Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jonathan Moyer's 2003 article: "The Jewish Origin of the Book of Abraham"

http://www.hains.net/articles/moyer/jewishbookofabraham.html

Now I seriously do not know who to give credit for for the Semitic Adaptation Theory.  Did Kevin Barney follow in the steps of Jonathan Moyer, or did Jonathan Moyer get the idea from Kevin Barney, or did they work together at certain points on this theory?  Am I to give credit to both?  Who is the original originator of the theory?  Jonathan Moyer even mentions an "Egyptian Jewish Redactor" who Kevin Barney refers to as "J-red"or "Jewish Redactor" in his material.  It's kind of like, who invented the Mesoamerican theory for Book of Mormon Lands and the Mesoamerican Cumorah theory?  I wouldn't know who to give credit to.  Certainly it is fair to say that Barney's take on the Semitic Adaptation Theory is more developed.

As I was browsing the blog Mormanity and Jeff Lindsay's other site JeffLinsay.com in the sections/posts about Book of Abraham material, I came across Jonathan Moyer's article.  Somehow I either read this many years ago and forgot about it, or just never encountered it before.  I have a fog in my mind about this article.  I can't remember whether I have seen it before or not for sure, but its odd that its existence slipped my mind if so.  His position is very similar to Kevin Barney's about Semitic Adaptation, and therefore has a lot in common with mine.  He also agrees with a lot that I have pointed out about the Magical Papyri Tradition in Greco-Roman Egypt.  His position is very similar in a lot of ways to what I have been talking about.  But similar to Kevin Barney, he ONLY is applying these principles to the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham.  Once again, I say these same exact principles apply to the characters that are usually thought of as text in the Sensen Papyrus.  These characters are treated pictographically, the same as the characters in the Facsimiles.  The Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar represent the explanations for the pictographic usage of the characters in the columns and text of the Sensen Papyrus, just as Joseph Smith's explanations for the pictures in the Facsimiles.

Moyer states:

It is to this anonymous Egyptian Jewish redactor that we must look as the ultimate author of the explanations of the Facsimiles. These explanations did not originate with the prophet Joseph Smith; they are the products of the creative interpretative ability of Egyptian Judaism. This is clearly indicated by their consistency with patterns of ancient thought demonstrated above. Joseph Smith did not mistakenly identify Osiris as Abraham-he was restoring ancient Jewish records that had maintained such idiomatic equivalencies. Nor was Joseph Smith erroneously translating Egyptian-he was restoring ancient Jewish records that had appropriated Egyptian imagery from common funerary documents. As we have seen with other works emanating from Egyptian Jewry, the Jews opted for this seemingly syncretistic methodology in order to make their own works understandable to others in Egypt. No doubt they also did this in order to demonstrate the greater antiquity and superiority of their own tradition. Perhaps this was part of their own attempt to bring all truths, from whatever source, together into one great whole.

As we have seen, Egyptian Jews also equated their great patriarchal figures of the past with various Egyptian deities. They freely reassigned identities, and did not feel bound by standard Egyptian rules of interpretation. They certainly would have felt more constrained to preserve the essence of their own records, even if allowing for a certain interpretative elasticity in their appropriation of Egyptian elements.

Again, I am agreed with Moyer and Barney that we must look to the Redactor(s)/Interpreter(s) for the explanations of the Facsimiles.  They were not authored by Joseph Smith, but the English text that Joseph Smith created in the explanations for the figures is a representation of either something that this person or these persons wrote, or a representation in English of what was in their mind(s).  To me, this redactor or interpreter (or should the world be plural?) was an Egyptian Syncretist-Magician Priest of the Magical Papyri Tradition instead of being a Jew.  I mean, he/they could have been a Jew, but there was nothing stopping him from being just a Syncretist that was a regular old Egyptian that appropriated Jewish material.  Moyer says that he/they did not feel constrained by Egyptian rules of interpretation.  Well, since the Egyptian Syncretist-Magicians of the Greco-Roman era (of the Magical Papyri Tradition) were Egyptian, then just what were the Egyptian rules of interpretation?  Are the conventional assumptions of the Egyptian rules of interpretation just something that Egyptologists made up from lack of understanding?  Not that the rules that they understand are wrong, but what if the limits that they put on those rules are artificial.  What if there is a lot more to it?  Do the methods or rules of interpretation of the Egyptian Syncretist-Magicians of the Greco-Roman era actually represent a more ancient tradition that is actually more in line with what ALL Egyptians were doing with their documents since the beginning?  And is Joseph Smith actually showing us something that is actually the more correct understanding that fits within a paradigm that is actually a more correct ancient worldview than Egyptological assumptions?

But again, I must say, yet again for emphasis, it is not just the Facsimiles that are interpreted this way.  The same exact thing is true for the pictographic usage of the characters from the columns and the so-called "text" of the Sensen Papyrus.  These are translated in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, and the contents of that document is ancient.  It is a representation of something that was in someone's mind, or was once in a document of some sort.

However, I disagree with Moyer on the issue of this being ancient pseudepigrapha.  Moyer seems to agree with Blake Ostler and David Bokovoy that it is pseudepigraphic.  It seems that according to Moyer, Ostler was the originator of the pseudepigrapha theory for the Book of Abraham.

Anyhow, if anybody knows how to contact Brother Moyer, I would like to contact him.  Thank you.