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Explain the Book of Abraham


BYU_Boy

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Some of the best proof that Joseph Smith was a genius religious scam artist are his "translations" of the Book of Abraham. Back in his day, nobody could read Egyptian heiroglyphics, and thus when a man brought some Egyptian scrolls to him, Joseph Smith saw an opportunity to show off his "prophetic" ability. He claimed that miraculously these were the writings of Abraham and Joseph of Egypt respectively (lucky Joseph!!!).

Soon after his translation was finished, the papyri were lost and thought to have been destroyed in a Chicago fire. But luckily, in the 1967, the scrolls were rediscovered. On the back of the papyri were drawings of the Kirkland, Ohio area and temple. There could be no doubt these were the same scrolls Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Abraham. Fortunately, we now had modern Egyptologists who could verify that Joseph Smith was a true prophet!

Unfortunately it turns out that the Book of Abraham scroll was nothing more than a common burial scroll. :P This means Joseph lied. <_< And if he was able to fabricate the Book of Abraham, the obvious conclusion is that he could fabricate the Book of Mormon.

The church apologetic's "defense" against this is that apparently no Egyptologist knows what they are talking about (the same defense they use against archaeologists, biologists, etc.). Can anyone else offer a better defense?

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Other defenses that I have heard include...

- There are hidden meanings in the text that through the power of God, JS was able to read these. Current Egypology is just beginning to recognize these hidden messages.

- There is quite a bit that JS DID get right, so the fact that the anti's focus on what he got wrong is misplaced. The mere fact that he got ANYTHING right speaks to the correctness of his translation.

- There may be a couple of pages still missing. Perhaps he translated from THOSE pages.

- The BoA was created through the power of God. Since we don't know how God operates, anything is possible.

- Perhaps the scrolls were just a catalyst to give JS enough faith to hear God and translate the REAL BoA scrolls which are still buried somewhere. After all, the text doesn't need to be present for inspiration to happen.

Did I miss any?

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Joseph's "translation" of the Bible shows that the term is often used loosely by early Mormons for whatever is revealed by the Lord with a book involved.

Joseph "translated" the Bible, including parts that didn't have any physical entity (Book of Moses, expanded parts on Melchizedek, etc). What he did, in reality, was a Midrash of the Bible - a new intepretation, with additional insights given by direct revelation (how else do you explain something like Enoch-Mahujah in the Book of Moses and the DSS' Book of Enoch?).

In the D&C, we see examples of Joseph "translating" parchments from John that aren't even in his possession!

It is definitely easy for God to use the papyri as either a jumping point for revelation, or to give a varied meaning than the one the scholars today speak of.

BTW, since its translation, many ancient stories of Abraham have come forth that tie in directly with the Book of Abraham, including Abraham being sacrificed. So it isn't a slip-shod fraud of a book, as much as some wished it were.

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Hey BYU_Boy,

Its good to have someone come to the message board and stir up these tired worn out issues that settled to the bottom. Mindless repetition is so exciting. <_<

Quote (BYU_Boy)

Unfortunately it turns out that the Book of Abraham scroll was nothing more than a common burial scroll.  This means Joseph lied.

Even though you are the ranking expert on Book of Abraham :P I think you are making a leap that in unfounded. I would offer more explanation (not that it would do any good given your clear openmindedness), but it is readily available to you throug other sources.

Good luck on your sincere quest for truth.

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Other defenses that I have heard include...

- There are hidden meanings in the text that through the power of God, JS was able to read these.  Current Egypology is just beginning to recognize these hidden messages.

I think one of the hidden messages is "the church isn't true". :P

- There is quite a bit that JS DID get right, so the fact that the anti's focus on what he got wrong is misplaced.  The mere fact that he got ANYTHING right speaks to the correctness of his translation.

How much did he get right?

- There may be a couple of pages still missing.  Perhaps he translated from THOSE pages.

Problem is, we still have the facsimile and we know he got the translation wrong on that. For example:

Joseph: "Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God." "Stands next to Kolob, called by the Egyptians Oliblish, which is the next grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides." "God, sitting upon his throne, clothed with power and authority." "...this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key..."

Scholars: "It is actually a rather common funerary amulet termed a hypocephalus, so-called because it was placed under (hypo) a mummy

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Hey BYU_Boy,

Its good to have someone come to the message board and stir up these tired worn out issues that settled to the bottom.  Mindless repetition is so exciting. :ph34r:

I take it that means you attend weekly church services? <_<:unsure:

Even though you are the ranking expert on Book of Abraham  :P I think you are making a leap that in unfounded.  I would offer more explanation (not that it would do any good given your clear openmindedness), but it is readily available to you throug other sources.

You don't have to be a ranking expert to figure out what the experts are saying. Unless you're arguing again that Egyptologists don't know what they're talking about.

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That's basically saying God wants his prophet to look like a scam artist.

Can you think of a better way to test people's faith? I can't either, so the Chuch must be true.

- Perhaps the scrolls were just a catalyst to give JS enough faith to hear God and translate the REAL BoA scrolls which are still buried somewhere.  After all, the text doesn't need to be present for inspiration to happen.

HAHAHAHAHA

Why are you laughing? It wouldn't be the first time...

D&C Section 7

(Header)Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, April 1829, when they inquired through the Urim and Thummim as to whether John, the beloved disciple, tarried in the flesh or had died. The revelation is a translated version of the record made on parchment by John and hidden up by himself. HC 1: 35

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Hey BYU_Boy,

Its good to have someone come to the message board and stir up these tired worn out issues that settled to the bottom.  Mindless repetition is so exciting. :ph34r:

I take it that means you attend weekly church services? <_<:unsure:

Even though you are the ranking expert on Book of Abraham  :P I think you are making a leap that in unfounded.  I would offer more explanation (not that it would do any good given your clear openmindedness), but it is readily available to you throug other sources.

You don't have to be a ranking expert to figure out what the experts are saying. Unless you're arguing again that Egyptologists don't know what they're talking about.

The problem is, byuBOY, is that not all the scholars agree. That's one of the fun things about history and ancient languages - there is lots of room for disagreement and interpretation. Most Egyptian scholars will tell you that Egyptian hieroglyphics are written so that they can be highly symbolic and represent many different things.

So, while the piece you discuss is a common funerary piece, it also is more than just to ward off zombies.

The boat in the drawing is the boat that leads a person to the Egyptian netherworld, where a person is judged by Osiris (God), and taken to his final reward. That isn't too far off from Joseph's description.

You need to do more than read a couple anti-Mormon articles on the topic. It is much more complex than you seem to understand.

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Quote (Byu_Boy)

QUOTE 

Even though you are the ranking expert on Book of Abraham  I think you are making a leap that in unfounded.  I would offer more explanation (not that it would do any good given your clear openmindedness), but it is readily available to you throug other sources.

You don't have to be a ranking expert to figure out what the experts are saying. Unless you're arguing again that Egyptologists don't know what they're talking about.

Which experts?

Is this another "my experts are better than your experts because they agree with my preconceptions" thing? cool.gif

Oh, the weekly church servies thing - touch

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FARMS

The above reference is a good paper by Hugh Nibley that should answer all of your questions.

I just read it. It doesn't answer my questions. Hugh Nibley offers up a horrible defense of the Book of Abraham. He tries to boil the argument down to a semantic argument about whether or not Joseph Smith invented an Egyptian alphabet. He concludes that Joseph Smith did not invent an Egyptian alphabet, therefore the book of Abraham is true. :P<_<

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FARMS

The above reference is a good paper by Hugh Nibley that should answer all of your questions.

I just read it. It doesn't answer my questions. Hugh Nibley offers up a horrible defense of the Book of Abraham. He tries to boil the argument down to a semantic argument about whether or not Joseph Smith invented an Egyptian alphabet. He concludes that Joseph Smith did not invent an Egyptian alphabet, therefore the book of Abraham is true. :P<_<

If it doesn't answer your question I can't help you. I posted that link just a few minutes ago.

It would take quite a bit more time to read that paper and understand it. Read it again.

If you are at BYU, like you say you are, you have access to the religion department. Go ask the Dean the same question, I'm sure he will give you more references than I did.

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Back in his day, nobody could read Egyptian heiroglyphics

This is an interesting position because many people claim that Champollion deciphered hieroglyphs in 1822, a good thirteen years before. His work was published in Boston in 1830. So if you are a typical environmentalist who believes that if it was available anywhere then Joseph Smith knew about it, he would have to have known about Champollion's decipherment and been able to use it to translate the hieratic characters (the Boston publication included a table of the alphabet in hieratic). Charles Anthon also seems to have known about Champollion's work.

So your position is at odds with the typical environmentalist explanation for how Joseph Smith's Book of Abraham manages to match a large number of non-biblical traditions about Abraham. You cannot have it both ways.

Soon after his translation was finished, the papyri were lost and thought to have been destroyed in a Chicago fire. But luckily, in the 1967, the scrolls were rediscovered.

What was rediscovered in 1967 can hardly be called scrolls. Fragments is a more apt term. You have a slight problem with accounts that show that some of the scrolls did end up in Chicago (and were burned in 1871) while at least some of the mounted fragments ended up in New York. Furthermore, Nineteenth century descriptions of the vignettes on the scrolls do not match the vignettes of the fragments while Nineteenth century descriptions of the vignettes on the fragments do. We thus cannot account for all of the papyri that Joseph Smith owned.

On the back of the papyri were drawings of the Kirkland, Ohio area and temple. There could be no doubt these were the same scrolls Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Abraham.

Of course the fact that the Museum also had the original document of sale signed by Emma Smith and Joseph Smith III is even better proof of provenance. I think that you overstate the case when you say that these were the same scrolls that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Abraham. The fragments come from three different scrolls. Obviously not all three can be the Book of Abraham. So Joseph had other scrolls that were not the Book of Abraham or the Book of Joseph. Research indicates that he had five papyrus documents, so at least three of these are not the Book of Abraham or the Book of Joseph. How can you say for certain that the three whose fragments we have are not the three that are neither the Book of Abraham nor the Book of Joseph?

Fortunately, we now had modern Egyptologists who could verify that Joseph Smith was a true prophet!

Just how are they supposed to have verified that? The usual notion is that science cannot verify anything but can only falsify something. On what epistemological grounds can you claim that they could verify something?

Unfortunately it turns out that the Book of Abraham scroll was nothing more than a common burial scroll.

Since you have not established that we possess the original text of the Book of Abraham, your conclusion does not follow. Just what is a common burial scroll anyway? Can you describe the contents of a common burial scroll? I would think that it would be easy since they are common. How do the various Joseph Smith papyri compare to the hypothesized common burial scroll? How common are common burial scrolls? Does the content of common burial scrolls change over time? If so, are there certain period when a particular type of burial scroll is common and other periods when it is less so? Is any scroll buried with someone a common burial scroll? Are all scrolls buried with someone burial scrolls? If a scroll is a burial scroll does that mean that it has no other uses? Your conclusion raises some interesting questions which I would like to see answered, even though your logic is shaky.

The church apologetic's "defense" against this is that apparently no Egyptologist knows what they are talking about (the same defense they use against archaeologists, biologists, etc.).

From what I have seen, very few apologists offer this "defense", although I have seen it mentioned occasionally that Egyptologists appear to not know much about LDS Church history, or that anthropologists are not generally considered experts on molecular biology, or that most archaeologists have not read the Book of Mormon carefully. From what I have seen, most of the apologists are quite willing to give experts their due in their respective fields.

This is not really a defense, per se, just noting that your argument, as stated, has some problems with logic and more with unjustified assumptions.

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The problem is, byuBOY, is that not all the scholars agree.  That's one of the fun things about history and ancient languages - there is lots of room for disagreement and interpretation.  Most Egyptian scholars will tell you that Egyptian hieroglyphics are written so that they can be highly symbolic and represent many different things.

So, while the piece you discuss is a common funerary piece, it also is more than just to ward off zombies.

The boat in the drawing is the boat that leads a person to the Egyptian netherworld, where a person is judged by Osiris (God), and taken to his final reward.  That isn't too far off from Joseph's description.

You need to do more than read a couple anti-Mormon articles on the topic.  It is much more complex than you seem to understand.

I understand that there is an overwhelming consensus in the scholarly world regarding the Book of Abraham. Most Egyptologists think Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Abraham is a fraud. Now why would they think such a thing? Either a) they don't understand the issues at hand or b ) they're right and Joseph Smith got caught with his polygamous pants down?

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FARMS

The above reference is a good paper by Hugh Nibley that should answer all of your questions.

I just read it. It doesn't answer my questions. Hugh Nibley offers up a horrible defense of the Book of Abraham. He tries to boil the argument down to a semantic argument about whether or not Joseph Smith invented an Egyptian alphabet. He concludes that Joseph Smith did not invent an Egyptian alphabet, therefore the book of Abraham is true. :P<_<

Have you met Paul Osborne yet? And why the heck are you going to BYU?

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Back in his day, nobody could read Egyptian heiroglyphics

This is an interesting position because many people claim that Champollion deciphered hieroglyphs in 1822, a good thirteen years before. His work was published in Boston in 1830. So if you are a typical environmentalist who believes that if it was available anywhere then Joseph Smith knew about it, he would have to have known about Champollion's decipherment and been able to use it to translate the hieratic characters (the Boston publication included a table of the alphabet in hieratic). Charles Anthon also seems to have known about Champollion's work.

So your position is at odds with the typical environmentalist explanation for how Joseph Smith's Book of Abraham manages to match a large number of non-biblical traditions about Abraham. You cannot have it both ways.

Soon after his translation was finished, the papyri were lost and thought to have been destroyed in a Chicago fire. But luckily, in the 1967, the scrolls were rediscovered.

What was rediscovered in 1967 can hardly be called scrolls. Fragments is a more apt term. You have a slight problem with accounts that show that some of the scrolls did end up in Chicago (and were burned in 1871) while at least some of the mounted fragments ended up in New York. Furthermore, Nineteenth century descriptions of the vignettes on the scrolls do not match the vignettes of the fragments while Nineteenth century descriptions of the vignettes on the fragments do. We thus cannot account for all of the papyri that Joseph Smith owned.

On the back of the papyri were drawings of the Kirkland, Ohio area and temple. There could be no doubt these were the same scrolls Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Abraham.

Of course the fact that the Museum also had the original document of sale signed by Emma Smith and Joseph Smith III is even better proof of provenance. I think that you overstate the case when you say that these were the same scrolls that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Abraham. The fragments come from three different scrolls. Obviously not all three can be the Book of Abraham. So Joseph had other scrolls that were not the Book of Abraham or the Book of Joseph. Research indicates that he had five papyrus documents, so at least three of these are not the Book of Abraham or the Book of Joseph. How can you say for certain that the three whose fragments we have are not the three that are neither the Book of Abraham nor the Book of Joseph?

Fortunately, we now had modern Egyptologists who could verify that Joseph Smith was a true prophet!

Just how are they supposed to have verified that? The usual notion is that science cannot verify anything but can only falsify something. On what epistemological grounds can you claim that they could verify something?

Unfortunately it turns out that the Book of Abraham scroll was nothing more than a common burial scroll.

Since you have not established that we possess the original text of the Book of Abraham, your conclusion does not follow. Just what is a common burial scroll anyway? Can you describe the contents of a common burial scroll? I would think that it would be easy since they are common. How do the various Joseph Smith papyri compare to the hypothesized common burial scroll? How common are common burial scrolls? Does the content of common burial scrolls change over time? If so, are there certain period when a particular type of burial scroll is common and other periods when it is less so? Is any scroll buried with someone a common burial scroll? Are all scrolls buried with someone burial scrolls? If a scroll is a burial scroll does that mean that it has no other uses? Your conclusion raises some interesting questions which I would like to see answered, even though your logic is shaky.

The church apologetic's "defense" against this is that apparently no Egyptologist knows what they are talking about (the same defense they use against archaeologists, biologists, etc.).

From what I have seen, very few apologists offer this "defense", although I have seen it mentioned occasionally that Egyptologists appear to not know much about LDS Church history, or that anthropologists are not generally considered experts on molecular biology, or that most archaeologists have not read the Book of Mormon carefully. From what I have seen, most of the apologists are quite willing to give experts their due in their respective fields.

This is not really a defense, per se, just noting that your argument, as stated, has some problems with logic and more with unjustified assumptions.

Typical mormon apologetic strategy. Hem and haw and establish plausibility. Those "fragments" as you claim they are had the facsimiles printed in the Book of Abraham. The facsimiles are there.

Oh wow, look, Joseph Smith was right about a few traditions. So what? He had access to the Apocrypha, and studied it intensely. All he had to do was interpolate between the apocrypha and his own imagination and he was bound to be right about a few things.

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I understand that there is an overwhelming consensus in the scholarly world regarding the Book of Abraham.

What scholarly world are you referring to? Your arguments are so broad as to be completely worthless. For example, John Gee and even Hugh Nibley both agreed that the extant papyri are not the source of the B of A. However, you seem to very glibly dismiss the idea that not all of the papyri were recovered, even though we know for a fact that this is the case since at least one of the Facsimilies found in the B of A is not accounted for in the extant papyri. That fact alone lends credence to the notion that not everything was recovered. Moreover, none of the extant papyri match the descriptions of the papyri given by contemporary witnesses who described them. That also indicates that what we now have is not representativeof everything Smith had.

Most Egyptologists think Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Abraham is a fraud.

Most egyptologist have never even read the B of A or have any clue what it is. However, you continue to ignore the question of how, if the BofA is such a fraud, the ancient world it describes is right in so many instances and how Smith was able to recover so many authentic traditions about Abraham which were unknown to him in his day?

Now why would they think such a thing? Either a) they don't understand the issues at hand or b ) they're right and Joseph Smith got caught with his polygamous pants down?

That's all the options you give them? Somehow I doubt the issues are as constricted as your believe. Moreover, your posts smacks of nothing more that trolling and you show no real interest in addressing the complexities of the B of A question. That's typical of the "I'm-so-much-smarter-than-those-deluded-Mormons" line of attack.

C.I.

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If Joseph lied why are several of the revelations in the doctrine and covenants rebukes of him. Particularly the severe one of yielding to Martin Harris. If he had weaknesses one may have been of being too trusting and too forgiving. In McConkies straightforward answers to gospel questions he says that and if we were to choose our weaknesses could we do better.

He said if you bear with my burdens and forgive me i will forgive you something like that in teachings. Lieing was not a weakness because though like Peter he repented when he got rebuked he put the rebukes in the doctrine and covenenats. That is not something a liar would do.

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I believe a lot of what is called "translation" in the Church is actually "revelation" and may or may not have anything to do with the words (or heiroglyphics) written.

Many of Josephs revelations were received after going to the Lord and asking about something. I think the BoA is no different.

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What scholarly world are you referring to?  Your arguments are so broad as to be completely worthless.  For example, John Gee and even Hugh Nibley both agreed that the extant papyri are not the source of the B of A.  However, you seem to very glibly dismiss the idea that not all of the papyri were recovered, even though we know for a fact that this is the case since at least one of the Facsimilies found in the B of A is not accounted for in the extant papyri.  That fact alone lends credence to the notion that not everything was recovered.  Moreover, none of the extant papyri match the descriptions of the papyri given by contemporary witnesses who described them.  That also indicates that what we now have is not representativeof everything Smith had.

I didn't dismiss the idea that not all of them are recovered. I said that we have some of them. And what we DO have does not match what Joseph Smith said it is.

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If Joseph lied why are several of the revelations in the doctrine and covenants rebukes of him. Particularly the severe one of yielding to Martin Harris. If he had weaknesses one may have been of being too trusting and too forgiving. In McConkies straightforward answers to gospel questions he says that and if we were to choose our weaknesses could we do better.

He said if you bear with my burdens and forgive me i will forgive you something like that in teachings. Lieing was not a weakness because though like Peter he repented when he got rebuked he put the rebukes in the doctrine and covenenats. That is not something a liar would do.

Amen, Jeopardy!

:P

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BYU_boy..... The papyri fragment found, IS NOT the "scroll" Joseph translated the Book of Abraham from.

It is simply ONE piece of the MANY scrolls he obtained, most being what he himself said was JUNK. So, of course the "translation" is not going to match.

So, quit believing the anti-arguments who OMIT all the facts of the issue.

Until you have the exact materials he had, no anti should be claiming that "THIS IS THE SCROLL HE TRANSLATED from". And just because the fragment has ONE of the facimilees in the BOA, that doesn't make it having the actual BOA according to Joseph's claims. Joseph gave away his extra useless scrolls to lot's of people, there is no evidence whatsoever that THIS FRAGEMENT is what Joseph used.

Until we have actual evidence of that, you and know-one else should be saying it is, and then trying to debunk the Church by it. There is much more evidence that it's NOT the scroll the book came from. So, learn the facts people before you judge.....

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didn't dismiss the idea that not all of them are recovered. I said that we have some of them. And what we DO have does not match what Joseph Smith said it is.

Since Joseph Smith was long dead when the papyri were recovered, he never said anything about what was recovered. For all you know, he would have looked at the current collection and said, "Where the rest?"

However, your heated rhetoric is cooled somewhat by the fact that current LDS experts in egyptology have said that what we currently have is not the source of the B of A. In fact, Hugh Nibley said that very thing three decades or more ago.

C.I.

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