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The Kirtland Egyptian Papers Or KEP


gtaggart

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There are a number of people posting on this board who demonstrate some knowledge of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers or KEP. In a number of cases, it seems obvious that a poster has better sources at hand than the other posters. For example, Brent Metcalfe has had purportedly high quality photos of the KEP.

I'd like to know what people are using in their study of the KEP. Me? I have Marquardt's book (with very poor quality reproductions from the microfilm that mysteriously disappeared from the Church archives IIRC) and 14 snipets of Metcalfe's photos that he has posted on various message boards, including 5 complete pages of the manuscripts.

What are the rest of you working with?

I must admit that I used to post often about the various KEP theories, but I've quit, largely because I was fighting with both hands tied behind my back relative to those who apparently had better sources. I'm looking forward to the time that Hauglid et. al. publish their findings with scans of the KEP--I hope. If Metcalfe ever does the same, much the better (he once told me that he was planning on publishing on the Prophet's 200th birthday--almost two years ago).

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I, too, am working with Marquardt's book. I also have the Tanner reproduction (which is a poorer version of Marquardt's), Brent's snippets, and Nibley's photos from a BYU Studies article. Jay M. Todd, too, provides some middle-range quality photos (but I think they're the same ones given by Nibley.)

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I, too, am working with Marquardt's book. I also have the Tanner reproduction (which is a poorer version of Marquardt's), Brent's snippets, and Nibley's photos from a BYU Studies article. Jay M. Todd, too, provides some middle-range quality photos (but I think they're the same ones given by Nibley.)

Poorer than Marquardt's book? Is that possible? I go cross-eyed trying to look at his book let alone read it.

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And I with copies of Marquedt's book, Dale's website, Larson's book (small, but nice color), clips that Brent's posted and a really cool site that CK pointed me to.

http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/wiki/index....Egyptian_Papers

It's an anti-site (despite the appeal otherwise), but they do a fairly good job of magnifying the hard to read poritons, etc. (although CK and I both ran into instances where their conclusions were lacking, at best).

Can we get a folder here where we can compile some of the better imagery, such as Brents? I nominate gtaggart to get on that one.

PacMan

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Can we get a folder here where we can compile some of the better imagery, such as Brents? I nominate gtaggart to get on that one.

This is one of those copyright gray areas where it's definitely best to get permission first before you distributing people's photos/

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From the FAIRWiki:

The KEP have never been formally published. Jerald and Sandra Tanner obtained a microfilm copy of most of them and informally published them as Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar. An improved informal compilation was prepared by H. Michael Marquardt under the title The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papers in 1981. This informal edition is still available from Marquardt's website. Both of these editions are photocopies made from microfilm.

The late Steven F. Christensen, before he was murdered by Mark Hofmann, commissioned the photographing of the KEP at the LDS Church archives. From those negatives, at least four sets of color prints were made, including copies now in the possession of George D. Smith, Edward Ashment and Brent Metcalfe. Metcalfe has indicated that he intends to formally publish the KEP, with high quality color photographs on the left side of the page and an improved transcription on the right side of the page.

Is this true?

If so, it's rather interesting that none of these men have ever published these prints. If the LDS Church did this, it would be accused of suppression.

Here are some resources available in Utah:

Joseph Smith's grammar & alphabet of the Egyptian language, edited by William S. Harwell (available at BYU's Lee Library and at the U's Marriott Library).

Joseph Smith's Egyptian alphabet and grammar made legible, by Manoth Suksabjarern (available at BYU's Lee Library).

Joseph Smith's Egyptian alphabet and grammar, published by Modern Microfilm Company (the Tanners) (available at BYU's Lee Library and at the U's Marriott Library).

-Smac

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From the FAIRWiki:

Is this true?

If so, it's rather interesting that none of these men have ever published these prints. If the LDS Church did this, it would be accused of suppression.

The reason Steven Christensen aborted the project is that a GA advised LDS scholars not to publish anything that might damage a member's faith. I don't know why Smith-Ashment-Metcalfe have taken so long to move on it, except that Brent 1) had a hard time convincing his publisher that such an expensive publication would even be worthwhile, and 2) has wanted to include his own findings in the final publication. I can't really blame him; it's kind of like the Dead Sea Scrolls, where a small cadre of scholars have the opportunity to get an exclusive first crack at an important and interesting object of study.

-CK

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As I have indicated before, I have high-resolution images of Mss. #2 and #3. I acquired them from a long-bearded man at the top of Angel's Landing.

I'm confident that, within two years or less, there will be an official "critical edition" of the KEP available to everyone; containing high-quality reproductions of the documents. I'm sure it won't be cheap.

Assuming that Metcalfe publishes his photos as well, then there will be two sources for high-quality images available to the general public.

I will say, as I have said before, that the newest high-res scans of the KEP are superior in many ways to the photos taken in the early '80s -- at least in the sense that they accurately represent the originals. That said, I consider the photos to be entirely adequate for doing detailed analysis of the text.

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As I have indicated before, I have high-resolution images of Mss. #2 and #3. I acquired them from a long-bearded man at the top of Angel's Landing.

How big are the files?

Would you be willing to post them online?

-Smac

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Will,

Do you think the church is waiting to publish such a work until Brent does, just to sink his project? Clearly, members of the church would likely be the main demographic buying Brent's book...which would probably be forgone if the church came out with newer, albeit better copies.

PacMan

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smac97:

How big are the files?

Would you be willing to post them online?

I canâ??t. The old man will send a raven to eat out my liver every morning if I violate the conditions of my contract.

PacMan:

Do you think the church is waiting to publish such a work until Brent does, just to sink his project? Clearly, members of the church would likely be the main demographic buying Brent's book...which would probably be forgone if the church came out with newer, albeit better copies.

I didnâ??t say that the â??Churchâ? was publishing anything. I suppose I worded that poorly. Let me rephrase: Iâ??m sure weâ??ll see a critical edition of the KEP within less than two years.

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smac97:

I canâ??t. The old man will send a raven to eat out my liver every morning if I violate the conditions of my contract.

PacMan:

I didnâ??t say that the â??Churchâ? was publishing anything. I suppose I worded that poorly. Let me rephrase: Iâ??m sure weâ??ll see a critical edition of the KEP within less than two years.

Well...I used the term "church" sloppily. Is this critical edition meant to undercut Brent's work? I wonder if that's why he and the others haven't yet published their pieces as of yet...wondering what cards the "church" is holding in their hand.

PacMan

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Well...I used the term "church" sloppily. Is this critical edition meant to undercut Brent's work? I wonder if that's why he and the others haven't yet published their pieces as of yet...wondering what cards the "church" is holding in their hand.

PacMan

I honestly don't believe any forthcoming critical edition will attempt to "undercut" Metcalfe -- whatever exactly that means. There will certainly be competing interpretations. That is a given.

As I said above, there are two things emerging from recent analysis of the KEP and the history behind the production of the Book of Abraham:

1. Abr. 1 - 3 was translated prior to November 1835, prior to the commencement of Parrish as scribe.

2. The manuscripts known as #2 (Metcalfe's 1a) and #3 (Metcalfe's 1b) show evidence of being visual copies of an earlier document.

Both of those things are contra-Metcalfe. So I guess that will be the basis for future debate.

Edit: I have to run the gauntlet of fire between here and Fillmore and back -- so I'll be incommunicado for a while. Have fun while I'm gone ...

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Will,

The evidence of 1-3 having been translated prior to November-- is that something new or is it the patriarchal blessing thing again? If it's just the patriarchal blessing, then you're leaping to very unwarranted conclusions.

-CK

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Just curious.

Exactly why should it be the case that good copies of the relevant documents are so hard to obtain?

Why not make it all available?

Who is afraid of what?

Does anyone have any thoughts on Tarski's questions? It seems odd that this is even an issue.

What would be the expense to create very high quality scans and make them available to the public? What would be the possible up-sides and down-sides if such scans were made widely available?

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Does anyone have any thoughts on Tarski's questions? It seems odd that this is even an issue.

What would be the expense to create very high quality scans and make them available to the public? What would be the possible up-sides and down-sides if such scans were made widely available?

Everyone likes their aces hidden.

PacMan

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Does anyone have any thoughts on Tarski's questions? It seems odd that this is even an issue.

What would be the expense to create very high quality scans and make them available to the public? What would be the possible up-sides and down-sides if such scans were made widely available?

Dunno. Perhaps Ashment, Smith and/or Metcalfe can explain.

I'm reminded of an experience I had as a missionary in Taiwan. I was only with my first companion (my "trainer") for one month, then he went home. My second companion was the one that taught me most of what I needed to learn. However, he did do one thing that kind of irked me.

Chinese is, as you may have guessed, a difficult language to learn. I worked hard at it. I also tried to find materials and teaching supplements that would help me in discussions with investigators. Due to my inexperience as a missionary and my very limited speaking abilities, every little bit helped. Visual images were particularly useful when I, as a novice missionary, was trying to explain broad religious concepts in Mandarin.

My companion happened to have a great little illustration of the "Plan of Salvation." It was simply illustrated and made the discussions in which he used it go very smoothly. Best of all, the various parts of it (the Pre-Mortal Existence, the Spirit World, etc.) were labeled in Chinese characters. This little illustration was often central to the first few discussions we had with investigators, and I could tell that it really helped them grasp the basic concepts we were trying to convey.

When transfer time came, I asked my companion if I could take that illustration to a copy store and make a color copy of it. He said no. Not only "no." But "No way." I asked why, and he said that it was the only one in our mission, and that if he let me make a copy, then there would be two of them being used in our mission. He said he wanted to keep it "special."

I was, frankly, flabbergasted. I responded that I didn't understand his attitude, that we are all supposed to be doing the Lord's work, and that his little illustration was a useful tool that should be shared.

He again refused, repeating his previous statement. Then he said something like "Besides, how do I know that you won't go around letting others make copies of it." I responded that I thought it was silly to not make copies of it, but that I would agree not to if he was really going to insist on it.

He still refused to let me copy it, saying "Well, how do I know that you won't break your promise?" At that point I became angry (being accused of future dishonesty kinda rankled me) and ended the conversation. A few months later I drew my own illustration. It wasn't nearly as nice looking, but it did the job.

To this day I don't get his attitude. I think my companion just liked to have something nobody else did, even when sharing it wouldn't have harmed him at all.

I wonder if the same thing is happening here.

-Smac

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Just curious.

Exactly why should it be the case that good copies of the relevant documents are so hard to obtain?

Why not make it all available?

Who is afraid of what?

CK seems to be speaking for Brent now. (It is quite amusing to see CK jump in to tell us what "GAs" thought that he wouldn't recognize if he ran into them on the street.) At any rate, Brent has had those photos for what...decades?

I'm not sure what he is afraid of...I suspect being contradicted.

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I honestly don't believe any forthcoming critical edition will attempt to "undercut" Metcalfe -- whatever exactly that means. There will certainly be competing interpretations. That is a given.

I think someone would have to publish more than random essays to be "undercut". For good or for bad, an uncredentialed person can only go so far with this anyway. Ritner is the one who will be able to meet scholars head-on.

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Will,

The evidence of 1-3 having been translated prior to November-- is that something new or is it the patriarchal blessing thing again? If it's just the patriarchal blessing, then you're leaping to very unwarranted conclusions.

-CK

The Cowdery patriarchal blessing only refers to the first few verses of the first chapter. If that were the only evidence, it certainly wouldn't be sufficient to suggest that the first three chapters had been translated prior to November 1835, now would it?

Don't get me wrong, the evidence to which I refer is not such that it will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the first three chapters were completed prior to Warren Parrish commencing his work as a scribe. But there are several things which, when viewed together, strongly support the conclusion. I have no doubt that it will be disputed by those who are intent on maintaining an interpretation that everything from 2:19 to the end was translated in a few days in March 1842. But I am also confident that the evidence will be persuasive enough to convince those who are not rigidly predisposed to believe otherwise.

I should also clarify that I'm not personally convinced that Parrish didn't serve as scribe for a portion of the translation of chapter 3. I tend to think he commenced writing for Joseph at a point towards the end of the third chapter, and then probably continued into the next chapter and beyond -- how far is impossible to tell. I don't believe the full text of the translated Book of Abraham was ever published. It clearly ends in medias res.

But, consider this: There are 7 Book of Abraham translation episodes that have been identified between July 1835 and the end of that year. Parrish was the scribe for the majority of them, and he was certainly writing something. And it certainly seems implausible to me that, over the course of 7 translation sessions, Joseph Smith was only able to get through one chapter and part of another -- which is what the critics would have us believe.

In fact, that is one of the weakest arguments that the critics put forth -- that Joseph Smith only managed to produce a chapter and a half of text over the course of six months and at least seven translation sessions -- many comprising a full day's effort! And this from the man who produced the Book of Mormon in a little over two months just a few years previously and who had, in the meantime, produced chapter upon chapter of additional revelations. And yet the critics would have us believe that Joseph required six months in 1835 to produce 1 1/2 chapters, and then was able to produce the remaining text in a few days in 1842! It's all so illogical and inconsistent with what we know about his history.

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I want to add an additional observation concerning Warren Parrish and his Ms. #3 that Metcalfe and others believe is the transcript of a Joseph Smith translation session.

The critics argue that the Williams and Parrish manuscripts result from both scribes sitting to write down what Joseph Smith translated. They both begin at the 4th verse of the first chapter. Both documents (and especially the Parrish manuscript) show all the signs of having been written in a single sitting. The Parrish document is beautifully written -- no apparent pauses, few corrections, fabulous penmanship -- it's gorgeous. I'm quite confident that any document analyst would assure us that it was written in a single sitting.

The critics also tell us that these two documents represent almost the entire translation effort of 1835 (except for the first three verses of chapter one and the last twelve verses of chapter two.) And yet the journal of Joseph Smith records at least FIVE BoA translation sessions in late 1835 and explicitly states that Warren Parrish was the scribe for those sessions. Frederick G. Williams is not mentioned as taking part in any of those sessions. If Parrish's Ms. #3 was written in a single session (which it obviously was), and if it was written in tandem with Frederick G. Williams also in the room, and if it represents almost the entire translation effort during the Kirtland period, then WHAT, pray tell, were Joseph Smith and Warren Parrish doing the other times where it says they spent the entire day translating the Book of Abraham?

Simply put, the historical facts are not consistent with the theory being propounded by the critics.

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Will,

In my opinion, your view is utterly untenable. We've been down this road before.

I hope to have a short article-- about what was translated when-- done sometime this month. I plan to send it in to BCC Papers. So for the moment I'll put off responding to the previous two posts. But suffice it to say, I think you're very wrong.

-CK

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Will,

If I understand you correctly, I think you subscribe to the missing papyri theory right? Are you arguing the Nibley theory of the MSS being a "studying it out in your mind"/reverse translation?

How does that square with the fact that the facsimiles were present in the extant papyri, were referred to in the text, and were apparently drawn wrong and translated wrong?

I'm not trying to be confrontational. I'm just trying to understand your position.

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jerryp48:

If I understand you correctly, I think you subscribe to the missing papyri theory right?

Wrong.

Are you arguing the Nibley theory of the MSS being a "studying it out in your mind"/reverse translation?

No.

CK:

In my opinion, your view is utterly untenable.

No doubt.

But do you deny that the Williams and Parrish manuscripts were obviously written in a single â??translationâ? session?

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