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Reverse Engineering Joseph Smith's Egyptian


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Since I had previously talked about Egyptian translation issues with regards to the KEP and the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham, I want to now propose a similar idea to what I was getting at before, but this time, only focusing on the Facsimiles and their explanations, because I think that is where all LDS, faithful, believing people have a meeting of the minds on what is "translated correctly", whatever that means with regard to the Book of Abraham. I see no profit in bringing up the KEP here. So let's just talk Facsimiles.

We know that the Rosetta stone was the key to unlocking the Egyptian language Egyptologically.

What if the Facsimiles and the explanations represent something similar?

What if there is something that we don't understand about Egyptian?

What if we were to confine ourselves to a scope of reverse engineering Joseph Smith's Egyptian, and forget anything Egyptology ever said about it, and see what could be done with it?

What if we were literally to start from scratch with the Facsimiles and their explanations as if there were no Rosetta Stone, as if Egyptology doesn't exist, and to treat those explanations of the Facsimiles as our Rosetta stone?

Would our conclusions about the Egyptian Language be any different, or in any way expanded, if someone were to try an experiment like this?

We are so often judging Joseph Smith by Egyptology. What if the tables are turned and we treat the Facsimiles and the explanations as the key to deciphering the Egyptian language as if it were never deciphered?

As far as I know, an invitation to do just this is found in the explanation for Facsimile #2:

" If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be. Amen."

Yet for item 11, we would actually have to take this seriously that the hieroglyphs in question DO represent numbers, rather than words, as the conventional Egyptological interpretations say they are.

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I guess I wasn't expecting to be talking about the mnemonic device theory of the Book of Abraham manuscripts containing the Sensen ideograms.

I am talking about confining it to what we know as Mormons to be "translated correctly" in the Facsimile explanations.

John Tvedtnes made such an attempt based on the idea of mneumonics. I have discussed this several times on this forum.

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perhaps this would be possible... I do not know. I would say though to be careful to get it right though, as Egyptian symbols aren't straightforward, and I am guessing some may mean multiple words and the like.

Best Wishes,


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What if the Facsimiles and the explanations represent something similar?

What if there is something that we don't understand about Egyptian?

One thing we do know about the Egyptians is that they liked to hide or erase an unpleasant past. So perhaps the facsimiles meant something originally that JS brought out but such a meaning is no longer extant in modern secular interpretation. Afterall, Abraham's escape from the Egyptian priests would be embarrasing to them and a public blow to their image.

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Having done some reverse engineering on software code and poorly written software code with very little comments included within the code, I can honestly say that reverse engineering can be a very difficult process. We had to make some assumptions of what the original coder was trying to do and we went from there until we found out that our assumptions were totally wrong, so we basically had to come up with newer assumptions.

The code was 18,000 lines long, with about 100 lines of comments, most at the beginning, and contains exactly five subroutines. Everything was done at the bit level.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about here, basically it was nasty code and the original coder had been asked to take a job someplace else and wouldn't talk with us because his feelings had been hurt.

There was no requirement doc for the code and we didn't know what he was trying to do most of the time. We were able to make some headway, but after looking at this code of three months, we chucked it all and went an looked at the system to see what the system was doing and focusing in on the goesintas and the goesoutas and by focusing in on these things, we were finally able to rewrite the complete system.

Sometimes reverse engineering is easy, especially when what had been done before is well documented and the procedures and processes are well known and understood, but if they aren't, then it can be a bear, or even worse, it can be an angry mod, something impossible to deal with. :P

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Ah! The bread and butter of the software engineer. Spending months trying to figure out someone else's code and then deciding the write a new program from scratch. Almost as permanent as death and taxes.

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