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Kinderhook Plates Discovery damages BOA Missing Scroll and Catalyst Theories


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Posted (edited)
On 5/17/2022 at 3:20 AM, Tweed1944 said:

Royal Skouse has a different perspective on the facsimiles

 
  * The Book of Abraham was a revelation given to Joseph Smith, who later (mistakenly thinking it was a translation from the papyri he had in his possession) tried to connect the revealed text to the papyri by inserting two sentences, verse 12c and verse 14, into Abraham 1. The secondary nature of these two inserted sentences can be directly observed in the photos of folios 1a and 1b in the document identified as Ab2. Verse 12c is totally inserted intralinearly, not partially (as incorrectly represented in the accompanying transcription – and without comment). Verse 14 is not written on the page as are other portions of this part of the text (instead, it is written flush to the left), which implies that it is a comment on the papyri and that it was added to the revealed text. Overall, these results imply that all the facsimiles from the papyri (1-3 in the published Pearl of Great Price) should be considered extracanonical and additions to the revealed text of the Book of Abraham, not integral parts of the original text of the book

Just as some of you pointed out how Abraham 1:12 and 14 might have been inserted after the fact and how many of you are claiming it still works, RFM & Reel this week had Dan Vogel on and made the problem even bigger.  They addressed the point I quoted above and demonstrated using the original documents how Skousen can't possibly be right.  They showed that the documents favor heavily having Abraham 1:12, &14 added at the very time the translation manuscript is page is being written rather than an afterthought assertion.

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It simply isn't good.  This is a deep problem that takes one willing to try to understand the all the points being made, with each point deeply hurting any room for faith.  It is to the point that at least to me, one would simply have to dismiss the facts and believe in spite of them to make the Book of Abraham Translation work.  The Missing Scroll Theory and Catalyst Theory have too many holes to plug and some of them have no rational answer.  

Reel last night also noted multiple places in the BOA text seem to relate to the facsimile(s) in a way that it would be entirely strange that somehow these two things aren't related by yet their similarities are there such as Abraham 1:13 which clearly "appears represented" by the facsimile.  And another .  

Even as Skousen suggests part of 14 or maybe all of it is a later addition (Vogel shows this can't be) the verse itself imposes a connection to the facsimile.

 

Quote

Abraham 1:14 That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos, which signifies hieroglyphics.

How does Joseph know "which manner of figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos, which signifies hieroglyphics" unless either he is making it up or God has told him the unknown meanings of how his "Catalyst revelation" is both connected to the facsimiles and that figures are called by the Chaldeans "Rahleenos" meaning "hieroglyphics".  

That makes no sense outside of that.

This isn't getting better.  It seems clear their are three options after their past two episodes.

1.) Joseph is a fraud and made it up.
2.) God Deceived Joseph entirely giving him false meanings and connecting the translation to the papyri fragments we have imposing Joseph look like a fraud and being the one carrying out the deception

3.) Something similar to Ed Goble's theory which requires these fragments and facsimiles to mean something entirely different and Joseph had the super secret decoder ring (revelation) to locate the cryptic message that was entirely different than the fragments appear to mean.  But that idea requires so much extra stuff that we must discard logic and rational thinking to such a degree

at the same time the Missing Scroll Theory and Catalyst Theory after these two episodes require one to discard logic and rational thinking entirely.

And Calm - dismissing Reel over the Holland BOM while cutting breaks to Prophets Seers and Revelators who have erred over and ever seems like a double standard.  It seems unfair to not consider their points and the data they clearly lay out.  Apologists will need to come up with new answers.  Pretending old answers work when they don't while dismissing the data that shows such is not a solution or an actual defense.

Edited by Nemesis
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17 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

Heaven knows I don’t think anything’s been proven. Life is about probabilities and tentative conclusions, not proofs. 

yes but you two things squash that. 

One is sometimes the needed structure of a idea has so many instances where one must believe the less rational thing that a thing becomes absurd.  
EX: On my way to school i saw bigfoot, was abducted by an alien, rode on a flying pig" ect...  and now it becomes not just unlikely but our brains determine overly impossible.

Two is that the hole is so demonstrable that it can't be overcome  "I wasn't at school today, meanwhile you are clearly visible on the schools camera footage for that day"  
Choosing to believe when the evidence is stacked against you is irrational.  How is anyone to have to be worthy of discussion when their starting assumption is all that matters and no matter what evidence comes forward they simply will always continue in their belief" - That is exactly how crazy works.

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On 5/18/2022 at 12:29 AM, 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

Be sure you account for their follow up episode which makes things worse.

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5 minutes ago, The Unclean Deacon said:

yes but you two things squash that. 

One is sometimes the needed structure of a idea has so many instances where one must believe the less rational thing that a thing becomes absurd.  
EX: On my way to school i saw bigfoot, was abducted by an alien, rode on a flying pig" ect...  and now it becomes not just unlikely but our brains determine overly impossible.

Two is that the hole is so demonstrable that it can't be overcome  "I wasn't at school today, meanwhile you are clearly visible on the schools camera footage for that day"  
Choosing to believe when the evidence is stacked against you is irrational.  How is anyone to have to be worthy of discussion when their starting assumption is all that matters and no matter what evidence comes forward they simply will always continue in their belief" - That is exactly how crazy works.

Absolutely. Obviously I think the evidence for the Book of Abraham suggests very strongly that it came from the mind of Joseph Smith. Can one prove that? I don’t think so. 

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22 minutes ago, The Unclean Deacon said:

Just as some of you pointed out how Abraham 1:12 and 14 might have been inserted after the fact and how many of you are claiming it still works, RFM & Reel this week had Dan Vogel on and made the problem even bigger.  They addressed the point I quoted above and demonstrated using the original documents how Skousen can't possibly be right.  They showed that the documents favor heavily having Abraham 1:12, &14 added at the very time the translation manuscript is page is being written rather than an afterthought assertion.

We don't now if we have the actual "translation manuscript".  It is just as likely that the documents we have are more similar to the BoM printer's manuscript.  So saying that 1:12&14 were added inline with the manuscripts that we have doesn't tell us whether it was part of the translation or later added.

For me, the more I learn about the BoA, the more questions I get for all sides.  We have so little information that it is impossible to say whether the BoA is a fraud or not.  I see it more of a Rorschach test.  If you want to believe the BoA, then you'll find the evidence for it.  If you want to disbelieve the BoA, then you'll find the evidence for it.

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

And Calm - dismissing Reel over the Holland BOM while cutting breaks to Prophets Seers and Revelators who have erred over and ever seems like a double standard. 

I am not completely dismissing him, but urging much caution of his research and conclusions based on how poorly his methods have been in the past.  Why should we assume his methods have improved when he still allows his significant errors that destroy his whole premise to stand uncorrected for years even though he has been given the correct info before?  He is also the one who has judged Elder Holland, not I. I am using Reel’s standard to judge Reel. 
 

Quote

 It seems unfair to not consider their points and the data they clearly lay out. 

I don’t have the interest or knowledge to do so in a thorough and decent manner. Why should I waste everyone’s time by throwing up poor quality work?  I know my limits and don’t pretend to be an expert in something I am not.  I wish more people did the same. 

Edited by Calm
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22 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

Then we have Tim Barker pointing out at FAIR that the published Facsimile 2 has from the start offered blunt evidence that Joseph Smith openly stated that he did not translate the Hor Book of Breathings characters.  I notice that those who have hung their convictions on the notion that because the Hor Book of Breathings does not match the Book of Abraham, we have  game over set and match, nothing to see hear folks, nothing more to say, nothing more to ask, let's fold up the tent of Mormonism and all go home, have not been particularly talkative on that presentation.

Well, and then there is this problem for their translation theory:

image.thumb.png.8c8affde353d4aec664ca534d68b9916.png

There are lots of lines of evidence that work together to cast significant doubt on the supposition (and it is a supposition) that Joseph thought the text of the Book of Abraham corresponded to these characters. 

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On 5/16/2022 at 6:04 PM, Fether said:

There are a handful of ways Joseph smith may or may not have translated the plates / book of Abraham / Kinderhook. it seems RFM is suggesting that JSjr only used one of the many theorized methods and they are saying the method Joseph used the “translate” the kinderhook plates was the same way he translated all the other books.


From whatI understand, the method of translation shifted over time. Doctrine and Covenants 8 suggests there was some attempt at reading what was on the plates and translate in a more traditional fashion.

And that contradicts the accounts about the stone in the hat.

On 5/16/2022 at 6:04 PM, Fether said:

 

I think there is a lot of evidence for the catalyst theory.

What are the evidences? Really this is a new theory because it seems pretty clear JS did not translate anything from the papyri.  And why would he need the papyri for a catalyst?  The Book of Moses is allegedly a revelation is it not?  If the BoA was a revelation why the need for papyri?

On 5/16/2022 at 6:04 PM, Fether said:

 

 

Other accounts suggest a seer stone and a hat. Some times the plates were present while other times it was not.

As I noted.

 

On 5/16/2022 at 6:04 PM, Fether said:

 

Kinderhook points to some sort of translation process that includes the traditional translating he know today.

I don’t know what methods JSjr used and did not use, but never once had I ever thought he only used one single method. It here seems to be a lot of evidence that the mode of “translation” changed over time.

Can you provide this evidence?

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On 5/17/2022 at 7:20 AM, Tweed1944 said:

Royal Skouse has a different perspective on the facsimiles

 
  * The Book of Abraham was a revelation given to Joseph Smith, who later (mistakenly thinking it was a translation from the papyri he had in his possession) tried to connect the revealed text to the papyri by inserting two sentences, verse 12c and verse 14, into Abraham 1. The secondary nature of these two inserted sentences can be directly observed in the photos of folios 1a and 1b in the document identified as Ab2. Verse 12c is totally inserted intralinearly, not partially (as incorrectly represented in the accompanying transcription – and without comment). Verse 14 is not written on the page as are other portions of this part of the text (instead, it is written flush to the left), which implies that it is a comment on the papyri and that it was added to the revealed text. Overall, these results imply that all the facsimiles from the papyri (1-3 in the published Pearl of Great Price) should be considered extracanonical and additions to the revealed text of the Book of Abraham, not integral parts of the original text of the book

So JS said he translated it and the KEP seems to indicate some sort of translation attempt.  But Skouses knows it was a revelation and JS was mistaken?  Oh my.😏

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On 5/18/2022 at 12:29 AM, 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................

............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 agree, Don.  At the same time, I have no problem with a very human Joseph Smith attempting to use the GAEL to interpret the Kinderhook Plates.  Joseph had certainly become acquainted during his School of the Prophets with the phenomenon of professional language grammars being used by those learning and translating languages, and his effort to use something his compatriots constructed to do the same with unknown languages seems almost bucolic.   In the event, he failed, and he undoubtedly knew he failed.

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4 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

Absolutely. Obviously I think the evidence for the Book of Abraham suggests very strongly that it came from the mind of Joseph Smith. Can one prove that? I don’t think so. 

It did come from Joseph Smith’s mind.  But how did it get into his mind?

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3 minutes ago, Rivers said:

It did come from Joseph Smith’s mind.  But how did it get into his mind?

Yup. Catalyst theory is functionally equivalent to “he made it up.” 

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21 minutes ago, Teancum said:

So JS said he translated it and the KEP seems to indicate some sort of translation attempt.  But Skouses knows it was a revelation and JS was mistaken?  Oh my.😏

It seems a lot of Book of Abraham apologetics is a kind of reverse Occam’s Razor: the more complex and tenuous explanation is usually the correct one. 

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Just like we don’t allow links to Mormon stories.  We are not allowing links to this pod cast.  If people want to look it up on their own that’s fine.  But we will not be boosting anyones traffic through our site.  
 

Nemesis

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35 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Yup. Catalyst theory is functionally equivalent to “he made it up.” 

What was he catalyzing if he was just making it up?

Thanks,

-Smac

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23 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

It seems a lot of Book of Abraham apologetics is a kind of reverse Occam’s Razor: the more complex and tenuous explanation is usually the correct one. 

It's funny how Occam's Razor cuts both ways, though.

In can't think of a way to justify the "he just made it all up" approach without relying on an exceedingly unlikely series of coincidences (he just got lucky over and over and over) or some equally farfetched notion of Joseph clandestinely accessing and synthesizing a large corpus of ancient materials that were either patently inaccessible or unlikely for him to possess in the 1830s. The absurdity of either scenario (or even various iterations of both) seems lost on the apologists for the other side. Occom's Razor isn't a very useful heuristic when one side of the debate simply isn't interested in accounting for large portions of the available and relevant data. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/17/2022 at 1:39 PM, mfbukowski said:

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

That is because it the catalyst theory is a new innovation because its clear JS did not translate. So the apologists need a new apologetic magic trick.

Edited by Teancum
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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

It's funny how Occam's Razor cuts both ways, though.

In can't think of a way to justify the "he just made it all up" approach without relying on an exceedingly unlikely series of coincidences (he just got lucky over and over and over) or some equally farfetched notion of Joseph clandestinely accessing and synthesizing a large corpus of ancient materials that were either patently inaccessible or unlikely for him to possess in the 1830s. The absurdity of either scenario (or even various iterations of both) seems lost on the apologists for the other side. Occom's Razor isn't a very useful heuristic when one side of the debate simply isn't interested in accounting for large portions of the available and relevant data. 

I’ve been down the rabbit hole of Book of Abraham evidence in the past, and I don’t really see the point of rehashing it. You can take that as you will. I don’t mind being called an intellectual coward for simply not wishing to go through the tedium again. 

Edited by jkwilliams
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32 minutes ago, smac97 said:

What was he catalyzing if he was just making it up?

Thanks,

-Smac

The text was the catalyst for his thoughts, nicht wahr? The dispute is over where the thoughts came from, and that is not something one can determine through any kind of evidence. 

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Posted (edited)

I’m sure I’ll offend a lot of people here, but here’s an analogy. 

Person A tells me they have discovered an ancient Armenian book of religious incantations.

Me: Let’s see it. [Person A hands it to me.] Hmmm. This looks like a damaged menu from PF Chang’s. 

PA: No, it’s totally not. Here’s a list of 25 parallels between the document and ancient Armenian writings. 

Me: OK, but how do you get past it looking exactly like part of a PF Chang’s menu?

PA: Well, it’s completely different. For example, the label where we expect it to say “Kung Pao Shrimp” is illegible and therefore may be something entirely different. And besides, we’ve filled in some of the damaged parts with things that sort of maybe look like they could be related to Armenian script.

Me: I know a guy who works at PF Chang’s. Let’s have him look at it.

PF Chang’s employee: Yeah, that’s a PF Chang’s menu.

PA; It figures. He’s so biased he won’t even look at the evidence. Besides, maybe PF Chang’s repurposed the document and adapted it through millennia of retransmission  

Me: But it’s a freaking PF Chang’s menu.

PA: Clearly you lack the intellectual rigor to be able to discuss this in a scholarly way. Or maybe you’re just afraid to engage the scholarship. 

Moral of the analogy: there has to be a damn good reason for saying a PF Chang’s menu is not really a PF Chang’s menu. 

Edited by jkwilliams
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