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Friendly Fire from BYU: Opening Old Book of Abraham Wounds Without the First Aid


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12 minutes ago, blueglass said:

I'm looking forward to this book by Harris and Bringhurst.  Anyone know who responded to the book of Abraham essay?  Harris said at Sunstone that Ritner's essay was too vitriolic and was dropped. 

THE MORMON CHURCH AND ITS GOSPEL TOPICS ESSAYS: THE SCHOLARLY COMMUNITY RESPONDS (MATTHEW HARRIS & NEWELL BRINGHURST, EDS.)
University of Utah Press

I was looking forward to that book as well, but I thought it was supposed to come out in 2018 and I haven't heard anything since.  Its too bad if they dropped the BoA essay, thats a pretty important one to cover.  Do you know what the status of the book is?  I tried looking for it a couple months back on the UoU press web site, but I couldn't find anything about it.  

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28 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Seriously, he was spectacularly on target?  The church's own essay on the topic seems to disagree. 

A human was assigned to write that LDS Topics Essay, and it was probably reviewed by a couple of the Brethren (I'm supposing), the latter knowing nothing of the issues.  So somebody was tasked with the writing and he did the best he could.  Most of those reading the essay don't understand it, and they usually quote it out of context -- if they quote it at all.  It takes much more than a short essay to do the subject justice.  Whether I have made a successful foray into the subject is for others to judge. However, it is clear to me that Joseph was spectacularly successful in his identifications of the illustrations, and the text of the Book of Abraham is filled with authentic markers.

28 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Besides the 4 quarters of the earth and the crocodile, everything else, including the basic substance of the Abraham story are completely wrong.  So thats like 98% inaccuracy, with 2% possibly guessed somewhat in the ballpark.

Well, at least you are willing to go along with the crocodile symbolism in Fac 1:9 as Pharaoh, and the 4 sons of Horus in Fac 2:6 as the four quarters of the Earth, with 2% guessed right somewhere else (where?).  Other items which are instantly recognizable as correct are Fac 1:11 the celestial gates or pylons symbolized by the doors and false doors of earthly temples and shrines (J. Assmann, The Search for God in Ancient Egypt, 36, 48), while  Fac 1:12, the cross-hatching, Othmar Keel sees as cosmic symbolism, the primeval ocean frequently being indicated by zig-zag lines (Keel, Symbolism of the Biblical World, 41, figs. 36-38), correctly identified in Hebrew as raukeeyang, shamau, and shaumahyeem.  Meantime, the Horus-falcon or ba-bird in Fac 1:1 is particularly appropriate as an angel.  Fac 1:2, with Abram about to be sacrificed is also a feature of the story in Testament of Abraham A12-13, and Apocalypse of Abraham 12, 18, and we have Abraham appearing as Αβρααμ and ʿbrʿm on two separate late demotic papyri from Thebes, accompanying a lion couch scene and a Wd3t-eye (Rhodes, citing Betz, Greek Magical Papyri, lviii; Johnson, “Demotic Magical Spells of Leiden I 384,” XIII:6,16; and Griffith & Thompson, Demotic Magical Papyrus of London and Leiden, VIII:8).  Just a few hints.

A Jewish scribe in Ptolemaic Egypt obviously adapts the illustration for a Book of Breathings to his own iconotropic needs.  The illustrations used are a replacement for the originals used by Abraham himself 2 millennia earlier.

28 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

  The facsimiles are even harder to explain with any semblance of credibility and that is why you don't see many apologists even going there to defend Joseph's translation of them.  Many have speculated whether the church will even remove the facsimiles from future publications of the scriptures and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this happen in the future. 

Since Fac 1 is described in Abr 1:10 as taking place in North Syrian Olishem (= Akkadian Ulisum), while the Fac 1:4 Egyptian altar is described in Abr 1:12 as a Chaldean bedstead.  The Ptolemaic illus is thus obviously not the Abrahamic original.  Fac 1:3 has the priest of Elkenah (sometimes with Anubis mask) holding a knife, just as he also appears on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos in which Ahiram holds a lotus, sitting before an altar opposite a priest holding a knife about to perform a sacrifice (National Museum, Beirut, Lebanon; John Gray, NEM, 100, top right).  Egyptologists Von Bissing, Woodward, and Hughes all agreed that the Anubis-priest in Fac 1:3 could have a knife in hand, and it is Anubis who presides over blood sacrifices as representative of Pharaoh (Pyramid Texts 157, 590, 650, 727, 811d, 1286-1287, etc.). 

28 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I attempt to follow the strength of the evidence in its entirety.  This isn't a "crazy" opinion.  I could call your perspective crazy on the other end, but I try to be more respectful.  That said, this is the most logical conclusion from my evaluation and it isn't even close.  

I discuss a number of other aspects of the matter in my paper, “A Brief Assessment of the LDS Book of Abraham,” version 10, Mar 21, 2019, online at https://www.scribd.com/document/118810727/A-Brief-Assessment-of-the-LDS-Book-of-Abraham .  With full documentation and illustrations.

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2 hours ago, blueglass said:

OK, I understand that Gee and Ritner are trained demoticists, but what did people in the early 19th century think Egyptian was?   Could they distinguish between demotic, japanese, and arabic for example?  Samuel Mitchell, Rafinesque, or Caleb Atwater would cry foul if you mixed demotic, japanese and arabic in a few lines on a scrap of paper and said "translate this for me and make an alphabet".  They would say this looks like a jumbled mess.

Well, Prof Anthon gave a very odd description of what he saw.  He likely knew what Egyptian, Chinese-Japanese characters, and Arabic looked like, but he couldn't read the Egyptian.  Champollion was only just deciphering it at that moment.

2 hours ago, blueglass said:

  When the Whitmers and the Smith's said "we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship" this doesn't give confidence that they knew what they were looking at.  Joseph's performance on the book of abraham papyri proves this. 

It has nothing to do with the BofA.  Joseph could only read an ancient language with a seerstone or otherwise by revelation.  He was not an expert linguist, not being very good even with his English skills.

2 hours ago, blueglass said:

We really need to completely drop this idea of Joseph as an actual translator and begin thinking more of him as a revelatory guru and work directly with the doctrine and ideas as pertains to current world problems like stagnant wage growth, education of the poor, hunger and climate change, how to deal with the forthcoming AI singularity, and synthetic life/genomics.   

I know of no one who actually believes that Joseph could sight-read ancient languages.  He had some biblical Hebrew, but not enough.  His take on world problems and on the human condition was that we need to treat the inner-man.  Then and only then will man be able to care for himself and others.

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15 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

John A. Tvedtnes, “The Use of Mnemonic Devices in Oral Traditions, As Exemplified by the Book of Abraham and the Hor Sensen Papyrus,” SEHA Newsletter, 120.4 (Apr 1970),2-10 , online at http://www.shields-research.org/General/SEHA/SEHA_Newsletter_120-2.PDF .

 

I made a prediction that this theory would be  ignored until the missing scroll theory eventually crashed and burned.  I figured about in about 50 years..

The key to the theory is that otherwise  annoying EAG.

 

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On 3/21/2019 at 3:24 PM, hope_for_things said:

From what I am familiar with Hauglid, he is very close to all of the apologetic arguments and to have him say that he abhors some of them, especially ones that he agreed with only a few years earlier and even published in some writings, tells me that based on a very close inspection of the data his views of the veracity of those arguments was undercut by the actual strength of evidence against those arguments.  If you consider the position he holds as an employee of the church with plenty of incentive to just go along with the other church employees and their apologetics, its actually quite astounding to have someone in his position deviate from the strong conformity culture that exists.  

You are astounded, but this is quite normal.  I have seen it before.  The problem for Hauglid is that he doesn't  know anything about ancient Egypt, which is a problem for most people.  He has done some very specialized work in creating a good textual history of the BofA, and that is his real accomplishment.  He is in way over his head into apologetics questions.  He would have been better to leave that alone and let the Egyptologists fight it out.   *[sentence removed by mod: insult]

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As I mentioned, I think Vogel addresses the majority of the apologetic arguments quite well and I think he was quite fair about how he addressed them, albeit he has a more critical perspective of the church, he seems to be quite fair.  I agree that a fair and balanced approach to all these issues would be ideal, yet its difficult to find any approach that doesn't lean in one direction or another.  The church essay on the topic certainly isn't fair and balanced, and neither is the CES letter.  Vogel's approach is much closer to fair and balanced, yet he certainly exhibits some disdain for the apologetic arguments.  

Vogel likewise knows nothing of ancient Egypt or the biblical world.  He is a nice guy, and soft-spoken, but that doesn't solve the scholarly questions adequately.    We need less apologetics and polemics and more fundamental scholarship.   There is an inoffensive LDS PhD in SLC (Val Sederholm) who is an Egyptologist who quietly carries on his own research and writes about it online at  http://valsederholm.blogspot.com/ .       

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5 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

Aren't you maybe over reacting a little to my post

I hope not, that was not my intent

 

5 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

I did not say that any one other viewpoint should actually be addressed.

Nor did I. I was just presenting a list of other possibilities, similar to what Lindsay did in his response.

 

5 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

I just believe that when a presentation such as this is presented to students, they should also be appraised that there are opposing viewpoints

The event was advertised like this:

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Robin Scott Jensen and Brian M. Hauglid co-edited the landmark volume, and in the process they learned more about the origins and uses of the cryptic Egyptian papers which Joseph Smith and his associates worked on in beginning in the mid-1830s. Jensen and Hauglid will discuss what they learned to shed more light on Joseph Smith’s processes of translation in this special guest lecture:

So Jensen and Hauglid were there to talk about what they learned in this process. From what I have read, it looks like part of what they learned is that the missing scroll theory is not viable. 

5 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

I am not suggesting that those viewpoints should be given equal time and that the students should be encouraged to do additional research/reading themselves. After all, they are there to learn.

Well if Lindsay is right, the students learned that some LDS scholars think that the missing portions of the JSP do not contain the papyrus from which Joseph Smith derived the BofA. Maybe,  instead of criticizing Hauglid and Jensen for not presenting viewpoints he thinks are important, Lindsay might first want to ask why they think they are wrong. I believe that what something people are overlooking here, in the fault finding of these two men, is how carefully they have been examining these documents. As much as some want to make this a question for Egyptologist, I think that is only a portion, a small one in my opinion, of the issue at hand. For me the question isn't so much; "did Joseph produce an accurate English version of what was on the papyri?",  it is more a question of "how he produced the BofA?". And, it is in that question, I think Dr Hauglid has as much knowledge as anyone.

Edited by CA Steve
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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Vogel likewise knows nothing of ancient Egypt or the biblical world.  He is a nice guy, and soft-spoken, but that doesn't solve the scholarly questions adequately.    We need less apologetics and polemics and more fundamental scholarship. 

Hi Bob. Of course, you are saying this without seeing the videos. You say we need less polemics, but your trying to dismiss the contributions of anyone but an Egyptologist is just that. I have only critiqued Gee and Muhlestein on their discussion of early Mormon history, sources, and the documents. None of which require a degree in Egyptology.  

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16 minutes ago, Dan Vogel said:

Hi Bob. Of course, you are saying this without seeing the videos. You say we need less polemics, but your trying to dismiss the contributions of anyone but an Egyptologist is just that. I have only critiqued Gee and Muhlestein on their discussion of early Mormon history, sources, and the documents. None of which require a degree in Egyptology.  

Dan, are there transcripts available or going to be made available of the content of your videos? I find it difficult to refer back to videos when cross checking against other scholarship, etc.

Thanks, Glenn

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On 3/21/2019 at 6:04 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

You are astounded, but this is quite normal.  I have seen it before.  The problem for Hauglid is that he doesn't  know anything about ancient Egypt, which is a problem for most people.  He has done some very specialized work in creating a good textual history of the BofA, and that is his real accomplishment.  He is in way over his head into apologetics questions.  He would have been better to leave that alone and let the Egyptologists fight it out.  

I think Hauglid's behavior here is an exception to the standard rule of conformance in an authoritarian culture.  I don't think he needs a degree in Egyptology because he's not claiming to be able to translate the Egyptian.  I'm not close to the actual Egyptological evidence myself, since I have no background in that subject.  I haven't found the arguments of Gee compelling or straightforwardly honest from my perspective he is stretching the evidence to try and overstate it in what he views is a faith promoting way.   

Your reply to me was somewhat astounding when you disputed the accuracy of the church's official position in its essay on the BoA where it clearly says "Mormon and non-Mormon Egyptologists agree that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the book of Abraham".  You said: 

On 3/21/2019 at 5:27 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

A human was assigned to write that LDS Topics Essay, and it was probably reviewed by a couple of the Brethren (I'm supposing), the latter knowing nothing of the issues.  So somebody was tasked with the writing and he did the best he could. 

The burden of proof that the church was incorrect when it published this essay is a tall order.  I haven't see any Non-Mormon Egyptologists agreeing that "Joseph was spectacularly successful in his identifications of the illustrations, and the text of the Book of Abraham is filled with authentic markers."  This should be a claim that can be supported by Mormon and Non-Mormon Egyptologists alike.  Did Joseph get the identifications right, or what % of the identifications was he correct about? 

I'm not an Egyptologist, so I can't corroborate or dispute the supposed evidence you have.  Perhaps you should be in contact with the church on this issue because certainly if they made false statements in their own published essay they would want to correct those statements.  Especially if evidence actually supports Joseph's translation of these documents.  What you are claiming would be a super important win for the church.  I can't imagine the magnitude of how important this would be, the corroboration through modern scholarship that Joseph Smith correctly translated ancient Egyptian into modern English without the aid of any education on the subject.  This would be a true miracle and can be tested using the tools of modern scholarship.  So please put this to the test.  I applaud you in your efforts to show everyone the evidence that it seems you are aware of but so many other interested parties are somehow overlooking.  This would be paradigm shifting for the church and for members and non-members alike.  Good luck!  

 

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28 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I'm not an Egyptologist, so I can't corroborate or dispute the supposed evidence you have.  Perhaps you should be in contact with the church on this issue because certainly if they made false statements in their own published essay they would want to correct those statements. 

You seem to be conflating the "characters on the fragments" with the illustrations on the facsimiles. The Church's statement has nothing to do with Robert's statement about Joseph being "spectacularly successful in his identifications of the illustrations." 

And I happen to agree with Robert on this. The explanations of the illustrations in the facsimiles have too many strong correlations to be the product of random chance. Robert can chime in on this, but as far as I know critics in recent years have pretty much ignored the strengths of Joseph's explanations. And they ignore the strengths in the text itself. In my view, the Book of Abraham is on very solid ground as an ancient document, perceived inconsistencies accounted for. That's because its perceived strengths are far harder for critics to account for than it is for believers to account for its perceived weaknesses. IMO. 

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3 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

You seem to be conflating the "characters on the fragments" with the illustrations on the facsimiles. The Church's statement has nothing to do with Robert's statement about Joseph being "spectacularly successful in his identifications of the illustrations." 

And I happen to agree with Robert on this. The explanations of the illustrations in the facsimiles have too many strong correlations to be the product of random chance. Robert can chime in on this, but as far as I know critics in recent years have pretty much ignored the strengths of Joseph's explanations. And they ignore the strengths in the text itself. In my view, the Book of Abraham is on very solid ground as an ancient document, perceived inconsistencies accounted for. That's because its perceived strengths are far harder for critics to account for than it is for believers to account for its perceived weaknesses. IMO. 

Here is the full section of the essay again: 

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None of the characters on the papyrus fragments mentioned Abraham’s name or any of the events recorded in the book of Abraham. Mormon and non-Mormon Egyptologists agree that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the book of Abraham, though there is not unanimity, even among non-Mormon scholars, about the proper interpretation of the vignettes on these fragments. Scholars have identified the papyrus fragments as parts of standard funerary texts that were deposited with mummified bodies. These fragments date to between the third century B.C.E. and the first century C.E., long after Abraham lived.

It seems to me you are drawing distinctions that the essay language does not draw.  The way I'm reading the bold section is that it doesn't make a distinction between the translations in the book of Abraham and the translations of the vignettes.  Aren't the vignettes considered part of the BoA?  

If there are any "strengths" to Joseph's explanations, I'm not aware of them.  The papyrus fragments have nothing to do with Abraham at all, absolutely nothing.  This is what the essay says is agreed upon by both Mormon and non-Mormon Egyptologists.  Are you disputing this?  I kind of feel like I'm in a little bit of an alternate universe or time warp here with the claims being made, and I just want to make sure I understand what you and Robert are saying.  

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What did Joseph Smith get right in the supposed "translation" of the papyri?  Aren't the "translation" weaknesses the entire reason for the "missing scroll' hypothesis and the "catalyst" hypothesis?  Also, one would have expected E. Holland to have responded differently to the BBC questioner when confronted with the supposed "translation."  E. Holland said weakly, that he didn't pretend to know egyptian, etc. and that all he knew was that what got "translated" was the word of God.  It seems the book of abraham needs to be taken entirely on faith despite the evidence of its manufacture.

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9 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

It seems to me you are drawing distinctions that the essay language does not draw.  The way I'm reading the bold section is that it doesn't make a distinction between the translations in the book of Abraham and the translations of the vignettes.  Aren't the vignettes considered part of the BoA?

The essay is definitely not referring to the facsimile interpretations in the words you bolded. It is referring to the text of the BofA itself--its translation, and that translation's correlation to the characters from the extant fragments. The essay even clarifies immediately afterward "that here is not unanimity, even among non-Mormon scholars, about the proper interpretation of the vignettes on these fragments." In other words, it makes a distinction in that very sentence. 

 

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29 minutes ago, Exiled said:

What did Joseph Smith get right in the supposed "translation" of the papyri?  Aren't the "translation" weaknesses the entire reason for the "missing scroll' hypothesis and the "catalyst" hypothesis?

You seem to be conflating the "supposed 'translation' of the papyri" with the interpretations of the vignettes. The Book of Abraham's strengths really stand quite independent of the speculations about the relationship between its text and the extant papryi fragments. 

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42 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:
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None of the characters on the papyrus fragments mentioned Abraham’s name or any of the events recorded in the book of Abraham. Mormon and non-Mormon Egyptologists agree that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the book of Abraham, though there is not unanimity, even among non-Mormon scholars, about the proper interpretation of the vignettes on these fragments. Scholars have identified the papyrus fragments as parts of standard funerary texts that were deposited with mummified bodies. These fragments date to between the third century B.C.E. and the first century C.E., long after Abraham lived.

There has been agreement between LDS and non-LDS scholars ever since the fragments were recovered that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the Book of Abraham. I do knot know of any LDS scholar that has claimed they do. The controversy seems to be that the critics are saying that what has been recovered must be what Joseph was using for his supposed translation while some if not most LDS scholars, especially the Egyptologists feel that the translation was from papyri that were probably destroyed in the Cgicago fire.

Robert F. Smith has a short analysis of the things he feels Joseph got right at https://www.scribd.com/document/118810727/A-Brief-Assessment-of-the-LDS-Book-of-Abraham .  I can only follow it dimly because I am nowhere near being an expert or even a layman in the Egyptian language.

Glenn

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5 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

The Book of Abraham's strengths really stand quite independent of the speculations about the relationship between its text and the extant papryi fragments. 

How?  Could you explain how the book of abraham's supposed strengths stand quite independent?  What are the strengths?  Abraham more than likely didn't even exist (although this is an entirely different question but should be acknowledged as having to be a part of the discussion of any supposed strengths of a book about a mythical figure).

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1 minute ago, Exiled said:

How?  Could you explain how the book of abraham's supposed strengths stand quite independent?  What are the strengths?  Abraham more than likely didn't even exist (although this is an entirely different question but should be acknowledged as having to be a part of the discussion of any supposed strengths of a book about a mythical figure).

I'm sure you can find those explanations readily if you look for them. I'm not going to try to explain them from the ground up, especially when it seems that you are biased against such strengths from the beginning. 

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23 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:
1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

It seems to me you are drawing distinctions that the essay language does not draw.  The way I'm reading the bold section is that it doesn't make a distinction between the translations in the book of Abraham and the translations of the vignettes.  Aren't the vignettes considered part of the BoA?

The essay is definitely not referring to the facsimile interpretations in the words you bolded. It is referring to the text of the BofA itself--its translation, and that translation's correlation to the characters from the extant fragments. The essay even clarifies immediately afterward "that here is not unanimity, even among non-Mormon scholars, about the proper interpretation of the vignettes on these fragments." In other words, it makes a distinction in that very sentence. 

I don't read that statement about the proper interpretation of the vignettes as showing that the vignette interpretations are an exception to the earlier point about how "the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the book of Abraham".  They are merely saying that not everyone agrees on what the proper interpretation of the vignettes are.  

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I'm jumping into this late and have only skimmed the thread, so forgive me if this is redundant.

Concerning Hauglid's use of "abhorrent" to describe Gee and Muhlstein's work, I think he is referring to things like this: One of my favorite moments in any Mormon Studies event was during the 2013 Church History Symposium where John Gee says (around the 19:40 mark): "the majority of the Kirtland  Egyptian papers belong to Phelps so they cannot be used to reconstruct Joseph Smith's knowledge of Egyptian. . . . So the only certain source of Joseph Smith on Egyptian is the text of the Book of Abraham excluding the facsimile."
 

 

Hauglid spoke shortly after Gee (unfortunately the video is not online) and opened with a projected photo of a page from the Egyptian Alphabet and said, "This is Joseph Smith's handwriting."

As Bob likes to point out, Hauglid is not trained in Egyptology, and in the past he relied on Gee and other apologists. However, the text of the Book of Abraham itself is eventually what convinced him that it could not have been a translation of an ancient source, which led him to reevaluate Gee and Muhlstein's arguments, which he now finds very problematic and probably at times deceptive.

When I was editing David Bokovoy's book, his earlier draft chapter on the BofM discussed the papyri at much greater length, but he eventually agreed to cut most of that out because his arguments based on the documentary hypothesis is IMO far more convincing, rendering apologetics surrounding the papyri rather useless and inconsequential. It's no surprise then that Gee has amped up in recent years his either ignorant or dishonest (to be nice I'll assume the former) dismissals of the documentary hypothesis.

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15 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I'm sure you can find those explanations readily if you look for them. I'm not going to try to explain them from the ground up, especially when it seems that you are biased against such strengths from the beginning. 

Of course you won't point out any specifics, because there aren't any, other than your subjective desires to believe that there are.  This is probably why you retreat to the time-tested bias accusation.

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16 minutes ago, Glenn101 said:

There has been agreement between LDS and non-LDS scholars ever since the fragments were recovered that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the Book of Abraham. I do knot know of any LDS scholar that has claimed they do. The controversy seems to be that the critics are saying that what has been recovered must be what Joseph was using for his supposed translation while some if not most LDS scholars, especially the Egyptologists feel that the translation was from papyri that were probably destroyed in the Cgicago fire.

Robert F. Smith has a short analysis of the things he feels Joseph got right at https://www.scribd.com/document/118810727/A-Brief-Assessment-of-the-LDS-Book-of-Abraham .  I can only follow it dimly because I am nowhere near being an expert or even a layman in the Egyptian language.

Glenn

I haven't read Roberts linked analysis, I'm only commenting on what he said in this thread.  Look at it closer again.  He took issue with my quoting the gospel topics essay statement and is asserting that "Joseph was spectacularly successful in his identifications of the illustrations, and the text of the Book of Abraham is filled with authentic markers.".  Those statements sound out of touch with the essay and the evidence I've seen.  

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Congratulations on the latest version of Robert Smith's powerful "A Brief Assessment of the LDS Book of Abraham" essay.  I've read earlier versions and it keeps getting more impressive.   I've noticed that the commitment to objectivity and to bravely face the hard facts publicly and without flinching by the skeptical critics and shaken believers rarely, if ever, extends to this approach.  It often seems enough to say, in effect, "have any of the rulers, or of the pharisees believed on him?"  as though, if there was anything impressive to be found, the skeptics would be the first ones to publicly deliver and endorse it.  And the corollary is, if the information does not come from them, it cannot be impressive (mere "apologetic", or worse, "Old Fashioned" or "Traditional" apologetic, so why bother to mention or discuss it, especially when it's so easy to brush under the carpet and point to something scandalous?).

And Nibley's An Egyptian Endowment, which goes into what our little Hor Book of Breathings papyrus actually offers in its own right.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA 

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10 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I don't read that statement about the proper interpretation of the vignettes as showing that the vignette interpretations are an exception to the earlier point about how "the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the book of Abraham".  They are merely saying that not everyone agrees on what the proper interpretation of the vignettes are.

Your reading doesn't make any sense. The statement is obviously making a distinction between (1) the relationship between text of the BofA and the characters in the extant fragments and (2) the interpretation of the vignettes. It is true that part (2) of the statement doesn't qualify that Latter-day Saint scholars believe that a number of the interpretation of the facsimiles have ancient validation. But if you read throughout the essay, you will find that it does highlight these some apparently correct interpretations:

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Joseph Smith’s explanations of the facsimiles of the book of Abraham contain additional earmarks of the ancient world. Facsimile 1 and Abraham 1:17 mention the idolatrous god Elkenah. This deity is not mentioned in the Bible, yet modern scholars have identified it as being among the gods worshipped by ancient Mesopotamians.39 Joseph Smith represented the four figures in figure 6 of facsimile 2 as “this earth in its four quarters.” A similar interpretation has been argued by scholars who study identical figures in other ancient Egyptian texts.40 Facsimile 1 contains a crocodile deity swimming in what Joseph Smith called “the firmament over our heads.” This interpretation makes sense in light of scholarship that identifies Egyptian conceptions of heaven with “a heavenly ocean.”

So your interpretation can't be valid in light of the entire essay. Moreover, scholarly discussions of these subjects generally make a distinction between the interpretations of the illustrations in the vignettes and the text of the BofA itself. The Gospel Topics essay, in the statements under scrutiny, reflects that common practice. 

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