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KIRTLAND EGYPTIAN PAPERS
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints owns the Kirtland Egyptian Papers but refuses to allow close inspection of them by any person they do not implicitly trust. They have made high-resolution scans of all these documents and have provided these scans to a small circle of trusted defenders, one of whom is Will Schryver. They have not, as of yet, made any of these materials available for inspection by any critic or disinterested third-party.
| Is it just me, or is it most likely the first chapters of the Book of Abraham were written (AKA "translated") before the KEP? Joe Smith was a con man and while he was cooking up some new doctrine to launch his justification for polygamy, it’s when the papyrus found him. To back this up, all one has to do is look at Joe Smith’s zeal for vehicles to launch more doctrine. What he said about the Kinderhook plates:
I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth.
And what Joe Smith said about the Greek Psalter (Note the dumbed down language Joe Smith used to give himself an out):
He asked me if I had any idea of its meaning. I replied, that I believed it to be a Greek Psalter; but that I should like to hear his opinion. "No", he said; "it ain't Greek at all; except, perhaps, a few words. This book is very valuable. It is a dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics." Pointing to the capital letters at the commencement of each verse, he said: "Them figures is Egyptian hieroglyphics; and them which follows, is the interpretation of the hieroglyphics, written in the reformed Egyptian. Them characters is like the letters that was engraven on the golden plates."
What is most logical, is that behind the scenes when the secret meetings were taking place and Joe Smith was promising his cohorts a plan to get them all multiple young wives, was that the new “doctrine” was already being written. Once the papyrus found Joe Smith, he had to publish something that proved he really could translate Egyptian, and that resulted in the KEP, so it makes perfect sense that the Book of Abraham doctrine existed before the KEP, and if Will can prove this is, it doesn’t change anything, and it’s exactly what I would expect from the con in process. To further attempt to place blame on the scribes is an attempt to absolve Joe Smith and distance him from the translation, which is absurd. Who were these rouge scribes anyway?
Just as the translation of the Book of Mormon was done out of a hat with seer stones, when the apologists use calculations and a timeline to prove Joe Smith was being guided by God, what they fail to acknowledge is that Oliver Cowdrey was the primary scribe. If Cowdrey already had the source material that formed the basis for the Book of Mormon, then the writing could be done by him without Joe and his magic bag of fake plates in the room. This would clearly speed up the translation process, and I suspect the head-in-hat act was only performed for others in select times to sell the method. When Emma was acting as the scribe, it was probably in the parts of the BofM that Joe Smith was concocting, so he didn’t need to memorize the entire thing, because Cowdrey had most of it already written down. When Cowdrey died he had all his papers burned… wonder why?
In the end, Facsimile 3 is wrong. Either God was wrong, or Joe Smith was wrong, but in either case Joe Smith was wrong. The apparent objective Will is attempting to prove for all the world to see is exactly what I would expect, as the cart comes before the horse from the eyes of a con man. What the true objective is IMO, is to give the ignorant something to quote, just as they continue to claim the papyrus was burned in a fire, or was as large as a room. This logic is just a bandaid to place the label of “scholarly” to something… anything which they can debate, just as Gee’s hocus pocus math is still argued even though the papyrus the Mormon church has is the one Joe Smith used to launch his new doctrine… the data that remains hidden for a reason, along with all the data that’s been destroyed to keep the Mormon myth alive in the minds of those that need it to be true. If Will hits his target, the only people it will impress are too ignorant of the subject matter to know that it doesn't matter and proves the BofA false just as much as it proves it "true" when we already know it's not written by the hand of Abraham and is 100% wrong.
Dr A. H. Sayce of Oxford, England wrote:
"It is difficult to deal seriously with Joseph Smith's impudent fraud. His fac-simile from the Book of Abraham No. 2 is an ordinary hypocephalus, but the hieroglyphics upon it have been copied so ignorantly that hardly one of them is correct".
While it may have taken more than five minutes of study, even many faithful Mormons have been shaken when faced with the evidence. One Mormon, Naomi Woodbury, wrote a touching letter to the editor published in the August, 1968 issue of the independent Mormon periodical, Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought.
"Number 3 is a representation of the Goddess Maat leading the Pharaoh before Osiris, behind whom stand the Goddess Isis. Smith has turned the Goddess into a king and Osiris into Abraham" (F.S. Spalding, Joseph Smith, Jr., As A Translator, p.23).
Dr. W.M. Flinders Petrie of London University wrote, "It may be safely said that there is not one single word that is true in these explanations" (ibid p.24).
Dr. Arthur C. Mace, Assistant Curator for the Department of Egyptian Art of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York explained,
"The `Book of Abraham,' it is hardly necessary to say, is a pure fabrication."
"Joseph Smith's interpretation of these cuts is a farrago of nonsense from beginning to end. Egyptian characters can now be read almost as easily as Greek, and five minutes' study in an Egyptian gallery of any museum should be enough to convince any educated man of the clumsiness of the imposture" (ibid p. 27).
She said, "I myself studied Egyptian hieroglyphics at UCLA several years ago in the hope of resolving some of the problems connected with the `Book of Abraham' in Joseph Smith's favor. Unfortunately, as soon as I had learned the language well enough to use a dictionary I was forced to conclude that Joseph Smith's translation was mistaken, however sincere it might have been. It belongs to a kind of literature which is alien to Christianity and to our Church" (p. 8) Joseph Smith's Papyri Found.
| I'm a bit confused by a few things.
1. Will has no calling, no special dispensation to essentially do the work of the official church historian. Are we now allowing uncalled people to set themselves up as authorities? We have a person who is the official church historian, right? Why isn't he heading this?
2. Is Will expecting to make any money off this?
3. Where are the Brethren in this? If something new is going to be revealed, 1) why aren't they doing revealing, and 2) have they abdicated their "seer and revelator" duties to volunteers?
If this is as important as Will and Co say it is, then this is a direct slap at the Brethren and their authority to reveal that which God wants revealed to his church.
| I am completely fascinated by the hype that has been stirred about Schryver's upcoming presentation. I mean who has ever seen anything like this before? At MADB people like Greg Smith said the presentation was shown beforehand because Schryver simply wanted feedback. That sounded reasonable enough, but then today I find out that FAIR apologists were not the only ones who previewed it. The LDS media was called in and they've been hyping it further, clearly to drive in more revenue for FAIR. ($80 a pop for a 2-day conference is nothing to sneeze at!)
What is most interesting about all of this iis the way everyone insists Will's presentation will be irrevocable, definitive, and end to all criticism. This is strange because for years the apologists tried to posture themselves as scholarly by maintaining that scholarship always changes, and anything can come up later to refute current theories, etc. But they do not treat Will's argument as a theory susceptible to refuting evidence. They treat it as unimpeachable doctrine, which simply blows me away. It blows me away because Will himself has said that he is not presenting any new data whatsoever, and that his entire argument is based strictly on his observation of the cruddy microfilm version of the KEP. Something that the Tanners have been selling for decades. This mean it is merely an interpretation-based argument, which are among the flimsiest of arguments. I also find it interesting the way the apologists misrepresent the "critics" as a group of "frustrated" people who simply don't know how to handle thisso called devastating news. This is funny because Schryver told us about this stuff months ago, even a year ago, and we blew it off as more wishful apologetics by Schryver. Only when he's managed to get FAIR and the LDS media to pimp it as an indestructible fact, do the critics get curious as to what's really going on.
Just look at what Deseret News had to say about this:
A Book of Abraham mystery to be solved at FAIR Conference
Don't they understand that the higher they raise this thing, the harder it will fall? Does this sound like cautious scholarship, or simply a turned up version of the illicit hype from the 2006 Hauglid presentation?
By Michael De Groote
Published: Thursday, July 29, 2010 3:00 p.m. MDT
William Schryver is onto something big, and it's driving critics of the Book of Abraham crazy.
Schryver is scheduled to speak at the FAIR Conference, an annual event presented by the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research or FAIR. The conference focuses on defending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints against misrepresentation.
This year's conference is Aug. 5 and 6 at the South Towne Exposition Center in Sandy. Schryver's presentation on "The Meaning of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers" is one of several topics by other speakers such as David Bokovoy, Jeff Bradshaw, William Duncan, Craig Foster, John Gee, Brian Hales, Valerie Hudson, Gary Lawrence, Steve Mayfield, Dan Peterson, Shirley Ricks, Stephen Ricks, Matthew Roper, Royal Skousen and Peter Watkins.
Schryver's topic has garnered the most buzz on the Internet – leading to frustrating speculation by many critics and praise by those who have seen an early version of the presentation. The Deseret News saw a video version of this presentation on July 26. If Schryver, a software engineer, is correct in his analysis, the last 40 years of scholarship about the Kirtland Egyptian Papers will need to be revised.
The Kirtland Egyptian Papers are a collection of documents created in Kirtland, Ohio, by Joseph Smith and his associates. The content of the papers has long presented a puzzle to scholars. Critics have maintained that the papers were used in the process of translating the Mormon scripture called the Book of Abraham – and that the translation is incorrect. Many Mormon scholars, however, have thought the documents show an attempt of Joseph Smith's associates to decipher Egyptian by using the text of the Book of Abraham as a Rosetta stone – a sort of reverse engineering project.
Schryver will argue on Aug. 6 that both approaches are incorrect. "I am purporting to give a comprehensive answer to the question, 'What is the meaning and purpose of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers?'" Schryver said. "That has never been done."
Greg Smith, one online commenter who had also seen the early version of Schryver's presentation, put it this way: "Schryver has, I think, pretty much killed, buried, and nailed the coffin shut on the idea the KEP are the 'translation documents' of the Book of Abraham, and then thrown the coffin into Mount Doom, before dropping Mt Doom under the continental plates."
Other topics to be covered at the conference include the original text of the Book of Mormon, Fawn Brodie's faulty look at Joseph Smith and plural marriage, Book of Mormon geography, the "Big Love" television program, how people view Mormons and more.
More information can be found on FAIR's website, http://www.fairlds.org. Live online audio streaming of the event will be available for a fee during the conference.
If critics of the KEP are getting antsy or excitied, it probably has more to do with yet another opportunity to shoot down another apologetic theory built upon sand. I mean all of the people who are bragging about it, admittedly know very little about the subject, and Will doesn't even mention the argument by the critics (according to those who previewed it), which means they have no alternative theory to compare it to. This was a deceptive tactic employed by Hauglid as well. The only way he could sell his argument at the 2006 FAIR conference was by pretending the critics had no argument, and then carefully showed slides that seemed to support only his theory.
| The KEP could be the original manuscripts of JSJr's dictating the translation of the Book of Abraham. The KEP could be a later copy made from the original manuscripts, as it appears Mr. Will Schryver will argue on Friday.
Either way, the Egyptian characters in the left hand columns might have come from JSJr or not. If the KEP are the original Book of Abraham dictation manuscripts, the scribes could nonetheless have been adding the Egyptian characters in the column without JSJr's involvement in doing so. If the KEP are handwritten copies of that original manuscript, JSJr could have instructed the scribes to put those Egyptian characters in the column.
What those Egyptian characters in the column do is establish a tie between the found papyri and the Book of Abraham text in English. Egyptologists are uniform in that the Egyptian characters on the found papyri do not match up with Book of Abraham text.
If JSJr was involved in the Egyptian characters from the found papyri being noted in the column of the KEP, then it demonstrates that he was not translating the Egyptian characters on the found papyri as he claimed.
If JSJr was not involved in the Egyptian characters from the found papyri being noted in the column, then it was the scribes who added them on their own. They were in the room with JSJr when he dictated the translation. Apart from JSJr, the scribes were in the best position to know what part of the papyri JSJr was using in the translation process.
If Mr. Schryver can prove the KEP were not the original manuscript of the Book of Abraham, it proves nothing. The original manuscript would not be available to determine if it too had the Egyptian characters from the found papyri in the column, or it did not have them.
Either way, the KEP are the earliest Book of Abraham manuscript available, and they have those Egyptian characters from the found papyri in the column.
Mr. Schryver's proof that the KEP is later than the original manuscript of the Book of Abraham translation does not dispel the notion that JSJr was involved in how those Egyptian characters from the found papyri ended up in the column.
I know Mr. Kevin Graham has expressed that there is a significance to what Mr. Schryver is trying to prove. I just do not yet understand what that significance is.
| I read a blog of one of the guys on MADB and in it he said something about the scribes not understanding what Joseph Smith said. What this boils down to is that any mistakes made by Joseph Smith have to be blame shifted onto someone else in order for Joe smith to be correct, and this seems to be Will's objective… but why?
After word got out that Joe Smith could translate "reformed" Egyptian, Michael Chandler set out to find him with his collection of mummies. The point being that Joseph Smith had a reputation for being able to translate ancient languages, and like any good con man played to his target audience. He failed to identify the Greek Psalter as Greek and also claimed to translate the Kinderhook plates, so one thing we know with absolute certainty is that Joseph Smith was a liar and could not translate something that was a known fraud, but claimed to.
The $64 question then, is by what logic does it make sense to blame the incorrect KEP on the scribes? Why would they act alone without Joseph Smith? If they believed Joseph Smith was a prophet, are we to swallow the absurd notion that they gleaned enough knowledge in translating for Joseph Smith to act alone without his guidance? The most obvious thing that needs to be true to base this theory on, is that the translation of the papyrus was correct, which would then require Abraham's writing (by his own hand) to make its way into the entrails of a mummy and written in Egyptian. Add to this the papyrus that matches the KEP with statements that Joe Smith boasted of having documents by Abraham and Joseph of Egypt, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize the end conclusion is that whatever the supposed lost portion of the papyrus Joe Smith theoretically had (Gee's argument), it was the same as what they have now, which is a common funerary text from the pagan book of the dead.
What this new presentation Will is unleashing on the apologists will ultimately do, is bring focus on the entire Book of Abraham problems, as most Mormons know little to nothing about it. Whatever Will's argument is going to be based on, if it's viewed from the perspective that the Book of Abraham was written first and then the papyrus was used to sell it, it will probably make perfect sense as that's what happened. If it's viewed from the perspective that there really was a translation of Egyptian characters written by Abraham into English telling the story of Abraham, then the "blame it on the scribes" theory may make sense… to them, but it only results in distancing Joe Smith from the data that proves it was all incorrect… just like the facsimiles in the BofA and POP… 100% wrong.
| Will Schryver and the previewers of his KEP presentation to be made public on Friday have let out of the bag--
The KEP 1a and 1b have tied the Book of Abraham 1-3 text to the found papyri, making the missing papyri apologetic a problem. That's because KEP 1a and 1b bear Egyptian characters in the order they appear on the found papyri, down the column of KEP 1a and 1b to the left of the English text of Book of Abraham 1-3. The Egyptian characters are found directly to the left of the first line of a paragraph or the second part of a broken paragraph of the English text.
- No new data/info discoveries. (So there won't be newly found original manuscript of the translation of the Book of Abraham that pre-dates the KEP.)
- Proof that the actual translation pre-dated the KEP. (So the KEP are not, pending that "indisputable" proof on Friday, the original manuscript but copies.)
- The "true meaning" of the KEP.
This pattern reveals an understanding by those who wrote the Egyptian characters in the left margins of the KEP 1a and 1b that there was a correlation between the Egyptian character on the left and the English text paragraph (or second part of a broken paragraph) that begins on the same line to the right. Of course there has been speculation as to whether Joseph Smith instructed the scribes to place the Egyptian characters where they appear in the left hand column of KEP 1a and 1b or the scribes did this of their own initiative. There has also been speculation about when the Egyptian characters were so placed in the left hand column of KEP 1a and 1b. Was it contemporaneous with the handwriting of the English translation to the immediate right? or was it later?
To untie the Book of Abraham from the found papyri (the one that does not translate from Egyptian into the Book of Abraham), and thus revive as a more plausible alternative the missing papyri apologetic, Will needs to give an explanation of the "true meaning" of the KEP that the KEP authors intended no correlation between the Egyptian characters found in the left hand column of the KEP 1a and 1b and the English text of the Book of Abraham found to the immediate right.
This "true meaning" that so unties the found papyri from the Book of Abraham apparently depends in large part on Will successfully establishing that the KEP 1a and 1b are not the original manuscripts of the English translation, but copies made later from the original manuscript which is not found.
The "true meaning" of the KEP that unties the Book of Abraham from the found papyri is the crux of what we're awaiting, and how convincing the proof of Will's observations that KEP 1a and 1b are copies made from, but not themselves, the original manuscript of the English translation of the Book of Abraham.
I think this is a tall order for Will to fill, all to breath a bit of plausibility into the missing papyri apologetic, which itself is very tenuous even without the KEP tie-in.
Will's scope of presentation will not establish that the Book of Abraham is a translation from any of the found papyri, which witnesses at the time wrote that the found papyri was the source, at least in part, of the Book of Abraham. See sources quoted by Chris Smith here:
The English text of the Book of Abraham in no way lines up with a correct translation of the found papyri.
In short, Will's presentation, per the parameters already leaked, will not salvage Joseph Smith's prophetic claims from the critic's claims of fraud.
I await to see the "shock and awe" but expect the mouse that roars.
| Will Schryver asserts his word study finding that a high proportion of the significant words in the Alphabet and Grammar appear in the BoAbr 1-3. From this, Will argues this proves that the Alphabet and Grammar sourced those words from the already dictated translation of BoAbr 1-3.
Will does not explain why the word lifting has to be unidirectional--why all of the words had to be lifted from the BoAbr 1-3 and placed into the Alphabet and Grammar.
Chris Smith, IIRC, has argued for a bi-directional word lift. That is, some of the words in the Alphabet and Grammar might have first appeared in and come from work already completed on BoAbr 1-3, and other words first appeared in the Alphabet and Grammar but found their way into BoAbr 1-3. That is, analysis of the KEP does not reveal whether Joseph Smith, WW Phelps and the other scribes produced either the KEP or Abr 1-3 before beginning the other. The documents do not dispel the notion that the KEP and Abr 1-3 were produced simultaneously.
On this point, consider what Joseph Smith wrote in his diary dated 10/1/1835:
"This after noon labored on the Egyptian alphabet, in company with bro. O. Cowdery and W. W. Phelps: the System of astronomy was unfolded." (Diary of Joseph Smith, October 1, 1835, p.3; also in DHC Vol. 2:286)
So does Will take issue with what Joseph Smith wrote in his diary and is found in DHC? Just working on the Alphabet being constructed as part of an attempt at the 'pure ancient language' (per Will) a system of astronomy unfolded? Notice that Smith used a colon to connect the two independent clauses, rather than set them forth as separate sentences and separate ideas. The unfolding of the system of astronomy was connected, according to Smith's diary entry, to their laboring on the Alphabet.
In 1843 the diary notation was expanded adding: "and during the research, the principles of astronomy as understood by Father Abraham and the ancients unfolded to our understanding, the particulars of which will appear hereafter." ("Manuscript History of the Church," Book B-1, p. 622; also DHC Vol. 2:286)
Now added to the verbs (labored on the Alphabet and system of astronomy unfolded), it is explained that the unfolding occurred during their research.
Simultaneity allows for the Alphabet and Grammar to have been used, as they themselves were being developed, to assist in the translation of the BoAbr.
| The Phelps letter indicates that Joseph was receiving revelation which involved Adamic language and 'translation' of 'hieroglyphics' that JSJr may or may not have been representing to the others as 'Reformed Egyptian' or just Egyptian, after all this was the language of the gold plates.
It beggars belief that Phelps would independently develop the jottings he sent to his wife, and then JSJr would include Phelps' word, Son Ahman into DandC 78:20 as a revelation to JSJr. In fact Jesus is describing himself as 'Son Ahman'. And at the same time (March 1832) they started using code words to protect information.
Joseph was passing off scratchings as Egyptian, or Reformed Egyptian, since the Anthon letter, and he was using them as part of revelation.
So then real Egyptian documents turned up, in line with the Greek Psalter incident and Kinderhook plates, it is only natural for Chandler to be directed to Smith. Had Caldwell been less honorable, we might now be looking at Greek scratchings in the PoGP.
Joseph would have had to incorporate his previously revealed/copied hieroglyphics into the EAG and associated papers, or else let on that he had been inventing nonsense.
The different manuscripts reflect the method he used, and what looks like a change of methodology. At the start. at least, (as described by Chris) Joseph has continued in the fashion demonstrated by the Phelps letter, taking inspiration from the materials at hand and revealing the explanation of the hieroglyphs.
Will has given us a lot to think about, and I am glad of his presentation showing all the documents and the involvement of earlier revelations. But there are a number of alternative explanations that need investigation.
I think that if the BoA had been translated before the EAG was developed, this would have had to occur in the first 2/3 weeks of July. There would be more BoA and EAG in the DandC - which was being compiled concurrently, and (with less certainty) there would have been significant changes to the Lectures of Faith, esp LoF 2.
| Since there are several threads in which this point has been raised, I thought perhaps it would be helpful to make a separate thread for this comment, rather than repeat it on each thread. Apparently Masonic symbols being mixed in with Egyptian characters is an issue for the KEP, and yet this seems quite obvious to me. There are many myths regarding the origins of Masonry, and one of the most popular is that it originated in ancient Egypt. I was first exposed to this theory in France when I first learned about the Rosicrucian sect, which emphasizes this connection. In fact, the “Rite of Memphis” evolved that highlighted this connection. This was a popular idea in Europe in the nineteenth century.
Of course, modern scholars know that these speculations about ancient origins are myths not based in reality, but the ideas are quite resistant.
The following paragraph taken from a March 1991 article attributed to the Masonic Relief Association demonstrates the issue.
On opening the tomb of King Tutankhamen, Dr. O.J. Kinnamon, who has spent 20 years in work on the tombs of ancient Egypt, said: "Masonry did not have its beginning in Europe in the 17th century. I do not know where or when the principles of Masonry had their beginnings, but years of archeological study in Egypt show it came there in the days of the Pharaohs, maybe from India. There are signs that it came into India from the lost continent of Mu." Dr. Kinnamon then described the unwrapping of the king's mummy and stated that after layers of fabric had been unwound from its midsection, a Masonic Apron was found in its proper place.
It is absurd that someone is propagating a myth regarding some ancient origin for Freemasonry. However, during the last 300 years numerous theories have been proposed regarding the origin of Masonry. Many of these theories have been offered to support some preconceived religious or political ideal without substantiating historical evidence. Others have been proposed in an effort to invest Freemasonry with qualities and nobility far in excess of the simple truth.
Given Joseph Smith’s apparent obsessions with Masonry as well as ancient languages such as Egyptian, it seems natural that he would accept such a connection, and may have even concluded that Masonic characters were actually Egyptian in origin.
| Here we are now. 48 hours after Will's "game-changing" presentation has been made.
Having followed the relevant threads, and started and/or posted in several of them, I don't see much of his presentation yet standing.
I do not think his claims that the BoAbr 1-3 translation was complete before the KEP was started stands. Chris Smith points to compelling evidence that BoAbr 2:19-end was composed in 1842, not 1835 when the KEP was begun. Joseph Smith's entry in his diary for 10/1/1835 indicates that the 'system of astronomy unfolded' to them as they worked on the Egyptian Alphabet that afternoon.
I do not think Will has shown that the BoAbr did not depend to any extent on the KEP's Alphabet/Grammar and Egyptian. Each has elements found in the other, and evidence does not lead one to the conclusion that BoAbr did not borrow at all from the the KEP's Alphabet/Grammar. That conclusion can only be drawn from the evidence by one needing that outcome to be the case for his argument.
I do not think Will's identifying a plausible purpose of the KEP's Alphabet/Grammar was to construct a pure language dispels the concept that such were used as part of the translation of the BoAbr 1-3.
Will's presentation did not even dent the tie-in that the KEP's Abraham Manuscripts make between the Egyptian papyri found and the BoAbr text.
I am amazed that to arrive at the unassailable apologetic that Joseph Smith merely received the Book of Abraham text through revelation, untethered to any source document, Will and his BoAbr apologetic posse have been so willing if not anxious to disregard the descriptions that Joseph Smith himself put in his diary. Impeach Smith on what he said he was doing--translating from ancient records--in order to salvage the claim that the BoAbr is a sacred, divinely inspired text.
But I'm still impressed by the amount of time Will obviously devoted to the project, his erudition, diction and self-confidence, his fascinating presentation of the Mason cipher tool, his analysis in general of borrowed bits and pieces for the compilation of the KEP's Alphabet and Grammar.
That's where I see that we are just barely 48 hours post presentation.
| First, I don't think that this presentation will do much at all about the discussion of the Book of Abraham vis a vis the Egyptian papyri. In response to Beastie, I think that this will do several things though -
First, by putting a translation of the BoA prior to the production of the KEP, the entire argument (and Kevin will remember this) about Ashment's chronology and which document came before which other documents and so on, becomes kind of moot. This will have some effect on the banter between apologists and the critics - but if Will is right, we can stop worrying about analysis of the inks of the KEP and so on. I am not sure that this changes the situation about how the Book of Abraham relates to the papyri, and there are still issues involving the facsimiles and I don't want to get back into any of those debates here. But, it does imply that the Book of Abraham was not translated in a process that can be described by the KEP. And since a great deal of ink has been spilt on that argument, I think that this is quite useful from an apologetic perspective. One of the arguments forwarded for the reliance by the way is the occurrence of significant words. I think that while this was where Will started, I don't thinkthat it is the most significant evidence of his proposal of reliance.
Second, there are some materials in the KEP that don't have any kind of obvious source - for example, the Katumin stuff in MS 6. There will need to be some discussion of this later on. I am not sure how this will affect much in terms of the apologetic application. As a side note, for Trevor, the whole Baeth Ku (and Beth Ki, and Ba eth Ku, and so on) thing is that they are sounds - and they seem to be entirely manufactured for this project.
Third, the "Egyptian Counting" document which is part of this collection, and like the grammar documents has a character, a sound, and an explanation - contains not a single character from the papyri. They don't seem to be entirely made up, but, possible sources of those characters could probably be investigated (it might turn up information on sources used by Phelps - if they aren't original to him). The title "Egyptian Counting" I suspect puts them tentatively in with the other KEP - but the dating of that document is probably less certain than some of the others.
Fourth, the earliest (datable) of these documents was a letter from Phelps to his wife describing a selection of the "pure language". It is dated to May of 1835. It contains a sequence of six characters - including three that might presumably belong to a masonic cypher (3 of the 13/26 characters that would be in that cypher). Each is also given a name, a pronunciation and an explanation. However, what is significant is that all six of these characters appear in an identical order in other KEP documents - but they are given different names, sounds and explanations. None of these six characters come from the Papyri naturally.
Fifth, when a character in the Grammar is given multiple degrees, it does so usually by taking the source text and break it up into consecutive pieces. So, the first line might be the first degree, the second line the second degree, and so on. What is interesting is that some of the source material comes from sections of the DandC and not from the Book of Abraham. The implication is that they weren't trying to translate a document so much as to manipulate existing texts using this new system of encoding them.
Sixth, and finally, of course, the Grammar seems to have been a project that suffered an early termination. I think that fits rather well into this process.
As for the issue of calling the "pure language" Egyptian, I was reminded of the two notes by both Pratt and Clayton with regards to the Kinderhook plates. In both instances (stronger in Pratt than in Clayton) there is the suggestion that the Jaredites were descendants of Pharaoh through Ham. I have wondered from time to time where this connection started - but, if this was a belief that was held by some early LDS, then the language of the Jaredites (and so uncorrupted by the tower of Babel incident) would have been Egyptian of some sort. It isn't a terribly coherent idea, but, it is interesting. My guess is that wherever Phelps got his idea to construct a "pure language" (and there were others who did this with varying degrees of complexity and completion) may have also made this suggestion. It would have made the appearance of the papyri a rather serendipitous event - at least to Phelps who was already engaged in some kind of construction of a "pure language". I would be interested at some point in trying totrack down whatever source gave Phelps this idea (I suspect it did not originate with him).
Sounds exactly like the God of the entire Universe is behind this translation/secret/whatever project.
I mean, certainly The CREATOR of this universe would inspire his one and only voice piece on this planet to bring essential truth to the world in just this tricky way.
God, of course is down with the secrets, the codes, the funny languages, the Masonic mysteries. Yep, of course this is just how we would expect the very SOURCE of existence to work.
Humankind doesn't need simple and pure truth. Nope, sorry to those who are not scholars, prophets, or insiders. You are out of luck. You don't get the important information that God is sharing with the cool dudes. Only the seriously elect can figure out the muddled, convoluted, maze of what appears to be nonsense.
You go God!
| Doesn't Even Mention Chris Smith's Paper (which Inspired Him No Doubt), Or The Fact That ABR 1:1-3 Is Missing From The KEP Manuscripts |
Monday, Aug 9, 2010, at 08:57 AM
Original Author(s): Californiakid
Topic: KIRTLAND EGYPTIAN PAPERS -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| I noticed he doesn't even mention Chris Smith's paper (which inspired him no doubt), or the fact that Abr 1:1-3 is missing from the KEP manuscripts.
I noticed that as well. In fact, he explicitly denied in his presentation that he was aware of any published defense of the modus operandi theory.
I unfortunately do not have a huge amount of time tonight to post about this, or even to read the relevant threads. However, here are a few very brief thoughts.
- Shared vocabulary is not a good measure of intertextuality. Unless William is prepared to accept Uncle Dale's conclusions about some pages in Alma being derived from the Spalding Manuscript, he needs to seriously rethink how he is going about establishing dependence.
- William's vocabulary graphs do not establish a direction of dependence, as he claims. The dependence could easily go in the opposite of the hypothesized direction, or both documents could be dependent on a third source, such as the mind of Joseph Smith.
- The evidence that 2:19ff was produced in 1842 is overwhelming, and William has not dealt with any of it. Nor, frankly, has he addressed my arguments from my JWHA paper.
- A few isolated parallels to a Masonic cipher do not a cipher make. The parallels are almost certainly not statistically significant. In fact, at least one of the characters that Will identifies as a "cipher" character is actually from the Anthon transcript.
- In other cases where JS encoded things, there usually was some practical reason for it. For example, records of secret polygamous marriages were encoded to protect the participants from public exposure and mob violence. The United Firm revelations were probably encoded to protect the Church from creditors. This doesn't mean Smith and co. were above encoding something for no particular reason, but... I don't really see them wanting or needing to encode an ancient record of Abraham.
| I don't think they were idiots, but rather devious con men. The con men who make up Mormon apologetics today are simply attempting to reverse engineer a theoretically plausible scenario, where the uninformed will listen to their carefully crafted lies intended to continue their life of deception. This was Will's intent, and if it hits the target and satisfies the people who blindly accept his intentions are sincere, then Will has succeeded. He's succeeded in deceiving them and shielding them from the truth with a web of lies and parlor tricks, but time will tell how long the truth can be contained among these teachers to itching ears.
While I know enough about the KEP to know what it is, the entire concept of “translating” Egyptian into anything but Egyptian is absurd. Forget the hooey about Masonic symbols and Joe Smith’s concocted characters in the Anthon transcript, the Kinderhook plates, his magic rocks and what do you have? What is known to exist is a papyrus that came from the inside of a mummy and it’s written in Egyptian. What it means and its purpose is to aid the person in the afterlife with elements from the book of the dead… that’s what it is, and that’s what it should be. To argue that a mummy’s entrails would be the chosen vehicle to bring “restored” Christian doctrine to Joe Smith, makes as much sense as reading a language and being “inspired” by it to concoct a story that has no connection whatsoever to its translated meaning. This entire discussion arguing how it could be possible that Joe Smith actually translated something correctly has zero proof… not one piece of evidence. The logic to argue this would be the same as some charlatan taking a picture of Jesus Christ and putting a jackal’s head on it and using the bible to translate “restored” pagan doctrine.
If the chronological order of the KEP is looked at from the perspective of a con artist, the fact that it’s not finished would indicate its intended purpose, which is merely a prop to fool some people who wanted to see some evidence after the BofA was completed, and that's because the BofA was completed and the vehicle to launch it found Joe Smith based on his ability (at least purported ability) to translate ancient languages. If Joe Smith truly could translate Egyptian, then he could easily write down the alphabet and the sounds associated with the characters… he couldn’t. The cart comes before the horse here and deciphering the “true” meaning is an exercise in mental gymnastics, because it's not true. Using the brainwashed Whyme argument that 11 other men couldn’t be fooled, what whyme fails to consider is that they were all in on it… think of Oceans 11. Joe Smith was the front man, but the collaborative effort of the combined 11 used the gold bible business for personal gain and sexual gratification… theyall had a stake in the outcome. Oliver Cowdrey was the principal scribe in the Book of Mormon, so he didn’t need Joe Smith there with his magic rock to write the story down. The often used “but it’s impossible for a 14 year old uneducated kid to write the Book of Mormon proves it’s true” FPS only proves he didn’t write it alone, just as he probably didn’t write the BofA alone.
In the end, Will Schryver’s attempt to bring validity to the Book of Abraham has only placed focus on the KEP and how many cards are holding up the base of the Mormon house of cards required to force it to be true. From a Christian perspective, the fact that the KEP isn’t finished, the JST wasn’t finished, and Joe Smith was killed should be looked at through the eyes of a Christian perspective regarding God's intent. If Joe Smith was of God, why was he killed before the “restored” doctrine was complete? If Mormonism is really the “restored” doctrine of Jesus Christ, then what does the bible indicate regarding false prophets in testing him:
The most obvious part of the Book of Abraham being false is the parts of the facsimiles that are known to be “translated” are wrong. Why anyone would believe the facsimiles are wrong, but the pretended missing scrolls are correct, is pounding a square peg into a round hole. Add in polygamy/polyandry into Joe Smith’s “restored” gospel of Jesus Christ and does any of it actually point to being of Jesus Christ? Or, is it the result of a con man who started out using his magic rocks to dupe people?
| From zeezrom's notes (which no doubt will become famous in the Board wars), I glean these to be the salient 7 points being Will's hypothesis:
So, the effort was to untie the BoAbr text from the found papyri, a tie that the KEP establishes, and turn the focus to the catalyst theory. Since the found papyri does not translate into the BoAbr text, it is necessary to untie them despite the KEP. Otherwise, Joseph Smith is exposed as a fraud. So to untie the BoAbr text from the found papyri, Will claims that the true meaning of the KEP is that it is WW Phelps' attempt to decode the pure ancient language.
- The KEP were produced after BoAbr 1-3
- The KEP were part of a secret code that Joseph Smith and Co. had been developing since ~1832 (United Firm/Enoch order), as Will found DandC sections 76 and 88 revelation elements in the KEP
- The KEP were "working papers" of WW Phelps in trying to figure out a key (a Rosetta Stone of sorts) to the pure ancient language that was pre-Tower of Babylon confusion of languages.
- There are Mason references throughout the KEP's secret code
- The BoAbr was not based on a translation of the papyri found in the mummies purchased from Chandler in Kirtland in 1835, but through the "revelatory" process that produced the BoM too--the papyri merely helped Joseph Smith focus his mind [CATALYST APOLOGETIC]
- Joseph Smith and Co. call their work "Egyptian" just as a cover so others won't know their working on a code to crack the pure, ancient language
- The Facsimiles give an apocalyptic feeling about the Egyptian docs in regard to the temple.
So what? Obviously Phelps thought there was a correlation between the text paragraphs of the BoAbr in the right hand column of the KEP and the Egyptian characters noted to the left at the beginning of each column. Those just happen to be Egyptian characters that appear, in the very order, on the found papyri. Despite Will's "brilliance" (as it is pronounced by Maklelan on MAD), the KEP yet demonstrate that WW Phelps, who was a scribe that was present while Joseph Smith was dictating the BoAbr, thought that English text had been taken by Smith from the found papyri.
That is, despite Will's efforts, the KEP yet stand as proof that those involved in the creation of the KEP (Phelps and perhaps Joseph Smith too) thought that the English text of Abraham 1-3 correlated to the Egyptian characters on the found papyri. They do not correlate. The KEP yet prove Phelps and Smith did not know what they were doing--unless the whole BoAbr project was an outright, intentional fraud by them.
| The Kirtland Egyptian Papers get their name from the label on the box in which they were found at Church archives (long before the Church historian would admit that they were found).
There were found types of documents (per Will Schryver's categorization of them)
Will argues that the Egyptian Alphabet came later and was derived from BoAbr 1-3. Will argues that the Egyptian Grammar was an expansion on the Egyptian Alphabet. Will argues that the Egyptian Counting was part and parcel to the effort by Joseph Smith and his scribes that produced both the Egyptian Alphabet and Egyptian Grammar. That is, an effort by them to reconstruct the 'pure ancient language' and a cipher code for it.
That really means, Will postulates, that these were not tools developed to aid or assist in the translation of the Book of Abraham.
Then with less than 2 minutes of his hour long presentation, Will brushes by the Abraham Manuscripts, suggesting they too are merely part of the cipher code. No reasons explained why. No arguments for it. Just a pronouncement near the end of his presentation, just before his summation.
Is it appropriate to lump the Abraham Manuscripts together with the Alphabet, the Grammar and the Counting, when trying to ascertain what the Abraham Manuscripts mean?
All four categories of papers were found in the Church archives in a single box labeled "Kirtland Egyptian Papers" (KEP). True enough, the Abraham Manuscripts had to do with Egyptian, since they were allegedly the translation of the Egyptian characters on the papyri bought by Joseph Smith in Kirtland. Ergo, the filing as KEP by the Church archivist was proper.
But does that mean that the Abraham Manuscripts were just part of the effort that Will theorizes was the purpose of the Alphabet, the Grammar, and the Counting? That purpose being to reconstruct the pure ancient language and a cipher code for it?
There are critical distinctions between the Abraham Manuscripts on the one hand and the Alphabet, the Grammar, and the Counting on the other.
Unlike the Alphabet, the Grammar, and the Counting, the Abraham Manuscripts include a narrative, not just definitions.
Unlike the Alphabet, the Grammar, and the Counting, the Abraham Manuscripts have only two columns, and the left one could be considered merely a margin to the text to the right.
Unlike the Alphabet, the Grammar, and the Counting, the Abraham Manuscripts does not have column headings.
Unlike the Alphabet, the Grammar, and the Counting, all the non-English characters on the Abraham Manuscripts have an Egyptian character correlative, in order, that appears on the found papyri.
Unlike the Alphabet, the Grammar, and the Counting, the Abraham Manuscripts are not infused with non-Egyptian/non-English characters from such sources as the Masonic cipher, the Knights Templar or the furtive imagination of WW Phelps and his boss Joseph Smith.
To try and rescue the BoAbr and Joseph Smith's reputation as a divinely guided translator from the ravages of critical analysis of the KEP, Will and the apologists need to lump together in purpose all four types of documents found in the Church archives box labeled KEP. If Will can piggyback the Abraham Manuscripts on the backs of the other three categories, and get the listener/reader to not notice, then the theory Will posits for why the the Alphabet, the Grammar, and the Counting were produced will also de-fang the Abraham Manuscripts. And by de-fanging the Abraham Manuscripts with those Egyptian characters in the left column/margin reproduced from the found papyri, you "untie" the BoAbr 1-3 from the found papyri.
However, a closer analysis reveals that the Abraham Manuscripts contrast starkly to and stand alone in purpose, separate and apart from the Alphabet, the Grammar and the Counting, and the purpose that Will applies to the last three categories of KEP.
The effort to sneak the Abraham Manuscripts by us, hoping it would go undetected, doesn't even deserve to be called 'the old college try.' It's a bit shameless and intellectually dishonest.
| I simply cannot believe how people at MAD are making much ado about nothing. Some are just "astounded" that the Egyptian numbering system contains no Egyptian characters. I think I have an pretty reasonable explanation to why this is so.
I have quite a bit of experience teaching English, Spanish and Portuguese as a second language. But I don't care what second language you try learning, one of the first things you learn is how to translate basic numbers. Any serious attempt to crack a lost language like Egyptian would naturally cover the numbers as well, so from the perspective of a second language teacher, the existence of a number table with corresponding meanings is just further evidence that this is precisely what the critics and Joseph Smith said it was.
So why don't any of these numbers consist of real Egyptian characters, as the apologists are so eager to point out? Quite simply, and quite obviously, Joseph Smith didn't know real Egyptian! The only Egyptian characters Smith used that were genuine Egyptian characters were those he borrowed from the papyri. The papyri were quite obviously grammatical and not mathematical so there is no reason to suspect Joseph Smith would borrow characters from the papyri while ascertaining Egyptian numbers. This meant Joseph Smith had to rely on "revelation" in order to divine the Egyptian numbers. That Masonic symbols were integrated therein is hardly surprising since these Masonic symbols represented numbers, as Will's slide show illustrated. So it makes perfect sense that Joseph Smith would take a Masonic cipher meaning "6" and then use it to mean "6" in the Egyptian counting.
Now on to a second observation that I think deserves special attention.
People at MAD who are still having their apologetic orgasm over Will's presentation seem to be those who are the least informed. I've always maintained this position and it has never become more manifest that in recent days. And sadly, this includes even those who are supposed to be the experts. Consider the rant by Kerry Shirts, who is making a complete fool of himself for fawing over John Gee's most embarrassing presentation to date. As some of you might know already, recently Chris predicted what Gee was planning to argue, and I quite simply didn't believe it. I really thought to myself, no way in hell is he that stupid. I mean the fact that the KEP manuscripts show the Egyptian characters in sequence was one of the key points to our argument and I showed this to be the case when I refuted Will three years ago:
And three years later after ignoring refutation, this guy is trying to trick people into thinking the Egyptian characters in the manuscripts had no apparent pattern or sequence when taken from the papyri. The effect this argument had on Kerry Shirts was like watching Hammy the squirrel drink a red bull. Here is what Shirts said in response:
I think Gee is onto something as well. If I am understanding what Will showed, Gee has a VERY powerful refutation that the Sensen document CANNOT be a translation document, based on where from the document the characters came from which are supposedly being translated. The pattern absolutely FLOORED me. WHY didn't I think of seeing WHERE from the document the characters came from? Gee brilliantly showed that there is no logical pattern whatever, but there appears to be a hop skip and jumping all over the loving place in the document to get some characters.
Chris Smith kindly blew this silly piece of nonsense out of the water with a simple graphic to illustrate how Gee was able to fabricate such an argument:
Chris Smith said: The images below show sequential characters from Book of Abraham Manuscript # 1 juxtaposed with sequential characters from the Hor Document of Breathing. As should be evident from these images, the characters come sequentially from the Breathing Document except where there is a lacuna. It is to fill the lacuna that Joseph draws characters from elsewhere on the fragment. This is what Gee failed to tell his audience.
No pattern, eh? As we predicted, another one bites the dust. And is it any wonder John Gee got the hell out of dodge and left it to Will to lie to the audience? The most disturbing point here is that LDS apologists who are gloating over Will's theory really don't know these documents well enough to make informed judgments either way. I mean think about this. Even Kerry Shirts, someone who has been the BoA guru at FAIR for more than a decade, genuinely believed Gee's argument was sound. Indeed, Gee expected his audience to be completely unfamiliar with the documents, which is the true difference between his audience and ours. It is easy to be impressed with rhetoric and color photos, but what Will and Gee never provide is context of the overall debate by presenting the arguments critics have nurtured for years. They won't acknolwedge or address them, but find comfort in ignoring them while deceiving their audience into thinking such arguments just don't exist. Which brings me to another observation that has left MADb more ignorant on this matter than ever.
People at MAD seem to confuse the translation manuscripts with Will's presentation. Droopy over there (Mola?) is saying ridiculous things based on Will's presentation, such as: "The fact that there is hardly any egyptian charactors on the KEP. Whoa"
I mean this is just inexcusable, and I know people like Maklelan got insulted when I told him to get caught up on the matter first, but the fact is one must really familiarize themselves with these documents before passing judgment on anyone's arguments, pro or con, and the fact is it is just mind-numbing it sit here and listen to misinformed sciolists on the matter gloat about how Will's presentation has us "sweating," "on the ropes",etc.
Laughing would be more like it.
I didn't expect this year's FAIR conference to present yet another ornament to the tree of deceptive apologetics. Every time someone tries to tell me John Gee isn't a liar, and doesn't try to deceive, he proves them all wrong. Same with Will. What would people in the audience think if they really knew that most of Will's "research" was pretty much plagiarized from Chris Smith's publication on the matter more than a year ago? He took Chris' research and twisted the conclusions in an apologetic manner, refusing to even mention Chris's work during his talk. Indeed, he said he wasn't aware of anything that even presented an argument to the contrary. The shamelessness runs pretty deep over there. Gee was counting on his audience's ignorance of the documents and Will was counting on the audience's ignorance of Chris' paper. Hell, even Chris' friend Don Bradley wasn't aware of his paper's arguments, and he seemed surprised to find out about it in the youtube video.
I'll watch the videos again when I'm off on wed and probably offer more thoughts later.
In the mean time, super kudos out to Chris Smith, who must be the most underrated and underestimated figure in the debate. This kid has singlehandidly massacred apologetic giants like Gee and Nibley, and now he is working his way down the food chain to William. I'm proud to have him representing the critical viewpoint at these events, and I think you should too.
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