The Kirtland Egyptian Papers and Facsimiles Explanations: Ancient Code Tables

So, we have observed various patterns in the previous article, where in legends and in algegra, there are pairs, where an abstract symbol is assigned a value or definition, even though the symbol may not always literally mean what it is paired up with.

The same exact thing is happening in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers and in the Explanations for the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham.  In previous articles, we explored how the Kirtland Egyptian Papers and the Explanations for the Facsimiles are creative hybrid-documents where Egyptian symbols are paired up with definitions.  This author contends that this is an ancient phenomenon, and Joseph Smith was reconsituting the contents of an ancient Book of Abraham recension that was a hybrid document with Abrahamic content paired with Sensen characters.  It is the author's contention that this was deliberate, and it was an ancient letter/word puzzle/composition that was for a religious reason.

And the common thread that can be observed in the work on this done by Egyptologists LDS and non-LDS alike is clear.  Their common complaint, is that these characters that are being matched up with definitions never literally translate.  They say it is an incorrect translation because the translation is not literally what Hugh Nibley said it was:  An Egyptian Endowment.  Indeed, the characters do spell out an Egyptian Endowment.  But the point of this letter puzzle composition was not about what the letters/characters spelled out.  It was the creative way they were paired up with the assigned values that they were paired up with.  And the ingenious connections that the characters have with these assigned values.  The characters themselves, in this type of usage, are utterly abstract.  They are empty pictographs, until a researcher chooses to see that there are meaningful relationships between the assigned values and these pictographs.  For example, as I brought up in previous articles, Facsimie #2, Figure 1, was deliberately paired up with Kolob, because Figure 1 is a picture of the god of Creation, and Kolob is the first creation.  Ingeniously, an ancient person paired them up not because Figure 1 was literally Kolob, but because that figure shares a theme with Kolob:  Creation.  Similarly, the reed symbol, or Egyptian letter I was not selected to represent Land of the Chaldees because it literally means Land of the Chaldees.  But rather, a letter game was going on where the letter I in Egyptian is a pictograph of a reed.  And Land of the Chaldees in Sumerian is the "Land of Reeds."  Therefore, it was chosen not because it was a literal translation, but because it was a good fit for the letter game where the symbol matched a theme in the value assigned to it.

Here is what the Sensen Papyrus looks like, once again:


Notice the characters to the right of it in columns, and to the left of it in rows.  Here is what this papyrus that we have actually has on it.  Remember that Egyptian hieroglyphics and their hieratic versions are just pictures.  The symbols on the left are employed as little pictures or little symbols that are markers for sections of the Book of Abraham text as we see here:


These symbols do not contain the text of the Book of Abraham.  Through this process described above, they become pictographic representations of general themes or subject matter in the text, and of other Abrahamic material.  They are not the text itself.  See also this following illustration showing the Sensen characters on the Book of Abraham Manuscripts lined up with sections of text:


  

It has always been clear to everybody that the symbols in the facsimiles of the Book of Abraham are pictures.  Repeatedly, in the explanations for the Facsimiles we are told, this or that picture in them "is made to represent" such and such.


For example, according to the Explanation of the Facsimile #2, this figure labeled figure 3 . . .
Is made to represent God, sitting upon his throne, clothed with power and authority; with a crown of eternal light upon his head . . .
Yet, it is not only that.  It is . . .
representing also the grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood . . .
If this hieroglyphic character was not an abstraction, one would expect it to have only one clear meaning.  But it is an abstraction.  It is open to interpretation, or open to multiple assignments of meaning, dependent on what someone wants to use it for.  And so, the Explanations for these characters represent a legend for them, that give them assignments.  The characters that are pictures in these facsimiles always have some tie to the explanation, some thematic tie.


It is time to recognize now that these other hieratics and hieroglyphics that are lifted from the text (as in the pictures above) function in exactly the same way as the pictures in the Facsimiles.

Below are some selections from parts of the "alphabet and grammar" sections of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, which do not contain text from the Book of Abraham, but related Abrahamic concepts, many of them directly tied to the Book of Abraham text, and are lined up along-side Sensen characters in the same fashion:






Therefore, what we have here in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers is a letter game with value assignments in tables.  This was an ancient cipher, so to speak, an ancient code-table, not an ancient dictionary with literal definitions for characters.  Remember, in the previous article, we made a distinction between a legend and a dictionary.  A legend in a map is where an abstract symbol is paired up with a value assignment, or an assigned definition.  While this shares a structure with a dictionary, it does not match precisely with a dictionary, because it is more akin to a legend than it is a dictionary.  These are abstract character mappings with assigned definitions in this literary game.  It is not a literal dictionary with literal definitions, as apologists and critics alike have assumed for so long.

In William Schryver's work presented in the FAIRMormon Conference of 2010, Brother Schryver saw in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers a cipher (i.e. a code-table or key for a code).  Yet, Schryver insists that it is a cipher that is the modern invention of Joseph Smith's scribes.  Contrary to his deductions, it is indeed a cipher, just of ancient manufacture.  And Joseph Smith reconstituted it under the direction of heaven.  Joseph Smith's scribes did not invent it.  Kudos to Brother Schryver in seeing in it a cipher.  Unfortunately, he didn't go far enough.  The relationships evident in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers between the characters and the values/definitions they are paired up with show clearly that a person would have had to know the actual Egyptian meanings of these characters and would have had to have deliberately chosen to use them as pictographs, or in other words, individual letters, lifted out of their original context in an Endowment text.

I invite the reader to explore my blog posts going back several years where I detail more of these evidences for these ancient mappings in this ancient literary composition from an ancient Greco-Roman Egyptian.