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Facsimiles Do Not Match Translation?


Severian

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Within any allegorical work, there are always nuggets of wisdom in wait to be discovered by the readers. Think of Grimm's Fairy Tales, one can always read them and at the end pick out a distinct moral to the story. Could this not be the case with the Book of Abraham?

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So what if the Facsimiles of the Egyptian Breathing Permits do not match the Book of Abraham. Other than that noxious stuff about a black skin curse, does it really matter? Couldn't we just work from the symbolism of this religious allegory?

Do you mean modern Egyptologists interpretations don't match Joseph Smith's?

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Do you mean modern Egyptologists interpretations don't match Joseph Smith's?

I trust this does not come as a surprise to anyone. The translations do not even remotely match. Nor were there such Gods as Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah and Korash in the Egyptian pantheon.

But does this really matter? Can't the Book of Abraham be viewed as a worthwhile part of the Mormon canon even as unhistorical allegory?

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Gee states:

Before any conclusions can be drawn from any comparisons between the two, one needs to have an answer to the question: why do Joseph Smithâ??s interpretations need to match ancient Egyptian interpretations at all? I do not intend to answer the issue here but merely to raise it. Critics should note that unless they can answer this question satisfactorily, they have no case.

The underlying issues seem to be: (1) JS's interpretations do not match ancient Egyptian interpretations; (2) JS's interpretations do not match modern Egyptological linguistic analysis. He's batting 0, then.

And Gee suggests that if a critic cannot answer why JS's interpretations do not match ancient Egyptian interpretations, then he has no case. Huh? This appears to be quite a non sequitur to my mind.

Why would a critic need to explain why JS's interpretations do not match ancient Egyptian interpretations before he can proffer an opinion on JS's "translation" of the facsimiles?

Does the critic need to answer why JS was "wrong" in light of ancient evidence (an apparent given for Gee) before he can suggest that JS was wrong in light of modern Egyptological research? Why?

I could be misreading here, so corrections are welcome.

But could someone parse this for me:

one needs to have an answer to the question: why do Joseph Smithâ??s interpretations need to match ancient Egyptian interpretations at all? I do not intend to answer the issue here but merely to raise it. Critics should note that unless they can answer this question satisfactorily, they have no case.

I don't get it.

Calikid?

Best.

CKS

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Gee states:

The underlying issues seem to be: (1) JS's interpretations do not match ancient Egyptian interpretations; (2) JS's interpretations do not match modern Egyptological linguistic analysis. He's batting 0, then.

He also says that modern Egyptologists' don't match the ancient Egyptians' either.

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But could someone parse this for me:

I don't get it.

Calikid?

Maybe he's going po-mo nova on us. You know, the old Derridean "who cares what the author intended; let's read it however we want to read it" idea. That, I believe, was Machiko Takayama's approach to it in her Sunstone presentation.

The idea doesn't make sense to me, but then I'm one of those ugly positivists who believes that there's actually a real world beyond the edges of my consciousness.

-CK

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And Gee suggests that if a critic cannot answer why JS's interpretations do not match ancient Egyptian interpretations, then he has no case. Huh? This appears to be quite a non sequitur to my mind.

If that was what Gee said, you might have a point. But what Gee actually said was, "why do Joseph Smithâ??s interpretations need to match ancient Egyptian interpretations at all?" IOW, the question is not whether Joseph Smith's translations match ancient Egyptian interpretations, but why should they match.

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If that was what Gee said, you might have a point. But what Gee actually said was, "why do Joseph Smith’s interpretations need to match ancient Egyptian interpretations at all?" IOW, the question is not whether Joseph Smith's translations match ancient Egyptian interpretations, but why should they match.

Indeed why should they? And why should they match modern Egyptological analysis?

"why do Joseph Smith’s interpretations need to match ancient Egyptian interpretations at all?"

And why would the critic need to answer Gee's question in order to "have a case?"

I wasn't trying to misrepresent Gee, but I still don't get it.

What's his point in this challenge to critics? Should the critic need to explain why JS was wrong before he can suggest that JS was wrong? That doesn't make any sense to me. Does it to you?

CKS

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I too am way behind on this subject. But I wonder if thousands of members would fall away if Pres Hinckley came out and said "I believe the Egyptian papyrus were a catalyst to Joseph receiving and transcribing, translating, or transliterating (whichever one applies, if any) portions of the PoGP"? I know I wouldn't.

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I wasn't trying to misrepresent Gee, but I still don't get it.

A possible answer is that they are symbolic. Symbols can have different meanings.

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If that was what Gee said, you might have a point. But what Gee actually said was, "why do Joseph Smithâ??s interpretations need to match ancient Egyptian interpretations at all?" IOW, the question is not whether Joseph Smith's translations match ancient Egyptian interpretations, but why should they match.

Indeed why should they? And why should they match modern Egyptological analysis?

I think the beginning of an answer can be found in Chapter 3 of "The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: an Egyptian Endowment".

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The actual, need to match the ancientEgyptian ideas is unnecessary in order for Joseph Smith to be a true prophet. The ancient Egyptian religion is not the true and only religion to live either. I believe that is what Gee was getting at. He isn't asking critics to answer why Joseph Smith didn't get anything correct, but he is getting at who really knows what the ancients believed anyway? Translation destroys all clues, as John Anthony West, Anthony Spalinger, Herman Kees, and Rudolf Anthes, amongst a few of the many, have more than amply demonstrated. Who is to say that a translation of hieroglyphs is the one and only correct translation, when in fact, even the ancient Egyptians did not place a one to one meaning on their own religious icons? In other words, it is ludicrous for critics to say Joseph Smith got it wrong if their translation doesn't match his, because the pure fact is the modern Egyptologists translations not only don't match each others, but they don't give us the real meaning of what the ancient Egyptians had in mind either! Ironic, but true. Sir Alan Gardiner said this time and again in his writings, and he was very astonishlngly prolific!

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The actual, need to match the ancientEgyptian ideas is unnecessary in order for Joseph Smith to be a true prophet. The ancient Egyptian religion is not the true and only religion to live either. I believe that is what Gee was getting at. He isn't asking critics to answer why Joseph Smith didn't get anything correct, but he is getting at who really knows what the ancients believed anyway?

Ah, the "Nobody really understands Egyptian" theory rears its ugly head. The Great Nibley would be proud!

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Gee also cites the fact that ancient Jewish interpretations of Egyptian scenes differ from the original Egyptian interpretation.

I see this as a very rough parallel to some modern English words. For example, "gay" forty years ago meant something quite different from "gay" in today's vernacular. If someone 4000 years from now were translating a story about Johnny being "happy and gay" in the 1930s, but was using today's definition, then he would have it all wrong.

I realize that is a simplistic example.

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Mighty CUrelom:

Ah, the "Nobody really understands Egyptian" theory rears its ugly head. The Great Nibley would be proud!

Since he was directly in line with real Egyptologists, you are correct. Where you are incorrect is labeling this an ugly theory. It's simply the facts. No two Egyptologists ever agree on translations. All one has to do is go to the literature to see this plain and obvious fact.

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He isn't asking critics to answer why Joseph Smith didn't get anything correct, but he is getting at who really knows what the ancients believed anyway?

So, Kerry, the point is not that JS failed to get anything right, the point is that no one knows what "right" really is? Ergo, JS may have been right, but who knows? Just demonstrating that he was wrong according to our best knowledge is insufficient for proposing that he was inventing a translation?

I suppose that is logically possible.

Why not.

I don't see anything affirmative in Gee's analysis here. Only a case of what might be.

Five of the seven sources he cites in the article reference his own material.

If Gee is right, then he's really right.

Still, what's the point? That no one knows what the ancients believed, so JS may have been correct after all--whatever he may have meant as far as we can discern? Does that not ring essentially hollow to you? If not, why not? Seems ad hoc to my mind.

Best.

CKS

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Ummm, isn't it as simple as:

Joseph said it was a

"Translation of the Book of Abraham written by his own hand upon papyrus and found in the Catacombs of Egypt."

Much of the papyrus was found in the 60s, and despite all the mental gyrations, it is not:

"Translation of the Book of Abraham written by his own hand upon papyrus and found in the Catacombs of Egypt."

???

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Ummm, isn't it as simple as:

Joseph said it was a

"Translation of the Book of Abraham written by his own hand upon papyrus and found in the Catacombs of Egypt."

Much of the papyrus was found in the 60s, and despite all the mental gyrations, it is not:

"Translation of the Book of Abraham written by his own hand upon papyrus and found in the Catacombs of Egypt."

???

No. It is not that simple.

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If that was what Gee said, you might have a point. But what Gee actually said was, "why do Joseph Smith's interpretations need to match ancient Egyptian interpretations at all?" IOW, the question is not whether Joseph Smith's translations match ancient Egyptian interpretations, but why should they match.

Exactly! Why should allegory ever be bound by exacting standards? It is the symbolic meaning that one derives from the tale that is important and each of us may interpret that symbolism differently, although sometimes we can hold the meaning in joint agreement.
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CKSlamon:

Just demonstrating that he was wrong according to our best knowledge is insufficient for proposing that he was inventing a translation?

I suppose that is logically possible.

Why not.

I don't see anything affirmative in Gee's analysis here. Only a case of what might be.

And now you are beginning to become enlightened about the entire nature of the beast called "Egyptology," and how the scholars reallywork. It is always, ALWAYS, ***ALWAYS*** 100% of the time entirely without question the fact in historical research of "a case that might be."

ANd it is precisely how you state it. If the Egyptologists cannot even translate Ptolemaic Egyptian hieroglyphs yet, how on this living earth can they pronounce anything Smith said as false, if they themselves cannot even tell us what anything says?! See the point yet?

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