Sunday, March 2, 2014

Oliver Cowdery's Interpretive Exegesis of the “Facsimiles” of the “Book of Joseph”

Now I will show what Oliver Cowdery wrote about the pictures in the papyri that Joseph Smith identified as the Book of Joseph who was sold in to Egypt.  But these pictures are found on Book of the Dead fragments among the Joseph Smith papyri.  Once again, we see that this is another case of ancient iconotropy.  Oliver Cowdery wrote the following:

The language in which this record is written is very comprehensive, and many of the hieroglyphics exceedingly striking. The evidence is apparent upon the face, that they were written by persons acquainted with the history of the creation, the fall of man, and more or less of the correct ideas of notions of the Deity. The representation of the god-head -- three, yet in one, is curiously drawn to give simply, though impressively, the writers views of that exalted personage.

The serpent, represented as walking, or formed in a manner to be able to walk, standing in front of, and near a female figure, is to me, one of the greatest representations I have ever seen upon paper, or a writing substance; and must go so far towards convincing the rational mind of the correctness and divine authority of the holy scriptures, and especially that part which has ever been assailed by the infidel community, as being a fiction, as to carry away, with one mighty sweep, the whole atheistical fabric, without leaving a vestige sufficient for a foundation stone.

Enoch's Pillar, as mentioned by Josephus, is upon the same roll. -- True, our present version of the bible does not mention this fact, though it speaks of the righteousness of Abel and the holiness of Enoch, -- one slain because his offering was accepted of the Lord, and the other taken to the regions of everlasting day without being confined to the narrow limits of the tomb, or tasting death; but Josephus says that the descendants of Seth were virtuous, and possessed a great knowledge of the heavenly bodies, and, that, in consequence of the prophecy of Adam, that the world should be destroyed once by water and again by fire, Enoch wrote a history or an account of the same, and put into two pillars one of brick and the other of stone; and that the same were in being at his (Josephus') day.  (See Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, Chapter II, Section 3)

The inner end of the same roll, (Joseph's record,) presents a representation of the judgment: At one view you behold the Savior seated upon his throne, crowned, and holding the scepters of righteousness and power, before whom also, are assembled the twelve tribes of Israel, the nations, languages and tongues of the earth, the kingdoms of the world over which Satan is represented as reigning. Michael the archangel, holding the key of the bottomless pit, and at the same time the devil as being chained and shut up in the bottomless pit. But upon this last scene, I am able only to give you a shadow, to the real picture. (As Recorded in Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, December 1835.)

Now, in his book, critical of Joseph Smith, Charles M. Larson writes, overconfidently and disrespectfully:

In light of Joseph Smith's identification of these papyri as the writings of the Hebrew patriarch Joseph, it is remarkable that the Mormon Church has failed to translate them through its self-proclaimed gift of Seer . . .
Since the papyri which Joseph Smith identified as the Book of Joseph are now available, it is fair to ask, Why does the Book of Joseph remain untranslated through the gift of Seer which is claimed to reside in the First Presidency of the Mormon Church.  (By His own Hand upon Papyrus, p. 86-87)
Larson forgets the critical fact that in the Book of Mormon, it states:

Now Ammon said unto him: I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer. (Mosiah 8:13)
Therefore I do not write those things which transpired from the days of Adam until that time; but they are had upon the plates; and whoso findeth them, the same will have power that he may get the full account.(Ether 1:4)
Now, recently, it has come out in the news, that the Church is publishing the pictures of Joseph Smith's seer stone in the Joseph Smith Papers publications.  Now, this means that the Church has a seer stone in its possession that any prophet can use.  And so, the irony here is that ANY book of the dead manuscript, perhaps the papyrus of Ani, which is a very complete copy, will do, to yield the Book of Joseph.  Because, just like with the Sensen Papyrus it was the ancient iconotropy where both the pictures and the characters in the text, were repurposed to represent the story of Joseph.  And so, when COMMANDED, a prophet can take the complete papyrus of Ani, and give us the Book of Joseph, rather than relying on these damaged copies from the Joseph Smith Papyri from incomplete chapters of the Book of the Dead.   But we have to wait on the Lord for the command to do so.  And so, Larson's criticism falls on its face, because nobody has been commanded to do this yet.  It's in the Lord's hands, and it cannot be done any sooner than he is willing to command it.  We can't just take it upon ourselves to do whatever we please.  This is the Lord's Church.