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CA Steve

The textual transmission of the Book of Abraham.

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First off, a Merry Christmas to all.

[On Edit] Secondly I would like to ask those who advocate for the catalyst theory to make their comments elsewhere, since the OP is asking about the missing scroll, unless of course, you can somehow tie the missing scroll to the catalyst theory and address the textual transmission question in the OP. 

The recent thread on Book of Abraham evidence has renewed my interest in the topic. I was digging through some old papers I have on the subject and I came across a 2006 article by Kevin L. Barney called The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources , In which Barney argues for the "Semitic Adaptation Theory". It has been years since I read the paper so I will not attempt to summarize it now, but it is an interesting paper worth reading as in this1995  paper by Stephen E. Thompson Egyptology and the Book of Abraham to which Barney is primarily responding.

A footnote in Barney's article jumped out at me and was something I never considered, which I think, impacts directly the missing scroll theory and is thread worthy. Here is footnote #22 and I have bolded the part I find interesting. Bolding Mine.

Quote

The date of the Book of Breathings to which Facsimiles 1 and 3 were appended is disputed. Nibley, on paleographical grounds (following Klaus Baer), dated the papyri to the Roman period (about the first century A.D.). Gee, on prosopographical grounds (following Jan Quaegebeur and Marc Coenen), dates the papyri to the early Ptolemaic period (that is, early second century B.C.). See John Gee, “The Ancient Owners of the Joseph Smith Papyri” (FARMS lecture, 1999) and A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri(Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000), 15—16. Robert K. Ritner, “The ‘Breathing Permit of Hor’ Thirty-four Years Later,” Dialogue 33/4 (2000): 99, acknowledges that the earlier dating is possible, but makes it clear that he prefers the Roman dating. Whichever dating is correct, it should be clear that we are dealing with a late copy of Abraham’s text, more than 1,500 years removed from Abraham, and not an Abrahamic holograph. Given these basic facts, the refusal of some Latter-day Saints to acknowledge that the Book of Abraham underwent a textual transmission in antiquity is difficult to fathom.

The "missing scroll" theory implies that if we were to find those parts that were missing they would contain the Book of Abraham. I mean, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you adhere to the "catalyst theory"? Or, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you don't believe it would provide evidence that the Book of Abraham was actually on the missing parts? But Barney appears to throw a wrench into the missing scroll theory here, that is, if one believes the missing section actually contained the Book of Abraham. If Barney is right, how could an exact copy of the original autograph have survived that long? And, if it didn't then is the Book of Abraham really his actual writings?

[On Edit] Also I think what David Bokovoy has had to say on page 165 of his Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy addresses the textual transmission issue.

Quote

Besides the new understanding of the Book of Abraham brought on by modern Egyptology, the conclusions of Historical Criticism, and the Documentary Hypothesis pose challenges for traditional perspectives on the book of scripture. Chief among these is the Book of Abraham's textural dependency on late Judean sources that came into being over a millennium after the time of Abraham, making it impossible to directly connect the book of scripture with the ancient Patriarch.

For a fuller explanation I suggest reading the entirety of chapter 8 in David's book.

Edited by CA Steve

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2 hours ago, CA Steve said:

First off, a Merry Christmas to all.

The recent thread on Book of Abraham evidence has renewed my interest in the topic. I was digging through some old papers I have on the subject and I came across a 2006 article by Kevin L. Barney called The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources , In which Barney argues for the "Semitic Adaptation Theory". It has been years since I read the paper so I will not attempt to summarize it now, but it is an interesting paper worth reading as in this1995  paper by Stephen E. Thompson Egyptology and the Book of Abraham to which Barney is primarily responding.

A footnote in Barney's article jumped out at me and was something I never considered, which I think, impacts directly the missing scroll theory and is thread worthy. Here is footnote #22 and I have bolded the part I find interesting. Bolding Mine.

The "missing scroll" theory implies that if we were to find those parts that were missing they would contain the Book of Abraham. I mean, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you adhere to the "catalyst theory"? Or, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you don't believe it would provide evidence that the Book of Abraham was actually on the missing parts? But Barney appears to throw a wrench into the missing scroll theory here, that is, if one believes the missing section actually contained the Book of Abraham. If Barney is right, how could an exact copy of the original autograph have survived that long? And, if it didn't then is the Book of Abraham really his actual writings?

That's only one reason and evidence for a pure catalyst theory.

Joseph got the scrolls and was inspired  to write the BOA.

That's it. 

He thought it was a translation, it wasn't.

Story over.

Either you accept it as scripture or you don't. 

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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

That's only one reason and evidence for a pure catalyst theory.

Joseph got the scrolls and was inspired  to write the BOA.

That's it. 

He thought it was a translation, it wasn't.

Story over.

Either you accept it as scripture or you don't. 

You are correct.  He said it was a translation.  He was clear on this.  It obviously wasn't.  Not even close. Those are the facts.  They are not scientific facts.  They are not religious facts.  They are just facts.  Very clear facts.  

The catalyst "theory" is make up of whole cloth.  Not on one shred of evidence supports this.  It is just a apologetic desperation catch all that cold be applied to anything.  How about the Kinderhook plates?  They were a fraud, but were used as a catalist, and what JS said about them could be a "revelation".  Inspired translation of the Bible? Catalyst theory works here too. BYU is wrong. It wasn't plagiarism, it just looks that way.  See, it works for everything.

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3 hours ago, sunstoned said:

You are correct.  He said it was a translation.  He was clear on this.  It obviously wasn't.  Not even close. Those are the facts.  They are not scientific facts.  They are not religious facts.  They are just facts.  Very clear facts.  

The catalyst "theory" is make up of whole cloth.  Not on one shred of evidence supports this.  It is just a apologetic desperation catch all that cold be applied to anything.  How about the Kinderhook plates?  They were a fraud, but were used as a catalist, and what JS said about them could be a "revelation".  Inspired translation of the Bible? Catalyst theory works here too. BYU is wrong. It wasn't plagiarism, it just looks that way.  See, it works for everything.

It is a paradigm for spiritual faith and has as much evidence as "murder is wrong" and can only be justified by the spirit, the same as moral beliefs are justified.

There is no such thing as "just facts" without a community and context.

Your conclusion are your subjective interpretations as much as anyone's 

And the desperation is totally in your own mind, in your desire to discredit spirituality, a fools errand, emotionally motivated by your own prejudice 

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8 hours ago, sunstoned said:

You are correct.  He said it was a translation.  He was clear on this.  It obviously wasn't.  Not even close. Those are the facts.  

Cough... your personal  interpretation of the limited facts available to us. I understand the difference between fact and opinion/conclusion.

The catalyst "theory" is make up of whole cloth.  Not on one shred of evidence supports this.

The Inspired Version of the Bible, e,g. the Book of Moses,  is a specific  example of this theory.  You are assuming that we are in possession of most or all the facts, which is simply not true.  As with the BOM and the JST, Joseph Smith simply did not describe the translation process.

While the translation process remains problematic, the text itself refers  to historical facts which were unlikely available to Joseph Smith.

https://youtu.be/oRzU6C5Wb8U

 

 

Edited by cdowis
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18 hours ago, CA Steve said:

The "missing scroll" theory implies that if we were to find those parts that were missing they would contain the Book of Abraham. I mean, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you adhere to the "catalyst theory"? Or, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you don't believe it would provide evidence that the Book of Abraham was actually on the missing parts? But Barney appears to throw a wrench into the missing scroll theory here, that is, if one believes the missing section actually contained the Book of Abraham. If Barney is right, how could an exact copy of the original autograph have survived that long? And, if it didn't then is the Book of Abraham really his actual writings?

I think you are confused. As I understand it, the missing scroll theory doesn't posit that the Book of Abraham is from Abraham's original autographic account or even that it is a copy which precisely preserved that autographic account without any ancient redaction or inspired modern adaptation. The only thing the missing scroll theory posits is that the Book of Abraham was translated from a scroll that is currently lost or possibly destroyed. In other words, the missing scroll theory is a broad thesis and doesn't have built in assertions about the textual transmission of the Book of Abraham. 

18 hours ago, CA Steve said:

[On Edit] Also I think what David Bokovoy has had to say on page 165 of his Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy addresses the textual transmission issue.

Quote

Besides the new understanding of the Book of Abraham brought on by modern Egyptology, the conclusions of Historical Criticism, and the Documentary Hypothesis pose challenges for traditional perspectives on the book of scripture. Chief among these is the Book of Abraham's textural dependency on late Judean sources that came into being over a millennium after the time of Abraham, making it impossible to directly connect the book of scripture with the ancient Patriarch.

For a fuller explanation I suggest reading the entirety of chapter 8 in David's book.

As for the Bokovoy quote, it seems too vague. It technically isn't impossible to make connections between the text and the ancient patriarch. There may be things in the text that seem to genuinely be from Abraham's own time period and which do not reflect late Judean sources. So it would probably be more accurate to simply say that it is highly improbable that the text in its entirety is directly from Abraham's time period. 

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20 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

That's only one reason and evidence for a pure catalyst theory.

Joseph got the scrolls and was inspired  to write the BOA.

That's it. 

He thought it was a translation, it wasn't.

Story over.

Either you accept it as scripture or you don't. 

Actually, I would argue that it was a "translation".  Just not the definition of "translate" that is commonly understood in current times.

 

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.

 

 

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51 minutes ago, Vance said:

Actually, I would argue that it was a "translation".  Just not the definition of "translate" that is commonly understood in current times.

 

http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/Translate

 

 

Oh yeah we agree on that totally. 

I just was taking it to the worst possible alternative (for us), stipulating that even if he was "translating" patterns off of the wallpaper, it is still scripture

 Look at the book of Moses. We have no idea where that came  from as a source and still we take it to be scripture.

 If Joseph had never mentioned the papyrus this problem would not exist. Nobody is arguing about the book of Moses being scripture.

One might even argue that he created his own problem by giving us too much information about where it came from.!!

 To me that in itself is evidence that his intent was honest. If I was giving a crooked translation I would never tell the source even If the text had not yet been deciphered by scholars yet because it could be in the future.

If he was a crook he made himself totally discoverable in the future if Egyptian was ever translated. That would be the stupidest cook in the world as far as I'm concerned.His whole enterprise would be instantly dissolved.

But thank God we have millions of people who actually receive confirmation by the spirit.

And so God's test still continues  because scholarship cannot prevail over spirit.

 For those who believe in spirit there can be no question .

 For those who do not there can be no answer.

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I think you are confused. As I understand it, the missing scroll theory doesn't posit that the Book of Abraham is from Abraham's original autographic account or even that it is a copy which precisely preserved that autographic account without any ancient redaction or inspired modern adaptation. The only thing the missing scroll theory posits is that the Book of Abraham was translated from a scroll that is currently lost or possibly destroyed. In other words, the missing scroll theory is a broad thesis and doesn't have built in assertions about the textual transmission of the Book of Abraham.

Thanks for the response to the OP Ryan.

Let me see if I understand your position first.

You believe that the missing scroll theory proposes that on a section or sections of the papyri that Joseph Smith obtained from Chandler in 1835, was a section of hieratic text which when translated was the Book of Abraham we now have, further any modern day Egyptologist would produce a similar translation from the same text? Do I have that right?

8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

As for the Bokovoy quote, it seems too vague. It technically isn't impossible to make connections between the text and the ancient patriarch. There may be things in the text that seem to genuinely be from Abraham's own time period and which do not reflect late Judean sources. So it would probably be more accurate to simply say that it is highly improbable that the text in its entirety is directly from Abraham's time period.

I believe David actually meant impossible when he said impossible. If you're able, I suggest reading his entire chapter 8 in order to better understand his point.

Side note, do we have anything from Abraham's time period that attests of Abraham? If not, how is it even possible to tie anything directly to Abraham's time period? 

 

Again thanks for your response.

 

Edited by CA Steve

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On 12/25/2018 at 4:27 PM, CA Steve said:

The "missing scroll" theory implies that if we were to find those parts that were missing they would contain the Book of Abraham. I mean, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you adhere to the "catalyst theory"? Or, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you don't believe it would provide evidence that the Book of Abraham was actually on the missing parts? But Barney appears to throw a wrench into the missing scroll theory here, that is, if one believes the missing section actually contained the Book of Abraham. If Barney is right, how could an exact copy of the original autograph have survived that long? And, if it didn't then is the Book of Abraham really his actual writings?

[On Edit] Also I think what David Bokovoy has had to say on page 165 of his Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy addresses the textual transmission issue.

I'm just now getting caught up in threads. However I think most of the missing papyri theories presuppose it's not an original Abraham autograph. Typically they assume it's fairly corrupt. I remember someone drawing an analogy to 1 Enoch and the original history of Enoch. A few missing papyri theories assume mnemonic models that were common in the magical papyri of that era of history. In the broad magic tradition of the era which was found in Jewish, Christian, Gnostic and various mystery religions that became the neoplatonic and hermetic traditions you have "magical" chants. (I put that in quotations as the different traditions interpreted them differently even though the mantras appear broadly shared) An interesting translation of some of these texts is in the Greek Magical Papyri. The downside is that there's not much like The Book of Abraham in them. (Although the God of Abraham gets mentioned a few times)

This means that even if there is a missing papyri the apologist has to argue that we unusually have some semblance of an Abraham text. While a few may believe sometime very close to our Book of Abraham is there, I think the more common view is that it's at best a similar or related text. Then, as with the catalyst theory, Joseph then "desconstructively interrogates" the text to get a revelation of either the original source text or actual narrative about the history or some combination of the two.

At least that's my understanding of the theory.

While a full missing papyri was the common theory going back to Nibley, as I mentioned in the other thread that seems less defensible now. That's because the two main arguments - ink color and length - seem to have been falsified. The remaining theory, if I'm following things correctly, is that the partial scroll "translation" in the Kirtland papers of the Amenhotep scroll is now the missing papyri rather than the Hor scroll. But I'll fully confess I don't know all the current main positions. So someone better read on this should probably chime in.

Regarding Bokovoy, I think he sees it all as 19th century pseudepigrapha. His view at the time he wrote Authoring the Old Testament seems slightly more complex. It sees it more analogous to how Proverbs adapts Egyptian narratives and hymns as well as how the Testament of Abraham and other Hellenistic pseudepigrapha borrow from Egyptian sources. Even then he plays it somewhat loose and fast writing, "If the Bible can be interpreted as scripture despite its reliance upon non-Israelite sources from the ancient Near East, so can the Book of Abraham. Scriptural texts are neither produced in a cultural vacuum nor created ex nihilo." This suggests he sees it as 19th century, even then, but inspired in a strong sense, much as many Psalms or Proverbs were. He also notes the problem of a P account of creation (Genesis 1) in Abraham, although that's likely post-exilic. That is P is adapting the Enuma Elish. Not only that but the J account (Adam in the garden) is tied to the P account, meaning it's fairly late.

This argument of Bokovoy is I think the stronger one not well dealt with yet by apologists - although I think it's doable with variants of the deconstruction or catalyst theories.

Edited by clarkgoble

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15 hours ago, cdowis said:

 

It is not a personal opinion.  It is what Joseph Smith said himself:

Quote

 

Translation of Some ancient Records that have fallen into our hands, from the Catacombs of Egypt, purporting to be the writings of abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand upon papyrus”

Smith, Joseph (March 1, 1842), "Truth Will Prevail"Times and Seasons, Nauvoo, IL, 3 (9), p. 704

 

 

Quote

“one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt” (History of the Church, Vol. 2: 236).

Quote

 

“With W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc.,—a more full account of which will appear in its place, as I proceed to examine or unfold them. Truly we can say, the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of peace and truth

’ (History of the Church, 2:236)” (The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2000], 28).

 

(bolding mine)

Once again, the facts speak louder than apologetic spin.  To claim the BoA was not a translation is to call the prophet Joseph Smith a liar.

Edited by sunstoned

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46 minutes ago, sunstoned said:

It is not a personal opinion.  It is what Joseph Smith said himself:

 

Thank you. 

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2 hours ago, sunstoned said:

“Translation of Some ancient Records that have fallen into our hands, from the Catacombs of Egypt, purporting to be the writings of abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand upon papyrus”

Smith, Joseph (March 1, 1842), "Truth Will Prevail", Times and Seasons, Nauvoo, IL, 3 (9), p. 704

That word "purporting" is rather significant though. It's not quite clear how Joseph thought the papyri were Abraham and Joseph but I think it pretty clear it's what he believed. With the Book of Mormon the claim is he read text off the seer stone and was told about the plates by an angel. With the Book of Abraham we really don't know what was going on. There's a later claim by Woodruff that the seer stone was used but that's pretty late and (IMO) dubious. We have one claim that a few verses are done using some of the KEP stuff, but clearly most isn't. In some ways the Book of Abraham is more of a mystery than the Book of Mormon in terms of production.

 

 

 

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On 12/25/2018 at 4:27 PM, CA Steve said:

 

[On Edit] Also I think what David Bokovoy has had to say on page 165 of his Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy addresses the textual transmission issue.

For a fuller explanation I suggest reading the entirety of chapter 8 in David's book.

Textual criticism of the Old Testament throws a huge wrench into a lot of things.

Edited by Rivers
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14 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Thanks for the response to the OP Ryan.

Let me see if I understand your position first.

You believe that the missing scroll theory proposes that on a section or sections of the papyri that Joseph Smith obtained from Chandler in 1835, was a section of hieratic text which when translated was the Book of Abraham we now have, further any modern day Egyptologist would produce a similar translation from the same text? Do I have that right?

I don't think the missing scroll theory necessarily specifies the language of the script on the scroll. As for the idea that any modern day Egyptologist would produce a similar translation, I think that goes well beyond the assumptions of the theory. 

14 hours ago, CA Steve said:

I believe David actually meant impossible when he said impossible. If you're able, I suggest reading his entire chapter 8 in order to better understand his point.

Side note, do we have anything from Abraham's time period that attests of Abraham? If not, how is it even possible to tie anything directly to Abraham's time period?

I'm not disputing that is what David meant. I just think he is wrong. Part of the problem is that his chapter basically ignores competing perspectives and alternative possibilities. It treats his reading, informed by his perspective in biblical studies and higher criticism, as the definitive answer to the text's nature and origin. It is just a narrow way to approach a fairly open-ended textual puzzle. It seems he has closed certain doors or avenues of investigation without really seriously engaging with the evidence that might disrupt some of the assumptions that support his thesis. At least that is my take. 

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15 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Side note, do we have anything from Abraham's time period that attests of Abraham? If not, how is it even possible to tie anything directly to Abraham's time period? 

I'm guessing you are asking whether or not anything in the Book of Abraham corresponds to Abraham's time period. I would say the following is a good place start:

1. According to John Gee, the Book of Abraham "begins much like other autobiographies from Abraham's time and place."[1]

2. There is a fairly decent connection between the text’s mention of “Olishem” and an ancient location in Syria.[2]

3. The Book of Abraham mentions ritual human sacrifice, which is now attested in ancient Egypt.[3]

4. “Three of the four deities mentioned, Elkenah, Libnah, and Korash, are attested for the approximate time and place of Abraham.”[4]

5. The name “Shulem” is attested in Abraham’s day (although it is also dates from the time of the JSP).[5]  


[1] John Gee, An Introduction to the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and Religious Studies Center, BYU, 2017), 97. See also, John Gee "Abraham and Idrimi," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 22, no. 1 (2013).

[2] See Gee, An Introduction, 100–101.

[3] See Gee, An Introduction, 101.

[4] Gee, An Introduction, 101.

[5] See John Gee, “Shulem, One of the King’s Principal Waiters,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 19 (2016): 383–395.

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I am putting this quote from Wittgenstein into both Book of Abraham threads because of its high degree of relevance to these issues.

Wittgenstein to me is clearly the greatest philosopher of the 20th century.  Here is one comment on him

https://www.iep.utm.edu/wittgens/

Quote

Ludwig Wittgenstein is one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, and regarded by some as the most important since Immanuel Kant. His early work was influenced by that of Arthur Schopenhauer and, especially, by his teacher Bertrand Russell and by Gottlob Frege, who became something of a friend.

He is a bit of a curiosity because he began working with Russel in his early work as a positivist- and later in life reversed his position and ended up in positions one might see as "Pragmatism".   His later work was published after his death- from  aphorisms in he wrote in notebooks.   This is a portion of one of these aphorisms. 

 

 

Quote

 

Queer as it sounds:” The historical accounts in the Gospels might, historically speaking, be demonstrably false and yet belief would lose nothing by this: not however because it concerns “universal truths of reason”’!  Rather, because historical proof (the historical proof-game) is irrelevant to belief.  This message (The Gospels) is seized on by men believingly (ie lovingly). That is the certainty characterizing this particular acceptance-as-true, not something else.

 

A believer’s relation to these narratives is neither the relation to historical truth (probability) nor yet that to a theory consisting of “truths of reason”.  There is such a thing-- (We have quite different attitudes even to different species of what we call fiction!)

 

I read: “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1:Cor 12) - and it is true: I cannot call him Lord ; because that says nothing to me.  I could call him ‘the paragon’, ‘’God’ even- or rather, I can understand it when he is called thus; but I cannot utter the word “Lord” with meaning. Because I do not believe he will come to judge me; because that says nothing to me.  And it could say something to me, only if I lived completely differently.


 

 

P32-33 e

Ludwig Wittgentstien

Culture and Language Translated by Peter Winch

University of Chicago Press 1980

To understand these truths one must be part of a community of believers who are living the principles.

The truth is found in living the principles- not the words or their alleged history.  I am sure Wittgenstein never heard of the Book of Abraham and didn't need to read it to understand prophets and its truth.

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31 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I'm guessing you are asking whether or not anything in the Book of Abraham corresponds to Abraham's time period. I would say the following is a good place start:

No, though thanks for the references. I do have a copy of Dr Gee's book and I'll review it again to see what he says also.

 

What I am asking is what are the earliest non Biblical references we have that attest to the actual existence of the Biblical patriarch named Abraham? Are there any actual records from 2000 BCish that can be tied directly to the biblical Abraham. If not, when do we first see mention of the patriarch outside of the Bible?

2 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I don't think the missing scroll theory necessarily specifies the language of the script on the scroll. As for the idea that any modern day Egyptologist would produce a similar translation, I think that goes well beyond the assumptions of the theory.

Of what use is a missing scroll theory that seeks to defend Joseph Smith that purposes there are missing sections of the scroll without also specifying that those missing sections contain the Book of Abraham in one form or another?

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6 hours ago, CA Steve said:

No, though thanks for the references. I do have a copy of Dr Gee's book and I'll review it again to see what he says also.

What I am asking is what are the earliest non Biblical references we have that attest to the actual existence of the Biblical patriarch named Abraham? Are there any actual records from 2000 BCish that can be tied directly to the biblical Abraham. If not, when do we first see mention of the patriarch outside of the Bible?

Oh, makes sense. I don't know the answer to that. Robert F. Smith might, or perhaps Clark Gobel.

6 hours ago, CA Steve said:
8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I don't think the missing scroll theory necessarily specifies the language of the script on the scroll. As for the idea that any modern day Egyptologist would produce a similar translation, I think that goes well beyond the assumptions of the theory.

Of what use is a missing scroll theory that seeks to defend Joseph Smith that purposes there are missing sections of the scroll without also specifying that those missing sections contain the Book of Abraham in one form or another?

[My Edit: compare the above question with its first iteration given previously: "You believe that the missing scroll theory proposes that on a section or sections of the papyri that Joseph Smith obtained from Chandler in 1835, was a section of hieratic text which when translated was the Book of Abraham we now have, further any modern day Egyptologist would produce a similar translation from the same text? Do I have that right?]

As noted in my edit above, your second iteration of the question seems to allow for more disparity than the first (i.e. "one form or another" vs. "similar translation"). But I get what you are saying, I think. I guess it gets back to assumptions about the nature of the text on the scroll and the nature of the translation. I personally think that [if the text was on a missing scroll and if] Egyptologists today were to look at it, they would recognize it as a viable source text for Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Abraham, depending on how loose/literal the translation was. 

However, others might assume that the text on the missing scroll worked more like the catalyst theory. Perhaps it really did contain authentic info about Abraham, but Joseph had to use revelation to amend/restore/decipher it. The more such amendment/restoration/decipherment was needed, the less modern Egyptologists would see it as a viable translation of the source text. In other words, there is probably some middle ground where both the catalyst theory and the missing scroll theory could potentially meet. 

[Late edits are in brackets above. Basically, I said that I think the text was on the missing scroll, but I am pretty much equally open to the text still being on the Hor scroll. And yes, I know the final exchange between Gee and Cook is currently not pointing in that direction (Cook currently has the last word), but I have reason to believe that the debate about the length of the scroll isn't over. I'm less inclined to adopt a pure catalyst theory that assumes the BofA doesn't correlate to any of the scrolls in Joseph's possession.]

Edited by Ryan Dahle

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REASONS THE MISSING SCROLL THEORY DOES NOT WORK:

– We know because of Abraham 1:12 and 1:14 itself points to Facsimile 1 and the very text in the papyri following it as the source text of the book of Abraham

– We know from the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar document that if we choose to be rational and logical the most reasonable interpretation of that document is that it represents Joseph Smith’s translation of The Book of Abraham.

– An early Egyptologist named Gustavus Seyffarth viewed the missing papyrus in 1856 and described only the Hor text and Facsimile 3. He gave no indication of another text on the scroll, and in fact explicitly denied that the scroll contained a record of Abraham.

– Klaus Baer predicted that the missing portion of the Hor text would be around sixty centimeters. Others who have attempted the estimate of the missing length agreed almost exactly with Baer’s estimate.

In the end a Missing Scroll theory is simply a Red Herring.  Why we know that a missing scroll does not matter?  We know where Joseph was translating and it was on the existing papyri. There is a set of documents that the church has always had in its possession commonly referred to as the “Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar” by Joseph Smith. Most of us remember hearing a little bit about it growing up in the church but not really knowing what it was. It was only briefly and rarely mentioned in church. With the discovery of the missing papyri in 1966, critics claim that these documents show a definite link between the papyri and the actual text of the Book of Abraham. The manuscript is in the handwriting of William W. Phelps and Warren Parrish, scribes to Joseph Smith, Jr. It is a bound book with handwriting on 34 pages with about 184 blank pages remaining throughout the book. There are characters in a left hand column with English explanations to the right. Original in LDS archives. There are 4 pages in Joseph Smith’s handwriting.

REASONS THE CATALYST THEORY DOES NOT WORK: 

– The Times and Seasons with Joseph Smith as Editor along with Mormonism’s heading to the Pearl of Great Price in the past claimed the papyri was the writings of Abraham.

– The Times and Seasons with Joseph Smith as Editor along with Mormonism’s heading to the Pearl of Great Price in the past claimed it was written by Abraham’s  own hand.  If the Catalyst Theory is correct, then God must be responsible for misleading Smith about the identity of the author of the papyri characters.

– Joseph and his scribes wrote down the very symbols from the papyri we have along with a proposed meaning of those hieroglyphics and symbols in a document named Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar indicating strongly a literal translation.

–  Joseph Smith‘s translation and restoration of the facsimiles was incorrect. If the Catalyst Theory is correct, then God must be responsible for instructing Smith to incorrectly translate and restore the facsimiles.

–  The text of the Book of Abraham itself (1:12 and 1:14) declares that the source of the Book of Abraham has the Facsimile 1 fragment at its commencement, which is the Breathing Permit of Hor. If the Catalyst Theory is correct, then God must be responsible for instructing Smith to record verses in the Book of Abraham that incorrectly refer to the Facsimile 1 fragment.

–  The Small Sensen (Breathing Permit of Hor) characters are copied in order into the manuscripts where they are translated into the Book of Abraham. Therefore, Smith‘s own manuscripts indicate that the source of the Book of Abraham is the Small Sensen. If the Catalyst Theory is correct, then God must be responsible for misleading Smith to believe that the source of the Book of Abraham was the Small Sensen.

–  The Egyptian Alphabets end with two characters which appear in the manuscripts as the beginning of the Small Sensen and which translate into Abraham 1:1. Therefore, the Egyptian Alphabets indicate that the source of the Book of Abraham is the Small Sensen.  If the Catalyst Theory is correct, then God must be responsible for misleading Smith to believe that the source of the Book of Abraham was the Small Sensen.


Conclusion:  

I see no solution that deals with these items without requiring far more allowances and leeway than fraud.  I would welcome a working theory that deals with the points above namely Abraham 1:12, 14

It should also be noted that the geography of the BOA also is deeply problematic Ur and Chaldees versus where the egyptians had influence and land and authority is deeply problematic without adding a second Ur which has been attempted but has essentially little to no evidence.



So anyone have a rational working theory that deals with this data and also doesn't require a ton of allowances that make it irrational?

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3 hours ago, CA Steve said:

What I am asking is what are the earliest non Biblical references we have that attest to the actual existence of the Biblical patriarch named Abraham? Are there any actual records from 2000 BCish that can be tied directly to the biblical Abraham. If not, when do we first see mention of the patriarch outside of the Bible?

There's basically no texts that aren't from late antiquity. I'd have to check but I think the dead sea scrolls are the earliest and they're pretty late. Using textual clues the origins of texts are dated much earlier, but a lot of that is pretty speculative - there are no early texts found to really test the predictions and assumptions of that method. It's assumed that the Abraham passages are a combination of two sources J & E that date to around the 9th century and then get edited/redacted by P in the post-exilic period. Again pretty late relative to the purported figure. References to Abraham can be found in other papyri, but again either at the end of the Ptolemy period or into the Roman period.

So basically all of Jewish history really comes from texts in the Roman period - often found just in later texts from the end of late antiquity - and through textual analysis most are dated to the Ptolemic period with a presumption of pre-exilic texts.

What you want is just non-existent. There's basically little by way of Ptolemic texts and almost nothing that's pre-exilic let alone going to the early kingdom (David & Solomon) let alone the earlier period of Egypt or Abraham. When apologists talk about Abraham lining up though they're usually talking about Mesopotamian or Egyptian history from the era Abraham purportedly lived in. But these are pretty broad elements. The astronomical bits in Abraham 3 (and perhaps the hypocephalus) are a bit more complex - but there's not agreement in how to interpret them. Some argue for heliocentrism although the geocentric interpretations seem more plausible IMO.

3 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Of what use is a missing scroll theory that seeks to defend Joseph Smith that purposes there are missing sections of the scroll without also specifying that those missing sections contain the Book of Abraham in one form or another?

The main issue is the relationship of the reception of the Egyptian papyri and the revelation. As I mentioned I think there's a pretty wide range of theories and a continuum between missing papyri and pure catalyst theories. Even most of the missing papyri theories just typically have some highly corrupt remnant of an Abraham text related to ours rather than a full text (although some purport that as well). The motivation is to explain why Joseph thought the papyri were related to the text - both in descriptions of the translation and the KEP work. The real main difference with the catalyst theories is the degree to which they allow Joseph to be ignorant and/or wrong regarding the Egyptian material. 

Edited by clarkgoble
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On 12/25/2018 at 4:27 PM, CA Steve said:

........................

The recent thread on Book of Abraham evidence has renewed my interest in the topic. I was digging through some old papers I have on the subject and I came across a 2006 article by Kevin L. Barney called The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources , In which Barney argues for the "Semitic Adaptation Theory". It has been years since I read the paper so I will not attempt to summarize it now, but it is an interesting paper worth reading as in this1995  paper by Stephen E. Thompson Egyptology and the Book of Abraham to which Barney is primarily responding.

A footnote in Barney's article jumped out at me and was something I never considered, which I think, impacts directly the missing scroll theory and is thread worthy. Here is footnote #22 and I have bolded the part I find interesting. Bolding Mine.

The "missing scroll" theory implies that if we were to find those parts that were missing they would contain the Book of Abraham. I mean, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you adhere to the "catalyst theory"? Or, why bother to argue the missing scroll theory if you don't believe it would provide evidence that the Book of Abraham was actually on the missing parts? But Barney appears to throw a wrench into the missing scroll theory here, that is, if one believes the missing section actually contained the Book of Abraham. If Barney is right, how could an exact copy of the original autograph have survived that long? And, if it didn't then is the Book of Abraham really his actual writings?

The BofA nowhere suggests that it is an "original autograph."  To the contrary, all available evidence argues for its Ptolemaic-Roman period form.  Not only do we not know whether there actually was a person named Abraham, but we cannot know the form of his actual writings -- even if he did exist.  The BofA makes no such claims.

On 12/25/2018 at 4:27 PM, CA Steve said:

Also I think what David Bokovoy has had to say on page 165 of his Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy addresses the textual transmission issue.

Quote

Besides the new understanding of the Book of Abraham brought on by modern Egyptology, the conclusions of Historical Criticism, and the Documentary Hypothesis pose challenges for traditional perspectives on the book of scripture. Chief among these is the Book of Abraham's textural dependency on late Judean sources that came into being over a millennium after the time of Abraham, making it impossible to directly connect the book of scripture with the ancient Patriarch.

................

Bokovoy is a brilliant biblical scholar, but knows nothing of modern Egyptology.  Where he keys in on the best possible approach to textual transmission is in his correct observation on "the Book of Abraham's textual dependency on late Judean sources that came into being over a millennium after the time of Abraham."  This fits precisely the Ptolemaic-Roman period Jewish transmission of biblical and pseudo-biblical texts.  There is, thus, no reason "to directly connect the" BofA "with the ancient Patriarch."

Those unfamiliar with the activities of the huge Jewish population of Egypt during late antiquity might want to consult my "Brief Assessment of the LDS Book of Abraham,” version 9 online Feb 20, 2018, online at http://www.scribd.com/doc/118810727/A-Brief-Assessment-of-the-LDS-Book-of-Abraham .

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If only the library at Alexandria had not burned , we MIGHT have  had much earlier sources . Who do we blame for that fire? Might have been some young scholar trying out the new leaves brought back from the Americas. 👿

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