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Are the KEP like the Rosetta Stone?


wenglund

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I was involved in a potentially productive KEP discussion on another board, but found it necessary to depart prematurely because one of the participants there began using extremely offensive language in relation to Joseph Smith. So, I have decided to carry on my end of the discussion here.

And, so as to permit more people who are interested the opportunity to discuss here, I have openned this new thread.

The issue under discussion is whether the KEP could have been "reverse engineered" and was intended to be used like a "Rosetta Stone", not in the most common idiomatic sense of this appellation--i.e. as a cipher (see HERE), but as a linguistic devise for learning Egyptian (a position I advanced prior to Will's presentation), and as a means for translating Egyptian material, if not also the Egyptian papyri in Joseph's possession.

My recent position is that it wasn't intended for that purpose, and I have presented a two-pronged argument in support thereof:

The first prong is in regards to the KEP characters--i.e. many are non-Egyptian, and likely known to have not been Egyptian, and more importantly were not from the papyri, and couldn't and thus evidently weren't intended to translate the papyri, and couldn't be used to translate Egyptian or to learn Egyptian.

The second prong imvolve the KEP sounds/names--many, if not all, are non-Egyptian and clearly not from the papyri, and likely known to have not been Egyptian, and thus couldn't and evidently weren't intended to translate the papyri, and couldn't be used to translate Egyptian or to learn Egyptian.

In his presentation, Will provided the third and perhpas most compelling prong in regards to the KEP explanations--some predate the arrival of the papyri, and thus are clearly not from the papyri, and thus couldn't and evidently weren't intended to translate nor were they intended as translations of the papyri, and couldn't be used to translate Egyptian or to learn Egyptian.

Here are relevant portions of the script from his presentation:

I confess that my original thesis was consistent with Professor Hugh Nibley
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In my previous post I outlined three prongs that argue against the KEP as a "Rosetta Stone" (i.e. as a device intended to translate or learn Egyptian). The three prongs pertain to the KEP characters, the sounds/names, and the explanations.

In the next several posts I wish to introduce a fourth prong, which pertains to the structure of the KEP.

While the EA and GAEL do have some of the look and feel as various linguistic devises, there are various aspects of these two documents, particularly the GAEL, that, to my knowledge, are foreign to translating and learning traditional languages--including Egyptian, though which may be germane to the creation of a new language or a cipher. There are aspects of the KEP that are highly unusual for a traditional "Alphabet" or a "Grammar".

For example, traditional languages, like English, are divided into eight parts of speech (verb, noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjections). These parts don't explain what a given word is, but rather how the word is to be used.

Whereas, the EA is divided into five parts, but the different parts seem to have nothing to do with how the characters are used (i.e. parts of speech). Rather, they have more to do with...well, I haven't figured that out exactly.

Interestingly enough, the number five shows up frequently in the KEP (five parts, five degrees, five arbitrary sounds, maximum of five compounded characters, increased signification by a factor of five, etc.), more so that any other number except perhaps the number one, which suggests to me that it has special significance. What exactly that significance is, is for me still a mystery.

However, according to sacred-texts.com:

Among the Greeks it [the number five] was a symbol of the world, because, says Diodorus, it represented ether and the four elements. It was a sacred round number among the Hebrews. In Egypt, India, and other Oriental nations, says Gesenius, the five minor planets and the five elements and elementary powers were accounted sacred. It was the pentas of the Gnostics and the Hermetic Philosophers; it was the symbol of their quintessence, the fifth or highest essence of power in a natural body. In Masonry, five is a sacred number, inferior only in importance to three and seven. It is especially significant in the Fellow-Craft's Degree, where five are required to hold a lodge, and where, in the Winding Stairs, the five steps are referred to the orders of architecture and the human senses. In the Third Degree we find the reference to the five points of fellowship and their symbol, the five-pointed star. Geometry, too, which is deemed synonymous with Masonry, is called the fifth science; and in fact, throughout nearly all the degrees of Masonry, we find abundant allusions to five as a sacred and mystical number."

Numerologists have also noted these aspects of Masonry that relate to the number five: "the five signs, the five-pointed star, the pentagon (five-sided figure), the five Points of Fellowship, the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle (the highest number in a five, four, three ratio), the Soul and the Body, (in the thirty-second degree) the numbers 525 on a golden collar, and the Magic Square." (See: HERE)

Wikipedia lists various ways in which the number five has importance. And, perhaps coincidentally, the number five has significance in cryptography as well--particularly with block ciphers, Red Herring Cipher, etc.

Now, whether any of this has any relevance, beyond points of interest, to there being five parts to the EA, just as there are five chapters in the BoA, is doubtful. The point, however, is that the division of the Egyptian Alphabet into five part is an odd means of categorization that doesn't show up in any linguistic translation or learning tools of which I am aware. The EA is structured in a way that seems irrelevant to translation or learning a language, let alone Egyptian, and thus was likely not intended for that purpose. There must have been some other purpose in mind for the KEP.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Interesting thoughts, Wade. I had not considered that the repeated fivefold pattern might have numerological significance.

I appreciate that. However, I am not sure if the five parts of the EA had any numerological significance to the men producing the KEP document. But, it is at least something to consider. If you or anyone else has any ideas that explain the five parts, I would be interested to hear them.

Speaking of the number five, there is another structural aspect to the GAEL that seems to set it apart from traditional translation devices or language learning tools, and that is the five degrees in the two parts of the GAEL.

As best I can tell, the degrees in Part One of the GAEL represent a variety of things, including eclectic ordinal scales, tenses or temporal or chronological distinctions, and inexplicable connotation distinctions.

The degrees as ordinal scales consist of things like:

1. Hierarchic rankings: universal reign, greater dominion or possession, still greater dominion or possession or power, still further extending the dominion and possessions and power, the largest reign and greatest dominion and possession and power.

2. Quantitative rankings: i5, 25, 125, 625, 3125; first, second, third, fourth, fifth;

3. Qualitative rankings: large, great; good, sweet; valley, fruitful valley; pleasing, complete enjoyment, greatest happiness; spacious, great beauty, more and increased beauty, virgin, modestly virtuous and comely, virtuous, greater beauty and virtue, most virtuous and comely and beautiful and modest and chaste and taught most perfectly and upright;

The degrees as tenses or temporal distinctions consist of things like: see, seen, saw, having seen; before, from the beginning to a fixed period; first, that which has been, that which is to come; from the first to any stated period after, from the present time unto some stated period after, pointing to the end of a fixed period, From the beginning of the creation until now; pointing out or designating at the present time.

The degrees as connotations consist of things like:

1. Sensory differentiation: good to taste and pleasing to eye, sweet to smell

2. Marital status differentiation: unmarried, married, widowed

3. Place differentiation: large valley or plain, great valley or plain filled with fruit trees, place of happiness and purity and rest;

4. Type differentiation: first, first in lineage, first in chronology, change from first; father, follower of righteousness, one who possesses great knowledge, follower of righteousness and possessor of great knowledge, father of many nations and prince of peace and patriarch and high priest who keeps commandments; first principle, fixed period, act of going up to going up, climbing, ascending - towards the Sun, A road or highway; leading up or to: the time for going up to the altar to worship; going up before the Lord, being caught up, going to be caught up, having been caught up.

5. Specificity differentiation: father or fathers, right in lineage, first born right or blessing, right by birth and blessing and promise; Egypt, land discovered under water by a woman, daughter of ham settled her sons in the land, the land of Egypt discovered by a woman who afterwards settled her sons in it; virgin, a young female adorned with the modesty of virtue and comeliness, Affability of manners, virtuous well taught, one possessing greater beauty, modesty and virtue, taught more perfectly, most virtuous, comely and beautiful, modest and chaste, being taught most perfectly and upright; princess, heiress of Pharaoh, prince of Egypt and heiress of Pharaoh; From any fixed period of time back to the beginning, From Abraham back to his father and from Abraham's father back to his father and so on back through the line of his progenitors, Showing the denomination of language and through what descent they came and are to continue by promise, Signifying the lineage that lawfully hold the Keys of the Kingdom of God by promise, from any or some fixed period of time back to the beginning of Creation Showing the chronology of the patriarchs the right of the priesthood, and the lineage through whom it shall be continued by promise, beginning at Abraham signifying the promises made to Abraham saying through thy priests, or the seed of thy loins, shall the gospel shall be preached, unto all the seed meaning from Noah, and unto all the kindred of the earth.; In the beginning of the earth or creation, the earth as it was in the beginning: or at its creation, the earth in the beginning with its rivers and brooks and springs and with its blessings of fruit and trees and flowers and herbs and plants beasts and birds, the first inhabitants in the garden Eden in the first generations, i n the days of the first patriarchs In the reign of Adam; in the days of the first patriarchs; in the days of Noah in the blessings of Noah and in the blessings of the children of Noah and in the first blessings of men and in the first blessings of the church.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Continuing on in examining structural aspects of the GAEL that seem to be at odds with traditional language translation and learning tools, there are the five degrees of Part Two of the GAEL, which seem to be as inexplicable as those in Part One.

In some cases the degrees seem to represent compounding of root sounds with other sounds (like Baeth, Baeth Ka, Baeth Kee, Baeth Ki, Baeth Ku), and the explanations in each of the degrees are as eclectic for each character as those in Part One. Here are some examples:

Hierarchic distinctions: minister of God under or the less, Ministers not ordained of God sinful, ministers who are less sinful for want of power, angels in an unalterable and immortal State or men after they are raised from the dead and translated unalterable state, ministers of God and high priests and Kings.

Chronological distinctions: Adam the first man, next from Adam, third patriarch, fourth patriarch, fifth high priest; now, time from beginning to flood, time from one fixed period to another fixed period, a thousand years, 24 cubits.

Relational distinctions: the fifth fixed star, the fifth fixed star in motion, the fifth fixed star's affinity to the first and second and third and fourth stars, the fifth star's less affinity to the first and second and third and fourth stars, the fifth star's less power than the fourth fixed governing star but greater power than the sixth governing fixed star.

Quantitative distinctions: place of more complete happiness, larger place of greater happiness, fourth place of greater happiness, a larger place of greater happiness, more perfect place of happiness.

Type distinctions: The moon in its affinity with the sun and the earth, the moon signifying that which borroweth light or lendeth light or it being the lesser light, the moon signifying its revolutions and also going between and thereby forming an eclipse, the moon in its revolutions with earth and showing or signifying the earth going between and thereby forming an eclipse, the moon the earth and the sun in their annual revolutions.

Specificity distinctions: One delegated with redeeming power and a swift messenger and one that goes before another and one having redeeming power and a second person in authority, one who was delegated with redeeming power and one who was the second person in authority and a swift messenger and one that went before and having redeeming power and one who was second in authority, one who will be delegated with redeeming power and who will be second in authority and a swift messenger to go before and having redeeming power and one who will be second in authority, one that with delegated and redeeming power and second in authority and being a swift messenger going before and having redeeming power and as second in authority and stands next to a or an the right hand of power, one delegated from the highest source acting in or being clothed with the power of another and one sent from the Celestial Kingdom.

Granted, such distinctions exist within traditional languages like English and Egyptian. However, such eclectic groupings tend not to exist as a part of alphabets and grammars or language translation or learning tools, and certainly not as "degrees" or in the structural way they are found in the GAEL. As such, use of degrees in the GAEL militates against it being a kind of "Rosetta Stone" intended to translate or teach language. There must be some other intent and purpose for the GAEL.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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I appreciate that. However, I am not sure if the five parts of the EA had any numerological significance to the men producing the KEP document. But, it is at least something to consider. If you or anyone else has any ideas that explain the five parts, I would be interested to hear them.

Yes and no. Unlike the "degrees", the "parts" seem to have served an organizational rather than grammatical function. In my opinion, they result from a combination of changes in the "plan" of the project and divisions on the papyrus itself. Part 1 is a disorganized catch-all, in which there does not yet quite seem to be a coherent "plan" or organizing principle for the project. Part 2 begins by attempting an exhaustive listing of graphemes, with their sounds arranged in roughly English alphabetical order, but this "plan" peters out partway through. A new "plan" is evident in the latter half of part 2, where most of the characters are copied in order from one of the four vertical registers on pJS I. Parts 3-5 each correspond to one or another of those vertical registers. Here the "plan" was to translate characters from the papyrus itself, perhaps under the assumption that these four vertical registers represented an "Egyptian Alphabet" provided by Abraham himself, as a key to his book. This third "plan", however, didn't get very far; Joseph and his scribes "skipped ahead" and began translating the characters from pJS XI, which ostensibly was considered the beginning of the actual narrative text. The last two characters in the fifth "part" are the first two characters from pJS XI, and they are the only characters in that "part" that are translated in the EA.

As best I can tell, the degrees in Part One of the GAEL represent a variety of things, including eclectic ordinal scales, tenses or temporal or chronological distinctions, and inexplicable connotation distinctions.

A very nice summary. Thanks. Ben McGuire recently took me to task in the Pundits forum for generalizing about the significance of the successive degrees being an increase or expansion of meaning, but this is a misunderstanding or caricature of my position. I never claimed that that was an exhaustive account of their significance. Indeed, in my JWHA paper I said that "with each increase of degree the character takes on a deeper or slightly different meaning." That is, the degrees sometimes differ in connotation rather than scope. I also fully recognize that in a few cases there is little difference, even of connotation-- the meanings in different degrees are functionally equivalent. Ben did a good job of highlighting these nuances, but I wish he had done it in a less hostile way.

Anyway, I appreciate your fleshing this out in greater detail. This is good work.

Peace,

-Chris

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Granted, such distinctions exist within traditional languages like English and Egyptian. However, such eclectic groupings tend not to exist as a part of alphabets and grammars or language translation or learning tools, and certainly not as "degrees" or in the structural way they are found in the GAEL. As such, use of degrees in the GAEL militates against it being a kind of "Rosetta Stone" intended to translate or teach language. There must be some other intent and purpose for the GAEL.

Given the highlighted word above, I found this interesting in regards to codes and codebooks:

"Codes are unsurprisingly defined by "codebooks", which are dictionaries of codegroups listed with their corresponding their plaintext. Codes originally had the codegroups in the same order as their plaintext. For example, in a code based on codenumbers, a word starting with "a" would have a low-value codenumber, while one starting with "z" would have a high-value codenumber. This meant that the same codebook could be used to "encode" a plaintext message into a coded message or "codetext", and "decode" a codetext back into plaintext message.

"However, such "one-part" codes had a certain predictability that made it easier for outsiders to figure out the pattern and 'crack' or 'break' the message, revealing its secrets. In order to make life more difficult for codebreakers, codemakers then designed codes where there was no predictable relationship between the order of the codegroups and the order of the matching plaintext. This meant that two codebooks were required, one to look up plaintext to find codegroups for encoding, the other to look up codegroups to find plaintext for decoding. This was in much the same way that a student of a foreign language, say French, needs an English-French and a French-English dictionary to translate back and forth between the two languages. Such "two-part" codes required more effort to implement and use, but they were harder to break." (see Code 101--emphasis mine)

Is it possible that the degrees were secretly intended as codegroups?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Granted, such distinctions exist within traditional languages like English and Egyptian. However, such eclectic groupings tend not to exist as a part of alphabets and grammars or language translation or learning tools, and certainly not as "degrees" or in the structural way they are found in the GAEL. As such, use of degrees in the GAEL militates against it being a kind of "Rosetta Stone" intended to translate or teach language. There must be some other intent and purpose for the GAEL.

I missed this line. So your view is that because the differences between degrees are somewhat eclectic, Joseph and his scribes can't have considered this to be part of the grammatical system of ancient Egyptian? And therefore you think that they are "code groupings" designed to make the code harder to crack? I can't say I really follow your logic.

And, to be honest, I think that your hypothesis misses the theological significance of the degree system. The degrees aren't just about security against code-breaking. They are also about ascent and exaltation. The reason I have emphasized the increase or intensification of meaning that often occurs with the increase of degree is that it highlights the theological significance. D&C 131:1 says, "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees." In my opinion, this is the context in which he have to view the "degree" system of the EAG. The structure of the EAG, with its five degrees, parallels the five degrees of the Mormon heaven-- Telestial heaven, Terrestrial heaven, and three Celestial heavens make five in total. Just as the glory of the kingdoms increase as you ascend through them, so the glory of the translation increases as you ascend through the degrees of the EAG. The structure of the spiritual language of the Egyptians parallels the structure of salvation.

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Yes and no. Unlike the "degrees", the "parts" seem to have served an organizational rather than grammatical function. In my opinion, they result from a combination of changes in the "plan" of the project and divisions on the papyrus itself. Part 1 is a disorganized catch-all, in which there does not yet quite seem to be a coherent "plan" or organizing principle for the project. Part 2 begins by attempting an exhaustive listing of graphemes, with their sounds arranged in roughly English alphabetical order, but this "plan" peters out partway through. A new "plan" is evident in the latter half of part 2, where most of the characters are copied in order from one of the four vertical registers on pJS I. Parts 3-5 each correspond to one or another of those vertical registers. Here the "plan" was to translate characters from the papyrus itself, perhaps under the assumption that these four vertical registers represented an "Egyptian Alphabet" provided by Abraham himself, as a key to his book. This third "plan", however, didn't get very far; Joseph and his scribes "skipped ahead" and began translating the characters from pJS XI, which ostensibly was considered the beginning of the actual narrative text. The last two characters in the fifth "part" are the first two characters from pJS XI, and they are the only characters in that "part" that are translated in the EA.

Hi Chris,

I like your idea about the five parts being character selection groupings. It makes more sense than anything I have come up with.

As for it representing a series of translation plans, I can see how on one level it might appear that way. I think that for most anyone the EA and GAEL would appear, at first blush, intended for translating Egyptian. It did for me. After all, the project began on the heals of the Egyptian papyri arriving in Kirtland and Joseph translating several of the Egyptian characters. Also, the GAEL explicitly uses the phrase "Translating this character".(GAEL p.1)

It is just that for me, the more in-depth I examine the KEP documents the more convinced I become that they couldn't have been intended for academic translation.

For example, let's consider your translation plan idea. A number of militating questions come to mind. First, there is the context in which the alleged plans were developed. Joseph and others had learned that the papyri contain a record of Abraham and Joseph, and this struck them as sufficiently important as to warrant shelling out $2,400.00 to purchase the papyri. Yet, according to you, the first plan wasn't to take Egyptian characters from the papyri so as to translate the papyri, but cull characters and sounds and explanations from who knows where to translate who knows what.

Then, they supposedly decide to cull graphemes and associated sounds and explanations from who knows where to translate who knows what.

Second, even though the first two EA plans or parts supposedly "petered out", they were, by and large, the two parts that comprised the next phase in the KEP project--i.e. the GAEL (intrestingly enough, for whatever reason, some of the characters and sounds and explanations for part or plan two of the EA ended up in part or plan one of the GAEL)

And, for whatever reason, the characters from the "new" or third plan weren't used so much in the alphabets or grammar, but rather in the third phase of the project--the Abr. Mss.

Third, even though parts 3-5 were supposedly assumed to be an "'Egyptian Alphabet' provided by Abraham himself," little more than the characters make it into any of the KEP documents, let alone the documents titled "Alphabet" and "Grammar and Alphabet".

To use your words, I am not seeing your reasoning here.

This is not to say that what you are suggesting is impossible. Rather, it is another layer that for me strains credulity, though I can respect if you see it otherwise.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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I missed this line. So your view is that because the differences between degrees are somewhat eclectic, Joseph and his scribes can't have considered this to be part of the grammatical system of ancient Egyptian?

It isn't just the eclectic nature of the degrees. It is everything I pointed out about the degrees, as well as their presence at all in GAEL, that to me militates against the GAEL as an Egyptian translation and learning device. Can you think of any translation or learning tools that utilize anything even close to the GAEL degrees? I can't.

Structurally, the degrees, along with the five parts of the EA, and other things I will be pointing out in subsequent posts, just don't seem to fit what one might reasonable expect from a linguistic translation and learning device.

And therefore you think that they are "code groupings" designed to make the code harder to crack? I can't say I really follow your logic.

That isn't exactly my reasoning. What I argue is that the use of degrees in the GAEL militate against the GEAL as an Egyptian translation or learning tool, and as such there must have been some other intent in mind for that material. I rhetorically profer code groupings as a plausible option for consideration. In other words, at this point I am not arguing that the degrees are code groupings. Rather, I am putting that idea out on the discussion table to be explored and tested as a viable explanation.

And, to be honest, I think that your hypothesis misses the theological significance of the degree system. The degrees aren't just about security against code-breaking. They are also about ascent and exaltation. The reason I have emphasized the increase or intensification of meaning that often occurs with the increase of degree is that it highlights the theological significance. D&C 131:1 says, "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees." In my opinion, this is the context in which he have to view the "degree" system of the EAG. The structure of the EAG, with its five degrees, parallels the five degrees of the Mormon heaven-- Telestial heaven, Terrestrial heaven, and three Celestial heavens make five in total. Just as the glory of the kingdoms increase as you ascend through them, so the glory of the translation increases as you ascend through the degrees of the EAG. The structure of the spiritual language of the Egyptians parallels the structure of salvation.

Actually, I have considered the plausible theological significance of the degrees. I think the degrees might have been intended to work exegetically in a way similar to the Kabbalah cipher: Notaricon.

What I question isn't the theological significance of the degrees, but whether this significance makes sense in relation to your translation theory for the KEP. To me, increased or intensification of meaning makes sense in the context of exegisis, though not in the context of translating or learning languages. Yet, I can respect if you think otherwise.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Another structural aspect of the GAEL that I see as problematic for the translation theory is the GAEL rules.

For example, on page 20 of the GAEL, there is a rule or restriction to which "every character in this alphabet is subject".

However, before looking at the content of this rule, it may prove useful to consider the implications of what I just quoted. At the time that this rule was written, only a small portion of Part One had been constructed (as evinced by all the blank pages throughout the GAEL). Part Two had yet to be produced--except preliminarily in the first degree via the EA, let alone what-all else was intended from the outset to be included in the GAEL. In other words, only a fraction of the intended "alphabet" or "grammar" had been vetted, yet somehow the producer(s) of the GAEL was/were able to state a rule that would apply to all the characters that would later be vetted therein.

This suggests to me that the rule wasn't so much a function of Phelps picking up on a pattern from what little had then supposedly been translated, and extrapolating it as a rule to be used in translating going forward. Instead, to me, it seems more like it was a rule he created to govern what he, himself, was producing--i.e. a rule to govern a language or cipher he was in the process of creating.

I believe the content of this and other GAEL rules bears this out. The rule on page 20 essentially says that each character comprises a simple sentence, and the associated sounds/signification are arbitrary (up to five different sounds/significations) except when compounded with other characters, in which case it may have only one sound/signification. By compounding or connecting multiple characters, the sounds/significations are increased and the sentence enlarged depending upon the number of characters that are connected--presumably with a limit of 5 characters.

Is this rule similar to anything you have heard of in terms of language translation or learning tools? It isn't to me.

To my knowledge, in most languages, characters represent letters and not words, let alone a simple sentence. Even with oriental languages, the characters or sinographs at most represent a single syllable. Granted, in traditional languages, multiple characters can be combined to form words and sentences, and those languages often allow for multiple pronunciations. But, that isn't what we are talking about here. In traditional languages, there is no general rule that restricts the combination of characters to five for a single sentence.

The nature of this rule, then, militates against the GAEL as an Egyptian translation or learning devise. As such, there must have been some other purpose in mind for the GAEL.

Perhaps not coincidentally, with the Notaricon (a Kabbalah cipher), each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is given a name (sound/signification), and is somewhat arbitrarily assigned rather complex, multi-faceted concepts. And, when Hebrews letters have been combined to form words in religious texts, the notaricon interprets it to have increased signification and expanded conceptual notions or sentences.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Wade,

Why do you assume that the ancient Egyptian language as conceived by Joseph Smith must have been the same as other languages or other language-learning tools? Presumably Joseph saw this as a spiritual and deeply symbolic language, far closer to the "pure" language than anything around today. This is how many others of his day saw it, as well. So if he introduces unusual, even "spiritual" grammatical structures, why should that "militate against" the translation theory? Especially given the abundant evidence that he was thinking of it in terms of language and translation?

Also, it's not exactly true that he began the first degree of the EA with invented characters. The first six or so seem to be from the Amenhotep papyrus. It's thereafter that he begins using the invented ones. And as we've already discussed, in order to translate a language of composite characters you'd need a dictionary of sub-components. Joseph also fully intended to restore the sizable lacunae in pJS XI. That he sometimes used invented characters and other times used real characters from the papyrus is curious, for sure, but I don't think it's any less curious from your "code" perspective.

Peace,

-Chris

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Wade,

Why do you assume that the ancient Egyptian language as conceived by Joseph Smith must have been the same as other languages or other language-learning tools?

That seems to me to be the reasonable default position.

Presumably Joseph saw this as a spiritual and deeply symbolic language, far closer to the "pure" language than anything around today. This is how many others of his day saw it, as well.

I must confess that I don't recall Joseph speaking directly to the "spiritual and deeply symbolic" nature of the Egyptian language, let alone the hieratic script that made its way into the KEP. And, besides, as previously mentioned, the "meaning" of the language is a matter of exegesis (like with the Kabbalah Notaricon), and not translation--at least in the sense that you seem to be using the term.

So if he introduces unusual, even "spiritual" grammatical structures, why should that "militate against" the translation theory?

For the reasons I expressed.

Especially given the abundant evidence that he was thinking of it in terms of language and translation?

Interpretation of that abundant evidence is open to debate.

Also, it's not exactly true that he began the first degree of the EA with invented characters. The first six or so seem to be from the Amenhotep papyrus. It's thereafter that he begins using the invented ones. And as we've already discussed, in order to translate a language of composite characters you'd need a dictionary of sub-components. Joseph also fully intended to restore the sizable lacunae in pJS XI. That he sometimes used invented characters and other times used real characters from the papyrus is curious, for sure, but I don't think it's any less curious from your "code" perspective. Peace, -Chris

I disagree. I think it makes far more sense to view the KEP as an attempt by Phelps and perhaps Joseph to create a "pure language" or cipher rather than as an Egyptian translation and learning tool. But, to each their own.

[Edit to add: Please don't misunderstand me, Chris. I am not suggesting that the point above necessarily negates your translation theory. It doesn't. It is just that it, along with other argument that I and others have raised, render your tranlation theory highly unlikely. Whereas, the arguments that Will and Daniel and Ben are working on, I think will negate your theory.]

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Yet another rule that seems to argue against the GAEL as a language translation and learning device is found on pages 1 and 2 of the GAEL. It is uncertain if this rule applies generally to all characters, or just to the specific character being addressed at the time (Za ki oan hiash). It also is unclear if this rule applies to this character in degrees other than the fifth degree where it is being addressed. Whatever the case, this rule tells us several things.

First, it tells us how many parts of speech there are entailed within the explanation for the character--i.e. there is one part of speech (verb, participle, preposition, conjunction, and adverb) for every degree. Thus, this character in the fifth degree has five parts of speech in the explanation.

Second, the rule tells how "straight marks", placed either above or below the character, will affect the number of parts of speech entailed in the explanation for that character. For each straight mark above the character the degrees, or parts of speech entailed in the explanation, increase by a factor of five. No mark above = five parts of speech (5th degree). One mark above = 25 parts of speech (25th degree). Two marks above = 125 parts of speech (125th degree). Three marks above = 625 parts of speech (625th degree).

However, straight marks below the character decrees by one the degree or number of parts of speech in the explanation. One mark below = 4 parts of speech (4th degree). Two marks below = 3 parts of speech (3rd degree), etc. etc.

While the rule, itself, seem fairly understandable, it doesn't seem at all like anything I am familiar with in terms of language translation and learning tools. I can't think of a single mark in English that identifies the number of parts of speech entailed in an explanation, let alone for a single English letter or character or even words or sentences or paragraphs.

Like with the previous rule, this rule seems more like something that Phelps may have come up with to govern a new type language or exegetical cipher he was creating, rather than something he may have figured would be useful in translating the Egyptian language.

Then there is the rule on page 15 of the GAEL. It, too, is unclear whether it applies to characters other than the one being specifically addressed (Beth). However, it also tells us several things.

First, it tells us that whatever nouns or pronouns that are entailed in the explanation (rivers, seas, land, hills, mountains, etc.) for a given character, the order in which they appear in the explanation should not vary from degree to degree.

Second, as for the other parts of speech in the explanation (verbs, prepositions, participles, conjunctions, and adverbs) they should vary from degree to degree, or in other words they should vary according to the number of character connections. However, presumably for each character, the order for these parts of speech should be the same for a given degree.

The order for the first degree or first connection, should be in the present tense, and is called Jugos. The order for the second degree or second connection, should be in the past tense, and is called Kah Jugos. The order for the third degree or third connection, should be in the future tense, and is called Kah Juga os. The order of the fourth and fifth degrees/connections is unspecified, but are called Ka Os Ju and Ka Os Juga Os respectively.

Again, this rule is highly unusual and doesn't have the feel of traditional language translation or learning tool, and thus it likely wasn't intended for that purpose. There must have been some other purpose in mind for the GAEL.

There are other GAEL rules that could also be discussed, but this should suffice.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Wade, the horizontal lines are unlike any cipher I've ever heard of, as well. It seems as though it would be difficult to accurately encode any information using this method. In fact, there is virtually nothing in the EAG that functions like known ciphers. So, just keep in mind that this argument-from-linguistic-precedent you're insisting upon is a double-edged sword. Peace,

-Chris

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Wade, the horizontal lines are unlike any cipher I've ever heard of, as well.

To me, the rules (including the "straight mark") seem to function much like a cipher key, which is defined as: "In cryptography, a key is a piece of information (a parameter) that determines the functional output of a cryptographic algorithm or cipher. Without a key, the algorithm would have no result. In encryption, a key specifies the particular transformation of plaintext into ciphertext, or vice versa during decryption." (see: Key)

It seems as though it would be difficult to accurately encode any information using this method.

It is also difficult to decode--which is kind of the point of cryptography.

In fact, there is virtually nothing in the EAG that functions like known ciphers.

I don't know if you had a chance to look through the paper I mentioned before that was attached to one of my last posts in the previous thread, but it points out character similarities, structural similarities, and functional similarities, to multiple known ciphers.

So, just keep in mind that this argument-from-linguistic-precedent you're insisting upon is a double-edged sword. Peace, -Chris

I do try to keep that possibility in mind during my analysis. If the evidence piles up and tips against the KEP as a cipher and "pure language", I have no problem abandoning my current position and following the evidence wherever it may lead. It is just that thus far, to me the evidence seems to be piling up in its favor--as I point out in my paper. And, the evidence continues to pile up against the KEP as a Egyptian translation and learning devise (I am in the process of drafting a summarized list of arguments made thus far against the old theories about the purpose of the KEP. I get a sense from Will's posts that what he has presented thus far is just the tip of the iceberg that portends to sink the critics already fledgling theoretical ships.)

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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This third "plan", however, didn't get very far; Joseph and his scribes "skipped ahead" and began translating the characters from pJS XI, which ostensibly was considered the beginning of the actual narrative text. The last two characters in the fifth "part" are the first two characters from pJS XI, and they are the only characters in that "part" that are translated in the EA.

Hi Chris,

There is much about this astute point that to me strongly implies a pre-existing translation. Doesn't it to you?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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As promised, from what I have recently gathered, over the last 40 years or so since photos of the KEP were made public, the critics and even certain apologists have proffered a number of theories to explain, in part, the purpose for the KEP. These theories tend to fall into (sometimes over-lapping) three general categories that are little more than variations on a theme. The general categories include:

a) The KEP were intended as a devise for academically translating part or all of the BoA;

b) The KEP were reverse-engineered, and acted as a "Rosetta Stone" for the secular purpose of translating and learning the Egyptian language;

c) The KEP were manufactured props intended to credible-ize Joseph Smith and his claimed ability to translate Egyptian.

I have compiled a summarized list of arguments that either militate against or negate these old KEP theories. These are arguments mostly stated or prompted by Will Schryver, with a smattering of my own.

1) The BoA is claimed by the Church, its leaders and members, as well as the principles involved, to have been translated by revelation--i.e. through the gift and power of God. Revelation is the means by which certain ancient material now contained in the LDS canon of scripture were all consistently claimed to have been translated (the Book of Mormon, the Book of Moses, and the Book of Abraham). This revelatory means of translation has been confirmed to millions of faithful LDS members by the witness of the Holy Ghost (as per Moroni 10). As such, in Joseph's mind, and in terms of the LDS Church, there was no need for, nor would it have made sense to have produced, an academic means to translate the BoA or to create a prop to credible-ize Joseph's ability to translate Egyptian.

2) There is compelling text-critical evidence and supportive historical evidence that portions of the BoA were translated prior to the KEP being produced, and that the explanations in certain KEP documents were dependant, in part, upon what had been previously revealed of the BoA. As such, not only would there have been no need, but also the KEP couldn't have been used, to translate portions of the BoA (since those portions had already been translated). This also means that the KEP weren't intended as a prop--it doesn't make sense to produce and use documents that are dependant on the previously revealed BoA to demonstrate that Joseph had the ability to translate, academically or otherwise, the BoA. The existence of the BoA, itself, along with the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses, was sufficient and the only appropriate material evidence for Joseph's revelatory ability to translate.

3) There is mounting evidence that W.W. Phelps was the key instigator of the KEP. While Phelps clearly borrowed from Joseph's earlier revelation regarding the meaning of certain Adamic words, the "Specimen" included in his private letter to his wife months before the Egyptian papyri arrived in Kirtland, was solely in Phelps' handwriting; he, more so that anyone else, had spoken publicly about the "pure language"; there is no evidence that anyone besides Phelps was involved in producing the Egyptian Counting document, and no evidence that Joseph was involved in creating the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language, which was mostly in Phelps' handwriting; out of the several Egyptian Alphabets, it was Phelps' EA that was used to produce the GAEL, rather than Joseph's; and, to my knowledge, it was only Phelps who made public use of the KEP. Since the KEP were more about Phelps than Joseph, then evidently the KEP weren't intended for Joseph to translate the papyri into the BoA, nor does it make sense that Phelps' KEP would have been used as a prop to demonstrate that Joseph had translated the Egyptian papyri into the BoA.

4) Many of the characters used in the KEP are non-Egyptian, and likely known to have not been Egyptian, and more importantly were not from the papyri, and couldn't and thus evidently weren't intended to translate the papyri, and couldn't be used to translate Egyptian or to learn Egyptian, nor could they have been used as a prop to demonstrate that Joseph had translated the Egyptian papyri into the BoA.

5) Also, the KEP characters, particularly in the GAEL, unlike with traditional languages, had arbitrary sounds assigned (with a maximum of five arbitrary sound) except when connected with other characters--in which case only one sound is assigned. And, with traditional languages, a character typically represents a letter in the alphabet, or at most a syllable, whereas each GAEL character represented whole concepts that varied in complexity and nature depending upon its "degree" (of which there are essentially five). And, some of the GAEL characters were parts (graphemes) of a whole character. These GAEL character traits had nothing to do with the Egyptian language (other than some of the characters and graphemes are Egyptian), and at best had more to do with Egyptian exegesis, and couldn't and thus evidently weren't intended to translate the papyri, and couldn't have been used to translate Egyptian or to learn Egyptian, nor could they have been used as a prop to demonstrate that Joseph had translated the Egyptian papyri into the BoA.

-continued-

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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-continued-

6) Many, if not all, of the EA and GAEL sounds are non-Egyptian and clearly not from the papyri, and were likely known to have not been Egyptian, and thus couldn't and evidently weren't intended to translate the papyri, and couldn't have been used to translate Egyptian or to learn Egyptian, nor would it make sense to have used the non-Egyptian and non-papyri sounds as a prop to supposedly demonstrate that Joseph had translated the Egyptian papyri into the BoA.

7) Some of the explanations in the GAEL predate the arrival of the papyri, and thus were clearly not from the papyri, and thus couldn't and evidently weren't intended to translate nor were they intended as translations of the papyri, and couldn't have been used to translate Egyptian or to learn Egyptian.

8 ) While the EA and GAEL had some of the look and feel of various linguistic devises, there were several aspects of these two documents, particularly the GAEL, that, to my knowledge, were foreign to translating and learning traditional languages--including Egyptian. There were aspects of the KEP that were highly unusual for a traditional "Alphabet" or a "Grammar", and which did not pertain to the Egyptian language. These structural oddities include divisions into parts (that were nothing like parts of speech), divisions into "degrees", and several seemingly inexplicable rules. Because the rules were written early on in the process, they seem to have been not so much a function of Phelps picking up on linguistic patterns from what little had then supposedly been translated, and extrapolating them as rules to be used in translating going forward. Instead, to me, it seems more like they were created to govern what he, himself, was producing--i.e. rules to govern a new language or cipher the he was in the process of creating. As such, and because Phelps' rules and "degrees" and "parts" were clearly not Egyptian nor derived from the papyri, and were likely known to have not been Egyptian or from the papyri, they evidently weren't intended to translate the papyri, and couldn't have been used to translate Egyptian or to learn Egyptian, nor would it make sense to have used _Phelps' non-Egyptian and non-papyri structure of the GAEL as a prop to supposedly demonstrate that Joseph had translated the Egyptian papyri into the BoA.

9) The manner in which the KEP in general, and the EA's and GAEL in particular, were cobbled together, argues against the old theories. For one, the KEP characters were evidently culled from a variety of sources, some from the papyri and some not. The sounds were derived from who knows where, though for the most part likely not from the papyri, and up to five of which could be assigned to a given character, and were subject to change from one set of documents to another. The explanations were derived from various pre-revealed sources, some of which had nothing to do with the Egyptian papyri, they varied according to degrees, and they were also subject to change from one document to another. This clearly suggests that Phelps used an arbitrary rather than a systematic selection process--the later being what one would reasonably expect were the intent of the KEP to translate Egyptian, let alone from the papyri, or to act as a learning tool or prop to credible-ize Joseph's revelatory translation of the BoA.

10) The deliberate sequence in which the KEP documents were produced ("Specimen" then EC then EA then GAEL then Mss.) also implies the construction of a new language or cipher rather than the translation of a pre-existing language like Egyptian. Phelps was evidently in the process of putting together some of the foundational linguistic building blocks (numbers, alphabets, grammar) prior to abandoning the project months after it had begun. The fact that most of the KEP documents were started, but not completed, supports this view. In short, the process by which the KEP were produced strongly implies that Phelps was attempting to create a new Egyptian language (a "pure language" or cipher) and not translate the old Egyptian language, but discontinued the project for want of viability and perhaps need. Thus, the KEP weren't intended to translate or to learn or to act as a prop for old Egyptian.

11) If, as the critics suggest, the KEP were intended for the secular purpose of translating and learning Egyptian, or as a prop to somehow credible-ize Joseph's revelatory translation ability, then one would expect that these documents would have been actively promoted and made public, particularly given all the work that went into them. However, instead, they were kept conspicuously private, and were known to have been shown to but one visitor in 1835, and this during a time when the prophet and others were heavily involved in learning ancient languages like Greek and Hebrew, and when the papyri and mummies were frequently put on display. The implicit secrecy under which these documents seem to have been guarded, suggests to me that there was a different purpose in mind for the KEP--a purpose with religious sacredness at its heart, like the creation of a "pure language" or a cipher to preserve faith, protect the sacred from the profane, and to prevent misuse of sacred knowledge.

As previously mentioned, these are arguments that Will and I and others have made public thus far. I suspect that Bro. Schryver will not only be presenting supportive evidence in the future, but he may have an arsenal of other arguments that he will bring to bear in leveling the old theories for the KEP.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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There is much about this astute point that to me strongly implies a pre-existing translation. Doesn't it to you?

Not at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. They seem to have begun the project intending to translate the characters from the beginning of the papyrus (pJS I), and only moved on to the next fragment (pJS XI) after copying those characters. That is, if we assume that they "began at the beginning" of the scroll then the alphabet represents the first stage and the narrative translation the second.

I could say more, but it would require more detail than I have time for at the moment.

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If, as the critics suggest, the KEP were intended for the secular purpose of translating and learning Egyptian, or as a prop to somehow credible-ize Joseph's revelatory translation ability, then one would expect that these documents would be promoted and made public, particularly given all the work that went into them.

They were shown to more than one visitor, quoted on more than one occasion, and their publication was contemplated in Nauvoo but never accomplished. They were not highly public documents during Joseph's lifetime, but neither were they a secret.

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Not at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. They seem to have begun the project intending to translate the characters from the beginning of the papyrus (pJS I), and only moved on to the next fragment (pJS XI) after copying those characters. That is, if we assume that they "began at the beginning" of the scroll then the alphabet represents the first stage and the narrative translation the second.

That makes sense from a certain perspective.

However, I am testing the translation theory by looking at it from the vantage point of the presumed production sequence for the EA. It appears to me that the first order of business in producing the EA was to select the characters. Phelps and others evidently selected 136 characters from various sources--papyri and non-papyri, and wrote them down one below the other over the four pages of the EA.

Next, if the translation theory is to be believed, they presumably, with rare exception, translated sounds for the first 69 of the characters.

What makes this remarkable is that if one views the EA as a translation rather than as a creation of a new language or cipher, one must marvel at how during the eclectic character selection process the producers of the EA somehow managed to select the characters in such a way that the sounds ended up translating mostly in alphabetical order for each of the parts. What are the odds of that?

Then, they allegedly translated explanations for each of 49 of the 69 characters with sounds.

Here we find what appears to be a presumed translation miracle. Even though the 136 characters were eclectically culled from various papyri and non-papyri sources, those characters that were allegedly translated into English explanations somehow, as Will explains it, comprise "a very limited set of unique words with very specific application, as opposed to a non-contextual selection of wide-focused building block words that one would reasonably expect to encounter in a document intended as a tool to decipher an unknown text. Instead we find words that are focused on a very narrow subject matter....almost all of them from the Book of Abraham, and uniquely so." "How likely is it the would-be translators would include virtually nothing but unique words and phrases from an as yet unwritten book?"

To me, the more practical or plausible explanation was that the characters were selected at whim, and arbitrarily assigned sounds in alphabetical ordered, and arbitrarily assigned explanations using previous revelations (mostly from the BoA but also from the D&C), and this so as to construct a new "Egyptian" language--a "pure language" and cipher, if you will.

But, I can respect if you see it differently.

Speaking of production sequence, I find it interesting that, as Will points out, of the 136 characters in the EA, 69 were assigned sounds, of which 49 were also assigned explanations. Yet, the 20 characters with sounds and no explanations in the EA, were later assigned explanations in the GAEL. Even more interesting, of the 67 or so characters not assigned sounds and explanations in the EA or the GAEL, at least 10 of them later showed up in several of the Abr. Mss.. Could it be that these 10 or so characters were being assigned explanation in the Abr. Mss. in similar fashion to what we find in the EA and GAEL? In other words, rather than the several Abr. Mss. representing translation documents, they may actually be an expansion of the alphabets and grammar?

Somethng to think about.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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What makes this remarkable is that if one views the EA as a translation rather than as a creation of a new language or cipher, one must marvel at how during the eclectic character selection process the producers of the EA somehow managed to select the characters in such a way that the sounds ended up translating mostly in alphabetical order for each of the parts. What are the odds of that?

...

To me, the more practical or plausible explanation was that the characters were selected at whim, and arbitrarily assigned sounds in alphabetical ordered, and arbitrarily assigned explanations using previous revelations (mostly from the BoA but also from the D&C), and this so as to construct a new "Egyptian" language--a "pure language" and cipher, if you will.

Please don't lose sight of the fact that this discussion is about what they thought they were doing, not what they were really doing. I agree that what they were really doing was constructing a "new" Egyptian language. But the evidence strongly suggests that they thought they were restoring or revealing the ancient one. Presumably, from Joseph Smith's perspective, the arrangement of these characters was done with prophetic foreknowledge.

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Please don't lose sight of the fact that this discussion is about what they thought they were doing, not what they were really doing. I agree that what they were really doing was constructing a "new" Egyptian language. But the evidence strongly suggests that they thought they were restoring or revealing the ancient one. Presumably, from Joseph Smith's perspective, the arrangement of these characters was done with prophetic foreknowledge.

I do try to keep in mind what they might have thought they were doing. In fact, putting myself in their shoes in terms of the production sequence is, in part, what led me to believe they didn't view themselves as restoring old Egyptian. And, as for what the evidence is strongly suggesting, to some extent that is what is up for serious debate. But, I am pleased to see that we agree that they were constructing a "new" Egyptian language.

The good news is, since the KEP were private documents with a seemingly secular purpose, and virtually abandone moths after inception, and to my knowledge never endorsed as revelatory, it really doesn't matter to the verity of the restored gospel, or Joseph's prophetic calling, or the revelatory nature of the BoA and other ancient canon of scripture, if they thought they were restoring an old or a new Egyptian language. :P

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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They were shown to more than one visitor, quoted on more than one occasion, and their publication was contemplated in Nauvoo but never accomplished. They were not highly public documents during Joseph's lifetime, but neither were they a secret.

I am aware of only one time in 1835 when the KEP were shown to a visitor. There may have been a few other times they were shown to visitors long after the uncompleted/barely started project had been abandoned. And, I am familiar with at least one occasion when some of the sounds were written and given explanations. To me, this doesn't mean they weren't secret--at least not in a relative sense.

However, my point isn't to quibble over the word "secret", but rather to make clear that the KEP were not used as a credible-izing prop or as a tool to learn old Egyptian, or even as a key to translate the Egyptian papyri--your nicely argued JWHA paper notwithstanding. Whereas there is evidence to suggest that they were used for other purposes--as a "pure language" and cipher.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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