Jump to content

Robert Ritner - Book of Abraham Interview


Recommended Posts

9 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Huh?  Is that some acknowledgement that the apologist positions is weak at best?

How on earth are you getting that from what I wrote? 

9 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I think there are tons as specific points that they need to zero in on.  It seems to me to some extent the apologist keepontalking past the critiques rather than engaging.

How much have you engaged with the papers the apologists have written? It doesn't seem like a lot, because you still seem to be hung up on "the Book of the Dead doesn't talk about Abraham" which is old news by now. We've been on this treadmill for a century. How familiar are you with the debate as it is today? 

13 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Of apologist don't want to engage directly.  

You know what hasn't been engaged directly, to my knowledge? Kevin Barney's proposal of a Jewish redactor. Robert Smith's oft-linked assessment of the Abrahamic facsimiles and traditions. Sam Brown's discussion of textual glossalalia as revelatory mechanism. These things are all significant. It's not like Ritner has a monopoly on unaddressed arguments. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

I'm thinking Dr Peterson has debated since making that case about James White.  I seem to recall he did anyway.

So, the invitation is not to debate in some formal sense, of course.  It is to have a direct dialogue.

I'm not sure I understand the distinction.

1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

I think that's kind of Ritner to do seeing as there's been bad blood on both sides. 

I don't see "kindness" in Ritner's treatment of the BOA, or of Gee.

1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

But I'm feeling pretty confident Gee nor Muhlestein will accept the kind invite.  If they respond at all, which they might not, it'll be to decline.  Too bad, though.  Could be a step to getting to the bottom of their big disagreements.  

Both sides have written extensively on the subject.  I think a public debate moderated by the execrable Consig is not intended to facilitate reasoned, evidence-based discourse about the substantive issues with the Book of Abraham.  Dehlin is an intellectual lightweight and would have nothing meaningful to contribute to such a discussion/debate, Consig absolutely hates the Church, and Ritner has already published his views.  So I just can't grant an assumption of good will or good faith in the invitation.

Thanks,

-Smac

  • Like 1
Link to post
11 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

How on earth are you getting that from what I wrote? 

How on earth are you not getting that?  I don't know.  I was curious why someone would fear what the naysayers say after discussing something.  

11 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

How much have you engaged with the papers the apologists have written? It doesn't seem like a lot, because you still seem to be hung up on "the Book of the Dead doesn't talk about Abraham" which is old news by now. We've been on this treadmill for a century. How familiar are you with the debate as it is today? 

All caught up.  Just playing.  I'm mostly caught up.  I'm sure there's some that I"m missing, because my interest level on this topic has been quite low for most of my time discussing church related matters.  Of course the Book of the Dead doesn't mention Abraham.  How familiar are you?  

11 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

You know what hasn't been engaged directly, to my knowledge? Kevin Barney's proposal of a Jewish redactor.

I'd have to refamiliarize myself with this position.  I think I read it many moons ago.  For instance, what evidence does Barney identify to suggest a Jewish redactor.  

11 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Robert Smith's oft-linked assessment of the Abrahamic facsimiles and traditions. Sam Brown's discussion of textual glossalalia as revelatory mechanism. These things are all significant. It's not like Ritner has a monopoly on unaddressed arguments. 

I'd need to understand the significance of these.  

Link to post
3 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I'm not sure I understand the distinction.

The distinction between formal debate and dialogue?  I could link some sources for you to read if you want:

 

Debate:

Quote

A formal debate involves two sides: one supporting a resolution and one opposing it. Such a debate is bound by rules previously agreed upon. Debates may be judged in order to declare a winning side. 

https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/socstud/frame_found_sr2/tns/tn-13.pdf#:~:text=A formal debate involves two sides%3A one supporting,societies to explore and resolve issues and problems.

Dialogue:

Quote

conversation between two or more persons.

I'm guessing you know this.  But you know, being helpful where I can.  

3 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I don't see "kindness" in Ritner's treatment of the BOA, or of Gee.

That's the point, Smac.  Neither has been kind, per se, to each other, in their attempts to talk indirectly.  Thus its a kind offer to meet and talk it out.  Of course Gee will decline, if he hasn't already.  

3 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Both sides have written extensively on the subject.  I think a public debate moderated by the execrable Consig is not intended to facilitate reasoned, evidence-based discourse about the substantive issues with the Book of Abraham.  Dehlin is an intellectual lightweight and would have nothing meaningful to contribute to such a discussion/debate, Consig absolutely hates the Church, and Ritner has already published his views.  So I just can't grant an assumption of good will or good faith in the invitation.

Thanks,

-Smac

I think you've mischaracterized everyone.  As such no wonder why you find it unhelpful.  YOu simply seem to really dislike many people involved.  

I personally think it'd be nice.  And I also think all parties would behave quite well, and it could go a long way in moving the discussion on the topic forward.  But I apparently have too much faith in my fellow man?  

Link to post
23 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

How on earth are you not getting that?  I don't know.  I was curious why someone would fear what the naysayers say after discussing something.  

Let me repeat what I said: "Nothing of substance is lost. Dehlin and RFM are just throwing another gauntlet around which will then become r/exmormon fodder for mocking the Mopologists from TSCC. And, after the furor passes, the number  of people who give a darn will remain at 0."

I'm don't care about the mockery that r/exmormon denizens will throw around. Like I said, "after the furor passes, the number of people who give a darn will remain at 0." They can get in a circle and pat each other on the back all they want. That's what this whole thing is about. Everyone knows that a Gee/Muhlestein/Ritner meeting moderated by the podcast peanut gallery will generate more heat than light. The arguments about the Book of Abraham have been put in print for a long time now.  A face-to-face confrontation will be more about showmanship, physical presence, charisma, and framing, than actual scholarship. It's gladiatorial entertainment and nothing more. Dehlin and RFM know that, and they know that Gee and Muhlestein won't take the bait. So a thread on r/exmormon will be started gloating about the "Mopologist cowardice," a great time will be had by all, and nothing will change. This is posturing. 

48 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

All caught up.  Just playing.  I'm mostly caught up.  I'm sure there's some that I"m missing, because my interest level on this topic has been quite low for most of my time discussing church related matters.  Of course the Book of the Dead doesn't mention Abraham.  How familiar are you?  

Pretty familiar, though I always have more reading to do. 

48 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I'd have to refamiliarize myself with this position.  I think I read it many moons ago.  For instance, what evidence does Barney identify to suggest a Jewish redactor.  

Barney draws on precedents of Jewish Egyptians taking Egyptian imagery and themes and reformatting them to convey Jewish doctrine and teachings and argues that this could well be the case with the Book of Abraham: that we are translating a Jewish text which has repurposed Egyptian images to convey a Jewish message. Here is a summary: https://bycommonconsent.com/2013/06/27/the-book-of-abraham/

He wrote a paper called "The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources" which is a more scholarly approach but the Maxwell Institute Publications links are notoriously fickle and I can't find it on Scholar's Archive at the moment. 

55 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I'd need to understand the significance of these.

Robert cites his article in almost every Book of Abraham thread. He analyzes Joseph's interpretations of the facsimiles and Egyptological themes throughout the Book of Abraham. It's a good paper and as far as I know has not been countered.

  • Like 4
Link to post
1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

The distinction between formal debate and dialogue?  I could link some sources for you to read if you want:

 

Debate:

https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/socstud/frame_found_sr2/tns/tn-13.pdf#:~:text=A formal debate involves two sides%3A one supporting,societies to explore and resolve issues and problems.

Dialogue:

I'm guessing you know this.  But you know, being helpful where I can.  

That's the point, Smac.  Neither has been kind, per se, to each other, in their attempts to talk indirectly.  Thus its a kind offer to meet and talk it out.  Of course Gee will decline, if he hasn't already.  

I think you've mischaracterized everyone.  As such no wonder why you find it unhelpful.  YOu simply seem to really dislike many people involved.  

I personally think it'd be nice.  And I also think all parties would behave quite well, and it could go a long way in moving the discussion on the topic forward.  But I apparently have too much faith in my fellow man?  

There are individuals who see all discussions as debates and will twist anything knowingly to make points.

Link to post
17 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

It's gladiatorial entertainment and nothing more

Exactly !

  • Like 1
Link to post
2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

Let me repeat what I said: "Nothing of substance is lost. Dehlin and RFM are just throwing another gauntlet around which will then become r/exmormon fodder for mocking the Mopologists from TSCC. And, after the furor passes, the number  of people who give a darn will remain at 0."

Gotcha.  I was thinking you were saying some people on some corner of the internet would mock Gee and Muhlesteins' contributions.  Misread on my part.  

2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

I'm don't care about the mockery that r/exmormon denizens will throw around. Like I said, "after the furor passes, the number of people who give a darn will remain at 0." They can get in a circle and pat each other on the back all they want. That's what this whole thing is about. Everyone knows that a Gee/Muhlestein/Ritner meeting moderated by the podcast peanut gallery will generate more heat than light.

Nope.  I think it could lead to a much better understanding of the subject matter for them and for listeners.  Thinking a conversation amongst those who disagree would necessarily "generate more heat than light" feels too cynical to me.  As I told smac, I guess I have more faith in my human bros and sis' to think that way.  

2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

The arguments about the Book of Abraham have been put in print for a long time now.  A face-to-face confrontation will be more about showmanship, physical presence, charisma, and framing, than actual scholarship.

Again, such cynicism is unhelpful.  I think we should encourage them, not view them with our skepticism.  

2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

It's gladiatorial entertainment and nothing more. Dehlin and RFM know that, and they know that Gee and Muhlestein won't take the bait. So a thread on r/exmormon will be started gloating about the "Mopologist cowardice," a great time will be had by all, and nothing will change. This is posturing. 

That's cynical too...at least too much for my tastes.  I think Dehlin and RFM, particularly RFM, would love to be witness to such a conversation.  That want to see the engagement, obviously.  

2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

Pretty familiar, though I always have more reading to do. 

Barney draws on precedents of Jewish Egyptians taking Egyptian imagery and themes and reformatting them to convey Jewish doctrine and teachings and argues that this could well be the case with the Book of Abraham: that we are translating a Jewish text which has repurposed Egyptian images to convey a Jewish message. Here is a summary: https://bycommonconsent.com/2013/06/27/the-book-of-abraham/

Thanks.  

I'm not sure this amounts to evidence:

Quote

So, I wondered, what if Abraham composed his text in, say, Akkadian written on clay tablets, which would make more sense for a Semite in the Middle Bronze Age than brush and ink on papyrus?  And what if the vignettes underlying the Facsimiles had a separate provenance than the text itself?  If the text came into the care of an Egyptian-Jew in the Greco-Roman era (and I fancifully labeled this hypothetical scribe J-Red, for “Jewish Redactor”), he may have adopted or adapted Egyptian vignettes as illustrations of the Abraham story contained in the text.  This may sound fanciful at first, but I then went on to show several examples from that time and place where this is exactly what happened.  For instance, in the Testament of Abraham, the vignette accompanying chapter 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead is reimagined in Semitic terms.  Osiris sitting on the throne of judgment becomes Abel; the Egyptian gods become Semitic angels; the scribe Thoth becomes the biblical Enoch.  So I posited as a possibility that, “As the vignette for chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead is to the Testament of Abraham, so are the Facsimiles to the Book of Abraham.”

It looks like he's basically suggesting it's possible.  Why would anyone feel the need to address his stated possibility?  In the realm of possible, I suppose anything could have happened.  But, we don't simply  see people feeling obliged to address every possible scenario anyone out there posits.  

2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

He wrote a paper called "The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources" which is a more scholarly approach but the Maxwell Institute Publications links are notoriously fickle and I can't find it on Scholar's Archive at the moment. 

Robert cites his article in almost every Book of Abraham thread. He analyzes Joseph's interpretations of the facsimiles and Egyptological themes throughout the Book of Abraham. It's a good paper and as far as I know has not been countered.

Thanks.  I"m sure I"ve read it.  I'll see if I can get to it again.  

Link to post
2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

There are individuals who see all discussions as debates and will twist anything knowingly to make points.

Let's run for the hills then.  If someone disagrees with me and does so quite forcefully I might as well run away and avoid direct encounters?  Sounds like the way to go to me.  

Link to post

It seems that some of you who believe the apologists are on the mark, should be excited to see them put Ritner/Dehlin/RFM in their place.

Link to post
On 8/5/2020 at 3:06 PM, Kevin Christensen said:

On my bookshelves, several books, journals, and articles written by very well informed people (including some who have personally studied Egyptology), a few videos, all discussing various aspects of the story and implications of the existence of the Book of Abraham.  (Nibley, Gee, Haglud, Muhlstein, Tvedtnes, Barney, Ostler, Rhodes, Robert F. Smith, Kevin Barney offering a fresh approach, Stephen Ricks, Steve Smoot, Schryver, etc.) Plus I have several decades or experience with people who confidently assure me that as far as the claims of Joseph Smith go, "There is nothing to see here. Move along."  In response to such charges, I have consistently found that good things happen if I 1) keep my eyes open, 2) give things time, and 3) re-examine my own assumptions now and then.  The alternative is 1) Not explore, 2) Insist on final answers now, and 3) Never examine my own assumptions.  I have learned that nothing good emerges from the second alternative.

I've listened to several hours of Dehlin talking to experts, and have had a few exchanges with him over the years.  Frankly, what that experience has taught me is not to trust him as either un-biased or particularly well-informed. He strikes me as all-too-Trump-like to take seriously on intellectual issues.  For instance, if you go back and look at his Mormon Stories interview with Michael Coe, you might still see in the comments where he deleted my posts about various bits of misinformation (for example, I pointed out that the Book of Mormon did not mention brass helmets or iron arrowheads, so that undermined Dehlin's and Coe's claims that a lack of evidence for those things disproved the Book of Mormon), and he left the comments of a few posters who threatened to destroy my reputation for daring to show up.  My exposing his ignorance on a few points led him to censor me, despite his claims to want free and open discussion.  Outrageous threats pointed at me, however, were just peachy. And while he swallowed everything Coe said, no matter how ill-informed, during the Brant Gardner interview, he protests constantly.  (But, but, but...)  My listening to his interview with William D. Russell led me to follow up reading, and eventually I wrote an essay in The FARMS Review 22/2 on how Russell's 1982 Sunstone essay on Book of Mormon historicity managed to be wrong about everything.  So I'm very skeptical about Dehlin, and have significant basis for that skepticism.

As far as Ritner goes, I know who he is, and have read some of what he says in other venues.  I expect this interview will get hashed out over time, and as my own time and interests permit, I will assess the emerging pro and con. 

I'm not particularly scandalized by the discussion of the way that some of the facsimilies have had controversial reconstructions, (for instance, some random characters added to the rim of #2 willy nilly to make a complete picture for publication), since I've been aware of that sort of thing since Ashment and Nibley began serious discussion of that issue in Sunstone decades ago.  I expect that I would be very surprised if there is any serious discussion of the things that I personally find most interesting about the Book of Abraham and the Facsimilies and the bits of papyrus we have.  For instance, I think of Nibley in Faith of An Observer, walking through the Temple at Dendarah, and showing scenes akin to all three facsimiles, a sacrifice, a tour of the heavens, and then coronation.  And I think of the first English translation of the Apocalypse of Abraham appearing in the Improvement Era, and the passages so reminscent of our Book of Abraham discussing pre-existence. And links between the Testament of Abraham and the Egyptian Book of the Dead.  And the notion of Kolob compared to passages in Hamlet's Mill, on archaic astronomy, and the importance in that scheme of the Precession of the Equinoxes. So Nibley in a 1980 paper on the Facsimilies noted this:

That sort of thing, I think it pretty cool, if you know anything about the Precession and Archaic astronomy and the Book of Abraham. 

And Robert F. Smith will likely come link his essay on the topic of the Book of Abraham historicity, which is far more learned and powerful than anything I can put forward.

 I make some claim to being a fairly well informed lay member, but not an expert on that particular topic, so I'm not about to try to settle everything here.  I'm just saying, that personally, I'm confident that there is more to see and say on the topic than I am likely to get from Dehlin and and Ritner.  So I will let all of that emerge over time, as people who are more expert than I weigh in over time.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Gosh, and not once did you use the words:  decimate, as in completely decimates the Book of Abraham (oh, you need to repeat this kind of statement often because it builds the power of your argument - you have be decimated. See, don't you already feel like you have destroyed the opposition?) or fraud - call the topic in question a fraud because that immediately ends the debate. You are a fraud, he is a fraud, the Book of Abraham is a fraud. 

The last thing will be difficult for you to do, but anything is possible. Be relatively ignorant of the subject and just state you are trying to help the blind to see. Don't really study anything out, keep a closed mind except for your chosen argument - its a fraud. 

Have a good one,

Link to post
1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

Let's run for the hills then.  If someone disagrees with me and does so quite forcefully I might as well run away and avoid direct encounters?  Sounds like the way to go to me.  

My decision was to put the person on ignore, or just never respond to him, unless your conscience tells you otherwise.  Some make posts so long, (I saw one the other day over 2500 words- I know because I copied it into an app that counts words,  over 38k characters) that 

https://wordcounter.io/faq/how-many-pages-is-2500-words/

it is not possible to reasonably respond because so much is illogical it is like trying to drink from a firehose, and so much must remain unanswered, that it appears to be tacit agreement.  It's like shooting a bb gun vs a full auto Kalashnikov! ;)

That is your decision, though obviously!

Life in the big city! 

If you choose to "live" there, it includes benefits but also the possibility of getting mugged :)

Cheers!! 😱

Edited by mfbukowski
  • Like 1
Link to post
1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

Gotcha.  I was thinking you were saying some people on some corner of the internet would mock Gee and Muhlesteins' contributions.  Misread on my part.  

Nope.  I think it could lead to a much better understanding of the subject matter for them and for listeners.  Thinking a conversation amongst those who disagree would necessarily "generate more heat than light" feels too cynical to me.  As I told smac, I guess I have more faith in my human bros and sis' to think that way.  

Again, such cynicism is unhelpful.  I think we should encourage them, not view them with our skepticism.  

That's cynical too...at least too much for my tastes.  I think Dehlin and RFM, particularly RFM, would love to be witness to such a conversation.  That want to see the engagement, obviously.  

Thanks.  

I'm not sure this amounts to evidence:

It looks like he's basically suggesting it's possible.  Why would anyone feel the need to address his stated possibility?  In the realm of possible, I suppose anything could have happened.  But, we don't simply  see people feeling obliged to address every possible scenario anyone out there posits.  

Thanks.  I"m sure I"ve read it.  I'll see if I can get to it again.  

" Coming to you from behind enemy lines" isn't  cynical?

  • Like 1
Link to post
6 hours ago, smac97 said:

I'm not sure I understand the distinction.

I don't see "kindness" in Ritner's treatment of the BOA, or of Gee.

Both sides have written extensively on the subject.  I think a public debate moderated by the execrable Consig is not intended to facilitate reasoned, evidence-based discourse about the substantive issues with the Book of Abraham.  Dehlin is an intellectual lightweight and would have nothing meaningful to contribute to such a discussion/debate, Consig absolutely hates the Church, and Ritner has already published his views.  So I just can't grant an assumption of good will or good faith in the invitation.

Thanks,

-Smac

"Execrable?" Really? That's a bit of a cheap shot, don't you think?

  • Like 1
Link to post
2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

There it is. 

This, in a nutshell, is why we aren't interested. Clearly the point of this is for someone to get put in their place. Forgive us for not wanting to produce the next patch of soundbites and videos for the Bloggernacle to regurgitate for eternity. 

Only a fool thinks that a person-to-person debate is a superior form of getting to truth, or even a mildly passable one. Written exchanges, the type which we already have, permit deeper development of thoughts and arguments, a broader range of sources, and more time to flesh out and fully treat ideas, among other benefits. These things are not available to podcast debates. What are the advantages to podcast debates? Gotcha moments and the exaltation of showmanship. Why give people time to digest information and consider a response when you can put them on the spot? Why give people sources to consider when you can reduce the breadth of the discussion to he-said/she-said? Well you do it if you want what comes in to replace those things: soundbite-worthy quotes, slips of the tongue, gotcha moments, shallow commentary, and video clips that you can replay for your supporters ad nauseum for fun and profit. See here for a case study for why we see this as a no-win scenario. 

There's better ways to get actual information. 

 

Don't go by me, I'm low on the totem pole. 

Link to post

Facsimile 2 Figure 5, 6 and 7 are the same as that two Hypocephalus

Louvre N 3527 Musee du ouvre /C:Decamps

Turin cat.no.2321 Musei Antichita Egizie di Torino

Found in Some Reflections on the funerary equipment  of Paiuhor  Tamas Mekis.

 

 

Link to post
7 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Don't go by me, I'm low on the totem pole. 

Sorry, I let my temper get away from me a bit. I apologize. 

Link to post
8 minutes ago, aussieguy55 said:

Facsimile 2 Figure 5, 6 and 7 are the same as that two Hypocephalus

Louvre N 3527 Musee du ouvre /C:Decamps

Turin cat.no.2321 Musei Antichita Egizie di Torino

Found in Some Reflections on the funerary equipment  of Paiuhor  Tamas Mekis.

 

 

That's interesting. What did he say it meant?

Link to post
16 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Sorry, I let my temper get away from me a bit. I apologize. 

No problem, OGHoosier. If I were in your shoes I'd probably act the same.

Link to post

When one looks at the examples of these scenes such on figures  5, 6 & 7 on Fac 2 they are similar to Turin cat 2321 Museo Antichita Egizie Torino. In fac 1 Smith wrote " Representss God sitting upon his throne revealing through the heavens the grand key-words of the Priesthood; as, also, the sign of the Holy Ghost unto Abraham in the form of a dove"   the figure on the throne as the same. You look at the "dove" however in the example  In Turin cat. it is a snake with legs. The same occurs in Hypocephalus Louvre N 32 Musee du Louvre /Decamp. If you look at what is found in No. 7 you could think it was a dove.Everything else found in 5,  6 & 7in the BOA  fac 2 is the same in both the above mentioned examples. The standing figure with what looks like a multiprong stick followed by a cow and four standing figures with heads of the four sons of Horus "In front of them the cow-goddess stands followed by an anthropomorphic  deity whose head is depicted as a wedjat-eye within a circle" 

Link to post
11 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

Written exchanges, the type which we already have, permit deeper development of thoughts and arguments, a broader range of sources, and more time to flesh out and fully treat ideas, among other benefits. These things are not available to podcast debates.

It is no coincidence that the podcast is the preferred medium of the apostate community. 

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
  • Like 2
Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...