Will Schryver contiunues his legacy as a sciolist whose shoddy scholarship is second to none. What follows is the post I presented at MADB just before the moderators rushed to remove all evidence, thus liberating Will from scrutiny. Following this post I will present Will's response.
Will Schryver concludes in his article:
The contemporary eyewitness reports of a “long roll” are confirmed
He then scolds critics for questioning this:
Critics don't like the Haven and Blanchard quotes (and others) that speak of the long roll.
I highlight the plural nature of his testimonies because Will is being disingenuous in a way that would make Gee and Nibley proud.
It appears Will hasn't bothered to read the Blanchard quotation he alludes to. One which he fails to provide for his audience. To be sure, it says nothing about its length
. Incidentally, Will lifted that entire section of his article from John Gee's, "New Light on the Joseph Smith Papyri."
"a quantity of records, written on papyrus, in Egyptian hieroglyphics,"32 including (1) some papyri "preserved under glass,"33 described as "a number of glazed slides, like picture frames, containing sheets of papyrus, with Egyptian inscriptions and hieroglyphics";34 (2) "a long roll of manuscript"35 that contained the Book of Abraham;36 (3) "another roll";37 (4) and "two or three other small pieces of papyrus with astronomical calculations, epitaphs, &c."38
Why is there no citation provided from Blanchard? Could it have something to do with the fact that nothing in the citation supports their assertion? Here is the relevant portion from the source, found in Relief Society Magazine
, January, 1922:
What fun we had with Aunt Emma's boys, Joseph, Frederick, Alexander and David. How we raced through the house playing hide and seek. My favorite hiding place was in an old wardrobe which contained the mummies, and it was in here that I would creep while the others searched the house. There were three mummies: "The old Egyptian king, the queen and their daughter. The bodies were wrapped in seven layers of linen cut in thin strips. In the arms of the Old King, lay the roll of papyrus from which our prophet translated the Book of Abraham"
Contrary to Will, there is nothing from this source to indicate the roll's length
So now let's move to the testimony of Charlotte Haven. I will do what Will fails to do by provding its context from Overland Monthly
, "A Girl's Letters from Nauvoo," pp.623-624. What follows is a more detailed version of the testimony that you will not find in any apologetic treatment of the matter, for reasons soon to be obvious:
...we called on Joseph's mother, passing the site of the Nauvoo House, a spacious hotel, the first floor only laid. It is like the Temple in being erected on the tithe system, and when finished will surpass in splendor any hotel in the State. Here Joseph and his heirs for generations are to have apartments free of expense, and they think the crowned heads of Europe will rusticate beneath its roof. Madam Smith's residence is a log house very near her son's. She opened the door and received us cordially. She is a motherly kind of woman of about sixty years. She receives a little pittance by exhibiting The mummies to strangers. When we asked to see them, she lit a candle and conducted us up a short narrow stairway to a low, dark room under the roof. On one side were standing half a dozen mummies, to whom she introduced us, King Onitus and his royal household, -- one she did not know.
Then she took up what seemed to be a club wrapped in a dark cloth, and said, "This is the leg of Pharaoh's daughter, the one that saved Moses." Repressing a smile, I looked from the mummies to the old lady, but could detect nothing but earnestness and sincerity on her countenance. Then she turned to a long table, set her candlestick down, and opened a long roll of manuscript, saying it was, "the writing of Abraham and Isaac, written in Hebrew and Sancrit," and she read several minutes from it as if it were English. It sounded very much like passages from the Old Testament. - and it might have been for anything we knew - but she said she read it through the inspiration of her son Joseph, in whom she seemed to have perfect confidence. Then in the same way she interpreted to us hieroglyphics from another roll. One was Mother Eve being tempted by the serpent, who - the serpent, I mean - was standing on the tip of his tail, which with his two legs formed a tripod, and had his head in Eve's ear. I said, "But serpents don't have legs."
"They did before the fall," she asserted with perfect confidence. The Judge slipped a coin in her hand which she received smilingly, with a pleasant, "Come again," as we bade her goodby.
Amazingly, Will assures us that critics just, "want to diminish their reliability on the basis of the fact that these were young women who probably weren't really paying close attention to what was going on. I find that attitude condescending and naïve."
As is so often his wont, Will misrepresents the arguments from critics and LDS scholars
alike. Yes, you heard me correctly. According to LDS scholar, Jay M. Todd:
One wonders if Charlotte is reporting accurately. Until more evidence is gathered, the sum and value of Charlotte's report remains clouded on several issues." (The Saga of the Book of Abraham, by Jay M. Todd, page 249)
The reason her testimony is considered questionable by reasonable standards of evidence, isn't because she was just a "young woman," but because we know her memory was clouded and she did not
properly describe the material.
1) She says they were written in Sanscrit, which we know is false.
2) She says it included records of Isaac, which we know is false.
3) She mentions a roll with two records on it
, which from the more reliable account of William I Appleby, we know to be false.
4) She also fails to correctly describe the snake with legs (it wasn't standing on its tail).
But William is certain her use of the word "long" must be dead accurate, assuming her perception of long
is more than several feet.
It seems more likely that the papyri slides or sheets were laid out on the table back to back, appearing as one long roll. It is unrealistic to think Granny Smith would be constantly "rolling" and "unrolling" an eroding ancient document that was to be shown to strangers on a regular basis. The whole idea was to keep the collection preserved, and they were cut and glued to slides for preservation.
The reason apologetic versions of the Haven account never include the context probably has something to do with the fact that what Haven describes is clearly part of the extant material
. This completely undermines any attempts to prove she was referencing missing
material. These anecdotes throw cold water on apologetic hopes of establishing a missing source for the Book of Abraham, because she claims to be looking right at it!
when you stop to consider what kinds of things an 18-year-old woman would most notice in such an experience, it would be the kinds of elements we read in Haven's account: the length of the roll and the nature of the illustrations on the papyrus itself.
This is apologetic subterfuge at its finest! Will says Haven has given us the length of the roll
! She hasn't. "Long" doesn't tell us the length
anymore than "heavy" gives us the weight
The last apologetic hope, it seems, is to hang onto the word "long" for dear life. So how long
is long? By what method does Will propose in determining Haven's usage of the word "long"? He doesn't say. It seems he's just content to imply long means extremely
long or maybe outrageously
long, when it could very well be just a few feet. That seems more likely since a few feet would
appear long by comparison to the other scraps.
Will is clearly unaware of the fact that the Haven account has been address on numerous occassions
over the past three decades, and only recently has the Blanchard reference been thrown into the mix, leading impressionable and naïve folks to believe it somehow counts as a second independent witness for the supposed, "long" description. But it gets worse. Will also refers to "others" who testify to a "long" roll. He wants us to believe that there are at least four
independent eye-witnesses who explicitly say "long" roll, and that he is providing only one
of them for the sake of brevity. The fact is there exists only one! It simply doesn't get anymore deceptive than this.
But since Will wants to accuse critics of being afraid of these so-called devastating eye-witness accounts, I suppose this would be a good time to ask him why John Gee finally got around to acknowledging the William I. Appleby account in 1999, but failed to provide the context that essentially refuted the argument he was trying to make. What follows is the full context of this statement from his journal entry of May 5, 1841:
To day I paid Br Joseph a visit. Saw the Rolls of papyrus and the writings thereon, taken from off the bosom of the Male Mummy, having some of the writings of ancient Abraham and of Joseph that was sold in Egypt. The writings are chiefly in the Egyptian language with the exception of a little Hebrew. I believe they give a description of some of the scenes in Ancient Egypt, of their worship, their Idol gods, etc. The writings are beautiful and plain, composed of red, and black inks. There is a perceptible difference, between the writings. Joseph, appears to have been the best scribe.
There are representations of men, beasts, Birds, Idols and oxen attached to a kind of plough, a female guiding it. Also the serpent when he beguiled Eve. He appears with two legs, erect in form and appearance of man. But his head in the form, and representing the Serpent, with his forked tongue extended. There are likewise representations of an Alter erected, with a man bound and laid thereon, and a Priest with a knife in his hand, standing at the foot, with a dove over the person bound on the Altar with several Idol gods standing around it. A Celestial globe with the planet Kolob of first creation of the supreme being - a planet of light, - which planet - makes a revolution once in a thousand years, - Also the Lord revealing the Grand key words of the Holy Priesthood, to Adam in the garden of Eden, as also to Seth, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, and to all whom the Priesthood was revealed.
Abraham also in the Court of Pharaoh sitting upon the King's throne reasoning upon Astronomy, with a crown on his head, representing the Priesthood as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven. And King Pharaoh, standing behind him, together with a Prince - a principle waiter, and a black slave of the King. A genealogy of the Mummies, and the Epitaphs and their deaths, etc., etc., are also distinctly represented on the Papyrus which is called the "Book of Abraham."
The Male mummy was one of the Ancient Pharaohs of Egypt, a Priest, as he is embalmed with his tongue extended, representing a speaker: The females were his wife and two daughters, as a part of the writing has been translated, and informs us, who they were, also whose writing it is, and when those mummies were embalmed, which is nearly four thousand years ago.
Appleby goes into strenuous detail in explaining what exactly it was he saw. He confirms that there is a "perceptible difference" between the writings of Abraham and Joseph, pointing out that "Joseph was the better scribe." This clearly points to the Horus scroll as the source for the Book of Abraham, which, as Ed Ashment pointed out nearly two decades ago:
despite Nibley, the evidence indicates that the Book of Abraham was developed from "that badly written, poorly preserved little text, entirely devoid of rubrics, which is today identified as the [Breathing Permit of Hor]."
Contrary to Will's assertion, the abundance of eye-witness testimony describing the Joseph Smith Papyri collection points us directly to extant portions that we can clearly identify
. But I guess it is easy to make these arguments when you're only showing a fraction of the testimonies, divorced from their contexts.