Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Robert F. Smith's "A Brief Assessment of the LDS Book of Abraham"


Here is a link to Robert F. Smith's article above.  It was brought to my attention by a new facebook friend.  I have messaged him before on the Mormon Dialogue and Discussions Board and he seems to be a reasonable man.  This is a very good article.  I can't think of anything significant that I disagree with in it.  He mentions both Syncretism and Iconotropy in the article, things that have been widely accepted in LDS Scholarly circles in the last several years about the Book of Abraham.  However, I do want to focus in on one issue in the article in this blog post:

The Book of Abraham facsimiles contain artistic and iconotropic material which (as with all Egyptian art and iconography) can be "read" all by themselves, or are to be "read" right along with the accompanying Egyptian words.  As the eminent Egyptologist James P. Allen has said:

The Egyptians did not distinguish hieroglyphic writing from other representations of reality, such as statues or scenes in relief. Both were a tjt, "symbol," rather than an accurate representation of reality. Hieroglyphic signs were often carved with the same detail as other pictorial elements of a scene. Conversely, statues or relief representations were themselves a kind of hieroglyph, a phenomenon most often illustrated in the animal-headed Egyptian gods--as, for instance, in the beetle-headed human form representing Ḫprj, "the Developing One" (a form of the sun-god).

He has also stated that paintings, vignettes, and inscriptions depicting the gods "are nothing more than large-scale ideograms." All are to be "read," which is what we should do, in order to bring powerful clarity to the discussion of the Abraham facsimiles.

And here I end the quote.  It is interesting that he mentions that the pictographic or pictoral elements where treated the same as the writing.  Then why not in other iconotropic usages of characters from a text as pictographic or ideogramic, as they are used in the KEP, but in a certain manner, are still supposed to be "read" in the same way ideogramic elements in facsimiles are, but just not "read" in the same way the text reads?  So, facsimiles can be "read" in this way, but the reverse cannot be true that characters from a "text" could be used as pictographic elements in the KEP?