Frankly, this response of Schryver makes little sense. Maybe Nomad can do better.
I don't think the problem is with Schryver's response, and I doubt I can do better than he already has. Exmormons always have a mind set that sets unreasonable demands for the "proof" of any of Mormonism's claims. For instance, I can't count how many times I have read an apostate post that suggested (in so many words) that they wouldn't believe in the Book of Mormon unless Moroni himself appeared on TV with the plates in hand, handed them over to non-Mormon researchers at a prestigious university, who then would decipher them to prove or disprove Jospeh Smith's translating abilities.
I am not sure what evidence you have that I am an apostate from the CoJCoLDS. In general, I have tried to follow the principle that an anonymous poster should not expect his or her readers to give credit to anything apart from the evidence and arguments put directly before them on the board. For that reason, I try (perhaps not always successfully, but I think generally so) to stick to an impersonal style which makes no reference to my background and experience. But if you feel more comfortable ascribing my rejection of Schryver's argument to apostate bitterness, I shall do nothing to stand in the way of your doing so.
But let's leave personalities and get down to the concrete:
In any case, as far as the present topic is concerned, Idon't believe any one has suggested that examples of a living person on the couch, a knife in the hand, and a human head on the person holding it, would all be found in the same vignette. I think the question is whether or not all of those things are valid variations for the scene.
I completely agree with that. Now of course we know why we need all those things you mention. It is because Joseph Smith produced a text, purporting to be by Abraham, in which the following words occur (Abraham chapter 1):
12 And it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar; and that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record.
13 It was made after the form of a bedstead, such as was had among the Chaldeans, and it stood before the gods of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, and also a god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.
14 That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos, which signifies hieroglyphics.
15 And as they lifted up their hands upon me, that they might offer me up and take away my life, behold, I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and he filled me with the vision of the Almighty, and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands;
As we know "the representation at the commencement of this record" was reproduced by Joseph Smith in facsimile as follows:
The labels on the picture are explained below it in the Pearl of Great Price, including the following.
1. The Angel of the Lord.
2. Abraham fastened upon an altar.
3. The idolatrous priest of Elkenah attempting to offer up Abraham as a sacrifice.
So the figure on the altar has to be a human being who, although in danger of being dead in the near future has not yet died. The attendant too must be human, and holding the knife he needs for the sacrifice.
There are two main kinds of problem here. In the first place, two crucial elements - the human head on the attendant, and the sacrificial knife - are not present on the papyrus itself, but were restored by Smith:
So we are dealing with a problem of restoration here: and if we want to restore a human-headed attendant wielding a knife, we have to find those elements somewhere else in the repertoire of 'couch scene' vignettes. That is common ground, it appears.
Now the most complete and recent review of the range of vignette elements that might be drawn upon for restoration, and indeed of all previous attempts at restoring the vignette we are discussing, appears to be the essay by Dr. Lanny Bell in the collection edited by Thompson and Der Manuelian Egypt and Beyond
(Brown University, 2008) "The Ancient Egyptian 'Books of Breathing', the Mormon 'Book of Abraham' and the Development of Egyptology in America', which may be downloaded by clicking on this link
. It takes about twenty minutes to read.
Bell's conclusions in this essay are fatal to all the elements needed to restore the damaged papyrus in a way consistent with Smith's facsimile, and with the story of Abraham's brush with death quoted above. Bell reviews a very large number of related scenes, and in none of them does he find evidence for a human attendant for a figure lying on a couch, whether mummiform or in the unwrapped and striding pose of this papyrus: when there is an attendant it is the jackal-headed Anubis all the way, apart from one instance where it is Amun-Re . As for the knife, Bell's review of iconographic possibilities leads him to conclude in his footnote 27 that "There is absolutely no justification for restoring a knife in Anubis' hand".
So no human priest, and no knife either. But can the figure on the bier be the living man Abraham, as the Book of Abraham requires? Again, no, according to Bell's thorough review. The figure on the couch, whether it is in mummy wrappings with limbs confined, or unwrapped and 'striding' as in the Smith papyrus, is always Osiris - either in the sense that it is Osiris himself or Osiris as personifying the hopes of a human tomb occupant for a resurrection similar to that of the god. The 'striding' figure is not a human being on this side of death, struggling in terror against the sacrificial knife, but one who has died awaking to new hope and life. Many of these figures have erect penises as a sign of their re-awaking vitality, while some do not. Bell inclines to think that the Smith papyrus was probably originally non-ithyphallic. I cannot (as noted in an earlier post) make any sense of Schryver's suggestion that the figure on the couch has to be alive (i.e. not yet having died, unlike Osiris and the human tomb occupants who have died and are resurrecting) because it has (in his view, following Bell) two arms raised rather than the one arm raised in most other such scenes. There seems no justification at all for this 'one arm dead, two arms alive' procedure, either in Egyptology or in simple common sense.
A non-iconographic point that needs stressing is that all these images make sense because those who viewed them knew the story of Osiris' resurrection and of his impregnation of Isis
. This was a scene of hope and renewal for the figure on the couch, helped by the ministrations of the attendant figure if there is one - and the irony is that Smith interpreted it exactly the wrong way round
as a depiction of attempted murder of a human victim by a knife-wielding attendant priest.
A final Egyptological point: no-one seems to have disputed that the bird-like figure near the head of Osiris is his returning ba
-soul, rather than Smith's 'Angel of the Lord'.
For Smith's early readers, the fact that the 'writings of Abraham' translated by the prophet were accompanied by a picture apparently showing exactly the scene that 'Abraham' describes must have been a great reinforcement to their faith in Smith and his mission.
For a modern reader prepared to look at the evidence available today, Smith's misuse of a well-understood variant of a funerary scene of the resurrecting Osiris can only have the opposite effect.