Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Problem with Joe Sampson's work on the KEP ("Written by the Finger of God"): You can't Translate Text from an Ancient Verse Marking/Numbering System

John Gee wrote:

As for Sampson's dubious assumption that "Joseph Smith with 'Urim and Thummim' looked at the Book of Breatings[sen-sen] and saw the Book of Abraham encoded there" (p. 70), one would have thought that the critics had demonstrated the impossibility of that idea long ago.

I don't like a lot of what Gee writes, but his writings are a mixed bag, like anything else.  In this paragraph, John Gee is right.  The critics DID demonstrate the impossibility of the idea that the Book of Abraham is encoded in the Sensen papyrus.  The Book of Abraham is not encoded in the Sensen papyrus.  This is why Kabbalah (what Joe Sampson is trying to do) doesn't work on the Sensen papyrus.  I will tell you what Kabbalah IS useful for but it is going to be difficult, and I'm going to do it step by step.  But what it is not useful for is decoding the Book of Abraham or the Book of Joseph from the Sensen papyrus or from the Book of the Dead.

Try to understand this.  This is why what I'm saying and what I'm doing is fundamentally different from Joe Sampson.

Joseph Smith recovered the ancient information in the minds of ancient people about the story of Abraham.  The Sensen Papyrus didn't contain this ancient information.  But symbols from the sensen papyrus were used to help keep track of this information.  It contained markers like in an outline, or like a numbering or alphabetic marker system that helped them keep track of some of the concepts.  What I mean by that is, we have verse and chapter numbers in our scriptures that help keep track of things so that we know how to look them up.  The scriptures are not encoded in verse and chapter numbers.  The verse and chapter numbers are not helpful to know the content of our scriptures.  Joe Sampson is trying to show magically how to extract the scriptures from verse and chapter numbers and letters.  That is a problem, because verse numbers and letters used to mark verses do not contain content.

With Egyptian numbering systems using their alphabet as a numbering or marking system for text, they would have a relationship between the markers/numbering letters and the text.  But the text is not contained in the markers.  Without a document that shows you the content and how they line up with the markers or numberings, you wouldn't know that that's what they were used for.  The Kirtland Egyptian Papers is a thing that shows how ancient markers or numberings were used for text, and why those markers were chosen to mark that part of the text.  The markers have no real relationship to the text other than they were used as markers.

So, if you say, to someone in the ancient way of quoting from the book of Abraham:  Show me the verse from the Book of Abraham, Chapter 1, verse Reed Symbol.  That's like saying show me Abraham chapter 1 verse 1.  Reed Symbol didn't contain the Book of Abraham.  Reed Symbol marked a verse like the number 1 for us marks verse 1.  It's nice that Land of the Chaldees (Kiengi) means "Land of Reeds."  But that is the association I'm talking about, between marker/numbering and verse.  That is not content.  That is just a clever association:

You can't extract text from a verse numbering system.

This is the problem with Joe Sampson.  He is trying to extract meaning from a verse numbering/marking system.  I'm trying to show why symbols in the numbering system were chosen, and how there are associations between number/character and verse.  All I'm doing is to demonstrate that these associations were clever.  I'm not trying to show how the numbering system translates to the text.  Do you see the difference between what I'm doing and what Joe Sampson was doing?

So, when I say that it is an ancient cipher, this is what I mean, that there is an ancient relationship between verse numbers/letters and content.  I am not saying that the verse numbers/letters contain content.  I'm saying that they creatively marked their verses with things in the Egyptian Alphabet that had associations with content in the verses/sections of text.

So, when I say that the Book of the Dead was the Book of Joseph, I mean that symbols from the the Book in the papyrus of Ani, for example, were creatively used for verse/section markers in the Book of Joseph.  The order the alphabet/characters were used to mark text were used in the order they are in in the papyrus.  The same with the Sensen Papyrus, when it was used to mark verse sections in the Book of Abraham.  You can't extract the text from it.  You need an external document or key to show you content and context.  This is what I mean when I say "external content dependency."

The ancient acrostics in the Book of Psalms marks sections of text with Hebrew letters like verse numberings but that doesn't tell me the content.  Yes, there is an association between a letter and the verse that it marks or enumerates, but that doesn't mean it contains the content of the verse/section.  And it is clever how the ancient prophets used those acrostics.

Similarly, it is evident from the KEP that Joseph Smith never claimed that the Sensen Papyrus contained text from the Book of Abraham, but that it was used as an ancient marking/numbering system for sections of text, and he was trying to show people that.  He wasn't claiming that the text could be extracted from it.  He was showing associations between that content and the characters, and why it was clever for someone to use it for a marking/numbering system.  And so, my work on this blog is not to show how the Book of Abraham text is extracted from these characters.  My work is to show the underlying relationships between section markers/numbers and text, and how clever people chose these verse/section markers/numberings to mark/enumerate the text for various reasons.  I'm not saying that the markers/numberings translate to the text.  There is a big difference there.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Response to "Book of Abraham Fraud" By Mark Hines: Anti-Mormon Egyptian Art Aversion

Sometimes things irritate me because they are stupid.  And I feel that they need a response to illustrate and bring out the stupidity, especially when someone disrespects Joseph Smith and the Church so much, and then makes the claim that it is common sense that it is so.  This sort of claim shows how people when they are against the Church have lost the Holy Ghost, and refuse to look at anything through any kind of lens except their extremely cynical worldview.  They refuse to give anything the benefit of the doubt, but they feel the need to portray it in the worst possible light, and then pass judgement on it, condemning it to hell, and refuse to understand it.  This type of thing coming from people like this reminds me of the how children are fixated on potty stuff and private parts.

This is a link to an article by an Anti-Mormon named Mark Hines. The copy of this that I have in PDF form doesn't seem to be exactly the same, but the content is pretty much the same.

People ought not to be disturbed by the drivel in documents that circulate such as this.  Hines makes claims that are classic Anti-Mormon claims against the Book of Abraham (which is the same kind of stuff used in Larson's classic book By His Own Hand on Papyrus):

(1) The Book of Abraham Facsimiles use the god Min from ancient Egypt as a symbol.  Min was a fertility god, and iconographically, his penis is erect, and in some contexts, in some statues and so forth, Egyptians actually use a depiction of Min with his hand around his erect penis.

(2) Mormons will burn in hell if they don't stop believing in Mormonism, and Mormonism is Satanic because Ancient Egyptian Iconography is pagan and evil.  And Egyptian iconography is especially evil, because some characters in it are pornographic such as Min.

(3) The God of Christians would never use a penis for a symbol.

(4) Christians have enough common sense to know that God would never use a penis for a symbol.

Yes, it is true that in other ways I have praised Larson's book at times for the presentation of facts in general, not its anti-Mormon claims.  But Larson also seems to have had a fixation on Min's penis like Hines.  For example, Larson shows Osiris on the Lion Couch in an Egyptological reconstruction holding his penis.  And its not that it is necessarily incorrect to suggest that some Lion Couch scenes showed the idea of fertility between Isis and her dead husband Osiris in their marriage (especially the fact that the fertility extended beyond the grave, an idea that Mormons are quite at home with, and it was a marriage for crying out loud).  But anti-Mormons love to make a big deal out of nothing and can't be adults about things that are just symbols.  Hines says things like this:

Even in Joe Smith's day, a moderately retarded person could identify the sitting person as having an erect penis. Anybody with high school level reading comprehension skills can read Joe Smith's explanation. Sanity, common sense, basic decency, etc., tell one that this "prophet" Joe Smith and his obscene representation of God are of Satan . . .  He is usually represented as having an erect penis. In some hypocephali, Min holds his stiff penis with his left hand.

Hines has no respect for a religion that he disagrees with, and calls it's founding prophet by the name of "Joe," as many Anti-Mormons have since the beginning of time, to make the first man in the 19th Century who spoke with Jehovah, a man of the stature of Moses in modern times, into a regular "Joe."

And now, Hines makes an appeal to the emotion of his audience, appealing to their "basic decency," and their "common sense," because in the infinite wisdom of his audience, of course his audience "knows" that it is "obvious" that this is "obscene" and surely their God would never use such symbols which are obviously Satanic.  Some of you out there may almost think that Hines argument has real substance in it, until you actually start analyzing how he is manipulating his audience emotionally, and appealing to their own sense of what they think is "decent" and "common sense" from their own culture.  Yet, if you recognize that the fact that the Egyptians didn't necessarily have the same thoughts, you may come to realize that Egyptians and other people in other cultures in a world three or four thousand years separated from ours may have had a different sense of "common sense."

The God of Israel is not a product of Western Culture, but instead is a being that has been around far longer than the earth itself, and who assures us that his thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).  So if God has a "culture," then it is not ours for sure.  Yet Hines presumes to know what is acceptable to God, which, to know such a thing, would require Hines to know the mind of God, yet the religion that Hines belongs to rejects modern-day revelation to know the mind of God on a subject.  If Hines rejects Mormon Prophets, then how would he presume to know what God thinks of Min's penis in a drawing from the Egyptians, and what God may use the symbol for?

To the Muslims, isn't it common sense that Westerners are indecent by allowing their women to not be covered head to toe?  Yet isn't it common sense to us that forcing women to do such things is abusive, and that our own sense of what is "modest" and "decent" is entirely culture-based?  Hines doesn't bother to really reveal to his audience what the point the Egyptians were trying to make by using an erect penis as a symbol.  And as it happens, the value to them was the message behind the symbol, which is the idea of fertility and the power of procreation.  Indecency and pornography was the furthest thing from their minds, but Hines doesn't bother to tell people this.  He would rather manipulate people and try to make an appeal to their ethnocentricity.  And he would hope that his audience doesn't actually start trying to analyze what he is actually saying.

Well, now, Hines, of course, loves the shock value of pointing out the use of the penis on Min statues and in other art.  I don't know what his fascination/fixation is with Min's penis, but Mormons have never thought much of it, and have not only NOT pointed it out, but just simply don't care because it isn't a big deal.  Hines needs to grow up and be an adult.  Grow up Hines.

Mormons don't seem to be as childish as this.  Yes I said childish.  I say to the Anti-Mormons, get over it and stop being childish, and stop getting so worked up about Min's erect penis.  It's a symbol of fertility.  Get over it.  It is an ancient symbol that is not any more of a big deal than a naked statue from the Greeks.  You Anti-Mormons are the only ones getting worked up about about Min's penis.  Egyptologists don't get worked up about Min's penis, and neither do Mormons.

Christians, so called, in their unChristlike judgement of Mormons, like Hines probably don't want you to notice the fact that their Savior God also is a man...  Get it?  His name is Jesus Christ, and he is in the form of a man, and that means he is equipped in the form of a man.  Get it?  It is doubtful that Jesus walked around as a Eunuch for 33 years on this planet, but that he had what it took to be considered a man.  So, not only did the Egyptian god Min have a penis, but so did your God.  I have no problem saying it as it is.  Mormons aren't scared that Father in Heaven is equipped to be a Father, even though some Christians are scared to even contemplate the possibility that Jesus was married and did what it took to be a Father as well.  Why should I mince words?

You Christians as you call yourselves, holier than the rest of us, so you believe.  You condemn the rest of us to hell because you say we are Satanic over a symbol.  You are commanded not to judge, but you pass judgement on the basis of doctrines that you disagree with.  You act like you are the only people in the world who have the right to use that name, are trying to exclude Mormons from your "Christian club," because we don't have the same cool doctrines you do in your minds.  So you resort to making a big deal out of something that is nothing.  You people forget that Egyptology is all about symbolism, and those symbols are drawings.  And this wasn't used with pornographic intent.

You claim the Bible as yours.  Well, it is not.  It is the book of the primitive Christians.  You didn't write it.  Nevertheless, I could point out God's fixation on Onan's spilling his own seed from his penis, not wanting to provide an heir to his brother (Genesis 38:9).  I could point out King David's dancing in the streets naked (2 Samuel 6:20).  I could point out the commandment to Hosea to go marry a prostitute and God's use of the prostitute/whore for a symbol, which was quite literal, and may have caused a prophet to get an STD, for all we know (Hosea 1:2).  God seems to have had no aversion to use the symbol of a whore in the Book of Revelation as the whore of Babylon.

As my associate, Vincent Coon points out, there are many other things in Hebrew scripture "that should rub the sensibilities of western Christian society the wrong way."  For example, he notes:
The KJV still leaves us with God repeatedly stating that he will cut of him that “pisseth against the wall” and then there are statements like “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins” (KJV 1 Kings 12:10), more explicit in Hebrew, not to mention Shir ha-Shirim (Song of Songs).
But I won't rip on "your" Bible, because the Bible is true, and it isn't yours anyway.  It is actually the book from the ancient Christians, not you.  And it is as much a Mormon book as anything.  Christians are actually the intellectual descendants of the proto-Orthodox usurpers, not the primitive Christians, according to scholars such as Bart Ehrman.  The Mormons at least had it right, long before Ehrman, to know that there were usurpers in the religious lineages of the sectarians.  And the Mormons know that Joseph Smith and his successors are the true successors to the primitive Christians through restoration.  But Christians don't want to have to bother with little facts such as these.  And the primitive Christians had no aversion to symbolism that was only used as symbolism in the culture of the middle east.  Therefore, it is the so-called Christians with their penis aversion in art that didn't have the intent that they put upon it that I will criticize.

You can't even represent a penis, or even the idea of fertility, in Egyptian without drawing one.  That's how stupid this is.  The Egyptians thought no more about drawing a penis (Gardiner's D52 and D53) than drawing an eye.