Thursday, June 1, 2017

Agnosticism on the Missing Papyrus Theory

I have decided to reform my position on the Missing Papyrus Theory a little bit.  In the past I have been quite against it.  I have turned into an agnostic on it.  I don't believe in it.  I think there are better theories than that.  But I have fought against it in the past when it isn't really all that incompatible with my theory.  My theory is about providing an explanation for what the Kirtland Egyptian Papers are in relation to the Sensen Papyrus characters.  I only know that Joseph Smith and his scribes were trying to translate those characters in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.  If there is some other Papyrus that is missing that has the Book of Abraham Text on it, then more power to the missing papyrus theory advocates.  I guess I truly have no evidence against it, only a lack of belief in it.  I don't see a necessity for a belief in that kind of a theory.  I guess therefore that I should say that I am agnostic on it, and shouldn't be so against the possibility.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Greco-Roman Egyptian Alpha-Numerals Theory, or the “Ahmestrahan” Numerals

The Greco-Roman Egyptian Alpha-Numerals Theory, or the “Ahmestrahan” Numerals

I will be presenting two separate theories on Egyptian “Alpha-Numerals.”  This article is the first one.  This article is inspired by the statement in Facsimile #2 of the Book of Abraham, Figure 11, which states, “If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be. Amen.”  Yet, if one looks at the symbols pointed to, they are not conventional Egyptian numeric characters, but they are actually conventional Egyptian Alpha-characters.  This means that they are the characters typically representing “text” in the Egyptian language.  But this is not unexpected with regard to the Book of Abraham, because the rest of the characters thought of as “text,” both in the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham, as well as in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers that present character translations, are not the conventional Egyptian translations of said characters.

Here is a link to a companion piece to this article by one of my partners, Vincent Coon, that contains his opinions and research on this matter:

Anyhow, this first article in the series is a presentation of how late Egyptians could have associated their uni-literal (single-consonantal) characters with the Greek-Hebrew-Semitic Alpha-Numeric system.  It doesn’t really answer very well with evidence  the question of which system of representation would have been used for Bi-literal, Tri-literal and Determinative characters, but does make a suggestion.  So, we start out with the Book of Abraham Facsimile #2, the Hypocephalus of Sheshonq, Figure 11.

The following is the original form of the hieroglyphs in the Hypocephalus in figure 11.  In the original, they go from right to left:

Here is the copy that was in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, which gives us a separate view of what Joseph Smith's scribes originally saw before them, but there is no essential difference:

Here are the characters flipped so they go left to right:

Here are the characters transformed into regularized hieroglyphs, along with a transcription into the way they are read in Egyptian, as shown by Hugh Nibley in One Eternal Round:

(Hugh Nibley, One Eternal Round, p. 327)

These particular hieroglyphics, the way they are “read” in Egyptian, translate to, “O God of the sleeping ones from the time . . . “  They are part of a larger message continued on in the other panels, in totality, saying, “O God of the sleeping ones from the time of the creation.  O Mighty God, Lord of Heaven and Earth, of the hereafter, and of his great waters, may the soul of Osiris Shishaq live.”

Yet, as we noted above, Joseph Smith commented on this, saying, “If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be. Amen.”

What are we to make of this?  Well, it is the same exact problem as elsewhere in the explanations for the Facsimiles, as well as in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.  The way Joseph Smith translated this is not to “read” them, but as with the rest of the symbols, he gave interpretations to characters that were treated singly as single pictographs, rather than concentrating on what they “say” in Egyptian.  It is quite true that they can be read conventionally, but that was not what he was doing here.

Referring to  Figure 4 of the Hypocephalus, Facsimile #2, Joseph Smith says “Answers to the Hebrew word Raukeeyang, signifying expanse, or the firmament of the heavens; also a numerical figure, in Egyptian signifying one thousand; answering to the measuring of the time of Oliblish, which is equal with Kolob in its revolution and in its measuring of time.”  There was no text in figure 4 to read.  This is a statement about the picture itself, and the picture itself was said to be a numerical character in Egyptian.  This is the figure of the god Sokar on the boat, extending out his wings.  And this says that it answers to the Hebrew word raqia (another way to transliterate “raukeeyang,” which does indeed mean the expanse of the heaven in the Hebrew language.  The action of Sokar’s extending his wings would seem to be symbolic of the idea of expanding, or expanse.  While some Egyptologists endeavor to deny the fact, LDS apologists have successfully and reasonably defended the fact that Sokar in this context, in his ship as shown, is indeed symbolic of the number 1000.  But remember, this is entirely an interpretation based on the picture.  There is no text here in the figure to interpret.

We have the same exact issue above with figure 11.  Each hieroglyph in figure 11 is a separate little picture, when separated out singly.  And each one needs to be interpreted separately, on its own merits, to figure out which number it represents, the same as how Sokar on the boat was a figure representing a number.  What the text “says” here has nothing to do with the little pictures themselves, and we must segregate these two concepts in order to come to a proper understanding to what is going on.  We must come to know that the pictures themselves can be representational on their own, in an entirely separate scope, from what they “spell out.”  So, the first step, then, is to separate out each hieroglyph, and analyze them, even though combinations of these hieroglyphs may actually compose a larger number, much like how 1 and 0 can compose the number ten, although whatever system is at work here for these to be interpreted as numbers is not immediately obvious.  But it isn’t strange that Egyptian symbols that are used to write out text could have been used as numbers.  Precedents are the fact that both the Hebrew and Greek alphabets were used for numbers.  Similarly, our own alphabet, named the Latin alphabet, was used by the Romans for their numerals.  We didn’t get our own numbers that we use now until the middle ages from the Arabs.  How many times have you seen in the credits of a movie the year the movie was made in Roman numerals, composed of letters from the Latin Alphabet, the very alphabet we use?  The letter I is the number 1.  The letter V is the number five.  The letter X is the number ten.  The letter L is 50.  The letter C is 100.  And the letter M is 1000.  And so, in the case of Roman Numerals, the letters are not used to spell out anything.  They are used in a separate context as numbers.  There is nothing alien about this concept whatsoever, and it is a phenomenon that is very well-attested historically.  There is nothing crazy about Joseph Smith’s assertion that symbols from the “Egyptian Alphabet” could be used numerically.  We just somehow must figure out which system is being used in these characters for numeric representationalism.  The best way to do this is to not limit ourselves to one system, but to make more than one suggestion, and over time, the best system may win out, with enough research.  But for now, we make multiple suggestions.

As I have shown in other articles on this blog, the whole Alphabet itself is derived from a set of Egyptian Hieroglyphics ( 30 symbols) originally repurposed  to represent constellations of the Lunar Zodiac (a set of 30 constellations representing lunar stations or “mansions” that overlap the regular 12 constellations of the Zodiac  on the ecliptic.  I have identified these constellations and matched them up one by one with each proto-letter of the earliest alphabet called the Proto-Sinaitic by some scholars.  So the whole regular Alphabet as we know it is actually “reformed Egyptian,” from a certain point of view.  But this set of characters was later modified by the Phoenicians and adopted by the Greeks.
As Georges Ifrah, a very important French scholar on numbers, has pointed out, however, there is actually a myth that the Phoenicians used their letters as numbers:

It has long been asserted that, long before the Jews and the Greeks, the Phoenicians first assigned numerical values to their alphabetic signs and thus created the first alphabetic numerals in history.
However, this assumption rests on no evidence at all.  No race has yet been discovered of the use of such a system by the Phoenicians, nor by their cultural heirs, the Aramaeans . . .
The numeral notations used during the first millennium BCE by the various northwestern Semitic peoples . . . are very similar to each other, and manifestly derive from a common source . . . (The Universal History of Numbers, p. 227).

Ifrah then goes on to show the evidence of a separate system of Semitic numbering that was used among them that was NOT alphabetic at all, up until the JEWS adopted the system of the GREEKS for Alpha-Numerals much later on.  In other words, it was the GREEKS that invented the use of alpha-characters as numbers, not the Phoenicians, or Semites like the Jews.  As Ifrah shows from page 232 to page 239, the Hebrews didn’t adopt the Greek system of Alpha-numerals until Late Hebrew at the start of the COMMON ERA.  Before the Common Era, all the archaeological evidence shows that other systems of numerals were among them.  This presents a huge problem for those that adhere to the theory of the cabalists that try to derive meaning from the very ancient Hebrew text of the Torah by way of Gematria (the symbolic use of numbers as symbols in the Hebrew scriptures).  In other words, those trying to read Gematria into the Hebrew Bible are actually reading their own later system into it, searching for meaning in it.  It is true that the later Hebrews in the time of the Book of Revelation used the conventional alpha-numbers of the day.  That much is true.  Nevertheless, the the Alpha-numeral system was not in use by those who wrote the Hebrew Bible AT ALL, and any attempt to read this into it is either iconotropic, or flawed!  As Ifrah writes:

. . . [I]n Palestine Hebrew letters were only just beginning to be used as numerals at the start of the Common Era.
This is confirmed by the discovery, in the same caves at Qumran, of several economic documents belonging to the Essene sect and dating from the first century BCE.  One of them, a brass cylinder-scroll . . ., uses number-signs that are quite different from Hebrew alphabetic numerals.
Further confirmation is provided by the many papyri from the firth century BCE left by the Jewish military colony at Elephantine (near Aswan and the first cataract of the Nile).  These consiste of deeds of sale, marriage contracts, wills and loan agreements, and they use numerals that are identical to those of the Essene scroll . . .  (pp. 234-235)

And Ifrah goes on and on with more and more archaeological evidence.  He shows a table of the accounting system of the Kings of Israel on p. 237 from the archaeological evidence, and the numerals are actually just Egyptian hieratic number symbols!   The earliest evidence for use of alpha-numerals among the Jews is the coins from the first Jewish Revoilt in 66-73 CE (see Ifrah, p. 233).

So, Ifrah destroys the myth of Alpha-numerals among the Semites up until the Common Era.  But with Egyptian numerics, we aren’t even really talking about a system of Jews or Semites, even those in the Greco-Roman era.

However, since we are dealing with literate Egyptians (the “Ahmestrahans” of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers) of the Greco-Roman era that dealt with all the number systems and languages of the day.  None of this presents a problem for our current theory, that groups of Egyptians in the Greco-Roman era adopted the number-system of the Greeks for their own “letters.”  The only problem would arise if someone supposes that these Egyptians got said system from the Jews.  It was the Jews, as we saw here, that later got their particular system from the Greeks.

There are two systems of Greek Alpha-Numerals.  The oldest is the Greek system from the Sixth century BCE, the numbering system that was used in the Iliad and the Odyssey.  This is, according to Ifrah, “a simple substitution of letters for numbers, not a proper alphabetic number system . . .” (See Ifrah, p. 214):

Alpha =1
Beta = 2
Gamma = 3
Delta = 4
Epsilon = 5
Zeta = 6
Eta = 7
Theta = 8
Iota = 9
Kappa = 10
Lamda = 11
Mu = 12
Nu = 13
Xi = 14
Omicron = 15
Pi = 16
Rho = 17
Sigma = 18
Tau = 19
Upsilon = 20
Phi = 21
Chi = 22
Psi = 23
Omega = 24

It was later in the Greco-Roman era where the Greeks started to use a system that was a true alpha-number system that was more elaborate.  The earliest evidence of this could be a “Greek papyrus from Elephantine” which has a “marriage contract that states that it was drawn up in the seventh year of the reign of Alexander IV (323-311 BCE), that is to say in 317-316 BCE . . .” (Ifrah, p. 233). This more “true” alpha-numbering system differs from the previous and goes like this:

Alpha = 1
Beta = 2
Gamma = 3
Delta = 4
Epsilon = 5
Digamma = 6
Zeta = 7
Eta = 8
Theta = 9
Iota = 10
Kappa = 20
Lambda = 30
Mu = 40
Nu = 50
Ksi = 60
Omicron = 70
Pi = 80
Koppa = 90
Rho = 100
Sigma = 200
Tau = 300
Upsilon = 400
Phi = 500
Chi = 600
Psi = 700
Omega = 800
San (Sampi) = 900

This more elaborate and advanced system was the system that was adopted by the Jews, spoken of earlier.  As you can see, only the first five numbers are the same as those from the previous system of the Greeks.
Now, what about the “Egyptian Alphabet”?  How can this work for the Egyptians?  Well, part of the problem with that has to do with how to match up the Egyptian hieroglyphics with Greek/Semitic letters.  The Egyptians have symbols that represent one, two and three consonants (uniliterals, biliterals and triliterals respectively), and others that represent context, called determinatives or determiners.

Now, as you can see, for the uniliterals (single consonantals), it is easy enough to try to line them up with the numeric values of letters from the other alphabets that they seem to correspond to.  The numeric values in this case would seem to be consistent and constant in both the Semitic and Greek alphabets.  These in general follow the “North Semitic” order, which is a fairly consistent ordering scheme for many alphabets.  It may be that the north semitic ordering was created for numerics to begin with.  Because the other significant ordering system is called the “South Semitic,” yet even in this scheme, the number values of the letters in these alphabets following it are consistent with their North Semitic counterparts.

So, for uniliteral Egyptian characters, it may be that the numeric scheme is straight-forward in this way, that we can expect that they are simply numerically equivalent to their Semitic counterparts.  As we have shown elsewhere, the people that were concerned with these types of numbers anyway in the Hypocephalus would have been the Egyptians of the Greco-Roman period.  As the research of Dr. Rozen Bailleul-LeSuer shows in his article Between Heaven and Earth:  Birds in Ancient Egypt, there is evidence that the alphabet of Egyptian uniliterals “followed, with some variations, that of the South Semitic alphabet, which originated in the Arabian Peninsula. By comparison, he deduced that the latter was apparently the older.  Note that the alphabetical order used in modern Egyptological publications was established by scholars in the nineteenth century and does not follow that of the original Egyptian alphabet.”  ( Also, it is significant that Dr. Bailleul-LeSuer wrote:

The text about which Smith and Tait came to such conclusions, namely, papyrus (hereafter P.) Saqqara 27 (fourth–third century bc), is a school text consisting of two alphabetical lists with bird names. In the first list (lines 2–7), “various birds are said to be ‘upon’ various trees or plants” with which they are paired. In each pair, the bird and plant names always begin with the same letter. For example, in line 2, the first phrase of the list reads as follows: [r] p3 hb ḥr p3hbyn “the ibis (was) upon the ebony-tree,” in which the word hb “ibis” is paired with hbyn “ebony-tree,” both beginning with the letter h. In the second list (lines 9–14), “various birds are said to ‘go away’ to various places.” In line 10, for instance, one finds the sentence šm n⸗f bnw r Bb[l] “the Benu-bird went off to Baby[lon]” in which, according to the same pattern, the word bnw “heron” is paired with Bb[l] “Baby[lon],” both names beginning with the letter b.

As you can see, these are precisely the general types of alphabetical word-game pairings that I have been speaking about the whole time in this blog, as are used in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, where Egyptian hieroglyphics are artfully paired with things in creative ways.  Nobody would say that the Egyptian letter that corresponds to hb “translates” as ebony tree, yet here, the alphabetical Egyptian uniliteral letter is paried with Ebony tree in a pun, a word game!

P. Saqqara 27 is in fact one of the few papyri, ranging from the Late Period to Roman times, to include letter names or words listed in alphabetical order and thanks to which the sequence of letters in the Egyptian alphabet can be established, at least partially.  In some of these papyri, such as P. Berlin 8278 and its fragments, letter names could also be placed at the beginning of a line as a way of classifying different sections of the text by using letters instead of numbers.

Again, as I have noted at other times in this blog, I am specifically claiming that Egyptian letters from the Sensen Papyrus were artfully used to decorate text in the Book of Abraham as a marker system, or something akin to letters that enumerate sections of text, and that the selection of those is because they have a meaningful or artful connection to the text that they enumerate, similar to the word-game pairings above.  I’m calling on individuals to recognize that this is what we find in the Kirtland Egyptian papers is precisely these types of meaningful pairings and enumerations.  That is the whole point of this blog.

However, for the purposes of the current article, I am bringing all this up to show the evidence from Dr. Bailleul-LeSuer’s article that shows that in the Greco-Roman era, the Egyptians had the South Semitic ordering for their uniliteral characters, and therefore, this shows that they had the same concepts for these characters as the other nations had for their own alphabets.  Therefore, it is not a stretch to posit that these characters had the same number-assignments as those they correspond to in the South Semitic alphabet.  Therefore, we can expect that the uniliteral Egyptian letters above do indeed have the numeric values that we have identified above, because to these Egyptians, they were directly equivalent to the South Semitic list.  Whether it started out this way for the Uniliteral hieroglyphs in the Old Kingdom before the development of the Semitic Alphabets is entirely a different question, a question that we are not really concerned with in the current scope of this article.  The reason is that we are trying to ascertain what number scheme the Egyptians of the Greco-Roman era were applying to these characters.  The quotation above shows that, most likely, the South Semitic alphabets came first before the South Semitic ordering of the Egyptian uniliterals.  Therefore, we can expect that this is a form of iconotropic imposition of a foreign scheme on the Egyptian “alphabet,” which was imported into Egypt.  It is, nevertheless the scheme we are concerned with here, because it is the relevant one to the time period of the Egyptians that had imposed iconotropically an Abrahamic context on the Joseph Smith Papyri.  Therefore, for these reasons, I am comfortable applying these values from the Hebrew and Greek alphabetical-numeric schemes to the uniliterals above.  So this resolves only the first part of the problem.  One objection could be raised that the following uniliteral Egyptian letter is actually the conventional Egyptian number for 1000:

However, there may be a certain context that it is 1000, and some other number in an alphabetical-numeric scheme.  For example the Hebrew letter Aleph is the number 1 usually, but in a year context, it is the number 1000.  Therefore, I don’t see this type of thing as a valid criticism.
Now, with all this background above in mind, as for the Facsimile #2 of the Book of Abraham, Figure 11, here are the hieroglyphs in question are separated out, with numbers assigned to them as far as can be done, with the Greek system in mind:

  Gardiner M17, Moeller 282, the Reed symbol, or the Egyptian unilateral letter I, corresponding to the Hebrew Yod and Greek Iota.  In both the Greek and Hebrew alphabetical-numeric scheme, it is the number 10.

 Gardiner A2, Moeller 35,man with hand in mouth.  This is a determinative in indicating eating, drinking, speaking, thinking, etc.  This doesn’t match with a Greek numeral, as it isn’t a uniliteral, so something else may be going on.

Gardiner Z3, Moeller 563, three strokes, indicating plurality in general.  In the regular Egyptian number system, the number 1 is the straight line.  This may be indicative that this can stand for the number the number 3.

Gardiner G17, Moeller 196 This is a picture of an owl, and is the uniliteral letter M.  This corresponds to the Hebrew Mem and the Greek Mu.  These letters both stand for the number 40.
Gardiner R8 , Moeller 547 Egyptian Triliteral character NTR, meaning “god.”  This is a picture of a flag.  This doesn’t match up with a Greek letter, since it is a tri-literal.
Gardiner A40 , Moeller 45 -  This is a seated god.  Same thing as above.  It is a determinative, so it doesn’t match with a Greek letter.

Gardiner O34 , Moeller 366  – door bolt - This is the uniliteral character pronounced S or Z, corresponding to the Hebrew Zayin and the Greek letter Zeta.  These both are equal to the number 7.

Gardiner A54 Moeller (not present in list) – This is a recumbent mummy on couch, meaning “sleeping” or “death.”  This is the triliteral character SDR.  Once again, this doesn’t match with a Greek letter.

Gardiner Q3 , Moeller 388  – stool - This is the uniliteral character P, corresponding to the Hebrew peh and the Greek pi.  These are both the number 80.

Gardiner O50 , Moeller (not present in list) – Threshing floor, meaning “time,” or “occasion.” This is the biliteral character SP, so it doesn’t match with a Greek letter.

You will notice that I have only assigned numerical values to the uniliterals above so far.  However, now comes a more complex problem before us for the bi-literal and tri-literal (two- and three- consonantal) characters and the determinatives which have no specific vocalization.  How do we handle those?  What type of meaningful theory ought to be applied to those?  This part of the theory will have more risk to failure, because we had a clear precedent for them the way we do with the uniliterals.

One thing is clear.  All Egyptian words can be spelled out with uniliterals, and wouldn’t change what they are.  Biliterals and Triliterals are clearly just a convenience, when it boils down to it.  This is likely an indication that a biliteral or a Triliteral would be simply something that can be swapped in for two uniliterals.   A numeric value for such a thing would be a sum of the values of the two uniliterals that make up its sound, and therefore is a shortcut, just like when it is a shortcut for spelling out multiple consonantal sounds.  Therefore, the character SP above according to the Hebrew/Greek numbering scheme would simply be an expression for 200+80=280, where S=200 and P= 80.  NTR would be 500+300+100=900.  While it is true that in the Greek system, the letter Sampi is 900, the letter doesn’t exist in the Hebrew.  The letter SDR would be 200+4+100=214.  While some letters have the same values as others because they add up to be the same, this just means that there are multiple ways to express the same value.

The last difficulty, however, is the determinatives.  On their own, these usually have no phonetic value, but just are an indicator of the type of idea at hand.  They are context-giving indicators.  The simplest context for the determinative above of the man putting his hand on or in his mouth is simply to eat or food.  WNM is the ancient Egyptian word for food, and therefore, this would be 6+50+40=96.

Keep in mind that these are just quick, off-the-cuff non-researched guesses for the biliterals, triliterals and determinatives.  My partner Vincent Coon may have a better suggestion for these, or for the mathematics involved.

So, unless there is something more elaborate at work here, with custom assignments for bilateral or trilateral letters, the scheme seems pretty straight-forward.

So, as you can see, this seems to be no more complex than just doing the math if you don’t have the value of a letter memorized.

Even if these deductions are flawed at some level, there is nothing crazy about Joseph Smith’s suggestion that alphabetical letters can stand for numbers.  There is plenty of precedent for that in the ancient world.

Whatever the case, the next article will present a separate theory based on the Hieratic numbering system.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Katumin the Princess, Royal Female Lineage, and the Cobra (Iaret or Uraeus/KT)

Katumin  the Princess, Royal Female Lineage, and the Cobra (Iaret or Uraeus/KT)

We can not but think the Lord has a hand in bringing to pass his strange act, and proving the Book of Mormon true in the eyes of all the people. . . . It will be as it ever has been, the world will prove Joseph Smith a true prophet by circumstantial evidence, in experiments, as they did Moses and Elijah. (Sept 15, 1842, Times and Seasons)

And in this statement, we may also interpolate, justifiably, the Book of Abraham being proven to be true, in the eyes of all the people.

My partner in Book of Abraham research, Vincent Coon, has made a number of very important observations with regard to the “Valuable Discovery” documents among the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, which mention a woman named Katumin from ancient Egypt, and he has found some very important insights.  Here is a link to his article on his site.

Vincent’s article is entitled Princess of On:  Esoteric interpretations of "Words spoken by Osiris."
This current document is sort of a companion-piece, so to speak, to Vincent’s production, from a different angle, which both builds on and adds to his research.

In quite a number of issues and details, Vincent and I are on the same page, and I have found Vincent’s use of the term the “Ahmestrahans” acceptable to refer to a group of Egyptian Syncretists in the Greco-Roman era, who Joseph Smith simply refers to as “the Egyptians,”  seem to have had some sort of regard for the Jewish Patriarchs.  I am good with that term, since we really don’t know precisely who these people are.  I am good with this interpretation of that term in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.

Sometimes, dealing with the not-so-good copies of the original Egyptian by Joseph Smith’s scribes is difficult to deal with, and it is sometimes hard to make out what they are doing in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.  However, following the work of other scholars on the same material can sometimes help identify which symbols are which.  Once we know what symbols we are actually dealing with for sure, we can then proceed to reverse-engineer what Joseph Smith, under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, was up to with the particular characters in question.  In this case, Vincent has done the leg work, lining up the work of three different Egyptologists who have identified what the hieroglyphics are in this case:  John Gee, Michael Rhodes and Robert Ritner.  These individuals have all identified the hieroglyphics in question in Joseph Smith’s translation of the “Katumin” material in the Valuable Discovery documents.  As these Egyptologists have shown, these hieratics for the Katumin material actually come from the Amenhotep Book of the Dead, one of the scraps of Book of the Dead material that Joseph Smith had his hands on.  It seems that a lot of material in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar sections of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers is derived from the hieroglyphics and hieratics from the Hor Sensen Papyrus.  But in this case, we have an exception.  As we already knew, Joseph Smith, following the lead of the ancients, was cobbling together things that do not seem to be related at first, but that in the way the Ancients used them in the Greco-Roman period in their iconotropic way, they are rationally brought together.

 Vincent’s careful analysis of the work of these Egyptologists on this matter has made clear the hieroglyphic versions of the symbols so that we can now reverse-engineer it.

Now for the analysis.  Here are the poorly-copied hieratics from the Amenhotep Book of the Dead (a copy of the book of the dead that seems to be no longer extant among the Joseph Smith Papyri):

And here is the Joseph Smith Translation of this material:

A transcript of this is the following, with the Egyptian readings enclosed in parentheses as shown by Dr. Robert Ritner:
“(dd) Katumin, Princess, daughter of On-i-tos [Onitah (i.e. Abraham 1:11], King of Egypt, (mdw in) who began to reign in the year of the World, 2962.
“(Wsir) Katumin was born in the 30th year of the reign of her father, and died when she was 28 years old, which was the year 3020.” (The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, pp. 210-212, bold added for emphasis).
There are multiple issues here that need to be addressed, some that Vincent has already covered in his article.  But we need to start out with the character identified as Katumin.  Here is a close-up of the character identified as Katumin, with what may be variants, and on the right is a deconstruction of part of it, where it clearly shows that one part is horizontal and the other vertical in this case:

In some of these versions of the hieratic form, it looks like an eye rather than the actual hieroglyphic it is derived from.  Also, as Vincent Coon points out, this one here is particularly reminicent of a crown with a Uraeus/Snake sticking out of the top:

There seems to be a possible reason for this, as we will see below, with some association with an eye.   It is similarly copied this way throughout the Kirtland Egyptian Papers in the Egyptian Alphabet sections, and identified as “Kah Tou Mon,” except that sometimes it is drawn with the two halves horizontally, like an eye, and at other times vertically:

And in the example on the bottom left, you can see that one stroke sort of forms a tail, while the other forms sort of a smaller circle.  Now, Dr. Ritner and the other scholars identified this as the hieroglyphic for the sound Dd in Egyptian, meaning “to say” or “to speak” or “recitations.”  And the second hieroglyph of the pair is the hieroglyph with the sound  mdw, meaning “words.”  These two usually go in a pair when they are found.  Here are some other versions of the hieratic for Dd from Moeller’s table, number 250:

And here are some for mdw, from Moeller’s table, number 456:

Now, as we get to the actual hieroglyphic versions, thing start to get interesting.  Together the hieroglyphics are:

Going from right to left, now it is plain to see that the hieroglyphic for Dd is actually a pictograph of a Cobra (Gardiner’s sign list numbers I10 or I11):

And the picture of mdw is actually a pictograph of a Staff (Gardiner’s sign list S43):

Now, the problem of interpretation here, and the criticisms of the Egyptologists against Joseph Smith, is that they get too hung up on the words that these spell in Egyptian, meaning “to speak” and “words.”  Yet they utterly forget that at their core they are just pictures like how the figures in the facsimiles of the book of Abraham are just pictures.  On this blog, a few years back when I presented the article on the reed symbol and the Land of the Chaldees, it was clear there that there was no correct understanding of the foundation of what was going on until we treated these things pictographically, meaning, to dive into what they are literal pictures of rather than what they spell out, and to ascertain whatever significance there may be behind these literal pictures.  Now, to start with, let’s review the other translations for Katumin in the Egyptian Alphabet sections of the Kirtland Egyptian papers, where it is spelled “Kah tou mun.”  Remember, that in the Egyptian alphabet, some of the translations are presented in order of five “degrees”:

1st degree:  “The name of a royal family in the female line.”
2nd degree: “A distinction of royal female lineage.”
3rd degree:  “Descent from her by whom Egypt was discovered while it was under water.”
4th degree:  “A lineage, a daughter of Ham.”
5th degree:  “A lineage with whom a record of the fathers was entrusted by tradition of Ham, and according to the tradition of the elders, by whom also the tradition of the art of embalming was kept.”

Similarly, for the word “Ho oop hah,” here are the five degrees:
First Degree:   “Crown of a princess, or unmarried queen.”
Second Degree: “Crown of a married queen.”
Third Degree:  “Crown of a widowed queen.”
Fourth Degree:  “Queen who has been married the second time.”
Fifth Degree: “Queen Kah tou mun:  a distinction of Royal female lineage or descent, from her whom Egypt was discovered while it was under water, who was the daughter of Ham.— a lineage with whom a record of the fathers was entrusted by the tradition of Ham and accord ding to the tradition of their elders; by whom also the tradition of the art of embalming in was kept.”

It is interesting that some of the degrees here seem to go along with the life-stages of a certain queen along the path of her life, as if the degrees sometimes correspond to time in some way.

Even though this hieroglyph for the Cobra is used to spell other things, the general word in Egyptian for Cobra is Iaret, pronounced “Yaret.” Usually, another hieroglyph for the Cobra, Gardiner’s sign list I12, is used to represent Iaret:

 The Greek word for this is Uraeus. What are some of the other readings of Iaret/Cobra?  As Professor Scott B. Noegel, Chair, Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at the University of Washington tells us:
("On Puns and Divination: Egyptian Dream Exegesis from a Comparative Perspective,"
As Professor Noegel transliterates it here, Uraeus/ Iaret/Cobra can also be read as KT or KTY, which are the first two consonants of the name KaTumin!  As for the other consonants, as observed by Vincent Coon, the hieroglyphic after this actually spell an M sound in the word mdw, (or the Hebrew mateh/rod, as Vincent points out, acrophonically representing an M), and then following that are the Egyptian uniliteral letters I (the reed symbol) and N (the water symbol), going from right to left here:

In other words, in the very hieroglyphics pointed out by Joseph Smith, spells out the very name of Princess Katumin.

Extremely notable as well, as Vincent Coon has pointed out, is the fact that the Egyptian Khat crown/headress with a Uraeus, importantly, seems to correspond to the KT words as well.

Long after the time of the first Katumin, lived another Iaret, no doubt named after Katumin, perhaps in her honor.  This later Iaret was queen of Egypt during Tuthmose IV's reign.  Her name is spelled her name with just the single I12 cobra hieroglyphic.  We read: “The transcription of her name is uncertain; it is written with a single cobra, which has a number of possible readings.” (  She was the daughter of Amunhotep II and wife of Thutmose IV.  She had various titles applied to her:  King’s Daughter (s3t-niswt), King’s Sister (snt-niswt), Great King’s Wife/Great Royal Wife (hmt-niswt-wrt), Great King’s Daughter (s3t-niswt-wrt).    Following this same tradition, many queens throughout Africa for millennia have had the title Great Wife or Great Royal Wife.  This wife was the primary, great wife of the king, while his other wives would be considered lesser wives.
Here is a piece of critical information as well:

She appears on a stela from Nubia. She is depicted behind Tuthmosis IV as he is smiting the enemy. Iaret is shown wearing a simple dress . . . She is depicted holding what looks like a mace in her right hand. (

Similarly, the symbol of the “sceptre or staff is one of the most ancient symbols of authority. The words ‘nobleman’ and ‘official’ both included the hieroglyph of a staff, so at an early stage the staff seems to have represented the authority of any person with significant power, not just the pharaoh.” (

 One of the possible readings for the cobra hieroglyph for Queen Iaret’s name is Wadjet, the name usually of a goddess by that same name.  As was shown above, the other pronunciations are KT (Kat) and W't.t (Weyet).  Wadjet seems to be phonetically linked to Wayet.  Usually, the hieroglyph used for the goddess Wadjet is Gardiner’s sign list I13:

The goddess Wadjet has direct association with the staff symbol:

Another early depiction of Wadjet is as a cobra entwined around a papyrus stem, beginning in the Predynastic era (prior to 3100 B.C.) and it is thought to be the first image that shows a snake entwined around a staff symbol. This is a sacred image that appeared repeatedly in the later images and myths of cultures surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, called the caduceus, which may have had separate origins.
Her image also rears up from the staff of the "flag" poles that are used to indicate deities, as seen in the hieroglyph for uraeus above and for goddess in other places. (

A form of her name is used for the famous Wedjat eye, the eye of the Moon, the eye of Horus or the eye of Ra.  The name is derived from the term wadj, referring to the color green, symbolizing the papyrus, a symbol for Lower Egypt.

The pharaohs wore the Uraeus as a head ornament: either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head; this indicated Wadjet's protection and reinforced the pharaoh's claim over the land. In whatever manner that the Uraeus was displayed upon the pharaoh's head, it was, in effect, part of the pharaoh's crown. The pharaoh was recognized only by wearing the Uraeus, which conveyed legitimacy to the ruler. There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE. Several goddesses associated with or being considered aspects of Wadjet are depicted wearing the Uraeus also. (

Interestingly, the “spelling” of the word for goddess in Egyptian, the word ntr.t, is this:

The feminine form could also be written with an egg as determinative, connecting goddesses with creation and birth, or with a cobra, reflecting the use of the cobra to depict many female deities. (

So, in summary, the Queen, the Great Royal Wife herself had the honorific name of the goddess Wadjet/Iaret herself.  The King of Egypt was not a king without the use of the symbol, and the tradition of the use of this symbol went back in to the earliest parts of the old kingdom of Egypt.  This was an extremely ancient phenomenon.  And it is proper that Wadjet should be identified both by a combination of both the staff and the cobra.  The tradition of associating the cobra with a woman and with the authority of the king had to have started at some point in the Old Kingdom.

Note that in the quotation at the top of this article, Ritner shows that the symbol dd (cobra) was associated with the line about Katumin, and it is consistently translated as Katumin throughout the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar documents.  Notice that Ritner shows that it is the symbol mtw (staff/scepter) that is associated with the line about the reign of Onitah.  Pictographically, the cobra is in exactly the right place to refer to the woman who was of royal descent, and pictographically, the staff is in exactly the right place to refer to the reign of her father.  And so, if it were true that the idea here was for Joseph Smith to translate actual text here, then we indeed would have nothing, but when there are things clearly going on here with pictographic, iconotropic interpretations, it is all entirely fitting and appropriate.  It all fits very snugly together, contrary to Ritner.

As we saw in a quote above, the staff is associated with the flag pole, the Egyptian sign for God (ntr), Gardiner's sign list, R8.

The Coptic (Late Egyptian) version of the word ntr, which is pronounced as noute, attests to the dropping or silencing of the sound of the r at the end of this particular word in some dialects of the Egyptian language.  Other times, in other Egyptian words, we see this manifest as well.  For example, in the Book of Abraham, one of the Egyptian gods was given the name of Elkenah.  Yet, in some parts of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers that are early Book of Abraham Manuscripts, the name is given as Elkener.  The name of Pharaoh Onitah (Onitos) might be another example of this.  In the Valuable Discovery documents, it is given as Onitos, showing the possibility that someone in the Greco-Roman time period had attached the Greek nominative S to the name, much like the word Egyptus (Aegyptos) in the Book of Abraham.  Yet, that name in other parts of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers is given as Zeptah.  Or, is there yet a different reason that we will yet see, that there was an S attached to his name in this form of Onitos?   Indeed, there seems to be, as the reader will see. 

Anyhow, the name Onitah seems to be a likely origin of the word ntr/noute, since Pharoah was thought of as a god to the Egyptians.   Certain Egyptian gods are thought by some to have originated as real human beings at some point, perhaps very ancient royalty, and were elevated to be gods by the pagan Egyptians.

Many have wondered at the derivation of the term ntr in Egyptian.  Note that the primary ideas we are working with are poles, flags and serpents, according to the pictographic evidence.  If we start our search in Hebrew, which is a related Afro-Asiatic language, we find a very interesting term which is tann or tannin (Strongs 8577), meaning sea serpent (leviathan) or dragon.  Notice the interesting pattern here that the T and the N are transposed in this word from the NTR word in Egyptian.  We should probably make mention of the Titans from Greece, a similar word applied to giant deities, a name which similarly has an uncertain derivation, yet seems to fit this context well.

The nearest word in Hebrew that resembles NTR is the term is nathar (Strongs 5425), meaning to jump, or to agitate.  According to some sources, in the Berber language, NKR means to rise up, or to get up.  (  The claim by some scholars is that the ancient Egyptian T is pronounced like the English CH, and some Egyptologists propose a sequence of consonantal changes from an original K to Ky to T, meaning that the original word in Egyptian was probably NKR.  ( However, it is equally as possible that NT and NK forms simply co-existed in various dialects and language families, and were cognate, and had a certain amount of interchangeability.

In Sanskrit, the word for crocodile is nakar (  Of course, the crocodile is a reptilian.  The Indian cobra is the naja naja.  In Sanskrit, the word for cobra is naga.  In the Indian subcontinent, naga is also the word for a deity that takes a serpentine form. (āga).  China is also known to have a mythology about dragons that are deities or heavenly beings.  The word naga in Sanskrit is derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *(s)nek-o, meaning “snake.”  This word has what is called an “s-mobile,” meaning, that the S in some forms of the Indo-European derivations of this word is there, and sometimes not.  The Germanic derivation is *snek-a, and of course, being that English is partially a Germanic-derived language, we have it in English as, you guessed, it:  snake.  But as you can see, since, the S is mobile, it manifests in Sanskrit as naga, even though Sanskrit is an Indo-European language.  (āga) .  Interestingly, the cognate to the Proto-Indo-European word for serpent in Semitic is NKhS, or nahas, or in the Hebrew, nakhash (Strongs 5175).  Note that in this cognate, the S is no longer at the front of the word, but is transposed to the end of the word.  The S is getting pretty mobile between language forms indeed.  Now, in Hebrew, the word nakhash is derived from a primitive root with the same pronunciation (Strongs 5172), which means to hiss, or to whisper a magic spell, or prognosticate, or to observe signs/omens.  So, it is because of the snake’s hiss that it is derived from this root.  Now, interestingly, we saw earlier that to lift or to rise or to get up in the Berber language is NKR.  But the other forms in Hebrew for this kind of idea are interesting.  For example, nasah (Strongs 5375) means to liftNasas (Strongs 5264) means to be high or conspicuous.  And now for a clincher, that seems to indicate we are indeed on the right track.  The derived word from nasas that we are looking for is nes (Strongs 5251), which means a standard, a signal, an ensign, a flag, or a pole.  Similarly, we have nasik (Strongs 5257), meaning a libation, a molten image, or a prince (by anointing).  And then this is derived from nasak (Strongs 5258), meaning to pour out, to cast metal, a libation, or to anoint a king.  Now, yet again, we see once again, the S and the K transposed from both the nakhas form, as well as the *(s)nek-o Indo-European form.  Here we see in these words the makings of a molten image, or an image of a false god, and the anointing of a king Pharaoh of Egypt, who became a god over time in the minds of the pagan Egyptians.
Remember that in Facsimile number 1 of the Book of Abraham, the god Sobek which was a crocodile in the water, figure 9, is the idolatrous god of Pharaoh.  Indeed, in Sanskrit, it is NKR, which in Egyptian is NTR/NKR.  And the name Sobek has 2 out of the three consonants we have been working with here the whole time.

Now, remember that the form of the name of Pharaoh Onitah as it was given in the Valuable Discovery documents in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers is Onitos, ending with what appears to be, yet again, the transposing/migrating S with an NT/NK form, interestingly enough, that is very same thing we see in the above forms of the word.

The next part that we are concerned about in the characters from the Amenhotep papyrus is the Egyptian symbols I and N.  These are Uni-literal characters, meaning that each only has one consonantal sound in the Egyptian Alphabet, one being the character for the Egyptian letter I (the papyrus reed symbol on the right, which is Gardiners sign list M17), and the other for the Egyptian letter N (the symbol for water on the left, which is Gardiners sign list N35).

We have already dealt somewhat with the pictographic elements in these two symbols above.  As we read above, the Goddess Wadjet had the sign of the papyrus reed associated with her, as well as the color green, since wadj means green one or papyrus-colored:

Wadjet . . . known to the Greek world as Uto . . . or Buto . . . among other names, was originally the ancient local goddess of the city of Dep (Buto)  . . .  She was said to be the patron and protector of Lower Egypt and upon unification with Upper Egypt, the joint protector and patron of all of Egypt "goddess" of Upper Egypt. The image of Wadjet with the sun disk is called the uraeus, and it was the emblem on the crown of the rulers of Lower Egypt. She was also the protector of kings and of women in childbirth. . . .
The name Wadjet is derived from the term for the symbol of her domain, Lower Egypt, the papyrus.
Her name means "papyrus-colored one", as wadj is the Ancient Egyptian word for the color green (in reference to the color of the papyrus plant) and the et is an indication of her gender. Its hieroglyphs differ from those of the Green Crown (Red Crown) of Lower Egypt only by the determinative, which in the case of the crown was a picture of the Green Crown and, in the case of the goddess, a rearing cobra. (

The Papyrus plant lives by the water, and the god of Pharoah, the crocodile, lives in the water.  Along with the mdw or staff symbol, these two are associated with the line that Joseph Smith produced, saying that Onitah had begun to reign in the year 2962.  The element here of a reign once again is quite clearly indicated pictographically both by the staff as well as by the papyrus leaf.  In another part of the Kirtland Egyptian papers, the papyrus leaf/reed was interpreted by Joseph Smith to be Land of the Chaldees, since the ancient name for Land of the Chaldees is the land of reeds, but this is a separate context entirely.  And as these pictographic elements depend to a large degree on outside context imposed upon them, it is not surprising that multiple interpretations of these symbols in separate contexts exist entirely separate from each other, when lifted from a context alien to that in which they were found originally in a Book of the Dead copy.

The next hieroglyphs from the Amenhotep papyrus we have to deal with are these:

Usually, when reading these together as a unit, they spell out the name Osiris.  Another "spelling" of the name Osiris is this:

As you can see in the first example, as well as the second, we see the throne symbol, usually vocalized as IS or WS/US (Gardiner’s sign list Q1), and the eye symbol, usually vocalized as IR (Gardiner’s sign list D4).  As we stated previously, in the first example, we have the flag/NTR hieroglyph already analyzed above.  In the first case, it is used as a determinative, stating that Osiris is a god.  But in this name, this is interchangeable with the other determinative in the second case that we see above, the seated male god, which is Gardiner’s sign list A40.  Either spelling is appropriate.

Alone, by itself, the throne symbol pronounced (IS), indicates the goddess Isis, pronounced Iset, since the et ending indicates the feminine.

These symbols are used to decorate this line in Joseph Smith’s translation:  “Katumin was born in the 30th year of the reign of her father, and died when she was 28 years old, which was the year 3020.”

Interestingly, the Book of the Dead names Isis, who is the throne, as “She who gives birth to heaven and earth.”  Isis was considered the patron of childbirth, the archetypical mother, the perfect example of motherly qualities (  And Osiris is known to be the god of the dead, the god of the afterlife.  So in these figures pictographically is seen both the elements of birth and death.  And so, we see that an external context of Katumin’s life was imposed on them, and with that context, we see that they are able to symbolize both her birth and her death.

The eye symbol, if seen as the Eye of Horus, or the Wedjat.  The wedjat was a symbol that was found on the mummies in the tomb, meant to protect them in the afterlife, and of course, it is the symbol of the goddess Wadjet, as we had seen previously.  It is a symbol of restoration, protection, and sacrifice, because of the myth of the offering of the eye of Horus to his father Osiris in the hopes of the restoration of his life.  Once again, the themes of life, death and restoration/resurrection are found in these symbols.  This is entirely appropriate for the context of how Joseph Smith is interpreting them.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Few Observations on Ritner's Joseph Smith Papyri Book: Circumscribe all Truth

Once in a while I do lengthy reviews of research out there on Book-of-Abraham-related things and other times I present my own research.

Sometimes I reread through books I have already scanned through or read before to see if things jump out at me that didn't before.

This will be a post regarding a few things that I was pondering on as I read again through Robert Ritner's book The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition.

After the time I had read through this book last time, I had come upon the Mormon Discussions Podcast episode that featured Brian Hauglid, and how Hauglid mentioned Ritner's take on some of the apologetics other apologists have come up with surrounding items in Facsimile #2, for example.  I recall how Hauglid noted that Ritner did not believe that the apologists had come up with a good defense for any of the items in the Hypocephalus (Facsimile #2) explanations.  Yet, using my own critical thinking, I can't see how all of the defenses of Facsimile #2 that various individuals such as Michael Rhodes, Hugh Nibley and even John Gee so forth ought actually to be considered good, plausible and reasonable by good thinking individuals without an ideology to support.  And this is coming from me, a person that at many times is quite critical of these individuals in many cases.

So, I'm sitting there reading through Ritner's work again, and thinking how grateful I am that Ritner is here as a check to things that John Gee and others have put out that are atrocious.  And then after an awesome presentation made by Ritner of the forensic evidence (where Gee has things wrong), which is critical to the discussion, I focused in on statements from Ritner that I have seen before, yet kind of got irritated by them a little, in the same way that I often get irritated a little by what I read many times from Gee.  Not that this hasn't happened before as I have read ex- or Anti-Mormon literature pretending to present evidence or research on this, that or the other, especially from Ritner.  Its not that its entirely pretending because they believe what they are doing and what they are saying.  But they treat their conclusions on evidence as if they are the last word, and as if everyone else that is truly reasonable ought to agree with them in that conclusion, when there is ample room for disagreements on those points.  And in this, there is a certain amount of pretension, that nothing that the apologists ever come up with is of value.  That type of rhetoric doesn't serve for much more than a rallying cry for the troops of a certain camp, to get those who are in lockstep to fall in line using basically an appeal to emotion for groupthink.  I guess, what I'm saying is, Ritner ought to know better just like Gee ought to know better.  As I have equal-opportunity criticism on this blog for whatever scholar ought to be criticized, this time it is Ritner.  He says stuff like:

The fact that Smith's published interpretation of the papyrus is pure fantasy is indication not of a lost papyrus or section, but of the ultimate source of Smith's wording--his imagination . . .
Whether this assessment will have any impact beyond the world of scholarship is questionable, since Gee has noted that "members of the Church of Jesus Christ in general have no pretensions about holding any dialogue with critics.  They simply do not, for the most part, care what the critics say."   While that may well be true for many, it does not account for the extraordinary interest in the Joseph Smith Papyri among Mormons of all opinions, as evidenced by email, chatrooms, web postings, and the continued publications of Nibley, Rhodes and Gee himself.  Clearly FARMS has taken a direct interest in the Egyptological opinions concerning these papyri, and it aspires to scholarly acceptance, but where faith and scholarship are irreconcilable, the apologists defer to faith.  I prefer scholarship.  The reader may choose for himself.  (p. 143)
While Gee may not hold dialogue with critics, Brian Hauglid does.  Yet Brian Hauglid has sort of sided with Ritner on these points, rather than seeking some sort of middle ground, as evidenced in the recent Mormon Discussions podcast with Bill Reel last year.  This is where I have an issue with Hauglid.  Mormons are as interested in scholarship as we are in faith.  Its just that, there does happen to be differences in our conclusions about things where we can't be entirely open-minded.  We can't be open-minded on the issue of Book of Abraham historicity as a matter of faith, because we are committed by that faith to its authenticity and historicity.  This doesn't mean that we do not take scholarship extremely seriously.  We just aren't going to give in to Anti-Mormon demands for us to abandon our central claims based on faith just because someone is a critic.  Ritner claims to be entirely open-minded about things.  Yet, when he says he chooses scholarship, the fact is that by this what he is really saying is that he dismisses anything that he doesn't agree with his scholarship.  I'll give you some examples.

An example of where Ritner goes off on this kind of tirade is where he gives his treatment of the Joseph Smith (Sheshonq) hypocephalus (otherwise known as facsimile #2).  Ritner goes through and rightly finds issues with Rhodes translations.  But then he says stuff like, "As elsewhere, Nibley did not evaluate Smith's statements objectively, but sought out any possible defense, no matter how farfetched." (p. 221).  This was with regard to the ship of 1000, which is the Ship of Sokar, which indeed in many cases is associated with the number 1000, no matter what Ritner says, but Ritner won't admit that this is valid, calling it far-fetched.  Yet it is well-grounded in research from the LDS side that it actually checks out.  However, it seems from the interview with Bill Reel, that Hauglid is deferring to Ritner on this type of thing, which is a mistake.  Similarly, Ritner calls the translation of Figure 2 "nonsense," which is Oliblish, or in regular Egyptian, Wepwawet.  Wepwawet, like the explanation on Oliblish states, is the grand key, the Key-Holder, or Janus, his Roman equivalent.  Never mind that the Egyptian figure was an appropriate symbol to use for the Grand Key.  Nevermind that the ship of Sokar is indeed the Ship of 1000.  Then Ritner criticizes the names Kli-flos-is-es or Hah-ko-kau-beam, saying "as elsewhere these outlandish names are not Egyptian." (p.222).  As with the rest of the names in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar and in the Book of Abraham, many of them are Semitic, like Ha-kokobim (the stars in Hebrew), the very word that Ritner dismisses.  He seems to have missed the fact that the claim wasn't explicitly made that all of these names purport to be Egyptian the way an Egyptologist would Transliterate or even form them.  But like the word Chalsidonhiash in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar is instead Kassite, a form of the Babylonian word Karduniash, an actual ancient place-name for Babylonia.  Comedically, Ritner criticizes the Khnum-Ra hieroglyph (Figure 2), otherwise known as Re-Atum, as Ritner identifies him, saying:
The central figure is not Kolob in Egyptian terms, nor is he the "first creation, nearest to the celestial, or residence of God."  Rather, the image is the creator god himself, not simply a figure near god. (p. 221)
Little does Ritner realize, but he unthinkingly pointed out the very fact pointed out on this blog quite a number of times, that the whole point was not that Joseph Smith was claiming that this was literally Kolob, but that rather it was a symbol that successfully stood for the theme which Kolob is associated with:  creation.  Ritner said it.  God of Creation = First Creation.  Not literally.  But he wouldn't even give Joseph Smith the credit he deserved for pointing out the fact that there is the theme of creation at work here.  As Robert F. Smith, an LDS scholar has recently observed:
Register 1 of the Shishak Hypocephalus (Book of Abraham facsimile 2) is identified by Joseph Smith’s explanation in part as, 
    a.  Kolob,
    b.  signifying the first creation,
    c.  nearest to the celestial,
    d.  or the residence of God.
    e.  First in government,
In Book of Abraham 3:3, “the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me”; 3:9, “Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God”; 3:16, “Kolob is the greatest of all the Kokaubeam . . , because it is nearest unto me.”  These repeated and specific references to the meaning of Kolob (even referring to it as one of the Hebrew Kokaubeem "stars") amplify the explanatory phrases in Fac. 2:1, “nearest to the celestial,” and Fac. 2:2, “near to the celestial,” and provide excellent justification for J. M. Sjodahl’s comparison with an Arabic word derived from the same root as Kolob, though we may appeal here more directly to the theophoric Hebrew epithet, Qarob “The-Near-One” (Psalm 119:151 ∥152 Qedem “The-Primeval-One”; cf. Pss 69:19, 74:12, 145:18; Arabic Qarib is cognate), which appears in the common qutl-form at Qumran (qwrb “midst”; 11QMelch 1:10 = Psalm 82:1; for Aramaic qrb see 1QapGen 22:18).  The word also appears in Akkadian and Ugaritic, but it is in Arabic that we find the root split into two variants, QLB/QRB, with closely related connotations.  Moreover, the -R- and -L- are regular dialectical variants in ancient Egyptian and Coptic – serving to tell us from which part of Egypt a word was most likely to have come.  The usage of these terms was certainly compatible with the usage of Kolob throughout the Book of Abraham.  Moreover, S. A. B. Mercer correctly identified this figure as the seated ram-god, Khnum-ʼAmun-Reʻ. Theodule Devéria, though unable to name this ram-god, was able to note the quadrapartite intent of the original (following Champollion), who may have been thinking of Janus quadrifons of ancient Rome.  He was also Reʿ of Memphis, the Sun-god (Speleers terming it “the soul of Re and his three forms”), and this Khnemu, the ram-headed Creator-Sun-god who sits with knees raised, as on the place of prominence on the Metternich Stele, can have either two or four heads – two heads being, artistically, as good as four.  Khnum, a member of the Enneads of Abydos and Philae, Lord of Antinoë (Hr-wr), the Ram (bЗ) of Mendes (Mntw), and living soul (bЗ) of Reʿ, was “the builder of men, maker of gods, and the father from the beginning.”  Khnum was the “maker of that which is, creator of what shall be, the beginning of beings, father of fathers, and mother of mothers,” shown as if a human with one or more rams’ heads, wearing a crown with horns, plumes, uraei, and disks (the triple diadem of the gods), and holding the  ʿnh, wЗś, and dd scepters (supporting heaven on four such pillars of scepters).
Kolob as “nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God,” is a fully Semitic as well as Egyptian term, though I ought to mention here that the notion of gods living in the sky was familiar to Egyptians from early times (cf. Pyramid Texts 251,357,531,882,929,935, 1364,1707,1295, etc.), as in Mesopotamia.  In Ugaritic, one finds qrb, “midst,” used to refer directly to the abode of ʼEl, i.e., the “cosmic mountain” known as Zaphon or HUR.SAG (= Huršan), as being in the “midst of the source of the Two Deeps.”  Of course, the Egyptian temple as the residence of the god was symbolic in the very sense described, as Klaus Baer made clear, but it was a regular function of temples throughout the ancient Near East to bridge the gap between the celestial and earthly spheres.
According to Jaroslav Černý, the Egyptians saw the stars as divine beings.  The Stars were divided into two main groups: ihmw-sk, “Indestructible-stars, Circumpolar-stars” ∥ʿЗw, “Great-ones, Circumpolar-stars” (Pyramid Texts 405a, 733, 782, 1123, 2051; Coffin Text I, 271), both being identical with Hebrew kokabe-'El, “Stars of God, Circumpolar-stars” (Isaiah 14:13 ∥II Nephi 24:13), symbolizing “eternity,” and identical with “the Mount of Council” or “Mt. Zaphon,” and referring to the Supreme Council of God and to his throne (Psalms 48:3, 148:3; cf. the “great one” in Enuma Elish V:1, and in Abraham 3:3).   (
So, as Smith shows, what Joseph Smith and the ancients were doing in the Book of Abraham recension we have, but also in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, was a mixture of not just Egyptian (which is not specifically Semitic, but still part of the same general family of Afro-Asiatic), but also of other Semitic and Middle Eastern languages, but even Greek (for example, the use of Hades in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, as "Hah-dees").  So, not only is Ritner equivocating on the fact that not everything in the Book of Abraham claims to be Egyptian, but it is very obvious that they are not, as Semitic scholars can readily see, because many of them are either Hebrew or other related Semitic languages, as Smith demonstrates above for Kolob.

And in the case of Oliblish too, it is not Wepwawet that is literally Oliblish, but rather, they are both the Great Key or Key Holder.  They share the central theme, making the Egyptian symbol of Wepwawet a suitable abstraction for the more solid or concrete assignment of meaning attached to it in the Explanation.  The explanation was not in fact claiming that these meanings were literal, but that there is a certain specialized type of symbolism going on here with these figures.  On these points, the LDS Scholars actually hit the bullseyes, while Ritner's critiques of them on these things are anemic and hard-headed with lack of scholarly charity.  But also there is a lack of thinking outside the box.  If Ritner was entirely honest, he would acknowledge the LDS finds on these things to be not only interesting, but on many levels, compelling, when one is entirely open to a number of possibilities and not just locked in to the idea that only current Egyptology has the answer.  Similarly, Hauglid, in the podcast with Bill Reel was critical of LDS scholars that suggest answers outside of Egyptology, that seek to suggest answers that come from a more multi-disciplinary approach.  If you pay close attention to what Robert Smith is doing above with his exegesis on the word Kolob, it is multi-disciplinary (taking into account the Semitic evidences), not strictly Egyptological.  And this is the approach Nibley takes as well.  This is where Ritner has failed, and where he is closed-minded, and where he has a measure of lack of honesty.  Because indeed, the LDS scholars do make good points that are likely to be true sometimes.  These things are of such quality sometimes that it is glaringly obvious that they are correct, and that Ritner and other Anti-Mormons are wrong.

And so, it is sad that Hauglid seems to have eaten up Ritner's criticisms on these points, and that, unfortunately, is a measure of gullibility on his part for deferring entirely to Ritner on these points.  Hauglid says that it is unlikely that there is something outside of current Egyptology where the answer would lie.  Well, it isn't so much outside of Egyptology, as the proper application of Egyptology as it now stands that things start to come to light.

When Ritner presents solid facts, he deserves deference.  When the LDS Scholars are in the right, and differ with Ritner, they deserve deference, and Ritner deserves criticism.  And so, interestingly enough, not one camp has all the truth on every point, as one would expect.  We need to find the truth wherever it's found, and side with it when it happens to be true, and call out whoever the people that are in the wrong, when they are wrong, in each issue where they are wrong.  We are only interested in truth, to circumscribe it into one whole.  We are not interested in ideologies, logical fallacies, or hard-headed Anti-Mormonism, or even hard-headed ideological Mormon Apologetics.  We just want the whole truth, and we want the parts of the truth that come from critics as well as the parts that come from apologists.  There must be an eclectic mix of where that which is true shines forth from whatever camp it comes in each issue.  Nothing less will do than to find the truth in every area where it exists and bring it all together.  Therefore, a correct approach on this is to bring together the good points from wherever they come, and let that which is false, regardless of where it comes from, fall by the wayside.