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John Gee: "The Joseph Smith Papers Project Stumbles"

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On 8/24/2019 at 10:00 AM, Robert F. Smith said:

Yeh, isn't that a violation of a temple covenant not to find fault with the Brethren?  Dr Lavina Fielding Anderson was exed for writing a professional analysis for Dialogue which showed factually that the Brethren had made a particular series of decisions.  Of course, no one exed Elder Bruce McConkie when he faulted Brother Brigham and other Church leaders for speaking without light and knowledge on race (1978).  Pres Dieter Uchtdorf even openly stated that mistakes had been made.  How can that be if the Brethren are infallible -- which is a foundational article of LDS faith, isn't it?

Of course you meant all that tongue in cheek, right?

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On 8/24/2019 at 4:50 PM, SettingDogStar said:

That’s a pretty bold statement to make I’d say. 

 

On 8/24/2019 at 6:55 PM, SettingDogStar said:

I mean I support the authority of the first presidency, so I’m not sure what you’re intending by that. I’m just saying it’s a bold statement saying it’s ONLY you two who were standing up for their authority. Especially when no one on this thread seemingly challenged their authority. 

Don't assume I agree with what 6EQ posted just because 6EQ used my name without my authorization.

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4 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

 

Don't assume I agree with what 6EQ posted just because 6EQ used my name without my authorization.

Oh I didn’t mean to, I apologize. I was more making reference to how bold a claim that is, didn’t mean to wrap you up in it (because you I obviously didn’t give permission).

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, SettingDogStar said:

Oh I didn’t mean to, I apologize. I was more making reference to how bold a claim that is, didn’t mean to wrap you up in it (because you I obviously didn’t give permission).

Thanks.

On a totally off-topic note your screen name reminds me that we are in the "dog days of summer" right now, so named because Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, is overhead and is called "the dog star" because it is part of the constellation canis majoris. 

I don't know whether you knew that. You probably did.

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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1 hour ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Of course you meant all that tongue in cheek, right?

Someone on this board apparently believes wholeheartedly that the Brethren are infallible as a matter of official LDS theology.  They do not believe in fact that the Brethren or anyone else is infallible.  They only make that false assertion in order to knock it down as part of their anti-Mormon screed.

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10 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Someone on this board apparently believes wholeheartedly that the Brethren are infallible as a matter of official LDS theology.  They do not believe in fact that the Brethren or anyone else is infallible.  They only make that false assertion in order to knock it down as part of their anti-Mormon screed.

Who is that person? (By the way, I don't like the singular they/their. I find it confusing.)

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The BoA issues within the church?  A bit messy to say the least.

I guess if Hauglid and company didn't have such a low view of Gee and Muhlestein we might not be in this mess.  Or put another way, if Gee and Muhlestein weren't producing what Hauglid termed as abhorrent, we might not be seeing this mess played out.  Here is Jeff Lindsay in the comments:

Quote

"It is regretable that although The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints counts several faithful Egyptologists among its membership, the editors deliberately chose not to involve them in any serious way.”

That’s an amazing admission, especially when coupled with Hauglid’s denouncement of Gee and “abhorrent” apologetics on Facebook. I have reason to believe that some key people with the JSP Project believed that our LDS Egyptologists were given every chance to be closely involved with this project, and yet it seems that Dr. Gee at least feels that he was deliberately excluded.

There’s a serious problem here. Not one of personalities and petty disputes between academic peers, but of fundamental flaws in scholarship that needs correction. It was bad enough when I found that Nibley was completely excised, and that Gee and Muhlenstein were barely recognized in the 1000+ footnotes and extensive commentary. But it is even more upsetting to now learn that some basic issues have serious flaws where our BYU Egyptologists could have helped greatly. Some of these issues go beyond the minor embarrassment of getting a document or two upside down (but ouch!). Rather, the more serious problem us getting some documents “backwards” in terms of their relationship to the Book of Abraham, in addition to many other errors noted by Gee. The upside down photos are a minor annoyance that won’t affect anyone’s testimony or understanding, but getting the story of the documents backwards is a risk to be avoided. The bias in this volume is totally unacceptable, however it came about.

The photos are fabulous and the transcriptions for the most part are fabulous, in spite of some understandable glitches, but the sequencing, the assigned dates, the extensive commentary enforcing a particular framework for interpreting them, often show serious and fundamental flaws that cry out for a formal correction and an acknowledgement that there are other perspectives that other scholars have provided.

I don’t think the many good people over the esteemed Joseph Smith Papers Project should just sit this out and ignore the mess on our hands. This is not about casting blame or faulting the editors for whatever perspectives they may have shared with many others that may have led to the oversights in this volume, though there is no pain-free way to deal with this mess. Still, there is no need to dig into why and how things went wrong. I’m more comfortable assuming the flaws occurred in good faith, guided perhaps by personal confusion and perhaps by too much closeness to hostile critics of the Book of Abraham, resulting in an unjustified but socially acceptable bias against Nibley et al. and leading to an unfounded sense of confidence in the perspectives the editors developed over time. Assume good faith, but recognize that we still have a problem in need of correction.

If the JSP Project is to maintain a high standard of academic trustworthiness, when serious academic missteps occur, what is needed is a careful correction, even if it is costly and painful. We need a 2nd edition with updated commentary, reconsideration of the dates and any issues of authorship, one that at least recognizes the document names and numbering systems used in previous scholarship, and one that takes into account significant evidence about the nature of the translation of the Book of Abraham that can point to more than just the warts.

I have seen no indication of any response from the editors or from the Joseph Smith Papers group to the publication of my related paper a few weeks ago, and that’s fine, but to have one of the most qualified experts on the JS Papyri and the Book of Abraham offer such a review and indicate that he was left out of the process indicates that something very serious went wrong. A response is needed now and, in my opinion, a correction is needed. May it get started with all due haste, and may there be an official statement recognizing the problem and specifying what steps will be taken.

Some people have had a crisis of faith over the issues created with this volume and the summaries made by the editors. Such crises can be addressed by pointing out the flaws and bias in the perspectives provided in this volume. But this volume itself should be viewed as a crisis for the integrity of the JSP Project, one that should be treated the way smart organizations handle major flaws that occur in their systems, services, or products: rather than silence and business as usual, admit the problem, recall the flawed work and correct it, and fix things with openness. At least have a committee consider what is indisputable in need of correction, what may well be corrected, and how the corrections can best be implemented to keep this work at a high level of accuracy and fairness.

Serious problem indeed.  Good I suppose that this serious problem is about a book that no one in the Church really ever pays attention to.  

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8 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

 

Don't assume I agree with what 6EQ posted just because 6EQ used my name without my authorization.

@Scott Lloyd and I are always on the same page.

And mods, quick point of clarification: Scott says I used his name "without authorization?"  Do we now need special permission to quote or reference someone in our own posts?

Because I would be very sad if I couldn't mention @Scott Lloyd on a regular basis.

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40 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Do you understand the meaning of the word “literally”?

This is my soapbox tangent where you and I may want to squirt lemon juice in our eyes. When did the word "literally" become a tool to express hyperbole?

For example, I asked my niece if she had finished a paper for her Logic class. She responded that she had literally just finished it. I responded by asking if she had finished in the last few minutes. She said no and that it was more like the last 30 minutes. <HUGE FACEPALM>

Scott, please just punch me in the face!

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8 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Who is that person? (By the way, I don't like the singular they/their. I find it confusing.)

My mistake.  I meant to have plurals throughout.  "Someone" was merely the person triggering me, but certainly not the only one adopting that phony approach.

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3 minutes ago, Valentinus said:

This is my soapbox tangent where you and I may want to squirt lemon juice in our eyes. When did the word "literally" become a tool to express hyperbole?

For example, I asked my niece if she had finished a paper for her Logic class. She responded that she had literally just finished it. I responded by asking if she had finished in the last few minutes. She said no and that it was more like the last 30 minutes. <HUGE FACEPALM>

Scott, please just punch me in the face!

So huge off topic remark but I hope it is interesting enough to validate it.

I literally watched this movie yesterday.

I highly recommend seeing The Professor and the Madman.

Quote

Professor James Murray begins work compiling words for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in the mid 19th century, and receives over 10,000 entries from a patient at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Dr. William Minor.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 8/26/2019 at 8:04 AM, 6EQUJ5 said:

This has literally been linked to on this board 1000x

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine

I was wondering if that was the one you were referring to, but I don't see how it supports your claim as it limits doctrine to being sourced from "This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenantsand the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith" and I see nothing that states anything printed under the Church Historian Press must also be included.

cfr is not answered

Edited by Calm
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14 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

My mistake.  I meant to have plurals throughout.  "Someone" was merely the person triggering me, but certainly not the only one adopting that phony approach.

Thanks for the clarification. 

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2 hours ago, stemelbow said:

Good I suppose that this serious problem is about a book that no one in the Church really ever pays attention to.  

It seems like Abr 3 is a pretty well read chapter. Much more so than many other texts (IMO). The rest is pretty neglected, but that chapter is the only scripture tied to our theology of the council in heaven.

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10 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Thanks.

On a totally off-topic note your screen name reminds me that we are in the "dog days of summer" right now, so named because Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, is overhead and is called "the dog star" because it is part of the constellation canis majoris. 

I don't know whether you knew that. You probably did.

 

Didn’t know about the “dog days of summer”! I knew Sirius was ancients referred to as the Dog Star and I knew it “set” on occasion. However, I didn’t know much more of the symbolism!

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16 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

One thousand times? On this board alone? 

Do you understand the meaning of the word “literally”?

 Insults removed. You are close to being banned.

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

cfr is not answered

Asked and answered.  Please read the link carefully.

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The misuse of "literally" makes me figuratively insane. ~some meme

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On FB Mormon Historians Brian Hauglid states "I think the biggest error in the two Interpreter reviews is mischaracterizing Revelations and Translations Volume 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts as an Egyptology book when that is simply not the case. A small portion of the book (early on) does introduce the papyri fragments, in which cases we cited the appropriate literature from trained Egyptologists for those data. However, the core purpose of the book is to provide a documentary edition that offers photos and transcriptions of a variety of 19th-century documents related (albeit sometimes indirectly) to the book of Abraham and not to the Egyptian language, its history, or its culture. The volume primarily delves into what we can learn about and from these documents within the context of 19th-century American religious history."

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, 6EQUJ5 said:

Asked and answered.  Please read the link carefully.

I did.  CFRs are not just answered by waving someone in the right direction.  Please quote the specific part you believe supports your claim.

Edited by Calm
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, aussieguy55 said:

On FB Mormon Historians Brian Hauglid states "I think the biggest error in the two Interpreter reviews is mischaracterizing Revelations and Translations Volume 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts as an Egyptology book when that is simply not the case. A small portion of the book (early on) does introduce the papyri fragments, in which cases we cited the appropriate literature from trained Egyptologists for those data. However, the core purpose of the book is to provide a documentary edition that offers photos and transcriptions of a variety of 19th-century documents related (albeit sometimes indirectly) to the book of Abraham and not to the Egyptian language, its history, or its culture. The volume primarily delves into what we can learn about and from these documents within the context of 19th-century American religious history."

I've not compared John's criticisms to the JSP, but the above seems to be avoiding the weight of John's criticisms which is primarily about the transcription as I read it.

I think it also avoids John's criticism about timelines and so forth they did include. Even if Hauglid is convinced by Vogel's arguments, it'd seem worth at least noting the opposing argument and its weaknesses.

Again, I don't feel remotely qualified to have an opinion on the debate just not being familiar enough with the primary documents. But the above seems a real attempt to avoid engaging the criticism. If John is wrong (as it appears he was on the scroll length argument) it should be trivial to make that argument.

Edited by clarkgoble
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On 8/25/2019 at 7:59 PM, SettingDogStar said:

Interesting, good to know! I wonder how much was changed.

There is a paper out by Gerrit Dirkmaat and LaJean Purcell Carruth by the title of "The Prophets Have Spoken But What Did They Say" which gives one an insight into some of the editing that Watt did. LaJean Purcell Carruth leaned to decipher the Pittman Shorthand that Watt used and studied his transcripts in order to learn his particular style and idiosyncrasies.  I do not know if it is available freely yet. I obtained a copy when I had a subscription to BYU Studies and can only quote parts from it to use as part of a discussion. It is very interesting reading.

Glenn

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