a person giving signs and tokens and a temple context.

Perhaps. To me it's just a version of the "it's all fiction" so I confess I don't find it interesting. If he was working backwards - i.e. using his revelations he already had to try and figure things out I guess that might work.

Earnest question though, if someone thinks Sherlock Holmes was real (as many do) would you say that doesn't matter in the same way you appear to think fiction doesn't matter for Joseph? Because I confess I just don't quite understand why you find this "useful fiction" position appealing.

1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

For you and those who believe in correspondence there can be no "objective evidence" but to millions with another paradigm the evidence is massive and totally "objective"

Go ahead and try to define "objective" - but of course we have been through this probably a thousand times, right?

I have still not seen a coherent definition.  Have you read Thomas Nagel yet? Rorty?  James?  Dewey?  Heidegger? 

If you want to use philosophical terms your credibility depends on having read this stuff.

But of course this extreme relativist position is very much a minority position in philosophy and few philosophers hold to it. That's worth pointing out. It's hardly the logical slam dunk you portray it to be. Clearly you are persuaded by it, but I'm confused as to why you apparently think it obvious enough that anyone would believe it who have read those figures.

 

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mfbukowski,

 

Again, I don’t find your remarks responsive to my position.

 

The fact that it is not a translation is irrelevant to its spiritual value.

 

I quite clearly said my position “has nothing to do with denying the BOA is inspired. Scholarship can’t determine that.” I have even conceded that JS may have believed he was inspired to dictate the text. So I think we are essentially agreed on this point.

 

However, I have to wonder what “spiritual value” means to you since the text clearly reflects the values and understandings of the 19th century regarding the black race. Nevertheless, I don’t deny that you are capable of deriving “spiritual value” from almost anything if you try hard enough.

 

Even if Joseph was deceptive it is no more relevant than if say the philosopher Kant was immoral. That would not take away from his philosophy.

 

JS’s use of deception isn’t relevant if all you want is the “spiritual value” you might derive from the text. However, there are other questions to ask of texts where deception does matter.

 

What Joseph thought of his own material is irrelevant. Since I know you have studied aesthetic theory enough to have taken courses in the relevance of the artist's intentions what relevance do his intentions have to the content of his work?

 

The author’s or poet’s or artist’s intentions do not matter if you are assessing the work on its own merits, but there are other approaches to literary works depending on the kinds of questions you are trying to answer. If you assume the BOA isn’t a translation, then approaching it like fiction might make sense; but if you are trying to determine if it is a translation or how it was created, then your approach is going to be different.

 

Again, it doesn’t matter to me if you think you can find “spiritual value” in the BOA.

 

My interest is primarily confined to those like Gee and Muhlestein who want to defend the text as a translation of a missing papyrus or those like Robin Jenson who think JS mistakenly thought he was translating the Breathing Permit when he wasn’t. Evidence of conscious deception is well attested in the working papers.

 

His argument is irrelevant to the value of Joseph's work in creating a spiritual paradigm, it would be like criticizing a Picasso painting because it does not represent reality.

 

Of course proof by analogy is a fallacy. The most it can supply is an understanding of how you view it, not how JS viewed it. That would be circular. Behind this analogy is a definition of “translation” that is question begging. You haven’t demonstrated that JS viewed translation other than in the ordinary sense of the word, although he was aided by revelation. You haven’t show that JS’s translation’s translation of the Egyptian papyri is as Picasso’s painting are to reality. Rather, JS’s “translation” has no semblance to the papyri, whereas Picasso has some.

 

The fact that it is tied to to the  facsimiles is no more relevant than saying that a Warhol painting is tied to Campbell soup.

 

The two references in the first chapter of the BOA do not matter if you are only interested in the “spiritual value” of the text, but it matters if you are Gee and Muhlestein trying to defend JS’s claims to have translated the text from the papyrus. Would you get the same feeling from Warhol’s painting if he used a fictitious soup company?

 

The question at hand is what is the value of the object before us, as an aesthetic object. Evidence about Campbell's soup has nothing to do with the painting.

 

Again, would you get the same feeling from Warhol’s painting if he used a fictitious soup company? No. Another question might be does knowing JS did not translate the text of the BOA change how it is viewed? Yes. It may have “value as ... an aesthetic object,” but it no longer has historical value.

 

Of course it does not represent reality. That's the entire point of the creation.

 

Oh, really? Says who? I thought the author’s intentions don’t matter? Now you are just talking nonsense.

 

Poetry does not rely upon facts to have value

 

So you want to claim JS intended the BOA as poetry and not as a translation of an ancient document. This is another example of a question-begging definition fallacy.

 

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