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Robert Ritner - Book of Abraham Interview


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26 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

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.

"The offer is ... Kerry and Gee select all the parameters."

Muhlestein proposed parameters, which were declined (apparently, it seems, due to Ritner's health issues).  And in response you . . . continue to run down Muhlestein.  

Just a few pages ago you were repeatedly railing against Muhlestein for refusing to interact with Ritner.  Now you are railing against Muhlestein even though A) he has offered to have such an interaction, and B) Ritner (for health reasons, apparently) declined to accept the "parameters" for the interaction, thus leaving you to continue to gripe notwithstanding that C) "the offer" was that Muhlestein could "select all the parameters."

Heads the critics win, tails Muhlestein loses.  

Quelle surprise.

-Smac

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4 minutes ago, smac97 said:

"The offer is ... Kerry and Gee select all the parameters."

Muhlestein proposed parameters, which were declined (apparently, it seems, due to Ritner's health issues).  And in response you . . . continue to run down Muhlestein.  

Just a few pages ago you were repeatedly railing against Muhlestein for refusing to interact with Ritner.  Now you are railing against Muhlestein even though A) he has offered to have such an interaction, and B) Ritner (for health reasons, apparently) declined to accept the "parameters" for the interaction, even though C) "the offer" was that Muhlestein could "select all the parameters."

Heads the critics win, tails Muhlestein loses.  

Quelle surprise.

-Smac

Fair point.  I do think, though, the context is clear on what took place.  The "parameters for a conversation", not the parameters for anything...my mistake in not making that clear.  Muhlestein it appears declined to engage in conversation with Ritner.  Ritner declined to commit to writing a book.  Just trying to clarify.  

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1 minute ago, stemelbow said:

Fair point.  I do think, though, the context is clear on what took place. 

Yeah.  The critics rushed to judgment.  They ignorantly lambasted Muhlestein for refusing to engage Ritner, when it turns out he was quite open to that.  And it turns out that interacting with Ritner is not presently feasible because Ritner is ill.  And yet folks like you still manage to find fault with Muhlestein.

1 minute ago, stemelbow said:

The "parameters for a conversation", not the parameters for anything...my mistake in not making that clear. 

So "parameters for a conversation" cannot include having that conversation in "an academic volume," professionally edited, a table of contents, etc.?

Why is that?  Putting aside the impediment of Ritner's ill health, what would be wrong with such a "conversation?"

You seem to be stacking the deck here.

1 minute ago, stemelbow said:

Muhlestein it appears declined to engage in conversation with Ritner. 

What?  How can you continue to say that?  Muhlestein "personally contacted Professor Ritner" and "suggested that we work together on creating an academic volume on the subject."  He "suggested possible guidelines for doing so, possible academic venues, possible editors, and even a potential table of contents," which he "modeled ... after volumes on contested issues that have been successfully done in academia elsewhere." 

Ritner "graciously declined, citing his current health circumstances."  According to some RFM hearsay, Ritner "reiterated his desire to have a conversation with {Muhlestein}," which has not yet received a response.  

So the "offer" was that Muhlestein would get to "select all the parameters" in order to "engage {Ritner on} the issues."  Muhlestein's selected parameters are not presently feasible, and he has not yet responded to Ritner's counter-offer (which, it should be noted, would consist of Ritner selecting "the parameters," not Muhlestein).  And you sum up this state of affairs with "Muhlestein {} declined to engage in conversation with Ritner."

1 minute ago, stemelbow said:

Ritner declined to commit to writing a book.  Just trying to clarify.  

A book with a proposed goal of "a balanced approach observing the highest academic rigor and tone, creating a dialogue with each other rather than having parties who speak past each other," which Muhlestein hoped could "lead to real progress."  Unfortunately, Ritner's health precludes such an interaction.

You know what conclusion I am drawing from Ritner's declination?  Nothing.  He's sick, which prevents him from committing to participating in the creation of a substantive, formal "academic volume" about a complex and difficult and controversial topic.  I think such a project would be fantastic, but present circumstances rule it out.  

And what conclusion are you drawing about Muhlestein in all this?  That "it appears declined to engage in conversation with Ritner."

Stuff like this is what makes me fairly wary about taking critics seriously.  Their critiques very often lack good faith and good will.  No matter what the Latter-day Saints do, an angle can always be drawn so as to find fault.

Thanks,

-Smac

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7 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Yeah.  The critics rushed to judgment.  They ignorantly lambasted Muhlestein for refusing to engage Ritner, when it turns out he was quite open to that.  And it turns out that interacting with Ritner is not presently feasible because Ritner is ill.  And yet folks like you still manage to find fault with Muhlestein.

So "parameters for a conversation" cannot include having that conversation in "an academic volume," professionally edited, a table of contents, etc.?

Why is that?  Putting aside the impediment of Ritner's ill health, what would be wrong with such a "conversation?"

You seem to be stacking the deck here.

What?  How can you continue to say that?  Muhlestein "personally contacted Professor Ritner" and "suggested that we work together on creating an academic volume on the subject."  He "suggested possible guidelines for doing so, possible academic venues, possible editors, and even a potential table of contents," which he "modeled ... after volumes on contested issues that have been successfully done in academia elsewhere." 

Ritner "graciously declined, citing his current health circumstances."  According to some RFM hearsay, Ritner "reiterated his desire to have a conversation with {Muhlestein}," which has not yet received a response.  

So the "offer" was that Muhlestein would get to "select all the parameters" in order to "engage {Ritner on} the issues."  Muhlestein's selected parameters are not presently feasible, and he has not yet responded to Ritner's counter-offer (which, it should be noted, would consist of Ritner selecting "the parameters," not Muhlestein).  And you sum up this state of affairs with "Muhlestein {} declined to engage in conversation with Ritner."

A book with a proposed goal of "a balanced approach observing the highest academic rigor and tone, creating a dialogue with each other rather than having parties who speak past each other," which Muhlestein hoped could "lead to real progress."  Unfortunately, Ritner's health precludes such an interaction.

You know what conclusion I am drawing from Ritner's declination?  Nothing.  He's sick, which prevents him from committing to participating in the creation of a substantive, formal "academic volume" about a complex and difficult and controversial topic.  I think such a project would be fantastic, but present circumstances rule it out.  

And what conclusion are you drawing about Muhlestein in all this?  That "it appears declined to engage in conversation with Ritner."

Stuff like this is what makes me fairly wary about taking critics seriously.  Their critiques very often lack good faith and good will.  No matter what the Latter-day Saints do, an angle can always be drawn so as to find fault.

Thanks,

-Smac

Certainly history plays a part in this.  The issues have already been voiced and subsequently the apologists have talked right past them.  That's why a conversation is preferred, it appears, by Ritner.  Again, to engage in a book is not really a benefit on his part.  The research has already been done and published.  It's a matter of dealing with it.  That's the take, I think, generally from a more critical perspective.  And alas, it perhaps is true his health might preclude him from feeling heavily committed beyond a conversation.  If so, then that's too bad.  It seems Muhlestein should be more able and willing to bend his way, if that's the case.  If, for some reason, Dr. Muhlestein has a change of heart and engages with Ritner, as Ritner has offered, then great..  I'd be happy to see it.  

I can tell we aren't going to agree.  You can't really fault Ritner for declining if health is the issue.  It's out of his control. It's really in Dr. Muhlestein court. 

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41 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Certainly history plays a part in this.

But apparently good faith and good will does not.

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The issues have already been voiced and subsequently the apologists have talked right past them. 

Meh.  This is broad silliness.  "The apologists" have addressed all sorts of critiques and criticisms about the Book of Abraham.

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That's why a conversation is preferred, it appears, by Ritner.  Again, to engage in a book is not really a benefit on his part. 

So in your view, the "offer" for Muhlestein to "select the parameters" was not presented sincerely?  I'm not willing to make such an assumption about Ritner.

Moreover, Muhlestein states: "I have responded, letting him know that I am open to other options as long as we can find something that would adhere to appropriate academic standards."  So it seems like the discussion is ongoing, though things may slow down a bit given Ritner's ill health.

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The research has already been done and published.  It's a matter of dealing with it.

You mean "dealing with it" like when Larry Morris reviewed Ritner's “The ‘Breathing Permit of Hôr’ Thirtyfour Years Later” in 2004?  About a year after it came out?

You mean when Muhlestein addressed some of Ritner's arguments in 2005And addressed others in 2016?

You mean when Mark Johnson addressed Ritner's interpretation of the lion couch scene in 2017?

You mean when Pearl of Great Price Central addresses some points raised by Ritner in its article, "What Egyptian Papyri Did Joseph Smith Possess?"?

You mean when FAIR responded to part of Ritner's ad hominem and well-poisoning libel against Hugh Nibley in his 2013 "The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition"?

You mean informal responses to some of Ritner's commentary in this thread?

You mean this mini-bibliography published on August 25 by the Interpreter Foundation?  Take a look:

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The Historicity of the Book of Abraham

The Book of Abraham purports to be the autobiographical writings of the biblical patriarch Abraham. The question believers and skeptics have debated is whether the text can be plausibly situated in the ancient world of Abraham, or if it otherwise has any historical believability. This is what scholars call the historicity of a text, meaning the quality or degree of authenticity displayed in its historical claims. It is impossible to absolutely “prove” that a text is entirely historical or ahistorical, given the sometimes-considerable gaps in the archaeological and historical record of the ancient world. Instead, scholars have developed methodological tools to argue for overall plausibility (or lack thereof) of a purported historical text like the Book of Abraham (or, for that matter, the historical books of the Bible).

John Gee and Stephen D. Ricks have outlined what is, to date, the most comprehensive methodological approach to evaluating the historicity of the Book of Abraham:

Their methodology has proven especially fruitful and has led to the publication of numerous pieces of scholarship touching on the historicity of the text. Some of these more noteworthy pieces include:

This body of scholarship has, in turn, been summarized and distilled in Insights #1–26 of Pearl of Great Price Central’s Book of Abraham series:

Pearl of Great Price Central has also produced a video summarizing this body of scholarship:

Again, the intent of this scholarship is not to “prove” that the Book of Abraham is authentic, but to demonstrate that many (but admittedly not all) of its historical claims converge remarkably well with the ancient world from whence it purports to derive.

The Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham

Joseph Smith’s interpretation of three facsimiles that accompany the text of the Book of Abraham has proven to be a lightning rod for controversy. For well over a century those skeptical of Joseph’s claims have pointed to incongruities between his interpretations of the facsimiles and those of academic Egyptologists. In order to better understand the facsimiles and account for these incongruities, Latter-day Saint scholars have articulated a number of different paradigms for evaluating the facsimiles and Joseph Smith’s interpretation thereof. Here are some examples:

As explained in a Pearl of Great Price Central Insight (“Approaching the Facsimiles,” Insight #27), these different theories are “each compelling to varying degrees since they can account for the instances where Joseph Smith’s interpretations of the facsimiles align with other Egyptologists, but no single one of them can account for his interpretations in their entirety from an Egyptological perspective.” Still, this has not stopped Latter-day Saint scholars from insisting that there are demonstrable instances where Joseph’s interpretations of the facsimiles find plausible confirmation from attested ancient Egyptian and Semitic concepts. These instances have been discussed in Insights #27–36 on Pearl of Great Price Central:

The Translation of the Book of Abraham

Finally, there is the matter of how the Prophet translated the Book of Abraham. Here there is considerable uncertainty, largely due to the existence of a corpus of manuscripts that comprise what is often called the Kirtland Egyptian Papers (“KEP”). There is no general consensus among Latter-day Saint scholars concerning the KEP and what bearing, if any, they have on the actual translation and what relationship they have to the surviving Joseph Smith Papyri fragments.[5] They have also attempted to answer what kind of a translation the Book of Abraham is and the means by which the Prophet accomplished such. Here are some examples:

Insights #37–40 from Pearl of Great Price Central summarize this scholarship:

It is crucially important when approaching the subject of translating the Book of Abraham to not make the same mistakes made in older scholarship. Falsely ascribing material to Joseph Smith is one such error of which we should be wary. For example, recent scholarship has demonstrated how material once attributed to Joseph Smith was, in fact, composed and ghost-written by W. W. Phelps. This includes the 1843 Appeal to the Green Mountain Boys and other Nauvoo-era material that draws from the (pseudo-)Egyptian words and phrases from the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.[6] Scholars wanting to truly evaluate the Prophet’s own understanding of Egyptian would do well to carefully parse their sources and not rely on outdated approaches or understandings.

I get whiplash from A) reviewing the above extensive list of apologists addressing issues pertaining to the Book of Mormon and juxtaposing it with B) you summarily declaring that "{t}he issues have already been voiced and subsequently the apologists have talked right past them."

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That's the take, I think, generally from a more critical perspective. 

Well, yes.  That's a big problem with that "critical perspective."  You aren't listening to what we have to say, and instead are acting as if we aren't saying anything at all about these issues (or else that we are merely "talk{ing} right past them").

-Smac

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

But apparently good faith and good will does not.

Meh.  This is broad silliness.  "The apologists" have addressed all sorts of critiques and criticisms about the Book of Abraham.

So in your view, the "offer" for Muhlestein to "select the parameters" was not presented sincerely?  I'm not willing to make such an assumption about Ritner.

Moreover, Muhlestein states: "I have responded, letting him know that I am open to other options as long as we can find something that would adhere to appropriate academic standards."  So it seems like the discussion is ongoing, though things may slow down a bit given Ritner's ill health.

You mean "dealing with it" like when Larry Morris reviewed Ritner's “The ‘Breathing Permit of Hôr’ Thirtyfour Years Later” in 2004?  About a year after it came out?

You mean when Muhlestein addressed some of Ritner's arguments in 2005And addressed others in 2016?

You mean when Mark Johnson addressed Ritner's interpretation of the lion couch scene in 2017?

You mean when Pearl of Great Price Central addresses some points raised by Ritner in its article, "What Egyptian Papyri Did Joseph Smith Possess?"?

You mean when FAIR responded to part of Ritner's ad hominem and well-poisoning libel against Hugh Nibley in his 2013 "The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition"?

You mean informal responses to some of Ritner's commentary in this thread?

You mean this mini-bibliography published on August 25 by the Interpreter Foundation?  Take a look:

I get whiplash from A) reviewing the above extensive list of apologists addressing issues pertaining to the Book of Mormon and juxtaposing it with B) you summarily declaring that "{t}he issues have already been voiced and subsequently the apologists have talked right past them."

Well, yes.  That's a big problem with that "critical perspective."  You aren't listening to what we have to say, and instead are acting as if we aren't saying anything at all about these issues (or else that we are merely "talk{ing} right past them").

-Smac

This is amazing. But I am afraid it will have no effect on the critics. Lets say Joseph was a fraud and he wrote the book of mormon. Why would he risk everything with a new book? Why would he need such a book? Why bother? I would have just said no thank you I don't have time. But thanks anyway. And moved on. Instead, he takes the risk. It doesn't make sense. My guess is that he saw value in it and decided to translate it because he knew who he was, someone who saw a vision and translated an ancient book by the power of God. And he had the faith that he could continue god's work with this translation.

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

But apparently good faith and good will does not.

Meh.  This is broad silliness.  "The apologists" have addressed all sorts of critiques and criticisms about the Book of Abraham.

So in your view, the "offer" for Muhlestein to "select the parameters" was not presented sincerely?  I'm not willing to make such an assumption about Ritner.

Moreover, Muhlestein states: "I have responded, letting him know that I am open to other options as long as we can find something that would adhere to appropriate academic standards."  So it seems like the discussion is ongoing, though things may slow down a bit given Ritner's ill health.

You mean "dealing with it" like when Larry Morris reviewed Ritner's “The ‘Breathing Permit of Hôr’ Thirtyfour Years Later” in 2004?  About a year after it came out?

You mean when Muhlestein addressed some of Ritner's arguments in 2005And addressed others in 2016?

You mean when Mark Johnson addressed Ritner's interpretation of the lion couch scene in 2017?

You mean when Pearl of Great Price Central addresses some points raised by Ritner in its article, "What Egyptian Papyri Did Joseph Smith Possess?"?

You mean when FAIR responded to part of Ritner's ad hominem and well-poisoning libel against Hugh Nibley in his 2013 "The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition"?

You mean informal responses to some of Ritner's commentary in this thread?

You mean this mini-bibliography published on August 25 by the Interpreter Foundation?  Take a look:

I get whiplash from A) reviewing the above extensive list of apologists addressing issues pertaining to the Book of Mormon and juxtaposing it with B) you summarily declaring that "{t}he issues have already been voiced and subsequently the apologists have talked right past them."

Well, yes.  That's a big problem with that "critical perspective."  You aren't listening to what we have to say, and instead are acting as if we aren't saying anything at all about these issues (or else that we are merely "talk{ing} right past them").

-Smac

I would suggest there's been plenty of listening and yet feeling left wanting.  I agree, it's not as if a lot has not been said about the BoA from an apologists perspective.  It simply feels like the criticisms are either ignored or glossed over--that is the particular criticisms about apologists claims, anyways.  I'd take your gish galloping and start listing all the critical voices and their stuff too, but it feels a bit silly at this point.  

As it is, Ritner stated his position on many aspects of the tiny little BoA recently.  I suppose it's up to apologists to respond thoroughly.  I can wait and see.  I think your accusations are wrong about me.  I think it'd be epic and interesting if Gee and Muhlestein agreed to discuss the issues, so admittedly, I'm commenting because that simply didn't happen. 

I'd be delighted if the apologists could engage well enough to change some minds...but I don't think that'll happen.  But it's worth pointing out the opposite will continue to happen--apologists will turn into critics.  I'm not saying that really says anything substantial, but I find it an interesting thing.  

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Why doesn't Dr. Muhlestein answer point by point, the issues raised by Dr. Ritner in the John Dehlin podcast, a la what was done with the CES letter?  I assume Dr. Muhlestein has some really good answers and so it shouldn't be too tough to go through point by point and rebut Dr. Ritner.  Perhaps then will Dr. Ritner engage?  At this point, it looks like the sides are arguing over where the debate will take place when Dr. Ritner has already given his side and so Dr. Muhlestein should be able to give his point by point response.

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15 minutes ago, Robert J Anderson said:

Why doesn't Dr. Muhlestein answer point by point, the issues raised by Dr. Ritner in the John Dehlin podcast, a la what was done with the CES letter? 

First and foremost, there is no coherent list of "the issues raised by Dr. Ritner."  The "issues" can only be identified by gleaning them from a nine-hour video, and even then many of them will be ill-defined, unsupported, etc.  In contrast, the CES Letter was written down, and even then the logistics of responding to its scattershot, throw-everything-against-the-wall-and-see-how-much-of-it-sticks style were quite a challenge.

Second, Muhlestein has addressed this question quite thoroughly.

Third, Muhlestein has offered to explore the issues in a scholarly venue.

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I assume Dr. Muhlestein has some really good answers and so it shouldn't be too tough to go through point by point and rebut Dr. Ritner.  Perhaps then will Dr. Ritner engage?  At this point, it looks like the sides are arguing over where the debate will take place when Dr. Ritner has already given his side and so Dr. Muhlestein should be able to give his point by point response.

So much for the purported "The offer is ... Kerry and Gee select all the parameters" approach.

In any event, it sounds like both sides are willing to advance the discussion.  Let's give them some room and time.

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

It is one thing to say "The apologists are addressing the issues, but I remain unpersuaded."  It is quite another to claim that apologists aren't saying anything at all about these issues (or else that they are merely "talk{ing} right past them").

It is one thing to say that arguments and defenses and evidences are ultimately unavailing.  It is quite another to claim that the arguments and dfenses and evidences haven't been presented at all

Sounds good.  I'll try and frame it better.  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

Right back atcha.  When all you present is bland and broad and wholly unsupported assertions like "The research has already been done and published.  It's a matter of dealing with it.", there really isn't a way to respond to that in any meaningful sense.

And rather than address the rebuttal - that apologists are "dealing with" the issues, you summarily dismiss citation to such efforts as a "gish gallop."  Now who's not "dealing with" the issues?

There was a big part of the interview series that was concerned with that lack of addressing the issues.  I certainly have no doubt many apologists think the issues are addressed properly.  I think this gets into the talking past each other problemo (and I recognize that there is criticism that does not account for apologetics too).  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

So have Muhlestein and Gee and many others.  Nothing new, really, except that Ritner presented his "position" in a nine-hour video presented by a pliant, ignorant and hostile-to-the-Church bystander. 

Bystanders...and it was considerably more than 9 hours.  And I don't think we can safely say RFM is ignorant, even if we grant that Dehlin is (which I don't think is a fair characterization either, even if he is, admittedly, far less informed than either Ritner or RFM on BoA issues).  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

This venue and presentation are very poor in terms of developing a meaningful and coherent scholarly discussion. 

Not so.  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

 

Muhlestein has therefore proposed a scholarly venue and set of terms that would, by any objective measure, be far more effective and conducive to meaningful exploration of the subject matter.  And your response to that was . . . to continue to rail on Muhlestein and mischaracterizing his position.

I did neither rail on him nor mischaracterize, as I can see.  It would be nice if as it were apologetic responses were in the scholarly realm including peer review.  But alas, they simply don't require such rigor.  I think that's part of Ritner's concern.  They can essentially say what they want or what they can get passed other apologists.  Of course as we learned from Brian Hauglid Gee really struggled to get much passed him.  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

You apparently couldn't "wait and see" a few pages ago.  It sure would be nice to see you retract those statements.

Well..."can't wait to see" is merely an expression.  I do wonder what apologists might do with many things said in the interview.  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

It "didn't happen" because Ritner is ill.  But somehow you still managed to find a way to disparage and mischaracterize Muhlestein (and continue to do so).

I don't think that's a fair representation.  I did not disparage him, nor mischaracterize.  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

It's happening all the time.  Apologists "change some minds" on a regular basis.  Those who are implacably hostile toward the Church will remain unconvinced, but that's hardly surprising.

Which minds have been changed to name a few?  Very few from the critical side if any.  If there are any, it might also mean they simply aren't up on the scholarship...but who knows.  I'm not sure who you have in mind.  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

But in the end, you more or less have a point.  Apologists aren't really trying to "change some minds."  They are presenting secondary/supplemental arguments for issues that are fundamentally and primarily presented as spiritual / religious truth claims.  We don't want people to join the Church because "apologists" have "change{d} some minds."  We want members and investigators to walk primarily and predominantly by faith.

I'd say, great to that.  But then we have a bunch of apologetic arguments that simply don't seem to be up to snuff.  They play in the realm of "we don't really know..." and "it's quite possible that this nearly unthought of thing could have happened ..."  but that's not really arguing for evidence, it's simply arguing to say something like, "anything is possible".  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

So if apologists aren't "chang{ing} some minds," perhaps that's because they are not really trying to.  “Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.”  Austin Farrer, “The Christian Apologist,” in Light on C.S. Lewis, ed. Jocelyn Gibb (1965), 26.

Problem here is in these technical fields and issues...most people aren't really diving deep enough to know if the defenses are legitimate.  It really only takes, for many believers, someone to offer a defense, no matter if that defense would pass scholarly muster.  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

And some critics will turn into apologists.  Paul and Alma are well-known examples.  

I mean in the year 2020, or possibly back to 2018 type of time frame.  I'm not talking about pre-scientific revolution or pre-enlightenment.  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

There really isn't symmetry here.  It's much easier to tear something down than to build it up.  So the apologists have a markedly more difficult job.  being a critic is easy by comparison.

It certainly is much easier to go with the position with all the logic and evidence.  Of course its hard to fight against logic and evidence...I don't wish that on anyone, honestly.  

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

I sort of do, too.  I have some thoughts as to why that happens with some, but not with others.

Earlier this year I went to lunch with a long-time friend ("Tom") who has become extremely hostile to the Church.  We ended up speaking for several hours.  The conversation remained civil, but we still spoke plainly about our respective positions.  Tom repeatedly insisted that his departure from the Church was "not a choice." 

After a while, I said something like "Tom, it seems like your position about the Church is that those who are like you, who have researched and investigated its history and doctrines, have only two options.  The first option is stay in the Church by becoming a party to its lies and deceits and frauds.  Profound dishonesty, and perhaps even some evil, is required for this, since remaining in the Church after learning of its history requires members to continue to advance the teachings of the Church, which are based on lies.  The second option is to leave the Church."

Tom thought for a moment, and then said "Yes.  That's right.  Those are the only two options."

I then asked "Then how do you account for me?  I've studied the Church quite a bit.  Nothing you've said during the last few hours is new to me.  Are you saying I am therefore profoundly dishonest in staying in the Church and continuing to have a testimony of it?"

Tom said "No."

I responded "I appreciate that.  But again, if there are only two options, to leave or else to stay and become a liar, and if I am not a liar, and if I haven't left, then how do you account for me?"

He did not respond.

We talked a bit longer.  Before we parted we hugged (in a manly way), and expressed our mutual affection and continuing friendship.  I concluded with "I hope you will in time consider the possibility that there is a third option.  That it is quite possible to know about the doctrines and history of the Church, including its errors and controversies, and still have a very strong testimony of its divinity and truthfulness.  There is still a choice to be made."

I could provide a "gish gallop" list of people who are very well-versed in the doctrines and history of the Church, and remain quite faithful and observant.  I know a number of such people personally (I even count myself as one).  I will go out on a limb and say that this does say something substantial.  There is ample room for a person to have an informed, and still faithful and observant, perspective on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Thanks,

-Smac

I suppose if one would like to argue based on popularity or numbers, the critic's side would win again hands down.  but that is fallacy...so the critics simply have to settle with winning by logic and evidence.  It certainly doesn't matter who decides against logic and evidence.  They could be as smart as Jesus (I mean the Jesus you believe is real) and still fail to side with logic and evidence.  Doesn't really matter.

Thanks for the story about Tom.  I'm glad you can put aside differences well enough to hug an apostate.  My mom does that too, each time I see her.  

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7 hours ago, stemelbow said:

He's done a ton of research on the matter and he's either been ignored, disrespected

How does a request to engage all of the evidence and arguments in a book format rather than a cheesy debate qualify as "ignored" or "disrespected"?

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2 hours ago, InCognitus said:

How does a request to engage all of the evidence and arguments in a book format rather than a cheesy debate qualify as "ignored" or "disrespected"?

Ritner was ignored and disrespected when his research was relied upon and plagiarized without citation. 

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On 9/13/2020 at 12:43 PM, why me said:

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… 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.

This is kind of like saying that young-earth creationism is intellectually impressive because evolutionary biologists keep trying to refute it. Actually, if you're talking about Egyptologists dealing with the Book of Abraham, or archaeologists specializing in the Americas, they don't deal with the Book of Abraham or Book of Mormon all that often. (Scholars who study Mormonism itself are obviously another matter.) Before Ritner got involved, about twenty years ago, there were only two major episodes of Egyptological involvement with the book: the Spalding letter in 1912, and the rediscovery of the surviving papyri in 1968. In the former case, Spalding was a genuine anti-Mormon sending the facsimiles to various Egyptologists of the time, and I suspect that for a lot of those Egyptologists it was the first they'd even heard of the book. Their responses dismissed the facsimiles completely. In the second case, Egyptologists' main interest was in the papyri themselves, and while their translations inevitably disagreed with the Book of Abraham, they tended to avoid criticizing the book explicitly, partly because Klaus Baer was on friendly terms with Hugh Nibley. And since Ritner got involved, it's mostly been a back-and-forth between him and Gee and Muhlestein. The vast majority of Egyptologists don't get involved, and when they do, they're interested in the Joseph Smith Papyri themselves, not the Book of Abraham.

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22 hours ago, InCognitus said:

How does a request to engage all of the evidence and arguments in a book format rather than a cheesy debate qualify as "ignored" or "disrespected"?

The problem I see with the book proposal is that it will take perhaps years to do and people want answers today.  Maybe the answers are already given in some other place but they need to be given again.  At present, it doesn't look good that Dr. Muhlestein doesn't want to engage immediately, showing point by point where Dr. Ritner is wrong or where Dr. Ritner is not giving the entire story, etc.  RFM boorishly challenged Dr. Muhlestein to come on his show and not at least giving answers in perhaps a friendly podcast seems to give the wrong impression about Dr. Muhlestein and his position.

Also, I don't think online debates are necessarily cheesy.  Scholars debate all the time or put forth their positions in online forums.  The presidential debates coming up in a few weeks will certainly be broadcast online in addition to television and radio.  While these perhaps might be cheesy, given who is participating, they are important regarding the upcoming vote in November.  Joe Rogan interviews tons of varied guests and these online shows aren't cheesy per se.  Just because it is online doesn't necessarily make the program unprofessional or unacademic.  Books aren't the only medium.

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David Bokavoy wrote the following on FB stating that he plans it seems to publish something on the BOA.

"

“And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.”
The description “of the Chaldeans” added to Ur designates Ur with southern Mesopotamia. All of the Genesis references to “Chaldees” derive from the Priestly source (for those familiar with the Documentary Hypothesis).
It’s difficult for scholars to date this material from the Pentateuch, but an early form of the text was probably composed during the sixth century BCE. With its elaborate depiction of priestly ordinances and rituals, the final form was most likely produced by priestly scribes seeking to preserve their understanding of Israelite history and the details pertaining to their temple worship. This may have been in response to the Babylonian destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 586 BCE and the Judean exile.
It makes sense, therefore, that P uses the description "Ur of the Chaldees," in connection with Abraham since this would reflect the fact that P was produced during the Neo-Babylonian, i.e. “Chaldean” king time period from 626-539 BCE. P was written at a time with “Chaldean” or Hebrew Kasdim connected with Babylon and Ur. However, the Chaldeans did not enter this area until approximately 1000 BCE. And this is VERY important.
Personally, I do not believe that Abraham was a real historical person. But those who want to place him into history typically date Abraham to the second millennium BCE, i.e. at least 1000 years before the area of Ur was ever called Ur of the Chaldeans. This means that the LDS Book of Abraham begins with an anachronism that shows that there is simply no way that Abraham himself could have ever written those words.
It is such a clear argument that even Mormon apologist Stephen Smoot writes the following in his BYU Studies article from 2017:
“Unlike the vague and contradictory details provided in Genesis, the Book of Abraham appears to ground Abraham’s Ur in Syria. The added geographical (Olishem/Ulišum) and cultural details (an Egyptian presence at Abraham’s homeland) in the Book of Abraham make a northern location for Ur essentially inescapable. At the same time, however, problems persist for the Book of Abraham. For one thing, its text’s mentioning of the Chaldeans, as with Genesis, is, according to our presently available evidence, probably anachronistic. Perhaps future findings will overturn this, but as things stand at the moment, this remains a problem for the Book of Abraham’s historicity (although not a fatal one). Latter-day Saints approaching the historicity of the Book of Abraham should therefore be cautious and nuanced in how they evaluate the text’s historical claims. On the other hand, the explicit naming of Olishem/ Ulišum in the Book of Abraham, as well as the depiction of an Egyptian presence in the northern Levant during the time of Abraham, reinforces its historicity. These added details missing from the Genesis narrative about the life of Abraham not only draw our attention to the north as we search for Abraham’s homeland, but they also complicate attempts to dismiss the Book of Abraham as pseudepigrapha”
Now, for those who followed my previous post, you’ll know that Smoot is incorrect in this statement. The place name he is referring to that apologists link with the BofA term Olishem is the Akkadian word “Ulisum.” Notice, however, that Smoot included a little triangle above the letter “s.” Do you know why? Because that character would make the Akkadian “s” an “sh” sound, which would be a stronger link with the Book of Abraham word “Olishem.”
There are different types of “s’s” in Akkadian, and the one used in the proper noun “Ulisum” is simply an “s,” not an “sh,” so this is a misrepresentation of the term by Smoot that makes the world look more similar to the Book of Abraham term than it really is.
As I explained in my previous post, the only linguistic connection between Olishem and Ulisum is the syllable –li. So there is simply no way to seriously link these two terms, which means that contrary to Smoot’s argument, we are in reality only left with the opening anachronism, which shows that the text is not ancient.
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3 hours ago, aussieguy55 said:

David Bokavoy wrote the following on FB stating that he plans it seems to publish something on the BOA.

"

“And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.”
The description “of the Chaldeans” added to Ur designates Ur with southern Mesopotamia. All of the Genesis references to “Chaldees” derive from the Priestly source (for those familiar with the Documentary Hypothesis).
It’s difficult for scholars to date this material from the Pentateuch, but an early form of the text was probably composed during the sixth century BCE. With its elaborate depiction of priestly ordinances and rituals, the final form was most likely produced by priestly scribes seeking to preserve their understanding of Israelite history and the details pertaining to their temple worship. This may have been in response to the Babylonian destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 586 BCE and the Judean exile.
It makes sense, therefore, that P uses the description "Ur of the Chaldees," in connection with Abraham since this would reflect the fact that P was produced during the Neo-Babylonian, i.e. “Chaldean” king time period from 626-539 BCE. P was written at a time with “Chaldean” or Hebrew Kasdim connected with Babylon and Ur. However, the Chaldeans did not enter this area until approximately 1000 BCE. And this is VERY important.
Personally, I do not believe that Abraham was a real historical person. But those who want to place him into history typically date Abraham to the second millennium BCE, i.e. at least 1000 years before the area of Ur was ever called Ur of the Chaldeans. This means that the LDS Book of Abraham begins with an anachronism that shows that there is simply no way that Abraham himself could have ever written those words.
It is such a clear argument that even Mormon apologist Stephen Smoot writes the following in his BYU Studies article from 2017:
“Unlike the vague and contradictory details provided in Genesis, the Book of Abraham appears to ground Abraham’s Ur in Syria. The added geographical (Olishem/Ulišum) and cultural details (an Egyptian presence at Abraham’s homeland) in the Book of Abraham make a northern location for Ur essentially inescapable. At the same time, however, problems persist for the Book of Abraham. For one thing, its text’s mentioning of the Chaldeans, as with Genesis, is, according to our presently available evidence, probably anachronistic. Perhaps future findings will overturn this, but as things stand at the moment, this remains a problem for the Book of Abraham’s historicity (although not a fatal one). Latter-day Saints approaching the historicity of the Book of Abraham should therefore be cautious and nuanced in how they evaluate the text’s historical claims. On the other hand, the explicit naming of Olishem/ Ulišum in the Book of Abraham, as well as the depiction of an Egyptian presence in the northern Levant during the time of Abraham, reinforces its historicity. These added details missing from the Genesis narrative about the life of Abraham not only draw our attention to the north as we search for Abraham’s homeland, but they also complicate attempts to dismiss the Book of Abraham as pseudepigrapha”
Now, for those who followed my previous post, you’ll know that Smoot is incorrect in this statement. The place name he is referring to that apologists link with the BofA term Olishem is the Akkadian word “Ulisum.” Notice, however, that Smoot included a little triangle above the letter “s.” Do you know why? Because that character would make the Akkadian “s” an “sh” sound, which would be a stronger link with the Book of Abraham word “Olishem.”
There are different types of “s’s” in Akkadian, and the one used in the proper noun “Ulisum” is simply an “s,” not an “sh,” so this is a misrepresentation of the term by Smoot that makes the world look more similar to the Book of Abraham term than it really is.
As I explained in my previous post, the only linguistic connection between Olishem and Ulisum is the syllable –li. So there is simply no way to seriously link these two terms, which means that contrary to Smoot’s argument, we are in reality only left with the opening anachronism, which shows that the text is not ancient.

I notice Bokovoy didn't address the comment by Smoot that there was an Egyptian presence in the northern Levant during the time of Abraham...along with Olishem I do believe Ritner talks about that northern presence too, suggesting the apologists simply are mistaken.  I wonder why Smoot seems to have so easily misunderstood those points---although probably unintended by Bokovoy, the "even" kind of kills me.  I mean why not just say "It is such a clear argument that Mormon apologist Stephen Smoot writes".  The "even" got a sad chuckle from me.  " even Mormon apologist Stephen Smoot..." as if it's surprising a convincing argument is taken up by an apologist.  

Also I do believe Gee himself has decided to downplay his own argument about Olishem, so much so I think even he seems to acknowledge it's weakness and perhaps foolishness.  

Abraham, the man, the myth, the legend....It is absolutely nutty to think, sometimes, of some dude living thousands of years ago, being on the minds and in the breath of so many people today.  Somebody we couldn't possibly know anything about...and yet he's elevated to the status of being the patriarch of 3 great religions.  I suppose that's a testament to the credulous nature of religious adherents.  Now we have a book, which let's face it, most of Mormonism's adherents don't pay any attention to at all, (which I can't blame them...I mean it's kind of a useless story)  that describes something that simply could not have been.   Purportedly taken from Egyptian scrolls, by happenstance just popping up one day, which scrolls when translated, at least from what is extant, doesn't say anything near the story that is the BoA.  And yet we have a few of these Mormon adherents adamant that the story legitimately describes history including the true history of someone we have no knowledge of...I mean no knowledge at all.  The Bible records are simply repeating the myths and legends of someone who possibly lived a thousand years before.  

I mean believe what you wan to believe.  It seems to me the only reasonable way to think of Mormon scripture is in the non-literal, non-historical sense.  It is simply inspired fictional writings. 

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I wish I could get inside the head of some LDS who still believe the BOA is scripture. For example the recovered copy of Fac 1 has the head of the standing figure minus a head. Scholars outside LDS apologetic  sources tell us it should be the Jackal headed god Anubis. Baer said there are no fibers in the glue of the missing head suggesting there was never a head there in the first place. KerryM  suggests the figure on the couch has two hands in the air. Others say one hand and the other is the wing of a bird.I searched for  something on how the Egyptians drew hands and it was suggested the fingers were drawn of same length.  When you look at Fac 1  the fingers of the bottom hand look to be the same length where as with the upper "hand" this is not so. See some illustrations of this  in http://albertis-window.com/2012/04/egyptian-hands/      Note the hands of the god Horus.

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Ritner basically said the Joseph Smith could not read Egyptian and did not really know Egyptology. Of course, as Ritner acknowledged, Joseph could not have known much anyway, since access to knowledge of Egyptian was so limited. I don’t know why that requires Ritner to write a book with Muhlestein. Is Muhlestein going to argue that Joseph could read Egyptian and did know Egyptology? If not, what’s the point? If the Book of Abraham has little to do with Egyptology, I don’t see the point of having Egyptologists write on the Book of Abraham from an Egyptological perspective. It was one thing to do so when there seemed to be some question in people’s minds about the relationship (Egyptology and BoA). Now that this question is settled, it seems to me it is time to move on and explore the BoA in other ways.

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3 hours ago, Ramus Stein said:

Ritner basically said the Joseph Smith could not read Egyptian and did not really know Egyptology. Of course, as Ritner acknowledged, Joseph could not have known much anyway, since access to knowledge of Egyptian was so limited. I don’t know why that requires Ritner to write a book with Muhlestein. Is Muhlestein going to argue that Joseph could read Egyptian and did know Egyptology? If not, what’s the point? If the Book of Abraham has little to do with Egyptology, I don’t see the point of having Egyptologists write on the Book of Abraham from an Egyptological perspective. It was one thing to do so when there seemed to be some question in people’s minds about the relationship (Egyptology and BoA). Now that this question is settled, it seems to me it is time to move on and explore the BoA in other ways.

I think that's kind of what Ritner is thinking.  The research has been done and the apologists seem intent on mischaracterizing what has been settled and what has not.  So Ritner's desire to have a conversation seems far more appropriate and far more useful.  

It seems everyone agrees, though, that Joseph didn't know how to translate Egyptian.  The apologist position seems to be that the English story happened to magically (God caused the words to appear in his mind or something)  plop into his head.  So it appears if it's shown without question that there was absolutely no Abraham story on the papyrus, even the missing stuff, somehow, it wouldn't matter.  That's why it seems Muhlestein is intent on suggesting the BoA is not based on Egyptology in any way.  If Muhlestein is correct in that, then what would be the point of him teaming up with Ritner, like Muhlestein an Egyptologist, to write a book about the BoA?  To finalize that statement?  The book would be absolutely useless if Muhlestein is correct.  What an odd venture he proposes.  

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If some ancient Egyptian were to make on about Abraham what are they to do? The language was highly ritualistic and not exactly flexible in the way we are used to. Any hypothetical facismile about Abraham would likely reuse, appropriate, and re-purpose the standard "script". Part of the difficulty in claiming that Abraham is not possible in the facsimiles is that even if he was, would we be able to recognize it? And part of the difficulty in claiming that Abraham is in this one exception is that, how would one persuade that it is an exception?

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It's simple to me now, Joseph used the papyri as a vehicle to restore the church on earth, just as he used other surrounding objects/readings. 

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1 hour ago, Nofear said:

If some ancient Egyptian were to make on about Abraham what are they to do? The language was highly ritualistic and not exactly flexible in the way we are used to. Any hypothetical facismile about Abraham would likely reuse, appropriate, and re-purpose the standard "script". Part of the difficulty in claiming that Abraham is not possible in the facsimiles is that even if he was, would we be able to recognize it? And part of the difficulty in claiming that Abraham is in this one exception is that, how would one persuade that it is an exception?

Sure, on this reasoning, anything's possible.  But that hardly means there's good evidence or something significant to consider the claim that the BoA tells a true story of some guy named Abraham, written by him. 

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1 hour ago, Nofear said:

If some ancient Egyptian were to make on about Abraham what are they to do? The language was highly ritualistic and not exactly flexible in the way we are used to. Any hypothetical facismile about Abraham would likely reuse, appropriate, and re-purpose the standard "script". Part of the difficulty in claiming that Abraham is not possible in the facsimiles is that even if he was, would we be able to recognize it? And part of the difficulty in claiming that Abraham is in this one exception is that, how would one persuade that it is an exception?

What do you mean by "highly ritualistic?"

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14 hours ago, Nofear said:

If some ancient Egyptian were to make on about Abraham what are they to do? The language was highly ritualistic and not exactly flexible in the way we are used to. Any hypothetical facismile about Abraham would likely reuse, appropriate, and re-purpose the standard "script".

If you're implying that conventional hieroglyphs couldn't have conveyed the contents of the Book of Abraham and would have to be adapted in some way, that's simply not true. Hieroglyphs were simply a means of rendering the spoken Egyptian language (though with very inefficient and conservative orthography), and the Egyptian language was about as flexible as any spoken language of its time.

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