Thursday, July 16, 2015

Answer to a Criticism from a Message Board

On the Mormon Discussions board, there is a criticism that I came across that I wish to answer.  The critic wrote:
Recently I discovered another issue which is interesting. We know that there were two scrolls connected to the old man mummy who was Hor. (Pharaoh himself according to contemporary descriptions.) They are a Book of Breathings (the Hor scroll and the generally accepted source of the Book of Abraham) parts of which are still in the possession of the Church and a Book of the Dead. The Book of the Dead papyrus which was prepared for Hor is in the Louvre. These two scroll date to about 150 BCE.
The Louvre Hor Book of Dead is also badly damaged but its dimensions are about 58" long and 12-13 1/2" tall.
Somewhere between Lebolo removing Hor from his tomb in Egypt and Chandler selling the remaining artifact collection in Kirtland, the Hor Book of the Dead was separated from the mummy and made its way to the Louvre. It would be interesting to compare the two scrolls to see if they were created by the same scribe, but I digress.
In addition to the Hor scroll, the Joseph Smith collection contained another scroll, which he identified as the Book of Joseph. This is actually a Book of the Dead prepared for someone named Ta-sherit-Min which I presume was one of the female mummies; in any case it was not from Hor. The age of this scroll is somewhere after 500 BCE.
So in order for The Book of Abraham and The Book of Joseph to reach Joseph Smith one is required to believe the following:
1.Two complete, long, unknown works by Abraham and Joseph were kept in Egypt for around 2000 years.
2. Egyptian scribes would take common vignettes from Egyptian funerary documents and just slightly change them so they represented scenes from the Book of Abraham. Note that an Egyptian scribe would not have included a vignette of a sacrifice scene (someone holding a knife) as part of a funerary document because the Egyptians believed these scrolls had actual power and a knife wielding caricature would not be included as it would be a threat to the deceased. Maybe we have a Jewish scribe?
3. Two different scribes working hundreds of years apart took two different extremely rare Jewish texts and inscribed them in the middle portions of common burial documents for members of a different religion, in the case of the scroll with Facsimile #1 that scribe would been able to place the scroll unexamined by anyone else on the mummy because of note#2 above.
4.The two scrolls are buried hundreds of years apart on separate mummies neither of which had reason to have Jewish texts like these included as part of their funerary documents.
5. These two mummies make their way to Joseph Smith two thousand years later with the only known copies of these two texts.
6. Joseph Smith translates a portion of one scroll and promises volumes to come from the rest of both scrolls.
7. After Joseph Smith's death every single piece of text from both scrolls that contained either the Book of Abraham or the Book of Joseph was lost, in spite of the fact that the length of the scrolls required to contain those books would far exceed those portions in existence. None of the extant fragments or torn piece, of which there are dozens have anything to do with Abraham or Joseph.
In the end, we are not asked just to believe that we happen to be missing the entire portion of a one of a kind scroll that was buried with Hor which made its way to Joseph Smith and then was lost, we are asked to believe this happened twice, once with Hor and once with another mummy buried at a different time, perhaps hundreds of years apart. (
As you can see, all this convoluted stuff from regular LDS apologetics on the Book of Abraham fails on many levels that this person points out.  And if it were true that if that is what we were really left with, indeed we would have a problem.  But if one has an explanation like the one on this blog that starts out with the evidence we do have instead, then you only need two common funerary scrolls, a Book of Breathings and a Book of the Dead, and it didn't matter which mummy they came from, or what copy of these texts you ended up with.  What was important is that the ancients repurposed the common Book of Breathings as the Book of Abraham, and that they also repurposed the common Book of the Dead as the Book of Joseph, using the hieroglyphics in them pictographically as I have shown.  Ancient copies of the original TEXT of the Book of Joseph and the Book of Abraham never made it into the hands of Joseph Smith in the first place, and ANY OLD COPY of these common documents would do.  So there is no magic going on, and we know that these common texts ended up in the hands of Joseph Smith.  And there is no convoluted nonsense required.  These are the texts that were used and in the hands of the Prophet.  It is that simple.  So no, actually we are not asked to believe what the critic says we are asked to believe at all.  When one bases one's explanation on the forensic evidence before us, then there is nothing convoluted that needs to be invented to explain this stuff at all.  This is the power and beauty of having an explanation that actually builds on the evidence and that is favored by Occam's razor in the first place.  This is the power of a theory that actually uses evidence as its basis rather than making up things that have no evidentiary basis.