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Missing Papyrus


Mortal Man

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I'm pleased to announce that our paper on the missing papyrus is now available for free download from the Dialogue website. Our data, gathered from the original papyrus fragments in the Church Historian's Vault, will also soon be available for download by anyone who wishes to verify our results.

Comments are welcome.

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For comparison, here is a link to the wiki version of Dr. Gee's 2007 material, not sure how this has been affected by more recent work:

http://en.fairmormon...missing_papyrus

It will likely be updated shortly.

This is the same link that Dialogue suggests readers refer to.

Since Dialogue asks no citations be made, I will not quote the material but merely point to the last paragraph where the term "scripture" is used. I find this somewhat problematic since as far as I understand neither Chris nor Mortal Man see the BoA in the way that LDS view scripture:

When holy men of God write or speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, their words "shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation" (D&C 68:4).
http://www.lds.org/l...0004d82620aRCRD

Why was this comment included when it was really irrelevant to the paper's purpose?

****since I can't comment on the mechanics, I must restrict my commentary to the commentary.

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Thanks for taking the time to read it calmoriah.

For comparison, here is a link to the wiki version of Dr. Gee's 2007 material, not sure how this has been affected by more recent work:

http://en.fairmormon...missing_papyrus

It will likely be updated shortly.

This is the same link that Dialogue suggests readers refer to.

Kristine included the FAIR Wiki link at my suggestion. Will says that Gee is in the process of working on a revision, so we'll have to wait and see.

Since Dialogue asks no citations be made, I will not quote the material

Quoting the article and/or linking to it is fine. This advance copy is not for citation because the pages haven't been formatted with numbers and the Winter issue hasn't come out yet.

but merely point to the last paragraph where the term "scripture" is used. I find this somewhat problematic since as far as I understand neither Chris nor Mortal Man see the BoA in the way that LDS view scripture: http://www.lds.org/l...0004d82620aRCRD

I believe that the Bible and the Book of Abraham are both equally valid as scripture. I'll probably elaborate on this sometime in the future.

Why was this comment included when it was really irrelevant to the paper's purpose?

I think it's relevant. What should we have said?

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I'm pleased to announce that our paper on the missing papyrus is now available for free download from the Dialogue website. Our data, gathered from the original papyrus fragments in the Church Historian's Vault, will also soon be available for download by anyone who wishes to verify our results.

Comments are welcome.

At first glance your article appears to be carefully researched and well reasoned. And, while I am no document expert or a mathematicion, I found little to object to. Nice work. :P

However, I really like that you made it publically available on the eve of Will's presentation--giving your work at least one day of fame before it is rendered meaningless (just kidding).

One problem, though, I had trouble extracting an embedded font "PEILVX+Times-Romans". Maybe my Adobe Reader needs updating. We'll see.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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At first glance your article appears to be carefully researched and well reasoned. And, while I am no document expert or a mathematicion, I found little to object to. Nice work. :P

Thanks Wade.

However, I really like that you made it publically available on the eve of Will's presentation--giving your work at least one day of fame before it is rendered meaningless (just kidding).

Alas, it has been difficult living in Will's shadow all these years.

One problem, though, I had trouble extracting an embedded font "PEILVX+Times-Romans". Maybe my Adobe Reader needs updating. We'll see.

I'll pass that along to Kristine. If you're having this problem then others may be having it as well.

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Personally I see a lot of conjecture wrapped around forced assumptions, muddled in technical goo in order to confuse the audience into a conclusion.

Can you give us a specific example?

The biggest assumption, BTW, is that the facsimiles are cannon

They are canon.

and that they are on the same scrolls as the Book of Abraham.

We never claimed that any of the facsimiles "are on the same scrolls as the Book of Abraham."

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Quoting the article and/or linking to it is fine. This advance copy is not for citation because the pages haven't been formatted with numbers and the Winter issue hasn't come out yet.

The paper also hasn't gone through the editorial process.

Cal,

Does one have to believe the Book of Abraham is scripture in the full LDS sense of the word to be able to affirm in an academic work that it functions as scripture in the way that academics understand the term?

Josh,

The Facsimiles are printed and accepted as part of the Standard Works of the Church, which would seem to make them canonical. "Canon", in fact, means "standard" in Greek. However, even if it could be argued that the Facsimiles are not canonical, this would not affect the substance of our paper. Their canonicity is an irrelevant side issue.

As for the assumption that Facsimile 1 was on the same scroll as the source from which the BoA was ostensibly translated, this seems to be indicated by the Book of Abraham text itself. And Andrew and I are not alone in seeing it that way, either. That the Book of Abraham followed the Document of Breathing on the Hor scroll has been the most common variant of the missing papyrus theory. Kevin Barney, for example, writes the following:

John Gee argues, based on Gustavus Seyffarth's description of the roll containing the original of Facsimile 3 as it existed in 1856 while it was at the St. Louis Museum, that there may have been another text on the roll following the Book of Breathings ("Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence of the Joseph Smith Papyri," in The Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, ed. Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges [Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000], 189). If this argument is correct, and if this additional text was the Book of Abraham, my theory would explain why J-red appended that book to a Book of Breathings (because he meant to adopt the vignettes to the Book of Breathings as illustrations for the Book of Abraham). On this reading, the back references to "the commencement of this record" and to "the beginning" were added to point the reader to the beginning of the scroll, not the book. This would also explain why some of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers show attempts to match characters from the Book of Breathings to the finished English text of the Book of Abraham; those involved in the exercise would have wrongly assumed that the Book of Abraham was the first text on the papyrus scroll, whereas in reality it would have been the second.

Our research suggests that this hypothesis is untenable, because the scroll was not physically large enough to accommodate a BoA text.

Now, I don't doubt that there will be attempts to salvage the missing papyrus argument by, for example, simply moving the BoA to a different scroll in Joseph's collection. But this will prove a more difficult line of argument, in part because of the BoA text's placement of Facsimile 1 "at the commencement," but also for a variety of other reasons that I have explored in a complementary paper currently under review at another journal.

Suffice to say, I believe that the missing papyrus theory is past its prime, and it will be all downhill for the theory from here. It will probably continue to have supporters indefinitely, but I believe it is on its way out as the dominant apologetic paradigm, and will have to be replaced by other approaches.

Peace,

-Chris

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We never claimed that any of the facsimiles "are on the same scrolls as the Book of Abraham."

Then your entire premise is useless. You can not discount additional scrolls that could have contained the Book of Abraham. Unless you have photographs of what the scrolls looked like when they were in a wrapped state, then all your doing is creating a large sideshow, making "impressive" calculations on impossible evidence.

And I have yet to see someone truly disprove quotes about witnesses seeing Joseph Smith with enough scrolls to "cross two floors".

JMS

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Chris, for all we know those are NOT the original facsimiles, and that the original might have not been on the scrolls as they could have been badly damaged before they even got to Joseph Smith, and that the Book of Breathing's versions were used as symbolic replacements.

JMS

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They are cannon.

Are the facsimiles canon?

Could you or anyone else point me to some information or a discussion on this question. I really don't know much about the historical attitude towards the facsimiles.

I've never thought of them as canon. I've never heard anyone in the church, from the prophet on down, refer to them in any way that would make me think they are "scripture". I've barely heard them mentioned at all.

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The biggest assumption, BTW, is that the facsimiles are cannon and that they are on the same scrolls as the Book of Abraham.

With apologies to Ogden Nash:

One-enned canons are sacred tomes,

Two-enned cannons hurl great bombs.

But I will bet my stunted banyan,

There's no such thing as a

Three-enned cannnon.

Lehi

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With apologies to Ogden Nash:

One-enned canons are sacred tomes,

Two-enned cannons hurl great bombs.

But I will bet my stunted banyan,

There's no such thing as a

Three-enned cannnon.

Lehi

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Then your entire premise is useless. You can not discount additional scrolls that could have contained the Book of Abraham. Unless you have photographs of what the scrolls looked like when they were in a wrapped state, then all your doing is creating a large sideshow, making "impressive" calculations on impossible evidence.

I'll simply say that John Gee was correct when he said that, "Only if the Horos roll is longer than the Semminis roll do the nineteenth-century eyewitnesses agree."

He was also correct when he said, "We know from the nineteenth century eyewitness testimony that both Mormons and non-Mormons identify the "long roll" as being the source of the Book of Abraham." (Except this really only applies to one witness.) In other words, as of right now, pretty much everyone agrees that the Hor scroll was the longest roll in Joseph's possession. And Gee has repeatedly stated that the BoA was on the longest scroll.

And I have yet to see someone truly disprove quotes about witnesses seeing Joseph Smith with enough scrolls to "cross two floors".

I recommend you read Chris' follow-on paper when it becomes available. In the meantime, Brent gives a nice summary of this (singular) witness:

"In the Improvement Era, Hugh informs readers that Preston Nibley had supplied the Joseph F. Smith account. Preston published his 1906 encounter with Joseph F. in the early 1940's (if memory serves), but omitted the recollection about the BoAbr papyri. According to Preston, in 1906 Joseph F. was recalling an event that occurred over six decades earlier when Smith was 5 years old, or younger. Four years later, in 1910, Hugh was born. Before Preston died (in the mid 1960's?) he related Joseph F.'s recollection to Hugh. Finally, Hugh published the reminiscence in the mid/late 1960's. Given this transmission history, scholars would be reckless to uncritically appeal to Joseph F.'s story as an unblemished depiction of the BoAbr papyri."

(Brent Metcalfe, Zion Lighthouse Message Board, 2003)

Also be aware that Hugh Nibley couldn't make up his mind as to whether this occurred in the Nauvoo House (Improvement Era) or the Mansion House (Dialogue).

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Are the facsimiles canon?

They are all part of the Book of Abraham, as their titles state, "A FACSIMILE FROM THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM".

The BoA, including its facsimiles, was canonized in 1880.

I've never thought of them as canon. I've never heard anyone in the church, from the prophet on down, refer to them in any way that would make me think they are "scripture". I've barely heard them mentioned at all.

They're usually only mentioned in Primary.

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I'm pleased to announce that our paper on the missing papyrus is now available for free download from the Dialogue website. Our data, gathered from the original papyrus fragments in the Church Historian's Vault, will also soon be available for download by anyone who wishes to verify our results.

Comments are welcome.

I am busy right now, but I will tentatively plan on reviewing the mathematical part of paper after the data is made available. After looking at part of the paper for a couple of hours, I developed several methodological concerns, but I am uncertain whether improvements I have in mind will produce substantially different results or not.

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I will tentatively plan on reviewing the mathematical part of paper after the data is made available.

Thanks (in advance) for taking the time to exaimine the mathematical parts mf. Other than the reviewers (4 of which were trained in math) and Prof. W. V. Smith, I suspect most other readers will skim over the math. You don't really need to wait for the data, since it simply consists of the x-y coordinate pairs corresponding to the edge functions (solid lines) plotted in the figures. We are making the data available for three reasons: (1) so that those with access to the originals can verify that our tracings exactly match the papyri; (2) to enable people to check our calculations, and (3) to enable people to perform their own analysis, should they so desire.

After looking at part of the paper for a couple of hours, I developed several methodological concerns, but I am uncertain whether improvements I have in mind will produce substantially different results or not.

We're happy to hear whatever feedback you might have.

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With just a cursory look (because it was boring) at your paper, the question that came to my mind was why did you assume n=1 over say n=2 (or some combination of higher numbers) as the basis for your calculations.

Let me explain my question further. Any periodic shape can be approximated by a Fourier series. As I recall, (and it has been some time since used this stuff), n=0 would be generally associated with uniform damage.

n=1 would be generally associated with damage on one side only.

n=2 would be generally associated with damage on two apposing sides (180 degrees apart).

n=3 would be generally associated with damage 120 degrees apart.

n=4 would be generally associated with damage 90 degrees apart. etc.

It seems reasonable to me that the damage to the scroll could be more than just one sided, which is the assumption that you are using.

If the damage were on two sides (a very reasonable assumption) then your calculations on the scroll diameter would be off by 2X.

And I dare say that could impact your length calculations by as much as 4X (if I simply ratio the length based on the increase of possible volume of the material).

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I'm pleased to announce that our paper on the missing papyrus is now available for free download from the Dialogue website. Our data, gathered from the original papyrus fragments in the Church Historian's Vault, will also soon be available for download by anyone who wishes to verify our results.

Comments are welcome.

Interesting paper. Looks like a real game changer.

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I've never thought of them as canon. I've never heard anyone in the church, from the prophet on down, refer to them in any way that would make me think they are "scripture". I've barely heard them mentioned at all.

As far as I know, the frequency with which something is mentioned in Church isn't relevant to its status as "canon".

Even Zephaniah is more canonical than the "Proclamation on the Family" and "For the Strength of the Youth".

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With just a cursory look (because it was boring) at your paper,

Hi Vance,

Thanks for taking the time to look at our paper. I don't blame you for finding the math parts boring, since there's a limit to how exciting the calculations can be. We felt it was important though, to lay out all the details.

the question that came to my mind was why did you assume n=1 over say n=2 (or some combination of higher numbers) as the basis for your calculations.

Let me explain my question further. Any periodic shape can be approximated by a Fourier series. As I recall, (and it has been some time since used this stuff), n=0 would be generally associated with uniform damage.

n=1 would be generally associated with damage on one side only.

n=2 would be generally associated with damage on two apposing sides (180 degrees apart).

n=3 would be generally associated with damage 120 degrees apart.

n=4 would be generally associated with damage 90 degrees apart. etc.

It seems reasonable to me that the damage to the scroll could be more than just one sided, which is the assumption that you are using.

If the damage were on two sides (a very reasonable assumption) then your calculations on the scroll diameter would be off by 2X.

And I dare say that could impact your length calculations by as much as 4X (if I simply ratio the length based on the increase of possible volume of the material).

For the rolled-up scroll, points n, n+1, n+2 etc. overlay each other. The images below illustrate how the papyrus layers of the wound-up scroll would have overlapped.

IXI_layers_line.jpg

X_layers_line.jpg

The blue lines pass through the layers in integer increments of n. If you cut a notch in the end of the scroll and then unrolled it, the notch would appear at n, n+1, n+2 etc.

In other words, these points are collocated in theta. There is no reason to expect damage on one side of the spiral (say theta=0) to be similar to damage on the other side of the spiral (theta=180), since those locations are physically distant from each other.

I'm glad you brought up Fourier series, however, because it raises a good point. Any periodic function can be exactly represented as a Fourier series. We could have performed our correlation analysis by taking the Fourier transform and selecting the dominant wavenumber; the two methods are formally equivalent. I think,l however, that such a path would have been even more opaque to the typical Dialogue reader.

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