Monday, November 27, 2017

How did Joseph Smith Produce or Translate the Book of Abraham Text?

I think that there has been confusion over time about my theory because my position on the nuances of how Joseph Smith produced the Book of Abraham text has changed over time.  My advice to my readers is to not get hung up too much on this point, because there are multiple good options that work well.  But I do have one in particular that I believe now.

Within the last several years (since maybe mid-or-late-2014, or mabye even into early 2015, I cant remember the timeline well), my theory of choice has been one of revelation, that Joseph Smith did not have a papyrus with the text on it, but simply produced the contents of that papyrus by revelation, perhaps Doctrine and Covenants 7 style (i.e. the way he produced the translation of the parchment of John in D&C 7), in vision, or by Urim and Thummim.  And that that original papyrus was written by the hand of Abraham, or was a copy from antiquity that he saw in vision or in the Urim and Thummim.  And it likely was written in the Egyptian language, the regular Egyptian language, the way John Gee or Robert Ritner would translate Egyptian.  I also voiced the possibility that it could have been written in some early Semitic language too by Abraham instead of in Egyptian.

In other words, now, I currently believe that this original papyrus, written by Abraham himself, was lost in antiquity, and that Joseph Smith never had it in his hands, only that he saw it in vision.  This is an entirely separate papyrus from the Sensen Papyrus.  But during the year 2017, I have softened my rhetoric on the Missing Papyrus Theory.  In other words, prior to 2017, I used to be very against the theory that Joseph Smith had a papyrus in his hands that actually contained the Book of Abraham text in Egyptian, separate from the Sensen Papyrus.  And so, I have said recently that if people believe that, it is ok, because it still works with the rest of my theory.

Prior to about the mid-2014 time frame, I didn't take a hard or developed position on how Joseph Smith translated or produced the text.  Back then, I was back and forth between the revelation theory and the catalyst theory.  I had entertained the possibility that Joseph Smith produced the Book of Abraham text by using the Egyptian word games in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers as a catalyst for producing the text in the Book of Abraham.  I still believe this is a good option.  It is just not my preferred option anymore since about the 2014 time frame.  About around that time period, I recall I was speaking in my blog posts using vague language about the Sensen Papyrus being a "type of original" or a "proxy original".

For example, here is a blog post where I quoted Nibley, and spoke of the Sensen Payrus as being possibly a "proxy" by "ritual" or by "symbolism" for the original papyrus, as a catalyst of some kind, perhaps:

In terms of what I believe now, that is still among the options, but not my favored option.

I still think it doesn't matter much, and that these are all good options.  But as I said, the one that I mention at the top is the one that I prefer now.

I have tried to cater to people that believe in the Catalyst Theory giving them this option of a catalyst as one of the good possibilities, although it is not my preferred option anymore.

So its not surprising that on this issue some people have been confused about what I believe and have believed in the past, because yes, it has changed.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Contrast Between My Approach and Kircher's: Code Breaking (Reverse Engineering) Versus Divination/Speculation

Joseph Smith said:  "By proving contraries, truth is made manifest."

Some have made the charge as part of a straw man argument that my approach is identical or virtually identical to Athanasius Kircher's from the 1600's in the translation of Egyptian.  This charge is false of course.  And some even go so far as to blame W. W. Phelps or Joseph Smith for the same type of translations as Kircher's in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, calling those equally as nonsensical as Kircher's.

There are multiple levels here that must be untangled/decoupled.  I will go from the agreed upon things, building certain concepts, and then I will go on to those thing that are not agreed upon yet, but I will show how my work qualifies on the level of reverse engineering, and how it is nothing like Kircher's approach.  And I will then demonstrate how, because I am able to reverse-engineer the Kirtland Egyptian Papers the same way other LDS scholars are able to reverse-engineer the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham, this means that this is evidence that Joseph Smith is responsible for not only the Facsimile Explanations, but also the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, and that W. W. Phelps is not.

First of all, we will not deal with the Kirtland Egyptian Papers immediately.  Because just as LDS missionaries build on common beliefs, I do have something in common with other LDS members that have interest in this field, and that is, I believe that Joseph Smith is responsible for the translations in the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham.  Therefore, at first, I will demonstrate exactly what I am talking about first with the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham, and only after I have established that, I will speak of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.  But all I will state here is that the exact system is used between the symbols in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers and the symbols in the Facsimiles for the Book of Abraham.  Fortunately for us, we have common ground in the translations given in the Book of Abraham Facsimiles.


Jean-François Champollion used a methodology called reverse-engineering or code-breaking or decipherment.  In essence, it is finding the underlying facts and bringing them forth, in order to identify the system at hand.  And we model that system, or in other words, we describe it for the human mind.  I will describe this, and how it is sometimes rooted in multiple sets of good data that are compared with each other, and pairings (interrelationships) are made manifest.

In the case of Champollion, it was on the Rosetta Stone, where two languages were presented, one known (Greek), and one unknown (Egyptian).  But there was one other known set of data that even Kircher noticed, and that was the likelihood that Coptic Egyptian was a direct descendant, or perhaps a more modern dialect, of the older Egyptian languages.

And so, Champollion successfully used that which is known (i.e. Greek and Coptic) and was able to compare it with that which was unknown (i.e. the two types of unknown Egyptian script present on the stone).  In his work, it became clear that there was an interrelationship between the two sets of data.  Or in other words, one set of information was able to be paired with the other, in order to act as a key to unlock the information on the unknown side.  But more than just unlocking the information, the system of how the information worked became manifest.  This is because, it was logical, and became apparent, that the Greek on the Rosetta Stone contained the same message as the Egyptian.

Champollion knew which words in Greek matched up with the Coptic.  And so, once he was able to make a good guess as to which Egyptian symbols matched up with a certain Greek word, then he was able to use the Coptic equivalent of the word to reproduce a likely Egyptian reading for certain Egyptian characters.  Once he discovered Egyptian alphabetics when he had enough of the symbols figured out and their pronunciations through Coptic, he was further able to deduce even more in other documents and texts found on other stones.  This is a process of reverse-engineering from multiple reliable data sets that could be paired up with each other.

For example, in the field of Computer Science, Jean-Marie Favre quotes E.J. Chikofsky and J.H. Cross in the following:

As pointed out by Chikofsky and Cross . . . , the term "reverse engineering" takes its root in the analysis of hardware systems such as microprocessors, where producing descriptive models from finished systems is a common practice. These authors define reverse engineering as following:  
"Reverse engineering is the process of analysing a subject system, to (1) identify the system’s components and their interrelationships, and (2) create representations of the system in another form or at a higher level of abstraction." (As quoted in Foundations of Model (Driven) (Reverse) Engineering Models Episode I: Stories of The Fidus Papyrus and of The Solarus, by Jean-Marie Favre, ADELE Team, Laboratoire LSR-IMAG Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France, p. 24,

To translate this back into English from jargon, and to relate it to other things in the world besides computer hardware, a "subject system" is set of data, a set of facts or truths, at hand.  In other words, it is the information at hand, the facts about a certain thing being studied.  It is raw information that is not necessarily understood yet.  In the case of languages, this is the corpus of information currently being studied.  If there are unknowns about it, we move from whatever knowns we do have to the unknowns by comparisons and finding these interrelationships between the knowns and the unknowns.  We search for patterns in the information.  And so, we are identifying the components and their interrelationships.  We create representations of these things that are perhaps charts or maps or documentation to allow the human mind to model what is going on in the facts or data.

And so, we create models and descriptions of these components and their interrelationships, in order to make them understandable and comprehensible to the human mind, so that the human mind can see how things work together.  Once we have these models and descriptions in place, we are able to make the information useful in some way.  It is the same as any model in science.  It is a description of a set of facts and principles that are derived from the analysis of raw information.  This raw information is the facts before us in an area of study.

Champollion noticed pairings or interrelationships and patterns information.  Champollion had created a mental map of them, because he was able to understand their interrelationships.  It is convenient in Book of Mormon Geography studies to create an internal map, where someone like John Sorenson uses the data from the Book of Mormon text (all geographical references) and reverse-engineers the interrelationships between cities, landmarks and so forth, to create a mental map.  Once he has this mental map in his head, he can then put it on paper.  And he did so in the book Mormon's Map.  He purported that this was the map that Mormon had in his head when he described the Book of Mormon lands.  And he reverse-engineered it.

If a corporate spy is trying to find out what another company is doing with their products, they may do analysis on the product to reverse engineer it, when they have no prior knowledge of it.  In World War II, the allies reverse engineered the Nazi "Enigma" machine, because poor operating procedures allowed leakage of information that allowed for the cryptanalysis of the codes from the machine.  The leakage of information as a result of the poor procedures was enough to give the researchers the keys they needed to decrypt the information.

There is a reason that the eminent scholar named Brian Colless of Massey University calls his web site Cryptcracker.  (  It is because he cracks things that are unknown.  He deciphers them.  He is one of the scholars that is dealing with the of Proto-Sinaitic (the oldest Semitic alphabet), which is a set of Egyptian hieroglyphics that were repurposed to spell out words in a Semitic language.  Colless is also working on the Canaanite Syllabary, a set of symbols also repurposed from Egyptian Hieroglyphics that the Cannanites used, part of which may be the Proto-Canaanite alphabet.

The process of how scholars figured out Proto-Sinaitic was also an exercise in reverse-engineering.  Here is part of an account of its decipherment:
. . . the Proto-Sinaitic script was first observed in a 1905 archaeological expedition conducted at Serabit el-Khadim by Flinders Petrie. His wife, Hilda, noticed odd and crudely formed inscriptions in numerous locations at the site (ibid: 41): on boulders and rocks, on the stone walls within the ancient mines, and on the occasional small monuments. Although Flinders Petrie himself was never terribly adept at translating hieroglyphic inscriptions, he believed this odd and crude form of hieroglyphs represented an alphabetic script. He was basically correct. Subsequently Sir Alan Gardiner, one of the giants in the early days of Egyptian linguistics, substantiated Petrie’s theory and performed further work and refinement on the study of the script.
For example, among the odd inscriptions Gardiner found frequent mention of b-‘-l-t (Baalat), the Canaanite word for “mistress.” He was able to demonstrate this on a small stone sphinx bearing a bilingual inscription.
The red arrow points to the Egyptian inscription: Ht-Hr mry Hmt n mfkAt, “The Beloved of Hathor, mistress of the turquoise.” The blue arrow points to the Canaanite inscription, which in translation is close to the Egyptian and of the same theme: m’h( b ) b’l(t), “Beloved of the Mistress.” Hathor was the principal deity venerated at Serabit el-Khadim . . . (
In this case, the Proto-Sinaitic alphabetic inscription was paired with the Egyptian inscription such that Gardiner could notice the interrelationship between the two, precisely in the almost identical pattern to the Rosetta Stone, in the sense that that which is known acted as a key to that which is unknown.  This gave these scholars the initial key to go on to reverse-engineer the entire Proto-Sinaitic alphabet as it is known today, which has been demonstrated to be the root of all Semitic and other modern alphabets.

Accomplishments of Mormon Scholars in Reverse-Engineering of the relationship between the Facsimile Explanations of the Book of Abraham and the Images in the Facsimiles

It may seem strange to speak of the Facsimile Explanations paired with Egyptian Symbols from the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham in LDS Scripture as things that would need to be reverse-engineered.  Aren't these already translations into English of the Egyptian?  Yes and no.  People will say to me, can't you make up your mind?  Actually I can, because it is the truth that there are two dimensions here.  Joseph Smith could translate, but his translation is not a literal Egyptological translation.  Therefore, I say, yes and no.  And these two dimensions are important facts, because they are both true.  It is true that Joseph Smith's translations are actual translations.  But it is also true that they are not literal Egyptological Egyptian Translations.  What are the implications of this?  A lot.  We have a truth here with multiple nuances.

Eminent scholars of Egyptian such as Robert Ritner, the Egyptologist that was one of the teachers of John Gee say that Joseph Smith's translations of the Facsimiles are not correct.  Have you wondered why?  It is because they clearly do not match an Egyptological Egyptian translation of the Facsimiles.  This is a very important issue.  Because, if Joseph Smith actually did translate these things correctly, but an Egyptologist like Ritner says that he did not, Mormon scholars ought to take that extremely seriously.  And Robert Ritner is actually correct, that an Egyptological translation of the Facsimiles does not yield the same information that is found in the Facsimile Explanations.  Does that make me an Anti-Mormon that I am agreeing with Ritner in this thing?  Absolutely not.  What is a Mormon to do?  Well, contrary to Ritner and fortunately for us Mormons, the issue doesn't stop where he thinks it ought to stop.

Well, fortunately for us Mormons, we have some very smart Egyptologists on our side of our own who have figured out through reverse-engineering (perhaps without realizing that they were doing reverse-engineering), that there is actually a relationship to be found between the Egyptological Egyptian translations and the English text.  Joseph Smith didn't pull these translations out of the air.

So, then, there is actually a missing link here, between the Facsimile Explanation text and the Egyptian pictures in the Facsimiles without reverse-engineering to uncover the relationship.  And these very smart people have done just that.  How?

Remember, there are two sets of information/data available on both sides of the issue to us to solve this issue.  We have the (1) English Text from Joseph Smith, and (2) we have the Egyptian Images with Egyptological Egyptian translations supplied to us by very competent scholars like Robert Ritner.

Now, let us look at this, an article that I wrote on this subject back in 2015, where I reviewed Kerry Shirts 2005 presentation about Joseph Smith as Egyptologist:

It might seems strange that I am pointing to something that Kerry Shirts, having become a critic of the Church, would not longer stand by.  But Shirts, prior to his change of beliefs, actually listed a number of things in the Facsimiles that Mormon scholars had reverse-engineered.  And Shirts, thinks somehow Ritner is correct, and his former beliefs are not at all.  Shirts will one day need to reconsider this.

But, moving on, we have Facsimile #2, Figure 1:

It's true that this isn't the exact version from Facsimile #2, but it is the same figure, more complete, from a different hypocephalus.  It shows the four-headed, mirror-image, seated God named Khnum-Ra, the Egyptian God of Creation.  Therefore there is nothing Egyptological about this Kolob thing, at all.  This is Egyptologically Khnum-Ra, NOT KOLOB.  This Kolob thing has absolutely NOTHING to do with Egyptology, no matter how much Mormons may hope it would, as we are assured by Ritner.  And Ritner would be technically correct in his assertion.  Therefore, Mormons no longer need to be worried about Mormon Egyptologists against Non-Mormon ones, because the Non-Mormon ones are right.

However, our very intelligent scholars in the Church noticed that Joseph Smith said this:

Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God.

Hmmm.  If you are a Mormon, you should be able to notice what our other very intelligent scholars noticed, in their reverse-engineering of the relationship here.  I have put it in bold and in italics above.  And it is the absolute key here.  There is a thematic play of words here.  In other words, it is a word game, a punnish game between Kolob and Khnum-Ra that makes it so that the Egyptological symbol Khnum-Ra is a suitable symbol for the NON EGYPTOLOGICAL INFORMATION that was applied to the symbol by someone that knew the Egyptian Language in Ancient times.  This person was playing a word/picture game between Khnum-Ra and Kolob.  It's true that Kolob is not an Egyptological translation at all.  But it is also true that a person in ancient times was playing a word/picture game with Egyptian symbols.  And Kevin Barney noticed that this was Semitic Adaptation, or as others have called it, Iconotropy, where someone along the line ASSIGNED a NON-EGYPTOLOGICAL MEANING to a character.  And our extremely intelligent scholars in the Church have revealed the missing link between Joseph Smith's English text and the Egyptological translation given to us by Ritner and other very competent Egyptologists.

And our extremely intelligent scholars in the Church have reverse-engineered what is going on behind the scenes between Joseph Smith's Egyptian and the Egyptological Egyptian.  Try as they might though, Mormon scholars cannot make Joseph Smith's Egyptian into Egyptological Egyptian.  It just cannot be done, because Ritner assures us that the two are not the same thing.  And indeed, they are not.  Yet, one represents the actual Egyptian language, and the other represents the thoughts of ancient people that repurposed the symbols!

Yet both are real, and both are true, but neither can be confused with the other.  And in our minds, they must remain separate.  Because the linkage between them is the interrelationship, the pairing, the PUN.  Over and over again, the same thing is evident.  Let's look at another example just to reinforce the point:

This is Facsimile #2, figure 2.  What is this?  It is the Egyptian Wepwawet, the opener, the janitor, the key-holder.  Here is another version of him:

And of course, as Hugh Nibley shows, he is an Egyptian version of the god Janus, the Janitor, the key-holder:

Joseph Smith translated this as Oliblish, the grand key.  Did you get it? It is the picture/word/pun game that is going on here.  This is the missing link between Joseph Smith's Egyptian and the Egyptological Egyptian.  The two cannot be confused.  And this was reverse-engineered by both brother Rhodes and Brother Nibley, though they did not use that term, and they did not recognize it as a "game."  They did not recognize the relationship between the two sets of information as a literary game played by the ancients.  Yet they did prove it nevertheless.  And it was two sets of information, two groups of data, and an interrelationship, a pairing.  And an elucidated principle as the basis of the pairing:  a literary pun game.  And these things are pictures.  And this was reverse-engineering done by Mormon Scholars that are our very intelligent people.  This was Brother Nibley and Brother Rhodes that did this.  And to Brother Barney that figured out this Semitic Adaptation principle or Iconotropy that is the mechanics or root principle behind these thematic puns, and how Joseph Smith's translations are adaptable because of the shared theme.  The Facsimiles are full of this stuff.

But there is another important point.  Where in the Facsimiles was Joseph Smith's Egyptian spelled out?  Did you see anything there with the world "Kolob" spelled out in the Egyptian language?  Nothing at all is there to justify, in conventional wisdom, to assert that information called "Kolob" and meaning specifically "First Creation" ought to be applied to the Khnum-Ra character.  Well, this is because the Khnum-Ra character DOES NOT CONTAIN THIS INFORMATION.  This was external information applied to the image that was in the mind of a person in ancient times, and probably was in a document in ancient times that is also lost.  In other words, there was probably a document written in an ancient language with the equivalent information we now have in English in the Facsimile Explanations.  This ancient missing document provided a Key, an External Dependency, to the Khnum-Ra character.  And there is a principle of pairing between the two that justifies the interrelationship.  The Facsimile Explanations are a modern-day RECONSTITUTION of this ancient information.  This is what I mean when I say that the Explanation text is an external key to the Facsimile images.  The images themselves do not contain the information applied to them.  That information is only found externally to them.  This is why Ritner insists that these are not correct translations, because the fact is, the information comes from a place external to the picture to begin with, and that is just the way it is.  It is the pun between the picture and the explanation that justifies the linkage or the interrelationship.  And in order to create this pun in ancient times, someone had to know the Egyptian language.  And as Mormons, we trust in the Prophet Joseph Smith's ability to reconstitute this ancient information.

A Contrast between the Multiple Examples of Actual Reverse-Engineering that We Just Saw Above and Kirtcher's Nonsensical Approach

Now we get to the root of the matter here for why it is that Egyptologist Wallis Budge wrote this:

Many writers pretended to have found the key to the hieroglyphics, and many more professed, with a shameless impudence which is hard to understand in these days, to translate the contents of the texts into a modern tongue. Foremost among such pretenders must be mentioned Athanasius Kircher, who, in the 17th century, declared that he had found the key to the hieroglyphic inscriptions; the translations which he prints in his Oedipus Aegyptiacus are utter nonsense, but as they were put forth in a learned tongue many people at the time believed they were correct. (Budge, E. A. Wallis, Egyptian Language: Easy Lessons in Egyptian Hieroglyphics. p. 15.)
The assertion has been made that Jean-François Champollion refuted the method or approach used in Kircher's so-called translations of Egyptian back in the 1600's.  This is absolutely true.  So, what information did Kirtcher have about the Egyptian characters that he was supposedly translating?  Just a few tiny clues from ancient Greek sources for a few hieroglyphs.  As for the rest of it, he was entirely guessing about what each symbol was a picture of, without any evidence whatsoever.  He was literally divining out of thin air what each symbol ought to be.  Then, he would look into ancient documentation as sources for esoteric mysteries, and almost randomly and speculatively apply such things to the hieroglyphs.  Some of it was the Hermetic documents containing the supposed teachings of Hermes Trismegistus.  Later these documents were shown to not be as ancient as Kircher believed they were, so they would not have been good source material anyway.  And because of the reverse-engineering from the Rosetta Stone, Champollion did indeed refute Kircher.  The only positive item one can really take away from Kircher is the fact that Kircher assumed correctly that Coptic descended from Ancient Egyptian.

Now, while it is true that Egyptologists like Ritner do not accept Joseph Smith's Explanations as revelatory, I must appeal for a moment to the fact that Mormons do accept them.  There is a big difference for Mormons between Joseph Smith's Explanations for the Facsimile Images and Kircher's translations of Hieroglyphs.  First, Joseph Smith was a Prophet, and Kircher was not.  Joseph Smith produced the text in the Explanations by revelation, and almost all Mormons accept that.  So, Mormons accept that the explanation for Kolob is authentically ancient that was applied by Iconotropy to the Khnum-Ra hieroglyph, and justified by the punnish/thematic linkage between the two.  Since a prophet of God linked the two together, Mormons accept this as a good enough reason to assume that a logical interrelationship does exist.  And intelligent Mormon scholars reverse-engineered it to manifest the linkage principle between the two.  Therefore, for Mormons, it is clear that this is nothing like Kircher's explanation.  And we have a mental model now for the principle involved for the interrelationships, which can be generalized to all of the images in the Facsimiles.  This is nothing like Kirtcher.  It is not similar in the least bit.

Now, About that Accusation that This Author's REVERSE ENGINEERING of Sensen Characters and English Explanations Paired with them in the KEP is IDENTICAL to Kircher's Nonsense.

Now that we have in an exhaustive manner reviewed the principles of Reverse Engineering in Champollion, the Proto-Sinaitic Alphabet, the Nazi Enigma Machine, and Joseph Smith's Egyptian Translation in the Facsimiles, now how do you suppose this works with the Kirtland Egyptian Papers and its content?  Well, I will repeat myself yet again as I have throughout all the previous posts in this blog.

We have Egyptian characters lifted from the Sensen Papyrus that were put in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, and we can look these up individually in Egyptian Dictionaries.  So their Egyptological meaning as standalone characters, as well as their pronunciation as Egyptian Uniliteral, Biliteral, Triliteral or Determinative characters is not a mystery.  Anybody with an Egyptian Dictionary and a knowledge of Gardiner's Sign List and Numbering System and Moeller's Hieratic Sign list and numbering system can look this stuff up.  And if one has a table that converts between Gardiner's numbers and Moeller's numbers to look up the hieratic versions of the text hieroglyphics, all of this is such a no-brainer that even a kindergartener could do it if he spent a few hours learning.  It is as easy as looking up a Hebrew word or a Greek word from the Hebrew or Greek Old or New Testament if one has a knowledge of Strong's Concordance and Numbering System.  And of course, is immensely critical for this.  So, for all intents and purposes, there really is no mystery to that part.  The Egyptological side is well documented for which character is which in Michael Rhodes' and Robert Ritner's writings on the Sensen Papyrus.  The Egyptologists have told us that all Egyptian text characters are also individual pictures.  So these are individual pictures like the ones in the facsimiles when isolated from any other characters.  So this is one side of our data set.  Check.

Now we have for our other side of the data set the fact that these were paired with English words.  Check.

Now if we go off the scholarly consensus that some LDS Scholars go by, and that ALL critical scholars go by, Joseph Smith was 100% responsible for the content of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.  If this is correct, then we have the same exact arrangement that we find in the Facsimiles and their Explanations.

Now, if we reverse engineer each symbol in the KEP, which are isolated from all other characters from the Sensen Papyrus in that context, we see some interesting things.  They are individual pictures in this context.  What do we see?  We see the predicted interrelation.  The same exact pattern that Nibley and Rhodes found between the Facsimiles and their Explanations.  It is the same exact kind of punnish/literary word/picture games between the Egyptological meanings of the characters in the KEP and their English explanations in the KEP.  And it is consistent.  What does this mean?  Joseph Smith produced ancient information with this kind of interrelationship with Egyptian characters.  It doesn't mean these are direct translations of Egyptian characters.  The Egyptological meaning of these characters is already known, and is straight-forward, and can be looked up.  What we see is that there is a PREDICTED INTERRELATION, the predicted linkage in the pairing that is always consistent, that follows this same pattern.

Sorry.  This is nothing like Kirtcher.  And it is the same Iconotropy/Adaptation as in the Facsimiles.  And it is the same Pairings.  And it is the same predicted punnish/word/picture game interrelation.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Misinterpretations of my Positions on the Facebook BOA Forum

As a side note, please read my friend Ryan Larsen's article, a very important one on Facsimile #3, where he discusses some principles associated with Iconotropy:

Now, however, for the meat of this post.  Let's see if you guys read this one and actually try to understand the actual meaning of my words in it.  I keep allowing myself to be sucked back in, when I just want this to end.  Life is too short, and I don't owe anybody anything, let alone my deference when it is not warranted on every single issue.

Mormons are used to critics throwing straw men up to try to disqualify our positions.  It is interesting to have apologists throwing straw men, extremely flawed caricatures, at other apologists to misrepresent their positions out of deliberate ignorance of their positions.

A lot of criticism was leveled at me for daring to critique anything John Gee had to say and find anything whatsoever wrong with it.  Sorry.  John Gee deserves feedback as any mortal.  If he is not given feedback, he can never know how he can improve, if he ever chooses to improve.  He is a human, not a Mormon demigod.

This remark also came up:
nor does Ed address Will Schryver's contributions.
Will Schryver's contributions are foundational to mine.  If you want an explanation for how this is so, I will give it to you in detail.  Did you know I was present with a video camera in 2010 with Kerry Shirts in the back, standing right by Kerry when Will did the presentation at the FAIRMormon conference?  Then, afterward, I rushed out and talked to Will to try to explain to him how closely his ideas were to mine (code tables with value assignments), with the exception that I place mine in an ancient context, while he was trying to say that modern people like Phelps are responsible for assigning meaning to arbitrary symbols.  Will's writings and presentation are so foundational in fact, because my theory derives important aspects from his.  You would know this if you had looked at the posts in my blog where I explain this, going back to 2013.  And you would know that my theory is like saying that Will Schryver is right, except ancient people who knew the Egyptian language did it instead of Phelps the way Will believed.  That is NOTHING like Kirtcher's translation method.  This is like an ancient twist on Will Schryver's theory.  But you would know that if you had read my blog, right?

The criticism of my work goes on:
Ed claims that Joseph wasn't translating Egyptian scripts the same way that modern Egyptologists do. Rather, he believes that Joseph translated Egyptian scripts as ideograms. Champollion disproved this approach by Kircher and others 200 hundred years ago.
That's not true at all.  My approach is nothing like Kirtcher's.  Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Abraham text is of the text from another language into English, probably from regular old EgyptianHe didn't translate it from the Sensen papyrus at all.  He translated it from regular old Egyptian, either in vision the way he did the parchment of John (Doctrine and Covenants Section 7), or by having a papyrus in front of him that we do not have, in REGULAR GOOD OLD EGYPTIAN.  The only way Joseph Smith ever produced the Book of Abraham text was through a translation from the regular usage of Egyptian symbols the way John Gee translates Egyptian.

If Joseph Smith had had the Book of Abraham text in front of him in regular Egyptian text, he would have translated it as well as John Gee could if John Gee had that text in front of him, but he more likely saw it in vision, but still translated the regular Egyptian.  Now.....

Now, is there text in this picture?  No.  Did Joseph Smith translate the pictures in this using Kirtcher's method?  No.  How did Joseph Smith translate these pictures?  He interpreted them as pictures as the Egyptians meant them, and told us the story that the Egyptian that painted them meant to convey by it.  And he put the interpretations for these as captions for these pictures in the explanation.  The captions for these pictures are these:

Fig. 1. The Angel of the Lord.
Fig. 2. Abraham fastened upon an altar. 
Fig. 3. The idolatrous priest of Elkenah attempting to offer up Abraham as a sacrifice.
Fig. 4. The altar for sacrifice by the idolatrous priests, standing before the gods of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, and Pharaoh.
Fig. 5. The idolatrous god of Elkenah. 
Fig. 6. The idolatrous god of Libnah. 
Fig. 7. The idolatrous god of Mahmackrah.
Fig. 8. The idolatrous god of Korash. 
Fig. 9. The idolatrous god of Pharaoh.
Fig. 10. Abraham in Egypt. 
Fig. 11. Designed to represent the pillars of heaven, as understood by the Egyptians. 
Fig. 12. Raukeeyang, signifying expanse, or the firmament over our heads; but in this case, in relation to this subject, the Egyptians meant it to signify Shaumau, to be high, or the heavens, answering to the Hebrew word, Shaumahyeem.
Now, did the Hebrew word Raukeeyang (raqia) appear in figure 12 as text?  No.  Did the Hebrew term Shaumau?  But did Kirtcher's method ever have anything to do with Joseph Smith's translations of Facsimile #1?  No.

Now, someone in ancient times focused in on this part of the papyrus:

And this ancient person copied it from the Papyrus into a separate derivative composition, the same way Joseph Smith did in the KEP, since the KEP is a modern translation of this derivative composition. And here is the picture in higher resolution:

And he called it Ho Ha Oop.  And he translated it as "An Intercessor, one who has been appointed to intercede for another; invocation."  Was this based on Kirtcher's method.  No.  It's based on the Facsimile method of Joseph Smith when used as a picture.  And when used as a picture, it has nothing to do with any text or context it might have been a part of previously, any more than the pictures in the original for Facsimile 1 itself has anything to do with the Sensen Papyrus text.  But what it does mean is this symbol was repurposed through ICONOTROPY, assigned a meaning as WILL SCHRYVER SAID PHELPS WAS DOING, except the person that did it knew Egyptian, and this person did it in ancient times.  And this person in ancient times chose this meaning because the regular Egyptian meaning of this symbol as a letter or picture is paired with it, and is associated closely with it.  In fact the Proto-Sinaitic meaning of this same character in the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet is a person giving praise or a man calling out:

But you would know that if you had read that article on my blog from 2014, right?  Over three years ago I posted that article.

I have never once suggested that the Egyptian text of the Sensen Papyrus does not read the way EGYPTOLOGISTS say it does.  I only suggest that in derived compositions, they were used as pictures.  That means they have more than one usage, nothing like Kirtcher's method, because they have no inherent message encoded in them the way he believed they do.  Anything that they are used to symbolize things as pictures is entirely imposed on them from the outside.  That's called Iconotropy.  Remember that?  Kevin Barney's Semitic adaptation principle?  Repurposing of symbols?  There is nothing new in this concept.  Iconotropy and Semitic adaptation are for all intents and purposes identical.  People repurposed the symbols in the Facsimiles for use with Abrahamic themes.  Similarly, they created derivative compositions using other Sensen Papyrus symbols and repurposed them too.  Nobody said that Joseph Smith thought that these symbols spell out the Book of Abraham text.  They don't.  But when used as pictures like the other pictures in the Facsimiles, they were repurposed to be used differently than they were in the first place.

Yes, my theory is in essence a hybrid between Will Schryver's and Kevin Barney's.  In Kevin Barney's theory, an ancient redactor J-Red (or Jewish Redactor) was responsible for the Iconotropy in the Facsimiles.  In my theory, not only is Jewish (or Egyptian) Redactor responsible for that, but also the Iconotropy in the code tables using the arbitrary symbols from the text of the Sensen Papyrus that appear in the KEP!  So, instead of Phelps being responsible for modern code tables in the KEP, what we have is J-Red being responsible for ancient code tables REPRODUCED IN THE KEP.

So, please don't tell me that I am unaware of other people's research when these people's research is so fundamental to mine.  I am quite aware of everyone else's claims in an in-depth manner.  And certain individuals that claim to be authoritative do not have the slightest idea that this is what my theory is about, and wouldn't know if they agree with it or not, because they haven't read it.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Facsimile 2 Figure 11 Article Two: Ancient Egyptian Number Puzzles

Prior to this article, we presented the first theory on the numbers in Facsimile 2, Figure 11, which was an attempt to primarily link up the Egyptian uniliteral (single-consonantal) letters to the Hebrew and Greek number system.  This one is a separate theory from that.  This follows some of the other theories on this blog regarding Egyptian word games like puns, etc.  The Egyptians also had a system of numbers that was based on number-word puzzles.
As Georges Ifrah, an important scholar on numbers has observed:

Egyptian carvers, especially in the later periods, indulged in all sorts of puns and learned word-games, most notably in the inscriptions on the temples of Edfu and Dendara.  Some of these word-games involve the names of the numbers . . . (The Universal History of Numbers, p. 176).

Then, on that page and the following, Ifrah shows how he has created a table based on the work of P. Barguet, H. W. Fairmain, J. C. Goyon and C. de Wit, of the inscriptions from the walls of the temples of Edfu and Dendara (Dendera).  We will review here the information in this table and comment on them, to extract the principles in each entry in the table.

But first, we will quote something else that we had quoted in a previous article.  Professor Scott B. Noegel, Chair, Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at the University of Washington tell writes:

("On Puns and Divination: Egyptian Dream Exegesis from a Comparative Perspective,"  Here is Gardiner’s sign list, I12, used to represent the Uraeus (Greek), or Iaret, the Cobra:

As we see, the Egyptian word  w’t.w means Uraeus (Cobra), but was associated by pun with the word wa’,(w’.w) meaning the number one.  So, it is quite possible that Cobra/Uraeus was used symbol for the number one by way of this pun.  Other evidence for this is from the Rosetta Stone, where not only the uraeus is associated with the number one through a pun, but also the hieroglyph for the picture of the harpoon, another symbol for one:

In the 198 BC Rosetta Stone of Ptolemy V Epiphanes, the harpoon hieroglyph is used only once, in line 8: "crowns, 10...with uraeus on their fronts, on one every among them."—("on each among them"). (
As Ifrah mentions in his table on pages 176-177 of the book Universal History of Numbers, the harpoon symbol is this:

It is Gardiner’s sign list T20, stands for the number one, through the principle of homophony, or identical-sounding words, because both the number one, and the harpoon, are pronounced wa’.  This means that the harpoon now becomes a suitable symbol for the number one, and can be swapped out or substituted for the conventional symbol for one.

Above is the Egyptian sun symbol, which is Gardiner’s sign list N5, also stands for the number one, according to Ifrah, because there is only one sun.  The singularity and uniqueness of this fact, makes it a suitable symbol for the number.

All of these are variants of the moon hieroglyph, numbered N9, N10, N11, N12 in Gardiner's sign list.  As Ifrah writes, these stand for the number one, similar to the sun symbols, according to Ifrah, because there is only one moon.  Again, it is because of the singularity and uniqueness of this fact.

According to Ifrah, the symbol above for the fraction 1/30 (one thirtieth) is used to mean the number one in the phrase “one day” or “the first day.”  And so, this is because of the fact that there are 30 days in a month for the Egyptians.  And so, for a phrase where the context is about days, the usage makes sense.

Ifrah says that the “Jubilaeum” above, or Gardiner’s sign list W4 is a determinative for hb, or Heb, meaning “feast,”or the “feast of the first of the year,” the Heb Sed, known as the “feast of the tail.”  The W4 hieroglyph is a combination of two other hieroglyphs.  The first is W3, the alabaster basin:

This is also pronounced hb for the festival.  The next piece is O22, a booth supported by a pole:

W4, the Jubilaeum, stands for the number 4.  Ifrah says there is no known explanation as to why.  However, there may be a clue in the ritual race of the festival.  As we noted before, it means the “feast of the tail.”  In the race the Pharaoh would wear a kilt with a bull’s tail attached to the back of it.  And he would run this ritual race alongside of the Apis bull four times as the ruler of upper Egypt and four times as the ruler of lower Egypt.  Therefore, this numerology is probably as a result of this fact about the race.  Therefore, the principle here is probably an attribute of the race/ritual was drawn upon as why these symbols symbolized the number.

The above, which is Gardiner’s N14 is the hieroglyph for star, has 5 points, so it stands for the number 5.  In this case, Ifrah says it is “self-evident” why this is the number 5.  The principle here is that a visual attribute of the symbol is the key to the number it represents, in this case, the number of points.

The human head, which is Gardiner’s D1, stands for the number 7, because, according to Ifrah, it has seven orifices:  “two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, mouth.”  So, the principle here is that an attribute of the symbol (in this case the number of orifices) is used as the key to which number it represents, much like in the case of the 5 pointed star.

Above is the Ibis (Gardiners G25), was the symbol for the god Thoth, who was the principal god of Hermopolis, known in the Egyptian language as Khmnw or Khemenu, which means “city of eight.”  The number 8 is khemen.  So the principle here is an association between the symbol for the god and the name of the city.  It is an attribute of the mythology of the symbol that ties it to the city.

This looks like two hooks, and stands for the number 8.  In hieratic, the number 8 looks like this:

This is numbered as Moeller 621.  As for the hieroglyph that looks like two hooks, it is evident, as Ifrah writes, that it is a “curious ‘re-formation’ in hieroglyphics of the hieratic numeral 8.”  In other words, they created this hieroglyphic from the form of the hieratic numeral.  The principle here, is that the hieroglyph as a visual similarity or affinity or association with the hieratic numeral.  This is an idea is pretty similar to the definition of to a visual pun.

Above is Gardiner’s sign list N8, which stands for the sun and its rays.  It means “shining” or “to shine.”  This is pronounced psd, just as the number 9 is pronounced psd.  The principle here again is homophony between the word to shine and the name of the number.

Above are Gardiner’s sign list numbers U1 and U2, are the sickle or scythe.  Here are some of the forms of the hieratic number nine:

This is numbered as Moeller 622.  As Ifrah writes, it is “Based on the fact that in hieratic, the numeral 9 and the sign for scythe were identical.”  As in the case of the number 8, here it is visual similarity or affinity between signs that is the key.  Once again, this is like a visual pun.

Above is Gardiner’s sign list G5, which is pronounced hrw or “Horus.”  This stands for the number 10.  This is because, as Ifrah says, “the falcon-god Horus was the first to be added to the original nine deities of Heliopolis, and thus represents 10.”  It is tied to an attribute of the mythology of the gods of Heliopolis, as the use of the Ibis as a number is tied to the mythology of Hermopolis.

Different combinations of symbols such as two harpoons can mathematically equal the number two.  Or the combination of a sun and moon can mean the number two.  Or the combination of three harpoons can mean the number three.  And so on and so forth.

The point of all this is that we can see that this type of punnish number/word/symbol game is in line with the same type of creativity or mental games found in Ptolemaic hieroglyphics of the Greco-Roman era.  We can expect the system used in Facsimile #2, figure 11 to use some type of system like this.  Future articles may attempt to ascertain what the exact system or method is in use in Facsimile #2 for these numbers.  The purpose of this current article was only to establish a mental framework for this thing, and to demonstrate that indeed, not only are the typical numbers in Egyptian the only symbols used for numbers.

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.