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 Post subject: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:53 am 
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I took yesterday off from following the KEP soap opera. From the level of comments, it looks like most people took the day off from following the KEP soap opera. I'm glad that that I took the day off, it was a good chance to remember the big picture about BofA apologetics: that there is no theory which accounts for all of the data.

This is might sound pretty ironic for me to say, since I have been trying to convince young maklelan that he should focus more on having a believable theory rather than a theory that accounts for everything. However, maybe young maklelan will realize that if he wants to account for everything, then explaining only a small part of the BofA doesn't really do much in the big scheme of things. Of course I am sure I am making methodological errors and I am lacking in academic polish, which I have no doubt maklelan will be happy to point out for me.

But let's just suppose for a second that either Willy or young maklelan can make their case with 100% certainty and everyone, apologist and critic, agrees that their theory is rock solid and correct. Yes, this is sheer fantasy, but so are having missing Q documents appear and disappear whenever convenient, so I feel a bit justified in indulging in fantasy. So, everyone agrees that the KEP provide no evidence that Joseph Smith thought he could translate Egyptian. Therefore that proves that Joseph Smith did not think he could translate Egyptian, right? Nope, as Paul O. is always pointing out, the facsimiles clearly show that he thought he could. And last time I checked, the facsimiles were in the LDS scriptures, while the KEP were safely locked away in the 1st Presidency's vault. So, even if they convince everyone about KEP they still have not accomplished the real goal, which is to separate Joseph from any hint of thinking he can translate Egyptian.

And that's the real problem for BofA apologists, there is just too much interlocking evidence and no theory I am aware of can account for all of the evidence. Now, I'm not expecting every last detail to be accounted for, hence I am not a hypocrite for telling young maklelan to prefer believability to explanatory power. But, I do think that there are several big pieces that should be accounted for:

1) The mistranslation of the facsimiles
2) The misinterpretation of the facsimiles
3) The botched restoration of the facsimiles
4) The dependence of the BofA on the KJV version of the Bible.
5) The anachronisms in the text BofA
6) The fact that that the papyri are dated at least 1000 years too late to have been written by a historical Abraham
7) The fact that the papyri have nothing to do with Abraham and there is no good reason to think that a common late Egyptian funerary text would have anything to do with Abraham.
8) The KEP looking very much like someone thought he/she could translate Egyptian

And there are others which I am too lazy to look up right now. So, do any of the theories to date account for these things? No, they don't, at least not that I am aware of. The missing scroll theory (thanks sock puppet), the catalyst theory, the Jewish redactor theory, the mnemonic device theory, the scribes did it theory, the cipher theory, and the dictation + copying + missing Q source theory don't explain all of these things. Some account for more than others, but none that I am aware of are able to explain everything.

If I am wrong about this, then I am sure someone will be good enough to point out where I am wrong. In any case, I wish maklelan the best of luck, but in the end what he is doing matters very little in the bigger scheme of BofA apologia.


Last edited by Aristotle Smith on Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:39 am 
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Aristotle Smith wrote:
I took yesterday off from following the KEP soap opera. From the level of comments, it looks like most people took the day off from following the KEP soap opera. I'm glad that that I took the day off, it was a good chance to remember the big picture about BofA apologetics: that there is no theory which accounts for all of the data.

* * * * *

But let's just suppose for a second that either Willy or young maklelan can make their case with 100% certainty and everyone, apologist and critic, agrees that their theory is rock solid and correct. Yes, this is sheer fantasy, but so are having missing Q documents appear and disappear whenever convenient, so I feel a bit justified in indulging in fantasy. So, everyone agrees that the KEP provide no evidence that Joseph Smith thought he could translate Egyptian. Therefore that proves that Joseph Smith did not think he could translate Egyptian, right? Nope, as Paul O. is always pointing out, the facsimiles clearly show that he thought he could. And last time I checked, the facsimiles were in the LDS scriptures, while the KEP were safely locked away in the 1st Presidency's vault. So, even if they convince everyone about KEP they still have not accomplished the real goal, which is to separate Joseph from any hint of thinking he can translate Egyptian.

And that's the real problem for BofA apologists, there is just too much interlocking evidence and no theory I am aware of can account for all of the evidence. Now, I'm not expecting every last detail to be accounted for, hence I am not a hypocrite for telling young maklelan to prefer believability to explanatory power. But, I do think that there are several big pieces that should be accounted for:

1) The mistranslation of the facsimiles
2) The misinterpretation of the facsimiles
3) The botched restoration of the facsimiles
4) The dependence of the BofA on the KJV version of the Bible.
5) The anachronisms in the text BofA
6) The fact that that the papyri are dated at least 1000 years too late to have been written by a historical Abraham
7) The fact that the papyri have nothing to do with Abraham and there is no good reason to think that a common late Egyptian funerary text would have anything to do with Abraham.
8) The KEP looking very much like someone thought he/she could translate Egyptian

And there are others which I am too lazy to look up right now. So, do any of the theories to date account for these things? No, they don't, at least not that I am aware of. The catalyst theory, the Jewish redactor theory, the mnemonic device theory, the scribes did it theory, the cipher theory, and the dictation + copying + missing Q source theory don't explain all of these things. Some account for more than others, but none that I am aware of are able to explain everything.


Aristotle, I think the mopologetic playbook for Abr goes like this:
1-Break the tie-in that the KEP makes between the Hor Breathing Permit papyri and the English text of Abr. Most problematic is the hieratic characters in the left hand margin of the Abr Mss scribed by Phelps, Williams and Parrish. Tactically speaking, Will and mak are trying to establish this by arguing that (a) there was a parent text, although it is missing, and (b) there were no hieratic characters on the missing parent text. They will use the dittograph at the end of Abr Ms 2 (Williams scribed) as their chief evidence for both--and that is why it is, for them, a hill worth dying on (sacrificing credibility, if need be). If they succeed, the hieratic characters on the Abr Mss we have were obvious insertions after the original translation, and should not be expected to correlate as a translation of one language into another.
2-Without that tie-in between the Hor Breathing Permit papyri and the English text of Abr, the "missing" scroll theory--one you did not mention--becomes viable again. How can Egyptologists say Joseph Smith was wrong, or worse a fraud, if they have no Egyptian characters that were the source to compare against the translated English text. Since we do not have the missing papyri, we're back to pre-1967.
3-As Will has suggested, he can see the Facsimiles being taken out of the LDS canon. The excuse might be that scripture needs to be just verbiage, not images. Joseph Smith was just musing with images. Only text has ever been intended by God to be sacred scripture, something the Saints of the late 19th Century did not appreciate when canonizing the images. What God was really wanting canonized was just the verbiage text of Abr.

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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:43 am 
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I read through the actual product of this work (the text of the book of Abraham) and did not find it life changing or even necessary (or even helpful) for the whole of mankind in the 19th, 20th, or 21st century. God would not go out of his way (and break consistency) to show us some text of very little value.

That is my big picture interpretation of the BofA mess.

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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:48 am 
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sock puppet wrote:
2-Without that tie-in between the Hor Breathing Permit papyri and the English text of Abr, the "missing" scroll theory--one you did not mention--becomes viable again. How can Egyptologists say Joseph Smith was wrong, or worse a fraud, if they have no Egyptian characters that were the source to compare against the translated English text. Since we do not have the missing papyri, we're back to pre-1967.


Thanks, I put "missing scroll theory" in the list. I can't believe I forgot that one!

sock puppet wrote:
3-As Will has suggested, he can see the Facsimiles being taken out of the LDS canon. The excuse might be that scripture needs to be just verbiage, not images. Joseph Smith was just musing with images. Only text has ever been intended by God to be sacred scripture, something the Saints of the late 19th Century did not appreciate when canonizing the images. What God was really wanting canonized was just the verbiage text of Abr.


The problem for Will is that the facsimiles ARE canon. And, even if they are de-canonized (which isn't going to happen), it still shows Joseph Smith thinking he translated Egyptian. Decanonization adds the obvious problem of having to explain why the decanonization is driven by apologetic necessity, not by prophetic leadership.


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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:53 am 
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zeezrom wrote:
I read through the actual product of this work (the text of the book of Abraham) and did not find it life changing or even necessary (or even helpful) for the whole of mankind in the 19th, 20th, or 21st century. God would not go out of his way (and break consistency) to show us some text of very little value.

That is my big picture interpretation of the BofA mess.


You are right, they are not helpful.

And you knew I would bring in context here, so here goes. This is another thing the apologists steadfastly refuse to do. We know when these documents were written. They have a very definite context. Yet, the apologists refuse to look at the context, because they know that in context they are common Egyptian funerary documents with no connection to Judeo-Christian beliefs. I.e. the context is damning here.

I take that back. The proponents of "the catalyst theory" will look at the context. But for them it's all just an academic exercise because the papyri themselves are completely useless.


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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:07 am 
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Aristotle Smith wrote:
sock puppet wrote:
2-Without that tie-in between the Hor Breathing Permit papyri and the English text of Abr, the "missing" scroll theory--one you did not mention--becomes viable again. How can Egyptologists say Joseph Smith was wrong, or worse a fraud, if they have no Egyptian characters that were the source to compare against the translated English text. Since we do not have the missing papyri, we're back to pre-1967.


Thanks, I put "missing scroll theory" in the list. I can't believe I forgot that one!

sock puppet wrote:
3-As Will has suggested, he can see the Facsimiles being taken out of the LDS canon. The excuse might be that scripture needs to be just verbiage, not images. Joseph Smith was just musing with images. Only text has ever been intended by God to be sacred scripture, something the Saints of the late 19th Century did not appreciate when canonizing the images. What God was really wanting canonized was just the verbiage text of Abr.


The problem for Will is that the facsimiles ARE canon. And, even if they are de-canonized (which isn't going to happen), it still shows Joseph Smith thinking he translated Egyptian. Decanonization adds the obvious problem of having to explain why the decanonization is driven by apologetic necessity, not by prophetic leadership.

The shovel of explanation for de-canonizing the Facsimiles could go like this: "God was only inspiring Joseph Smith in the translation of the Abr text. Joseph Smith was not 'speaking as a prophet' but just trying to figure the images on the papyri out on his own. After all, Joseph Smith could not translate Egyptian on his own, as the Explanations to the Facsimiles show, without divine assistance. God was making it possible for Joseph Smith to translate the text of the Book of Abraham from Egyptian characters. But Joseph Smith was 'on his own' in trying to figure out what the Facsimiles meant. So without the power of God helping him, he could not translate the Egyptian and the Explanations amount to nothing more than the musings of Joseph Smith in trying to figure them out."

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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:17 am 
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zeezrom wrote:
I read through the actual product of this work (the text of the book of Abraham) and did not find it life changing or even necessary (or even helpful) for the whole of mankind in the 19th, 20th, or 21st century. God would not go out of his way (and break consistency) to show us some text of very little value.

That is my big picture interpretation of the BofA mess.


Abr is a mess. It was used by Smith as a vehicle for introducing to the Saints a variety of new teachings and practices not found in the Book of Mormon, which is examples of civilization when obeying God and hedonism when not (such as portrayed in Lord of the Flies), a repeat of the New Testament principles, and accounts of wars. As far as principles to live by, just a New Testament re-hash.

Later, Smith got imaginative or downright strange. United Order, Polygamy, temple endowment, word of wisdom (despite his own imbibing), astronomy claims, King Follett sermon, Council of Fifty, etc. By 1835, and as some of these new "teachings" were coming along via bald revelations for the Book of Commandments, some Saints were questioning him, some dissenting and proclaiming continued belief in the Book of Mormon but not in Smith's subsequent proclamations. The Egyptian papyri and his "ability" to translate it was "proof" to the doubting Saints that he was yet God's prophet.

Intrinsically, no great value in the Abr text (much less the Facsimile explanations) as to what the Saints needed to know or how to live their lives. But as a tool to help keep the Saints in the fold, very instrumental.

I am not sure what the impetus was in early 1842 to dust off the Abr project, by then neglected for six years, and get it published. I expect that is something that Don Bradley and Chris Smith might be working on.

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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:22 am 
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sock puppet wrote:
The shovel of explanation for de-canonizing the Facsimiles could go like this: "God was only inspiring Joseph Smith in the translation of the Abr text. Joseph Smith was not 'speaking as a prophet' but just trying to figure the images on the papyri out on his own. After all, Joseph Smith could not translate Egyptian on his own, as the Explanations to the Facsimiles show, without divine assistance. God was making it possible for Joseph Smith to translate the text of the Book of Abraham from Egyptian characters. But Joseph Smith was 'on his own' in trying to figure out what the Facsimiles meant. So without the power of God helping him, he could not translate the Egyptian and the Explanations amount to nothing more than the musings of Joseph Smith in trying to figure them out."


I doubt that will happen. But if it does, there are so many problems going about it in that way that it will be laughable. I mean the first question would be, "How do you know that the facsimiles are him speaking as a man and the rest is him speaking as a prophet?"

Besides, even if they do this, it still leaves points #4 and #5 on my original list.


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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:29 am 
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Aristotle Smith wrote:
sock puppet wrote:
The shovel of explanation for de-canonizing the Facsimiles could go like this: "God was only inspiring Joseph Smith in the translation of the Abr text. Joseph Smith was not 'speaking as a prophet' but just trying to figure the images on the papyri out on his own. After all, Joseph Smith could not translate Egyptian on his own, as the Explanations to the Facsimiles show, without divine assistance. God was making it possible for Joseph Smith to translate the text of the Book of Abraham from Egyptian characters. But Joseph Smith was 'on his own' in trying to figure out what the Facsimiles meant. So without the power of God helping him, he could not translate the Egyptian and the Explanations amount to nothing more than the musings of Joseph Smith in trying to figure them out."


I doubt that will happen. But if it does, there are so many problems going about it in that way that it will be laughable. I mean the first question would be, "How do you know that the facsimiles are him speaking as a man and the rest is him speaking as a prophet?"

Besides, even if they do this, it still leaves points #4 and #5 on my original list.

I suppose the Church can live with #4 and #5--after all, they have to regarding the Book of Mormon anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:31 am 
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sock puppet wrote:
I am not sure what the impetus was in early 1842 to dust off the Abr project, by then neglected for six years, and get it published. I expect that is something that Don Bradley and Chris Smith might be working on.


I can see one, the temple endowment. If you want to show that it is ancient, what better way than to discover that it is on ancient Egyptian papyri penned by father Abraham himself. Facsimile #2 does incorrectly identify Min and his phallus with God revealing the grand keywords. Not to mention the promise that some of the stuff will be shown only in the temple. Nibley has always argued that this stuff represents "an Egyptian Endowment" of sorts.


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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:59 am 
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Aristotle Smith wrote:
Facsimile #2 does incorrectly identify Min and his phallus with God revealing the grand keywords.


Actually, this is how Father Abraham revealed certain things that bcspace has discussed.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14291&p=352168&hilit=penis#p352168

And as far as where the Church is going to go with all this Book of Abraham apologetics stuff, I have already explained that:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14303

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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:08 am 
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Darth J wrote:
Aristotle Smith wrote:
Facsimile #2 does incorrectly identify Min and his phallus with God revealing the grand keywords.


Actually, this is how Father Abraham revealed certain things that bcspace has discussed.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14291&p=352168&hilit=penis#p352168


Yes, I noticed that bc hasn't commented on the telestial thread I started for him to discuss this.

Darth J wrote:
And as far as where the Church is going to go with all this Book of Abraham apologetics stuff, I have already explained that:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14303


Comedy Gold!


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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:34 pm 
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VELMA: Maybe if we look for some clues, we can get to the bottom of this mystery.

Image

SHAGGY: Zoinks! Like, man, this Abraham stuff sure is weird!

SCOOBY: Right, Raggy!

Image

MUMMY: Jah-oh-eh, Enish-go-ondosh, Flo-ees, Flos-is-is!

FRED: Okay, gang! Time to unmask this mummy and find out who really wrote the Book of Abraham!

Image

ALL: Joseph Smith!!!

JOSEPH SMITH: And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!

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 Post subject: Re: BofA Apologetics: The Big Picture
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:41 pm 
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Darth J wrote:
MUMMY: Jah-oh-eh, Enish-go-ondosh, Flo-ees, Flos-is-is!


Darth, you just salvaged my testimony. Flos-is-is contains is-is, which is clearly a reference to the Egyptian goddess Isis. How could a country bumpkin like Joseph Smith know about Isis? Therefore he knew Egyptian. It's so clear!


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