Some people have found this summary helpful for what I'm talking about in this blog.
There is a thing that the Church has in its possession called the Sensen from Ancient Egypt. This is the document that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Abraham, because the characters in it were re-used in an ancient document that was partially derived from the Sensen characters. This document is missing, and so, Joseph Smith was trying to reconstitute it.
Most people think that this papyrus has both pictures and text on it. I'm asking you to consider that the Book of Abraham (Sensen) papyrus has no "text" on it at all (at least not the way it was used). That it only has pictures on it, that each little character is actually a picture instead of being a letter, and that these pictures tell parts of a story.
People were so caught up in thinking that these are text, when Joseph Smith's translation notebook uses them instead as little pictures that tell parts of a story, the same exact way the big pictures in the Book of Abraham are used. They wanted to ignore Joseph Smith's translation notebook, because they couldn't make sense of it. So why would somebody say the Book of Abraham Papyrus is missing when we have it before us and it is simply a picture book? And we have Joseph Smith's notebook to tell us what the pictures were used for.
**ANCIENT CONSTRAINED WRITING EXPERIMENTS WITH FREEDOM AND ARBITRARINESS, AND PERHAPS RANDOMNESS IN COMPOSITION, YET BEING TIED DOWN WITH FORM AND RULES, LED TO THE ASSOCIATION OF THE STORY OF THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM WITH THE SENSEN PAPYRUS, BEING ONE OF THE POPULAR USAGES FOR IT
Its not that the Sensen papyrus is the Book of Abraham in particular. Its that, the Sensen Papyrus and its characters were involved in derived or hybrid ancient constrained writing experiments in various priestly circles with any number of things, including the production of an ancient document that contained the story and/or text of the Book of Abraham, and used Sensen characters creatively.
And so, the story of Abraham was one of the things that it came to be associated with these characters in this papyrus over time. But this puts no limitation on what the Sensen Papyrus could or would have been used for. In other words, it is the Book of Abraham by virtue of external dependencies and input from the user of the derivative document (because that derivative document was a new invention). The book that Abraham originally wrote anciently was a separate document, but this document called Sensen came to be associated with it, and the symbols in it were used to represent things in it, like illustrations in a picture book. And so, in a derivative, hybrid document, the Sensen characters were repurposed to go along with the text of the Book of Abraham.
And like illustrations in a picture book have captions that describe a picture in modern times, these ancient pictures had a key in that derivative document that tell you about what is going on in the picture. These pictures required the provided external keys or explanations to tell you what is going on in them, or at least, in this case, how these pictures were being employed in this particular case. And these external key documents were structured like poems or constrained writing in this derivative composition. Joseph Smith's documents in his notebooks and manuscripts are modern re-creations of these ancient keys in this derivative document that are no longer available.
In some sense, this practice was almost random or arbitrary, like Aleatoricism, and so, this principle shares some common ground with the principle of basis of Iconotropy. Exception aleatoricism implies randomness. Iconotropy wasn't always just a random thing, but also a deliberate thing. These pictures could be used for almost anything, so that external dependency (derivative document, which had the function of a key) was required to anchor them down. But there is no arbitrariness in the sense of doing whatever one wants with them. There are certain ways this had to be done (i.e. there were rules to the "game"), just like all Egyptian art has a certain form to it regardless of what one decides to represent. One can represent what one wants within the bounds of the rules, so long as one defines this by external dependency or an external key. Because it is constrained by form and rules like other constrained writing/word puzzles such as Acrostics, Lipograms, etc. It is only through research that all of the constraints on these things are known, because they are peculiar to this case, yet have parallels to constrained writing systems we are familiar with, which is why we can only say it is like such and such thing in this or that way. It isn't precisely these, yet it is like these.
See the following for more on that topic in particular:
**PICTOGRAPHIC SYMBOLS INSTEAD OF TEXT (REPURPOSING OF LETTER SYMBOLS INTO PICTURES)
Our alphabet that we use comes from an ancient alphabet which was nothing but Egyptian pictures that people repurposed to have sounds (Proto-Sinaitic). Frequently, they were used as literal pictures to represent literal things, as well as sounds. Egyptian letters in the Egyptian Alphabet were no different, and were used to represent things.
An Egyptologist, Richard H. Wilkinson, PhD, University of Arizona, wrote that there is a "fluidity of Egyptian theology, which allowed and encouraged free association of ideas . . ."
And he writes:
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. (Richard H. Wilkinson, PhD, Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art, pp. 11-13, emphasis added)
The same author went on to say:
Symbolism of form may be expressed at "primary" and "secondary" levels of association . . . In primary, or direct, association the form of an object suggests concepts ideas, or identities with which the object is directly related. So in many works, an object associated with a specific deity thus suggests that god or goddess--or by extension, a concept connected with that deity . . . (ibid., pp. 16-17, emphasis added)
At the primary level, the symbolism is direct and objects are shown in the forms they are meant to represent. Thus, the djed pillar, an ancient symbol associated with the god Osiris and sometimes said to represent the backbone of the god, symbolized both the deity and the concept of support and duration . . . (ibid., p. 30, emphasis added)
And this is why, Kolob, sharing the fundamental CONCEPT or THEME EVIDENT in the mythology for the god Khnum-Ra (i.e. creation), Kolob can therefore be represented BY the hieroglyph for Khnum-Ra. And while some people object to the idea that text hieroglyphics could be used as pictures, Wilkinson assures us:
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, emphasis added)
This is why, if somebody repurposed Facsimiles, it shouldn't surprise us that they also repurposed the little pictures too to represent things instead of being a text. This is the mind-block problem or prejudice that scholars have against Joseph Smith's notebook, because people most often think of components of a "text" and focus so much on that idea that they think it doesn't translate. That is absurd, when to the Egyptians there was no conceptual difference between big and small pictures. Furthermore:
In fact the hieroglyphic signs form the very basis of Egyptian iconography, which was concerned with the function of making specific symbolic statements through pictorial rather than written means. The embedded or "encoded" hieroglyphic forms also frequently interact to some degree with the texts or inscriptions with which they are associated . . . (ibid., p. 152, bold, emphasis added)
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 pictorially. The 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. (ibid., p. 154-155, emphasis added)
You will see in this blog why the reed is so critical, because it is used by Joseph Smith as a pictograph of a reed, which is used to represent Land of the Chaldees, yet Egyptologists that are Mormon and non-Mormon alike think that is not correct. Yet here, we are assured by Wilkinson that it could stand to represent a reed, and that a hieroglyph that represents something could by extension and association represent something else because of the flexibility and free flow of ideas, so long as there is a conceptual tie between them, or some other kind of association. As you will see, there is a fundamental thing that ties the Land of Chaldees to the picture of a reed, and it isn't crazy.
**ABSTRACTIONS THAT MARK OR ENUMERATE CONCRETE IDEAS OR THINGS. NON-LITERAL, BUT DEMONSTRABLE ASSOCIATIONS THAT TIE A SYMBOL TO A MEANING ASSIGNMENT
Some people think that this is some sort of "hidden" thing or encoded message. Not so. This is the usage of abstract symbols that are pictures with external context-helpers in the derivative external document having the function of a key. That means that things outside of them tell you what their intended meaning is. That isn't really an encoding. This is just plain different from that type of thing, and it is not an encoding. An encoding means that something can be unencoded. This type of thing cannot be unencoded on its own. It requires something outside of itself to tell you what it means.
And so, try to think of the characters in the Sensen Papyrus this way: A character shares something with the thing that it represents, but isn't literally that thing, but the reason it can represent it is because of the structure or pattern it shares with it, and a linkage was made to both character and the thing it links to in a document that we do not have now. Because its structure or pattern makes it fit with it. This structure or pattern may or may not be something visual. Or it may be a number of associations on a number of levels, where it not only somewhat resembles something but also has linguistic or thematic association. It might be a pattern in it that is an aspect of its mythology, etc. And so, you know that they fit together through the shared pattern.
An example or analogy of what I'm talking about: A very pixelated and blurred picture can be derived from a high-res photograph. And it can be demonstrated through the same process that it can be reproduced from it multiple times. Therefore, it can be shown that it belongs with it, or is tied to it, because it still looks like it, even though it is blurred or pixelated. Nevertheless, the reverse is not true. If you don't already have the high res photograph, it cannot be reproduced or reversed from the blurred/pixelated photograph, because data has been lost in the process when the blurred/pixelated version was first created. You simply cannot get a high-res photograph from a blurred/pixelated version of it. Even though the blurred or pixelated version isn't literally the high res photograph, you can know that it fits with it.
So, this is not encryption. This is something more along the lines in computer programming called a "hash" that is only a one way thing. The relationship of the literal thing to the symbol can be seen only if the literal thing is known, not the other way around. In other words, this is totally a one way thing, like hashing. If you care to see the technical difference between encoding and hashing, here is this:
In other words, for this to make any sense, it has an external dependency, an external, derivative composition or table that gives structure and assignments of meanings or linkages. There is nothing in the document that gives you what you need to make sense of it. You must have something outside of the document, a derivative composition, in the first place so that you know the meaning that is intended.
In Software Engineering, if you know the literal meaning, you can check it against the hash and you can see that it fits with the hash. But the hash cannot be reversed. The hash itself can give you no information about the thing that produced it or the thing that it is a place-holder for. You can only see that it fits with the hash by having that information and checking it with the hash.
This is kind of like how a finger leaves a fingerprint. The fingerprint is not the finger, but you know that by checking a fingerprint on something with the pattern that is on someone's finger, and if they match, that they touched it. The abstract symbol is just like the fingerprint, and the finger is like the thing that fits with the abstract symbol. It is a literal, concrete thing that left the print. So, a more literal, concrete thing or concept would fit with the abstract symbol. Because when you look at the two of them, you can see that they share a pattern, and that they match.
**SOMETHING AKIN TO "CONSTRAINED WRITING" OR "WORD PUZZLES," NOT TOO FAR OFF FROM AN ACROSTIC, WHERE A DEMONSTRABLE TIE OR ASSOCIATION OR LINKAGE EXISTS BETWEEN A SYMBOL AND THE VALUE THAT IT ENUMERATES OR MARKS OR REPRESENTS
The "glossary" as some people call it, or the table of value assignments, was revealed to a seer, and that is what made it useful to us, because it was a derivative document in the first place. This is the information that we have outside of the document. This "table," so to speak, are the meanings assigned to characters. These meanings assigned are to be found in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers (Joseph Smith's translation "notebook") and in the explanations for the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham. This is what constitutes the glossary.
The characters are not useful without the information external to them, because it is a one-way thing, as I described. Without the "glossary," you cannot see how the abstract symbols relate to the things they are meant to represent. Once you have the glossary, then the relationships between the symbols and the things they are made to represent become evident. I have shown the relationships to the symbols and their assigned meanings, and in every case, there are two facts:
1) The symbol doesn't LITERALLY mean what the assigned meaning says it means. 2) The symbol always only shares attributes with the thing it represents, so they are tied together with the attributes they share in common.
(1) Osiris = Abraham. Osiris mythologically shares many attributes that Abraham had literally.
(2) Reed Symbol, or Egyptian uniliteral Letter I = Land of the Chaldees. The vocalization in the KEP is Chalsidonhiash, which is Joseph Smith's vocalization for the Kassite place name Karduniash, which is southern Babylonia, (i.e. Land of the Chaldees). The Sumerian name of the place was Land of Reeds, or Kiengi, which is how it appears in their pictographic writings in the cuneiform. So as you can see, Abraham was from the Land of Reeds, and the reed symbol was used to represent it pictographically. On its own, the reed symbol is the letter I, and means nothing. But when a glossary or table of meaning assignments is given, you can see that an abstraction (reed) was a suitible symbol to be used for a concrete value assignment (land of reeds). And when you know the general meaning of Egyptian hieroglyph, and you can see a meaning assignment that is meaningful that manifests what the abstract symbol has in common with its meaning assignment, you can see through simple reasoning that it is not literally saying land of reeds. It is however a suitable abstract symbol to represent land of reeds when you have that value assigned to it. An analogy to this type of "constrained writing" or "word puzzle" technique is the ancient acrostics in the Bible, in the Book of Psalms. A letter is given an assignment, even though the letter doesn't mean the thing that it enumerates. It shares something or some pattern or theme in common with the thing that it enumerates, making it a suitable symbol to enumerate it. In the case of an acrostic, the association is that the thing it represents starts with the same letter that is used to enumerate it. Yet it is still just a letter, and so it isn't so much a "translation" of that letter, so much as it is that there is a demonstrable association. So this technique between the Sensen Papyrus characters and the Kirtland Egyptian Papers explanations is not precisely the same as an acrostic, but shares some things in common with it. This isn't precisely the same as a "variable" usage for a symbol as in algebra, but it approximates it in that it has an abstraction that is assigned a meaning, or at the very least, is an enumeration of a value with a demonstrable tie or association between the symbol and the value, like an acrostic is an enumeration with a demonstrable tie.
(3) Khnum-Ra = Kolob. Khnum-Ra is the God of creation and Kolob is the first creation. They share a thematic attribute making the abstract symbol (Khnum-Ra) a suitible place-holder or representation of Kolob through that theme: creation.
Each character was like a variable that had no real meaning on its own. It was only the ASSIGNED meaning that made the character useful. On its own, the Khnum-Ra character (Facsimile 2, figure 1) was useless until somebody gave it a value. It makes sense that it is assigned the value of Kolob, because the character has a theme of creation, and the meaning assigned to it also has a theme of creation. Do you see how they fit together, and why the character was a valid thing to assign this meaning to it?
And the list goes on and on and on. Each symbol shares the same pattern: a non-literal symbol with attributes in common with the concrete/literal value assignment or linkage, making it a suitable symbol to represent the thing that it is made to represent as long as you have the thing that is the context helper, the thing that gives the value assignment to the abstract symbol. And like other types of "constrained writing" or "word puzzle" techniques in derivative compositions, it has a form, a pattern and constraints and rules. By itself, the symbol doesn't have enough to offer anyone to help them understand what concrete or literal meaning should be applied to it without the thing that gives it meaning that is an external table of meaning assignments or glossary.
Here is an outline of my theory as well, if you care to see it: