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.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Few Comments about John Gee's Book "Introduction to the Book of Abraham"

I got John Gee's new book An Introduction to the Book of Abraham in the mail today.  I actually do have to recommend this book to all as (mostly) a carefully written and carefully thought-out overview and summary of the issues surrounding the Book of Abraham.  Overall, the book is quite fair and surprisingly not so one-sided as a lot of his other writings are.  Could this be because he has backed off of some of the strong claims he has made about things in the past, or is it because of good editors?  I wouldn't know.

However, now comes the meat of the problems, which are few.  Like all of John Gee's writings, I have no real issues for the most part except for his treatment of the Kirtland Egyptain Papers.  The same is so with this book and its treatment of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.

Anyway, what he does have to say in it about the Kirtland Egyptian Papers is that "No designation [for them] has gained wide acceptance." (p. 33).  This is pretty much true, but it is mostly because the apologists do not want to assign their ownership to Joseph Smith.  So its the apologists that came up with the term "Kirtland Egyptian Papers" to begin with as a catch-all umbrella.  He says that:
Almost every aspect of these documents is disputed: their authorship, their date, their purpose, their relationship with the Book of Abraham, their relationship with the Joseph Smith Papyri, their relationship with each other, what the documents are or were intended to be, and even whether the documents for a discrete or coherent group.  With so many questionable or problematic facets of the documents in dispute, theories about the Book of Abraham built on this  material run the risk of following a potentially incorrect assumption to its logically flawed conclusion . . . While these documents are kept together, and, additionally, often classed with Book of Abraham manuscripts, that classification is artificial. (p. 33)
It is only the group of Apologists that sort of salute to the same flag that John Gee raises on the apologetic flagpole of FAIRMormon, Mormon Interpreter and so forth that really believe this way, or insist that there is really a basis for dispute.  The critics are united in assigning their provenance to Joseph Smith.  Other faithful and careful scholars like Brian Hauglid and David Bokovoy seem to be united in placing the ownership and provenance to Joseph Smith, and essentially recognizing that their internal contents show them to be one whole.  So, there is actually quite a wide consensus among scholars that deal with these issues that come down on this side of the issue.  All of these scholars mostly have one united attribute, and that is, they are objective from the standpoint that they are willing to see the evidence for what it is, that the translations in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers originate from the mouth of Joseph Smith (mostly), and was written by his scribes (mostly).  Some of them have this attribute because they aren't trying to defend Joseph Smith.  Apologists are bent on defending Joseph Smith at all costs.  And while this is a VIRTUE (don't get me wrong), in issues like this, taken to this extreme, this virtue has gotten in the way of the truth, to the degree that a significant portion of the truth cannot come forth to the eyes of the public.  Now the apologists are, by an artifact or side-effect of their apologetics, in the way of the truth coming forth about true translations in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.  I say, please my fellow brethren, please step out of the way of the truth coming forth.  There is no longer anything to be scared of.  The truth is no longer scary because now its on our side, when before it may have seemed not to be.  John Gee and those united with his paradigm insist that these translations cannot be from Joseph Smith, and therefore, they blame them on W. W. Phelps, and say that Phelps was acting on his own (as mastermind) in the creation of these documents.  This is their claim, notwithstanding the evidence with Joseph Smith's signature on the "Valuable Discovery" section of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, and also Joseph Smith's handwriting (as the scribe) in one section of the Grammar and Alphabet documents in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.  See on the Joseph Smith Papers project website for example.

In other words, as I have written multiple times in multiple articles on this blog, it is only the apologists trying to divorce Joseph Smith for responsibility for the Kirtland Egyptian Papers that dispute the consensus among the other scholars.  And so, while Gee's statement that almost every aspect of these papers is in dispute is technically true, ironically, the dispute originates with Gee and those who follow his paradigm in the first place, and is not based on a forensic evidentiary basis, but rather a political and paradigmatic/ideological basis.  The reason all other scholars have sided with the consensus that Gee has not sided with, is that Gee is arguing against the forensic and internal evidence widely available in high definition on the Joseph Smith Papers Project website.

And while Gee calls information like what is presented on this blog as "potentially incorrect" and based on an "assumption" that would end up at a "logically flawed conclusion," the fact of the matter is, the information on this blog is based on an examination of the evidence in the very papers that Gee insists are in dispute, and the conclusions are based on the very premise from the scholarly consensus that Gee refuses to adopt, that Joseph Smith is 100% responsible for all of the content in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, not Phelps.  And notice the outcome of the information on this blog.  I have been able to argue that Joseph Smith is not only responsible, but that the information that he brought forth is 100 times more jaw-dropping than the mere place name of NHM/Nahom in Arabia, as predicted by the Book of Mormon text ever was.  And while I am not disparaging the NHM/Nahom place name in the sense that I believe in it, and also agree with it, I'm using it as an example of something that the apologists trumpet for being extremely significant.  And while it is indeed significant, there is also a whole mountain of other information that they don't want to have anything to do with on this blog that defends and upholds the prophetic abilities and calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  And so, they don't want to have anything to do with this information, only because it goes against this paradigm that Gee and those that agree with him continue to put forth.  Gee's position on this issue is neither logical, nor is it desirable in the long term.  So while Gee says that information which is found on this blog may suffer logically and so forth and so on, he and those allied with him have never stepped forward to actually deal with the claims and evidences presented here to actually refute them.  They just make these kinds of vague pronouncements.

He says that the classification of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers documents is an artificial one, as if they don't belong together, when much of the content of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers is very specifically related with content in the Book of Abraham text and the text in the Explanations of the Book of Abraham.

Once again, Gee blames the Kirtland Egyptian Papers on Phelps in this new book, saying that:
There are documents that seem to have belonged to W. W. Phelps and are in his handwriting, with additions by Warren Parrish.  The documents use some characters from the Document of Breathings made by Isis; other characters sometimes match up with portions of the Book of Abraham and sometimes with things that seem to have nothing to do with the Book of Abraham.  These have been attributed to Joseph Smith by many individuals, but the attribution to Joseph Smith depends more on assumption and assertion than on demonstration; they cannot be proven to be Joseph Smith's.  It is assumed that since Joseph Smith sometimes used W. W. Phelps as a scribe, those particular documents must be Joseph Smith's thoughts. (p. 177).
Can you see the evasion tactic in these words?  I can.  There is nothing whatsoever to suggest that these belonged to Phelps, any more than the Book of Mormon text written in the hand of Oliver Cowdery in many places belonged to Cowdery.  It is John Gee and those associated with him that refuse to go along with consensus, because they are very very invested in making sure that these things are not attributed to Joseph Smith.  But, as I have argued for many years now, there is no need for that anymore, when Joseph Smith's translations in these documents can now be defended quite easily.  In other words, John Gee and those allied with him that continue to do this do it because they believe that the translations are indefensible, so they must blame them on Phelps and the others at all costs.  But remember, I just showed how Joseph Smith not only signed his name to it, but that the Grammar and Alphabet documents have his handwriting on them as one of the scribes.  Here is Joseph Smith's signature:

And as it is transcribed by the Joseph Smith Papers Project scholars, it says:

Valuable Discovery of hiden (sic) reccords (sic) that have been obtained from the ancient buring (sic) place of the Egyptians
Joseph Smith Jr.
There is his signature on the very last line.  The spelling in the above is in the document, and is not mine.  Then, there is the oft quoted statement from Joseph Smith, which shows content that is not found in any other place except for in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers:
Were I an Egyptian, I would exclaim Jah-oh-eh, Enish-go-on-dosh, Flo-ees-Flos-is-is; [O the earth! the power of attraction, and the moon passing between her and the sun.] (
Is this a quote from Phelps, or is it a quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith?  From the Prophet of course.  Remember, those men were his scribes, and Joseph Smith himself stated, in a journal entry for March 3, 1843:
“On returning to my office after dinner, I spoke the following proverb:  'For a man to be great, he must not dwell on small things, though he may enjoy them;' this shows that a Prophet cannot well be his own scribe, but must have some one to write for him.”  (Leland R. Nelson (ed.), Journal of Joseph: The Personal History of A Modern Prophet, p. 213; History of the Church, 5:298, emphasis added).
Similarly, in a book review in BYU Studies of George D. Smith's book, An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, James B. Allen wrote:

Smith, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and other Church leaders often called on their scribes and secretaries to record their journals for them. No responsible historian presumes to publish such journals as part of the papers of the scribes who wrote them. Such journals are the journals of those for whom they were written. Smith correctly observes that when Stanley B. Kimball published the journals of Heber C. Kimball, he left this one out. That still does not legitimize publishing it here. If such a journal could be called a Clayton journal, then so could the journal Clayton wrote for Kimball while crossing the plains in 1847. That journal has been published twice-as a Heber C. Kimball journal. The temple journal is in exactly the same category. If it is to be published at all, it should be published with a Kimball collection, not a Clayton collection. (, emphasis added)
Yet, supposedly responsible individuals like John Gee insist that it was the scribes that are responsible for the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, and that Joseph Smith's papers BELONGED to Phelps.  Do you see the absurdity in that yet?  I do.

So, my suggestion to Gee and those that agree with him is the same as it has been for many years.  It its time to let go of this type of apologetics.  The time for this has passed.  The need for this type of approach of blaming it on his scribes no longer exists.  That apologetic was invented in a day when his translations in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers could not be defended.  It's time to embrace the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, and ascribe them to Joseph Smith, and that Joseph Smith is 100% responsible for them, in conjunction with his associates, that formed a council, yet he was mastermind.  I've showed all over this blog how to defend it, and I think the time has come.

Now its up to others to actually realize that it can be done.  Unfortunately, I predict that it will take another generation for it to happen.  So, if you can defend them, why would you persist on placing the "blame" for these things on others.  Are you going to "blame" W. W. Phelps for correct Egyptian Translations?  Since there is no longer anything negative to blame anyone on, wouldn't you WANT Joseph Smith to be given responsibility for correct translations that show he was a true prophet?  I do want him to have credit for correct translations!  And so to me, the logic is clear about what must be done, and has been for a very long time.

One other thing I should mention is that Gee seems to be placing Abraham's Ur in northern Mesopotamia rather than Southern Mesopotamia in the area of Eridu.  As I have shown in other places in this blog, the Kirtland Egyptian Papers place Abraham's Ur in Southern Mesopotamia, because that was the Land of Reeds, or Chalsidonhiash, the Kassite version of which is Kardunaish.  There are quite a number of scholars in this world that are very comfortable with placing Abraham's Ur in the south.

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Final Overview of what Joseph Smith was doing with the Sensen Papyrus

I have done my part in documenting all of my findings for future scholars that want to pay attention.  So here are some of my last substantial posts to try to communicate what is going on.  I am not quitting, so much as I'm trying to document for the sake of the future, when the time will come that this will be useful.  For now, I assume its time has not come yet.  The time will come that people's minds will be better prepared for all of this.  Now, please look at this.

Do you notice anything in common with these two pictures?  Do you want to know why?  One is supposedly only a portion of text, and one is said to be an actual picture.  Yet, did you know that the first one on the left is this in hieroglyphic?:

Isn't that a picture?  It looks like one to me.  Yet both critics and apologists on both sides insist that this picture that I just showed you is only an element of text, and can only be text, under all conditions.  Yet it looks like a picture of a seated woman.  It is a picture of a seated woman.  It walks like a duck.  It is a duck.  An Egyptologist, Richard H. Wilkinson, PhD, agrees:

. . . Symbols in Egyptian art may also exhibit different meanings in different contexts in the same period of time . . . The Egyptians themselves were certainly conscious of the ambiguity in their own symbolism and even seem to have encouraged it . . . [T]here is often a range of possible meanings for a given symbol.  While we may select a specific interpretation that seems to best fit the context, other symbolic associations may also be involved.   (Richard H. Wilkinson, PhD, Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art, pp. 11-13) 
While Egyptian writing made use of all these different forms of expression in text and inscriptions, exactly the same communication principles were chosen when hieroglyphic forms were used in the construction of large-scale representations. (ibid., p. 157) 
The hieroglyphic signs essentially carried information of two types--sounds which could be used to write words phonetically, and visual images which could be used to portray objects and ideas pictoriallyThe hieroglyph which depicted a reed leaf, for example, could signify the sound of the Egyptian word for reed (i), which might be used to write other words which contained the sound, or it could be used pictorially to signify the reed itself  . . . But the phonetic and pictographic values of the signs could be utilized in different ways, both in writing words and in creation of two- and three- dimensional works of art . . . (ibid., p. 154-155)
Interestingly, the reed symbol itself as a pictograph in a word/letter game takes on particular importance in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, where it is used to represent the "Land of Reeds," which was the Land of the Chaldees, or Southern Babylonia, known as Kien-gi anciently.  The character was taken from the Sensen Papyrus text.  Please read Dr. Wilkinson's information again carefully, and then refer to it again, when someone says that little pictures in text cannot be used as pictures.

Here is the pictograph of the seated woman mentioned above in the "text."  Yes, is true that it is text.  Nobody is disputing that:

Yet here it is in one of the multiple instances from the Kirtland Egyptian Papers where it is paired with the name Kolob, unmistakably:

The second picture at the top of this article that has the same exact shape is a side portion of a mirror-image picture in the middle of one of these:

Is it meaningful to you that they both are Kolob?  I say that it ought to be meaningful to you, because it is key.

The reverse is also true.  Did you know that the "pictures" in this sculpture spell out the name Ramses in Egyptian, the name of the guy depicted in the sculpture?  Look it up.  This is accepted 100% by ALL Egyptoligists. These are text.  Did you know that?  Somewhere along the line, both Mormon Apologists that are styled as experts, and critics that are styled as experts, forgot these types of facts.  Somewhere along the line, everybody forgot this stuff.  Yet, it is in the proper framing of a mystery that things are no longer a mystery, and that a mystery is solved, and becomes comprehensible.  It is always in the proper framing that human beings can start to see things in a correct light.

Joseph Smith clearly showed that both of the first two pictures in this article are Kolob, but some claim that it was only W. W. Phelphs that claimed that the first one was Kolob, and say it doesn't translate.  Did you notice a pattern though?  Did you see a visual similarity?  I did.  And I also noticed that both are pictures.  But I also noticed that the sculpture of Ramses spelled his name.  That fact didn't stop them from being pictures.  One picture of Kolob is taken from a thing full of pictures that apologists have no problem accepting as translations of pictures, and the other is taken from something people are insisting is only a column of text, in every condition, in every case, where there can be no exceptions, they claim.  Yet it is a picture, just like the second one.  And it is translated as a picture, just like the second one.  Go figure.  The same type of translation in one case is accepted by Apologists who are experts, and the other one is dismissed as mere text, blamed on W. W. Phelps and they say that it is gobbldygook, incomprehensible, by apologists who claim to be experts.  Do you see what happened?  I do.  Study it.  Study it.  Pay attention to it, because this is the problem.  It is a problem of framing.  It is a problem of paradigm.

Do you think that is a wise position from those who claim to be experts on both sides?  I don't think it is wise.  I question it.  I hope you will too.  You ought to.  We have Mormon apologists saying that only some pictures can be pictures, and that Joseph Smith can only translate pictures that are pictures.  They all claim that he could not translate pictures that are also letters, that he called an "alphabet."  Yet, the rebus in the Ramses statue showed you an Egyptologically correct and accepted principle that is true for ALL Egyptian pictures, big and small.  Pay attention to it.  Internalize it.

Did Joseph Smith really translate the letters or even the pictures the letters are pictures of?  Or did he translate an intent the letters were used for?  It is the latter, actually.  But it all boils down to the fact that they were pictures, all of them.  The same is so with the letters of our alphabet.

Our letter A in the Latin Alphabet is not ONLY a letter originally.  It is the Egyptian ox head (Gardiner's sign list, F1).  Look at the very first entry on this page:

It is a little picture, with an ancient context, an ancient background, that needs elucidation for how it was used and why.  It is not just used to spell things out.  It is also used in things to give structure and decoration.

The translation activity in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers is the same type of translation activity that Hugh Nibley and other Egyptologists defend in the Facsimiles and their explanations.  They are interpretations of pictures instead of being a translation of a text.  In the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, each symbol extracted from the Sensen Papyrus is treated as a small picture or symbol, and iconotropically, an Abrahamic or otherwise gospel centered context is imposed on it, different from an original Egyptological context.  Yet, each interpretation is still consistent with the Egyptological meaning of each symbol, in the same way that the same is true with each translation in the Explanations for the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham.

And so, as you can see, like our alphabet and the alphabets our letters were derived from, there is quite a lot more to how the Egyptian Symbols in the Sensen Papyrus were used anciently.  These pictures are symbols used like letters of an alphabet, but not to spell things out.  Alphabets are also used to give structure and decoration and enumeration to a composition.

An analogy:  Think of a milk jug.  The papyrus and its symbols are like the jug.  The external content used to associate with this papyrus is like the milk.  A milk jug is associated with milk by virtue of what is put in it.  The jug is not the milk.  Yet the jug is associated with milk, and says "milk" on it.  But if I put water in it or juice, it doesn't change the fact that it was once a jug for milk.  I can even put gasoline in it later, after I use it for juice.  Once upon a time, this was used for milk.  None of this changes it as a container.  It never stopped being just a container.  But it is still a jug of gasoline in the end, if you never empty that out.  Its actual identity becomes closely associated with what it contains, which is what was external to it.  To create this association, you merely fill it up with something.  The liquid that was external to it, now fills it.  It may say milk on it, because that is what it was used for at first.  But now, the content that was external to it, but later filled it, is gasoline.  It is now a gasoline container.  It became that, because you used it that way.

Now, I have content or data, or milk, the thing you put in the jug:  Bob, Fred and Chuck want to run some races, a 5K, a marathon, and a sprint.  (This is like the story of the Book of Abraham, or the raw content of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.)

Now, if I want to do an outline, I have a mere structure (a type/structure, a shape of a jug):


It has no meaning (it is arbitrary/empty), an empty jug shape, until I put something in it (milk/data/content) from my content above:

I.  Participants for Races
    A. Bob
    B. Chuck
    C. Fred

II. Races
    A. 5K race
    B. Marathon
    C. Sprint

Do you see what I did, when I made an end product, a derivative composition?  It is a unified structure, an end product, between the structure of the empty outline (the "type" in Functional Programming in Computer Science) and the content (the information/data)?  Did you see how they are enumerated and marked out and given structure by arbitrary Roman numerals and arbitrary letters?

So, Sensen papyrus symbols are not meaningful in this context.  They are used as structure, a meaningless structure in itself, like the outline, and I fill in Book of Abraham related information in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, structured by the type, the structure arranged with the Egyptian symbols.  The Egyptian symbols are like the Roman Numerals that have no identity or meaning of themselves.  The letter A only became associated to Bob above by virtue of its being placed next to it in the outline.  The derivative composition is my full outline.

It is an Egyptian Alphabet in the Sensen Papyrus, because it became a thing, a useful, arbitrary sign list of Arbitrary things not unlike our own Roman numerals and our own letters that give structure to make unstructured information more useful and understandable.  The Arbitrary structure by these arbitrary things are not the identifier, the essence.  For Joseph Smith to translate the content of the text of the Book of Abraham from an empty structure is to reproduce the content of our finished outline above merely from this:


That is silly.  That's not what he did.  What he did was to start out with nothing but structure, and fill it in with content.  Why is this valid?  Because ancient people did it too with these same symbols.  They filled in Abrahamic and gospel-related content with these same symbols in a structure.  The end result becomes a derivative composition, because it is a union of the two.  The template (the jug) is mapped/unified with the contents of the jug, because it fills it.  Therefore, the derivative composition, the end product, derived from both the template and the data, the jug and the contents, become the full production, the end result, the sum total of the unification of the two.  Without the contents, the container has no identity or essence.  The jug is arbitrary.  It is just a jug.  The stuff in the jug is the identity-giver to the full production.  If you only have the structure, you can say, gee, that's a great looking structure, but it isn't useful to me until I fill it in with information.

Joseph Smith in October 1835 began "translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients."  What does that mean?

How do you translate the English Alphabet if it is structured into something useful?  Ask yourself that question.  Can you translate the letter A directly into something?  No.  So, if you translate an alphabet, what you are really doing is making something useful out of it, by giving it context and content, and in some cases, it may be to elucidate its ancient usages.  It is precisely what I did with the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet on this very blog, a set of repurposed Egyptian symbols that were used to represent each constellation on the Lunar Zodiac:

Or you can see the same document on my Alphabet Origins blog:

Here is the chart of Lunar Mansions (Constellations) from Asia with the alphabet structures that I have prepared for analysis:

Here are the Chinese comparisons with the Chinese versions of the Lunar Zodiac Constellations:

Here are the Egyptian Hieratic comparisons:

Joseph Smith used the symbols in the Sensen Papyrus, giving the symbols context, assigning them to a certain usage in one of the ways it was used in antiquity, as a structured way to give other derivative compilations structure and decoration.  He was NOT translating it as if the Egyptian Symbols in it themselves were content.  The symbols from that papyrus are structure, in the way he was using them, NOT content.  And the Book of Abraham manuscripts show a derivative between the Sensen papyrus symbols that give structure, and an English representation of ancient content that they enumerated when they gave it structure.  The same is so in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.  There are the symbols that are structure, and the assignments of content to those symbols.  It is a derivative composition, an English representation of something ancient between symbols that give it structure, and content.  And its nice when there are deliberate, meaningful connections between the symbols used for structure and the content.  There are, and that is what I refer to as the word/letter games, when people were making poetic or literary or artistic compositions in ancient times between the structure and the content.

This is why this is Kolob on the left side from the Sensen Papyrus text, and why the one on the left from Facsimile #2 figure 1 is also Kolob.  Do you notice the visual affinity?  That is a picture-letter-puzzle game between the hypocephalus (Facsimile #2) and the Sensen Papyrus text/pictures, which is ancient and deliberate, an ancient literary game going on that Joseph Smith didn't make up.  Rather Hor, the priest, probably did this:

Yet one is the hieratic Egyptian determinative for "woman" (i.e. usually a text hieroglyphic, used to give context) from the Sensen papyrus columns and one is part of the hieroglyphic for the god Khnum-Ra, the god of creation, as I showed you at the beginning.  Yet there are thematic connections between them:

Monday, October 16, 2017

Why aren't Novel, New Ideas on the Book of Abraham or KEP Adopted or Given Time of Day?

I ran into a really great quote on a Youtube video that I was watching about Computer Programming.  Douglas Crockford, Senior Javascript Architect, PayPal, stated:

This illustrates something that is really important about the way we make progress.
Progress does not wait for the next new idea.  It waits for consensus on an old idea.
We like to think that we're just waiting for someone to have an idea and then we'll all recognize it, and go, yes that's great.  And we all adopt it and we all move forward.  And that's how progress happens.  Progress is waiting for the next idea.  And that's not how it works.  The ideas happen all the time, and we're resistant to them.  And eventually, the idea is allowed to go forward.  But it takes a long time. 
So the reason the goto thing took 20 years to resolve, was that with all of the arguing, minds were not changed.  What happened was, we had to wait for a generation of programmers to retire or die, before we could make progress on the new idea.  And that happens all the time. ("Goto There and Back Again,"

He refers to the death of the Goto statement in computer programming languages.  But this principle applies to the Book of Abraham and the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, and why the Establishment Mormon Apologists, bless their hearts, as much as they deserve our respect, do not look at new ideas that they may consider still somewhat "lunatic fringe."

This blog is somewhat about apologetics in the sense that it seeks to preserve faith and provide a defense of the faith.  But the larger concern has always been about actually solving the puzzle of the evidence before us to ultimately provide a more robust explanation of that evidence in the long run.  All the sacrifices for that goal need to be made, and have been, including an understanding/realization that this will not be immediately accepted.  Because this is bleeding-edge research from the eyes of only one person, it is bound to have rough edges and flaws that only one person cannot see, despite his best efforts.  The expected result is that there will not be acceptance for a very long time, even though the theory upon ultimate acceptance at a future may require revision in some details.  But until more people take it seriously and put their efforts into helping to review and revise it, it will remain as it currently is.

Nevertheless, the time will come where there will be a demand for an explanation that is faithful, but that also explains the evidence.  Only that type of an explanation has a chance of being actually true.  If it is not this, it will be something very much LIKE this.  So the intent here is that we recognize the need to sacrifice short term popularity for actually solving the problem.  Trying to advertise or push this idea has not worked because of the current state of the climate of things.  The biggest problem may be that those that are not accepting of this are not familiar with the evidence, and the problems presented by it, so they don't realize why a solution for problem that they don't understand is needed.

The Israelites in ancient times were not able to enter the promised land until all of those that were among them were able to enter.  Because the Lord had sworn in his wrath, for the most part only the children of those who came out of Egypt were allowed to enter.  The old generation literally had to die off for there to be real progress.  In the same way, it is possible that the Book of Abraham and Kirtland Egyptian Papers issues have to wait another generation before an old idea (as this idea will be in the future) can be adequately considered by upcoming people with fresh eyes and with understanding of the evidence.  When we have people like that in the Mormon Apologetics Establishment, will see real progress.  Until then, we just have to wait.  Until then, the attitude will continue to be one of indifference toward this information coming from the Establishment.  As one leading apologist said to me one day in an email, "I'm sorry that you are ignored," while he himself continued to deliberately ignore and not consider what I was trying to tell him.  While it is true that they don't think ill of me, or say anything bad about me, which is certainly appreciated, they are also entirely indifferent.

A response to this could be, "well, they would pay attention and not be indifferent if there was something of value here, because they have probably already looked at some of your material, and from what little they did look at, it is clearly not worth their time or attention."  Well, that could be, but did they understand the material?  If they understood the material, did they understand the problem?  If they understand the problem, then do they understand why this is a solution to that problem?  99 times out of 100, the answer is no to all three.

One approach to the Kirtland Egyptian Papers material is to say that W. W. Phelphs and the other scribes are responsible, and it is all gobbldy-gook, so it doesn't matter.  So any work to say that there is anything to the gobbldy-gook is automatically not of value.  This is essentially the approach taken by one faction of the apologists, with all due respect.

Then, another approach is the one taken by Brian Hauglid and David Bokovoy and a few others.  This approach recognizes that Joseph Smith is indeed 100% responsible for the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, but the so-called translations in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers material are still gobbldy-gook.  It doesn't matter because we can show that the Book of Abraham still shows historical accuracy, so Joseph Smith didn't know how to translate Egyptian, but as a prophet, he produced the Book of Abraham material.  Some of these theorists, like Bokovoy, say that the Book of Abraham is still inspired, but it is perhaps a pseudepigraphon.  Can you see why this is an interesting apologetic, and maybe it is good enough for some apologists?  But is it a preferred scenario?  Why would we WANT Joseph Smith to be responsible for gobbldy-gook that wasn't real translations, being a human, yet still be a prophet that produced ancient, historical material in an English revelation?  In other words, this apologetic is willing to sacrifice Joseph Smith's translation ability entirely for the sake of still being able to say that the English text is authentic in some way.  Why would the pseudepigraphon explanation be preferred?  It is willing to say that the story or narrative of the Book of Abraham is not really historical, not really coming from Abraham's own writings, but that it is still a real, ancient record created by someone else who wrote it in Abraham's voice in an authoritative way (I suppose).

I can't see or understand why either of these things is preferred to an explanation that (1) says that the English text actually was originally written by Abraham's own hand in another language, and (2) the translations that Joseph Smith came up with in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers represent actual, ancient material as well, and that the translations make sense on some level in some way.  The evidence on this blog not only argues for propositions 1 and 2 here, but also has a number of examples to demonstrate it.

It is true that (1) the Sensen Papyrus is not the Book of Abraham text.  But it is also true that (2) the Kirtland Egyptian Papers are still a translation of the symbols in the Sensen Papyrus by Joseph Smith.  (3) Since it is Egyptologically correct and not disputed that the Sensen Papayrus is not the Book of Abraham text in the Egyptian Language, then it is to be expected that the translation material in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers is different from that, and would yield something else.  If people think that I have ever been claiming that the Book of Abraham text can be extracted from the Sensen Papyrus in a magical or even mechanical way, they are very mistaken.  Some believe I am saying that there was no missing papyrus.  While I believe there is no need for one, that is neither here nor there.  This works with or without a missing papyrus for the text of the Book of Abraham.  I personally prefer the idea that the original papyrus with the text of the Book of Abraham was lost in antiquity.  If you prefer the explanation that it was something extant in Joseph Smith's day, more power to you then.

Therefore, what am I saying?  I am saying that what this something else is is very important, and deserves attention, because it is a real translation on a certain level, on the same level that the English explanations for the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham are.  In other words, the translation activity in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers is the same type of translation activity that Hugh Nibley and other Egyptologists defend in the Facsimiles and their explanations.  They are interpretations of pictures instead of being a translation of a text.  In the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, each symbol extracted from the Sensen Papyrus is treated as a small picture or symbol, and iconotropically, an Abrahamic or otherwise gospel centered context is imposed on it, different from an original Egyptological context.  Yet, each interpretation is still consistent with the Egyptological meaning of each symbol, in the same way that the same is true with each translation in the Explanations for the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham.  Why should this explanation not preferred over the other ones that were discussed above, especially since this is demonstrated in these materials on this blog?  I recommend that it should be, for future scholars that look at this, and decide that it should be.

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.