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The characters Martin Harris took to Prof. Anton- which part or verse of the Book of Mormon are they?


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The characters Martin Harris took to Prof. Anton- which part of the Book of Mormon are they?

Any educated guesses by any of you or Nibley or Skousen or etc.?

Edited by nuclearfuels
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13 hours ago, nuclearfuels said:

The characters Martin Harris took to Prof. Anton- which part of the Book of Mormon are they?

Any educated guesses by any of you or Nibley or Skousen or etc.?

The part Nephi's toddler scribbled on.

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21 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

We don't have the Anthon Transcript, the copy taken by Harris to Anthon.  We know this because the descriptions Anthon gives do not come close to the Caractors Transcript (which is what scholars now call it).

Since the internal repetitions of groups of characters in the Caractors Transcript do not match any known set of repetitions inside the current BofM, it is possible that they were copied from part of the Book of Lehi (the section lost by Martin Harris), perhaps even the first page.  Moreover, non-LDS Egyptologist W. C. Hayes (Metropolitan Museum of Art) translated some of the first line of the Caractors Transcript over 60 years ago as hieratic Egyptian, but it was a date not matched in any part of the Book of Mormon.

The systematic nature of the Caractors Transcript is shown through its layout as two distinct chiasms by Wade Brown in 2001, and you can see them both online at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wPmvYinbbXLbvATnuksAOzZbmLLlL_H5/view?usp=sharing  .  The two chiasms are defined by repeating characters reading from R to L in the Transcript, and according to the two different sizes of script.  In addition, the second, partial chiasm has a small dash preceding each stich or line.  The person copying these characters did not realize that they had such internal structure.  As suggested by Egyptologist Hayes, the characters are easily recognized as hieratic Egyptian.  However, thus far, no one has been able to offer a complete translation.

Dude.

THanks!

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Sam and Polly Johnson published "Translation the Anthon Transcript" back in 1999.  They suggest it was Ether 6:3-13.

Their methodology is all over the place, drawing on numerous Old World and New World languages to find any hint of a match.  The methodology is much like the parallelomania used by many critics of the church suggesting Joseph Smith plagiarized from local sources.  John Gee also takes a dim view of their approach here:  https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1417&context=msr

That said, their end result is clever in its consistency.  Their approach reads straight through, and reuses the same symbols the same way throughout.  For example, the symbol that looks like a cursive L (except with a few bumps at the top), consistently fits as their "And it came to pass", fitting all the "And it came to pass" instance in Ether.

I've seen a second purported translation on the web, I recall it popping up in forums a few years ago.  I can't locate it now.  I just recall that it lacks any sense of consistency, and makes numerous leaps to suggest it contains text from disparate parts of the Book of Mormon. 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Also the characters that went with Martin had a translation.

the ones we know about do not, so they are not the original characters.

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On 1/17/2021 at 11:16 PM, helix said:

Sam and Polly Johnson published "Translation the Anthon Transcript" back in 1999.  They suggest it was Ether 6:3-13.

Their methodology is all over the place, drawing on numerous Old World and New World languages to find any hint of a match.  The methodology is much like the parallelomania used by many critics of the church suggesting Joseph Smith plagiarized from local sources.  John Gee also takes a dim view of their approach here:  https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1417&context=msr

That said, their end result is clever in its consistency.  Their approach reads straight through, and reuses the same symbols the same way throughout.  For example, the symbol that looks like a cursive L (except with a few bumps at the top), consistently fits as their "And it came to pass", fitting all the "And it came to pass" instance in Ether.

..................

That bumpy L you speak of appears several times in the Caractors Transcript:

8 ] n q BJ

which can be Egyptian hieratic s “man,” or late demotic ˁšЗ “many”

You refer to the Stan and Polly Johnson analysis, Translating the Anthon Transcript (Parowan, Utah: Ivory Books, 1999).  If their translation is in any sense correct, they must have analyzed the text of Ether 6:3-13 as two discrete chiasms, in addition to finding the requisite number of "it came to pass"es.  In other words, matching the chiastic analysis of the Caractors at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wPmvYinbbXLbvATnuksAOzZbmLLlL_H5/view?usp=sharing  .

The general issues are discussed by Book of Mormon Central, https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/what-do-we-know-about-the-anthon-transcript

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  • 3 weeks later...

That part of the record for the history of the church says:

64 - “I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been 
translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman 
celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the 
translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the 
Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that 
they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true 
characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they 
were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been 
translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and 
was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the 
young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. 
I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him.

65 - “He then said to me, ‘Let me see that certificate.’ I accordingly took it out 
of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that 
there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the 
plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were 
sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, ‘I cannot read a sealed 
book.’ I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon 
had said respecting both the characters and the translation.”

Regarding the standards for certifying something as authenticate in those days, what 
type of professor (as in Anton) and doctor (as in Mitchell) would provide a certificate 
of authenticity when they never saw the original characters on the plates from which 
they were supposedly copied from?

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47 minutes ago, theplains said:

Regarding the standards for certifying something as authenticate in those days, what 
type of professor (as in Anton) and doctor (as in Mitchell) would provide a certificate 
of authenticity when they never saw the original characters on the plates from which 
they were supposedly copied from?

These people evaluated the characters that were copied and presented to them for their opinion.  The certificate was for what was shown to them.   Where the characters came from seems irrelevant to the question of whether or not they are authentic characters. 

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FYI:
 

Quote

Until recently, the prevailing notion was that a document now housed in the archives of the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri, is the actual piece of paper shown by Harris to Anthon and others in New York. Letters recently found from Anthon indicate “it is virtually impossible to argue with certainty” that the transcript in Independence is the only one Anthon saw, Brother Bennett said. Moreover, recent research stemming from the Joseph Smith Papers project and based on handwriting analysis shows that the extant manuscript was likely not written by Joseph in 1828 but by John Whitmer in 1829 “and therefore could not have been the one displayed in New York City,” he added.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/speaker-gives-new-insights-on-martin-harris-1828-visit-to-charles-anthon?lang=eng

 

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And my favorite blog on the subject, from a non-member who investigates unknown texts:

Quote

In summary, probably the least controversial inference you can draw from the lettershapes is their post-1650 dating: the embellished “H” shape and the probable links with Rich-family shorthand letter-shapes indicate that this is in no way ancient.

In the absence of any other credible information, the most likely story I can reconstruct is that the “caractors” in the Anthon Transcript were copied in no particular order from a shorthand Bible (or possibly a shorthand diary), with various other letter-shapes added to make the overall alphabet look more ‘exotic’, or even “hieroglyphic” (even though, to our modern eyes, these singularly fail to have the desired effect). I would also be fairly unsurprised if the same shorthand Bible itself was subsequently used as a prop to convince skeptics – in short, that this was the Detroit Manuscript itself (but which, like the rest of the Anthon Transcript, subsequently disappeared from sight).


https://ciphermysteries.com/2009/06/01/the-anthon-transcript

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Additionally, here is the version of the story from Joseph's 1832 diary (spelling and grammar cleaned up). According to this entry, Martin didn't have a translation to show, just some characters. The translating didn't start until he got back.

 

Quote

[Martin Harris] immediately came to Susquehanna and said the Lord had shown him that he must go to New York City

 <with> some of the characters so we proceeded to copy some of them and he took his journey to the Eastern [Cities] and to the Learned <saying> read this I pray thee and the learned said I cannot but if he would bring the [plates] they would read it but the Lord had forbid it and he returned to me and gave them to <me> <to> translate and I said I cannot for I am not learned but the Lord had prepared spectacles

26

 for to read the Book therefore I commenced translating the characters and thus the [prophecy] of Isaiah was fulfilled which is written in the 29 chapter concerning the book.

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-summer-1832/5#full-transcript

 

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Lucy Smith's account also says that no translation had been done at the time Martin went to New York (spelling and grammar cleaned up):

 

Quote

It soon became necessary to take some measures to accomplish the translation of the record into English but he was instructed to take off a facsimile of the charecters <composing the alphabet> <which were called reformed egyptian> Alphabetically and send them to all the learned men that he could find and ask them for the translation of the same. Joseph was very solicitous about the work but as yet no means had come into his hands of accomplishing it.

===========================================

it was agreed that Martin Harris should follow him as soon as <Joseph> should have sufficient time to transcribe the Egyptian alphabet which  Mr. Harris  was to take to the east and through the country in every direction to all who were professed linguists to give them an opportunity of showing their talents— 

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/1#full-transcript

 

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18 hours ago, theplains said:

Regarding the standards for certifying something as authenticate in those days, what 
type of professor (as in Anton) and doctor (as in Mitchell) would provide a certificate 
of authenticity when they never saw the original characters on the plates from which 
they were supposedly copied from?

Hi Jim,

You may have a case with the actions of Professor Anton but I think you are
misreading verse 65.

"I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon 
had said respecting both the characters and the translation
.”

Anton had said "if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them".  This
is what the doctor was referring to. 

In short, neither of them could sincerely authenticate the characters without seeing
the plates first (which they never saw).

Pete

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Does everyone agree that there is simply no possible way for Anthon (or any other living person) to actually verify a translation of Reformed Egyptian -> English? I mean, Mormon himself said that "none other people" back then could read it, so how would it be possible for Anthon to figure it out? So any story that claims Anthon claimed he could verify the translation is either incorrect, or Anthon was lying or mistaken?

Edited by cinepro
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2 hours ago, cinepro said:

Does everyone agree that there is simply no possible way for Anthon (or any other living person) to actually verify a translation of Reformed Egyptian -> English? I mean, Mormon himself said that "none other people" back then could read it, so how would it be possible for Anthon to figure it out? So any story that claims Anthon claimed he could verify the translation is either incorrect, or Anthon was lying or mistaken?

Agree with the first sentence. But let’s back up a bit and forget reformed Egyptian and just ask if Anthon could have verified Egyptian -> English. My answer to that would be the same (no). I’m no expert, or even novice, on Egyptology or the history of Egyptological study, but my understanding is that interpreting anything Egyptian is more of a recent development, within the past 80 years or so. And, even then, I have a lot of questions about our assumptions regarding that.

In any case, I’m not suggesting this is exactly what happen, but merely a possibility (and you could even argue Occam’s razor), that Anthon was pretending  to understand what was going on rather than admit ignorance, the same way I’ve seen people feign expertise in my particular field when they either don’t want to admit that they have no idea what’s going on, or worse, don’t know that they don’t know. 

I could be wrong on the history, but my understanding is that Anthon didn’t find out about the angelic claims, but then retracted his verification after that. If true, that would fit with him not knowing the translation and feigning confidence, but then hearing the story of some dubious-sounding claims, and no longer wanting to lean a reputation up against something that wasn’t as it initially seemed. Like George Costanza and the Jon Voight car. 

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2 hours ago, cinepro said:

Does everyone agree that there is simply no possible way for Anthon (or any other living person) to actually verify a translation of Reformed Egyptian -> English?

A Reformed Egyptian to English translation would be impossible for him sure. But not all of the plates were Reformed Egyptian. According to the Book of Mormon, Mormon put the small plates with the big plates after finding them. It doesn't say that he transcribed from the small plates onto the big plates, or did a modernisation of language or anything. So if it was from the large plates abridgement then sure it might be RE, but if it was from the small plates it could be any point along a decent length of period over which a language was being modified.

 

8 hours ago, TheTanakas said:

"I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon 
had said respecting both the characters and the translation
.”

Anton had said "if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them".  This
is what the doctor was referring to. 

In short, neither of them could sincerely authenticate the characters without seeing
the plates first (which they never saw).

Why would "sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation" have anything to do with "if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them" which mentions neither characters or an existing translation?

That bit of v65 is clearly referring back to v64.

Quote

“I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him.

 

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On 2/20/2021 at 8:21 PM, JustAnAustralian said:

Why would "sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation" have anything to do with "if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them"

He withdrew his earlier sanctioned statement and replaced it with a caveat.

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4 minutes ago, TheTanakas said:

He withdrew his earlier sanctioned statement and replaced it with a caveat.

This is what v65 says

Quote

“He then said to me, ’Let me see that certificate.’ I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, ’I cannot read a sealed book.’ I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation.”

He tore up the certificate and wanted to translate the plates himself. Based on the v64 text he was perfectly happy to make the claims initially and even generate a certificate. Destroying the certificate, saying angels don't minister, and wanting to translate the plates himself doesn't change that.

Put simply if the characters and translation thereof were authentic and correct, then the source of the translation is irrelevant. The language in v65 is more closely aligned with the bolded bits in my v64 quote, than with someone wanting to translate themselves because they don't believe in angelic ministries.

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On 2/19/2021 at 5:44 PM, InCognitus said:

These people evaluated the characters that were copied and presented to them for their opinion.  The certificate was for what was shown to them.   Where the characters came from seems irrelevant to the question of whether or not they are authentic characters. 

You could bring a copy of characters or hieroglyphs you saw in a cave in Mexico to me
for certification but my certification would not be genuine unless I saw the same characters
in the same cave.

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On 2/25/2021 at 4:15 PM, InCognitus said:

That's just silly.  The certification from Professor Anthon was to the fact that they were "true characters", not whether they were copied correctly.  Look at the example below.  Are you telling me that if I took this to a Hebrew scholar to ask for a certification on whether or not they are true Hebrew characters, they wouldn't be able to do so without them seeing the original?

Professor Anthon did not see the plates so he could not sincerely validate if they were copied
correctly. 

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