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Robert Ritner - Book of Abraham Interview


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19 hours ago, DBMormon said:
The LDS Church in its Book Of Abraham Gospel Topic Essay uses the scholarship of Archaeologist Harco Willems to defend Human Sacrifice.


Harco Willems was recently asked "Is the description of the human sacrifice found with in the Book of Abraham match the type of human sacrifice your research discusses in 'Crime, Cult, Capital Punishment'? "
 
Harco was kind enough to respond,
 
"Dear Sir, The Biblical (Book of Abraham) passage DOES NOT CONFORM TO WHAT THE MU'ALLA TEXT DESCRIBES, as attentive reading of the argumentation set forth in my article will immediately show. My article has been publicly published and therefore can be used by anyone. However, I fail to see how my work, which does not have the intention to support ANY ideology and which proposes an interpretation that is completely at loggerheads with the suggestion you make, can be stated to support your truth claims. I strongly object to any statement in your publication suggesting I do support these claims." -
With best regards,
Harco Willems

 
The Footnote from the Gospel Topic Essay referenced
36.
Kerry Muhlestein, Violence in the Service of Order: The Religious Framework for Sanctioned Killing in Ancient Egypt (Oxford, U.K.: Archaeopress, 2001), 37–44, 92–101; Kerry Muhlestein, “Royal Executions: Evidence Bearing on the Subject of Sanctioned Killing in the Middle Kingdom,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 51, no. 2 (2008): 181–208; Anthony Leahy, “Death by Fire in Ancient Egypt,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 27, no. 2 (1984): 199–206; Harco Willems, “Crime, Cult and Capital Punishment (Mo’alla Inscription 8),” Journal of Egyptian Archeology 76 (1990): 27–54.

In light of the above some may find the following of interest:

"In a recent contribution, Harco Willems' proposed a new interpretation for a genre which J. A. Wilson had called 'curses and threats' and rubricised under the general heading of 'Rituals, incantations'.2 Willems holds that these texts, or at least a consider able part of them, do not belong to the domain of magic or religion, but to that of legislation and jurisdiction. He takes punishments such as burning,3 and even cooking4-which have generally been held to refer to infernal punishments in the hereafter, belonging more to the history of hell than that of jurisdiction5-as legal sanctions against desecration of monuments which were actually executed in ancient Egyptian legal practice. To prove his case, he compares the punishments which potential desecrators or violators of monuments are threatened with, with penalties occurring in undoubtedly legal texts such as the Neferhotep decree and the Tod inscription of Sesostris I, where burning appears as a legal punishment.6 The Neferhotep decree even fixes this penalty for crimes like trespassing on land declared 'holy' by strolling around while not on duty. Given such jurisdiction, it is indeed plausible that tomb-owners threatening trespassers with burning would rather refer to that law than to religious concepts about the hereafter.

But Willems somewhat misconstructs the alternatives. The alternative to legal prosecution is not 'mere threats, that we need not take at face value' (p. 38), but imprecation or cursing. The distinction between laws and curses, jurisdiction and imprecation, is not that the one expresses a certainty and the other 'vague hopes or expectations', but that the one refers to the agency of social institutions and the other to the intervention of divine, or demoniac-in any case transcendent-powers. It is only to people living in an 'enlightened' and institutionally secure age such as ours that the efficiency of social institutions such as police and law-courts seems much more 'certain' (i.e. real and reliable), than that of metaphysical agency. In the ancient world, the situation was at least different, if not inverse. Willems' otherwise brilliant argumentation suffers from this form of anachronism and an ensuing underrating of the tradition and importance of cursing. It seems therefore necessary, in order to complement his arguments and to demonstrate the real importance of his findings, briefly to outline a more adequate historical reconstruction, distinguishing the respective functions of laws and curses, legislative and imprecative texts."

Jan Assmann, “When Justice Fails: Jurisdiction and Imprecation in Ancient Egypt and the Near East.”  The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 78 (1992), pp. 149-162. The quoted passage is from 149-150

 

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19 hours ago, Tacenda said:

I think I read that ever since it became public on MS podcast, there were quite a few testing to see if they'd be a good match, which is great news. Hopefully something comes of it.

He needs a transplant?  That would be wonderful if a match could be found if so.

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Mr. Thompson,

I don't mean to put you on the spot, let alone to push you into criticizing Gee or Muhlestein, but given what you've written in the past, it's hard not to ask this. In your Dialogue article in 1995 (posted at https://www.academia.edu/11345124/Egyptology_and_the_Book_of_Abraham, for those who haven't seen it), you said the Book of Abraham doesn't match ancient Egyptian religious practices, and that "anachronisms in the text of the book make it impossible that it was translated from a text written by Abraham himself". Given that you posted the paper online yourself, I'm guessing you stand by those arguments?

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On 9/4/2020 at 10:40 AM, DBMormon said:
The LDS Church in its Book Of Abraham Gospel Topic Essay uses the scholarship of Archaeologist Harco Willems to defend Human Sacrifice.


Harco Willems was recently asked "Is the description of the human sacrifice found with in the Book of Abraham match the type of human sacrifice your research discusses in 'Crime, Cult, Capital Punishment'? "
 
Harco was kind enough to respond,
 
"Dear Sir, The Biblical (Book of Abraham) passage DOES NOT CONFORM TO WHAT THE MU'ALLA TEXT DESCRIBES, as attentive reading of the argumentation set forth in my article will immediately show. My article has been publicly published and therefore can be used by anyone. However, I fail to see how my work, which does not have the intention to support ANY ideology and which proposes an interpretation that is completely at loggerheads with the suggestion you make, can be stated to support your truth claims. I strongly object to any statement in your publication suggesting I do support these claims." -
With best regards,
Harco Willems

 
The Footnote from the Gospel Topic Essay referenced
36.
Kerry Muhlestein, Violence in the Service of Order: The Religious Framework for Sanctioned Killing in Ancient Egypt (Oxford, U.K.: Archaeopress, 2001), 37–44, 92–101; Kerry Muhlestein, “Royal Executions: Evidence Bearing on the Subject of Sanctioned Killing in the Middle Kingdom,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 51, no. 2 (2008): 181–208; Anthony Leahy, “Death by Fire in Ancient Egypt,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 27, no. 2 (1984): 199–206; Harco Willems, “Crime, Cult and Capital Punishment (Mo’alla Inscription 8),” Journal of Egyptian Archeology 76 (1990): 27–54.

So, I'm curious who notified Harco Willems about the essay and who 'recently asked' him for his comments?  I wonder if he read the essay  himself or was told by the person what it said.

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45 minutes ago, alter idem said:

So, I'm curious who notified Harco Willems about the essay and who 'recently asked' him for his comments?  I wonder if he read the essay  himself or was told by the person what it said.

Good point.

I assumed it was DB himself, but it doesn't say that, does it?

But how would DB know about the response if he didn't ask the question?

My assumption was that DB asked him in a way which implied that he was himself a believer in the BOA, since Dr. Willems uses the phrase "your truth claims" in his reply.

From what we have, and I am sure DB will not be forthcoming in answering your question, ( that should smoke him out from hiding :) ) it was either DB or a BOA believer.

 But a believer wouldn't ask the question. It appears to me that it had to have come from a critic posing as a  naive believer

just a hunch

 

 

 

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16 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Good point.

I assumed it was DB himself, but it doesn't say that, does it?

But how would DB know about the response if he didn't ask the question?

My assumption was that DB asked him in a way which implied that he was himself a believer in the BOA, since Dr. Willems uses the phrase "your truth claims" in his reply.

From what we have, and I am sure DB will not be forthcoming in answering your question, ( that should smoke him out from hiding :) ) it was either DB or a BOA believer.

 But a believer wouldn't ask the question. It appears to me that it had to have come from a critic posing as a  naive believer

 

 

I was just curious, since we only have Willem's response, what he was told or asked, regarding the essay.  I wonder if Willem actually read the essay, and was upset by it, or if he was told by someone what they felt the essay was implying, and was upset by that.  Imo,  I would expect it was a critic (but still nominally considers themselves a member) of the Book of Abraham who contacted him.

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2 hours ago, alter idem said:

I was just curious, since we only have Willem's response, what he was told or asked, regarding the essay.  I wonder if Willem actually read the essay, and was upset by it, or if he was told by someone what they felt the essay was implying, and was upset by that.  Imo,  I would expect it was a critic (but still nominally considers themselves a member) of the Book of Abraham who contacted him.

It's funny you should mention this right at this moment because I was just reading a kindle book about Rorty and religion- (he is a "soft" atheist.  I mean by that a non-believer who totally understands that it is "rational" to be religious- in fact his wife was both a philosopher AND LDS, and somewhat active. His kids were raised LDS)

But discussions among scholars of different faiths ABOUT faith is considered a "conversation stopper" - so I am not at all surprised by Willem's response.  But that makes it also clear why I think that whoever asked the question (as if we do not know.....) was a critic posing as a believer because he knew in advance what the reply was likely to be.

In short, Willems was set up to make a reply guaranteed to sound critical to the BOA, at least that is my belief.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005CAPKGW/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1#:~:text=An Ethics for Today%3A Finding,9780231150569%3A Amazon.com%3A Books

The title of the book is across the top- and I recommend it earnestly.  It's 10 bucks on Kindle and the reader is a free download

 

image.thumb.png.94d772dafa3fbb404b3961c95d6f1061.png

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29 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

just happen to be in Provo this week, and I popped in at the BYU Library this afternoon and looked up the Harco Willems journal article in the Journal of Egyptian Archeology 76 (1990): 27–54, and I read the whole article

I will be giving you extra points for doing homework.  :)

I very much appreciate people who go to the source to look for new info and share info in a way that allows us access to the same level of new info.  I used to feel the same for anyone making the effort of 'going to the source', but I have seen such used too often without sufficient context to info to automatically appreciate it now.

Quote

And I didn't find anything in the journal article that would be at odds with how the article was referenced in the Gospel Topics essay.  I'd like to say more on this, but it's late and I'm getting sleepy, and if I try to write more in my current state of consciousness and post it, I'm afraid of what I might read in my post in the morning :) 

My question is if his work supports one of the claims made in the two sentences I quoted, most likely that the cultures referenced executed religious dissenters.  It is important to demonstrate his work actually supports one of the claims to justify its use, imo.

Here is the relevant quote again:

Quote

Recent scholarship has found instances of such punishment dating to Abraham’s time. People who challenged the standing religious order, either in Egypt or in the regions over which it had influence (such as Canaan), could and did suffer execution for their offenses.36

 

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3 hours ago, InCognitus said:

Something is definitely missing here and this looks like a set up to me.

And I didn't find anything in the journal article that would be at odds with how the article was referenced in the Gospel Topics essay.

Totally agree about the set up, and thanks for actually finding and analyzing the source 

Definitely something rotten in Denmark here, and it gets less and less likely by the minute that Mr. DB would clarify anything.  Whatever he says at this point that this point will just make everything more suspect.

But that is not unusual.

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5 hours ago, InCognitus said:

There is definitely more to the story about this "question" and "reply" from Willems than we have been allowed to see in the prior post.   

I just happen to be in Provo this week, and I popped in at the BYU Library this afternoon and looked up the Harco Willems journal article in the Journal of Egyptian Archeology 76 (1990): 27–54, and I read the whole article just to see if he had any legitimate beef against how it was referenced in the Gospel Topics essay.  After reading his entire article I am even more convinced that either Willems was reacting against the "conversation stopper" claims of faith in general (as you say), and/or the actual question sent to him is much different than what was presented in the post and was worded in such a way to cause him to reject it.  I think there is a lot of evidence for the latter possibility provided in the post. 

For example, look at the portion of the question we are permitted to see:

The grammar in this sentence is horrible.  Either this was done intentionally to make it look silly, or it was hastily written.   Even though I myself am quite guilty of this too at times, this seems to be rather extreme as if it was purposely done so. 

Now look at his "response" (with my comments and questions in brackets):

Something is definitely missing here and this looks like a set up to me.

And I didn't find anything in the journal article that would be at odds with how the article was referenced in the Gospel Topics essay.  I'd like to say more on this, but it's late and I'm getting sleepy, and if I try to write more in my current state of consciousness and post it, I'm afraid of what I might read in my post in the morning :) 

 

Here's the issue in a nutshell.  Willems argues that a specific offense, desecration of a particular place or object (quotes are from the Willems article referenced above, emphasis added) was punished by execution that could be considered a sacrifice:

Ever since the Egyptians began to provide their dead with valuable tomb furnishings, there were probably tomb robbers. Many biographies from the Old Kingdom inform us that tombs and equipment were gifts from the king himself. In view of this state commitment to the Afterlife of the nobility, it is logical that the central government was also responsible for the protection of the burial grounds and funerary chapels. We have textual testimony for this from the time of king Demedjibtawi, a contemporary of Ankhtifi, onwards. Our enquiry has shown that Mo' alla inscription no. 8 is just one of a range of texts threatening potential desecrators of tombs, temples or stelae. p. 41

I have attempted to demonstrate that, in ancient Egypt, desecration was a taboo for which there were severe punishments.  Although it is impossible to determine how often the sanctions were carried out (for most sources discuss them in hypothetical terms), these texts appear to have a sound legal basis. They also provide us with glimpses into the practical performance of the rituals. Like witch executions, the Egyptian death penalties were probably inflicted in public and were important social occasions.

pp. 52-53

The quote from the Gospel Topics article states:

Recent scholarship has found instances of such punishment dating to Abraham’s time. People who challenged the standing religious order, either in Egypt or in the regions over which it had influence (such as Canaan), could and did suffer execution for their offenses.36

Each reader will have to decide whether or not desecrating a particular tomb, temple, or stele constitutes "challenging the standing religious order" [whatever that is thought to mean in the context of ancient Egypt], and whether or not the situation described in the Book of Abraham would fall into the category of desecration.  And, as my reference to the Assmann article above shows, not all Egyptologists would agree with Willems' interpretation of the texts he cites. 

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3 hours ago, Steve Thompson said:

Each reader will have to decide whether or not desecrating a particular tomb, temple, or stele constitutes "challenging the standing religious order" [whatever that is thought to mean in the context of ancient Egypt], and whether or not the situation described in the Book of Abraham would fall into the category of desecration.  And, as my reference to the Assmann article above shows, not all Egyptologists would agree with Willems' interpretation of the texts he cite

When the 200 feet of missing scroll are found I am sure that those portions which Joseph did not translate will show that Abraham had just recently pulled a tomb heist and was nabbed in Chaldea where an angry mob of local Elkenah  priests tried to sacrifice him. Abraham talked his way out of being killed by offering to teach the mob a really strange system of astronomy.

 

Edited by CA Steve
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12 hours ago, Steve Thompson said:

Each reader will have to decide whether or not desecrating a particular tomb, temple, or stele constitutes "challenging the standing religious order" [whatever that is thought to mean in the context of ancient Egypt], and whether or not the situation described in the Book of Abraham would fall into the category of desecration.  And, as my reference to the Assmann article above shows, not all Egyptologists would agree with Willems' interpretation of the texts he cites. 

Thank you for this.  After reading the Willems article yesterday (and I re-read it today) I was struggling to find a way to describe my takeaway from what I read in relation to the Gospel Topic article, and what you say here states the problem quite well.

As you say, his article focuses on punishment for desecrators of tombs, temples or stelae, since the Mo’alla inscription no. 8 is a text of that type.  But in my reading of his description of the Egyptian world view, this could fall into the category of "challenging the standing religious order".  And there's no question that his article lends support to the idea of a death penalty for such actions.  And the punishment extends even to those of family members, including children (although the type of punishment for family members is not explained), as this quote from p. 41-42 shows:

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Our enquiry has shown that the Mo’alla inscription no. 8 is just one of a range of texts threatening potential desecrators of tombs, temples or stelae.  Not every text is equally elaborate, so that some mention penalties not attested to in others.  On the whole, however, a coherent set of punishments emerges.  Apart from suffering the death penalty, which is our primary concern, the criminal is cast out of social and religious life by the loss of his office and possessions, and by the god’s refusal to accept his offerings.  Moreover, he loses his identity and his right to be buried.  For an Egyptian, there were no hopes for Afterlife in these circumstances.  Finally, the punishments affect the criminal’s family as well.  Not all relatives appear to be concerned here; the culprit’s children feature prominently in the formulae, but I have found no references to the punishment of his wife.

      Judging from stela Cairo CG 1651, the criminals were brought before a court of justice before their execution.  Even in remote parts of Egypt, this category of punishment appears to have been the responsibility of the central, not the local administration.  This is suggested not only by the royal inscriptions cited, but also by the graffiti in Lower Nubia, where the violators are threatened with being sent to the ‘king’s execution block’.

And this quote from the bottom of page 42 and the top of page 43 depicts the Egyptian "divine world order" in a way that connected it to what the Gospel Topic was saying, in my view (my emphasis added in bold - please excuse my poor attempt at typing the Egyptian transliterations):

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The conclusion that the texts really concern the violator’s physical death is borne out by an early Eighteenth Dynasty formula including the following sanction:  ‘his [the criminal’s] lifetime on earth will not continue (nn hpr ‘h’.w-f tp t)’.   Like many Near Eastern countries in the not too distant past or even today, ancient Egypt knew no distinction between ‘church’ and state.  Under these circumstances, it is no great wonder that criminal offences were interpreted as transgressions against Maat, the divine world order.  Although not all infringements were explained in these terms, the desecrations discussed in this article were, for obvious reasons.  The criminals themselves were classified as ‘rebels’ (sbi.w), and their punishment took place in a cultic context.  They were burned on temple altars: in addition to the Middle Kingdom sources, one from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty is worth quoting for its unambiguous terminology.  Here, one who damages a stela is threatened with being judged in the temple of Heracleopolis.  Then ‘he is destined to the knife of Hnbw who is the Naref (…), his members are a burnt-offering (h’. w=f m sbi n sd.t), he being destined to the braziers of Osiris (iw=f n ‘h n Wsir)’.

And this "divine world order" idea is further supported by this quote from pages 52-53 (my emphasis added in bold):

Quote

      The second point of interest is that all texts analyzed refer to similar crimes.  In the Mo’all inscription, the criminal is punished for the violation of a tomb, and the same background underlies the references from Assiut (2.3), Beni Hasan (2.4) and Abydos (2.7).  The Nubian graffiti (2.5) and the text on stela Cairo CG 1651 (2.2) refer to death as a sanction for damage done to stalae.  The Tod inscription and the Sarenput stela (2.8 and 2.1) speak of harm done to temple cults.  Finally, the Demedjibtawy decree concerns infringements of a funerary cult (2.6).  Hence, in every case the integrity of sacred installations is at stake.  The texts from the New Kingdom and later mention similar sanctions for this category of crimes.

     Since the crime was directed against religious institutions, and since the punishment was inflicted in a cultic context (a sacrifice), it seems certain that they did not view the damage simply in material terms.  This is most clearly the case with regard to the Lower Nubian graffiti, which ware mere scratching in the rock.  Considerations of material loss can hardly have played a role here; rather, the damage of the writer’s name would pose a magical threat to his person.  A strong ideological undertone also underlies the Siutian imprecations, where the perpetrators are called ‘rebels’ (sbi.w), a loaded term in Egyptian theology.  For the Egyptians, the crime obviously had a moral aspect that was intimately related to mythology.  By his acts, the violator revealed himself as a manifestation of Seth or Aporphis, the embodiments of disorder.  The criminal was thus placed on the same level as the animals slaughtered in the temple or funerary cults to symbolize the defeat of evil forces.  When viewed from this angle, the punishment was not simply a matter of revenge, although that must often have been involved.  It was rather a method to counter the cosmic disorder, that is, to safeguard society at large from pollutive elements.  Ideas like these are not peculiar to the Egyptian culture.  One might compare the treatment of witches in the European Middle Ages, who were associated with the Devil, or similar cases from other cultures throughout the world.  Who is to be recognized as a transgressors, and ho he should be dealt with, are matters that are often determined by religious considerations.  But at the same time, these classifications help to illustrate and maintain the rules in a given community.  No matter how odd taboo regulations may appear to be to outsiders, they often play a central part in the social fabric.

So even though Willems is discussing punishment for vandalism to temples and tombs, the Egyptian world view he describes lends support to the way the Gospel Topic article referenced it, in my opinion.

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17 hours ago, Calm said:

I very much appreciate people who go to the source to look for new info and share info in a way that allows us access to the same level of new info.  I used to feel the same for anyone making the effort of 'going to the source', but I have seen such used too often without sufficient context to info to automatically appreciate it now.

I think I got this way by reading The Great Apostasy (James E. Talmage) when I was a missionary, and some stuff from Hugh Nibley later on, and a few other authors.  They would make statements about something from history and they would provide a reference, but I never felt like I could legitimately quote those authors to support my own views without knowing exactly what the source they referenced actually said (and it's tough going with Hugh Nibley's sources, most of them aren't in English).  It wasn't that I distrusted what these authors said, but I had to see it for myself.  

I'll have to say that Egyptology is way out of my league and I was reluctant to get into this conversation, but it bugged me yesterday that I had to again rely on something someone else was saying without seeing the original source, and I needed an excuse to get out and go to one of my favorite places while I'm in Provo (the BYU library!), and so I took that as an opportunity to see it for myself.

18 hours ago, Calm said:

My question is if his work supports one of the claims made in the two sentences I quoted, most likely that the cultures referenced executed religious dissenters.  It is important to demonstrate his work actually supports one of the claims to justify its use, imo.

Here is the relevant quote again:

Quote

Recent scholarship has found instances of such punishment dating to Abraham’s time. People who challenged the standing religious order, either in Egypt or in the regions over which it had influence (such as Canaan), could and did suffer execution for their offenses.36

 

I was looking at this too when I went to the library yesterday (I quoted this paragraph and the entire footnote in an email that I sent to myself with the location of the journal article in the BYU Library so I didn't have to look up the location when I got there).  But footnote 36 includes a lot of sources, not just the one from Willems, so I think the list of sources is to support a blend of concepts that were included in the statement from the Gospel Topic article you quote above. Here's the full list of sources in footnote 36:

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36     Kerry Muhlestein, Violence in the Service of Order: The Religious Framework for Sanctioned Killing in Ancient Egypt (Oxford, U.K.: Archaeopress, 2001), 37–44, 92–101; Kerry Muhlestein, “Royal Executions: Evidence Bearing on the Subject of Sanctioned Killing in the Middle Kingdom,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 51, no. 2 (2008): 181–208; Anthony Leahy, “Death by Fire in Ancient Egypt,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 27, no. 2 (1984): 199–206; Harco Willems, “Crime, Cult and Capital Punishment (Mo’alla Inscription 8),” Journal of Egyptian Archeology 76 (1990): 27–54.

The Willems source definitely supports the idea of capital punishment upon alters for crimes committed by desecrating religious sites and tombs, but his source only indirectly supports the types of infractions described in the Book of Abraham.  But I do think it supports the concept, and I hope that my prior post explained why I came to that conclusion.

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8 hours ago, InCognitus said:

They would make statements about something from history and they would provide a reference, but I never felt like I could legitimately quote those authors to support my own views without knowing exactly what the source they referenced actually said (and it's tough going with Hugh Nibley's sources, most of them aren't in English).  It wasn't that I distrusted what these authors said, but I had to see it for myself. 

I feel the same way. I try to find the original study to check myself*** what news articles refer to even if I use the article to summarize for others as the study itself doesn’t pull the info together as well or is unavailable for copy/paste. 
 

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But footnote 36 includes a lot of sources, not just the one from Willems, so I think the list of sources is to support a blend of concepts that were included in the statement from the Gospel Topic article you quote above

Exactly.  I personally prefer the style that allows to footnote in the middle of a sentence so you know exactly what phrase a footnote is suppose to refer to, but that can get really messy. At least it isn’t waiting till the end of the paragraph as I have seen some do.  I don’t think in this case though it would have made a difference.


***at least when I am able to concentrate enough, I do get lazy at times but if a serious discussion I try to put the effort in; I am really ticked off these past years when I live so close to a library I am very familiar with and yet can’t pop into the car to go do research. Thankfully so much more is online these days. 
 

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On 9/5/2020 at 9:48 AM, Calm said:

Not exactly:

https://www.fairmormon.org/blog/2020/09/02/update-from-kerry-muhlestein-re-raising-the-abrahamic-discourse

This would require a much, much bigger investment to time and effort than sitting around a couple of hours debating on a podcast.  

So you don't think they all have put in a great deal of time and effort to their scholarship and apologetics to this point already?  Odd assessment, Calm.  I think they have and it appears, at least if we take Ritner seriously, there are some major problems with the Muhlestein/Gee apologetic from a scholarly perspective.  I doubt either will really address those problems in an engaging way, but will rather talk past the scholarship with further meanderings into apologetics.  I mean it might catch up to them in a more direct way at some point, though.  So we'll see.  

On 9/5/2020 at 9:48 AM, Calm said:

The quality of the product would be correspondingly much higher and potentially of significant academic worth and interest where I doubt if a debate would attract much attention outside the usual audience. 

I think quality suffers in scholarship when it fails to engage the criticisms directly and effectively.  It seems that is precisely what has happened as they've attempted to address each other through these gradual outputs of apologetics and scholarship.  But, truly that's the easy road for Gee and Muhlestein.  Since they have no peer review, and apparently Gee detests that process, they simply only need a reply to satisfy most.  They don't need a credible one, or a scholarly based one.  That's why I say the proposed path Muhlestein offers will best suit their apologetics.  

On 9/5/2020 at 9:48 AM, Calm said:

Sounds like Dr. Ritner made an intelligent choice though.  This is not a time to take risks with one's health.  Hopefully in the future the two can set it up so it is less strain on Dr. Ritner or whatever current health issues he has will have passed.

 It appears he's more willing and able health wise to have a discussion, but is not able to commit to a drawn out process for publication.  That's too bad there are too many issues, already on the table that need to be addressed, it seems to me.  It is too bad Kerry is unwilling to accommodate.  

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What I find amazing about the BofA and the Book of Mormon is just how many scholars have gone over them over and over again. If Joseph Smith wrote both books he deserves much credit to have scholars go over his works for the past 200 years. Who would believe it? Here we have a guy who never had a job or an university education suddenly produce two widely read and researched pieces of writing all on his own. And he got 11 people to confirm the BofM as being true because they saw the book delivered by an angel.

I think that the BofA is an interesting read. If JS did write it, he showed immense creativity and imagination. Likewise for the BofM. I have to take my hat off to him because his works are still being discussed and after all these years, people are still trying to refute them. Of course John is still at it after all these years that is also amazing. I thought that maybe he would take a year vacation or so from his attempts to convince people that the LDS church is a fraud. I am no judge but I can think of better ways to spend a life. When I was on lockdown and riding my bike, I discovered my little world and all its wonders. It was also amazing. Maybe John can take up bike riding and see the world. I came to the board 14 years ago and the BofA was being discussed and now 14 years later it is still being discussed. Joseph was a genius. 

Edited by why me
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7 minutes ago, aussieguy55 said:

So it does not disturb you that he got nothing really right in his interpretations of the facsimiles?

"Nothing really right" seems to have quite a bit of wiggle room in there.  

The "No True Scotsman" fallacy also comes to mind.

Thanks,

-Smac

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The issue has been settled except for a couple of "Egyptologists" at BYU. I hope Ritner health improves and he can have a interesting discussion with Kerry.

Edited by aussieguy55
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12 hours ago, aussieguy55 said:

The issue has been settled except for a couple of "Egyptologists" at BYU. I hope Ritner health improves and he can have a interesting discussion with Kerry.

I listened to RFM this weekend.  Apparently RFM contacted Ritner regarding Kerry's claim that he declined doing a book with him.  And it's true, Ritner did decline a book deal.  But Ritner reiterated his desire to have a conversation with Kerry, open for others to hear and Kerry did not respond (Apparently there was an email exchange).  Kerry left that out in his FAIR piece.  And I suppose we can take his decision to not reply as a continued decline to the generous offer.  I mean the offer is, let's reiterate, Kerry and Gee select all the parameters.  

So it appears, the offer to engage the issues that are on the table has been rejected by Kerry Muhlestein and Gee.  The offer from Kerry to write a book with Ritner was declined by Ritner.  Of course there's no real positive for Ritner to get so heavily involved.  He's done a ton of research on the matter and he's either been ignored, disrespected and stolen from in a couple of cases (that is his research used without citation) by apologists.  It does appear a book agreement would be a huge win for Muhlestein.  He'd have the gravitas of actually working with a respected Egyptologist, at the very least.

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12 hours ago, aussieguy55 said:

The issue has been settled except for a couple of "Egyptologists" at BYU.

"The issue?"  What is that?

"Has been settled?"  IOW, "When academics speak, the thinking has been done.  The debate is over."  Is that what you are saying?

And what's with the scare quotes?  

Just a few hours before you posted this, I wrote: 

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So it does not disturb you that he got nothing really right in his interpretations of the facsimiles?

"Nothing really right" seems to have quite a bit of wiggle room in there.  

The "No True Scotsman" fallacy also comes to mind.

And here you are, immediately proving me right.  "The issue has been settled except for a couple of 'Egyptologists' at BYU" exemplifies the No True Scotsman fallacy.

12 hours ago, aussieguy55 said:

I hope Ritner health improves and he can have a interesting discussion with Kerry.

Same here.

I'm also curious as to whether Stem, Analytics, and the others who spent quite a few posts in this thread lambasting Muhlestein for refusing to engage Ritner, will retract their various statements now that it turns out Muhlestein had, in fact, reached out to Dr. Ritner to explore the possibility of having such an "interesting discussion," which is not presently feasible given Dr. Ritner's health concerns.

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" and all that.  

Thanks,

-Smac

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