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By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus


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When the Prophet Joseph Smith published the first installments of the Book of Abraham in 1842, the caption in the Times and Seasons read as following:

"A translation of some ancient Records that have fallen into our hands, from the Catacombs of Egypt, purporting to be the writings of Abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus."1

KEPA # 1 likewise has the following caption:

“Translation of the Book of Abraham written by his own hand upon papyrus and found in the catacombs of Egypt.”2

KEPA # 4, the manuscript used as the basis for the 1842 publication of the first installment of the Book of Abraham has the same header that was used in the Times and Seasons.

The phrase “by his own hand upon papyrus” have drawn a number of investigative remarks. Critics have alleged that the phrase “by his own hand upon papyrus” must necessarily be indicating that Joseph Smith thought that the papyrus he obtained were written by the hand of Abraham himself. The problem, of course, is that the papyri don’t date to Abraham’s time. This is therefore another point against Joseph Smith and the authenticity of the Book of Abraham.

However, LDS scholars have also explored this issue and have offered the following in favor of the Book of Abraham.

Hugh Nibley suggested the following in his book Abraham in Egypt:

“As it stands, the statement "written by his own hand, upon papyrus" comes as an unequivocal declaration of the editor, while it is actually part of the original Egyptian title: "called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus"—that was Abraham's own heading. This is important, since much misunderstanding has arisen from the assumption that the Joseph Smith Papyri were the original draft of Abraham's book, his very own handiwork.”3

Nibley goes on to explain:

“Two important and peculiar aspects of ancient authorship must be considered when we are told that a writing is by the hand of Abraham or anybody else. One is that according to Egyptian and Hebrew thinking any copy of a book originally written by Abraham would be regarded and designated as the very work of his hand forever after, no matter how many reproductions had been made and handed down through the years. The other is that no matter who did the writing originally, if it was Abraham who commissioned or directed the work, he would take the credit for the actual writing of the document, whether he penned it or not.

As to the first point, when a holy book (usually a leather roll) grew old and worn out from handling, it was not destroyed but renewed. Important writings were immortal—for the Egyptians they were "the divine words," for the Jews the very letters were holy and indestructible, being the word of God. The wearing out of a particular copy of scripture therefore in no way brought the life of the book to a close—it could not perish. In Egypt it was simply renewed (ma.w, sma.w) "fairer than before," and so continued its life to the next renewal. Thus we are told at the beginning of what some have claimed to be the oldest writing in the world [the Shabako Stone], "His Majesty wrote this book down anew. . . . His Majesty discovered it as a work of the Ancestors, but eaten by worms. . . . So His Majesty wrote it down from the beginning, so that it is more beautiful than it was before."6 It is not a case of the old book's being replaced by a new one, but of the original book itself continuing its existence in a rejuvenated state. No people were more hypnotized by the idea of a renewal of lives than the Egyptians—not a succession of lives or a line of descent, but the actual revival and rejuvenation of a single life.

Even the copyist who puts his name in a colophon does so not so much as publicity for himself as to vouch for the faithful transmission of the original book; his being "trustworthy (iqr) of fingers," i.e., a reliable copyist, is the reader's assurance that he has the original text before him. An Egyptian document, J. Spiegel observes, is like the print of an etching, which is not only a work of art in its own right but "can lay claim equally well to being the original . . . regardless of whether the individual copies turn out well or ill." Because he thinks in terms of types, according to Spiegel, for the Egyptian "there is no essential difference between an original and a copy. For as they understand it, all pictures are but reproductions of an ideal original." . . .

This concept was equally at home in Israel. An interesting passage from the Book of Jubilees [a text unknown before 1850] recounts that Joseph while living in Egypt "remembered the Lord and the words which Jacob, his father, used to read from amongst the words of Abraham."Here is a clear statement that "the words of Abraham" were handed down in written form from generation to generation, and were the subject of serious study in the family circle. The same source informs us that when Israel died and was buried in Canaan, "he gave all his books and the books of his fathers to Levi his son that he might preserve them and renew them for his children until this day." Here "the books of the fathers" including "the words of Abraham" have been preserved for later generations by a process of renewal. [Joseph's own books were, of course, Egyptian books.]

In this there is no thought of the making of a new book by a new hand. It was a strict rule in Israel that no one, not even the most learned rabbi, should ever write down so much as a single letter of the Bible from memory: always the text must be copied letter by letter from another text that had been copied in the same way, thereby eliminating the danger of any man's adding, subtracting, or changing so much as a single jot in the text. It was not a rewriting but a process as mechanical as photography, an exact visual reproduction, so that no matter how many times the book had been passed from hand to hand, it was always the one original text that was before one. . . .

But "written by his own hand"? This brings us to the other interesting concept. Let us recall that that supposedly oldest of Egyptian writings, the so-called Shabako Stone, begins with the announcement that "His Majesty wrote this book down anew." This, Professor Sethe obligingly explains, is "normal Egyptian usage to express the idea that the King ordered a copy to be made." Yet it clearly states that the king himself wrote it. Thus when the son of King Snefru says of his own inscription at Medum, "It was he who made his gods in [such] a writing [that] it cannot be effaced," the statement is so straightforward that even such a student as W. S. Smith takes it to mean that the prince himself actually did the writing. And what could be more natural than for a professional scribe to make an inscription: "It was her husband, the Scribe of the Royal Scroll, Nebwy, who made this inscription"? Or when a noble announces that he made his father's tomb, why should we not take him at his word? It depends on how the word is to be understood. Professor Wilson in all these cases holds that the person who claims to have done the work does so "in the sense that he commissioned and paid for it." The noble who has writing or carving done is always given full credit for its actual execution; such claims of zealous craftsmanship "have loftily ignored the artist," writes Wilson. "It was the noble who 'made' or 'decorated' his tomb," though one noble of the Old Kingdom breaks down enough to show us how these claims were understood: "I made this for my old father. . . . I had the sculptor Itju make (it)." Dr. Wilson cites a number of cases in which men claim to have "made" their father's tombs, one of them specifically stating that he did so "while his arm was still strong"—with his own hand!

Credit for actually writing the inscription of the famous Metternich Stele is claimed by "the prophetess of Nebwen, Nest-Amun, daughter of the Prophet of Nebwen and Scribe of the Inundation, 'Ankh-Psametik,'" who states that she "renewed (sma.w) this book [there it is again!] after she had found it removed from the house of Osiris-Mnevis, so that her name might be preserved."14 The inscription then shifts to the masculine gender as if the scribe were really a man, leading to considerable dispute among the experts as to just who gets the credit. Certain it is that the Lady boasts of having given an ancient book a new lease on life, even though her hand may never have touched a pen.

Nest-Amun hoped to preserve her name by attaching it to a book, and in a very recent study M. A. Korostovstev notes that "for an Egyptian to attach his name to a written work was an infallible means of passing it down through the centuries."That may be one reason why Abraham chose the peculiar Egyptian medium he did for the transmission of his record—or at least why it has reached us only in this form. Indeed Theodor Böhl observed recently that the one chance the original Patriarchal literature would ever have of surviving would be to have it written down on Egyptian papyrus. Scribes liked to have their names preserved, too, and the practice of adding copyists' names in colophons, Korostostev points out, could easily lead in later times to attributing the wrong authorship to a work. But whoever is credited with the authorship of a book remains its unique author, alone responsible for its existence in whatever form.”4

Kerry Shirts and Russell C. McGregor suggest the following:

“It is obvious from reading the Hebrew Bible that the phrase by his own hand is a Hebrew idiom beyadh, which means “by the authority of,” as we can clearly see in the Stuttgartensian Hebrew text that Kohlenberger translates. He renders Exodus 9:35 as “just as the Lord said through Moses,” while the Hebrew has beyadh, that is “by the hand of.” Clearly it was the Lord’s hand—the Lord’s authority, which had led Moses against Pharaoh, that is, by the Lord’s authority. Though we don’t get it that way in the English, the Hebrew denitely has “by the hand of.”10

At 1 Samuel 28:15 we see another example—the English translation reads that God would not appear to Saul either by the prophets or by dreams. In the Hebrew we again nd beyadh, “by the hand of,” or in other words, by the prophet’s authority from God.

In other words, Abraham may not even have touched the documents that bear his name, the very ones that fell into Joseph’s hands in the 1830s, since Abraham could have had them commissioned and written for him. Yet for all this, the documents would still bear his signature, since they were authorized by him, “by his own hand,” even though a scribe may have written it instead of Abraham.”5

Thus, the LDS scholars contend that it need not be assumed that the phrase “by his own hand upon papyrus” indicates a holographic nature of the Book of Abraham. As John Gee reminds us, there is a difference between the date of a text and the date of a copy of the text. The two are not the same. Thus, while the date of the text of the Book of Abraham could have dated from Abraham’s time, the copy of the Book of Abraham received by Joseph Smith could have dated later.6

The critics scoff at this suggestion. They insist that the phrase “by his own hand upon papyrus” MUST be speaking about Abraham literally writing on the papyrus that Joseph Smith possessed. But is this the case?

In 2007, Dr. Gee published an article with the Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Egyptologists entitled “Were Egyptian Texts Divinely Written?". In it, Professor Gee informs us of the following:

“In this text [the tale of Setne], the book is said to be written “by his own hand” (n-dr.t=h=f) upon papyrus (dm’) which need not be taken as indicating anything more than authorship."7

This newly published evidence bolster’s the LDS apologetic claim that the phrase “by his own hand upon papyrus” need not be construed as meaning an holographic nature for the text. As argued by Nibley and Shirts, it could merely be indicative of attributing authorship to Abraham. It is possible that the phrase, indeed the entire title, was redacted by the 2nd century copyist scribe working with the text, assuming that, as argued by Professor Gee, there was in fact a portion of papyri that contained a text like the Book of Abraham. Considering the providence of Egyptian texts, as explained by Nibley, it wouldn’t have been out of place for an Egyptian, or, as Kevin Barney has argued, a Jewish redactor of the text to insert the phrase.

Which brings me to another point. If Nibley is incorrect in suggesting that the phrase “by his own hand upon papyrus” was a part of the original title, then it follows that the phrase is a 19th century redaction by either Joseph Smith, or the two scribes in whose handwriting the documents are written in, viz., W. W. Phelps and Willard Richards, respectively.

Thus, the Book of Abraham itself wouldn’t be claiming an holographic nature. Such would be an assumption about the Book of Abraham by the 19th century brethren, who inserted the phrase. Based on no evidence within the text itself can the critics decry the Book of Abraham as claiming a holographic nature of the text. In other words, nowhere does the published, canonized text of the Book of Abraham claim to be holographic in nature.

However, is it troubling that Joseph Smith and his contemporaries may have assumed a holographic nature of the text? This depends on one’s assumptions. If one is endowed with a fundamentalist assumption (which is also a presentist assumption) about Prophets, or that Prophets must be 100% right 100% of the time or else they are not Prophets at all, then one could cite this as evidence of Joseph Smith’s fraud. However, in order to establish that Joseph Smith’s prophetic abilities are hampered or called into question by this possible assumption of his, one must first cite evidence that Joseph Smith’s understanding of the nature of the papyrus (namely, whether or not it dated to the time of Abraham) came from revelatory or divine means. Only then can one question Joseph Smith. If the Prophet never claimed on a prophetic or revelatory basis to know if the papyri was a holograph of Abraham, then one cannot attack him for a position he never took. If on the other hand the Prophet did based his alleged belief on a holographic nature of the papyri on purely human speculation or thought, then it only necessitates that the Prophet had a mistaken speculation.

If, however, one acknowledges the fact that Joseph Smith never himself claimed infallibility or omnisciences and does not carry such a fundamentalist assumption about the nature of Prophets (such as myself) then this is all much ado about nothing. As Michael Ash has explained,

“It seems reasonable to conclude that Joseph may have believed that Abraham himself, with pen in hand, wrote the very words that he was translating. The problem is that modern scholars (including LDS scholars) date the papyri to a few centuries before Christ whereas Abraham lived about two millennia before Christ. Obviously Abraham could not have penned the papyri himself.

Now this issue is very similar to that of Book of Mormon geography. It is very likely that Joseph Smith believed in a hemispheric Book of Mormon geography--it made sense to his understanding of the world around him. Such a misinformed belief or most likely misinformed belief, according to modern scholarship, makes him no less a prophet. It simply provides us with an example of how Joseph, like any other human, tried to understand new information according to his current knowledge. So, likewise, with the Abrahamic papyri: Joseph, by way of revelation, saw that the papyri contained scriptural teachings of Abraham and it would have been natural, therefore, to assume that Abraham wrote the papyri.”8

Thus, the question revolves more around one’s assumptions about Prophets than the actual Book of Abraham.

In Conclusion:

Whether or not one accepts that the phrase “by his own hand upon papyrus” is an ancient or modern redaction to the text, a few things are certain. First, there is no justification from the Egyptological evidence that the phrase mandates a holographic nature of the papyri. Second, if the phrase is a 19th century redaction to the text then this is an issue concerning not the Book of Abraham's authenticity but the assumptions of Joseph Smith and our assumptions about the nature of Prophets.

In either case, the phrase “by his own hand upon papyrus” cannot be used as a club against the authenticity of the Book of Abraham. If anything, it is actually confirmatory evidence of the book’s ancient authenticity or a statement on the assumptions of Joseph Smith, nothing more.

Notes:

1 "The Book of Abraham," Times and Seasons 3 (1842): 704.

2 Reprinted in H. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Abraham, ed. J. Gee, (Salt Lake City: FARMS and Deseret Book, 2009), 546

3 H. Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, 2nd ed., (Salt Lake City: FARMS and Deseret Book, 2000), 5.

4 Ibid, 5-8.

5 R. C. McGregor and K. Shirts, “Letters to an Anti-Mormon”, FARMS Review 11/1 (1999), 82-83.

6 See J. Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (Provo: FARMS, 2000), 25-28.

7 Emphasis mine. Professor Gee cites the following to support his claims; J. H. Johnson, Thus Wrote Onchsheshonqy, 2nd ed. (Chicago, 1991), 31; W. E. Crum, A Coptic Dictionary, (Oxford, 1939), p. 427b-428b.

8 M. R. Ash, “Book of Abraham 201", available on the FAIR website. Link here: http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2006_Book_of_Abraham_201.html

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Second, if the phrase is a 19th century redaction to the text then this is an issue concerning not the Book of Abraham's authenticity but the assumptions of Joseph Smith and our assumptions about the nature of Prophets.

Are you serious? Joseph Smith's claims concerning the nature of the Book of Abraham's provenance don't have any bearing on whether it is or isn't authentic? Considering the only evidence we have for the Book of Abraham's origins come from Joseph Smith, if it is demonstrably not "written by his own hand" what else could that possibly cast doubt upon?

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Are you serious? Joseph Smith's claims concerning the nature of the Book of Abraham's provenance don't have any bearing on whether it is or isn't authentic? Considering the only evidence we have for the Book of Abraham's origins come from Joseph Smith, if it is demonstrably not "written by his own hand" what else could that possibly cast doubt upon?

Why does it have to be related to the actual papyrus sitting in front of you, and not the content of the BoA itself?

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Joseph Smith's claims concerning the nature of the Book of Abraham's provenance don't have any bearing on whether it is or isn't authentic?

No. Regardless of whether or not he thought the text was literally written by Abraham himself, that has no bearing on whether the text is authentically ancient or authentically historical.

Considering the only evidence we have for the Book of Abraham's origins come from Joseph Smith, if it is demonstrably not "written by his own hand" what else could that possibly cast doubt upon?

This is assuming that the phrase "written by his own hand" implies a holographic nature of the text. As I argued, it doesn't.

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It seems to me that Joseph had a really good understanding of what pseudepigrapha* are.

Who said anything about Pseudepigrapha? While such is a possibility, one that has been argued by some scholars in the past, I certainly don't think such.

I think Professor Gee, as well as Professors Peterson, Nibley and Ricks for that matter, have presented compelling evidence for a cultural background for the Book of Abraham dating to Middle Kingdom Egypt, roughly.

Ray, imagine the following scenario.

You write a letter to a friend of yours in English. That letter is copied and passed down through the generations. Some time later, I pick up your letter and translate it into, say, German (since I studied it in school :P).

Now, lets say I assume that the document I hold in my hand is literally the one that you yourself wrote with pen in hand. Later, it is determined that instead I have a copy of your letter from some time after the original was penned.

Does it follow that either 1) the text of the letter isn't authentic or 2) that the text is pseudepigraphic because I assumed it was an original when it was a copy?

The same goes for the Book of Abraham. Joseph Smith's assumptions as to whether or not he own a holographic original text written by Abraham himself is independent as to the authenticity and historicity of the text.

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Why does it have to be related to the actual papyrus sitting in front of you, and not the content of the BoA itself?

I won't rehash the arguments as to why such a thing is preferable. The short of it is, if Joseph Smith is going to get such small details wrong, yet be believed on the big details (for example, accurately translating an ancient Egyptian text into several pages of English), well, that just requires too big of a jump for me.

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I won't rehash the arguments as to why such a thing is preferable. The short of it is, if Joseph Smith is going to get such small details wrong...

You're missing my point - perhaps the statement isn't "wrong", but your interpretation thereof is.

...yet be believed on the big details (for example, accurately translating an ancient Egyptian text into several pages of English),...

So, do you have an actual problem with the content of the BoA?

...well, that just requires too big of a jump for me.

Then, perhaps, that's a discussion you need to have with God, Himself.

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So your interpretation of "written by his own hand on papyrus" has nothing to do with papyrus?

Now that's optimism!

Since you seemed to have missed my earlier remarks, allow me to post them again:

â??In this text [the tale of Setne], the book is said to be written â??by his own handâ? (n-dr.t=h=f) upon papyrus (dmâ??) which need not be taken as indicating anything more than authorship."

So, from an ancient Egyptian point of view, ttribe is right. The phrase doesn't necessitate what you think it does.

It seems that to the Egyptians that phrase "written by his own hand" is synonymous with our English "written by".

Looking behind me on my bookshelf, I see a copy of Heinrich Heine's Buch der Lieder von Heinrich Heine. Well, if it is "von Heinrich Heine" then obviously Herr Heine wrote the very copy with his own two hands that now resides on my bookshelf, right?

So, the same goes with "by his own hand upon papyrus". To the ancient Egyptian it seems to have meant simply that it was written by Abraham.

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Who said anything about Pseudepigrapha? While such is a possibility, one that has been argued by some scholars in the past, I certainly don't think such.

I think it's the most reasonable explanation, given the evidence.

I think Professor Gee, as well as Professors Peterson, Nibley and Ricks for that matter, have presented compelling evidence for a cultural background for the Book of Abraham dating to Middle Kingdom Egypt, roughly.

Compelling for some, not so compelling for others. As for myself, I desperately wanted it to be true. And while I think the Book of Abraham has some uplifting and fascinating teachings, that isn't enough to convince me of its ancient origins. Nor have the writings of Nibley or anyone else, and I own two of Nibley's books on the matter.

You write a letter to a friend of yours in English. That letter is copied and passed down through the generations. Some time later, I pick up your letter and translate it into, say, German (since I studied it in school :P ).

This is deeply flawed analogy. A better one would be, you've heard of someone named Ray in your mythology class, whose historical reality can't be confirmed or denied. One day, someone peddling English documents comes to you, and since you've claimed to have translated a Gaelic document (which subsequently disappeared and no one was able to verify the original writing), they think you might be able to pull this translation off, too. One problem, though -- you don't speak English. Yet you make a bunch of pronouncements about this document having belonged to Ray, and that he wrote it by his own hand, and come up with a German translation.

There are also a bunch of Masonic symbols with this document, which you claim to translate but which translation is later falsified. Oh, and mysteriously, Ray's document disappears after the translation too.

Do you think I should believe your translation?

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I think Professor Gee, as well as Professors Peterson, Nibley and Ricks for that matter, have presented compelling evidence for a cultural background for the Book of Abraham dating to Middle Kingdom Egypt, roughly.

You forgot to add David Bokovoy.

None of this, IMO, makes either the BoA or the BoM "historical". I'm aware of several scholars who've commented on Joseph Smith's ability to dig up ancient lore, including Jacob Neusner, who published in BYU Studies. The problem is that for all the "hits" there are also significant "misses".

The same goes for the Book of Abraham. Joseph Smith's assumptions as to whether or not he own a holographic original text written by Abraham himself is independent as to the authenticity and historicity of the text.

Pseudepigrapha can contain facts, while not being based on the actual doings of the people attributed.

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We know that they papyri were not actually written by Abraham - that is a pretty-established fact. There is an explanation - simply that it's a copy of a prior text - "purporting to be ..."

So, for those that want this to end the debate, goodbye. For those that want to engage further, I agree that they need to drop this point.

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This is deeply flawed analogy.

It was an analogy under the assumption that the Book of Abraham was authentic and historically true. If we don't operate under such an assumption, then I agree that my analogy was flawed.

Yet you make a bunch of pronouncements about this document having belonged to Ray, and that he wrote it by his own hand, and come up with a German translation.

This assumes that it was me who said it was written by his own hand and not Ray himself or a copyist handling the scribe, yes?

Well, it seems that it is a matter of assumption and how one approaches the Book of Abraham, or Ray's letter in my analogy.

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How many variations of meaning can we ascribe to the statement "I did not have sexual relations with that woman?"

How many meanings can be read twisted out of

"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, page 110.)

How about

"There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less." (Doctrines of Salvation, p. 61)

Or maybe it was ambiguous when Brigham Young said:

"Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire....Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers.... Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord's servants have always practised it. 'And is that religion popular in heaven?' it is the only popular religion there,..." - Prophet Brigham Young, The Deseret News, August 6, 1862

Maybe when JS said that he'd "married" his 30+ wives he just meant something else?

As I stated in a previous thread

My point is that you can't go re-defining all the words and phrases that become troublesome to your position, and that if you do, you certainly shouldn't mock those who criticize you for doing so. When translating doesn't mean translating, horses aren't horses, by his own hand doesn't mean by his own hand, etc., discussing anything with you is impossible. I'm all for understanding what words mean, but you ignore completely all the context of the statement "by his own hand." Above you said "Whether or not Joseph Smith and the other Church members assumed such is an entirely different story." Maybe its a different story to you, but to me that is the whole issue. If JS was incorrect about what the BoA was, that means he wasn't receiving revelation. Saying that JS was "assuming" anything related to the BoA is a big assumption of your own, you're injecting an element of doubt where he never implied any existed, quite to the contrary JS was very confident about EXACTLY what it was, and stated it explicitly over and over. As the supposed Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, he has a certain accountability for what he said. If you disagree with that, then we aren't going to have much to talk about because we're starting from different premises for examing truth.

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You forgot to add David Bokovoy.

None of this, IMO, makes either the BoA or the BoM "historical". I'm aware of several scholars who've commented on Joseph Smith's ability to dig up ancient lore, including Jacob Neusner, who published in BYU Studies. The problem is that for all the "hits" there are also significant "misses".

Pseudepigrapha can contain facts, while not being based on the actual doings of the people attributed.

Agreed. The evidence doesn't "prove" the Book of Abraham. But to some, such as myself, it is compelling enough for me to take the BoA seriously and have faith in trusting God's witness to me in its claims of authenticity and divinity. I acknowledge that others are going to see things differently.

Which, of course, brings up the question of "objectivity". How does one "objectively" evaluate the evidence presented by both parties? Based on what standards? Based on what criteria? And who gets to establish those standards? Etc, etc.

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Expose -

I expected nothing less from you. :P

Many thanks for confirming my statements about the fact that people here aren't actually debating the Egyptological evidence I have presented (I have yet to see someone try and refute Gee's statements about the phrase in question and its implication to the ancient Egyptians) but instead are hammering out assumptions.

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It was an analogy under the assumption that the Book of Abraham was authentic and historically true. If we don't operate under such an assumption, then I agree that my analogy was flawed.

From an observer's point of view, it doesn't matter if the Book of Abraham was authentic or not. It's impossible to verify, and the circumstances surrounding its translation raise enough questions as to cast serious doubt on its authenticity.

This assumes that it was me who said it was written by his own hand and not Ray himself or a copyist handling the scribe, yes?

No, it doesn't. But there's no way to tell who said it, since the translated document isn't available for comment.

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Agreed. The evidence doesn't "prove" the Book of Abraham. But to some, such as myself, it is compelling enough for me to take the BoA seriously and have faith in trusting God's witness to me in its claims of authenticity and divinity. I acknowledge that others are going to see things differently.

That's a statement I can respect.

Which, of course, brings up the question of "objectivity". How does one "objectively" evaluate the evidence presented by both parties? Based on what standards? Based on what criteria? And who gets to establish those standards? Etc, etc.

You might as well ask how did Hugh Nibley and David Wright differ so much in their conclusions? I personally found Wright more convincing, not only in his analyses, but his conviction that the BoM need not be rejected as a "fraud". I suppose that idea goes back to a "fundamentalist" view. That is, if it's not "real history", then it's a fraud.

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How many variations of meaning can we ascribe to the statement "I did not have sexual relations with that woman?"

How many meanings can be read twisted out of

How about

Or maybe it was ambiguous when Brigham Young said:

Maybe when JS said that he'd "married" his 30+ wives he just meant something else?

As I stated in a previous thread

I don't know how to get through to you. I can almost bet you would get more attention if you would knock off the shock me factor from your posts. It turns posters off to even wanting to deal with your arguments. Btw my patience is really wearing thin, have discussions or leave the board.

Nemesis

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To everyone -

I am going to bow out now and let you all have fun with this thread. For various reasons, a little while ago I determined not to continue posting in the boards and I wish to continue this policy. Thus, this is my last hurrah, so to speak.

Good luck to everyone. Play nice and may the Lord bless you and keep you all.

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It seems to me that Joseph had a really good understanding of what pseudepigrapha are.

Yes, and considering the fact that most pseudepigraphic writings had not been found or published at the time he produced it is even more remarkable, because it does hang remarkably well with them.

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