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Bofa: Missing Texts


Droopy

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Question: Apparently, most of the textual material that was in the possession of Joseph Smith in his life time is not now extant. He-who-must-not-be named (nice Lovecraftian ring to that...) and other critics (Brent Metcalf et el) would argue, as best I can make out, that this argument is flawed for at least the following reasons:

1. The KEP is adequate for a complete explanation of the translation process. The Egyptian Alphabet and Grammer are clearly, in this argument, compelling and essentially irrefutable evidence of the means by which the BofA was produced, and those means were of a purely human sort.

2. An apparent unwillingness to accept, at face value, the several documentary eyewitness accounts we have detailing a rather large quantity of text. The rejection of the documentary evidence here concerns me, because I'm not at all certain how 19th century Mormons could have foreseen the loss of the materials or the precise nature of the attacks upon the BofA in the 20th century. The missing material either did or didn't exist, buy how, in a logical or evidential way, can multiple eyewitnesses be simply dismissed as irrelevant?

I have run into a rather vicious and impenetrable attitude on the-board-that-must-not-be-named regarding these issues. My problem is that, quite frankly, rational discourse on this issue seems unlikely. I have already been torn asunder by the Brights over at the-board-that-must-not-be-named just for coming here seeking some help with the issue. This was seen as running away and cowering before the mighty cogitations of the-smart-people-who-must-not-be-named over there.

Well, here I am again, sniveling and cowering, and perhaps we could set the evidence out here in condensed form for a look.

I'm interested in just why the critics think they're positions are so certain. My present knowledge of the issue, from a strictly scholarly standpoint, is that both sides are working with a serious dearth of hard data and plausibilities exist in both camps. This doesn't change my testimony, of course, but it seems to me that humility in the face of the kind of theoretical reconstructions of history necessary in such an intellectual endeavor would be called for among the critics.

Now, I've been told many times that if the Church was ever proven to be a fraud, my world view world collapse. Hence I fear such evidence. But isn't this true on both sides? If further evidence (such as the discovery of Abraham's name in an Egyptian setting etc.) were to come forth friendly to the BofA, so friendly, indeed, that the KEP arguments looked less and less reliable, would world views not be at stake here as well?

My impression, if emotional investment is any cue, is that He-who-must-not-be-named's world view would, far from collapsing, release enough energy to give the Manhattan Project a run for its money.

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I have run into a rather vicious and impenetrable attitude on the-board-that-must-not-be-named regarding these issues. My problem is that, quite frankly, rational discourse on this issue seems unlikely. I have already been torn asunder by the Brights over at the-board-that-must-not-be-named just for coming here seeking some help with the issue. This was seen as running away and cowering before the mighty cogitations of the-smart-people-who-must-not-be-named over there.

How dare you ask others for input when you are stuck!! What a cowardly act!! You fall in line with the lowest and vilest of them all, including anyone who has ever asked a question. I pity your deplorable ignorance.

:P

Sargon

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Question: Apparently, most of the textual material that was in the possession of Joseph Smith in his life time is not now extant. He-who-must-not-be named (nice Lovecraftian ring to that...) and other critics (Brent Metcalf et el) would argue, as best I can make out, that this argument is flawed for at least the following reasons:

1. The KEP is adequate for a complete explanation of the translation process. The Egyptian Alphabet and Grammer are clearly, in this argument, compelling and essentially irrefutable evidence of the means by which the BofA was produced, and those means were of a purely human sort.

2. An apparent unwillingness to accept, at face value, the several documentary eyewitness accounts we have detailing a rather large quantity of text. The rejection of the documentary evidence here concerns me, because I'm not at all certain how 19th century Mormons could have foreseen the loss of the materials or the precise nature of the attacks upon the BofA in the 20th century. The missing material either did or didn't exist, buy how, in a logical or evidential way, can multiple eyewitnesses be simply dismissed as irrelevant?

I have run into a rather vicious and impenetrable attitude on the-board-that-must-not-be-named regarding these issues. My problem is that, quite frankly, rational discourse on this issue seems unlikely. I have already been torn asunder by the Brights over at the-board-that-must-not-be-named just for coming here seeking some help with the issue. This was seen as running away and cowering before the mighty cogitations of the-smart-people-who-must-not-be-named over there.

Well, here I am again, sniveling and cowering, and perhaps we could set the evidence out here in condensed form for a look.

I'm interested in just why the critics think they're positions are so certain. My present knowledge of the issue, from a strictly scholarly standpoint, is that both sides are working with a serious dearth of hard data and plausibilities exist in both camps. This doesn't change my testimony, of course, but it seems to me that humility in the face of the kind of theoretical reconstructions of history necessary in such an intellectual endeavor would be called for among the critics.

Now, I've been told many times that if the Church was ever proven to be a fraud, my world view world collapse. Hence I fear such evidence. But isn't this true on both sides? If further evidence (such as the discovery of Abraham's name in an Egyptian setting etc.) were to come forth friendly to the BofA, so friendly, indeed, that the KEP arguments looked less and less reliable, would world views not be at stake here as well?

My impression, if emotional investment is any cue, is that He-who-must-not-be-named's world view would, far from collapsing, release enough energy to give the Manhattan Project a run for its money.

I can answer all yer queries and wonderings, with one little textual referance, but i am thinking just to let you languish for awhile. :P

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Hello Droopy,

I am of the opinion that much less papyrus is now missing than Dr. Gee has hypothesized. For example, since JS copied into his KEP notebooks a few excerpts and drawings from Books of the Dead belonging to Amenhotep and Neferirnub, Gee concludes that JS once had the full rolls, which were subsequently destroyed in the Chicago Fire. In a paper that is in the final revision stage and will hopefully soon be submitted for publication, I and Don Bradley argue that JS only ever had small scraps of the Amenhotep roll. This hypothesis might easily be extended to the Neferirnub roll, as well, especially since most sources seem to record Joseph having possessed only a couple rolls and some assorted fragments.

Of course, the issue ultimately is not one of whether JS had a large quantity of papyrus. The issue is whether the source text for the BoA is presently missing. We know that it most definitely is not, because the translation manuscripts and the Alphabet and Grammar quite explicitly derive it from characters on PJS XI, the Small Sensen fragment.

It is worth adding that one of the more complete statements of my, Brent's, and others' arguments against the missing papyrus hypothesis is a mercifully short thread on this very forum:

http://www.mormonapologetics.org/index.php...mp;p=1208200298

(EDIT: I recommend reading the specific post I linked to first, as it is something of a primer, and then going back and reading the rest of the thread. Brent Metcalfe's links are instructive, so you won't want to miss those. Happy hunting.)

-Chris

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What is now in possession of the Church was mounted in glass frames at the time that a hostile eyewitness identified yet another scroll as being that of Abraham being in the possession of Mother Smith and being shown for a fee to the public. We do not any longer have that scroll. Therefore, there are missing BofA texts.

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What is now in possession of the Church was mounted in glass frames at the time that a hostile eyewitness identified yet another scroll as being that of Abraham being in the possession of Mother Smith and being shown for a fee to the public. We do not any longer have that scroll. Therefore, there are missing BofA texts.

That there is missing papyrus is not disputed. The roll Charlotte Haven saw was probably the last 5 feet or so of the Hor Book of Breathings, the first portion of which-- now in the possession of the church-- was the source for the Book of Abraham. Gustavus Seyffarth viewed this roll in the St. Louis Museum before its conveyance to Chicago and described it as an invocation to the deity Osirus on which is mentioned the name of the deceased, Horus. He then described Facsimile 3.

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That there is missing papyrus is not disputed. The roll Charlotte Haven saw was probably the last 5 feet or so of the Hor Book of Breathings, the first portion of which-- now in the possession of the church-- was the source for the Book of Abraham. Gustavus Seyffarth viewed this roll in the St. Louis Museum before its conveyance to Chicago and described it as an invocation to the deity Osirus on which is mentioned the name of the deceased, Horus. He then described Facsimile 3.

I thought most apologists had abandoned the missing scrolls theory, with the possible exception of John Gee.

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That there is missing papyrus is not disputed. The roll Charlotte Haven saw was probably the last 5 feet or so of the Hor Book of Breathings, the first portion of which-- now in the possession of the church-- was the source for the Book of Abraham. Gustavus Seyffarth viewed this roll in the St. Louis Museum before its conveyance to Chicago and described it as an invocation to the deity Osirus on which is mentioned the name of the deceased, Horus. He then described Facsimile 3.

That is a possibility. Of course, someone also has stated that Seyffarth's description has at the end of this roll the broken phrase containing the words "The beginning of the book of...". Now, what would that phrase be doing at the end of what Seyffarth was describing? What followed that? Truth be told, no one now can say anything with certainty.

Then again, another description of the roll Mother Smith had in her possession stated, IIRC, that there were both red and black paint on the roll. The fragments we now have are only in faded black with no red. Seyffarth also does not describe the roll he had with any such description of rubrics, so far as I am aware. We know that some copies of the Book of Breathings were actually written with red rubrics. However, attempted matching up of what we still have with what rubrics that are in red in known copies of the Book of Breathings reveals that there is no match.

One additional factoid is the description of Joseph Smith's Abraham roll being long enough to unroll and extend through two rooms of the Mansion House, and this was after the fragments we now have were mounted under glass. This would give a potential length of approximately sixteen feet. I know of no copy of the Book of Breathings with all six columns of its original content and vignettes, if any, that comes close to that length. Even with the remainder of what was in possession of Seyffarth added to what we now have, we could not obtain a roll as long as described by those who saw the roll in possession of Mother Smith and Joseph Smith. We perhaps would then have about six or seven or so, feet, at absolute most. What, then, would be on the remaining footage of papyrus on that roll?

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While I have always loved the book of Abraham and consider it to possess some of the most beautiful doctrines found in the scripturesâ?¦I now believe it was a creation from the mind of Joseph Smith.

Metcalfe and other have done a great job shedding light on the problems facing the text. The KEP and the Egyptian alphabet and grammar are nails in the coffin.

The apologist are grasping at straws. I am not convinced by the arguments made by Gee and others that the â??second scrollâ? contains the Book of Abraham. Nor am I convinced by other apologetic arguments about God working through Joseph using the book of breathings for inspiration. The KEP and Egyptian alphabet and grammar clearly prove that the process was a literal effort to translate the â??scrollâ?.

Best,

Johnny Rotten

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I'd just like to point out that even if the missing scrolls theory was airtight, the origin of the Book of Abraham would still be a glaring red flag. As the story goes, some of Joseph's followers purchase a couple mummies from a traveling mummy show, along with a few scraps of papyrus. When Joseph has a chance to examine the papyri, he finds they contain the story now canonized as the Book of Abraham. Quite a coincidence, isn't it? I'd say somewhere in the realm of Gordon B. Hinckley opening a box of crackerjacks and having the Dead Sea Scrolls fall out. Or picking up a box of old books at a yard sale and finding a Gutenberg Bible.

This is another of those aspects of Mormonism that is common knowledge to members, but makes non-members say "wait...you know this and you still believe?"

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That is a possibility. Of course, someone also has stated that Seyffarth's description has at the end of this roll the broken phrase containing the words "The beginning of the book of...". Now, what would that phrase be doing at the end of what Seyffarth was describing? What followed that? Truth be told, no one now can say anything with certainty.

You will definitely be wanting to read the link I provided earlier in this thread, where I believe I have left this argument in shambles.

Then again, another description of the roll Mother Smith had in her possession stated, IIRC, that there were both red and black paint on the roll. The fragments we now have are only in faded black with no red. Seyffarth also does not describe the roll he had with any such description of rubrics, so far as I am aware. We know that some copies of the Book of Breathings were actually written with red rubrics. However, attempted matching up of what we still have with what rubrics that are in red in known copies of the Book of Breathings reveals that there is no match.

Oliver Cowdery's description of a roll with red ink almost certainly refers to the Book of Joseph, or rather the Ta-shert-min Book of the Dead, which has writing in red ink on it. I recommend perusing the first post at this link:

http://www.mormonapologetics.org/discuss/v...715&start=0

One additional factoid is the description of Joseph Smith's Abraham roll being long enough to unroll and extend through two rooms of the Mansion House, and this was after the fragments we now have were mounted under glass. This would give a potential length of approximately sixteen feet. I know of no copy of the Book of Breathings with all six columns of its original content and vignettes, if any, that comes close to that length. Even with the remainder of what was in possession of Seyffarth added to what we now have, we could not obtain a roll as long as described by those who saw the roll in possession of Mother Smith and Joseph Smith. We perhaps would then have about six or seven or so, feet, at absolute most. What, then, would be on the remaining footage of papyrus on that roll?

This third-hand Nibley report of a memory of Joseph Fielding Smith when he was five didn't even always get reported by Nibley the same way. In one telling Joseph had the papyrus spread out all around him; the next time Nibley tells the story it is the bit about being unrolled through two rooms of the Mansion House. Obviously the former version doesn't have quite the same effect, and even it must be considered doubtful. I recommend reading Brent's comments at the following links:

http://p079.ezboard.com/fpacumenispagesfrm...picID=447.topic

http://p079.ezboard.com/fpacumenispagesfrm...picID=447.topic

-Chris

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I thought most apologists had abandoned the missing scrolls theory, with the possible exception of John Gee.

There are definite signs of a move in that direction. Sam Brown's recent Sunstone presentation, for example, was a wonderful example of the sort of work BYU scholars can accomplish on BoA issues when their apologetic presuppositions are set aside. I highly recommend it to anyone who is willing to pay the download fee from the Sunstone site. There are other scholars, too, who are moving quite decidedly away from Gee: Kevin Barney is one example. I don't know where Brian Hauglid stands at present, but I have yet to encounter an LDS scholar-- including Gee himself-- who has attempted to surmount the counterarguments against a missing roll.

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Hello Droopy,

I am of the opinion that much less papyrus is now missing than Dr. Gee has hypothesized. For example, since JS copied into his KEP notebooks a few excerpts and drawings from Books of the Dead belonging to Amenhotep and Neferirnub, Gee concludes that JS once had the full rolls, which were subsequently destroyed in the Chicago Fire. In a paper that is in the final revision stage and will hopefully soon be submitted for publication, I and Don Bradley argue that JS only ever had small scraps of the Amenhotep roll. This hypothesis might easily be extended to the Neferirnub roll, as well, especially since most sources seem to record Joseph having possessed only a couple rolls and some assorted fragments.

Of course, the issue ultimately is not one of whether JS had a large quantity of papyrus. The issue is whether the source text for the BoA is presently missing. We know that it most definitely is not, because the translation manuscripts and the Alphabet and Grammar quite explicitly derive it from characters on PJS XI, the Small Sensen fragment.

It is worth adding that one of the more complete statements of my, Brent's, and others' arguments against the missing papyrus hypothesis is a mercifully short thread on this very forum:

http://www.mormonapologetics.org/index.php...mp;p=1208200298

(EDIT: I recommend reading the specific post I linked to first, as it is something of a primer, and then going back and reading the rest of the thread. Brent Metcalfe's links are instructive, so you won't want to miss those. Happy hunting.)

-Chris

This is just more speculation. Like we need more of that. ;):P

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Of course, the issue ultimately is not one of whether JS had a large quantity of papyrus. The issue is whether the source text for the BoA is presently missing. We know that it most definitely is not, because the translation manuscripts and the Alphabet and Grammar quite explicitly derive it from characters on PJS XI, the Small Sensen fragment.

Chris, you are a bright fellow, but it is statements like this that cause you to lose credibility.

T-Shirt

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I'm just kind of spectating here, but what about Chris's statement is so damaging to his credibility? Could you explain?

This part:

We know that it most definitely is not

We don't "most definitely" know anything of the sort. He, and a few others, may think they know this, but it is far from definitive. It is a statement that jumps to unwarranted conclusions and, in my mind, shows shoddy and agenda driven scholarship.

T-Shirt

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We don't "most definitely" know anything of the sort. He, and a few others, may think they know this, but it is far from definitive. It is a statement that jumps to unwarranted conclusions and, in my mind, shows shoddy and agenda driven scholarship.

We know it as definitely as a historian can hope to know something like that. Granted, no knowledge is definitive. Maybe I don't exist. But consider the following:

1) The characters in the margins of the translation manuscripts are matched up with discrete units of English text. These aren't just paragraphs, because sometimes the discrete units end in mid-sentence. They are clearly intentionally lined up that way. The first couple characters even have superscripts in the text to show us which part they correspond to.

2) The characters in the margins also match in order the characters on JSP XI.

3) Where there is a gap in JSP XI, the characters in the translation mss appear to be invented. This is consistent with the statement made by William S. West in 1836:

"These records were torn by being taken from the roll of embalming salve which contained them, and some parts entirely lost but Smith is to translate the whole by divine inspiration, and that which is lost, like Nebuchadnezzar's dream, can be interpreted as well as that which is preserved." William S. West, A Few Interesting Facts, Respecting the Rise Progress and Pretensions of the Mormons (Warren, OH: self-published, 1837).

4) The Alphabet and Grammar explains how to break down characters in order to determine their meanings, and then how to supply parts of speech in between to produce lengthy English translations of a single character. The discrete English meanings assigned to characters in the Alphabet and Grammar correspond to their discrete English meanings in the translation manuscripts.

5) The explanations of Facsimile 3 refer to the labels over the characters' heads but mistranslate them. This suggests that even if viewed with a faith-bias, a conventional, Egyptologically-correct translation simply isn't an option when explaining what JS was doing with these papers.

All of this is quite definite enough for me. But if you and the apologists want to have a sleepover at your place and swap jokes about the critics' "unwarranted conclusions", I'll provide the deviled eggs.

(EDIT: For a simplified introduction to my points 1-3, see the following link here. For point 4, see here, here, and here. For point 5, see here.)

This is just more speculation. Like we need more of that.

Did you read the link I provided?

Is Chris parot-ting, or?

Of course. What, you don't think I'd waste neurons thinking for myself, do you?

-Chris

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What is now in possession of the Church was mounted in glass frames at the time that a hostile eyewitness identified yet another scroll as being that of Abraham being in the possession of Mother Smith and being shown for a fee to the public. We do not any longer have that scroll. Therefore, there are missing BofA texts.

Therefore, there are missing BofA texts.

Presuming this is a fact, do you think it would make a difference that what JS translated was a "Book of Dead"?

Or do you think there was another set of Papyrus?

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All of this is quite definite enough for me.

Then you should have said that in the first place. Thank you for the admission that your use of the word, "we" was not a good choice.

But if you and the apologists want to have a sleepover at your place and swap jokes about the critics' "unwarranted conclusions", I'll provide the deviled eggs.

Does it bother you that much that my statement was accurate?

T-Shirt

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