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

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1 hour ago, Glenn101 said:

That is why you need to read Robert's essay.

Robert’s essay might address evidences he finds compelling on this topic.  How could it address the disconnect with the church’s official statements on the subject in the form of the Gospel Topics essay.  That’s my point.  

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2 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Robert’s essay might address evidences he finds compelling on this topic.  How could it address the disconnect with the church’s official statements on the subject in the form of the Gospel Topics essay.  That’s my point.  

For one thing, you quoted that one sentence out o context. The Church essay notes that the fragments of the papyri that have been recovered represent a fraction of the papyri that reports indicate Joseph originally had in his possession. The one sentence that you highlighted about the text of the Book of Abraham not being on any of the fragments that have been recovered is something that no one is disputing, or ever have, that I am aware of. The only question is if any of those fragments were part of the scroll from which Joseph was using to translate the Book of Mormon. The critics say yea and LDS apologetics say nay.

The disconnect really seems to be between your interpretation of what the author of the essay is saying and the message the author was trying to convey. I will quote the conclusion of the author of the essay.

Quote

It is likely futile to assess Joseph’s ability to translate papyri when we now have only a fraction of the papyri he had in his possession. Eyewitnesses spoke of “a long roll” or multiple “rolls” of papyrus. Since only fragments survive, it is likely that much of the papyri accessible to Joseph when he translated the book of Abraham is not among these fragments. The loss of a significant portion of the papyri means the relationship of the papyri to the published text cannot be settled conclusively by reference to the papyri.

 

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Robert’s essay might address evidences he finds compelling on this topic.  How could it address the disconnect with the church’s official statements on the subject in the form of the Gospel Topics essay.  That’s my point.  

It is official, but not canonized

Edited by cdowis

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30 minutes ago, cdowis said:

It is official, but not canonized

Lots of church positions aren’t canonical.  

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Last night I was reading some of Abraham, looking for tell-tale signs of extrabiblical archaism. There's a lot of biblical grammar in it like "would fain claim" (that grammar isn't precisely like the Book of Mormon's "would fain be glad"). The most promising extrabiblical archaic grammar I found was the VP "lay violence upon/on someone" (1:12). ECCO only had a few examples of it, and they were all instances of earlier, 1600s language. Google Books didn't have anything, but EEBO has about 10. If anyone's interested in looking for examples of this, maybe we can find some modern instances, or maybe we'll find that it's genuinely archaic.

The original of Abraham 2:12 appears to be "had withdrew", which is found on both EEBO (5×) and ECCO (5×), pointing to a higher rate in the earlier period. 

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On 3/22/2019 at 4:03 PM, blueglass said:

The correct translation concerning fac2 figures 8 - 21 are so important that the q15 works on these every Th meeting (rumor I heard).  Scholars around the world are hoping some day to arrive at a concensus on these deep mysteries.

You appear to be talking tongue in cheek here, correct?  However, Egyptologists already know what those lines of text mean.  In fact Dr Val Sederholm, an LDS Egyptologist, renders Fac 2:8-11 of the Sheshaq Hypocephalus approximately as follows (in reverse order):

"O Noble God of Creation (sp tpy), Lord of Heaven, Earth, Netherworld, Primordial Seas, [and Mountains], let the spirit of glorified-Sheshaq be given life!"  Note that "Creation" here translates Egyptian sp tpy "First Time (Creation)," which is right next to Fac 2:1 "signifying the first creation," which is exactly what Fac 2:10-11 contain as explanation for it.

Moreover, Apocalypse of Abraham 12:10 contains the phrase “(what) is in the heavens, on the earth and in the sea, in the abyss, and in the lower depths, in the garden of Eden and in its rivers, in the fulness of the universe.  And you will see its circles in all,” which R. Rubinkiewicz understands as referring to chapter 21, where an image very much like the hypocephalus is described, while Apocalypse of Abraham 18 even includes a description of the four canopic gods shown in Facsimile 2:6.

This is also the Egyptian equivalent of the Elkenah-formula* in Hebrew with the name of the deceased having been justified (like Osiris) and eligible for eternal life.  This hypocephalus was made for Sheshaq, the deceased in this case.  It is placed under his head at burial.  Skipping the fragmented Fac 2:12-17, one might read 2:18 with emphatic sentence structure as follows:

"It is I who adorn my niche in the Pyramidion Temple at doubly exalted, doubly glorious Heliopolis, Bull of Procreation, unequaled among the gods and the great god in the Pyramidion Temple at Heliopolis. May the glorified-Sheshaq live forever with that mighty god in Heliopolis."

Following Dr Sederholm, we may read Fac 2:19-21 as "You shall forever be as the god who is the spirit of Mendes the Ram"

*  Hypocoristic for formula ’El ˁElyon qone šamayim wa’areṣ “God Most High, Creator of Heaven & Earth” (Genesis 14:19, 22, Acts 4:24).

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Posted (edited)
On 3/22/2019 at 3:17 PM, Ryan Dahle said:

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

On 3/22/2019 at 2:03 PM, hope_for_things said:

What?  Are you saying there isn't an academically correct translation of ancient Egyptian?  As I mentioned in the earlier comment, it may be difficult to get unanimity on exact wording, but its not like Joseph's translation was even close, it wasn't even in the ball bark.  He knew nothing about Egyptian, and his guesses prove that to be the case. 

The translation of the characters on the extant papyri is a different ballgame than the interpretations of the vignettes. It is true that there is some Egyptian text on the vignettes, but most of the interpretations provided by Joseph Smith are of the illustrations. The idiogrammatic nature of the illustrations makes their meaning far less static than the Egyptian script. There is no absolutely "correct" interpretation of any of the illustrations. They are picture symbols, and their meaning could easily shift depending on time period, location, genre, and other contextual adjustments. Moreover the Egyptological interpretations of such illustrations sometimes turn out to be different than the explanations discovered on ancient documents. It is by no means an exact science, and is far less certain than a philological assessment of the Egyptian characters. 

The essay is clearly emphasizing the less certain nature of the interpretations of these symbolic images, in contrast to the more certain translation of, for example, the Book of Breathings which has been translated by Rhodes, Ritner, and others, and which all parties agree don't match the text of the Book of Abraham (although, of course, this text's true relationship to the BofA is still being debated). ......................................... 

Egyptologists do not put it quite that way.  The Book of Abraham facsimiles contain artistic and iconotropic material which (as with all Egyptian art and iconography) can be “read” all by themselves, or are to be “read” right along with the accompanying Egyptian words.  As non-LDS Egyptologist James P. Allen has said:

Quote

The Egyptians did not distinguish hieroglyphic writing from other representations of reality, such as statues or scenes in relief.  Both were a tjt, “symbol,” rather than an accurate representation of reality.  Hieroglyphic signs were often carved with the same detail as other pictorial elements of a scene.  Conversely, statues or relief representations were themselves a kind of hieroglyph, a phenomenon most often illustrated in the animal-headed Egyptian gods–as, for instance, in the beetle-headed human form representing prj, “the Developing One” (a form of the sun-god).  Allen, “Egyptian Language and Writing,” in Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, IV:190.

He has also stated that paintings, vignettes, and inscriptions depicting the gods “are nothing more than large-scale ideograms.”*  Jan Assmann agrees, saying that "the temple reliefs of the Late period reflect a full-fledged tradition of ritual exegesis, a culture of interpretation . . . applied not to texts – as in the more-or-less contemporaneous Alexandrian and Jewish institutions of interpretation – but to pictures.  However, this culture of interpretation is anything but a symptom of Hellenistic influence; on the contrary, it is deeply rooted in Egyptian cult."**

*  Allen, Middle Egyptian (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000), 44.

**  Jan Assmann, "Semiosis and Interpretation in Ancient Egyptian Ritual," in Shlomo Biderman and Ben-Ami Scharfstein, eds., Interpretation in Religion (Leiden: Brill, 1992), 92.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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3 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Lots of church positions aren’t canonical.  

For example?

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On 3/23/2019 at 12:37 PM, hope_for_things said:

Robert’s essay might address evidences he finds compelling on this topic.  How could it address the disconnect with the church’s official statements on the subject in the form of the Gospel Topics essay.  That’s my point.  

The LDS Gospel Topics Essays are meant to be helpful.  That does not mean that they say everything.  They are much too short to do that.  In addition, they are assigned to and written by humans who specialize in this or that area.  The Brethren presumably review them, but they are no better than an LDS or Methodist sunday school manual.  They are just meant to be helpful.  The canonical Scripture, on the other hand, is normative.

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On 3/22/2019 at 9:48 PM, clarkgoble said:

Any idea on a release frame? I'll look forward to it. While we obviously disagree, I've actually bought all your books going back to the 90's and enjoyed them. I think it'll push forward the discussion.

Thanks. I'm trying to write the last chapter now. I can only do it part time because I'm mainly writing my JS biography on his Ohio/Missouri period due in about two years. 

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On 3/22/2019 at 11:38 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

Thanks, Dan, but I was hoping for a bit more detail -- something substantive, and an actual reply to my comments.  Instead, I get "no sense."  Some people on here, and some elsewhere (Hauglid, for example) seem to think that you make an excellent case.

Bob, I have you detail. You didn't seem to want to respond to it. Gee and Muhlestein give arguments that have nothing to do with Egyptology and therefore it doesn't require a degree to respond to those arguments. This means your argument that I don't have a degree in Egyptology is irrelevant. And, yes, I plan to publish my examination of the subject. 

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1 hour ago, Dan Vogel said:

Bob, I have you detail. You didn't seem to want to respond to it. Gee and Muhlestein give arguments that have nothing to do with Egyptology and therefore it doesn't require a degree to respond to those arguments. This means your argument that I don't have a degree in Egyptology is irrelevant. And, yes, I plan to publish my examination of the subject. 

Good, I was hoping that you would.  Then when someone asks me (as they have on here), where to go to find a strong case against the BofA, I can send them to your formal publication.

However, I'm not sure why you would want to falsely declare that I argued that you have no degree in Egyptology, since I did not do so.  I hope that your formal publication on the BofA is more accurate than that, Dan.

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On 3/22/2019 at 4:41 PM, Metis_LDS said:

My view is simpler,  I have watched people who are qualified to read the inscriptions on tombs in Egypt read them out loud on several different programs.  There is no way that the civilization that built the pyramids said stupid things like that.  So for me I am for Joseph Smith's translations as I am convinced that we are fooling ourselves and we cannot read what is really there.

Sounds rather like a nihilistic conclusion, or was that just an emotional reaction?  Are you quite sure that Joseph and the Egyptologists are actually opposed to each other?

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I learn so many things on this forum. Now I know what magniloquent means and what a Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy is! 

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It has been about 6 years since I have participated in Book of Abraham discussions. At the time, NAMI had already undergone its transformation as well as Brian Hauglid.

Many of the critics at the time felt that the Kirtland Egyptian Papers were used to produce the Book of Abraham, and they also denied the missing papyrus argument based on the paper by Andrew Cook and Chris Smith.

Has there been any significant new developments since then?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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51 minutes ago, Wade Englund said:

It has been about 6 years since I have participated in Book of Abraham discussions. At the time, NAMI had already undergone its transformation as well as Brian Hauglid.

Many of the critics at the time felt that the Kirtland Egyptian Papers were used to produce the Book of Abraham, and they also denied the missing papyrus argument based on the paper by Andrew Cook and Chris Smith.

Has there been any significant new developments since then?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

Good to see you back Wade!!

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On 3/25/2019 at 11:12 PM, Tacenda said:

Good to see you back Wade!!

That is kind of you to say. I hope my return will be a blessing rather than a curse.

Thanks, Wade Englund-

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On 3/24/2019 at 6:54 PM, Dan Vogel said:

Bob, I have you detail. You didn't seem to want to respond to it. Gee and Muhlestein give arguments that have nothing to do with Egyptology and therefore it doesn't require a degree to respond to those arguments. This means your argument that I don't have a degree in Egyptology is irrelevant. And, yes, I plan to publish my examination of the subject. 

Hi Dan,

You would probably know better than most. Have there been any new significant developments over the last 6 years  in the Book of Abraham translation question? 

Do the prominent critics still ascribe to assertion that the Kirtland Egyptian Papers were used to produce the  Book of Abraham--particularly as purported by Chris Smith and/or do they dismiss the missing papyrus theory based on the math of Andrew Cook and Chris Smith?

Any word from William Schryver?

Just trying to catch up.

Thanks, -Wade Enlgund-

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Wade Englund said:

Have there been any new significant developments over the last 6 years  in the Book of Abraham translation question? 

I'm not really able to comment too much since I've not followed the topic in a long time. From what I can tell several apologetic arguments seem to have either been falsified or at least made much more unlikely. So Gee's scroll length calculation was a bust although arguably that happened about 6 years ago.

I think those still arguing for the missing scroll now are appealing to the Amenhotep (sp?) scroll that is mostly missing. I don't know if that was an argument in play when you last looked at things nor have I seen it presented in a strong fashion. The best I've seen is the claim Joseph associated the mummy with the Book of Abraham as Onitah and his notebooks tie that to the Amenhotep scroll which we don't have fragments from.  However I've not looked closely enough to really know if that's plausible.

I don't know of much else other than the debate about whether Anubis in Fac 3 had his nose intentionally removed by Joseph Smith on the lead plate. I've no idea if that's been around for a while.

 

Edited by clarkgoble
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1 hour ago, Wade Englund said:

You would probably know better than most. Have there been any new significant developments over the last 6 years  in the Book of Abraham translation question? 

I would say (and, of course, I'm biased in doing so) that the most significant development has been the discussion of the BofA in David Bokovoy's Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis- Deuteronomy, where he makes a very strong case from the perspective of contemporary biblical scholarship that the text of the BofA itself could not have possibly been written by Abraham or any other ancient author, as it is dependent on much later sources of the Pentateuch (really the KJV). IIRC, this argument is what changed Hauglid's mind on the subject.

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1 hour ago, the narrator said:

I would say (and, of course, I'm biased in doing so) that the most significant development has been the discussion of the BofA in David Bokovoy's Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis- Deuteronomy, where he makes a very strong case from the perspective of contemporary biblical scholarship that the text of the BofA itself could not have possibly been written by Abraham or any other ancient author, as it is dependent on much later sources of the Pentateuch (really the KJV). IIRC, this argument is what changed Hauglid's mind on the subject.

I did a brief Google search, but outside of several psotove reviews by LDS apologists, I couldn't find a challenge, particularly to the BoA section. Do you know of any?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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

I would say (and, of course, I'm biased in doing so) that the most significant development has been the discussion of the BofA in David Bokovoy's Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis- Deuteronomy, where he makes a very strong case from the perspective of contemporary biblical scholarship that the text of the BofA itself could not have possibly been written by Abraham or any other ancient author, as it is dependent on much later sources of the Pentateuch (really the KJV). IIRC, this argument is what changed Hauglid's mind on the subject.

I'm not sure that's a particularly new argument. Further even among apologists the Abrahamic context and then the first century context both seemed to be part of the text. While there were those arguing for only a Abrahamic context they were hardly the only view. I think that goes way back to the early 90's when FARMS and Ed Ashment were debating over the significance of using Egyptian Magic Papyri (really Greek) relative to the Book of Abraham. The papyri dates to around the first century so if it is a a straightforward translation then that context would matter. That gets into the old long standing debate of whether "by his own hand upon the papyri" means it's an Abrahamic autograph or not.

To my eyes elements of our text fit more in the 1st century. That gets into the debates over the astronomy presentation particularly in chapter 3. Such debates usually are caught up in geocentric or heliocentric debates but I also think that ends up tying into the connection between such astronomy and heavenly ascents at that time. (Both Jewish and pagan particularly neoplatonic)

Edited by clarkgoble
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9 hours ago, the narrator said:

I would say (and, of course, I'm biased in doing so) that the most significant development has been the discussion of the BofA in David Bokovoy's Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis- Deuteronomy, where he makes a very strong case from the perspective of contemporary biblical scholarship that the text of the BofA itself could not have possibly been written by Abraham or any other ancient author, as it is dependent on much later sources of the Pentateuch (really the KJV). IIRC, this argument is what changed Hauglid's mind on the subject.

Just curious. What do you or Bokovoy mean by "the text"? Is Bokovoy arguing that the man, Abraham, and his mortal experience, were not historical, or could not have existed/occurred when depicted? Or, is he referring to presumed anachronisms that have crept into the narrative over the years and until the time of the later sources of the Pentateuch? Or, something else?

Thanks, -Wade Englund- 

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10 hours ago, the narrator said:

I would say (and, of course, I'm biased in doing so) that the most significant development has been the discussion of the BofA in David Bokovoy's Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis- Deuteronomy, where he makes a very strong case from the perspective of contemporary biblical scholarship that the text of the BofA itself could not have possibly been written by Abraham or any other ancient author, as it is dependent on much later sources of the Pentateuch (really the KJV). IIRC, this argument is what changed Hauglid's mind on the subject.

In other words, does Bokovoy side with the post 70's scholarly shift that places the  timing of Abraham in the bronze age rather than in the 2nd millenium BCE? (see HERE) Or does he doubt the historicity of Abraham altogether for want of archaeological evidence? (I would have added this to my previous post, but I don't yet have edit capability or the ability to like various posts._

Thanks, -Wade Enlgund-

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