Kirtland’s Rosetta Stone? The Importance of Word Order in the “Egyptian” of the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language

There may be an important story hidden in one of the easily-overlooked details in the always puzzling Kirtland Egyptian Papers, especially the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language (GAEL) which many critics allege was used as the source for creating at least part of the Book of Abraham. The critics see it as an obviously worthless tool that was being used to assist in Joseph’s translation of Egyptian papyri, while many LDS scholars argue that it was more likely derived from the revealed translation. There are strange, unexplained issues, though and clearly many relevant documents that are missing and explanations that are unavailable.

Some valuable information may be related to the order of the “Egyptian” words and their definitions in the GAEL. In my last post, a reader who goes by “Joe Peaceman” made a valuable point as he tried to explore what the text of the GAEL tells us about its construction. He pointed to an interesting correction that W.W. Phelps made throughout the various “degrees” of his document. The word “Beth-ka” had apparently been skipped early in his work, and so Phelps added a note on blank page calling for its insertion between two other characters. The word “Beth-ka” or “Bethka” or “Beth ka” in GAEL is variously said to mean “the greatest place of happiness” (GAEL, p. 2), “a more complete enjoyment— a more beautiful place” (p. 8), “a place of exceeding great beauty” (p. 12), “a larger garden— more spacious plain” (p. 17),  “A large garden, a large val[l]ey or a large plain” (p. 19), and “Another & larger place of residence made so by appointment. by extension of power; more pleasing, more beautiful: a place of more complete happiness, peace and rest for man” (p. 34).  

We can see the Phelps’ work of inserting “Bethka” in several parts of his document, including:

  • Page 2, where it is inserted between bars low on the page, with a note that it should be inserted above. See Figure 1 below. 
  • Page 8,  where it is the sole entry on what was one of the many blank pages left in the GAEL, with a note that it should be inserted on the opposing page. See Figure 2.
  • Page 12, which, as with page 8, is inserted on a blank page. See Figure 3.
  • Page 17, which has “Bethka” at the top of the page with a note that it should have been inserted between “Iota” and “Zub Zoal oan” on the previous page, page 16. The page is then filled with additional words and definitions.
  • Page 19, which has “Beth ka” at the top of a blank page and a note that it should “have been inserted between Iota and Zub Zaol aon on the opposite page,” page 20.
BOA-Phelps-Letter
Fig. 1. “Bethka” added out of sequence on page 2 of the GAEL.
Fig. 2. “Bethka” inserted on a blank page, page 8 of the GAEL.
Fig. 3. “Bethka” inserted on a blank page, page 12 of the GAEL.

In creating a dictionary or an “alphabet” of a foreign language, what is the importance of word order? If one is creating a versatile tool for translating texts, the order should enable one to easily look up a word to find its meaning. In Chinese-English dictionaries, for example, Chinese words can be arranged based upon alphabetic order of the transliteration, or based on characteristics of the characters (governing portions called “radicals” or number of strokes) that can make it easy (“easy” compared to having no order — it still can be difficult) to find a word. Lists of words for language study can be grouped in other ways as well (common verbs, common nouns, etc.). But what is it about “Bethka” that requires it to be inserted not next to “Beth” but between “Iota” and “Zub Zoal oan”? Why would Phelps care about precise word order here when the words aren’t being arranged alphabetically or based on common meaning, sound, or structure of the “Egyptian” character (typically not even Egyptian [some may be Egyptian, derivatives of Egyptian, or fragments of Egyptian characters that are not on the scrolls in their current state])?

Reader “Joe Peaceman” provides the most plausible answer, I think. He notes that in the sequence of words into which “Bethka” needs to be inserted in a particular place, the word order links them to the text of Abraham 1:1-2. Below is part of Abraham 1:1-2, where we have these phrases, in order, and their relationship to words in the GAEL in brackets:

1 … at the residence of my fathers [1. “Beth” – described as a place or residence]

I, Abraham, saw [2. “Iota” – see, saw, seeing, or having seen]

that it was needful for me to obtain another place of residence;   [3. “Bethka” fits here, referring to a better place and, on p. 34, “Another & larger place of residence”]

2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, [4. “Zub zool— oan”— which can mean “father or fathers”]

Phelps cared about the order and felt a need to insert “Bethka” throughout his document in a place that would make it line up with something. Line up with what? Why do that unless he was trying to use the existing text of the Book of Abraham translation as some kind of a tool, perhaps Kirtland’s answer to the Rosetta Stone, perhaps being used to attempt the very kind of thing that Champollion was trying to do, namely, to create an “Alphabet” (that’s a term that was frequently used in the press of that era to describe Champollion’s work) to crack the mysterious Egyptian language? As “Joe Peaceman” puts it, “This is obviously aligned to Abraham 1, and it appears that Phelps saw
the order that the cosmic journey/drama was about to play out in
Abraham’s life. How did he know without a text?”

If Phelps were just guessing at the meaning of various symbols (most of which aren’t even Egyptian) to make some kind of dictionary, the work he did to insert “Bethka” in five parts of his document in a specific place would make no sense. But if there were an existing story line in an existing text that he was working with, perhaps for some aspect of his “pure language” interest, then the bits and pieces of the GAEL that align with the Book of Abraham make more sense. The purpose of the GAEL is still unclear, but what should be clear is that Phelps began this project in the GAEL with at least some and perhaps much of the Book of Abraham before him. Contrary to the assertions of some critics, the GAEL is more likely to be drawing upon the Book of Abraham rather than the other way around.

Similar conclusions can be reached by examining the cosmological material in the GAEL, such as that on pp. 33-34, the last pages with definitions. There and elsewhere one finds Kolob, governing planets, cubits,  earth, moon, sun, and related cosmological references. It’s plausible and logical that Facsimile 2 and Abraham 3 had already been translated when the GAEL was being produced.

This topic also reminds us of the problem when some of our own scholars who insist that the Book of Abraham was largely the fruit of nineteenth-century Egyptomania without knowledge of one of the main aspects of Egyptomania: fascination with the news of Champollion and the Rosetta Stone. If Phelps and the early Saints were unaware of those widely known stories where much was said about the “alphabet” being prepared by Champollion based on the translation he had on the Rosetta Stone, and if they had no clue about the phonetic aspects of the Egyptian language revealed in that work, why would Phelps and his peers strive to also create an “alphabet” of the Egyptian language? But if they were creating an “alphabet,” it stands to reason that they would start with a known translation and use it to try to decode the language, Champollion-style. They messed up terribly, of course, and raise numerous questions in the process, such as why they are using many characters that aren’t even Egyptian. That fact raises doubt about the project really being related to deciphering Egyptian. Perhaps they were trying to create their own “pure language” guide (where “Egyptian” is code for “pure language”), or perhaps there is something to William Schryver’s theory of making a reverse cipher, or perhaps there is something even stranger going on.

With many key documents clearly being missing and so many puzzles in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, it’s hard to determine what they were trying to do. But there is evidence that helps us understand when they were trying to do it, and that seems to be after at least some of the revealed translation had been given. It’s more logical to see the GAEL as dependent on the translated text, not as a source that was used to create it.

Update, July 20, 2019: An important indication of the importance of word order to W.W. Phelps for a portion at least of his Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language (GAEL) was mentioned by Joe Peaceman that I wish to emphasize here. At the top of page 16 of the GAEL is this statement from Phelps: “This order should be preserved according to the signification of the degrees.” Then follows the list of some key “Egyptian” words related to Abraham 1: Beth, Iota, Zub Zaol=oan, etc., with a note on the next page about the need to insert Bethka between Iota and Zub Zaol=oan. 

Joe Peaceman, speaking to Dan Vogel, then says:

We agree that the BofA wasn’t translated from the GAEL but, the precision of alignment logically indicates that, when they created the GAEL, it was either created “to” the BofA or the BofA was created to it.

This is an important issue. Was the GAEL based on, or created “according to” an existing Book of Abraham, or was the Book of Abraham created based on, or “according to” the GAEL? If the GAEL was Joseph’s “inspired” tool to create the Book of Abraham, it or some other “alphabet” could come first, and then the Book of Abraham translation would be conducted somehow. The opposite scenario is that the GAEL was derived from the Book of Abraham, perhaps as an intellectual tool to understand Egyptian or as a tool to create some kind of writing system related to the “pure language” (the hypothesized Adamic language) that interested W.W. Phelps and Joseph.

Joe Peaceman astutely argues that if the GAEL came first, then the Book of Abraham should conform to it. But the recognition that something had been skipped or was in the wrong order in the GAEL seems to suggest that there was an outside control forcing that change, and that control would naturally be the dictated and revealed text of the Book of Abraham. The need for a particular order was important enough that the correction was made in multiple places of the GAEL after the initial list of these characters had been written down and copied several times without “Bethka” in the right place. So what the GAEL made based on the Book of Abraham or vice versa?

Joe Peaceman picks up on a subtle word choice in Joseph Smith’s History from July 1835, p. 597. Here is the transcript from the Joseph Smith Papers Project website:

July 1835 <​Translating the Book of Abraham &c.​> The remainder of this month, I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arrangeing a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients. [emphasis added]

It does not say that they were preparing the alphabet based on or for the Joseph Smith Papyri, but “to” the Book of Abraham, as if that came first. You can argue that the use of “to” is casual and ambiguous, but it still creates the logical though debatable presumption that the Book of Abraham is controlling the creation of the GAEL and not the other way around. It’s not absolute proof, but it certainly must be considered as possible evidence, contrary to those who declare that there is absolutely no evidence that an existing translation came before the GAEL and the Egyptian Alphabet documents.

If Joseph were using the GAEL as an inspired tool to create the translation and left out the phrase related to Bethka, the reasonable next step would be to correct the dictated text rather than to rework the GAEL.  The choice to rework the GAEL (in five places) points to the existing translation as the controlling source, IMO. Given the primacy of a divinely translated text, it is natural that the GAEL would be reworked if this were a secondary document, part of an exercise from one or more of Joseph’s scribes (with Joseph’s support, of course) using the translation as a key. The subsequent intellectual exercise was a failure, but that tells us nothing about the value of the initial divine translation.

You may also argue that the statement from July 1835 is referring to the papyrus manuscript Joseph thought contained the Book of Abraham, but that position raises two questions: (1) What apparently missing manuscript was Joseph translating? (2) Why do so many of the characters for which order matters appear to not only not be on the papyri, but appear to not even be Egyptian? This is based on examining the “Comparison of Characters” section of Volume 4 of the Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations series on the Book of Abraham, edited by Brian Hauglid and Robin Jensen (2018) and comparing the characters from the relevant portion of the GAEL. It seems that most or even all of these order-sensitive characters aren’t on the papyri and might not even be Egyptian. So what’s going on?

Here the “pure language” issue may be important. Since so much of the “Egyptian” in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers is not even Egyptian (e.g., in the Egyptian Counting document, not a single character is actual Egyptian), William Schryver has offered the reasonable argument that “Egyptian” may be a code word for “pure language” in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. If the Saints involved in this effort were trying to create a “pure language” writing system or a “reverse cipher” (Schryver’s preferred theory), then the characters would not need to be Egyptian. Many of the handful of characters on some Book of Abraham manuscripts are Egyptian and from one important papyrus, but as I recall only 3 of them have translations in the GAEL. It’s all quite perplexing, but whatever those involved with the KEP were doing, the evidence points to the translation (at least of Abraham 1:1-2) coming first, before the GAEL was created. It simply was not meant to be the source for the Book of Abraham or a tool for its translation.

But some Egyptian characters are being matched from a papyrus to portions of the Book of Abraham in some manuscripts. Doesn’t that prove that Joseph translated those characters to give the text? Recall that when Joseph translated the reformed Egyptian of the gold plates, he did not need to stare at specific plates to give the translation. The text flowed swiftly through revelation while the plates were not even opened up. Something similar may have happened with the Book of Abraham. We know there were other papyrus documents that were presumably burned in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Was the translated text of the Book of Abraham on them? Or on none of papyri? I favor versions of the missing scroll theory, but it’s not the only plausible approach.

If Joseph had been able to keep the gold plates, Joseph and the scribes might be tempted to try to crack reformed Egyptian by using the translation as a key, but they might not immediately know which characters of which plates correlate to specific portions of the text. If the scribes didn’t know which papyrus documents, if any, were the source for the specific words of the translated text, they might have made reasonable guesses, or perhaps they turned to the papyrus that had some related figures on it and assumed it might have text or “mnemonic clues” related to the text from elsewhere. Clearly we don’t know what they were thinking or doing, but their intellectual efforts in all aspects of the KEP may tell us very little about how Joseph did the translation if the translation came first through revelation, similar to how he translated the Book of Mormon, with relatively little dependence on the plates. I think there is significant evidence from multiple fronts that the translation predates the GAEL, the Egyptian Alphabet documents, and the three manuscripts of the Book of Abraham that have Egyptian characters (and some non-Egyptian characters) in their margins.

This post is part of a recent series on the Book of Abraham, inspired by a frustrating presentation from the Maxwell Institute. Here are the related posts:

Author: Jeff Lindsay

58 thoughts on “Kirtland’s Rosetta Stone? The Importance of Word Order in the “Egyptian” of the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language

  1. Jeff, I'm deeply touched 😍. I checked to see if Dan had replied yet, and noticed another great blog…best one ever 😜, jk, but I do appreciate all that you do for us, and that you mentioned me. I've been a fan of yours for quite a while and I'm honored if I've really added any insight.

    I hope you don't mind if I continue discussing the GAEL in context of the open minded things that you have taught us, and what Dan and other BofA critics claim.

    My last comment on your blog was a timeline.

    I'll step back, in case anyone reads this and doesn't know the history (and there are people hoping that you don't know it, this makes it easier to manipulate). Around July 1, 1835, Chandler went to Kirtland with some Egyptian papyri, which he obtained from the "celebrated" Lebolo's personal collection. He had sold all but a few things from the collection (most exhibited or destroyed for "science", some for phrenology). He kept 4 mummies and an unknown amount of papyri. He seemed more interested in the papyri that he sold to Joseph, and had previously taken some of them to scholars, hoping they could tell him what was on them. They couldn't, and reportedly a "stranger", and others told him to take them to Joseph Smith, he had already translated the BofM, in "reformed Egyptian".

  2. Discussing the GAEL in Historical context.

    July 1, 1835 approx: “Joseph …by the revelation of Jesus Christ could translate these records which gave an account of our forefathers…much by Joseph…which when all translated

    July 3-6, 1835: “with W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, I commenced the translation of some of the characters …the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc.—a more full account…I proceed…unfold them.”(“unfold/translate” seem interchangeable).

    Dan❤💖, as you know, the July 1-6 records indicate that Joseph had begun translating. He had at least one scribe per multiple sessions, or 2 (showing a desire to produce an accurate quality copy, as with his later sermons…hmmm, 🙂 we should come back to that, don't make any videos just yet ; )).

    It is inconsistent with the historical record to invent a situation where he didn’t really translate at this time because he needed a GAEL or to claim that the scribes were not really recording anything. If it were simply a stalling session, as you imply, he wouldn’t need the scribes.

    Joseph translated the impossibly complex and accurate Book of 1 Nephi in about a week. All eyewitnesses agree that he translated quickly, without notes, without an alphabet or grammar (wanted one but the “learned man” failed them due to a closed mind), without the ability to research the Middle East or Americas for the amazing details that the BofM provides, etc. etc. This method of translation was impressive.
    As far as I know, there is no account of translation FROM the Gael. Eyewitnesses, critics, you (Dan), etc. agree that it was said to be by divine revelation, with spectacles, hat, etc.
    If we are to claim that Joseph did something very much out of his ordinary, something that contradicts the historical record, something that goes against logic and evidence, then we should be able to produce valid reasons for making the claims.
    I’m sure Dan is working on that : ). I won't be completely surprised if he comes up with something, he is probably the most talented of critics, and I hope we hear from him. Most critics are heavily vested in forcing the BofA into a narrative that supports their prejudices. Dan has much vested in his videos and books, but values the historical record, and hopefully wishes to be on higher ground.
    Jeff is brilliant, and focused on discovery and truth. Like a true scientist, he doesn’t hesitate to change his mind in light of the new evidence, which he finds. I have nothing to lose in this discussion. My BofA theories work, however it was translated. I’m open to the possibilities. I have no need to overlook evidence that points to something miraculous, or to a 19th C. blunder.

    So, even if we can’t yet accept the religious implications of the historical record, I hope the other Blog readers will try to keep minds open and continue with the conversation. Critics, please remember, there's no shame in being wrong. And, if you can't accept the restoration, you can still come up with an out— make up something about how Joseph had already studied the Bible and other sources, so he was prepared for a BofA. Then it's not so scary… : ).
    Luv Ya'll

    My conclusions about the July 1-6 record.
    Logic dictates to me that he translated July 1-6, as the record states, and that it was recorded.

  3. Joe you missed the part where Jeff says you "tried." You tried. You failed. You need help with clarity and conciseness. For all of our sakes, sir.

  4. Jeff you have done a good job of discussing the evidence dispassionately and carefully. Dan's ad hominem comments on the last post that you are just adopting some preconceived position because of your faith commitments fails to address the careful and open way that you have in fact addressed the evidence. He of course has his own commitments that he must support.

    I believe that with this post you have moved the assessment regarding "hypothesis 2" that the scribes were working from a pre-existing ms. or mss. from "possible" to "probable" — though the evidence is so difficult in its nature that any "highly probably" conclusions appears to me to be impossible to arrive at.

  5. Blake: So far I have demolished Jeff’s attempts to explain the nearly identical corrections of FGW and WP of Abr. 1:4 and 1:26. Jeff’s explanations are ridiculous and far fetched. His theory that WP copied and read out loud to FGW is silly beyond belief. This is totally unprecedented and ad hoc. My comment was not about his faith commitment. It was about his commitment to his thesis. Others of his faith that he disagrees with have different theses. I’m not discussing whether the BofA is inspired. I’m discussing the validity of various theories put forth by apologists.

  6. JoePeaceman: There are no “July 1-6 records”; just the History of the Church. I have no problem with JS translating “some of the characters” for identification purposes. I only object to the unfounded assertion that JS translated the entire BofA as we have it, possibly more. Something along the lines of the Valuable Discovery notebooks.

    I never claimed JS need the Alphabets and GAEL to translate, because except for a very short discussion of three characters, these records do not deal with the BofA. That’s the problem for the critics who invent a scenario where the scribes use JS’s translation to reverse engineer the Alphabets and Grammar. It didn’t happen that way at all. It couldn’t.

    The problem therefore is that the Alphabets and Grammar represent additional translation by JS that leads up to the translation of the BofA. That’s why the first two characters (the reed sign and the w-loop character) appear at the end of the Alphabets, beginning of the Grammar, and beginning of the Abraham manuscripts: Valuable Discovery > Alphabets > Grammar > Translation Manuscripts.

    Why wouldn’t he need scribes for brainstorming and stalling? He uses them for everything. He is also playing to WWP and trying to create evidence for his translation ability, which I have explained was part of the project from the first day.

    This need to produce evidence is JS’s specialty. He did it with the BofM characters, and he was in the process of doing it with the Book of Enoch and the pure language when the Egyptian papyri came along and modified his plan.

    “Logic dictates to me that he translated July 1-6, as the record states, and that it was recorded.”

    All you are talking about is a few characters mentioned in the History of the Church, written in 1843 perhaps with the help of WWP and/or JS. You still have JS’s journal mentioning translation on 1 October, which obviously refers to GAEL, and on 19-20 and 24-25 November, not to mention 8-9 March 1843 for the 10th number of the Times and Seasons.

  7. Dan you are way too convinced by your own less-than-compelling arguments. I admit that there are two ways to see this evidence. Jeff has provided the more compelling arguments and the evidence simply fits better with his already-existing-manuscript hypothesis. I understand that you are discussing evidence. The evidence lines up more cleanly and convincingly for the view that you reject and call an "apologists" theory. You do not even seem to notice your own arguments as ad hominem when they are blatantly so.

  8. Hi Jeff and Dan ❤ I'm on lunch and, before starting on July 19, I took a look at the BofM Printer's Manuscript (this was before I saw Dan’s last comment. Dan…?? I have to assume that you're not serious, in light of all that Jeff has actually taught us). I noticed they say Oliver made an average of 3 corrections per page. I skimmed, and some were quite similar to changes made when copying the extant BofA manuscripts. You claim that changes prove Joseph Smith was involved in the creation of the BofA copies. But, it seems that JS wasn't directly involved in many (if any) of these BofM changes. In fact, I also noticed that when the printers asked JS if they should correct grammatical errors, JS explained that they should leave it as is. Yet, Oliver made changes on his own before this, and was perhaps authorized to do so. This adds to Jeff's abundant evidence that the BofA came first, and JS wasn't even necessarily involved in the WP/FGW BofA manuscript creation or, at least that he didn’t have to be, and the best evidence for your claims is another assumption.

    Luv Ya, and I’m not jumping to any conclusions, just adding evidence and giving you a heads up so you'll have a chance to come up with an explanation that follows reason and logic or, if you still insist, one that doesn't agree with Jeff or logic, but still fits the narrative that you have created over the years. ; )
    Ultimately, I hope we are all seeking for truth and willing to be honest with ourselves.

    July 19-30
    July 19-31 “…engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language…”

    As Jeff has patiently explained and demonstrated Schryver was correct, Nibley was correct, Gee was correct, Lindsay, etc and all those so called “apologists” are correct that this indicates a retrofit. The BofA came before the GAEL.

    Gotta go, sorry, I assume Dan is waiting for this, before he tells us what additional info he has come up with for Bethka 🙂

  9. Jeff: It’s somewhat disingenuous to repeat JoePeaceman’s theory without accounting for my devastating criticisms of it.

    • A big problem with JoePeaceman’s theory is that it can’t explain why Bethka was left out of the first four degrees and had to be added.

    • The fact that Bethka was left out of the first four degrees and had to be inserted argues against WWP’s following the order of Abr. 1:1-3.

    • The fact that Bethka in the fifth degree had to be moved up four lines argues that WWP wasn’t following the order of translation when he originally wrote in GAEL, p. 2.

    • If WWP was following Abr. 1:1-3 and accounting for all the elements in the translation, it would have forced him to have Bethka in the correct location, which implies he wasn’t following anything.

    • A better reconstruction is that in the fifth degree the last two characters from the Alphabets and one from the middle were dissected and their parts given meanings. This is when Bethka showed up. At this time order or the parts didn’t matter. Then JS dictated the three verses using the elements of the dissected parts. Not a hard thing for JS to do.

    • Bethka in the Alphabets has a meaning and development apart from the BofA. Clearly, the meaning of Bethka had already been given in part 2 of the Alphabets, which was a continuation of the themes discussed in the pure language: that is, grades of heavenly beings, grades of humans, grades of authority, grades of places on earth (i.e., Beth, Beth-ka, -ke-ki-ko-ku), grades of planets, which eventually lead to the Egyptian cosmology. The character for Bethka is derivative of a character from column 3 of JSP I. It would be impossible to reverse engineer this from the BofA. Rather, it is clear that Beth, Beth-ka, -ke-ki-ko-ku, were developed in a different context and adapted to Abraham’s situation.

    “The purpose of the GAEL is still unclear, but what should be clear is that Phelps began this project in the GAEL with at least some and perhaps much of the Book of Abraham before him. Contrary to the assertions of some critics, the GAEL is more likely to be drawing upon the Book of Abraham rather than the other way around.”

    This is completely wrong. While it doesn’t matter if WWP wrote Abr. 1:1-3 before or after he wrote the first part of the bound Grammar, it appears a stronger case can be made for the Grammar coming first. Either way, the apologists’ theory that the Alphabets and Grammar were reversed engineered from the text of the BofA is not supported because except for a small portion at the end of the Alphabets and beginning of the Grammar, they don’t deal with the BofA.

    “It's plausible and logical that Facsimile 2 and Abraham 3 had already been translated when the GAEL was being produced.”

    Kolob and the Egyptian cosmology come from characters from the columns that flank Fac. 1 on JSP I, not the hypocephalus or Fac. 2. Plausible is meaningless; you need probable. Probable is that the 1 October 1835 entry in JS’s journal about the unfolding of astronomy refers to GAEL.

    If WWP and JS knew about Champollion, which isn’t as certain as you assume, why would they date to make an Alphabet and Grammar? The knowledge they received from Chandler led them to believe no one could translate Egyptian.

  10. Blake: Believe as you like. I’m totally confident in my evidence and its power to convince the unbiased mind. There is 0 evidence for a pre-existing manuscript. The types of changes FGW and WP made are definitive and Jeff’s attempts to escape them are laughable. The Alphabets and Grammar are not retrofits of the BofA because mostly they don’t have anything to do with the BofA. Part 1 of these works deal with the Amenhotep papyrus and princess Katumin, not Abraham. Part 2 begins with the pure language and evolves into defining characters from the columns flanking Fac. 1. Again, while it deals with the Book of Breathings, it has nothing to do with JS’s translation of the BofA. So it is quite apparent to me you do not have the knowledge to comment so confidently on this subject and perhaps should question your own bias.

  11. JoePeaceman: So far, I have seen no real response to any of my criticisms of your Bethka theory, from either you or Jeff. He even skipped any response to my criticism. Who cares how many corrections OC made in the BofM manuscript? It’s the kinds of corrections. Look at Skousen’s discussions of types of changes and what they mean. The only changes I have discussed in the BofA are those that were done at the time of dictation, those that were done inline by both scribes at the same time. So far, no real explanations from either you or Jeff. Speculating wildly that WP copied and read aloud to FGW is not a serious answer. WP said, “I have set by his [Joseph Smith’s] side and penned down the translation of the Egyptian Hieroglyphicks as he claimed to receive it by direct inspiration of heaven.” (Painesville Republican, 15 Feb. 1838.) He didn’t say he copied from a pre-existing text. Now, get real.

  12. Dan:

    So I have no real understanding of the subject and no real dog in the fight (I think things are probably more historical than we usually think, but a historical Moroni is just about all that is required). With that said, I quote from you the following:

    "an obvious ad hoc invention to save your theory"

    "My explanation is clearly superior. Anyone who takes the time to watch my first video will see that."

    "only demonstrates that you will go to any length to escape clear evidence"

    "You other explanations are likewise pure mental gymnastics."

    "One problem with your theory is that it’s an ad hoc invention created by highly motivated apologists trying to escape adverse evidence."

    "The only concerns me because as a biographer of JS I want to get the order of events right and the apologists are screwing it up beyond comprehension."

    "The suggestion is desperate and wild in the extreme."

    "The idea that JS and OC were being led by WWP on a fool’s errand is ridiculous."

    "The evidence of antiquity for the BofA brought forward by the apologists is a farce."

    "This was utterly unconvincing, and therefore the evidence remains in force."

    "All he proves is that no matter the evidence, he will force it into his preconceived notions and declare victory."

    "So far I have demolished Jeff’s attempts to explain the nearly identical corrections of FGW and WP of Abr. 1:4 and 1:26. Jeff’s explanations are ridiculous and far fetched. His theory that WP copied and read out loud to FGW is silly beyond belief. This is totally unprecedented and ad hoc."

    "It’s somewhat disingenuous to repeat JoePeaceman’s theory without accounting for my devastating criticisms of it."

    "This is completely wrong."

    "Plausible is meaningless; you need probable."

    "Believe as you like. I’m totally confident in my evidence and its power to convince the unbiased mind."

    "So it is quite apparent to me you do not have the knowledge to comment so confidently on this subject and perhaps should question your own bias."

    "Speculating wildly that WP copied and read aloud to FGW is not a serious answer."

    "Now, get real."

    First, the above is quite convincing that Blake is right in his critique of you that you are way too convinced of your own arguments (compelling or otherwise). You even state something is completely wrong a sentence before you restate that "it appears a stronger case can be made." To state something is completely wrong (or that an argument is clearly superior or you have destroyed it or the arguments of your opponent are weak or silly) you have got to back up that certainty — and you have not done so. That isn't just because I have a "biased mind" (your own words for the only reason someone could disagree with you) — but because you are dealing in interpretations and probabilities and speaking in unambiguous certainties. Your words are writing checks your arguments cannot cash. I wrote about your framing failure in the previous post, and this is just a continuation of it — by framing your argument in this way you create a situation you are almost certain to eventually lose.

  13. Additionally, read in aggregate (and in comparison with the writings of Jeff) it seems clear which of the two of you are more invested in a particular outcome and which of the two of you are willing (and unwilling) to engage with contradicting evidence. Now the fact that you are engaging in such polemics and unwilling to fairly engage opposing evidence doesn't necessarily make you wrong — but it is the way to bet.

    "I will try to respond as time permits. For the record, I don’t care about the true/false prophet debate. Of course, I have my personal opinion, but scholarship simply can’t decide if JS was a true prophet or if the BofM or BofA are inspired."

    Perhaps you even believed this when you wrote it. But the remainder of your posts demonstrate this to not be an accurate restatement of your motivations. Yeah, you care deeply about this — your above-responses show that — and you are very invested in getting people to agree with your position. it comes out pretty clearly. If the above description is genuinely your desired approach, you might want to take a bit of an internal look at how you are evaluating things.

  14. Jonathan – you clearly cannot see that you are guilty of everything you accuse Dan of. Your last paragraph has nothing to do with the quote above it. Agreeing with Dan has nothing to do with wether Smith was more than only enlightened, but actually divinely inspired.

    For example statements like "
    unwilling to fairly engage opposing evidence ". Are bizzare,. Dan has engaged more than he one would rationally expect, just because he comes to well grounded assessments that consider the totality of evidences that run contrary to your preferred theory in no way means he is "unwilling" to "fairly" consider. To a look in the mirror buddy …

  15. Dan, ❤sorry I missed your replies to me. Busy day, as always. Before I respond, I think there are a couple of things that we should consider…if we are seeking truth.

    1- We don’t have to know everything to know some things, or to have something valid to say. For example: Jeff has soundly demonstrated that the extant BofA manuscripts are copies of a now lost original. He might not know what happened to that original (maybe burned in the RLDS library fire?, doesn’t matter). He doesn’t need to point out the exact moment when one person took over on reading, or copying, etc. because his point is that they were copying, and he has carefully demonstrated that for any open mind.

    For another example: I don’t have to know why bethka was originally left out to see that it is aligned to an already existing BofA text (maybe Phelps dropped green jello in his diet coke when he was on the first degree? Guess it would have been root beer back then, before the soft drink manifesto ; )). My point is that he aligned it to an existing BofA manuscript. I can't see any valid reason for you rejecting that. It may be that you have preconceived notions and you must make Bethka fit them (not unlike Phelps having a BofA to fit his GAEL to. For me, since it is clearly aligned to the BofA, I must, at present, conclude that the BofA came first. This is logic, it will lead us to the truth.. I’m always willing to consider reasonable evidence to the contrary, but I don’t see any yet. Your theory can't explain why they added Bethka, in 5 spots, it just "showed up," and happened to be similar to Beth-first residence, and both happened to align to the BofA, which didn't yet show up, and the GAEL is just a tool to stall, so JS could do research (while spending "considerable" time on Phelps' GAEL, probably hoping to help others find a way to translate, according to their requests), so he could claim to have the priesthood that they already claimed to have (years before).

    So, there's that, or, as has been suggested: Maybe Phelps overlooked the second/redundant quest for a better place. He recorded the order while on the first degree, GAEL pg 22ish. He wrote down Beth, Iota, etc. because that is the order of the BofA. Then, it seems evident that he copied the meanings and etc. from his GAEL (no need to look at the manuscript again, at this point). Then continued developing meanings (“arbitrary” at first, then more defined?) for Beth, Iota, etc. based on what he had written in the first degree. He worked up to the 5th degree–on page 1-2 of the GAEL. Clearly he has a plan, and a pattern, the order is important, the meanings are graded- broad, and then, in the 5th, precise, and the order is obviously based on something that already exists (as Jeff has pointed out in this post), and this is coming to a head, as planned, on pg 1. Then, he dissects the character, copies Abr. 1:1-3 from the manuscript (or looks at what he already copied, that is another detail that doesn’t matter–the one that matters is that it already existed, or he wouldn’t have anything to align his GAEL Rosetta to), and begins with his reverse or retro, etc. Then he noticed "Oh, I missed that other search for greater happiness, etc. If we don't have it, we will be aligning the characters to the wrong part of the text!"

    We’ve gone through this:
    A-Beth man’s first residence, &c” (clearly from the BofA, but crosses it out, favoring-
    A- Beth place of happiness…rest (but why? He’s looking at the text again, but broadening?)
    B- Iata— see, saw seeing or having seen (sounds good here, for?)….
    Look at Jeff’s post again please. You say you're fine with a July translation, but you're not….ask yourself why, please. Is it because you've developed a theory that no longer works? Dan, the scholar within you can let go of that….it's outdated :)…and then we move on to discover more…

  16. Again no real response from Joe, just more chatting "Jeff has soundly demonstrated", thinking if he says it loud enough he will sound precocious and Jeff will ask him out to root beer. How supercalifragilisticexpialidocious of him.

  17. Thanks for always being fun anon : )

    Starting at the beginning of Dan’s replies. I’m hoping this will allow us (Jeff) to move on WITH Dan, rather than to leave Dan trying to defend past errors. 🙂

    Dan, 💖❤I believe you value scholarship over faith, sealing, etc. So, it’s one thing to dig in your heals in order to justify that choice (we all do that sort of thing, it’s human nature), it’s quite another to abandon scholarship to try to defend outdated talking points. I think you are better than that.

    For example, you say:
    “So far I have demolished Jeff’s attempts to explain the nearly identical corrections of FGW and WP of Abr. 1:4 and 1:26. Jeff’s explanations are ridiculous and far fetched.”

    Perhaps I’ve missed something, but I kindly disagree, and insist that the opposite is true. You’ve only addressed a fraction of what Jeff has said, and haven’t demolished any of it. However, getting to the root–for the scholar, it’s not about winning Jeff, it’s about moving up toward truth. This will involve mistakes, for each of us. You'll move faster if you join us fallible humans in the learning process.

    Overall, the evidence that Jeff has given, solidly supports the theory that the BofA came first. He has helped us all grow in our understanding of the clearly miraculous BofA, and its relationship to the GAEL, etc.. I hope to return to an in depth discussions of previous replies/claims but, so far, Jeff has shown that there are some corrections which could go either way, and there is no case where they ONLY go your way, and several that only go his. We’ve discussed “Regular” vs “Royal” (really difficult to imagine Joseph dictating “regular” completely out of context, and switching to Royal–it's simple to see confusion of g and y in an existing text), Bethka, etc., (and hopefully will continue, because there is much more).
    On your current best: Abr 1:4 and 26, Jeff has provided excellent hypotheses (and I plan to return to that also, there is more on each, including: comparable BofM changes; Jeff’s addendum; “first” to “second”; “​I will refer you”, etc. etc.), and you have made some good points, which have us all thinking.

    So, using your 2 examples Abr. 1:26, in context of everything else, is best seen as Jeff explained, OR there are other events that could lead to it (but, in context, not a JS original dictation) e.g. it could also be a mistake by the original July 1-6 scribe (or whenever). The original, in this situation, was likely meant to be “also Noah his father; for in his days, HE blessed him..” While creating the “Twin” Manuscripts, the reader read the mistaken “for in his days, who blessed him” and obviously paused (so Williams starts a new sentence, not listening to context) and the reader, realizing there was a mistake in the original, corrects it to make sense. But, he might have headed the wrong way….and now I’m distracted by Noah and etc. so I will post this before it's too long (don’t want any anonymouses to melt "sooooooooo loooong! Can't you make a video?" 😜;))

  18. Jonathan: Yes, I have used strong language here and I can back it up. Jeff and JoePeaceman are arguing nonsense. The Alphabets and Grammar were not made from the BofA because they don’t have anything to do with the BofA. They are separate translations. Jeff’s theory that WP was copying a pre-existing manuscript and reading out loud to FGW is utterly contradicted by the documents and the historical record. It’s ad hoc and not even close to be an acceptable form of evidence and way of interpreting documents. The BofA apologists are totally out in left field. I don’t know how to be any clearer.

    None of this has anything to do with JS’s truth claims as a prophet or the BofA as a religious text. My critique only has to do with the apologists and the theories and explanations they have given. There are other ways of explaining the evidence from a faith position, but Jeff and the traditionalist apologists reject those ways, which leads to distortion.

  19. Dan, errors in creating lists can happen for many reasons. Once an error is made, copies of the errant list can be propagated and all may need correction later. I don't know why it's so vital to explain why or how the error was made. The fact that Phelps saw order as important for those words that are so closely related to the opening of the Book of Abraham, and even wrote that the order should be preserved for that list, would seem to support the claim that order mattered. The importance of order for those words points to the GAEL as a document dependent on an external control, most plausible the order of the associated words in the existing translation. It's prima facie evidence, albeit debatable, that the GAEL came after at least a portion of the translation.

  20. Typo
    Alrighty, Hi guys, I was distracted from my distraction BUT, if Dan would stop dragging his feet, trying to defend his $@#% videos ; ) we could, with his expertise, and Jeff’s logic (my father was a chemist, and I see the physical sciences in Jeff’s open mindedness, attention to detail, mathematical reasoning, and etc.) more honestly be exploring interesting topics such as:

    Dan, ❤
    I agree that your best evidences for JS dictating the Twin manuscripts are the changes to Abr. 1:4&26. I’ll return to 4. WP has 26 as: “and also Noah his father, “who” blessed him, with the blessings…”

    At the moment, it seems we are seeing a loss of information due to a correction to a mistake copied from the original manuscript, as dictated by JS, who said (or meant to say) “he” rather than “who” and so it should have originally read more like:
    “Now the <​first​> government of Egypt, was established by Pharaoh the eldest son of Egyptes the daughter of Ham…which was Patriarchal. Pharaoh being a righteous man established his kingdom, and Judged his people wisely…seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generation in the days of the first Patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam. And also Noah his father. For in his days HE blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and of with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the priesthood…notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah through Ham: Therefore, my father was led away by their idolatry”

    Once again, the BofA is full of ancient style, details, etc. which JS couldn’t have known, e.g. whoever redacted or copied it, was interested in Egyptian priesthood, as well as Shemite. Ancient Egypt was Hamo/Semitic. In fact, we now know that a change in rule probably took place during Abraham’s lifetime. During Ptolemaic times (when the JS papyri were mummified), there was a large and influential Jewish population in Egypt, but it was ruled by Greeks and Romans.
    Jewish scholars have long debated the curse of Ham. (Please keep in mind that this wasn’t the racism that OK notes, they were the same family, just as Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn, and lost the birthright by sleeping with his Father’s concubine and wrongly seeking to usurp his patriarchal authority, and Laman wanted to kill his Dad, and to wrongly usurp, and Japeth never had it, so, for thousands of years, Jeff’s white ancestors couldn’t go to the Temple for sacrificial atonement, …etc.). Ham is thought, by some, to have been Noah’s firstborn. Shem inherited that priestly “right of the father’s” spot due to Ham’s transgression (consensus seems to be that Ham (or Canaan) was guilty of the incestuous rape of Noah.

    I found a quote on chabad.org to help explain what the original Abr.1:26 clarifies “The Firstborn and the Curse of Canaan…Canaan was…the firstborn…“Ham, the father of Canaan” mean that by that time Ham had no other children and Canaan was listed last due to his unrighteousness…Moses, too, was not the firstborn…after the golden calf sin, the Lord replaced firstborn with the Levites…like responsibility, fairness, philanthropy, and mercy. Avraham was the most vivid example of such kind of a man.”

    And, back to Avraham- Dan sees the papyri as an opportunity for JS to claim priesthood. He says they didn’t report the restoration of the priesthood, and implies it was an afterthought in 1835. Problem with that is, even critical 1830 reports verify the priesthood restoration.

    Now, I know it’s only a few words ”Noah his father, for in his days HE blessed him”, but they clarify ancient context. The Lord had blessed Ham. Noah cursed Canaan, but, while still alive, blessed Pharaoh. Righteous Pharaoh, the grandson, becomes a son of Noah in the place of Ham(?), and receives blessings of the firstborn, except Priesthood right of firstborn. Abraham’s Fathers also lost this right, but Abraham is seeking it from Shem and/or Melchizedek, and Pharaoh wants to marry Sarah to be sealed to Abraham.

  21. And, I totally agree with Jeff's last comment.

    Dan, you still say: "The Alphabets and Grammar were not made from the BofA because they don’t have anything to do with the BofA." When you open your heart and mind- a simple glance at the BofA compared to the GAEL, the logic of Bethka with BofA first, etc. etc. etc. will help you see that this is a false statement, as are many other things that you assume and claim in your videos. The Alphabets and Grammar clearly have something to do with the BofA.

    There is no shame in being wrong, but the implications of refusing to admit and grow, are huge in your case.

    I'm not saying this is your fault but, I've noticed that it's much easier for people to drop their faith, cancel their sealings, disassociate from family, and so on than it is to return, even if they realize they were originally misled, they will come up with a excuse (usually social issues) to continue away from the light they once knew.

    So, Dan, please take another look at the evidence. You are right about some things, you've done a tremendous amount of research and have brought many truths to light. However, you, Jeff, I, OK, know that the BofA is of God. AND, thanks to Jeff, and our conversations, even though I came into this without GAEL preconceptions, I'm now about 99.5% sure that the BofA came first. Bethka is just one of those evidences. You show that you know it's right when you admit that a July translation is ok, but then you just can't let Nibley, Gee, Jeff, etc. be right that the BofA came first.

  22. Dan, above you said to me: “So far, I have seen no real response to any of my criticisms of your Bethka theory, from either you or Jeff.”

    I want to make sure that my responses, and Jeff’s, adequately addressed your concerns, before moving on to “It’s the kinds of corrections” and “doesn’t matter if WWP wrote Abr. 1:1-3 before or after…reversed engineered…not supported because…they don’t deal with the BofA.” and “If WWP…knew about Champollion…why…an Alphabet and Grammar?” and “the Amenhotep papyrus and princess Katumin, not Abraham” and “Part 2…pure language…Speculating wildly..“I have set by his side and penned down the translation of the Egyptian Hieroglyphicks as he claimed to receive it by direct inspiration of heaven.” Abr. 1:4 and so on.

    So, were my responses adequate? If not, please give details.

  23. ❤ ��Continued-

    Quickly: You said “A big problem with JoePeaceman’s theory is that it can’t explain why Bethka was left out of the first four degrees and had to be added.” I explained that this isn’t a problem, it could have been any distraction. But that it had to be inserted is a problem for your theory.

    You said: • that Bethka in the fifth degree had to be moved up four lines argues that WWP wasn’t following the order of translation when he originally wrote in GAEL, p. 2.”
    Exactly, and the fact that he realized this in the same paragraph, just after “Ki, Hi, Beth, Ash-The same as Zub Zooloan” and then went back in the GAEL and made 5 changes, which were clearly to align it to the BofA translation, shows that this was an oversight that could defeat the purpose of the GAEL. Alignment to the existing BofA mattered.

    You said• If WWP was following Abr. 1:1-3 and accounting for all the elements in the translation, it would have forced him to have Bethka in the correct location, which implies he wasn’t following anything.”
    It did force him, when he noticed it. Obviously he wasn’t double checking each time he moved up a degree, otherwise the error wouldn’t have been repeated. Occam says- He looked at the manuscript in the first degree, and copied his GAEL version from there.

    You said • A better reconstruction is that in the fifth degree the last two characters from the Alphabets and one from the middle were dissected and their parts given meanings.”
    The characters were already dissected in the 1st degree, and the meanings had also been there since the 1st degree. Aligned to the BofA, but the meanings are given in a broader sense. The GAEL was planned. Starting with the 1st degree on pg. 20-22 (then Bethka added on pg. 19) and increasing in “degree”, “signification”, etc. up to pg. 1. BofA text.

    You say: “This is when Bethka showed up. At this time order or the parts didn’t matter. Then JS dictated the three verses using the elements of the dissected parts.”
    Phelps makes it clear that the order does matter. All the way back. If you have questions about that I’ll repeat and discuss : ). Luv ya Dan.
    And, there is no dictating from “dissected parts”. You agree that the BofA wasn't from the GAEL, you’re videos explain that the BofA came by revelation, not dissected parts, not the GAEL, not the Alphabets, the eyewitnesses agree with you. And the WP scribe session was, in context, new material.

    You say: “Not a hard thing for JS to do.”

    But no reason to do it. It’s completely illogical, and the GAEL only makes sense in a reverse theory. I know you have issues with that, but don’t let that stunt your scholarship.

  24. Dan 💖❤Continued (long one, but reading is good anon, put on your thinking cap 😍)

    You say “• Bethka in the Alphabets has a meaning and development apart from the BofA. Clearly, the meaning of Bethka had already been given in part 2 of the Alphabets, which was a continuation of the themes discussed in the pure language: that is, grades of heavenly beings, grades of humans, grades of authority, grades of places on earth (i.e., Beth, Beth-ka, -ke-ki-ko..”

    You’re trying to apply a blanket assumption to everything. I hope you will discuss this with us, after you respond to the above,,,but, as you say, a better explanation might be that they were trying to establish something other than creating the BofA, something broader, but more mundane. The GAEL and Alphabets weren't about creating the BofA, you know Joseph could do that, and had already begun doing that, without a GAEL. The BofA helped them create the GAEL.
    If they knew about Champollion, they realized he wasn’t going to help them (hadn’t really helped Chandler’s learned Americans). But, they clearly understood the concept of a type of Rosetta stone as a tool. They evidently gathered information from many sources, the BofA being most important. Katumin (and we don’t know who translated Amenhotep, if anyone, that could have been reverse also), astronomy, the “pure language” characters (which could have been from the BofM for all we know– but the fact that the meanings changed shows us something) were also used.

    As you are forced to point out, all this indicates that the GAEL and Alphabets were not the source of the BofA, but then you inconsistently turn and argue that the GAEL came first, rather than following the razor—-the BofA “without doubt” influenced the GAEL : )
    Have a great day. Time for my family.

  25. @Dan:

    "Yes, I have used strong language here and I can back it up."

    That's the thing, though, Dan — you cannot. I can say this without really following along with Joe and Jeff's argument (the discussion of you three is admittedly well above my head).

    So if it above my head, how can I say with certainty you are inevitably going to lose your argument while I likewise argue that you cannot say what you are saying with certainty (and this is for you, Anon)? Because you have completely misframed your argument.

    You are attempting to use inductive logic to provide certainty, and then you are fully convinced by that inductive logic. But inductive logic doesn't work that way — it is fundamentally incapable of providing the certainty you advocate. The best you can defend would be "It is more likely that my hypothesis is correct" or "I find the evidence for my hypothesis more persuasive" — a markedly different response in content and tone than you are making. Your certainty is unearned and, in fact, unearnable. You demonstrate yourself as an unserious thinker lacking adequate skepticism from your own point of view. That doesn't make you wrong, of course, but it does bring your arguments into question as being inadequately tempered by opposing viewpoints.

    When I made my post I figured I would learn a great deal about you by your response. The correct response would be to recognize your language went beyond what you could prove. But that is not what you have done. Instead, confronted by your own words, you doubled-down.
    You have said that you know, that you are certain, that you have destroyed the arguments of your opponents. Those are the words of someone proselyting to a cause, not the words of someone examining an issue and responding to counter-arguments.

    In any event, I am fairly confident I have the measure of you at this point. Best of luck to you going forward.

  26. Dan Vogel: "This need to produce evidence is JS’s specialty. He did it with the BofM characters, and he was in the process of doing it with the Book of Enoch and the pure language when the Egyptian papyri came along and modified his plan."

    Ah, but we've got a Book of Mormon and a Book of Abraham. And no amount of evidence (or the lack thereof) having to do with their provenance can diminish their sacred value. The texts speak for themselves–they are true.

    Jack

  27. This is for you Jonathan – Amazing logic. You know you don't know what you are talking about, therefore Dan cannot saying anything with certainty. Jeff is relying heavy on inductive logic, therefore so is Dan. If Dan doesn't allow for your appeal to probability and give you the out you demand, then your measure of him as defective person is certain. Has whatever argument you were making Jonathan, now been defeated because we are all confident in our measure of you?

    You respond just the way intelligent designers did against those "proselyting" evolution.

  28. Jack, no text “speaks for itself.” But yes, we do have a Book of Mormon and a Book of Abraham, just as we have a slew of other modern American religious texts, from those of Ellen G. White and Mary Baker Eddy right on up to Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.

    They’re all products of people living in their times. None of them offers any particularly privileged access to truth. Your preferred texts are nothing special in this regard. Joseph Smith is just one member of a rather crowded pantheon of American religious hustlers.

    — OK

  29. Jack –

    Yes, that is what Dan has said from the start, whether or not the texts are divinely inspired has nothing to do with what Dan is presenting.

    And yes Jack, the texts are true, as LDS missionaries are now teaching, the texts are true just like the parables of Jesus are made up but true, which of course has nothing to do with the hateful foundations of Mormonism insulting 7 billion people as insincere and lacking real intent because the Spirit does not tell them to join the Mormons in attacking Christian priesthood, which is the theological differentiation of Mormonism according to actual Mormons.

  30. Happy Sabbath all,
    Good morning Jeff. Reading your update and want to thank you again, for all you do to help us understand the Abraham and his book, and Joseph, etc. I also want to thank Dan. The fact that he is willing to come here and explain his beliefs and claims shows that he at least believes he is right. I haven’t noticed other critics doing that on this level.
    And, I believe William Schryver was also first to point out that the historical record informs us that the GAEL was created “to” the BofA. I watched the first part of his FAIR presentation from ten years ago.

    And, I, also, still believe in the missing scroll theory (but my mind is open), As always, you are way ahead of us on figuring out the relationships of the characters and so on.
    I agree with Jeff that, in 1835, Joseph may not have known exactly which characters he was translating the BofA from.
    He could have been relying on the gifts and opinions of WWP, OC, and others to try to determine this, or perhaps he didn’t care, and let them carry the GAEL project. After translating Abr. 1, they’re naturally going to assume that the Breathing Permit is related. But then they skip around a bit, as if trying to figure it out.
    What do you think, Dan? Blake, Jonathan, OK, others, Anons?

  31. @Anonymous:

    Thank you for your post — I got a good chuckle out of it. It isn't uncommon to get an irrational response online, but I think this is the first time I can recall a response where the logic of each and every sentence was fatally flawed. I am not sure whether you are a non-believing troll trying to stir the post or a believing troll trying to make non-believers look bad, but I suppose that there is the off chance you actually think what you wrote and in that off chance I figured I had better respond.

    "You know you don't know what you are talking about, therefore Dan cannot saying anything with certainty."

    Nope, my argument is:

    Inductive logic can only lead to probabilities;
    Dan is using inductive logic;
    Therefore Dan can only conclude probabilities.

    Dan can only conclude probabilities;
    Dan argument is claiming certainty;
    Therefore Dan's argument will inevitably fail.

    I don't need to know anything about the subject matter to opine upon that — I just need to understand logic (which I do). For example, if someone presented the argument:

    All birds have wings;
    Butterflies have wings;
    Therefore butterflies are birds.

    I wouldn't need to be an ornithologist to point out the fatal logical error. Likewise I do not need to know anything about the Book of Abraham to point out Dan's fatal logical error. It is not, however, my ignorance that allows me to do so but rather my knowledge of logic.

    "Jeff is relying heavy on inductive logic, therefore so is Dan."

    Again, nope. It is hard to present this without a tautology, because Dan is following so closely to the definition of inductive logic. He is aggregating evidences to lead to a conclusion. His certainty, however, is wholly defective — if nothing else it ignores the inevitable "Black Swan" problem. But at no point do I say that Dan is relying on inductive logical because Jeff is relying on inductive logic.

    "If Dan doesn't allow for your appeal to probability and give you the out you demand, then your measure of him as defective person is certain."

    Wow, this gave me a chuckle. Note what I said in my post — I was "fairly confident" of my measure of Dan. Not certain, because (you cannot make this stuff up) I am using inductive logic in my determination of the kind of person that Dan is. I can have certainty that Dan's argument will fail because, unlike his argument on the main point and my measure of him, that is not based upon inductive reasoning on my part. Different tools yield different results.

    If I would have gone out to find a more convoluted example of irrational argument, I am not certain I could have come up with anything better than what you have written. If you are a troll, my hat is off to you. If you genuinely believe this is a good argument…

    "Has whatever argument you were making Jonathan, now been defeated because we are all confident in our measure of you?"

    Nope, that is a classic logical fallacy where you present attacks on the individual as dispositive as to their argument. But again (and you cannot make this up) I specifically denied your line of reasoning in my post. To save you from having to scroll up, I said:

    "That doesn't make you wrong, of course, but it does bring your arguments into question as being inadequately tempered by opposing viewpoints."

    This isn't even using what kind of person he is as evidence of his argument, but rather his demonstrated failure to engage with opposing viewpoints as a data point because it calls into question the exposure of his ideas to scrutiny (self or otherwise). Not only is it not a strong ad hominem, it isn't even an application of weak ad hominem.

    "You respond just the way intelligent designers did against those "proselyting" evolution."

    This, on the other hand, is strong ad hominem.

    Thanks. You made my morning.

  32. Yes, Jonathan, we all get a good chuckle at how you are floundering in your frustrated attacks on Dan. It is good that you finally looking in the mirror. We are fairly certain that you are now recognizing how irrational, illogical, and flawed each every sentence of what you present is.

    Simple phrases expose yourself, like "non-believing" / "believing" troll. Non-believing / believing? This thoroughly exposes how what you are attempting to present has nothing to do with reason, but everything to with belief.

    Yes, Jonathan, we all get the point about probabilities. Your absurdity in the appeal to probability is well understood. It is probable that every molecule in your person can de-materialization, tunnel through a wall, and re-materialize on the other side. To then demand no one speak with certainty about things that make you uncomfortable is absurd. Admitting you are not a physicist, but know enough that materializing on the other side of the wall is possible and therefore physicists should not speak with certainty that it is not possible is absurd.

    You insist Dan not speak with certainty, but you speak with certainty that Dan's "fatal logical error" (for you which you present no case), and a certainty of his "unwillingness" to "fairly" consider, a certainty you have that few agree with.

    It is good to see you admit that you feel that if Dan doesn't allow for your appeal to probability and give you the out you demand, then your measure of hims as a more defective person is "fairly confident". It is also good to watch you engage in classic rhetoric where falsely suggesting that if you put a diminutive on an arguement, then you are innocent of presenting attacks on individuals as dispostive to their argument. We are all "fairly confident" (aka certain) that you actually belief you are not engaging in one massive ad hominem attack on Dan. You geninuely do not understand semantics and sound reasoning are not the same thing. Falsely accusing Dan over and over of failure to engage with opposing viewpoints does make it true, no matter how much you wish it did. But yes, chuckling with humor is the best way to deal with your frustration of the rock solid cases Dan makes.

    "You respond just the way intelligent designers did against those "proselyting" evolution."
    "This, on the other hand, is strong ad hominem."

    Finally, you are seeing your reflection, glad I could help you, that made my morning.

  33. JoePeaceman: I missed the presentation to which you refer where “Jeff has soundly demonstrated that the extant BofA manuscripts are copies of a now lost original.” I read Hauglid’s evidence in his first book of Abraham transcriptions, but even he was tentative and has now abandoned that theory. So I don’t know how you can be so certain.

    I understand Jeff believes WP and FGW were copying an already existing manuscript of Abraham dating to July 1835, which is a speculation based on less than definitive changes in the manuscripts. He has to believe that to maintain his first theory. He recognizes that there are inline corrections in the documents of both “copyists,” which implies that it could not be visual copies. So to save his first speculation he has to spin an even more elaborate ad hoc theory, violating Occam’s razor.

    The whole reason Jeff wants the WP and FGW documents to be copies is to have the entire BofA dictated in July 1835, and the reason to have this early text is to argue that the Alphabets and bound Grammar came from it. The problem with that is that the Alphabets and bound Grammar didn’t come from the BofA, except for a small part on grammar in the GAEL which we have been discussing.

    “He doesn’t need to point out the exact moment when one person took over on reading, or copying, etc. because his point is that they were copying, and he has carefully demonstrated that for any open mind.”

    He needs to demonstrate it to a critical mind. This isn’t a contest about who has the most open mind. When I say critical, I mean it in a scholarly sense. Jeff has not demonstrated that the WP/FGW documents are copies; he has only argued that they could be copies. That’s very different. You are quibbling here. As I explained above, he needs to account for the inline corrections occurring in two documents simultaneously. He has not done that convincingly because he is trying to put a square peg into a round hole.

    “I don’t have to know why bethka was originally left out to see that it is aligned to an already existing BofA text.”

    You don’t know why Bethka was left out of the first four degrees because it contradicts your theory, while my theory explains it perfectly. Bethka did not originally align with the BofA text, it had to be moved. For some reason you are having trouble seeing the implications of that and how it actually contradicts your theory. Your point about the placement of Bethka in the fifth degree would have made sense if it had not been moved. The fact that it had to be moved implies that the translation came after.

    Either way, you have no salient point here since we are only talking about Abr. 1:1-3, not the entire BofA. The rest of the GAEL has nothing to do with Abraham and so any argument about reverse engineering is pure fantasy. At some point you are going to have to deal with the Alphabets and bound Grammar as translations separate and leading up to the BofA.

    “so he could claim to have the priesthood that they already claimed to have (years before).”

    The high priesthood from Adam to Enoch, which JS just added in D&C 107 and promised to reveal in the Book of Enoch. Not everyone was convinced that the high priesthood existed in the OT. Melchizedek was just a priest. High priests came with Aaron, and Jesus was the only high priest after the order of Melchizedek. The BofA provided evidence for a line of high priests among the patriarchs.

  34. Jeff: “errors in creating lists can happen for many reasons.”

    I believe you are talking about Bethka being left out of the first four degrees and later inserted. Whatever reason you come up with doesn’t matter. The fact is they were left out, which causes a problem for the way JoePeaceman wants to use it as evidence.

    Note carefully. They were not inserted until after Bethka was moved in the fifth degree. If you are going to argue that Bethka in the fifth degree was moved so that it would align with Abr. 1:1-2, Bethka has to actually be there before the translation. The fact that it was moved makes it entirely possible for it to have been done after the translation. In other words, for JoePeaceman to argue that WWP was following Abr. 1:1-2, it would have to have been done correctly when the GAEL was first written. Any changes after that nullifies the evidence.

    My explanation is that only in the fifth degree is the reed character dissected into parts and each part given a meaning based on the Alphabets, although in the Alphabets the characters such as Bethka and Zub Zool oan had entirely different contexts. This is where Bethka showed up and why it didn’t before, which necessitated its being inserted in the first four degrees.

    “order mattered”

    Maybe, but the order came too late to use it as JoePeaceman has. This is a simple matter of logic and chronology. Timing matters as well.

    “the GAEL came after at least a portion of the translation”

    I don’t think that case can be made for even this portion of the translation (Abr. 1:1-3), but even so it doesn’t matter because it is just this portion and not the entire BofA. The apologetic argument has been that the Alphabets and bound Grammar were produced by reverse engineering the BofA. That can’t be sustained since besides the small part we are discussing in the GAEL, these Egyptian language texts have nothing to do with the BofA.

    There is therefore no reason to struggle to maintain an Abraham-first model.