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Dennis Packard, Professor of Philosophy at BYU, has recently produced several youtube video with a whole new spin on how struggling members should deal with the Book of Abraham issue.
Is this the first release of the new Maxwell Institute - post Daniel C. Peterson?
Same story, but shot with unknown faces and with more personal cinematic angles(e.g. shallow depth of field on DSLR).
The first video he released to address the Book of Abraham issue, titled Alone (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR3uxb...) about a seemingly too smart for his pants young married father who finds come "compelling" augments (they overused the compelling word) against the origins of the Book of Abraham.
Of course it features a concerned father, a weeping young wife, and the well informed ward scholar.
As expected, this doubter finishes the 30 minute video not leaving LDS Inc, by merely choosing to believe.
In the middle of the above video, he and his dad visit the ward scholar wherein he shows them a video featuring another professor from BYU, Kerry Muhlestein.
The captions in the portion of the video state he earned his PhD in Egyptology from UCLA in 2003.
His vitae states that he is indeed "Adjunct Research Fellow of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship."
Perhaps this going to be the new point man for all things Book of Abraham mo'pologetic?
In another video released by Dennis Packard on youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuxTDe..., Kerry trots out the old Chicago fire excuse for the missing papyri theory. Which of course is where the Book of Abraham was translated!
So it seems that this new poster boy is entering the fray with the Book of Abraham was translated from the, of course, missing papyri, forever lost in the GREAT CHICAGO FIRE. At least according to favorable "accounts" of those around smith when he was translating.
"Courageous". I'm guessing that putting that on shoes is a Utah thing?
A minute and a half in, and we're already pointing to those evil faith-destroying websites. I guess it goes to show how common a catalyst it is, but still, that didn't take long.
"Pornography?" There's that "desire to sin" idea, but the video's not using it as an explanation. Encouraging.
I'm not sure what to make of this music. Kinda... mournful, which I guess is what you'd expect.
Is the bookshelf metaphor that common within the church? I'd only ever heard it outside.
"He didn't really get 'kicked out', but..." They seem to be downplaying the risk of getting booted from BYU when you leave the church.
It's great that we're focusing on the tone and motive of these scholars, rather than on the arguments themselves. You can't trust these people, they're angry!
They're really piling on the guilt for people who don't talk to their spouses while they're figuring things out. I can understand, communication is vital, but I'm not sure that assigning blame is appropriate.
I like how we're portraying the ex-Mormon, kicked-out-of-BYU guy as uncaring and callous. That's cool and not an awful ad hominem at all.
If the church were interested in teaching what "these articles" say about the Book of Abraham, it'd be part of the curriculum. The fact that it's on some website somewhere doesn't mean the church is being open and honest about the information, and pretending otherwise is disingenuous. (I spelled that right. Boom.)
Turn to the Dark Side... we have cookies...
More mournful music. Does anyone know what video they're watching?
Let's not go to the Internet, 'tis a silly place.
Ooh, we're about to be told who's trustworthy! ...And we'll just assume they're trustworthy enough to tell us! It's foolproof!
...Only listen to Church historians. Got it.
"[They're] prevented from finding the truth because they don't know where to find it." If the church were teaching the straight truth all along, that wouldn't be a problem.
Are we ever going to talk specifics on the Book of Abraham in this video, or are we going to stick to generalities instead of bringing up the knock-down counterarguments that the church clearly has, am I right? ...Guys?
Oh, okay, Joseph Smith was not translating from the text around Facsimile 1. That's fair. We'll just handwave away the fact that the descriptions of the figures in Facsimile 1 are way off base, and completely sidestep the logical question of what he was actually translating from in that case.
It's all so complex. Really, just trust us. You can't figure it out for yourself. It's okay.
Nevermind, you are supposed to figure it out... but then disregard that and ask God about it instead.
Hear that? You left the church because you didn't study its history enough.
The kicked-out-of-BYU guy might not believe in God anymore? Terrifying. Can't let that happen to you.
Finally some specifics. I'm curious as to how they'll explain them away in the next six minutes.
"That's poisonous. It makes me feel sick inside." So the church hides the truth because it's unhealthy! Always knew there was a good reason.
He found the answers! ...And he's not going to tell you what they are!
Either there isn't a God, or God expects you to develop a real belief in apparent nonsense. Chew on that one for a while.
He grew closer to his wife because of his crisis of faith. In my case, so did I... but I know many others haven't been so lucky.
I really hate this idea of "choosing to believe". Irrational belief in the face of real counterevidence is not a virtue!
So that was disappointing. I have no desire to click on any of those after-the-show links.
So almost half an hour later the video has answered 0 questions and suggests I just trust in people who are obviously way smarter than me before I lose my soul and become an atheist. If I share these doubts with anyone they will break down in tears. So don't share them. But oh yea, share them too. Don't doubt for 6 months before telling anyone.
I smirked when the main dude tells his dad that his friends had been watching some videos that "threw him off" on the church, and the first question out of the dad's mouth was "pornography?"
Also, the dude's wife gets all choked up and teary-eyed and asks him "you aren't having doubts about the church are you?", then gets all pissed off at him for not telling her he was looking at anti-Mormon stuff, as if by doing so he was cheating on her or something. It delegitimizes looking into Mormon truth claims from a non-faithful point of view. He's made to appear like he did something wrong.
Also, her reaction to him "keeping this from me" is precisely the kind of reaction that probably caused him not to tell her in the first place. In other words, he's just looking for some truthful answers to legitimate questions, and his wife turns it into a sort of love for her or loyalty to the church test.
Kerry Muhlestein sets up a defense that starts out with the Gee Defense, that anyone who isn't an Egyptologist can't really understand the issues. This is just a deflection, a water-muddying defense.
He also implies some sort of alternative-to-translation translation theory, by saying that once one realizes that Joseph wasn't translating from the material included in the papyri right around one of the facsimiles (material the church now has, and which translates out to stuff not actually the Book of Abraham) all these problems vanish. And this despite internal references to that very material in the Book of Abraham.
The white-haired "scholar of the scriptures" that the main actor talks to keeps talking about how one must give up their false assumptions (in other words, disregard the facts alleged in the anti-Mormon sites) and apply a spiritual test.
Also he mentions finding a video from an LDS scholar who "has published a ton, including by the Oxford Press". Well, what he says must make it all right then, mustn't it?
Thoughts/Rebuttals To Kerry Muhlestein's Defense Of The Book Of Abraham? Tuesday, Feb 19, 2013, at 07:32 AM Original Author(s): Sleepygeeks Topic:KERRY MUHLESTEIN-Link To MC Article-
This is an act of well spoken misdirection aimed at unread laymen.
I don't like that he keeps saying "ancient texts" " Many cultures" etc... He won't give dates, names or places.
He offers no references but pretends to get around that by showing a list of titles that could be brownie recipes for all we know. He keeps saying that everything lines up perfectly with the book of Abraham but just refuses to give a specific example that's sourced and from the same time frame or culture.
Yes, people did practice human sacrifice all over Mesopotamia and sometimes it was for high profile events or crimes, but that's only meaningful if you can make the connection with a specific date, in a specific culture and with a source.
He admits that Smith had access to some primary sources but then downplays what that means; Smith is also not the only person we need to worry about when it comes to the production of these books. What about other people? What about the edits that have taken place over the last 140 years? What about edits Smith made during his own life? The books have never been left alone.
Taking time to refute this with sources would take multiple historians who are specialists in their field, Apologists can have a field day with uneducated plebs because of this simple fact. He hits on points that are relatively easy for an educated individual to question but require specialist knowledge to refute; he ignores points that are unquestionably wrong.
Thoughts/Rebuttals To Kerry Muhlestein's Defense Of The Book Of Abraham? Tuesday, Feb 19, 2013, at 07:34 AM Original Author(s): Moonquaker Topic:KERRY MUHLESTEIN-Link To MC Article-
I think the main issue is that he ignores the 99.9% of facsimile contents that are impossible to link to Abraham and the Joseph Smith translations and are 100% misses, and instead uses big flowery words and excited emotional talking to focus on the .1% that can be maybe, possibly, if looked at it from the right angle, while under the effects of peyote, somehow related to Abraham or Joseph Smith's translation.
Regarding Fig 6 on Fac 3 (Sons of Horus), I think that if anyone tried to "translate" enough Egyptian, the odds would be that you'd get close to a proper translation eventually. A broken clock is right twice a day, etc.
I also agree with the "well spoken misdirection" statement. For example, on facsimile 3, he says OTHER facsimiles that are similar to fac 3 have Abraham on the throne (with out showing any supporting evidence), but doesn't say that facsimile 3 itself has Abraham on the throne. Then says "JS nailed it!".
The Egyptian writing on fac 3 talks about Hor (the mummy that the scrolls were created for), not Abraham.
The apologist approach is to talk in generalities and dubious big picture parallels when the specifics don't fit (again, which is 99.9% of the time with the facsimiles), and then latch onto the smallest linkage or a specific and say, "Joseph Smith nailed it!".
Today I've thought about emailing Kerry Muhlenstein, at minimum calling him out on his dishonest explanations. I wonder if he'd like to be interviewed trying to answer questions about the other 99.9% of the facsimile contents.
Another bullshit misdirection thing he did when talking about Fac 2 is the whole "Wedjat" (sometimes called "udjat") connection he was trying to make.
He says "the ancient egyptians associated that kind of drawing with Abraham, they call it a Wedjat eye". He says that Abraham is a "pupil of the Wedjat eye".
There is a Wedjat eye in fac 2, it is in Fig 7. It's where Nehebkau (Holy Ghost according to JS) is presenting Min (God according to JS) with the Wedjat eye.
The Wedjat eye it's just one small part of fac 2, yet he is trying make the whole document Wedjat eye which is total bs.
Recently, BYU professor Kerry Muhlestein has recorded a series of youtube videos where he defends the veracity of Joseph Smith's translation of the Egyptian papyrus as the Book of Abraham. These video can be found on the youtube channel "mormonchallenges".
In these videos, Kerry makes all kinds of claims about how Egyptology is discovering new connections between ancient egypt and the patriarch Abraham. I know all of the traditional objections to the translation problems of the book of Abraham and its accompanying facsimiles. I even made a video about it a while ago on my flackerman channel.
However, Kerry made it seem as if there has been some new information that has come out. Not being an Egyptologist, I decided to e-mail 3 professors of Egyptology at UCLA, where Kerry got his degree, and see if they agreed with his claims.
The first professor said that he did not have time to watch the videos, but that he was familiar with the Joseph Smith papyrus and the book of Abraham. He instead referred me to Professor Robert Ritner's book "The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri. A Complete Edition" and that he agreed with Dr. Ritner's conclusions. Dr. Ritner was the beared professor who appeared in the "book of Abraham" video documentary that so many of us has watched on youtube. He concluded in that video that there was no connection of any kind between the papyrus, the facsimiles, and the book of Abraham.
The second professor told me that the translation and interpretation of the Joseph Smith papyri are a religious, instead of a scholarly endeavor. I responded that I appreciated his religious sensitivity, but that professor Muhlestein was claiming that the science of Egyptology had discovered a connection between the book of the Dead, the hypocephalus, and Abraham. After watching at least one of the videos, he responded that I was right and that he would "discuss it with him".
The last professor, Dr. Kara Cooney, wrote me the following:
"I watched the three videos, and I don't agree with any of it. The ancient Egyptians had no concept of Abraham, so I don't know where he gets these comparisons. And No, most Egyptologists do not agree, despite what Kerry says. I know Kerry, but I do not have much respect for his work. Now I have even less. The fact that he is digging in Egypt is even more worrisome. This PhD was awarded before I arrived at UCLA, although I know that Kerry finished his text based dissertation after only two years of Egyptian language training, which is rather laughable.
Have you read Robert Ritner's work about this in Journal of Near Eastern Studies? It's the best out there. Kerry is just spinning out the same Mormon rhetoric. What is different is: Mormons are funding PhDs in Egyptology and Biblical Studies and then funding positions at BYU and elsewhere and passing these people off as experts, when they are only ideologically driven researchers, not experts interested in actual evidence.
Thanks for sending. It's important to know who these people are"
So there you have it. All 3 of the professors of Egyptology at the University where Kerry got his degree disagree with his claims. Peer review is a bitch, isn't it Kerry.
I like how they say that they should have read his presentation that he gave over in Russia... which hasn't been uploaded by him on his page at BYU.
They also reference John Gee's published paper... which is published in a book of essays... for BYU students.
They cite Nibley's Abraham in Egypt which was published by Deseret Books not in anything peer reviewed as far as google could tell me.
They reference thje Greek Magical Papyri which is dated from from 200 BC to 500+ AD. This is not a contemporary document. It's only off by a little less than two thousand years. Oh yeah, It's also a book of magic spells. The credibility of this this source is just magical.
They call argument from authority which doesn't really work when it is scientific consensus and is ironic in light of them arguing from the minority fringe characters' (Nibley, Gee, Muhlestein) authority.
Probably the most problematic is that it is based on the premise that Flackerman didn't address the long roll vs. short roll question which he did handily.
It's safe to say that FairLDS is still up to their same old tricks and need the continual reminder of people walking up to them and saying "Bro, do you even science?"
From the FAIR blog:
Unfortunately, the e-mailer set up a straw man from the beginning: The videos are said to be "on these papyrus fragments," meaning the Joseph Smith Papyri. He then goes on to speak about "[Muhlestein's] conclusions about the veracity of Smith's translations of these papyri." Actually, Muhlestein says the papyri are not the source of the Book of Abraham (see note 13).
Except, the papyri are the source for facsimile 1. FACT. (Muhlestein himself references this in his video's)
Facsimile 1 is explicitly referenced in the Book of Abraham itself. FACT. (check it out, it's in the canon)
Ergo the papyri are the source of the Book of Abraham. ONLY REASONABLE CONCLUSION BASED ON THE ABOVE TWO FACTS.
Here we have the Church officially confirming that the papyri fragments are the source of the Book of Abraham.
In the early spring of 1966, Dr. Aziz S. Atiya, a University of Utah professor, discovered several fragments of the book of Abraham papyri while doing research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. These fragments were presented to the Church by the director of the museum on 27 November 1967. The current whereabouts of the other mummies and the other portions of the papyri are unknown (see H. Donl Peterson, "Some Joseph Smith Papyri Rediscovered (1967)" in Studies in Scripture, Volume Two, 183-85).
BYU professor Kerry Muhlestein has created a series of videos defending the book of Abraham. In these videos he claimed that new findings in the science of Egyptology were proving a link between the Joseph Smith papyri (especially with the facsimiles), the beliefs and traditions of the ancient Egyptians, and Abraham.
I have just published a video response to Kerry where I compare his assertions against the evidence, and get the opinion of several other Egyptologists that I contacted in an attempt to verify Muhlestein's claims. I thought that some of you might find this interesting.
See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKtNBNX3UIc
"They had reasons to doubt and reasons to believe. They chose to believe."
The video is obviously designed to combat the oceans of young people who have access to new data in ways that previous folks could never have dreamed.
Midway through the video, doubts about the Church and specifically the Book of Abraham are are supposedly pseudo-tackled by inserting an appeal to authority; suggesting that Mormon Scholars and the great Kerry Muhlestein can help bring folks back to a place where they can then resolve their intellectual concerns and open back up to testing their concerns spiritually.
The film creates an archetype of an individual who left the Church, and paints him as unwilling or mostly uninterested in considering pro-Mormon sources to resolve his concerns.
Muhlestein's appearance paints the issues with the Book of Abraham as being so intrensically complex that only the most scholarly of historians and egyptologists could possibly tackle it.
Conclusion: Were we to believe the nonsensical conclusions put forward by the video, we would learn that we simply need to study ourselves back into a place intellectually that will allow us to test it all in the realm of spirituality. While nothing specific is proposed, it's suggested that doubters should spend more time researching the Mormon Scholars and accept that while Joseph was human and made some mistakes, there's plenty of reason to choose to believe.
Reality: This video oversimplifies issues and engages in fallacies designed to muddy the waters of inquiry. Sadly, much of it is so misleading as to come across as laughable. The archetype anti-Mormon who leaves the church doesn't return because he isn't willing to keep studying Mormon Scholars? The main character magically studies his way back to a place that logically dumps him to test the claims in the realm of spirituality?
Bonus: It isn't by accident that John Dehlin's voice appears in this joke. And while Muhlestein plays the "I know my stuff and it's my life's work to help people work through their issues on the Book of Abraham" card, you'll note that his peers at UCLA, as well as EVERY SINGLE EGYPTOLOGIST alive today all disagree with even the light conclusions he tries to pass off as pertains to the Book of Abraham and Mormonism.