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Michael D. Rhodes,


Mortal Man

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Michael Rhodes' 1988 Ensign article constitutes one of the very few attempts by the church to address the papyri controversy in an official church publication.

I have extracted 9 statements from the article for evaluation. Please explain why each statement is either essentially correct or else contains significant error.

1. "In 1966, Dr. Aziz S. Atiya, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Utah, discovered some twenty-two separate papyri fragments in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City."

2.

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Michael Rhodes' 1988 Ensign article constitutes one of the very few attempts by the church to address the papyri controversy in an official church publication.

I have extracted 9 statements from the article for evaluation. Please explain why each statement is either essentially correct or else contains significant error.

1. "In 1966, Dr. Aziz S. Atiya, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Utah, discovered some twenty-two separate papyri fragments in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City."

2.

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I actually wouldn't ignore the present text itself. It says Abraham taught the Egyptians astronomy. Keep in mind that the Egyptians had been aligning their structures with their stars at least hundreds of years, if not a couple thousand, before Abraham's supposed birth.

Just want to clarify - are you saying that the Book of Abraham claims that the Egyptians didn't know any astronomy until Abraham taught them?

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These are very short, dismissive statements that don't make any real effort to increase our understanding of the situation. Pretty useless in getting a solid overview of the Book of Abraham controversy. As if it's constructed so that you won't be interested in the article unless you already are aware of the discrepancy. How about a little history first?

That's an interesting observation.

I actually wouldn't ignore the present text itself. It says Abraham taught the Egyptians astronomy. Keep in mind that the Egyptians had been aligning their structures with their stars at least hundreds of years, if not a couple thousand, before Abraham's supposed birth.

So they may not have been willing to realign their pyramids after Abraham's visit?

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Just want to clarify - are you saying that the Book of Abraham claims that the Egyptians didn't know any astronomy until Abraham taught them?

Define "astronomy" as employed in the text of the BoA. You can't talk about what the Egyptians knew and didn't know and Abraham did or didn't teach them until you can define that term.

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1. "In 1966, Dr. Aziz S. Atiya, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Utah, discovered some twenty-two separate papyri fragments in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City."

Atiya didn't really discover them. The museum asked him to serve as a middleman.

2.
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I have a similar hypothesis which assumes that modern translation is correct. The facsimile depict the attempted sacrifice of Abraham. That his God was more powerful and embarrassed the Egyptian gods is something the priests would want to cover up (and often did throughout their history). Therefore, a popular story became transformed into what we have today. So both modern translations and the JS translation are correct, JS having revealed the original.

Of course my initial assumption may be wrong depending on what is contained in the missing papyri, but it absolutely exposes attempts to falsify the BoA as fraudulent.

I encourage you to pursue and develop this theory. Two avenues of research might prove particularly useful:

1) What did Joseph Smith think he was doing, and why did he juxtapose the characters and English text in the manuscripts the way he did? How is this juxtapositon accounted for by your theory?

2) Trace the historical development of the Document of Breathing and/or the lion couch vignette, and see if it can be established that it underwent the kind of transformation you propose. It's all well and good to propose the theory, but of course it would be even better if you could establish its historical plausibility.

In my opinion, this would be a worthwhile contribution to apologetics, particularly in providing an alternative to the missing papyrus theory (which in my opinion impedes historical understanding of the events surrounding the BoA's translation).

Peace and best wishes,

-Chris

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I have extracted 9 statements from the article for evaluation. Please explain why each statement is either essentially correct or else contains significant error.

You first.

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