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Publishing The Kirtland Egyptian Papers


Mormon Dude

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In an interview at BCC a representative of the project stated that the KEP would not be included except for those portions in Joseph Smith's handwriting. However, when I talked to Robin Jensen some time later (at last Summer's Sunstone), it sounded like the jury was still out as to how much of the KEP was included. Robin seemed to think there was a real possibility they'd all get in.

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Which is exactly what the KEP are.

You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. None. All you are doing is parroting the words and thoughts of others.

One of the "Egyptian Alphabet" documents is indisputably a Joseph Smith holograph. I have held the original in my hands, studied extensively the digital scan of it--and greatly admired Joseph Smith's penmanship. You can tell he was working very hard to do his best. He didn't have all his spelling rules down, but by 1835 he had become, in my opinion, a very fine penman--much better than W. W. Phelps. At any rate, even though that document is in his handwriting, I do not believe it should be included in the Joseph Smith Papers--nor will it be, for very good reasons.

Incidentally, none of the various manuscripts in the "Kirtland Egyptian Papers" is the product of a dictation. None of them. And this isn't just my opinion. It is a consensus opinion, and one upheld by the text-critical evidence. I predict that, ten years from now, no one will attempt to make that argument. At least no one that doesn't want to be regarded as a crank.

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CS:

... I talked to Robin Jensen ... it sounded like the jury was still out as to how much of the KEP was included. Robin seemed to think there was a real possibility they'd all get in.

You simply must have misunderstood what Robin had to say. Either that, or Robin is confused. But I find that hard to believe. In any case, the Abraham manuscripts (those that contain text of the Book of Abraham in them; authored by Frederick G. Williams, W. W. Phelps, Warren Parrish, and Willard Richards) will all appear in Brian Hauglid's forthcoming A Textual History of the Book of Abraham, which will contain high-resolution color plates of all the documents and typographical transcriptions of the contents. It strives to be a purely academic volume, in the sense that it does not make any overtly apologetic arguments (although some will be implied by the nature of the stemmatic presentation). This volume will be volume 5 of the Maxwell Institute's Studies in the Book of Abraham series. It is (I believe) "at press" as we speak--or very, very close to it. I would imagine to see copies of it for sale quite soon--perhaps by the FAIR conference. (I'll call Brian today, if I remember, and get an update.)

The Egyptian Alphabet, the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language, and probably the "Egyptian Counting" document will be treated similarly in a subsequent "critical edition" to appear in the "SBA" series. We haven't really discussed what the plan will be for the remaining smaller pieces. All I know is that they are not going to be published in the JSP materials. All of the KEP material will eventually be published in the SBA series of books. As I had mentioned elsewhere on this board several days ago, the SBA series should see the publication of no fewer than 5 new volumes in the next two or three years.

Edit: corrected minor error.

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I asked a JSP representative (at a conference booth) last year whether or not the KEP would be included, and she said it would be. I still have my doubts though.

USU's description of what the Project intends to accomplish is an accurate reflection of what was said in the BCC interview. When I talked to Robin, though, it sounded like the scope of the project had widened beyond mere holographs and dictation. Here's what the website currently says about the inclusion criteria: "The papers include documents that were created by Smith, whether written or dictated by him or created by others under his direction, or that were owned by Smith, that is, received by him and kept in his office. Under these criteria

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CS:

I predict that your prediction will be regarded as the prediction of a crank. There is no such "consensus".

The "consensus" of which I speak refers to Ab2 and Ab3 (Metcalfe's BA1a & BA1b) among those who have had the opportunity to examine the manuscripts, and who, by training or experience (or both) are qualified to offer an opinion. This includes Brian Hauglid, Royal Skousen, Thomas Wayment (who is a NT manuscript expert at BYU), John Gee, and at least two people involved with the JSP project (their names escape me at the moment) as well as myself. I have developed multiple text-critical evidences that both documents are copies, and that evidence and the conclusions that derive therefrom, have been confirmed by some of the people just mentioned. For example, the "Haran" dittograph in Ab2 is a powerfully persuasive evidence that Ab2 was a visual copy of a now-lost document.

Furthermore, I have developed what I believe to be conclusive evidence that the text of the Book of Abraham contained in Ab2 and Ab3 was received in July 1835--prior to the production of either of those documents. The evidence demonstrating this fact is independent of the text-critical elements within Ab2 and Ab3.

So, you can casually dismiss these things as the ramblings of a crank--you've gotten really good at the "wave of a hand" argument. Indeed, you have become increasingly dismissive and mocking in the past year when it comes to anything I have to say about the Kirtland Egyptian Papers--in fact, when it comes to anything I have to say on any topic whatsoever. You appear to have reached the conclusion that I have absolutely no credibility when it comes to these things. I find that very interesting, especially given the fact that I have had the source materials for almost four years, and you have never had access to those things. Given that reality, how do you account for your level of certainty concerning my ineptitude?

And why do you suppose people like Brian Hauglid, Royal Skousen, John Gee and others would so recklessly risk their professional reputations by affirming my findings? Why would the editors of the Studies in the Book of Abraham series commission a work based on the findings of someone who is so obviously (as you and others believe) a "crank"? Are they just plain stupid? Desperate? What?

What about the people in the Church History Department? Or those in church administration who approved my request for the images of the KEP? Are they just plain stupid, too? Desperate? Ignorant? What? Are they so blinded by "confirmation bias" or some other prejudice that they could be taken in by a "hillbilly autodidact" con-artist?1

Frankly, Chris, I find your posture inexplicable, and reeking of hubris. Granted, you have not had the opportunity, as of yet, to review the bulk of my research and conclusions concerning the KEP. That you would have doubts about it is entirely understandable. But your dismissive expressions go far beyond that. You have completely adopted the Metcalfe posture of mockingly dismissing everything I have to say, and refusing to engage the evidence I have articulated over the course of the past four years, except to reject it out of hand, as you did my detailed explication of the Haran dittograph and the Abr. 1:12 interlinear insertion in the threads in the Pundit's forum of this message board. That flies in a message board environment, but once these things appear in formal publications, you will eventually have to produce persuasive counter-arguments.

Oh, well. I suppose you have what you believe to be good reasons for your certainty when it comes to my ineptitude and qualifications to speak to the topic of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. I also have what I believe are very good reasons to disagree with the arguments and conclusions contained in your 2009 JWHA paper. But I have not, to my knowledge, ever publicly suggested that you are a bumbling fool or a crank. What I have done is methodically prepare the counter arguments and evidence to disprove your thesis. In 88 days you will, for the first time, be able to assess the viability of a sampling of those arguments and evidence--at least a summary articulation; as much as can be said in 50 minutes or less. Perhaps at that time you will at least begin to see that your "wave of the hand" dismissals have been just slightly premature.

1 = Trevor Luke coined the appellation "hillbilly autodidact" in reference to me. Truth be told, I'm kind of fond of the characterization. I've certainly been called worse things.

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Edited to achieve a little more brevity.

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In 88 days you will, for the first time, be able to assess the viability of a sampling of those arguments and evidence--at least a summary articulation; as much as can be said in 50 minutes or less.

So why aren't you listed for the 3:45 slot? And you're right, this is much worse than Dr. Scratch. wink.gif

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So why aren't you listed for the 3:45 slot? And you're right, this is much worse than Dr. Scratch. wink.gif

I figured I'd just stand on a soapbox in the lobby during Dan Peterson's presentation. Go head to head and see what happens.

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Edit: Perhaps your assumptions aren't correct. I've noticed before now that sometimes you don't recognize your own false assumptions. :P

Could this be another one of those times ............. ?

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Besides, Dr. Scratch is welcome to join me in the lobby.

He'll just have to bring his own soapbox. I've only got one.

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I predict that your prediction will be regarded as the prediction of a crank. There is no such "consensus".

By the way, Chris, in my mind the issue with your increasingly mocking and consistently disrespectful demeanor towards me has nothing to do with whether or not you think my arguments might have merit. I understand that you don't. But until you've been able to assess them in full, don't you think good judgment (or at least good manners) would dictate a degree of reserve on your part when it comes to dismissing them out of hand? Especially when, by all indications, I at least appear to have something sufficient to warrant the respect of those who have assessed those arguments?

Anyway, just a thought.

I fully expect that my arguments will be subject to as intense critical scrutiny as anything has in a long time. If they are flawed, that will become readily apparent. But until then, perhaps it would be wise to exercise a measure of prudent restraint when it comes to the public displays of ridicule, thinly veiled though they often be.

For better or worse, I have been thrust into the position of being a significant player in this discussion. To the extent your current career trajectory is maintained into the future, we might be compelled to deal with each other for a long time.

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You have completely adopted the Metcalfe posture of mockingly dismissing everything I have to say, and refusing to engage the evidence I have articulated over the course of the past four years, except to reject it out of hand, as you did my detailed explication of the Haran dittograph and the Abr. 1:12 interlinear insertion in the threads in the Pundit's forum of this message board.

I have not rejected either of these things out of hand. To the contrary, I remain open to persuasion either way on both of these points.

However, I am quite persuaded by the text-critical evidence that your conclusion that none of the KEP are dictated is incorrect. Frankly, you have a history of making extraordinary claims that ultimately turn out to be woefully ill-supported or ill-informed. I am therefore not inclined to take you at your word when you claim to have an ace in the hole that will overturn arguments I find very compelling. If and when you publish your arguments, I will read them with an interested and critical eye. Until then, you can expect your extraordinary assertions and dismissive statements vis-a-vis the critics to continue to be met with equal dismissiveness on my part.

Peace,

-Chris

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Perhaps your assumptions aren't correct.

No, it confirms my assumption that the speakers committee is impervious to bribes and begging.

Now, to save you from futher embarrassment and possible accusations of duplicity, perhaps you'd care to elaborate for your adoring fans:

1) Who will be presenting "a sampling" of your "arguments and evidence" in "88 days"?

2) What will be the venue?

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I have not rejected either of these things out of hand. To the contrary, I remain open to persuasion either way on both of these points.

However, I am quite persuaded by the text-critical evidence that your conclusion that none of the KEP are dictated is incorrect. Frankly, you have a history of making extraordinary claims that ultimately turn out to be woefully ill-supported or ill-informed. I am therefore not inclined to take you at your word when you claim to have an ace in the hole that will overturn arguments I find very compelling. If and when you publish your arguments, I will read them with an interested and critical eye. Until then, you can expect your extraordinary assertions and dismissive statements vis-a-vis the critics to continue to be met with equal dismissiveness on my part.

Peace,

-Chris

What "evidence" and "arguments" are you talking about? I have searched high and low through the publication history on this particular topic, and I have yet to uncover much at all in terms of "evidence" and "arguments." Perhaps you could point me to something I've missed in that regard. Where are the "evidence" and "arguments" that demonstrate that "the KEP are dictated"? I'm dead serious. Certainly you have some bibliographical references you could point me to?

And what "extraordinary claims" have I made that were "woefully ill-supported" and "ill-informed"? Certainly not the dittograph arguments, or those concerning Abr. 1:12. You may not agree with those arguments, but substantial evidence was adduced, and the arguments certainly attested someone who was not "ill-informed."

You see, this is precisely what I'm talking about. You always speak in sweeping generalizations when condemning my "arguments" and "evidence." Of course, as you describe them, they're always "extraordinary," "ill-supported," and evidence of my being "ill-informed." What you're actually talking about is never made clear. It is essentially an ad hominem argument from top to bottom, for it appeals to a caricature crafted of me which is based on a fictitious history of these "extraordinary" (read: ridiculous) claims.

Of course, I don't expect anything to change at this point. You and Metcalfe have pretty much established this posture as your preferred modus operandi when it comes to anything I say. And, as I said, that works just fine on message boards, and in the eyes of your dedicated supporters among ex-mormons. But you may find it harder to maintain the approach as years go by, especially in the eyes of people who don't rely on message boards to form their opinions.

In any case, I do look forward to your directing me to any "evidence" and "arguments" that demonstrate that "the KEP are dictated." Certainly there must be some definitive article out there that I have missed along the way.

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No, it confirms my assumption that the speakers committee is impervious to bribes and begging.

I'm sorry, but this is just a tad too opaque to even be appreciated as the derisive remark I assume it is.

Now, to save you from futher embarrassment and possible accusations of duplicity, perhaps you'd care to elaborate for your adoring fans:

1) Who will be presenting "a sampling" of your "arguments and evidence" in "88 days"?

2) What will be the venue?

The "accusations of duplicity" are a given in any case. That's just how things roll in the Great and Spacious Trailer Park. Everyone knows that. That's why it's lost it's ability to persuade anymore. Indeed, people are starting to learn that, in the GSTP, whoever is most frequently accused of duplicity (and all other similar crimes) is most likely someone worth listening to.

As for your specific questions, let's just say that the answer to both remains "TBA."

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Does anyone know if The Kirtland Egyptian Papers (KEP) will be published in any future volume of the Joseph Smith Papers? Or if anything more about the Council of the Fifty will be included in the project?

I don't know about the KEP, but now I'm wishing I asked Reid Neilson about it when I saw him a few weeks ago. A year ago, Elder Jensen seemed pretty confident that the council of 50 minutes would be published when I asked him about it.

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What "evidence" and "arguments" are you talking about? I have searched high and low through the publication history on this particular topic, and I have yet to uncover much at all in terms of "evidence" and "arguments." Perhaps you could point me to something I've missed in that regard. Where are the "evidence" and "arguments" that demonstrate that "the KEP are dictated"? I'm dead serious. Certainly you have some bibliographical references you could point me to?

I presented such evidence with respect to the "Egyptian Alphabet" documents in my JWHA article. The evidence with respect to the Abraham manuscripts largely has not been published, though it has been discussed at various times on the boards.

And what "extraordinary claims" have I made that were "woefully ill-supported" and "ill-informed"?

We've discussed your posting history before, and I'm not interested in renewing those discussions. You asked why I am dismissive of your claims, and I stated my reason. And that's that.

Of course, I don't expect anything to change at this point. You and Metcalfe have pretty much established this posture as your preferred modus operandi when it comes to anything I say.

Only for those claims for which you provide no evidence.

Peace,

-Chris

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The evidence with respect to the Abraham manuscripts largely has not been published, though it has been discussed at various times on the boards.

You're kidding, right? :P

Do you mean to say that, for forty years now, people have been acting as though it is a foregone conclusion that Ab2 and Ab3 are the "translation manuscripts" of the Book of Abraham, and yet the evidence to support that argument has not yet been published?!

And you have the audacity to ridicule me because I have yet to present the evidence for a claim I have only been making for the past six months?!

This, folks, is a stunning admission of the truth of the matter!

This is the reality of the situation: For forty years the critics of Joseph Smith and Mormonism have been assuring us that the Kirtland Egyptian Papers prove that the Book of Abraham is an obvious fraud, and yet the evidence to support that argument has not yet been published!!!!!!

We've discussed your posting history before, and I'm not interested in renewing those discussions. You asked why I am dismissive of your claims, and I stated my reason. And that's that.

Of course "that's that." And what "that" consists of is you once again dodging any discussion of the specifics and instead resorting to the essentially ad hominem appeal to an ethereal caricature of my alleged "posting history" which consists of entirely fictitious, and yet astonishingly non-specific assertions of my having made "extraordinary claims" that are "ill-supported" by the evidence, and which manifest my being "ill-informed" about the material.

It has been one of the most impressive productions of propaganda I have witnessed in my experience with critics of Mormonism. It is echoed almost universally among your cohorts; repeated so often that no one even thinks to ask anymore whether or not it is an accurate reflection of the truth.

And, irony of ironies, when pressed for the evidence that supports a forty-year-old claim that is treated with hushed reverence among the critics of Mormonism worldwide, we now learn that the evidence to support that argument has not yet been published!

It is impossible to make this stuff up.

<Pauses to marvel in stunned silence ...>

Well, then ... Christopher Smith, to his credit, has at least published something concerning the Kirtland Egyptian Papers--a paper published in the John Whitmer History Association Journal last summer. I have read it multiple times. I highly recommend it to everyone who is interested in the topic of the meaning of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers--not because it presents valid arguments in reference to that question, but because I want everyone to at least be familiar with the arguments it does make prior to my humble (and, no doubt, ill-advised and ill-informed) upcoming attempt to contradict those very arguments.

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Chris would you please provide us with your curriculum vitae? Thanks.

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Thanks. I see you perspective.

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Your histrionics notwithstanding, I look forward to reading and learning from said arguments.

Histrionics? Hardly. All I've done is boldly underscore the facts.

For forty years people have been led to believe that the Kirtland Egyptian Papers contained the original translation manuscripts of the Book of Abraham, and armed with that false assumption, critics of Mormonism have crafted an allegedly "open and shut" case against Joseph Smith. The only problem? No one ever bothered to actually present arguments and supporting evidence for the assertion! The actual case remains to be made, notwithstanding the fact that critics of Joseph Smith and the church he founded have been acting for years on the assumption that it was already proven.

It's a stunning reality about which pretty much everyone is ignorant. Mortal Man illustrated that fact in spades earlier in this thread with his glib reply that confidently asserted the notion that the KEP contain transcripts of something Joseph Smith once dictated. (See here.)

Well, if there is a case, it remains to be made by anyone. And when you make these casual references to "evidence" and "arguments," who has ever been in a position to realize that it's a complete fable you (and others) are spinning?

So, I hope our readers have finally come to realize something very important: when it comes to the meaning of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, the debate is not over. It's only just begun. On August 6th of this year, I hope all those with an interest in this controversial topic will pay close attention to what will amount to the only substantial set of arguments and evidence to be presented by anyone since 1971 when Hugh Nibley made the first (and, to date, the only) bona fide attempt to answer the question: What was the meaning and purpose of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers?

Whether or not one is persuaded by the arguments made that day, I hope that everyone will finally come to see where it is that we really stand in relation to answering that question: at the start.

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