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CA Steve

The textual transmission of the Book of Abraham.

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1 hour ago, DBMormon said:

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

Hi Bill,

You may want to refer to Abr 1:12-13, "that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record.  It was made after the form of a bedstead, such as was had among the Chaldeans,"

The actual text here refers to a Chaldean (Mesopotamian) bedstead, not an Egyptian one.  This fits the Chaldean context in Mesopotamia (near Potiphar's Hill at the head of the Plain of Olishem), since the virgin sacrifice is not taking place in Egypt.  We can actually identify a place-name Olishem in that very area.  We also know that Egypt had strong influence in that very area during the theoretical Abrahamic era.  Thus, whatever Abraham himself may have used to illustrate the altar, by the Ptolemaic-Roman period an Egyptian altar was substituted -- and from an alien document which could be adapted to the need of the Jewish copyist/ tradent.

1 hour ago, DBMormon said:

– 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.

I would recommend that you familiarize yourself with the actual documents and issues by reading both Ritner and Gee.

John L. Gee, An Introduction to the Book of Abraham (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center/ SLC: Deseret Book, 2017).

Robert Ritner, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri (SLC: Smith-Pettit Fdn/Signature Books, 2011).

1 hour ago, DBMormon said:

REASONS THE CATALYST THEORY DOES NOT WORK: .............................

This is specifically a thread which excludes the catalyst theory from discussion.  See the OP.

1 hour ago, DBMormon said:

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?

I dealt with Abraham 1:12, 14, above.  However, your understanding of the place of Ur and Chaldees, and of Egyptian influence are flawed by dependence on misinformation provided in Ritner's volume.  In other words,  one of Ritner's colleagues lied to you and other readers for anti-scholarly reasons.  You ought to be very suspicious, Bill, of deliberate misinformation provided in specifically anti-Mormon works.  I recommend that we read them, but only with care and with other information at hand.

What to depend upon?  Standard scholarship published in standard volumes on the ancient world which are not dedicated to the demise of Mormonism.  Then let the chips fall where they may.  That is the only fair standard.

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

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.

 

Thanks Clark.

 

A question and some unrelated thoughts.

Gee on pg 97-98 in his An Introduction to the Book of Abraham talks about how "the Book of Abraham is much like other autobiographies from Abraham's time and place....one difference is that autobiographies of Abraham's contemporaries discuss worshiping the way their parents did,.."

If there are no texts contemporary to Abraham's time, what do you think Gee is referring to when he talks about "other autobiographies from Abraham's time and place"?

Regarding the missing scroll theory which posits that the missing portions would contain the  hieratic text of the Book of Abraham, I want to expound on the difficulty that Barney raises above with his textual transmission problem and it being of necessity a late copy of Abraham's text. I think it goes beyond that. The Book of Abraham states that it is" the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt written by his own hand, upon papyrus" . Setting aside the numerous other problems with the text itself; is it reasonable to believe that an actual text written in 2000 BCE± survived for 1500-1700 years unblemished and unknown, only to resurface for one brief moment in the Ptolemic period to be copied on the end of a common Egyptian Funerary document by an unknown scribe, then the original disappears altogether, while the copy is buried for almost another two centuries before it is rediscovered and made its way Joseph Smith, thousands of miles away as one of the few (maybe only) person in the world who could at that time completely translate the autobiography in Egyptian? Quite the chain of events isn't it?

What is really hard to imagine here, if the introduction to the Book of Abraham is to be believed and if we are to believe Joseph Smith's own descriptions of the two scrolls he obtained from Chandler, is not only did this happen once, it happened twice. Joseph identified the other scroll, the Ta-sherit-Min scroll which was taken from a female mummy, as being the "Sacred record of Joseph in Pharaoh's court in Egypt." So now we are to believe that two separate unknown and unblemished documents survive  separately for 1500-1700 years in Egypt, then they both resurface at different times and locations, are copied on to the ends of two different scrolls,  which are buried with two different and unrelated mummies. The originals never resurface again and both of these separate copies find their way to Joseph Smith 2000 years later.

So I think a missing scroll theory that includes the writings of Abraham on it, in what ever form, has a lot more to overcome than just the textural problem Barney points out.

 

Edited by CA Steve

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5 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

In other words, there is probably some middle ground where both the catalyst theory and the missing scroll theory could potentially meet.

I don't really get this merging of the catalyst theory with the missing scroll theory. If we are going to accept that Joseph reinterpreted the facsimiles so they provided an Abrahamic meaning why is there any need to search for additional missing papyri? Who cares what Egyptologist say the extant Hor scrolls says? It can just as easily serve as inspiration for a Book of Abraham as the missing portion does. And, in fact, if we look at the KEP it quite obviously did. Add to that the fact that we have no descriptions of the content of the missing sections, so any suppositions of their content would be pure guesswork not supported by anything. The likelihood that the missing sections of either scroll contains anything other than ordinary funerary inscriptions is remote and not necessary to propose just to support a catalyst theory.

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15 hours ago, CA Steve said:

If we are going to accept that Joseph reinterpreted the facsimiles so they provided an Abrahamic meaning why is there any need to search for additional missing papyri?

Part of the problem, IMO, is that a number of the explanations that accompany the facsimiles are surprisingly in line with what modern Egyptology can say about them. If you read what Bob Smith has published, as well as what is in One Eternal Round and what Rhodes/Gee/Muhlestein have to say about them, there emerges a pretty good set of correspondences. So we are left with some things that don't seem to jibe with what secular Egyptology has to say and a number of other things that seem too accurate and appropriate to be lucky guesswork. So from my working assumptions, I don't feel a need to assume that the facsimiles are purely reinterpreted in a way that departs from what an ancient (Jewish/Egyptian???) person might think about them. Moreover, because facsimiles are ideogrammatic, they are far more open to varying interpretations than a phonetic script would be. So it is sort of comparing apples to oranges.

15 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Who cares what Egyptologist say the extant Hor scrolls says? It can just as easily serve as inspiration for a Book of Abraham as the missing portion does.

The historical evidence suggests Joseph and others believed the translation was from an actual scroll in Joseph's possession. Thus, a pure catalyst theory may seem too far removed from the historical understanding (held by Joseph and his associates) concerning the relationship between the papyri and the BofA for some people to accept. A loose/adapted translation from a scroll that is far closer in content to the BofA would be far more palatable for those who value this historical evidence.

15 hours ago, CA Steve said:

And, in fact, if we look at the KEP it quite obviously did.

That supposition is obviously still being debated. There is currently no agreement about what the KEP represent or how involved Joseph was in the endeavor. 

15 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Add to that the fact that we have no descriptions of the content of the missing sections, so any suppositions of their content would be pure guesswork not supported by anything. The likelihood that the missing sections of either scroll contains anything other than ordinary funerary inscriptions is remote and not necessary to propose just to support a catalyst theory.

In one sentence you say the suppositions about the content of the missing scrolls can't be supported by anything, and in the next you make an evaluation about how unlikely it is that they are anything other than ordinary funerary inscriptions. That seems to be self-contradictory. Moreover, I think you are missing the point. The desire to connect the BofA more strongly to a missing scroll than we can connect it to the extant fragments isn't based on some inherent need to "support a catalyst theory." Rather, I'm saying that those who have this desire are often willing to accommodate some degree of looseness/adaptation (and even some catalyst-type additions/revisions) in the translation. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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19 hours ago, CA Steve said:

I don't really get this merging of the catalyst theory with the missing scroll theory. If we are going to accept that Joseph reinterpreted the facsimiles so they provided an Abrahamic meaning why is there any need to search for additional missing papyri?

There always was a continuum of views. There's not just two views - the missing papyri and the catalyst theory. The missing papyri theory always seemed to presume a loose translation at best and often saw only fragmentary corrupt remnants in the missing papyri. By way of analogy I think the missing papyri theory always saw maybe a few lines that were expanded, much like Moses 5-7 is a huge expansion on a couple of verses in Genesis 5. While there may be some people who see Moses 5-7 as a restoration of an original pre-exilic text of Genesis, I suspect most assume those verses acted as a catalyst for a somewhat independent revelation on Enoch. In the same manner those pushing a missing papyri theory typically are fine with there being a massive expansion on whatever was on the Chandler mummies.

5 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Part of the problem, IMO, is that a number of the explanations that accompany the facsimiles are surprisingly in line with what modern Egyptology can say about them.

I'm completely unable to evaluate arguments on what is or isn't legitimate Egyptology. However just assuming that the main apologetic papers are correct there, the problem is that this explains just a tiny amount of the vignettes and completely overlooks their main use and meaning. These are standard funerary documents probably produced en mass in Thebes. That some of Joseph's explanations are correct doesn't really ultimately help. The fundamental problem is that the two vignettes and the hypocephalus are being used acontextually. Either in a 1st century context in the missing scroll theory or in the 19th century. That has to be accounted for.

5 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Moreover, because facsimiles are ideogrammatic, they are far more open to varying interpretations than a phonetic script would be. So it is sort of comparing apples to oranges.

That only gets one so far though. After all we have several books of the dead accompanying the vignettes. All sings point to a standard use. Now if there's missing papyri of some sort enabling these standard documents to be repurposed that'd be significant. (Heaven knows such repurposing of things Egyptian wasn't unheard of in 1st century Rome where mystery rites tied to Egypt were popular - often twisted out of their original context) The problem there is that our papyri come from Thebes not Rome.

This is why the missing papyri theory was so interesting. It would give justification for these other texts being repurposed. As is, there's really no compelling argument for that. This pushes one more towards the catalyst theory where such repurposing is often moved from 1st century Thebes to 19th century Nauvoo. (I'm not saying I accept the catalyst theory - it has its own problems)

5 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

The historical evidence suggests Joseph and others believed the translation was from an actual scroll in Joseph's possession. Thus, a pure catalyst theory may seem too far removed from the historical understanding (held by Joseph and his associates) concerning the relationship between the papyri and the BofA for some people to accept. A loose/adapted translation from a scroll that is far closer in content to the BofA would be far more palatable for those who value this historical evidence.

This seems right. Although as I've noted, this is largely a matter of degree. Even the most robust literalist missing scroll theory has Joseph mistaking the top of the scroll (the Hor book of breathings) as the Abraham text. So even there Joseph's mistaken. One then just moves along a continuum of what elements Joseph was mistaken about up to a pure catalyst theory where nothing in Chandler's papyri is related to Abraham. That latter seems a bridge too far - at least as I see it. But it is worth noting that all the theories have Joseph with a lot of false assumptions about the revelations and their connection to the papyri.

5 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

That supposition is obviously still being debated. There is currently no agreement about what the KEP represent or how involved Joseph was in the endeavor. 

Yeah, the KEP is just a mystery to me. It doesn't really help the critics anymore than it helps the apologists in their standard arguments. (IMO) After all if Joseph was conducting a fraud, the whole approach of the KEP makes zero sense. Regardless of how one sees the various arguments, whether the Abraham texts were dictated at the same time, or so forth, neither the fraud model nor the conservative catalyst theories can make much sense out of what Joseph was doing. Maybe a Taves like model can, but it has its own problems (IMO).

5 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

The desire to connect the BofA more strongly to a missing scroll than we can connect it to the extant fragments isn't based on some inherent need to "support a catalyst theory." Rather, I'm saying that those who have this desire are often willing to accommodate some degree of looseness/adaptation (and even some catalyst-type additions/revisions) in the translation. 

Yup. Exactly.

 

 

Edited by clarkgoble
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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

I'm completely unable to evaluate arguments on what is or isn't legitimate Egyptology. However just assuming that the main apologetic papers are correct there, the problem is that this explains just a tiny amount of the vignettes and completely overlooks their main use and meaning. These are standard funerary documents probably produced en mass in Thebes. That some of Joseph's explanations are correct doesn't really ultimately help. The fundamental problem is that the two vignettes and the hypocephalus are being used acontextually. Either in a 1st century context in the missing scroll theory or in the 19th century. That has to be accounted for.

I'm certainly no Egyptologist either. I approach the arguments like I do most technical information outside of my expertise (which is really in nothing). I just do the best I can to make good judgments using a variety of supplementary evaluative criteria (assessing the author's credentials, experience, reputation, the cogency of their arguments as I understand them, etc) . 

For me, I'm personally not really that worried about the contextual use of the vignettes/hypocephalus. The validity of the argument (which discounts the authenticity of the BofA based on this lack of contextual congruence) relies on an absence of evidence, and there is no way to know how representative the extant data about the contextual use of these vignettes is. Without being able to gauge the representative nature of our sample, there is no way to reliably determine how atypical the supposedly outlying data may be. Moreover, there is good reason to suppose, based on the nature of the text itself, that it's ancient contextualization might be in a category of outlying data anyway. The Lord's people in most times and ages have been a peculiar minority. In any case, trying to disprove or argue against the authenticity of the BofA using this line of evidence is really a pretty weak approach. So, in my view, it is a fairly neutral piece of data and there is no compelling need for it to "be accounted for." (It should be noted that there is certainly some evidence that the facsimiles can be contextually linked to the content of the BofA). 

1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

That only gets one so far though. After all we have several books of the dead accompanying the vignettes. All sings point to a standard use. Now if there's missing papyri of some sort enabling these standard documents to be repurposed that'd be significant. (Heaven knows such repurposing of things Egyptian wasn't unheard of in 1st century Rome where mystery rites tied to Egypt were popular - often twisted out of their original context) The problem there is that our papyri come from Thebes not Rome.

This is why the missing papyri theory was so interesting. It would give justification for these other texts being repurposed. As is, there's really no compelling argument for that. This pushes one more towards the catalyst theory where such repurposing is often moved from 1st century Thebes to 19th century Nauvoo. (I'm not saying I accept the catalyst theory - it has its own problems)

I think my response is pretty much the same as above. There is no need for a "compelling argument" showing that these specific vignettes were re-purposed in Thebes. The argument for their adaptation (whether by Joseph or by ancient priest/scribes/etc.)  just needs to be in the realm of plausible, which I definitely think it is. Again, the problem is sample size. 

1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

Even the most robust literalist missing scroll theory has Joseph mistaking the top of the scroll (the Hor book of breathings) as the Abraham text. So even there Joseph's mistaken.

In my understanding, the evidence for this isn't that fool proof. But maybe I'm missing something. Why are you convinced Joseph mistook the scroll for the Hor book of breathings? I'm certainly open to the possibility, but I'm not certain yet that this is a proven assumption. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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I would just add to the above that because of the difficulty of proving a negative when working with ancient data, positive evidence counts far more than a lack of positive evidence. This is why I am personally far more impressed by the strongest correlations between the facsimiles and modern Egyptology than I am by the supposedly glaring disjunctions. 

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On 12/27/2018 at 4:19 PM, CA Steve said:

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

Gee on pg 97-98 in his An Introduction to the Book of Abraham talks about how "the Book of Abraham is much like other autobiographies from Abraham's time and place....one difference is that autobiographies of Abraham's contemporaries discuss worshiping the way their parents did,.."

If there are no texts contemporary to Abraham's time, what do you think Gee is referring to when he talks about "other autobiographies from Abraham's time and place"?

Gee is likely referring there to the autobiographical genre well-known from Mesopotamia and Egypt, but unknown to the Bible.  Clark may have in mind the lack of known biblical autobiographies, and even the lack of early biblical texts, since he takes them all to be quite late.  Biblical Hebrew itself is a language which came into existence over a thousand years after Abraham (did not exist in Abraham's day).

On 12/27/2018 at 4:19 PM, CA Steve said:

Regarding the missing scroll theory which posits that the missing portions would contain the  hieratic text of the Book of Abraham, I want to expound on the difficulty that Barney raises above with his textual transmission problem and it being of necessity a late copy of Abraham's text. I think it goes beyond that. The Book of Abraham states that it is" the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt written by his own hand, upon papyrus" .

Hammurabi and St Paul both use exactly that same language about personally writing their respective documents.  Of course, Hammurabi did not personally engrave his own legal corpus, which is found all over Mesopotamia in multiple copies.  Nor did St Paul write his own letters.  Paul may have personally signed the original copy of his letters, but we do not have his autograph anywhere.  It is helpful to read such documents more carefully and in line with known figurative phrasing.  It is highly inappropriate to adopt different policies for Abraham.  Indeed, we have Abrahamic pseudepigrapha from late antiquity (Testament of Abraham, Apocalypse of Abraham, etc.) which no scholar faults due to such oddities.  We already know how such texts were transmitted.  Why would we reject accepted scholarship at the outset?

On 12/27/2018 at 4:19 PM, CA Steve said:

Setting aside the numerous other problems with the text itself; is it reasonable to believe that an actual text written in 2000 BCE± survived for 1500-1700 years unblemished and unknown, only to resurface for one brief moment in the Ptolemic period to be copied on the end of a common Egyptian Funerary document by an unknown scribe, then the original disappears altogether, while the copy is buried for almost another two centuries before it is rediscovered and made its way Joseph Smith, thousands of miles away as one of the few (maybe only) person in the world who could at that time completely translate the autobiography in Egyptian? Quite the chain of events isn't it?

We have many Egyptian texts which end up influencing biblical texts, or even directly inserted into the Bible.  The transmission of all such texts (including the Bible) is indeed problematic, and it frequently entails complex documentary analysis to show the more archaic sources -- often Egyptian and Mesopotamian for the Primeval History -- carefully demonstrating the specific and disparate sources which were combined in a unified way in late times.  Your notion of an original text which is transmitted unblemished or unchanged for two thousand years or so is a rejection of biblical and extra-biblical scholarship.  I know of no scholar who adopts that approach. If you were focusing solely upon the improbable nature of Joseph Smith claiming to read a heavily redacted document via revelation, that would make good sense to any scholar.

On 12/27/2018 at 4:19 PM, CA Steve said:

What is really hard to imagine here, if the introduction to the Book of Abraham is to be believed and if we are to believe Joseph Smith's own descriptions of the two scrolls he obtained from Chandler, is not only did this happen once, it happened twice. Joseph identified the other scroll, the Ta-sherit-Min scroll which was taken from a female mummy, as being the "Sacred record of Joseph in Pharaoh's court in Egypt." So now we are to believe that two separate unknown and unblemished documents survive  separately for 1500-1700 years in Egypt, then they both resurface at different times and locations, are copied on to the ends of two different scrolls,  which are buried with two different and unrelated mummies. The originals never resurface again and both of these separate copies find their way to Joseph Smith 2000 years later.

So I think a missing scroll theory that includes the writings of Abraham on it, in what ever form, has a lot more to overcome than just the textural problem Barney points out.

As long as we keep the conversation focused on the nature of pseudepigrapha and how they originate and are transmitted, we may make some headway.  The discussion of the likelihood that such mummies and documents show up together in Kirtland, or that ancient plates in Egyptian show up in a hill near Manchester, New York, are indeed grist for the statistically unlikely mill.  But to reject all scholarship on matters of content and transmission seems a bridge too far.

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On ‎12‎/‎28‎/‎2018 at 12:39 PM, clarkgoble said:

There always was a continuum of views. There's not just two views - the missing papyri and the catalyst theory. The missing papyri theory always seemed to presume a loose translation at best and often saw only fragmentary corrupt remnants in the missing papyri. By way of analogy I think the missing papyri theory always saw maybe a few lines that were expanded, much like Moses 5-7 is a huge expansion on a couple of verses in Genesis 5. While there may be some people who see Moses 5-7 as a restoration of an original pre-exilic text of Genesis, I suspect most assume those verses acted as a catalyst for a somewhat independent revelation on Enoch. In the same manner those pushing a missing papyri theory typically are fine with there being a massive expansion on whatever was on the Chandler mummies.

Clark,

Sorry for the delay in responding. Between visiting family, Xmas and football, not necessarily in that order I have not been able to respond to a lot of excellent posts from you, Robert and Ryan.

 

In regards to your presumption of a loose translation coupled with the expansion on a couple of verses always being tied to the missing scroll theory, I disagree  and here is why. In his recent publication, An Introduction to the Book of Abraham, Dr. Gee categorizes the relationship between the papyri and the Book of Abraham into three categories. (See Pg 85)

1. The theory that JS produced the Book of Abraham from the extant fragments.

2. The theory that Joseph Smith produced the Book of Abraham from portions we no longer have.

3. The theory that none of the papyri were used.

Dr Gee is firmly in category #2. First off Dr Gee has consistently argued that,

Quote

Some scholar, myself included, have noted that since the preserved papyri account for, at best, about thirteen present (13%) of the papyri that Joseph Smith possessed, the reason the Book of Abraham does not match the translation of the preserved papyri is that the Book of Abraham was translated from a portion of the papyri that is now missing.

John Gee 1999 A History of the Joseph Smith Papyri and Book of Abraham pg 14

In his 2008 article Some Puzzles From the Joseph Smith Papyri, on pg 120 he states,

Quote

Both Mormon and non-Mormon eyewitnesses from the nineteenth century agree that is was a "roll of Papyrus from which[Joseph Smith} translated the Book of Abraham," mean the "long roll of manuscript," and not one of the mounted fragments that eventually ended up in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So the intellectual position that some members follow and that the critics would have us adopt as the position of the church is not in accord with the historical record.

And in his recent book from this year on pg 86 he concludes his chapter 7, which deals with the relationship of the papyri to the Book of Abraham,

Quote

Given our current state of knowledge, the theory that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from papyri that we no longer have accounts for the most evidence with the fewest problems. 

None of that precludes some sort of catalyst & missing scroll theory combination and in fact there may be those out there, like Ryan here, who hope that should the missing portion somehow turn up they would have something on them that could conceivably serve as inspiration or a basis for our current Book of Abraham. But I think Dr. Gee is arguing for a missing scroll length long enough to contain not only our current Book of Abraham but also the "two-thirds to three-quarters of Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Abraham [which] is lost."  In his "Some Puzzles From the Joseph Smith Papyri on pg 121 he states by using the Hoffman formula he believes there is "41'-01" of missing papyri". This would have to be missing on the interior end by the way as the Hoffman formula can only calculate what is missing from the interior end. Why does he need 41'-0" of missing scroll if he thinks that the Book of Abraham could be produced via a loose translation coupled with a huge expansion of a couple of verses? He doesn't, but he does need it for there to be enough space to fit the current text, plus the missing text on the Hor scroll.

In 2010 Cook and Smith estimated that about 16'-9" or scroll would be required to contain our current Book of Abraham on the Hor scroll.

Quote

The question then becomes whether the undamaged scroll of Hor was ever long enough to accommodate a hieratic Book of Abraham source text. The main tesx of the canonized Book of Abraham contains 5,506 English words. The hieratic text in the instructions column of the Document of Breathing translates to ~97 English words. This column is ~9 cm wide. Hence, if the Book of Abraham was written on the scroll in the same hieratic font as this portion of the Document of Breathing, it would have taken up ~9(5,506/97)=511 cm (16'-9") of papyrus. Since the Book of Abraham translation is incomplete, the actual space required for a hieratic original would presumably have been even longer.

So if Dr. Gee can establish 41'-0" of missing scroll he has enough room for all the Book of Abraham text he wants without any need for a catalyst theory. 

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40 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

In regards to your presumption of a loose translation coupled with the expansion on a couple of verses always being tied to the missing scroll theory, I disagree  and here is why. In his recent publication, An Introduction to the Book of Abraham, Dr. Gee categorizes the relationship between the papyri and the Book of Abraham into three categories. (See Pg 85)

1. The theory that JS produced the Book of Abraham from the extant fragments.

2. The theory that Joseph Smith produced the Book of Abraham from portions we no longer have.

3. The theory that none of the papyri were used.Dr Gee is firmly in category #2. First off Dr Gee has consistently argued that,

I was speaking more broadly than just John. However as I recall, while John rejects 1st century pseudepigrapha models, he allows for textual corruption in the first century text. I tried to find a quote along those lines but can't seem to. So I'll admit I may be just conflating his views. He just sees the 1st century text as much closer to our Abraham text than I think most do. Largely because he's extremely skeptical of the Documentary Hypothesis and dates particularly relative to Genesis 1 and 2-3 which of course appear in the Book of Abraham. I think John tries to limit the range of possibilities too much. He's the strongest proponent of "most of the text was on the papyri" model. With (prior to his leaving the church and presumably discounting it as scripture) Bokovoy being the strongest proponent of the pure catalyst theory. Most everyone else is between those two extremes.

40 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

None of that precludes some sort of catalyst & missing scroll theory combination and in fact there may be those out there, like Ryan here, who hope that should the missing portion somehow turn up they would have something on them that could conceivably serve as inspiration or a basis for our current Book of Abraham. But I think Dr. Gee is arguing for a missing scroll length long enough to contain not only our current Book of Abraham but also the "two-thirds to three-quarters of Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Abraham [which] is lost."  

Yup. That's definitely his view although I think some of his arguments are somewhat problematic.

Edited by clarkgoble

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On ‎12‎/‎28‎/‎2018 at 7:21 AM, Ryan Dahle said:

In one sentence you say the suppositions about the content of the missing scrolls can't be supported by anything, and in the next you make an evaluation about how unlikely it is that they are anything other than ordinary funerary inscriptions. That seems to be self-contradictory. Moreover, I think you are missing the point. The desire to connect the BofA more strongly to a missing scroll than we can connect it to the extant fragments isn't based on some inherent need to "support a catalyst theory." Rather, I'm saying that those who have this desire are often willing to accommodate some degree of looseness/adaptation (and even some catalyst-type additions/revisions) in the translation

First off, and admittedly by my own fault I am finding myself defending a position here which I do not hold. In my OP I asked people to refrain from commenting on the catalyst theory because I could not see a connection between it and the missing scroll theory and I didn't want this to wander off in the hole of "who cares how he translated it, if it is scripture" claims that so frequently overrun interesting threads on this subject. Besides a couple of brief interlopers that has not been the case and this has been a very instructive thread that has helped me see how the two theories can be combined. So I am not against combining the two theories per se, though I do think it adds to the problems with the missing scroll theory by itself.

As far as my statements being self contradictory, I made an assumption that others would also understand that a text appended to the end of a funerary text which was placed in the arms of a deceased Egyptian would in all likelihood just be more funerary text. For example, Horos was buried with two scrolls, The Book of Breathings, parts of which are now in the possession of the church and another scroll, a badly damaged Book of the Dead, discovered in 1998, parts of which are kept in the Louvre Museum. So we have found more scroll remnants  from the same mummy on which the Breathing Permit was discovered and they turned out to be just more ordinary funerary documents, as anyone would expect.

 

Edited by CA Steve

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On ‎12‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 11:37 AM, Robert F. Smith said:

Hammurabi and St Paul both use exactly that same language about personally writing their respective documents.  Of course, Hammurabi did not personally engrave his own legal corpus, which is found all over Mesopotamia in multiple copies.  Nor did St Paul write his own letters.  Paul may have personally signed the original copy of his letters, but we do not have his autograph anywhere.  It is helpful to read such documents more carefully and in line with known figurative phrasing.  It is highly inappropriate to adopt different policies for Abraham.  Indeed, we have Abrahamic pseudepigrapha from late antiquity (Testament of Abraham, Apocalypse of Abraham, etc.) which no scholar faults due to such oddities.  We already know how such texts were transmitted.  Why would we reject accepted scholarship at the outset?

 

On ‎12‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 11:37 AM, Robert F. Smith said:

We have many Egyptian texts which end up influencing biblical texts, or even directly inserted into the Bible.  The transmission of all such texts (including the Bible) is indeed problematic, and it frequently entails complex documentary analysis to show the more archaic sources -- often Egyptian and Mesopotamian for the Primeval History -- carefully demonstrating the specific and disparate sources which were combined in a unified way in late times.  Your notion of an original text which is transmitted unblemished or unchanged for two thousand years or so is a rejection of biblical and extra-biblical scholarship.  I know of no scholar who adopts that approach. If you were focusing solely upon the improbable nature of Joseph Smith claiming to read a heavily redacted document via revelation, that would make good sense to any scholar

 

20 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

I was speaking more broadly than just John. However as I recall, while John rejects 1st century pseudepigrapha models, he allows for textual corruption in the first century text. I tried to find a quote along those lines but can't seem to. So I'll admit I may be just conflating his views. He just sees the 1st century text as much closer to our Abraham text than I think most do. Largely because he's extremely skeptical of the Documentary Hypothesis and dates particularly relative to Genesis 1 and 2-3 which of course appear in the Book of Abraham. I think John tries to limit the range of possibilities too much. He's the strongest proponent of "most of the text was on the papyri" model. With (prior to his leaving the church and presumably discounting it as scripture) Bokovoy being the strongest proponent of the pure catalyst theory. Most everyone else is between those two extremes

Robert & Clark,

Admittedly I do not believe that anything we have from Abraham represents anything an actual Abraham might of said. I tend to agree with what David Bokovoy has written on this subject in Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy. I am interested in what you both might have to say on whether or not you think our Book of Abraham represents something spoken by an actual Abraham. I am trying to fit in this catalyst theory with the missing scroll and I am wondering why, if God was actually supplying the text  to Joseph Smith via revelation, why would He give Joseph a text that resembled a heavily redacted document from the first century when He could just give Joseph the original?

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4 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

I am trying to fit in this catalyst theory with the missing scroll and I am wondering why, if God was actually supplying the text  to Joseph Smith via revelation, why would He give Joseph a text that resembled a heavily redacted document from the first century when He could just give Joseph the original?

I'm not Robert or Clark, but I would like to present a possibility.

God may respect the efforts taken by honorable men to preserve ancient sacred writings and will use those efforts to promulgate his divine message to future generations. In other words, rather than delivering the pristine original, he might favor using a fairly well-preserved copy and then touching up its inaccuracies/omissions via revelation, plus perhaps adapting the text in some ways for a modern audience. I'm not saying that is necessarily what I think happened. I'm not sure. I just think that is a good possibility and that it makes sense with what Latter-day Saints believe about the character and disposition of God and his willingness to work with his children's best efforts. 

 

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3 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I'm not Robert or Clark, but I would like to present a possibility.

God may respect the efforts taken by honorable men to preserve ancient sacred writings and will use those efforts to promulgate his divine message to future generations. In other words, rather than delivering the pristine original, he might favor using a fairly well-preserved copy and then touching up its inaccuracies/omissions via revelation, plus perhaps adapting the text in some ways for a modern audience. I'm not saying that is necessarily what I think happened. I'm not sure. I just think that is a good possibility and that it makes sense with what Latter-day Saints believe about the character and disposition of God and his willingness to work with his children's best efforts. 

 

HI Ryan,

In the case of the Book of Abraham, who would be these honorable men? We don't have anything written on Abraham for more than a thousand years after he purportedly existed. What sacred documents do you think were being preserved here? And, since these men are all long since dead, why would such efforts on the part of God be meaningful to any of them anyways? If the Book of Abraham is what it purports to be, "the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt", and if these honorable men are now with God, wouldn't they want the current version to factually represent what Abraham actually said and be unconcerned about errors they may have made unintentionally?

Thanks

 

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On 12/30/2018 at 6:30 PM, CA Steve said:

For example, Horos was buried with two scrolls, The Book of Breathings, parts of which are now in the possession of the church and another scroll, a badly damaged Book of the Dead, discovered in 1998, parts of which are kept in the Louvre Museum. So we have found more scroll remnants  from the same mummy on which the Breathing Permit was discovered and they turned out to be just more ordinary funerary documents, as anyone would expect.

The main problem is whether there are syncretic practices in funerary arrangements. That'd be far more plausible in stronger Roman areas which often were quite syncretic. However our mummy is from Thebes. So far as I know, no one has really made a case for syncretic texts in funerary documents in Thebes. So I agree that's a problem for apologists pushing the missing text theory. Again, I know next to nothing about Egypt, but this seems a place for focus for those making this argument. From a quick and dirty search I did find a lot of stuff on syncretic funerary things particularly in the Ptolemaic era. e.g. this thesis. I don't really have the background to say much here though. I think we need a positive argument that not only does Abraham exist as a name but that narratives or more extended treatment are found not only in Egypt but particularly Thebes. 

24 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

In the case of the Book of Abraham, who would be these honorable men? We don't have anything written on Abraham for more than a thousand years after he purportedly existed. What sacred documents do you think were being preserved here? And, since these men are all long since dead, why would such efforts on the part of God be meaningful to any of them anyways? If the Book of Abraham is what it purports to be, "the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt", and if these honorable men are now with God, wouldn't they want the current version to factually represent what Abraham actually said and be unconcerned about errors they may have made unintentionally?

I think this gets pretty speculative, but the presumption would be a scriptural tradition independent of what ends up in the Tanakh that was compiled by the P and D traditions in the Ptolemaic era. So the theory would go that either after the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom or the Babylonian conquest of the southern kingdom that refugees ended up in Egypt. (We know there were Jewish colonies, often devolving into syncretic practice, including a temple that was treated as legitimate for all but a few rites by figures in Jerusalem) The theory (again very speculative) would be that these alternative traditions had their own scriptures including a more robust Abraham text than what was in J/E and redacted/appropriated by P & D a few centuries later. This theoretical text then was mined by various pseudopigraphal texts. We know that in the medieval era there were over 2000 Jews living in Thebes. While that likely was affected by the Roman diaspora it's quite plausible there was a sizable community there in the Ptolemaic era.

The question then becomes why all the other textual traditions were lost once the Tanakh develops. We know of course that there were other now lost texts since the Bible refers to them. We also know of other textual traditions such as the Enochian one that were accepted by other Jewish communities such as Qumran. So here we're just postulating not only an Enochian tradition from the Ptolemaic era competing with the Tanakh.

4 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Admittedly I do not believe that anything we have from Abraham represents anything an actual Abraham might of said. I tend to agree with what David Bokovoy has written on this subject in Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy. I am interested in what you both might have to say on whether or not you think our Book of Abraham represents something spoken by an actual Abraham. I am trying to fit in this catalyst theory with the missing scroll and I am wondering why, if God was actually supplying the text  to Joseph Smith via revelation, why would He give Joseph a text that resembled a heavily redacted document from the first century when He could just give Joseph the original?

Again I'd just note there's not *a* catalyst theory. I can't defend Bokovoy's view for the reason you outlined. It doesn't make much sense to get a catalyst for a text that resembles a 1st century text. But I'll do my best to defend a theory I personally have a lot of trouble with. The idea might be that it's a very loose translation (much like some of us argue the Book of Mormon was). So if there was a pre-exilic prototype of Genesis 1 or Genesis 2-3 Joseph translates it largely by following the KJV versions.

Edited by clarkgoble

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On 12/27/2018 at 4:11 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

The actual text here refers to a Chaldean (Mesopotamian) bedstead, not an Egyptian one.  This fits the Chaldean context in Mesopotamia (near Potiphar's Hill at the head of the Plain of Olishem), since the virgin sacrifice is not taking place in Egypt.  We can actually identify a place-name Olishem in that very area.  We also know that Egypt had strong influence in that very area during the theoretical Abrahamic era.  Thus, whatever Abraham himself may have used to illustrate the altar, by the Ptolemaic-Roman period an Egyptian altar was substituted -- and from an alien document which could be adapted to the need of the Jewish copyist/ tradent.

Robert, this insight is quite interesting. I think the rebuttal would be, whether JS knew the history or not of the bedstead, he was still referring to the facsimile. How would you respond to that?  Could you also flesh out the significance of Olishem?

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1 hour ago, PacMan said:

Robert, this insight is quite interesting. I think the rebuttal would be, whether JS knew the history or not of the bedstead, he was still referring to the facsimile. How would you respond to that?

I doubt that Joseph was aware of such distinctions.  He probably looked at it much as an ordinary person does today -- uncritically.

1 hour ago, PacMan said:

 Could you also flesh out the significance of Olishem?

The Plain of Olishem, in an Egyptian controlled area of NW Syria (BofAbraham 1:10), is likely to be identified with the Akkadian place-name, Ulisum, Ulishim, in inscriptions of kings Rim Sin and Naram Sin (ca. 2250-2150 B.C.).[1]

[1] Daniel Peterson, Ensign 24/1 (Jan 1994):17-18, citing I. J. Gelb & B. Kienast, Die altakkadischen Königs-inschriften des dritten Jahrtausends v. Christentums (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 1990), 255-256; cf. “Inscription of Naram-Sin, the Campaign Against Armanu and Ebla,” in William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger Jr., eds., The Context of Scripture, vol. 2, Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World (Boston: Brill, 2003), 245 (the line reads, “From the Bank of the Euphrates until Ulisum”); see also C. Wood in R. Ritner, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri (SLC: Smith-Pettit Fdn/Signature Books, 2011), 74, U2-li-śi-imki, “roughly in the area of Ebla, west of the Euphrates and far west of Haran.”   

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7 hours ago, CA Steve said:

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

Admittedly I do not believe that anything we have from Abraham represents anything an actual Abraham might of said. I tend to agree with what David Bokovoy has written on this subject in Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy. I am interested in what you both might have to say on whether or not you think our Book of Abraham represents something spoken by an actual Abraham.

The question applies equally to the Bible, and is equally unanswerable through scholarship.  All we can do as scholars is establish the mise en scene.  We have no direct access to such facts.  What we can say is that Bokovoy is plainly wrong to suggest that there is something odd about an Abraham autobiography only because autobiography is so rare in the Bible.  Why?  Because it is a well-known genre in cuneiform and Egyptian documents.  Otherwise, Bokovoy's first volume in the series is an excellent introduction to the legitimate documentary hypothesis.

7 hours ago, CA Steve said:

I am trying to fit in this catalyst theory with the missing scroll and I am wondering why, if God was actually supplying the text  to Joseph Smith via revelation, why would He give Joseph a text that resembled a heavily redacted document from the first century when He could just give Joseph the original?

A reasonable question, but equally applicable to all Scripture.  Why do we have plainly transmitted documents?  Is it because God uses humans in all such matters?  Take a look at the massive W. W. Hallo volumes on the Context of Scripture:  The Bible obviously is a late compilation of much, much older documents, and the documentary hypothesis is essential in puzzling out the methods of redaction.  The Book of Mormon is merely an additional instance of a heavily redacted volume -- and Richard Bushman says "self-consciously" so.

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On 12/30/2018 at 5:47 PM, clarkgoble said:

..............................(prior to his leaving the church and presumably discounting it as scripture) Bokovoy ....................................

I was unaware that David Bokovoy had left the LDS faith.  Did he resign or was he pushed out?  Did he make a statement on that?

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20 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I was unaware that David Bokovoy had left the LDS faith.  Did he resign or was he pushed out?  Did he make a statement on that?

He went on Dehlin's Mormon Stories to talk about it. There were rumors about it when he took the job at the prison. Apparently gay issues were the final straw for him partially because his daughter was gay, although he'd already largely embraced a more fictional model of most scripture IMO.

Edited by clarkgoble
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22 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The Plain of Olishem, in an Egyptian controlled area of NW Syria (BofAbraham 1:10), is likely to be identified with the Akkadian place-name, Ulisum, Ulishim, in inscriptions of kings Rim Sin and Naram Sin (ca. 2250-2150 B.C.).[1]

[1] Daniel Peterson, Ensign 24/1 (Jan 1994):17-18, citing I. J. Gelb & B. Kienast, Die altakkadischen Königs-inschriften des dritten Jahrtausends v. Christentums (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 1990), 255-256; cf. “Inscription of Naram-Sin, the Campaign Against Armanu and Ebla,” in William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger Jr., eds., The Context of Scripture, vol. 2, Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World (Boston: Brill, 2003), 245 (the line reads, “From the Bank of the Euphrates until Ulisum”); see also C. Wood in R. Ritner, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri (SLC: Smith-Pettit Fdn/Signature Books, 2011), 74, U2-li-śi-imki, “roughly in the area of Ebla, west of the Euphrates and far west of Haran.”

Robert,

I am surprised you would quote Christopher Woods as a supportive source for Olishem being identified as Ulishim. Here is a more extensive quote from page 74 in which it is clear Woods is arguing against identifying Oleshem with Ulishim.

Quote

Similarly, at Haran - which figures prominently in Abraham's journey and in the vicinity of which Ur has been sought - virtually all of the evidence for the practice of religion prior to the Persian conquest involves the worship of the mood god Sin. There is no evidence for the regular worship of the Egyptian gods at Haran or,, for that matter, at any other location in northern Mesopotamia. An Old Babylonian copy of an inscription of the Sargonic ruler Narram-Sin (c. 2190-2154 BC) mentions a place Ulishim which much have been roughly in the area of Elba, west of the Euphrates and far west of Haran. Certainly, Ulishim could be superficially linked on phonetic grounds to the Olishem mentioned in the Book of Abraham in connection with the location of "Ur of Chaldea," where Abraham's kin are said to have turned to the worship of the Egyptian gods and Egyptian sacrificial rites. But a convincing identification would have to be  based on much more substantial evidence. As stressed above, everything we know about the region during the period in question - not to mention the likely location of Biblical Ur in southern Mesopotamia - speaks strongly against it. That the phonetic similarity is accidental (and here it should be pointed out that cuneiform sources attest thousands of place names) is again suggested by its coupling to the place "Potiphar's Hill" which likewise is said to be in the land of Ur. Potiphar, of course, is the Egyptian official to whom Joseph is sold in Genesis (37:36,39:1)- the name Potiphar, of course is Egyptian in derivation and has no place linguistically or culturally in the toponymy of southern or northern Mesopotamia. Finally, it must be observed that the identification of Ulishim with an Olishem alleged to be in the area of Ur makes little geographical sense within the context of Abraham's travels from Ur to Haran and subsequently to Canaan as described in Genesis and the Book of Abraham itself - for Ulishim no doubt lay west of Haran and so the latter could in no conceivable way be considered to be en route from Ulishim to Canaan, Haran being diametrically in the wrong direction.

 

Edited by CA Steve

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21 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:
Quote

I am trying to fit in this catalyst theory with the missing scroll and I am wondering why, if God was actually supplying the text  to Joseph Smith via revelation, why would He give Joseph a text that resembled a heavily redacted document from the first century when He could just give Joseph the original?

A reasonable question, but equally applicable to all Scripture.  Why do we have plainly transmitted documents?  Is it because God uses humans in all such matters?  Take a look at the massive W. W. Hallo volumes on the Context of Scripture:  The Bible obviously is a late compilation of much, much older documents, and the documentary hypothesis is essential in puzzling out the methods of redaction.  The Book of Mormon is merely an additional instance of a heavily redacted volume -- and Richard Bushman says "self-consciously" so.

I don't understand how the question could apply to all other scriptures. Are all (or even some) other scriptures claiming to exist because a prophet  of God has used an existing text of some sort as a catalyst to restore an ancient text? This process seems pretty unique. 

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24 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

I don't understand how the question could apply to all other scriptures. Are all (or even some) other scriptures claiming to exist because a prophet  of God has used an existing text of some sort as a catalyst to restore an ancient text? This process seems pretty unique. 

We don't really know the origin of most texts. The closest potentially might be Hudah who found the book of the law (usually seen as Deuteronomy) in the temple. However certainly peshers, midrashes, and targums offer some similarities to what Joseph did with the JST and thus potentially the BoA as well. Now while peshers or targums parallel somewhat elements of the JST clearly they're not long examples like the many cases in the JST of Genesis nor D&C 7 or other examples. However some suggest a connection between pseudepigrapha and apocalyptic writings and such expansions. That is while some are (and were) considered forgeries often by "heretical" groups, others were considered legitimate often alternative traditions. The Enochian tradition being the obvious such example. Later aggadah seem closer to what Joseph did although often that became more mystical rather than literalistic expansions.

So I'd agree we don't have a huge number of examples, but I'm not sure we're totally without them. Further much of this is (IMO) an argument from silence since we really don't know the origin of most of the texts. Nearly all of them also come to us in their final form in the Ptolemaic era. However given that textual criticism sees these largely as composite works, it's worth asking what that says regarding the nature of the expansions to the texts. Clearly someone found them authoritative enough to preserve over the alternative. It's unfortunate we don't have more explicit discussion of the textual origins of these texts in the relative periods. 

When you turn to the New Testament things are a little more interesting. If John didn't write John and is a relatively old text, yet is seen as inspired then I'd argue that really is quite similar to what Joseph did - albeit to a much closer period in history. Likely within 100 years. Of course such things may also reflect oral traditions or even written traditions now lost. Yet by the same measure critics often try to give Joseph access to oral traditions with elements of these traditions to explain the parallels of his early works to either unknown or little known texts. That's particularly the case with Abraham were the parallels to pseudepigraphal texts unknowable by Joseph seem quite pronounced.

Edited by clarkgoble
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17 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

We don't really know the origin of most texts. The closest potentially might be Hudah who found the book of the law (usually seen as Deuteronomy) in the temple. However certainly peshers, midrashes, and targums offer some similarities to what Joseph did with the JST and thus potentially the BoA as well. Now while peshers or targums parallel somewhat elements of the JST clearly they're not long examples like the many cases in the JST of Genesis nor D&C 7 or other examples. However some suggest a connection between pseudepigrapha and apocalyptic writings and such expansions. That is while some are (and were) considered forgeries often by "heretical" groups, others were considered legitimate often alternative traditions. The Enochian tradition being the obvious such example. Later aggadah seem closer to what Joseph did although often that became more mystical rather than literalistic expansions.

So I'd agree we don't have a huge number of examples, but I'm not sure we're totally without them. Further much of this is (IMO) an argument from silence since we really don't know the origin of most of the texts. Nearly all of them also come to us in their final form in the Ptolemaic era. However given that textual criticism sees these largely as composite works, it's worth asking what that says regarding the nature of the expansions to the texts. Clearly someone found them authoritative enough to preserve over the alternative. It's unfortunate we don't have more explicit discussion of the textual origins of these texts in the relative periods. 

When you turn to the New Testament things are a little more interesting. If John didn't write John and is a relatively old text, yet is seen as inspired then I'd argue that really is quite similar to what Joseph did - albeit to a much closer period in history. Likely within 100 years. Of course such things may also reflect oral traditions or even written traditions now lost. Yet by the same measure critics often try to give Joseph access to oral traditions with elements of these traditions to explain the parallels of his early works to either unknown or little known texts. That's particularly the case with Abraham were the parallels to pseudepigraphal texts unknowable by Joseph seem quite pronounced.

Clark,

Great response, but there is one problem. These other scripture are the same scriptures that the church defines as the word of God "as far as they are translated correctly". Given that Joseph, in the case of a catalyst theory, is getting the Book of Abraham directly from God wouldn't it be a safe bet to assume it is being translated correctly?

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39 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

I don't understand how the question could apply to all other scriptures. Are all (or even some) other scriptures claiming to exist because a prophet  of God has used an existing text of some sort as a catalyst to restore an ancient text? This process seems pretty unique. 

You yourself spoke of the heavily redacted texts, and pointed to Bokovoy's introduction.  Surely you understand that all Scripture is a continuous redaction through time of older traditions put in new skin.  All prophets merely restate older directives and traditions.  God always speaks to his prophets in standard patterns, just as he uses repeated ordinances and liturgy.  There is literally nothing new under the sun.  The Gospel is as old as humanity.

The catalyst theory is nonsense and completely unnecessary.  The Bible and Book of Mormon are heavily redacted documents, as is the BofA.  Why would it be any different?

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