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CA Steve

The textual transmission of the Book of Abraham.

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, CA Steve said:

I think both Wayment and Wilson would agree with that but would also point out that "influence" does not quite cover those instances where Smith directly copied from Clarke. According to Wilson they found 30 in the New Testament and another 15 in the OT. I think we will both have to wait until the book comes out to read their results to know how significant and extensive Smith's use of Clarke's Commentary actually was.

Do you see that as a problem?I understand that scholars have discovered Paul's quoting  of secular authors.

Edited by cdowis

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Posted (edited)
On 1/5/2019 at 8:58 PM, CA Steve said:

I went back and listened again to the Wilson interview to make sure I was not misrepresenting her and I also read the 10 questions interview at T&S to see what Wayment had to say. I think if you took the time to listen to what Wilson has to say in her interview about the entire process of their paper, you might have a different view on whether or not they were trying to tone down the Clarke Commentary issue. For example at the 31:30 mark Wilson talks about how since they were at BYU, Tom had to keep his job and she had to get her diploma so they talked about ways to frame this to be palatable. Later on she mentions how they were trying very hard to make it as nonthreatening as possible. for public consumption in the rank and file members of the church. I can say that Wilson definitely thinks Joseph Smith plagiarized from Clarke and uses that term or agrees with it several times during the interview.

Just to be clear, I know Wilson says it is plagiarism. I wasn't disputing that. I was more disputing whether Wayment agrees with that assessment. It seems completely clear he doesn't. He's emphatically made that point in multiple interviews. Secondly I think it silly to see it as plagiarism given the nature of the project and the scriptures on studying things out. 

Now Wilson may portray Wayment as duplicitous. I'm not sure he would agree with that though. Certainly it was that which I disagreed with her on. 

On 1/5/2019 at 8:58 PM, CA Steve said:

As far as her involvement in the project; according to her " If you ask both of us the work was 50-50", and "when it came to writing the paper we each wrote sections" and "originally Tom wanted me to write the paper myself but we decided it would carry more weight with his name on it." See starting about 9:50 onward. And even Wayment in his T&S interview said this about the forth coming paper.

Again grunt work done by undergraduates is usually the bulk of the work but not necessarily the bulk of the analysis. Not speaking to her portrayal, just noting the normal way these things go. Experience matters a great deal which is often why the experienced person gets their name first in most papers. (Although to be honest sometimes it is, as she portrays it, a matter of weight) 

Not being there I really can't say too much and so far as I know Wayment hasn't chimed in on that point.

On 1/5/2019 at 8:58 PM, CA Steve said:

Wilson talks at length about her faith journey and directly ties it to the research she did for Wayment, research that began in 2015 immediately after she returned from a mission. To paraphrase her words, starting at 112:00±

"if the Book of Mormon is true then the Church is true...That narrative led to my own faith crisis... the idea that the Book of Mormon has to be this perfect ancient text... It was in doing this research I realized it wasn't and that led me to my of faith crisis."

Just to give the background to my comments, I take it as a given that while we can construct narratives about why we do things typically we don't know why we do things. Often those around us can see better than we can. This is just a common psychological take on how our intents are typically hidden from us. (The idea goes back a long time to Plato who has us learning about ourselves only through others who act like a mirror)

To analyze the quote you give, "the idea that the Book of Mormon has to be this perfect ancient text" is a pretty black/white position and a deeply problematic one. Those who don't correct it in a faithful context often run into a faith crisis because they have incorrect expectations. What you sometimes find is that rather than correcting expectations they hold to them and reject the beliefs. (This is why some take up positions akin to New Atheism which is also a rather black/white type of belief system - which got mentioned in one of the threads)  My point just is that that question of why reject the beliefs rather than the expectations seems a more crucial matter than the catalyst for the faith crisis. I don't deny the faith crisis arose out of her work. I just deny that it's that which led her out of the Church. Rather it was the reasons for why that decision over expectation/belief was resolved the way it was.

Hope that clarifies things.

On 1/5/2019 at 8:58 PM, CA Steve said:

Wayment has a commentary of the New Testament that he just released called The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints which is published by Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book. His paper with Wilson is a different book that is going to be released by the University of Utah press. So there are two different books and it is the second one from U of U that will have the article on Clarke's influence on the JST as well as something more on the Book of Abraham.

Yes, I was aware of that, although I wasn't sure it was being written with Wilson or not. I'm curious as to what he does with the Book of Abraham.

Edited by clarkgoble
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On 1/3/2019 at 2:11 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

See Stephen O. Smoot, “The Book of the Dead as a Temple Text and Its Implications for the Book of Abraham,” paper delivered at the Temple on Mount Zion Conference, at BYU, Provo, Utah, Oct 25, 2014, online at https://interpreterfoundation.org/stephen-smoot-on-the-book-of-the-dead-as-a-temple-text-and-its-implications-for-the-book-of-abraham/ .  See also E. A. E. Reymond, The Mythical Origin of the Egyptian Temple (Manchester Univ. Press, 1969).  One can ferret out the living temple liturgy in the temples of Philae, Edfu, Esna, Kom Ombo, Dendera, etc., by referring to translations in  Serge Sauneron, Le temple d'Esna, 8 vols. (Cairo, 1959-1982). and his Les fetes religieuses d'Esna, or in E. Chassinat Le Temple d’Edfou (Cairo, 1897-1960), but Nibley lays it all out systematically in his Message of the JSP: An Egyptian Endowment, 2nd ed. (2005).   See also Amr Gaber's doctoral dissertation online at http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/88/1/PhD_Thesis.pdf?DDD6+ .The ancient daily ritual in Egypt was little different than current puja in Hindu temples.  Ancient Egyptian temple rites were performed for both the living and the dead, and, as pointed out to me by John Gee, even autobiographical accounts line up systematically with the content and sequence of Book of the Dead texts – showing clearly that the ritual sequence of the Book of the Dead was actively performed live in Egyptian temples.    As Robert Ritner has also pointed out, “Various temple, and even private, rituals were devised to ensure the victory of Re and the consequent maintenance of world stability” – “for both the living and the dead.”  Ritner, “The Repulsing of the Dragon (1.21) (Coffin Text 160),” in W. W. Hallo, ed., The Context of Scripture, 3 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1997, 2000, 2002), I:32, citing his own previous work (1993:210-212).

Thanks. I hadn't known that. I assumed it was purely a funerary text for the dead.

On 1/3/2019 at 2:11 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

Ha, ha, ha.  😂  He couldn't be more wrong.

Yeah. I was a bit shocked and dumbfounded. It went against what Nibley had been teaching. Interestingly this was one of the semesters FARMS was recording everything. So I suppose my question is there for the ages in some transcript somewhere. I might be wrong - it was long ago - but I think it might have been the last semester Nibley taught due to that blow up over grades. 

On 1/3/2019 at 2:11 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

I am not prepared to say just what the configuration of Egyptian and Jewish docs was for the Jewish scribe who must have penned the version translated by Joseph, because we just don't have it.

So you think it was a Jewish scribe and some sort of syncretic form of Judaism at the time and that the mummies we have are Jewish rather than Egyptian following only Egyptian religion. I'd love to believe that is true. I just don't see any evidence for that and I'm not sure it's necessary for the Book of Abraham to not be a pure catalyst production. 

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39 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

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

So you think it was a Jewish scribe and some sort of syncretic form of Judaism at the time and that the mummies we have are Jewish rather than Egyptian following only Egyptian religion. I'd love to believe that is true. I just don't see any evidence for that and I'm not sure it's necessary for the Book of Abraham to not be a pure catalyst production. 

The Book of Abraham was transmitted/copied/redacted by a Jewish scribe.  There is nothing syncretic about that, even if some alien illustrations were adapted to use with the papyrus.  If we had the actual papyrus we could say more about the context, but none of the mummies need be Jewish or related to Jews.  That a collection of papyri was purchased in Kirtland is really all we know.  Most of them can be easily categorized.

If someone wants to assert that the BofA is a pseudepigraphon created by Jews somewhere in Egypt during that era, that would make sense, because it includes the usual ingredients of such compositions, including plenty of authentic traditions about Abraham (which are found in other pseudepigrapha).

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8 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

If someone wants to assert that the BofA is a pseudepigraphon created by Jews somewhere in Egypt during that era, that would make sense, because it includes the usual ingredients of such compositions, including plenty of authentic traditions about Abraham (which are found in other pseudepigrapha).

Then why not just cut out the middleman and have Joseph be the author?

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9 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The Book of Abraham was transmitted/copied/redacted by a Jewish scribe.  There is nothing syncretic about that, even if some alien illustrations were adapted to use with the papyrus.  If we had the actual papyrus we could say more about the context, but none of the mummies need be Jewish or related to Jews.  That a collection of papyri was purchased in Kirtland is really all we know.  Most of them can be easily categorized.

If someone wants to assert that the BofA is a pseudepigraphon created by Jews somewhere in Egypt during that era, that would make sense, because it includes the usual ingredients of such compositions, including plenty of authentic traditions about Abraham (which are found in other pseudepigrapha).

But that's where I start running aground. There's no evidence that the vignettes were adapted to use with a prime papyri containing the Book of Abraham. Further it makes very little sense for a Jewish scribe who wasn't syncretic to include the Book of Breathings. So this is pretty speculative but more importantly seems to lack even an indication within the papyri we have. If one is going for a missing text theory (and from what I can tell people are moving towards the missing Amenhotep scroll now) I'd think a syncretic corruption theory would make more sense.

16 minutes ago, the narrator said:

Then why not just cut out the middleman and have Joseph be the author?

Then it's not really scripture. (I'm not sure if you're saying that in jest or not)

 

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41 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

Then it's not really scripture. (I'm not sure if you're saying that in jest or not)

Not in jest at all. It's my understanding that Muhlstein (and Gee?) are now open to the BofM being 2nd century inspired Jewish pseudepigrapha, and I assumed that's what Robert was referring to. If so, then what's the point? If it's inspired pseuepigrapha, why conjure up an unlikely and unknown person over two millennia ago? Just make Joseph the inspired author.

Also, why would that make it "not really scripture"?

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10 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Just to be clear, I know Wilson says it is plagiarism. I wasn't disputing that. I was more disputing whether Wayment agrees with that assessment. It seems completely clear he doesn't. He's emphatically made that point in multiple interviews. Secondly I think it silly to see it as plagiarism given the nature of the project and the scriptures on studying things out. 

Now Wilson may portray Wayment as duplicitous. I'm not sure he would agree with that though. Certainly it was that which I disagreed with her on. 

I think it is also important for me to note that my view of what is going on is based on my interpretations of what Wilson has said and I think it can be looked at different ways.  I do not think in anyway she was trying to portray Wayment as being duplicitous, merely trying to navigate a situation where they could present their findings in such a way as to not offend the faithful. I think "toned down" is the best way to phrase it. I did think the comment about "Tom having to keep his job" was telling but whether or not that was her view or something he said to her is unknown. 

Plagiarism is a tough word here. I think it fits quite well in our modern context, but can it be applied to what Joseph though he was doing? I do not know. If Rigdon was not present, I think not, but given Rigdon's background, certainly he would have understood the concept. Setting aside the negative implications of plagiarism, I think what we have to look at here more closely is the fact that multiple people were present here in this process, Smith, Rigdon and the scribe(s) and none of them ever mention the use of Clarke's. This has implications beyond just the JST production and perhaps requires revisiting how we look at all the other text's that were produced by Joseph. Certainly it increases the probability that when Joseph was working on the Book of Mormon, he was in some way using the KJV. Or for example, it would be interesting to know how much influence Buck's Theological Dictionary had on the Lectures on Faith by Joseph Smith

10 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Again grunt work done by undergraduates is usually the bulk of the work but not necessarily the bulk of the analysis. Not speaking to her portrayal, just noting the normal way these things go. Experience matters a great deal which is often why the experienced person gets their name first in most papers. (Although to be honest sometimes it is, as she portrays it, a matter of weight) 

Not being there I really can't say too much and so far as I know Wayment hasn't chimed in on that point

I've no horse in this race here. I was just passing along how Wilson portrayed it, no more. I do think the fact that they considered having her write it by herself would be evidence that she was doing more than just grunt work here, but given her inexperience she could also just have misunderstood the process.

 

11 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Hope that clarifies things.

I think at some point we should stop blaming the members for not being able to adjust their expectations and or beliefs and ask ourselves why those expectations & beliefs were based on such black and white thinking.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

I think it is also important for me to note that my view of what is going on is based on my interpretations of what Wilson has said and I think it can be looked at different ways.  I do not think in anyway she was trying to portray Wayment as being duplicitous, merely trying to navigate a situation where they could present their findings in such a way as to not offend the faithful. I think "toned down" is the best way to phrase it. I did think the comment about "Tom having to keep his job" was telling but whether or not that was her view or something he said to her is unknown. 

I think for many people, particularly those who tend to see things through a very black/white lens, it's very difficult to fully comprehend someone else may see the data differently from them. Those who interpret in a black and white way tend to not really "get" that texts can be read in multiple ways. So I can very much see that she has a hard time understanding Wayment's approach when she interprets it as leading her out of the Church. I'm not saying that's what's going on, but it would certainly be consistent with many people with black/white thinking as she described herself as having before her crisis. I've certainly had many discussions with people who can't see how I can read the same things they read, understand their arguments, yet come to different conclusions. The whole annoying "cognitive dissonance" claim some critics sometimes bring really arises out of that black/white thinking IMO.

Again to be clear I don't know Wayment's fundamental beliefs. I'm just taking him at his word from his many interviews on the subject which seem to contradict Wilson's comments.

1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

Plagiarism is a tough word here. I think it fits quite well in our modern context, but can it be applied to what Joseph though he was doing? I do not know. If Rigdon was not present, I think not, but given Rigdon's background, certainly he would have understood the concept.

The problem with plagiarism in this context is that (1) Joseph appears to have been pretty forthright in what he was doing. I can't see his scribes being ignorant of what he was doing. (2) his Book of Mormon translation makes use of KJV passages and paraphrases in a pretty similar way. Again most readers of the time (who were very fluent in the Bible compared to now) would have recognized this. (3) his discussion of how revelation/translation works in the context of D&C 9. It seems pretty clear that Joseph saw this sort of effort as key to how translation proceeded.

Now again, it was unfortunate that the quasi-fundamentalist approach to scripture in the mid-20th century didn't acknowledge this leading to a kind of privileging of the black/white mindset. The idea of a loose translation really didn't gain much steam until Sorenson's An Ancient American Setting. Even then what got emphasized tended to be at the word level rather than the sentence/paragraph level. Manuals certainly didn't engage with this.

1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

Certainly it increases the probability that when Joseph was working on the Book of Mormon, he was in some way using the KJV. Or for example, it would be interesting to know how much influence Buck's Theological Dictionary had on the Lectures on Faith by Joseph Smith

Lectures on Faith clearly had huge dependencies, although that's not written by Joseph. It's also explicitly a catechism so this isn't surprising. It almost certainly represents Joseph's thinking but really isn't even claimed as revelation even though for a while it was treated as scripture. (The "doctrine" part of the Doctrine and Covenants) 

Again for Clarke, it's available online and is trivial to compare Clarke to the major passages changed in the JST.  So one can see how broad the influences were. I don't think Joseph ever claimed every change was necessarily inspired. He was more focused on improving the Bible which included fixing places where the KJV was misleading. Utilizing both scholarship and revelation for that makes sense. I know for a while there was a kind of textual fundamentalism for the JST with the idea of it restoring an ur-text but I see no theological evidence for that. It was just a presupposition largely arising out of the theology of McConkie and others in the mid-20th century. With the early scholarship on the JST by Matthews and others you see that tension - sometimes he rejects the idea of an ur-text and other times embraces it. I suspect that was itself tied into the politics of the religion department at BYU in the 70's through 90's. There was, as I'm sure you know, a very strong McConkie influence there in terms of theology.

1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

I was just passing along how Wilson portrayed it, no more. I do think the fact that they considered having her write it by herself would be evidence that she was doing more than just grunt work here, but given her inexperience she could also just have misunderstood the process.

That's my guess. I don't deny in the least she did the grunt work - just its significance. An undergraduate just doesn't have the education typically to analyze all this. (Maybe she did - I don't really know the details of her academic background so I can't say much there)

1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

I think at some point we should stop blaming the members for not being able to adjust their expectations and or beliefs and ask ourselves why those expectations & beliefs were based on such black and white thinking.

For regular members I'm all with you, which is why I've long advocated inoculation (which the Church has largely embraced of late). For people in academics though I think it's a whole other situation since it pretty well implies willful ignorance of the other positions. The very nature of what people are taught in academics is to question their presuppositions. In this case that appears to be done quite superficially. (At least going by how you've presented Wilson - as I said I've not listened to the full podcast)

Edited by clarkgoble

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, the narrator said:

Not in jest at all. It's my understanding that Muhlstein (and Gee?) are now open to the BofM being 2nd century inspired Jewish pseudepigrapha, and I assumed that's what Robert was referring to. If so, then what's the point? If it's inspired pseuepigrapha, why conjure up an unlikely and unknown person over two millennia ago? Just make Joseph the inspired author.

Also, why would that make it "not really scripture"?

I can't comment on Muhlstein and Gee there. Do you have a link to something they've said along those lines? I confess I always thought they were open to it being pseudepigrapha that Joseph then corrected. The middle-ground between catalyst and missing-text. A few people here said that wasn't the case. It's been a while since I last read in depth on the issue and even then I didn't feel like I really had all the nuances. So I'll bow out from trying to fully represent Muhlstein and Gee's positions.

To the more theological question though I feel I can chime in there. I suspect by inspired pseudopigrapha they're talking about the narratives within the Ptolemic period about Abraham. He wouldn't have been unknown since even most textual critics see the narratives in Genesis largely arising out of the pre-exilic period even if redacted and modified in the Ptolemic period by the Priestly tradition. Thus the whole E & J textual traditions (typically seen as unified in a stable time by the time of Josiah) So in that case then you'd have the Abraham narratives from Genesis (and most likely many more not in our Old Testament) that are expanded. We know of lots of examples of that like The Testament of Abraham (typically seen as a 1st century composition like our papyri), The Apocalypse of Abraham and many more. There were a lot of Abraham pseudopigrapha floating around in the 1st century - and probably far more than survived. While some of these almost certainly were fraudulent, many likely represented older traditions, and some may have been inspired in some form.

The whole, "not really scripture," thing is more that pseudopigrapha is typically seen as deeply problematic in a Mormon POV. While something like Job or even Jonah might be seen as fiction, treating Genesis as fiction is usually a bridge too far. But I was more just thinking that if it's just fiction that then it's problematic as scripture due to the way theology is grounded. I recognize some disagree, but they're very much in the minority. Further it has obvious issues for retention, as I think we saw with Bokovoy and his leaving the Church. Once it's fiction, why remain Mormon? Typically those who treat Abraham as fiction, also treat Moses and the Book of Mormon as fiction. Once you do that, then parts of the D&C become problematic. Effectively you unmoor a lot of assumptions. Once you do that at best you have a kind of view of the Church as useful but many basic claims no longer true. The move to utility for religion then opens up criticisms when you feel the Church isn't useful. I think the end result is usually a Gina Colvin like approach. 

Edited by clarkgoble

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2 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

But that's where I start running aground. There's no evidence that the vignettes were adapted to use with a prime papyri containing the Book of Abraham. Further it makes very little sense for a Jewish scribe who wasn't syncretic to include the Book of Breathings. So this is pretty speculative but more importantly seems to lack even an indication within the papyri we have. If one is going for a missing text theory (and from what I can tell people are moving towards the missing Amenhotep scroll now) I'd think a syncretic corruption theory would make more sense.

The illustrations are not in any way related to Abraham.  They are standard Egyptian documents, and are to be interpreted via standard Egyptology.  Can they be interpreted in light of the BofA?  Of course, and there is no reason why that cannot be done.  Adaptation is not syncretism.  We do not have an Abraham papyrus as the basis of the BofA.  Did one exist?  Certainly possible.  In fact, it is very difficult to imagine Joseph Smith inventing such a document with all the fully accurate claims and interpretations therein.  Now that we know that Joseph did not (and could not) compose the Book of Mormon, we are left with the impossible claim that it is all either happenstantial, or that someone had magical abilities.  Note that the BofM, like the BofA, is based on a no longer available original Egyptian source (plates, papyrus).

2 hours ago, clarkgoble said:
 
Quote

2 hours ago, the narrator said:

Then why not just cut out the middleman and have Joseph be the author?

Then it's not really scripture. (I'm not sure if you're saying that in jest or not)

Yet that is precisely what Scripture can be.  Someone is the author, creator, or tradent.  In fact, every author/creator is beholden to tradition.  However, close analysis of the content and style of a document can disclose when, where, and by whom it was written.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Yet that is precisely what Scripture can be.  Someone is the author, creator, or tradent.  In fact, every author/creator is beholden to tradition.  However, close analysis of the content and style of a document can disclose when, where, and by whom it was written.

By pseudepigrapha I took him to mean fictional. Given what you've said in the past you'd see that as deeply problematic whether the fiction arose in the 1st century or 19th.

10 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The illustrations are not in any way related to Abraham.  They are standard Egyptian documents, and are to be interpreted via standard Egyptology.  Can they be interpreted in light of the BofA?  Of course, and there is no reason why that cannot be done.  Adaptation is not syncretism. 

I think you're missing my point. Why would a Jewish scribe take a book of breathings and these standard Egyptian vignettes and adapt them to the Book of Abraham unless they were part of a syncretic form of Judaism. What would be the point? 

Edited by clarkgoble

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3 hours ago, the narrator said:

Then why not just cut out the middleman and have Joseph be the author?

Simply because Joseph does not have access to the Abrahamic traditions from late antiquity.  The Jewish community in Egypt in the Ptolemaic-Roman period did have that access, and (as Clark has pointed out), used it to create a number of pseudepigrapha.  Joseph cannot be the author of either the BofA or of the BofM.

However, the problem is much larger and more complex than that.  Much of ancient Scripture cannot be verified by scientific or historical means, and even when codified, already had the status of myth or legend.  Such material can only be approached on the basis of faith.  The late Frank Moore Cross, Jr., said:

Quote

The patriarchal traditions were an integral element in Israel’s early epic (although it must be said that the history of the patriarchs has been vastly expanded by later accretions before achieving its present agglutinative mass).  Much of the patriarchal lore is very old, some of it reaching back, perhaps, into the Middle Bronze Age.  As an epic cycle it evidently existed prior to the epic materials recounting exodus, covenant, and conquest.  There is, on the other hand, no reason to believe that the bundle of exodus, Sinai, and conquest themes ever existed detached from or separated from patriarchal epic tradition – save in its purely mythic prototype.  Cross, From Epic to Canon: History and Literature in Ancient Israel (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1998), 47.

Only presentism prevents understanding the fundamental nature of Scripture.

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20 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

By pseudepigrapha I took him to mean fictional. Given what you've said in the past you'd see that as deeply problematic whether the fiction arose in the 1st century or 19th.

Most of Scripture cannot be differentiated from pseudepigrapha, from whatever period.  For many scholars, Scripture is pseudepigrapha, and always has been, from Genesis to the Revelation of John.  Both Abraham and Jesus are to be classified with Lord Raglan's and Joseph Campbell's archetypal heroes.  Whether they are and were real is a matter of faith.

Quote

I think you're missing my point. Why would a Jewish scribe take a book of breathings and these standard Egyptian vignettes and adapt them to the Book of Abraham unless they were part of a syncretic form of Judaism. What would be the point? 

I don't think that a Jewish tradent or scribe particularly cared about the Book of Breathings and hypocephalus text, but only threw in some illustrations to accompany his story about the adventures of Abraham.  He was able to adapt them remarkably well to his story and theology.  He dominated the Egyptian sources rather than the reverse, which is why syncretism is not the operative concept.  He used what he had at hand.  If, after some time, and under conditions unknown to us now, these documents happened to end up in a regular Egyptian tomb (not placed there by Jews), that would have no effect upon the content -- which must be evaluated on its own merits.

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I don't think that a Jewish tradent or scribe particularly cared about the Book of Breathings and hypocephalus text, but only threw in some illustrations to accompany his story about the adventures of Abraham.  He was able to adapt them remarkably well to his story and theology.

But that's my problem. That's not what we have. We have vignettes plus the book of breathings. If we only had the vignette's I would be quite persuaded along those lines. It's that we have to explain that book of breathings and that isn't tied to their story. That seems to push it towards syncretic belief in some sense, as they clearly saw the book of breathings as significant.
 

3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Most of Scripture cannot be differentiated from pseudepigrapha, from whatever period.  For many scholars, Scripture is pseudepigrapha, and always has been, from Genesis to the Revelation of John.  Both Abraham and Jesus are to be classified with Lord Raglan's and Joseph Campbell's archetypal heroes.  Whether they are and were real is a matter of faith.

In terms of argument, I agree. That is we're not going to have any post-exilic texts that could clarify the issue. Heck, even if we found some metal plates about him from the relevant time period that wouldn't necessarily imply he was real.

But I think theologically there is a big difference. And I do think the theology affects what apologetic is considered acceptable. Indeed I think the reason why Bokovoy's pure catalyst model is dismissed by so many is ultimately on theological grounds.

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5 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

I think for many people, particularly those who tend to see things through a very black/white lens, it's very difficult to fully comprehend someone else may see the data differently from them. Those who interpret in a black and white way tend to not really "get" that texts can be read in multiple ways. So I can very much see that she has a hard time understanding Wayment's approach when she interprets it as leading her out of the Church. I'm not saying that's what's going on, but it would certainly be consistent with many people with black/white thinking as she described herself as having before her crisis. I've certainly had many discussions with people who can't see how I can read the same things they read, understand their arguments, yet come to different conclusions. The whole annoying "cognitive dissonance" claim some critics sometimes bring really arises out of that black/white thinking IMO.

In the case of Wilson, instead of criticizing her for not being able to adjust the evidence to fit her previous world view, perhaps we should be congratulating her on her ability to allow the evidence to change her world view. For all we know, she may completely understand Wayment's approach and simply disagree with it based on how she interprets the same evidence. In other words, the argument you use above works both ways.

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30 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

In the case of Wilson, instead of criticizing her for not being able to adjust the evidence to fit her previous world view, perhaps we should be congratulating her on her ability to allow the evidence to change her world view. For all we know, she may completely understand Wayment's approach and simply disagree with it based on how she interprets the same evidence. In other words, the argument you use above works both ways.

You have been congratulating her in this thread consistently....  (which again is fine)...I’m sure both he and she are both aware of each other approaches and simply disagree on how they interpret the evidence. But it was YOU who was solely holding up her pov/terminology as being the singular valid one. 

Edited by Steve J

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

But that's my problem. That's not what we have. We have vignettes plus the book of breathings. If we only had the vignette's I would be quite persuaded along those lines. It's that we have to explain that book of breathings and that isn't tied to their story. That seems to push it towards syncretic belief in some sense, as they clearly saw the book of breathings as significant..........................

I don't understand why the Jewish scribe transmitting the BofA would care about the Book of Breathings.  It is unrelated to the BofA text, and the hypocephalus is likewise not part of it.  Those are merely convenient illustrations.  The Book of Breathings is, moreover, merely a summary of the Book of the Dead, which is in turn the latest form of the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts.  As Latter Day Saints we might take a keen interest in the esoteric temple rites of the Egyptians, but why would a Jew take an interest?  In late antiquity?  I don't see the connection.  That two of the illustrations are part of the Book of Breathings is irrelevant and meaningless (despite the ignorance of Joseph's scribes).

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I don't understand why the Jewish scribe transmitting the BofA would care about the Book of Breathings.  It is unrelated to the BofA text, and the hypocephalus is likewise not part of it.  Those are merely convenient illustrations.  The Book of Breathings is, moreover, merely a summary of the Book of the Dead, which is in turn the latest form of the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts.  As Latter Day Saints we might take a keen interest in the esoteric temple rites of the Egyptians, but why would a Jew take an interest?  In late antiquity?  I don't see the connection.  That two of the illustrations are part of the Book of Breathings is irrelevant and meaningless (despite the ignorance of Joseph's scribes).

Confused. So you're agreeing with me that it doesn't make much sense that the scribe copied the book of breathings if he was Jewish? Isn't that an argument against the scribe being Jewish? And doesn't that make it more improbable that there is a missing papyri with a complete Abraham text? Or am I just missing something obvious?

 

3 hours ago, CA Steve said:

In the case of Wilson, instead of criticizing her for not being able to adjust the evidence to fit her previous world view, perhaps we should be congratulating her on her ability to allow the evidence to change her world view. For all we know, she may completely understand Wayment's approach and simply disagree with it based on how she interprets the same evidence. In other words, the argument you use above works both ways.

If she made that decision after looking at the alternatives I agree that'd be intellectually honest. I was just going by what you quoted that suggested she hadn't considered alternatives between Book of Mormon = perfect and Book of Mormon = fraud. It's that where I see the problem being. Sorry if I wasn't clear. Intellectually I certainly can't criticize someone who looks at the evidence and comes to a different conclusion than myself. However if they don't look at the alternative ways to look at the evidence then that seems worthy of criticism. Again though I'm just going by how you described things. I don't claim to have much information here beyond what you presented.

Edited by clarkgoble

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

Confused. So you're agreeing with me that it doesn't make much sense that the scribe copied the book of breathings if he was Jewish? Isn't that an argument against the scribe being Jewish? And doesn't that make it more improbable that there is a missing papyri with a complete Abraham text? Or am I just missing something obvious?.............................

An Egyptian scribe made that Book of Breathings for an Egyptian name Hor.  There is even a family of documents.  The scribe was not Jewish.  The Jewish scribe of the BofA (which is not the Book of Breathings) merely used the Egyptian illustrations for his own purposes, which would likely not have made any sense to the Egyptians.  You are combining two separate items in one.  We do not have the text of the BofA.  All we have are adjuncts/illus.  No matter:  Joseph Smith's scribes were as confused as many innocent observers nowadays.

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9 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

An Egyptian scribe made that Book of Breathings for an Egyptian name Hor.  There is even a family of documents.  The scribe was not Jewish.  The Jewish scribe of the BofA (which is not the Book of Breathings) merely used the Egyptian illustrations for his own purposes, which would likely not have made any sense to the Egyptians.  You are combining two separate items in one.  We do not have the text of the BofA.  All we have are adjuncts/illus.  No matter:  Joseph Smith's scribes were as confused as many innocent observers nowadays

Robert,

Let me see if I understand what you are saying here.

Under this proposed scenario, and assuming the BofA was on the interior end of the Hor scroll, then what you are suggesting would entail the first scribe taking a blank scroll and creating the Hor scroll after which the second scribe would take the same scroll and add on the BofA in which the second scribe made references to the facsimiles that the first scribe had drawn. Then the scroll was given to those responsible for burying Hor who would have placed it under his crossed arms. And I am guessing the reason the BofA would have been acceptable to bury with Hor was that those responsible for burying Hor  considered an important document?

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20 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

I can't comment on Muhlstein and Gee there. Do you have a link to something they've said along those lines?

No. I just recall them hinting at it at various times, and I've been told that this is what Muhlstein will be proposing more explicitly soon.

20 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

He wouldn't have been unknown since even most textual critics see the narratives in Genesis largely arising out of the pre-exilic period even if redacted and modified in the Ptolemic period by the Priestly tradition.

Sorry. I'm not saying that Abraham was unknown. I'm saying that the proposed pseudepigraphical author of the BofA would be unknown--and I'll add purely imaginary for the purpose of maintaining an unnecessary claim that Joseph actually translated the BofA from papyri, or at least that the BofA predates Joseph by millennia.

20 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

The whole, "not really scripture," thing is more that pseudopigrapha is typically seen as deeply problematic in a Mormon POV. While something like Job or even Jonah might be seen as fiction, treating Genesis as fiction is usually a bridge too far. But I was more just thinking that if it's just fiction that then it's problematic as scripture due to the way theology is grounded. I recognize some disagree, but they're very much in the minority. Further it has obvious issues for retention, as I think we saw with Bokovoy and his leaving the Church. Once it's fiction, why remain Mormon? Typically those who treat Abraham as fiction, also treat Moses and the Book of Mormon as fiction. Once you do that, then parts of the D&C become problematic. Effectively you unmoor a lot of assumptions. Once you do that at best you have a kind of view of the Church as useful but many basic claims no longer true. The move to utility for religion then opens up criticisms when you feel the Church isn't useful. I think the end result is usually a Gina Colvin like approach.

This is just an issue of psychology. Sure, a different view of scripture could be troubling for some due to due the Church's traditional view of scripture that has been heavily promoted to support its own authority--particularly the authority of The Brethren. (I say this in the spirit of Foucauldian systemic power, and not that those men are consciously doing so.) Since I think that a particular role of scripture is to help promote the suspicion of claims of authority, I say that's all more of a reason to embrace and explore new (and I say more accurate) views of scripture.

Also, David wouldn't characterize himself as leaving the Church, so you shouldn't either.

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20 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Simply because Joseph does not have access to the Abrahamic traditions from late antiquity.

Joseph didn't need to though. For all those connections that people want to make between the BofA and ancient traditions of him, there are similar (and better) connections to Biblical commentaries and Masonic lore. (I wish Brent Metcalfe would publish more of his research on this. Chatted with him a month or so ago for a while as he detailed much of this.) 

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9 minutes ago, the narrator said:

No. I just recall them hinting at it at various times, and I've been told that this is what Muhlstein will be proposing more explicitly soon.

I honestly thought that was always their position but then I went to find a quote along those lines and couldn't. Could have been something John had talked about years ago when we were roommates but then changed his view on. I've honestly not talked with him since then.

10 minutes ago, the narrator said:

Sorry. I'm not saying that Abraham was unknown. I'm saying that the proposed pseudepigraphical author of the BofA would be unknown--and I'll add purely imaginary for the purpose of maintaining an unnecessary claim that Joseph actually translated the BofA from papyri, or at least that the BofA predates Joseph by millennia.

Ah. OK that makes more sense. Thanks. My own view is that Joseph likely deconstructively interrogated the text more akin to what he did with the JST. While I'm very sympathetic to a missing papyri view (although that's somewhat in trouble now) I'm pretty skeptical of the more or less complete "pseudepigraphal" text being the missing text.

7 minutes ago, the narrator said:

Joseph didn't need to though. For all those connections that people want to make between the BofA and ancient traditions of him, there are similar (and better) connections to Biblical commentaries and Masonic lore. (I wish Brent Metcalfe would publish more of his research on this. Chatted with him a month or so ago for a while as he detailed much of this.) 

Somewhat. There's not as much as some portray that I've seen. And a lot of the masonic parallels are kind of reaching. Sadly none of the books on detailed Mormonism and Masonry that goes beyond the endowment ever seem to come out. Joe Swick back in the 90's said he was doing one and never did. There was an other big one about half written that got dropped when the author left the church over LGBT issues. I've heard of a few others. The closest we have are the more neoplatonic connections (which blur somewhat into the masonic ones) that Steve Fleming has worked on under Taves.

16 minutes ago, the narrator said:

Also, David wouldn't characterize himself as leaving the Church, so you shouldn't either.

Umm. What? I thought he announced on Mormon Stories he'd left the Church. Happy to be corrected if that's not the case. How does he characterize his relation to the Church?

20 minutes ago, the narrator said:

Sure, a different view of scripture could be troubling for some due to due the Church's traditional view of scripture that has been heavily promoted to support its own authority--particularly the authority of The Brethren. (I say this in the spirit of Foucauldian systemic power, and not that those men are consciously doing so.) 

Confess I don't quite see the Foucault connection - but then the problem I have with most applications of Foucault (including his own only quasi-historical accounts) is that they tend to focus on one analysis of power that leads to a particular semi-stable structure and repress others. (You might say this is the Derridean critique of Foucault -- both are in a certain sense Nietschean but Foucault tends to neglect what is marginal to his own interests of where power ought be)

Anyway, while I know some push the "fiction is fine" route, I think the arguments for it are pretty problematic. In any case it leads to a radically different theology one that I think ends up undermining its own grounds. At best you end up with a purely symbolic system ala Ricouer. But that's a religion that (IMO) ends up being rather impotent in certain key ways. Religion becomes reduced to ethics and self-help. (IMO again) Certainly if that works for people that's fine, but the prescriptive element is removed and I don't see how it can ground anything in a search for knowledge. (I recognize that some would argue that knowledge no longer applies - but that's really just my point)

So I don't think this is just an issue of psychology.

10 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

An Egyptian scribe made that Book of Breathings for an Egyptian name Hor.  There is even a family of documents.  The scribe was not Jewish.  The Jewish scribe of the BofA (which is not the Book of Breathings) merely used the Egyptian illustrations for his own purposes, which would likely not have made any sense to the Egyptians.  You are combining two separate items in one.  We do not have the text of the BofA.  All we have are adjuncts/illus.  No matter:  Joseph Smith's scribes were as confused as many innocent observers nowadays.

So you're saying there was in the past to our papyri a Jewish scribe who used the vignettes to illustrate a pre-existing "pseudepigrapha" and that a later Egyptian scribe readded the book of breathings to the middle? I confess that seems overly complicated.

 

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7 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

Sadly none of the books on detailed Mormonism and Masonry that goes beyond the endowment ever seem to come out. Joe Swick back in the 90's said he was doing one and never did. There was an other big one about half written that got dropped when the author left the church over LGBT issues. I've heard of a few others. The closest we have are the more neoplatonic connections (which blur somewhat into the masonic ones) that Steve Fleming has worked on under Taves.

Joe Swick and Cheryl Bruno have written drafts of most of the chapters for their book. Joe recently has a series of strokes that have stalled the project, but it could be out late this year or early 2020. From what I've read, it's fantastic. Joe is incredibly versed in Masonic history, and the book does a tremendous job of showing just how influential Masonry was in the early 19th century. Nick Literski left Mormonism due to the combination of his research on Mormonism and Masonry and the difficulties he faced after coming out. He handed over his research to Joe and Cheryl to use. Right not the best in print is Michael Homer's Joseph's Temples, but it reads more like a collection of notes and doesn't seem to really understand Masonic history or lore.

13 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I thought he announced on Mormon Stories he'd left the Church. Happy to be corrected if that's not the case. How does he characterize his relation to the Church?

He would characterize it as still loving Mormonism deeply but no longer participating. He would reject language of "leaving" the Church or Mormonism.

22 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

Anyway, while I know some push the "fiction is fine" route, I think the arguments for it are pretty problematic. In any case it leads to a radically different theology one that I think ends up undermining its own grounds. At best you end up with a purely symbolic system ala Ricouer. But that's a religion that (IMO) ends up being rather impotent in certain key ways. Religion becomes reduced to ethics and self-help. (IMO again) Certainly if that works for people that's fine, but the prescriptive element is removed and I don't see how it can ground anything in a search for knowledge. (I recognize that some would argue that knowledge no longer applies - but that's really just my point)

Who are these straw men that say "fiction is fine"? Seems to me that your phrasing implies a reduction to purely literary text that any believer or sustainer of scripture would reject. And, sure, this view of scripture could cause certain metaphysical claims to collapse, but that would be a better thing, as those generally arise out of a misunderstanding of language anyways.

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