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Friendly Fire from BYU: Opening Old Book of Abraham Wounds Without the First Aid

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18 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You might want to read Jeremy T. Runnells' version of Hauglid and the BofA online at https://cesletter.org/apologetics/the-book-of-abraham-except-for-those-willfully-blind-the-case-is-closed.html .  The problem is, of course, that Runnells and Hauglid don't know anything about ancient Egypt, and neither seems interested in a fair and balanced presentation.  Those not sophisticated enough to grasp the facts end up making a whole series of fatuous judgments.

It isn't so much which professiorial name is presented as that a balanced and fair presentation should be made.  That isn't something which BYU (esp NAMI) is accustomed to, being as it is a "safe space."  Bob Jones Univ is another such "safe" school.  You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, and we all need to be less defensive and more self-confident in our faith.  If our faith cannot abide open discussion of diverse points of view, then it may not be a faith worth having.

Dan Vogel's youtube videos directly address the apologetics of Gee and Muhlestein better than anything else that I've come across.  They are the most current and quite detailed, I think he has 6 or more hour long episodes directly addressing BoA.  I know Clark doesn't want youtube videos, but I can't think of anything as current(they've all been produced in the past year) and comprehensively addressing the apologetic arguments directly.  

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

I should spend some time and get up to speed on these. Anyone have a good link to the critic's arguments? To be clear this is for the order in the Kirtland papers of whether the Egyptian characters or BoA text came first. No YouTube.

The best paper I've read on the topic is "The Dependence of Abraham 1:1-3 on the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar" by Christopher Smith. It doesn't get into the tedious debates about how long scrolls were and stuff, just attempts to show that the first three verses are dependent on the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. From my personal research, I actually disagree with his interpretation, but I think it's a pretty good paper.

I think the polemics around the Book of Abraham have tended towards over-simplified explanations. People tend to either want to prove that the Book of Abraham text was received before any of the Egyptian alphabet stuff, while other people want to make it seem like the whole Book of Abraham is based off of the alphabet stuff. In my opinion, they were parallel projects that influenced each other. I'm happy to explain further if you're interested.

In any case, from Joseph Smith's journals you can see that he was entirely on board with the whole Egyptian alphabet project, and the papers demonstrate that they believed that at least the beginning of the Book of Abraham text came from the papyrus immediately to the left of "Facsimile 1" which still exists.

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27 minutes ago, mapman said:

I think the polemics around the Book of Abraham have tended towards over-simplified explanations. People tend to either want to prove that the Book of Abraham text was received before any of the Egyptian alphabet stuff, while other people want to make it seem like the whole Book of Abraham is based off of the alphabet stuff. In my opinion, they were parallel projects that influenced each other. I'm happy to explain further if you're interested.

I would be interested. Maybe make a separate thread for it. I also agree, at least going by when I last delved into this stuff a while ago, that far too much was oversimplified. My priors back then were much like you say here - that there was an interdependence. The problem is that of course if there was an interdependence that has implications for the reception of the text. 

I know there's one critic argument that a few verses in Abr 2 were "calculated" out using the "methods" of the KEP but that the rest was done in a more automatic writing style. Going by my distant memory from 15 years ago or so, my problem was that it didn't seem to be a determinate "translation" from the methods even assuming their premises. (Forget the article, I think it was a Dialog article) The more recent paper you linked to seems to suggest that the initial verses were dependent. So I'll read that as that's intriguing.

27 minutes ago, mapman said:

In any case, from Joseph Smith's journals you can see that he was entirely on board with the whole Egyptian alphabet project, and the papers demonstrate that they believed that at least the beginning of the Book of Abraham text came from the papyrus immediately to the left of "Facsimile 1" which still exists.

Yes and this gets at how people can talk past one an other. Joseph may have thought it came from that text, presumably because of its connection to the vignette. However if the translation proceeded in some fashion loosely akin to the Book of Mormon then it's not at all clear he could tell which of the papyri the text is coming from. Just like he couldn't tell what page of the gold plates he was translating at any given time. The closest we have is the vignettes, but even there we have the long standing issue of whether the vignettes and explanations are part of the KEP project or the text of the Book of Abraham proper. The main argument there is Abr 1:14 seems to refer to the vignette to explain the text. However even there it's use seems to just show the gods, but not necessarily to be an explanation of the vignette.

Further there's the issue of whether Joseph is translating the text via ideas rather than receiving explicit text as some intepretations of the spectacles and translation of the Book of Mormon. The text reads like there are lots of explanations of translation interspersed as asides rather than the translation proper. That may mean this is done in a manner somewhat different from the Book of Mormon. In which case we have to be careful. As you said, there appears to be interdependence but most takes are more absolutist.

36 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Dan Vogel's youtube videos directly address the apologetics of Gee and Muhlestein better than anything else that I've come across.  They are the most current and quite detailed, I think he has 6 or more hour long episodes directly addressing BoA.  I know Clark doesn't want youtube videos, but I can't think of anything as current(they've all been produced in the past year) and comprehensively addressing the apologetic arguments directly.  

I simply don't have six hours to watch hoping he'll get to the point - and then no way to refer to it in order to discuss it here or with others. If someone wants to give me the explicit link it's in and the minute number I'll try and listen to that.

Edited by clarkgoble
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31 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Dan Vogel's youtube videos directly address the apologetics of Gee and Muhlestein better than anything else that I've come across.  They are the most current and quite detailed, I think he has 6 or more hour long episodes directly addressing BoA.  I know Clark doesn't want youtube videos, but I can't think of anything as current(they've all been produced in the past year) and comprehensively addressing the apologetic arguments directly.  

Yes, of course, but Clark wanted something to read.  We have actually had extensive discussions (with illustrations) of all that in the  past on this board.  I have yet to see the actual issues addressed comprehensively and directly.  Not in 1975, when I first wrote a long piece on the issue, and not today, when I have presented a brief and well-documented case for the BofA.  My experience has been that the real arguments are ignored in favor of mythmaking and red herrings.  Jeff Lindsay has a reasonable response to Hauglid, et al., online at https://mormanity.blogspot.com/2019/03/my-uninspired-translation-of-missing.html .

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2 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I would be interested. Maybe make a separate thread for it. I also agree, at least going by when I last delved into this stuff a while ago, that far too much was oversimplified. My priors back then were much like you say here - that there was an interdependence. The problem is that of course if there was an interdependence that has implications for the reception of the text. 

I know there's one critic argument that a few verses in Abr 2 were "calculated" out using the "methods" of the KEP but that the rest was done in a more automatic writing style. Going by my distant memory from 15 years ago or so, my problem was that it didn't seem to be a determinate "translation" from the methods even assuming their premises. (Forget the article, I think it was a Dialog article)

I forgot to add that I don't think there is any way to tell whether the hieroglyphics or the BoA text were placed on the early manuscripts first. I think you could conclude that the first thing they did was draw a line down it, so I think it shows that they were at least planning on putting both characters and text before they started writing it out. I think it was Gee who suggested that the characters could just be decoration, but that seems pretty implausible to me.

Yeah, the first three verses from what I understand are the only ones which share exact phrasing with the "alphabet" documents. There obviously are lots of similar themes and concepts shared with the rest of the BoA, but there is no obvious textual dependence. The first three verses are also noticeably more complex and repetitive compared to the rest of the text. The three oldest BoA manuscripts (the ones with the characters written in a column on the side) also show that the first three verses were produced separately first. The oldest one only goes through verse three (until another scribe added on more afterwards), and the other two start on verse 4. I'm convinced that the Egyptian alphabets precede these first three verses, and that these verses are based off of the alphabets. What I disagree with Christopher Smith is that the GAEL precedes the first three verses as well. The GAEL is an expansion of the previous alphabet documents, but if you look at the order of the words, they are the same except that the characters and words associated with the first three verses are moved to the top of the list, which to me means that the GAEL actually postdates the first three verses. The GAEL probably precedes the rest of the BoA, but like I said, I don't think there are any direct textual connections between the rest of the GAEL and the rest of the BoA.

From what I can gather, the Egyptian alphabet documents were meant to be something of a dictionary as part of the on-going project of restoring the "pure language" of Adam, and so they were a related but separate project from the BoA translation. They are divided into five "parts," of which the first part is apparently based on the documents related to Katumin that were from a separate papyrus roll, the second part incorporates stuff from previous revelations on the pure language and don't even come from the papyrus, and the rest of the characters come from the part of the papyrus immediately to the right of Facsimile 1. I imagine if they had the chance they would have added explanations from the rolls thought to contain the writings of Joseph, etc.

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2 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Should that obligation extend to presenting the views of scholars like Ritner, Thompson, Vogel, Marquardt, Smith, Cook, Wilson, Bell, Spalding et al, and others?

Or, if they are just obligated to mention the work of those mentioned by Lindsay, are they also obligated to explain why they think they wrong?...............

Of those named, only Ritner, Thompson, Wilson, and Bell are qualified to comment.  However, I'm not sure which Thompson you are referring to:  Stephen Thompson or John Thompson?  Both have PhDs in Egyptian, but do not necessarily agree with each other on the BofA.

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

I simply don't have six hours to watch hoping he'll get to the point - and then no way to refer to it in order to discuss it here or with others. If someone wants to give me the explicit link it's in and the minute number I'll try and listen to that.

 

1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Yes, of course, but Clark wanted something to read.  We have actually had extensive discussions (with illustrations) of all that in the  past on this board.  I have yet to see the actual issues addressed comprehensively and directly.  Not in 1975, when I first wrote a long piece on the issue, and not today, when I have presented a brief and well-documented case for the BofA.  My experience has been that the real arguments are ignored in favor of mythmaking and red herrings.  Jeff Lindsay has a reasonable response to Hauglid, et al., online at https://mormanity.blogspot.com/2019/03/my-uninspired-translation-of-missing.html .

If you want to understand the response from a critic (Vogel) and the way he's interpreting the data, you really need to find time to listen to the videos, perhaps on a drive to work or doing the laundry or something, although I did think the visuals are helpful.  Clark, I would be willing to skim back through them if you had a specific apologetic argument and you want to know what the timestamp is in one of the videos where he addresses that specific issue.  

Haughlid saying that his perspectives on certain key issues changed in the past few years and that he agrees with Dan's interpretation.  Rather than recycling old arguments over again, and reasserting the old apologetics again, I think it relevant to address the substance of how these critiques get at the details of the apologetic.    

Robert, what was Lindsay's "reasonable response", is it the link from the OP of this thread where Lindsay's expressing sour grapes that old guard apologetics on BoA are so irrelevant that they aren't even being mentioned.  Or something else that he wrote?  

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Of those named, only Ritner, Thompson, Wilson, and Bell are qualified to comment.  However, I'm not sure which Thompson you are referring to:  Stephen Thompson or John Thompson?  Both have PhDs in Egyptian, but do not necessarily agree with each other on the BofA.

Of course my list was not meant to be all inclusive. As far as which Thompson I mentioned, I was thinking of Stephen (why people insist on spelling Steven wrong is beyond me) Thompson. I am interested in what John Thompson had to say on the BofA if you have any more information on him.

Maybe I am misunderstand you, but are you saying no one but someone with a PhD in Egyptology is qualified to comment on the Book of Abraham?

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3 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Should that obligation extend to presenting the views of scholars like Ritner, Thompson, Vogel, Marquardt, Smith, Cook, Wilson, Bell, Spalding et al, and others?

Or, if they are just obligated to mention the work of those mentioned by Lindsay, are they also obligated to explain why they think they wrong?

If I went to a BYU presentation on Sorenson's work, should I be disappointed if they didn't present evidence for the heartland model?

Also given the enormous amount of readily available material about the Book of Abraham to anyone who is interested, especially a student, shouldn't the response to someone at BYU finding out something new be, "aren't you here to learn"? 

 

 

Aren't you maybe over reacting a little to my post. I did not say that any one other viewpoint should actually be addressed. I just believe that when a presentation such as this is presented to students, they should also be appraised that there are opposing viewpoints. I am not suggesting that those viewpoints should be given equal time and that the students should be encouraged to do additional research/reading themselves. After all, they are there to learn.

Glenn

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I don't think John Gee is looking for missing scrolls which wrapped around the Nauvoo Mansion house a few times with characters inscribed in fluorescent glow in the dark ink, he's looking for the lost book on Abraham and Egypt by Hecataeus of Abdera.  Problem is that scholars have dropped this lead.

R. Doran writes: "In our view, only two references to Hecataeus of Abdera should be assigned as inauthentic: the testimony of Josephus, Antiquities 1.159, and fragment 2, the verses of Sophocles from 'On Abraham and the Egyptian' as cited by Clement, Stromateis 5.113. The other references are authentic fragments of Hecataeus of Abdera, and should be dated about 300 B.C. Both inauthentic references are to a book about Abraham that must be dated before Josephus. However, since no actual content of this inauthentic work is cited beyond some spurious verses of Sophocles, no conclusions can be drawn as to provenance or to a date for this Pseudo-Hecataeus." (The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 2, p. 907)

 

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52 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

Of course my list was not meant to be all inclusive. As far as which Thompson I mentioned, I was thinking of Stephen (why people insist on spelling Steven wrong is beyond me) Thompson. I am interested in what John Thompson had to say on the BofA if you have any more information on him.

Don't know what his view on the BofA might be, and he is apparently now in Cambridge, Mass.

John S. Thompson, "Lehi and Egypt," in Glimpses of Lehi's Jerusalem (2004).

Thompson, "The Two Ways in Ancient Egyptian Religion and Israelite Temple Theology," paper presented at Temple on Mt Zion Conference, BYU, Nov 10, 2018.
 

52 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

Maybe I am misunderstand you, but are you saying no one but someone with a PhD in Egyptology is qualified to comment on the Book of Abraham?

Not at all.  Sorry to give that impression.  The others were simply not qualified for a variety of reasons.

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For me, it was a big discovery personally to find the hand writing of Joseph Smith himself on the GAEL with characters from near the facsimile 1 of the fragments discovered in 1967.  Before I thought scribes were playing around with translation ideas in their free time and that Joseph Smith was not supervising this work.  Then when the joseph smith papers discovered joseph's own hand writing on these when compounded with the disaster of the facsimiles translations it becomes transparent that Joseph was not a gifted translator in the scholarship sense - more in the folk-prophet revelatory midrash invention sense.  Then the essay came out on the book of abraham which entirely ignored the facsimile translation problems, and it was clear that this was an embarrassment for the church.  If we had an actual book of mormon set of plates in reformed egyptian characters the results would be the same based on Joseph's performance on the abraham egyptian translation of the facsimiles.  As for Lehi and the egyptian brass plates from Mosiah 1? This has big documentary hypothesis conflicts.  As do the Malachi and other new testament time worm holes.   

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

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

Robert, what was Lindsay's "reasonable response", is it the link from the OP of this thread where Lindsay's expressing sour grapes that old guard apologetics on BoA are so irrelevant that they aren't even being mentioned.  Or something else that he wrote?  

I just cited it for you.  Here it is again:  " Jeff Lindsay has a reasonable response to Hauglid, et al., online at https://mormanity.blogspot.com/2019/03/my-uninspired-translation-of-missing.html ."  If you click on it you can see that it is new and comprehensive.  You are apparently confused by the OP link,  which is unrelated.

Several major difficulties with this entire issue are that ordinary, untrained people have no idea (1) what scholarship is, (2) how to find it, and (3) how to understand it when and if they read it.  It usually takes around 6 years in college (through grad school to an M.A.) to learn how to do those things effectively.  And why bother?  It costs too much and takes too much time  anyhow.

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14 minutes ago, blueglass said:

......................  If we had an actual book of mormon set of plates in reformed egyptian characters the results would be the same based on Joseph's performance on the abraham egyptian translation of the facsimiles.  As for Lehi and the brass plates from Mosiah 1.

I thought everyone realized that Joseph did not know Egyptian and could not read it in any form.  So, in taking note of the Egyptian engraved on the Brass Plates and the Book of Mormon plates, I hope that you are not suggesting that Joseph was supposed to be able to sight-read them.  He always used a "pony."  A seerstone or the Nephite interpreters, right?  Am I misunderstanding you?  The same applied to the Book of Abraham, also in Egyptian.  Joseph could not read it.  So he had to have a pony of some kind.  Right?

14 minutes ago, blueglass said:

This has big documentary hypothesis conflicts.  As do the Malachi and other new testament time worm holes.   

Just like the Bible, both BofM and BofA were transmitted over long periods by faithful scribes, being edited by some of them.  Isn't that what the Doc Hypothesis claims?  Now anachronisms are another matter, and one must deal with late texts showing up where they should not be able to.  I think that last is what you are referring to.

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23 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I thought everyone realized that Joseph did not know Egyptian and could not read it in any form.  So, in taking note of the Egyptian engraved on the Brass Plates and the Book of Mormon plates, I hope that you are not suggesting that Joseph was supposed to be able to sight-read them.  He always used a "pony."  A seerstone or the Nephite interpreters, right?  Am I misunderstanding you?  The same applied to the Book of Abraham, also in Egyptian.  Joseph could not read it.  So he had to have a pony of some kind.  Right?

Just like the Bible, both BofM and BofA were transmitted over long periods by faithful scribes, being edited by some of them.  Isn't that what the Doc Hypothesis claims?  Now anachronisms are another matter, and one must deal with late texts showing up where they should not be able to.  I think that last is what you are referring to.

Egyptian on the brass plates would have been demotic right?  From mosiah 1:4 it says Lehi was trained in reading demotic from his fathers.  

"4 For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time."

Lehi was actually taught to read this language, not to use a seer stone to receive revelation on a book inscribed in his mind in an oracular sense.  He could read the language directly like I can read spanish.  If we had the brass plates then scholars like John Gee would translate them directly and they should match what Lehi could read.  

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37 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I just cited it for you.  Here it is again:  " Jeff Lindsay has a reasonable response to Hauglid, et al., online at https://mormanity.blogspot.com/2019/03/my-uninspired-translation-of-missing.html ."  If you click on it you can see that it is new and comprehensive.  You are apparently confused by the OP link,  which is unrelated.

Several major difficulties with this entire issue are that ordinary, untrained people have no idea (1) what scholarship is, (2) how to find it, and (3) how to understand it when and if they read it.  It usually takes around 6 years in college (through grad school to an M.A.) to learn how to do those things effectively.  And why bother?  It costs too much and takes too much time  anyhow.

Thanks again for the link, when I clicked on it last time I thought it was the same link from the OP because the opening paragraph sounded so similar.  

What Lindsay put together seems to be a nice summary of many of the BoA apologetic arguments.   I guess the question I would ask is when do apologists retire arguments that may seem more strained or out of touch with recent scholarship?  Clearly there are competing ideas within Mormon studies circles, and since Jensen and Hauglid seem to have intentionally avoided some of these apologetic arguments, when will the authors of these ideas and their supporters get on the bandwagon and move on?  Obviously egos are involved as well, and perhaps some of them want to fight back and promote their pet theories.  I find it interesting to observe the battles that seem to be increasingly prevalent in this arena.  

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2 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Thanks again for the link, when I clicked on it last time I thought it was the same link from the OP because the opening paragraph sounded so similar.  

What Lindsay put together seems to be a nice summary of many of the BoA apologetic arguments.   I guess the question I would ask is when do apologists retire arguments that may seem more strained or out of touch with recent scholarship?  Clearly there are competing ideas within Mormon studies circles, and since Jensen and Hauglid seem to have intentionally avoided some of these apologetic arguments, when will the authors of these ideas and their supporters get on the bandwagon and move on?  Obviously egos are involved as well, and perhaps some of them want to fight back and promote their pet theories.  I find it interesting to observe the battles that seem to be increasingly prevalent in this arena.  

In a formal debate, each issue must be taken up in turn.  Lindsay provides major arguments, and it would be nice if someone could address them.  It is not a matter of faith, but of reason and science.  If Lindsay is correct, then Jensen and Hauglid have missed the boat.  A fair and balanced description of the issues would be nice.

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10 minutes ago, blueglass said:

Egyptian on the brass plates would have been demotic right?  From mosiah 1:4 it says Lehi was trained in reading demotic from his fathers.  

I would say hieratic, but early demotic is nearly identical.

10 minutes ago, blueglass said:

"4 For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time."

Lehi was actually taught to read this language, not to use a seer stone to receive revelation on a book inscribed in his mind in an oracular sense.  He could read the language directly like I can read spanish.  If we had the brass plates then scholars like John Gee would translate them directly and they should match what Lehi could read.  

Correct, and that would include the Small Plates of Nephi.  You'd be surprised how many LDS people cannot understand that verse.

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34 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I thought everyone realized that Joseph did not know Egyptian and could not read it in any form.  So, in taking note of the Egyptian engraved on the Brass Plates and the Book of Mormon plates, I hope that you are not suggesting that Joseph was supposed to be able to sight-read them.  He always used a "pony."  A seerstone or the Nephite interpreters, right?  Am I misunderstanding you?  The same applied to the Book of Abraham, also in Egyptian.  Joseph could not read it.  So he had to have a pony of some kind.  Right?

Just like the Bible, both BofM and BofA were transmitted over long periods by faithful scribes, being edited by some of them.  Isn't that what the Doc Hypothesis claims?  Now anachronisms are another matter, and one must deal with late texts showing up where they should not be able to.  I think that last is what you are referring to.

Its more than Joseph's inability to correctly translate ancient language himself.  The evidence also shows that Joseph couldn't translate ancient languages with a seer-stone either.  In the case of the BoA that is clearly demonstrated as none of the papyrus fragments had anything to do with Abraham.  

The most rational approach to make in my opinion, is that Joseph produced narratives using characters from the bible that impart theological wisdom(they also contain racist and sexist ideas that clearly aren't wise according to our contemporary culture).  For the BoM, my paradigm is similar with the exception being that most of the narrative produced does not take place in the setting of ancient Israel.  The scholarly evidence for historicity is completely non-existent for all of the texts Joseph produced.  

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2 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Its more than Joseph's inability to correctly translate ancient language himself. 

The point I was making, and which I thought maybe you understood, was that Joseph did make correct translations using a pony.  The way you state it here is rather odd.

2 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

The evidence also shows that Joseph couldn't translate ancient languages with a seer-stone either.  In the case of the BoA that is clearly demonstrated as none of the papyrus fragments had anything to do with Abraham. 

Not so.  Joseph was spectacularly on target with the BofA illustrations (vignettes), but that was only via revelation (with or without a seerstone).  Furthermore, you seem not to understand that we do not currently have the BofA papyrus.  Of course you are probably saying that it never existed.  If so, that is what you should be saying.  At the same time, you will need to explain away all the BofA bulls eyes with the Illustration explanations and with the ancient world.  That might be difficult if you don't even know what those bulls eyes are.

2 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

The most rational approach to make in my opinion, is that Joseph produced narratives using characters from the bible that impart theological wisdom(they also contain racist and sexist ideas that clearly aren't wise according to our contemporary culture).  For the BoM, my paradigm is similar with the exception being that most of the narrative produced does not take place in the setting of ancient Israel.  The scholarly evidence for historicity is completely non-existent for all of the texts Joseph produced.  

I am amazed that you would incorrectly say that "The scholarly evidence for historicity is completely non-existent for all of the texts Joseph produced."  Do you have any idea how crazy that sounds in light of all the evidence available?  

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

I would say hieratic, but early demotic is nearly identical.

Correct, and that would include the Small Plates of Nephi.  You'd be surprised how many LDS people cannot understand that verse.

OK, I understand that Gee and Ritner are trained demoticists, but what did people in the early 19th century think Egyptian was?   Could they distinguish between demotic, japanese, and arabic for example?  Samuel Mitchell, Rafinesque, or Caleb Atwater would cry foul if you mixed demotic, japanese and arabic in a few lines on a scrap of paper and said "translate this for me and make an alphabet".  They would say this looks like a jumbled mess.  When the Whitmers and the Smith's said "we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship" this doesn't give confidence that they knew what they were looking at.  Joseph's performance on the book of abraham papyri proves this.  We really need to completely drop this idea of Joseph as an actual translator and begin thinking more of him as a revelatory guru and work directly with the doctrine and ideas as pertains to current world problems like stagnant wage growth, education of the poor, hunger and climate change, how to deal with the forthcoming AI singularity, and synthetic life/genomics.   

Edited by blueglass
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10 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

In a formal debate, each issue must be taken up in turn.  Lindsay provides major arguments, and it would be nice if someone could address them.  It is not a matter of faith, but of reason and science.  If Lindsay is correct, then Jensen and Hauglid have missed the boat.  A fair and balanced description of the issues would be nice.

From what I am familiar with Hauglid, he is very close to all of the apologetic arguments and to have him say that he abhors some of them, especially ones that he agreed with only a few years earlier and even published in some writings, tells me that based on a very close inspection of the data his views of the veracity of those arguments was undercut by the actual strength of evidence against those arguments.  If you consider the position he holds as an employee of the church with plenty of incentive to just go along with the other church employees and their apologetics, its actually quite astounding to have someone in his position deviate from the strong conformity culture that exists.  

As I mentioned, I think Vogel addresses the majority of the apologetic arguments quite well and I think he was quite fair about how he addressed them, albeit he has a more critical perspective of the church, he seems to be quite fair.  I agree that a fair and balanced approach to all these issues would be ideal, yet its difficult to find any approach that doesn't lean in one direction or another.  The church essay on the topic certainly isn't fair and balanced, and neither is the CES letter.  Vogel's approach is much closer to fair and balanced, yet he certainly exhibits some disdain for the apologetic arguments.  

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4 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

From what I am familiar with Hauglid, he is very close to all of the apologetic arguments and to have him say that he abhors some of them, especially ones that he agreed with only a few years earlier and even published in some writings, tells me that based on a very close inspection of the data his views of the veracity of those arguments was undercut by the actual strength of evidence against those arguments.  If you consider the position he holds as an employee of the church with plenty of incentive to just go along with the other church employees and their apologetics, its actually quite astounding to have someone in his position deviate from the strong conformity culture that exists.  

As I mentioned, I think Vogel addresses the majority of the apologetic arguments quite well and I think he was quite fair about how he addressed them, albeit he has a more critical perspective of the church, he seems to be quite fair.  I agree that a fair and balanced approach to all these issues would be ideal, yet its difficult to find any approach that doesn't lean in one direction or another.  The church essay on the topic certainly isn't fair and balanced, and neither is the CES letter.  Vogel's approach is much closer to fair and balanced, yet he certainly exhibits some disdain for the apologetic arguments.  

I'm looking forward to this book by Harris and Bringhurst.  Anyone know who responded to the book of Abraham essay?  Harris said at Sunstone that Ritner's essay was too vitriolic and was dropped. 

THE MORMON CHURCH AND ITS GOSPEL TOPICS ESSAYS: THE SCHOLARLY COMMUNITY RESPONDS (MATTHEW HARRIS & NEWELL BRINGHURST, EDS.)
University of Utah Press

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11 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Not so.  Joseph was spectacularly on target with the BofA illustrations (vignettes), but that was only via revelation (with or without a seerstone).  Furthermore, you seem not to understand that we do not currently have the BofA papyrus.  Of course you are probably saying that it never existed.  If so, that is what you should be saying.  At the same time, you will need to explain away all the BofA bulls eyes with the Illustration explanations and with the ancient world.  That might be difficult if you don't even know what those bulls eyes are.

Seriously, he was spectacularly on target?  The church's own essay on the topic seems to disagree.  

Quote

None of the characters on the papyrus fragments mentioned Abraham’s name or any of the events recorded in the book of Abraham. Mormon and non-Mormon Egyptologists agree that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the book of Abraham, though there is not unanimity, even among non-Mormon scholars, about the proper interpretation of the vignettes on these fragments.27 Scholars have identified the papyrus fragments as parts of standard funerary texts that were deposited with mummified bodies. These fragments date to between the third century B.C.E. and the first century C.E., long after Abraham lived.

Besides the 4 quarters of the earth and the crocodile, everything else, including the basic substance of the Abraham story are completely wrong.  So thats like 98% inaccuracy, with 2% possibly guessed somewhat in the ballpark.  The facsimiles are even harder to explain with any semblance of credibility and that is why you don't see many apologists even going there to defend Joseph's translation of them.  Many have speculated whether the church will even remove the facsimiles from future publications of the scriptures and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this happen in the future.  

22 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I am amazed that you would incorrectly say that "The scholarly evidence for historicity is completely non-existent for all of the texts Joseph produced."  Do you have any idea how crazy that sounds in light of all the evidence available?  

I attempt to follow the strength of the evidence in its entirety.  This isn't a "crazy" opinion.  I could call your perspective crazy on the other end, but I try to be more respectful.  That said, this is the most logical conclusion from my evaluation and it isn't even close.  

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