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Kinderhook Plates Discovery damages BOA Missing Scroll and Catalyst Theories


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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, smac97 said:

"Missing catalyst theory?"  I assume you mean "missing papyrus theory?"

Smith and Cook's extrapolation is better than Gee's?  Hard to say, really.

Meanwhile, you are sliding on past the "couple of statements about 'rolls.'"  You are not addressing them.  From Gee:

Gee references these as "two rolls and more than one piece of other scattered papyri."  Do you dispute this summary?

More:

 

 

Do you dispute any of this?

More:

How do you reconcile your statement that "{w}e have the papyrus" with Gee's statement that what we have "all come from these mounted fragments from the end of the rolls; none of the rolls has been preserved" (emphasis added)?

More from Gee:

How do you reconcile your statement that "{w}e have the papyrus" with the eyewitness account stating that "some parts {of the papyri have been} entirely lost"?

More:

How do you reconcile your statement that "{w}e have the papyrus" with Gee's statement that the Vignette described by Haven "does not match any in the preserved Joseph Smith Papyri"?

More:

How do you reconcile your statement that "{w}e have the papyrus" with the historical record describing a portion of a vignette not extant in the fragments received from the MOA?

More:

How do you reconcile your statement that "{w}e have the papyrus" with the historical record showing some portions having been in the Wood Museum in Chicago?

FAIR presents a good summary of this issue, including a statement from Muhelstein that we may have as little as "2.5 percent of what Joseph originally had."  While us having only 2.5% of th papyrus seems like an extreme and may not be accurate, the same goes for your conclusory assertion that we have 100% of the papyrus.

As you like.

Thanks,

-Smac

Who are you quoting with "we have the papyrus"? As I said, there were two rolls, BofA and BofJ. Charlotte Haven's description, for example, fits with the BofJ. But yes, it's true that I think Gee's explanations of a missing scroll are problematic, at best (the man doesn't exactly have a great track record for honesty), though obviously they square with the reported two rolls, one of Joseph, one of Abraham. I just find it odd that we are reduced to saying "well, we don't know if it's an accurate translation because we don't have what he translated." But then we do have the facsimiles. The "translations" are anything but, and the things that make the papyrus "unique" are simply where Joseph Smith incorrectly filled in lacunae. This is not really in dispute. No matter what anyone says, the text "Isis the great, the god's mother" is not the name of a king.

Oh, and yes, Smith and Cook's calculations are better because math doesn't lie, and Gee's calculations made some obvious mathematical errors, which they have shown in their work. Gee insists there are (I'm quoting from memory) 41 feet of missing scrolls in the BofA roll. Again, bad math will get you that. 

Edited by jkwilliams
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4 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Who are you quoting with "we have the papyrus"?

Ah.  Sorry.  I was quoting Sunstoned, not you. 

4 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

It's true that I think Gee's explanations of a missing scroll are problematic, at best (the man doesn't exactly have a great track record for honesty).

Classic ad hominem.

Are you accusing Gee of fabricating the historical sources he is quoting?

4 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I just find it odd that we are reduced to saying "well, we don't know if it's an accurate translation because we don't have what he translated."

How are we "reduced" to that?  And how is acknowledging the evidence we have (and don't have), and the limitations on the probative value of such evidence, problematic?

4 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

But then we do have the facsimiles. The "translations" are anything but, and the things that make the papyrus "unique" are simply where Joseph Smith incorrectly filled in lacunae.

Plenty of room for reasonable disagreement about this.  FAIR's article is a good place to start.

4 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

This is not really in dispute.

Seems like there's plenty of dispute. 

4 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

No matter what anyone says, the text "Isis the great, the god's mother" is not the name of a king.

Well, the details matter.  From Pearl of Great Price Central:

Quote

The explanation given for Facsimile No. 3 identifies Figure 2 as “King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters above his head.” One potential way to identity this figure by Egyptological methods would be to read “the characters [hieroglyphs] above his head.” Unfortunately, the original illustration or vignette from the papyrus is not extant, and so we are forced to decipher the glyphs as they are reproduced in Facsimile 3 by their engraver Reuben Hedlock. While Hedlock appears to have done a fairly commendable job accurately reproducing the facsimiles (at least based on a comparison of Facsimile 1 with the extant original papyrus), he also made some noticeable mistakes.1 So the first issue at hand in resolving the question of the identity of this figure would be to determine how legible these glyphs actually are.

This muddies the waters a bit, methinks.

Quote

In fact, a number of Egyptologists who have examined Facsimile 3 have lamented that the hieroglyphs reproduced by Hedlock were partially or entirely illegible,2 “leaving them to rely upon comparable scenes from other texts to provide their interpretations of the figures.”3  The only two Egyptologists who have made an attempt in print to read the hieroglyphs above Figure 2 render them as:4

Robert Ritner (2011)

Michael Rhodes (2002)

ȝs.t wr.t mw.t nṯr

“Isis the great, the god’s mother.”

ỉs.t wr.t mw.t nṯr

“The great Isis, mother of the god.”

Ritner does not provide a hieroglyphic transcription for his reading, while Rhodes does. A careful comparison of the glyphs as reproduced by Hedlock and Rhodes, however, reveals some difficulties.5

image.png
The hieroglyphic caption for Figure 2 of Facsimile 3 as reproduced by Ruben Hedlock in the 1842 Times and Seasons, right, next to Egyptologist Michael D. Rhodes’ transcription, left, published in his 2002 translation of the Joseph Smith Papyri.

The most noticeable difference is in the top three glyphs which form the name Isis. These glyphs were either poorly preserved by Hedlock or poorly drawn by the original ancient Egyptian scribe (it is impossible to tell without the original papyrus fragment), making them effectively illegible. What Egyptologists such as Rhodes (and, it would appear, Ritner) have done is reconstruct and read these glyphs how they think they ought to be read (as the name of Isis), as opposed to how they actually stand in the preserved facsimile.6 So while this figure might be reasonably identified as Isis based on similar iconographic elements found in comparable scenes,7 the identity of this figure cannot be securely reached based solely on reading the poorly-preserved hieroglyphs. The identification of this figure as Isis is therefore worth exploring, but there are reasons for this identification to be accepted cautiously.

Yep.  Messy.

Quote

At first glance, this appears problematic for Joseph Smith, since, as seen above, scholars identify this figure as the goddess Isis (or sometimes the goddess Hathor, who was often syncretized with Isis8), not the Egyptian Pharaoh. If we assume that this identification is correct, a closer look at the attributes and epithets ascribed to the goddess Isis during the time Facsimile 3 was drawn reveals that this identification actually has some justification.

"This identification actually has some justification."  Hmm.

Quote

As the mother of the god Horus, who was the godly manifestation of Pharaoh, Isis had long been recognized as the royal mother and the king’s wife by the ancient Egyptians. “She was most commonly shown as a woman wearing the throne symbol that helps to write her name. As the ‘throne goddess,’ she was the mother of each Egyptian king.”9

17.190.1641_right3_4-768x972.jpg
A bronze or copper alloy statue of the goddess Isis nursing her son Horus dated to the Third Intermediate Period–Late Period (circa 1070–343 B.C). Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By virtue of her royal associations and because of her extensive worship throughout the Mediterranean world, by the time of the Joseph Smith Papyri Isis had come to be identified as the very Pharaoh(ess) of Egypt. In one text from this time period, for example, she is called “the Pharaoh(ess) of the whole land” (tȝ pr-ˁȝt nt tȝ r-ḏr·f).10 Of her additional dozens of epithets and titles, she was also designated, among other things, “ruler of the two lands in the house of joy” (hḳȝt-tȝwy m ḥwt ȝwṯ-ỉb),11  “ruler of gods and goddesses” (hḳȝt nṯrw nṯrwt),12 “the Pharaoh(ess) of everything” (pr-ˁȝt nt tm nb),13 “the queen who seizes office by her power” (nswt ỉṯỉ ỉȝwt m sḫrw·s),14 “excellent ruler” (ḥḳȝt mnḫt),15 “excellent queen” (nswt mnḫt),16 “excellent ruler on the throne of her father” (ḥḳȝt mnḫt ḥr nst ỉt·s),17 “ruler of Egypt” (ḥḳȝt nt bȝḳt),18 and “queen of all Egypt” (nswt nt snwt r ȝw·s).19

These and similar epithets were routinely given to the reigning monarch, whether male or female, and inasmuch as Isis’ name in Egyptian literally means “throne” or “seat,” her shared identity with the office of the Pharaoh is not at all surprising. “As the presumed embodiment of the ‘seat of the throne,’ [Isis] is in a special way bound to kingship and thus to the political aspect of [the king’s] divine nature; her role as mother of Horus and sister-wife of Osiris binds her even more closely into the Egyptian kingship, in which the living King Horus [the Pharaoh] embodies.”20

Accordingly, “with the idea of the Great Lady [Isis] actually” personifying the throne, and thereby the Egyptian kingship, “the incongruity of [Joseph Smith’s identification of] figure 2 [in Facsimile 3] as ‘King Pharaoh’ begins to dissolve.”21

 

Isis having a literal meaning of "throne."

Isis having a "shared identity with the office of the Pharaoh."

Isis as "the presumed embodiment of the seat of the throne."

Isis being "bound" in "a special way ... to kingship."

Isis "personifying the throne, and thereby Egyptian kingship."

Thanks,

-Smac

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19 hours ago, The Unclean Deacon said:

For the "catalyst theory" to work in this way it means rather than God allowing Joseph to be misunderstanding what he is doing, it is God himself that is misdirecting and misleading Joseph as he only gives Joseph short brief wording attached to each symbol and Joseph must move to the next symbol before God gives him more story. In the catalyst theory Joseph isn't translating Egyptian, he only thinks he is. But the Kinderhook episode imposes that it is God himself who hast to be informing Joseph with a specific meaning to a specific symbol or else Joseph is making it up and that God being a deceiver with no reason to do so. God doesn't have to do it this way (see book of Moses). Hence an intentional and unnecessary Deception

The above quote is from the OP and is a quote- and not the words of the Unclean Deacon.

I have not read the rest of the thread yet- but the assertion made here is simply ridiculous.   It does not touch the Catalyst Theory at all.

Yes it is clear that Joseph THOUGHT he was translating word by word, but the catalyst theory says he was NOT doing that.

The theory IMPLIES that Joseph was INSPIRED to write what he wrote - REGARDLESS of the perception of his natural eyes and mind- and their interpretation.

So Joseph' s THINKING he was translating word by word, letter by letter becomes irrelevant, at least in my interpretation.  He was "reading tea leaves"-what he saw with his eyes was not relevant to what he received as the message he wrote.

This is simple stuff- as a new convert I never heard of the "catalyst theory" but it was apparent to me that the message was from the Lord and it didn't matter if Joseph THOUGHT he was doing a literal translation.

Look at Facsimile II and compare it to the temple ceremonies and the gestures illustrated- for me it is clear that these gestures are interpreted in the temple.

CLEARLY Joseph believed them to be from the LORD to Abraham, but they took on their own meanings as Joseph gave them the interpretations he saw, to create his own symbolism.

Whether or not they are from the Lord can only be found by testimony.   He could have thought he was translating Chinese, but that is all irrelevant to the Lord's message coming through him.

These critics are fundamentalists, they see things literally.  "OH this doesn't match the translation"!

Yawn.

They just never understood the concept from the very beginning.

Now maybe I should read the thread?  ;)

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Ah.  Sorry.  I was quoting Sunstoned, not you. 

Classic ad hominem.

Are you accusing Gee of fabricating the historical sources he is quoting?

How are we "reduced" to that?  And how is acknowledging the evidence we have (and don't have), and the limitations on the probative value of such evidence, problematic?

Plenty of room for reasonable disagreement about this.  FAIR's article is a good place to start.

Seems like there's plenty of dispute. 

Well, the details matter.  From Pearl of Great Price Central:

This muddies the waters a bit, methinks.

Yep.  Messy.

"This identification actually has some justification."  Hmm.

Isis having a literal meaning of "throne."

Isis having a "shared identity with the office of the Pharaoh."

Isis as "the presumed embodiment of the seat of the throne."

Isis being "bound" in "a special way ... to kingship."

Isis "personifying the throne, and thereby Egyptian kingship."

Thanks,

-Smac

Not ad hominem, just a well-deserved skepticism for someone who fabricated the "two inks" business. What isn't in dispute, as I said, is the errors in filling in the lacunae. I don't know anyone who thinks that's in dispute. Do you? As for Isis, what they seem to be saying is that (a la the lacunae), facsimile 3 is unique in not having the description of Isis; if it is Isis (and it certainly appears to be) it's a bit of a stretch to say Isis' association with the throne equals a king's name given in characters. 

Unlike 2BizE, this wasn't a factor in my loss of faith, but it is one of those things that seems rather obvious now that I don't have to exert so much effort to make it work. Your mileage may vary.

 

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6 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

The above quote is from the OP and is a quote- and not the words of the Unclean Deacon.

I have not read the rest of the thread yet- but the assertion made here is simply ridiculous.   It does not touch the Catalyst Theory at all.

Yes it is clear that Joseph THOUGHT he was translating word by word, but the catalyst theory says he was NOT doing that.

The theory IMPLIES that Joseph was INSPIRED to write what he wrote - REGARDLESS of the perception of his natural eyes and mind- and their interpretation.

So Joseph' s THINKING he was translating word by word, letter by letter becomes irrelevant, at least in my interpretation.  He was "reading tea leaves"-what he saw with his eyes was not relevant to what he received as the message he wrote.

This is simple stuff- as a new convert I never heard of the "catalyst theory" but it was apparent to me that the message was from the Lord and it didn't matter if Joseph THOUGHT he was doing a literal translation.

Look at Facsimile II and compare it to the temple ceremonies and the gestures illustrated- for me it is clear that these gestures are interpreted in the temple.

CLEARLY Joseph believed them to be from the LORD to Abraham, but they took on their own meanings as Joseph gave them the interpretations he saw, to create his own symbolism.

Whether or not they are from the Lord can only be found by testimony.   He could have thought he was translating Chinese, but that is all irrelevant to the Lord's message coming through him.

These critics are fundamentalists, they see things literally.  "OH this doesn't match the translation"!

Yawn.

They just never understood the concept from the very beginning.

Now maybe I should read the thread?  ;)

 

I think apologists would be much better off with your approach and stop insisting that the translation is literal and based on "missing" stuff. But if someone is going to claim this is somehow a reasonable translation (of the facsimiles, at least), they should probably expect some pushback.

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Not ad hominem,

Nothing but ad hominem.

18 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

just a well-deserved skepticism for someone who fabricated the "two inks" business.

By "'two inks' business" I assume you are referencing the issue addressed by Brian Hauglin way back in 2006 here:

Quote

Myth #2b: There are two kinds of ink on manuscript three

This the one I have seen on the web. Book of Abraham manuscript three, page five, and here is the new digitized image there. Well it does look the same, doesn't it? It does look the same and I bet you're waiting for me to say it's different but it's not. I did look at this under magnification and made sure that these two inks with the same thing. Now let me just throw out something to you here that John Gee wants me to tell you, and he wants you to spread it around, all right, and that is that he was arguing for a two ink analysis, two ink theory, that many of you know about.

And the two ink theory says that the characters were in a different ink than the text therefore the characters put on the paper after the text was already there, that was the way kind of John was thinking about that. And when he was thinking through that he did not have access to the originals. He did not have access to the newly digitized images he only had what basically everybody else has. And so he just made judgment call there.

Well John and I have been working together on some of this and he is totally convinced now that the two ink theory on manuscript three is dead. There are no two inks, aren’t you sad?

John Gee apparently advanced a theory about "two inks" based on limited data.  This theory turned out to be incorrect and was publicly repudiated 16 years ago.

It is on this basis that you impugn the character, honesty and integrity of John Gee in toto?

Well, okay.  "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged" sorta comes to mind...

18 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

What isn't in dispute, as I said, is the errors in filling in the lacunae.

Per FAIR

Quote

It is not known who performed the "restoration" of the missing sections. It is likely that Joseph Smith or Reuben Hedlock (the engraver) simply filled in the lacunae in the papyri the best he could for purposes of publication. Modern documentary editing standards would require that any holes or gaps in the papyri be represented as such, but the Book of Abraham was published long before the rise of such standards. Just as it was the practice of the day to edit out infelicities rather than to preserve them (as modern scholars do), so it would have been thought inaesthetic to publish incomplete or marred facsimiles. If this is the correct explanation, one need not suppose that the textual repair for purposes of publication was the result of revealed insight. Some restorations were actually correct and/or were okay considering the message of the Book of Abraham. See here and here for more details.

Plenty of room for reasonable disagreement on this issue.

18 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I don't know anyone who thinks that's in dispute. Do you?

No.  Clearly some errors exist.  But some things demarcated as "errors" may not be.  Some are open to interpretation.  And then there's the things that Joseph Smith got quite right...

18 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

As for Isis, what they seem to be saying is that (a la the lacunae), facsimile 3 is unique in not having the description of Isis; if it is Isis (and it certainly appears to be) it's a bit of a stretch to say Isis' association with the throne equals a king's name given in characters. 

Alas, much of historical analysis involves interpretation and nuance. 

18 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Unlike 2BizE, this wasn't a factor in my loss of faith, but it is one of those things that seems rather obvious now that I don't have to exert so much effort to make it work. Your mileage may vary.

"Seems rather obvious."  Lots of wiggle room there.

Again, all this stuff is way "downstream" for me.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 minute ago, smac97 said:

Nothing but ad hominem.

By "'two inks' business" I assume you are referencing the issue addressed by Brian Hauglin way back in 2006 here:

John Gee apparently advanced a theory about "two inks" based on limited data.  This theory turned out to be incorrect and was publicly repudiated 16 years ago.

It is on this basis that you impugn the character, honesty and integrity of John Gee in toto?

Well, okay.  "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged" sorta comes to mind...

Per FAIR

Plenty of room for reasonable disagreement on this issue.

No.  Clearly some errors exist.  But some things demarcated as "errors" may not be.  Some are open to interpretation.  And then there's the things that Joseph Smith got quite right...

Alas, much of historical analysis involves interpretation and nuance. 

"Seems rather obvious."  Lots of wiggle room there.

Again, all this stuff is way "downstream" for me.  

Thanks,

-Smac

No, it's one thing to espouse a two inks theory, and another thing entirely to digitally alter a photo to make it look like two inks. One's an honest mistake; the other, not so much.

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3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

No, it's one thing to espouse a two inks theory, and another thing entirely to digitally alter a photo to make it look like two inks. One's an honest mistake; the other, not so much.

Where did he do that?

Thanks,

-Smac

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17 minutes ago, smac97 said:
Quote

As the mother of the god Horus, who was the godly manifestation of Pharaoh, Isis had long been recognized as the royal mother and the king’s wife by the ancient Egyptians. “She was most commonly shown as a woman wearing the throne symbol that helps to write her name. As the ‘throne goddess,’ she was the mother of each Egyptian king.”9

17.190.1641_right3_4-768x972.jpg
A bronze or copper alloy statue of the goddess Isis nursing her son Horus dated to the Third Intermediate Period–Late Period (circa 1070–343 B.C). Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By virtue of her royal associations and because of her extensive worship throughout the Mediterranean world, by the time of the Joseph Smith Papyri Isis had come to be identified as the very Pharaoh(ess) of Egypt. In one text from this time period, for example, she is called “the Pharaoh(ess) of the whole land” (tȝ pr-ˁȝt nt tȝ r-ḏr·f).10 Of her additional dozens of epithets and titles, she was also designated, among other things, “ruler of the two lands in the house of joy” (hḳȝt-tȝwy m ḥwt ȝwṯ-ỉb),11  “ruler of gods and goddesses” (hḳȝt nṯrw nṯrwt),12 “the Pharaoh(ess) of everything” (pr-ˁȝt nt tm nb),13 “the queen who seizes office by her power” (nswt ỉṯỉ ỉȝwt m sḫrw·s),14 “excellent ruler” (ḥḳȝt mnḫt),15 “excellent queen” (nswt mnḫt),16 “excellent ruler on the throne of her father” (ḥḳȝt mnḫt ḥr nst ỉt·s),17 “ruler of Egypt” (ḥḳȝt nt bȝḳt),18 and “queen of all Egypt” (nswt nt snwt r ȝw·s).19

These and similar epithets were routinely given to the reigning monarch, whether male or female, and inasmuch as Isis’ name in Egyptian literally means “throne” or “seat,” her shared identity with the office of the Pharaoh is not at all surprising. “As the presumed embodiment of the ‘seat of the throne,’ [Isis] is in a special way bound to kingship and thus to the political aspect of [the king’s] divine nature; her role as mother of Horus and sister-wife of Osiris binds her even more closely into the Egyptian kingship, in which the living King Horus [the Pharaoh] embodies.”20

Accordingly, “with the idea of the Great Lady [Isis] actually” personifying the throne, and thereby the Egyptian kingship, “the incongruity of [Joseph Smith’s identification of] figure 2 [in Facsimile 3] as ‘King Pharaoh’ begins to dissolve.”21

 

Expand  

Isis having a literal meaning of "throne."

Isis having a "shared identity with the office of the Pharaoh."

Isis as "the presumed embodiment of the seat of the throne."

Isis being "bound" in "a special way ... to kingship."

Isis "personifying the throne, and thereby Egyptian kingship."

But Smac, none of these texts specifically say that Isis is "King Pharaoh."

Multi-layered associations connecting Isis to Pharaoh and to the throne and to kingship simply won't work here. We have to look at this from the perspective of 21st-century skepticism, especially with a strong bias against any form of what may be perceived as supernaturalism. Only the most precise and exact phrasal matches from the few scraps of ancient history that have been fortuitously preserved throughout the centuries could ever be enough to make this supposed connection worthy of anything more than a passing glance. 

It doesn't really matter that we don't know much of anything about about the original creation of the facsimiles, the original creation of the text of the Book of Abraham, the ultimate origin of the explanations (whether ancient, modern, or a combination of both), and the possibly complicated redaction history of these documents  over time. It doesn't really matter that Egyptian iconography and religious concepts are notoriously fluid and multifaceted, and that we surely only have a small glimpse of how all ancient peoples viewed such symbols and concepts over time.

None of this really matters when, as another commentator so succinctly put it, "No matter what anyone says, the text 'Isis the great, the god's mother' is not the name of a king." In fact, it doesn't really even matter that we can't even be sure what the text actually says. What really matters is that everyone knows Joseph Smith got this wrong, no matter what anyone (ancient or modern) says. 

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Where did he do that?

Thanks,

-Smac

You’re right. I don’t know John Gee, and his character is irrelevant. I should not have said that, and I apologize to him and to you. 

Edited by jkwilliams
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22 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

But Smac, none of these texts specifically say that Isis is "King Pharaoh."

Multi-layered associations connecting Isis to Pharaoh and to the throne and to kingship simply won't work here. We have to look at this from the perspective of 21st-century skepticism, especially with a strong bias against any form of what may be perceived as supernaturalism. Only the most precise and exact phrasal matches from the few scraps of ancient history that have been fortuitously preserved throughout the centuries could ever be enough to make this supposed connection worthy of anything more than a passing glance. 

It doesn't really matter that we don't know much of anything about about the original creation of the facsimiles, the original creation of the text of the Book of Abraham, the ultimate origin of the explanations (whether ancient, modern, or a combination of both), and the possibly complicated redaction history of these documents  over time. It doesn't really matter that Egyptian iconography and religious concepts are notoriously fluid and multifaceted, and that we surely only have a small glimpse of how all ancient peoples viewed such symbols and concepts over time.

None of this really matters when, as another commentator so succinctly put it, "No matter what anyone says, the text 'Isis the great, the god's mother' is not the name of a king." In fact, it doesn't really even matter that we can't even be sure what the text actually says. What really matters is that everyone knows Joseph Smith got this wrong, no matter what anyone (ancient or modern) says. 

You know, sneering isn’t helpful. But your point is well taken. 

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, The Unclean Deacon said:

Mormonism LIVE hosted by Radio Free Mormon and Bill Reel last week did a historical dive into the Kinderhook . They went through the history in depth and ended discussing a discovery by Mark Mcgee and a Don Bradley, Where they show evidence that Joseph utilized a translation of a symbol in the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language to come up with the brief partial translation of the Kinderhook plates.  As RFM and Bill point out though, this discovery deeply runs counter to the "Missing Scroll" Theory and "catalyst" theory.  I had to sit and think about it as these issues are always complex but it helped me to think through why the Missing scroll theory was favored and what it explains.  AKA the reason we have a missing scroll theory is because we want to maintain Joseph could in fact translate and did translate an ancient document he had in his possession but the document or parts of ancient documents that survived are not it because the translation we have doesn't match the documents we have.   And the Catalyst Theory serves to gives us another way to make it work while agreeing with everything the critic observes (translation doesn't match the sections of papyri Joseph seems to be translating.

Bill on his Facebook page said the following and I would appreciate someone helping me see how either of these theories survive such without requiring additional loopholes or extra allowances.  These theories already seem less rational then the critics perspective.  Please don't attack their show or their persons as I am simply here to see if a good reconciliation exists.  Mormonism already has so many issues in favor of the criitic and now it appears the Missing scroll and Catalyst theories just became less rational.

a link to Mark Mgee and Don Bradley's discovery - https://www.millennialstar.org/the-mystery-of-the-kinderhook-plates-solved/

 
 

Joseph Smith's use of the GAEL in his examination of the Kirtland Egyptian papers does suggest that he viewed the GAEL as useful or associated with some level of inspiration. It does not, however, establish that he authored the GAEL. We know that W.W. Phelps was already involved in the Pure Language project before the papyri even entered the scene and Phelp's work is clearly reflected in the Kirtland Egyptian corpus; Oliver Cowdery is also present, who had earlier received a promise that he would translate. In fact, D. Charles Pyle has offered a theory that one set of characters in the Valuable Discovery notebook is actually simply a stylized "O.C." representing Cowdery's initials.

Joseph was generally encouraging of his associate's efforts at translation, so it stands to reason that he would see the product of such as inspired.

Edited by OGHoosier
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1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

You know, sneering isn’t helpful. But your point is well taken. 

I didn't feel like my use of satire/irony was particularly condescending or "sneerful" (yeah, I think I just made up that word) but your point is also well taken. 

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6 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

I think apologists would be much better off with your approach and stop insisting that the translation is literal and based on "missing" stuff. But if someone is going to claim this is somehow a reasonable translation (of the facsimiles, at least), they should probably expect some pushback.

That is what the catalyst theory IS for Pete's sake.

All threads like this one do is show the incompetence of the critics' arguments.

If the the theory works at a macro level- sentences and paragraphs - then it also works on micro levels - words and letters!

It is ALL either literal translation or direct "revelation" having nothing to do with translation of a natural language.  Besides that, look up the definition of "translate" in Webster's 1828 dictionary and note that the catalyst theory fits well within the bounds of the word's usage at that time.

 

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16 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

Just out of curiosity, how does one distinguish between a secular translation and a nonsecular one?

Hey John!

Good question.

A "secular" process is used here in contrast with a revelatory process.

As a starting pointing in distinguishing the two it may help here to identify an example of a process that would clearly be revelatory and an example of a process that would clearly not be revelatory.

If, for instance, I report that God had shown me by vision how Joseph Smith translated from the Kinderhook plates, then I think we could agree that I'm figuring this out through a revelatory process.

If, on the other hand, I report (as is the case) that I compared the characters on the Kinderhook plates with those in the GAEL to identify how Joseph Smith translated from the Kinderhook plates, then I think we could agree that I'm figuring this out through a non-revelatory process.

Clear so far?

Don

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, DonBradley said:

Regarding ideas #2-#4, I listened to Bill's arguments but remained noncommittal since I had not yet had time to give them full consideration. Having now had time to think these arguments through systematically, I've concluded they are each fallacious.

Thank you, Don.  I figured you were most likely intelligently taking your time to response rather than at a loss.  Others who listened interpreted your response in that way, you were not going to respond until you were ready rather than you couldn’t respond.  They said Reel and RFM were not the most ‘cordial’ in their pressure/invitation.  It was kind of you to show up and interact with them after you had politely declined and they wouldn’t let it respectfully go, to still give their criticism a serious treatment after that. 

I need stuff in writing to process it, so hoping if podcast you have a transcript available.

Edited by Calm
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5 hours ago, DonBradley said:

As Kevin has mentioned, I've presented and (with JSPP historian Mark Ashurst-McGee) published documenting that the text Joseph Smith derived from the Kinderhook plates was derived via matching a single character on the Kinderhook plates matching a single character in the GAEL that had substantially the same text as its assigned definition. 

This, as Mark and I have argued, shows Joseph Smith translating from the Kinderhook plates by way of comparing them with the GAEL. The most obvious implication of this is that Joseph translated from the Kinderhook plates via a very ordinary process of character matching, rather than by a revelatory process. This implication appears not to have much interested most critics.

Another implication, which Mark and I noted on page 517 of our chapter, has interested critics much more. This is that if Joseph Smith used the GAEL to help him decipher the Kinderhook plates character, then he appears to have given the GAEL some credence.

In advance of the Mormonism Live podcast on the Kinderhook plates the other day, Bill Reel messaged me asking if I thought this undermined certain Book of Abraham apologetics, originated by Hugh Nibley half a century ago, that the GAEL was produced independent of Joseph by his scribes, who did it to show that they could compete with Joseph in his translation work. (Later tweaks on this explanation have the scribes producing the GAEL by reverse-engineering it from the Book of Abraham text.) Bill was hoping I would appear to be interviewed on the show, which I was disinclined to.

But I did watch the show, in which he argued that Joseph's use of the GAEL to translate from the Kinderhook plates refuted all apologetic explanations of the relationship of the Book of Abraham to the papyrus and the GAEL: 1) the idea that Joseph's scribes produced the GAEL apart from Joseph himself, 2) the idea that the GAEL was reverse-engineered from the already-revealed Book of Abraham text, 3) the idea that the part of the scroll containing the Book of Abraham is now missing, and 4) the idea that the papyrus served, not as a vehicle for the ancient Egyptian text of the Book of Abraham, but as a catalyst prompting Joseph to receive the Book of Abraham by revelation.

Bill challenged me to come on the show and comment on all of this. Despite having not having planned or prepared to do so, I was willing to call in. I agreed with them only regarding idea #1 above--that Joseph Smith's scribes produced the GAEL apart from Joseph himself. As Mark and I noted in our chapter, "Many, if not most, Mormon scholars have been skeptical about Smith's involvement in the production of the curious Egyptian Alphabet documents. ... However, Smith's autonomous use of the Egyptian Alphabet book...in the translation of the Kinderhook plates thus calls for a reconsideration of Smith's relationship with this and the other Egyptian study documents."

Regarding ideas #2-#4, I listened to Bill's arguments but remained noncommittal since I had not yet had time to give them full consideration. Having now had time to think these arguments through systematically, I've concluded they are each fallacious.

I'm trying to decide if I want to post my responses to them to the Web or deliver them via podcast.

Don

I hope you post them in writing.  I think there are lots of people who, like me, don't do much with podcasts.  They are often too time-consuming to review, and they are in an inconvenient medium (recorded audio rather than text).  A written statement, meanwhile, can be structured, can cite to authorities and references, etc.

Thanks,

-Smac

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7 hours ago, DonBradley said:

If, on the other hand, I report (as is the case) that I compared the characters on the Kinderhook plates with those in the GAEL to identify how Joseph Smith translated from the Kinderhook plates, then I think we could agree that I'm figuring this out through a non-revelatory process.

How do you rule out the possibility the Holy Ghost wasn’t subtly leading you along the whole time?

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8 hours ago, DonBradley said:

Hey John!

Good question.

A "secular" process is used here in contrast with a revelatory process.

As a starting pointing in distinguishing the two it may help here to identify an example of a process that would clearly be revelatory and an example of a process that would clearly not be revelatory.

If, for instance, I report that God had shown me by vision how Joseph Smith translated from the Kinderhook plates, then I think we could agree that I'm figuring this out through a revelatory process.

If, on the other hand, I report (as is the case) that I compared the characters on the Kinderhook plates with those in the GAEL to identify how Joseph Smith translated from the Kinderhook plates, then I think we could agree that I'm figuring this out through a non-revelatory process.

Clear so far?

Don

Thanks, Don. I hope all is well with you. Life's good here.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, sunstoned said:

We have the facsimiles (reproduced in the BoA) and we have JS's "translation" of them. Smoking gun.

We have a portions of three facsimiles recovered from the destroyed original source.

 

I’m not defending the literal translation argument, just pointing out that we don’t have enough time not to definitively say that it was all fabricated

Edited by Fether
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Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, Fether said:

We have a portions of three facsimiles recovered from the destroyed original source.

 

I’m not defending the literal translation argument, just pointing out that we don’t have enough time not to definitively say that it was all fabricated

It seems there are a few approaches (sometimes they are combined):

1. Catalyst theory, which acknowledges that there doesn't seem to be a connection between the papyrus and the text of the Book of Abraham, though Joseph made the connection himself. This is the most promising approach, particularly because it removes the need for any analysis of the relationship between the text and the papyrus. It's definitely how I always approached it, though I don't think I realized until sometime post-mission that the papyri that begat the facsimiles had in fact survived and been translated by Egyptologists. Either way, it suggests that Joseph thought he was translating directly from the papyrus but, in fact, was not. Of course, this focuses study on the text itself, which has its own issues.

2. Missing scroll theory, which also implicitly acknowledges the lack of correspondence between the text and the surviving papyrus. This is based on anecdotal evidence of "long rolls" as well as calculations of the scroll's length. Smith and Cook's work seems fairly solid here.

3. Literal translation theory, which I find the most interesting. The premise here is twofold: 1) we don't actually know that the papyrus in question was a bog-standard Breathing Permit funerary document, so any translation of it as such is unwarranted, and 2) the "look what Joseph got right" approach. 

This is, as I said, not a deal-breaker for me, but it certainly seems less problematic when I don't need any of those options to be true. It is, however, fun to be labeled incompetent and hubristic for not finding them compelling.

Edited by jkwilliams
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2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

It seems there are a few approaches (sometimes they are combined):

1. Catalyst theory, which acknowledges that there doesn't seem to be a connection between the papyrus and the text of the Book of Abraham, though Joseph made the connection himself. This is the most promising approach, particularly because it removes the need for any analysis of the relationship between the text and the papyrus. It's definitely how I always approached it, though I don't think I realized until sometime post-mission that the papyri that begat the facsimiles had in fact survived and been translated by Egyptologists. Either way, it suggests that Joseph thought he was translating directly from the papyrus but, in fact, was not. Of course, this focuses study on the text itself, which has its own issues.

2. Missing scroll theory, which also implicitly acknowledges the lack of correspondence between the text and the surviving papyrus. This is based on anecdotal evidence of "long rolls" as well as calculations of the scroll's length. Smith and Cook's work seems fairly solid here.

3. Literal translation theory, which I find the most interesting. The premise here is twofold: 1) we don't actually know that the papyrus in question was a bog-standard Breathing Permit funerary document, so any translation of it as such is unwarranted, and 2) the "look what Joseph got right" approach. 

This is, as I said, not a deal-breaker for me, but it certainly seems less problematic when I don't need any of those options to be true. It is, however, fun to be labeled incompetent and hubristic for not finding them compelling.

I personally don’t find any specific approach compelling either.  I believe one of them to be true… but which one? I have no clue. It is hard for me to engage with people who feel they have “proven” something to be false when there is clearly lacking information as to whether it is true or false.
 

Once someone has revealed to me they are being intellectually dishonest, I lose all interest. This has happened with virtually all the anti-Mormon prophets. There are a handful of smaller ”influencers” who are former members that I think have worthwhile things to say, but the mainstream voices are hard to listen to since they have such a strong narrative. 

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