Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Egyptomania and Ohio: Thoughts on a Lecture from Terryl Givens and a Questionable Statement in the Joseph Smith Papers, Vol. 4

In a lecture I heard from Terryl Givens, one of my favorite LDS writers and thinkers, I was intrigued with his views on Egyptomania and its influence on Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham. His lecture is "Joseph Smith and Translation: Notes Toward a Theoretical Framework," The Mormon Translation Conference, Logan Utah, 16 March 2017, available on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYkEPHH2xB8. Here's my transcription of a key segment from 14:15 to 15:50 in the video, as Givens explains how he thinks Joseph thought about Egyptian hieroglyphs:
We've had a few references today to Nineteenth Century Egyptomania. The point that I want to make is that the kind of Egyptomania that I think might have been most relevant to Joseph Smith's religious fashioning predates the Napoleonic engagement with Egypt. It goes back to the Early Modern period. And I'm going to just summarize this very quickly for you by saying this, that the notion of hieroglyphs in particular in the Enlightenment and Romantic circles carried echoes of priestly powers of expression and discernment. But the term was also taken to imply an almost mystical concision and economy of expression unknown to modern languages. Many language theorists working in the Nineteenth Century to try to trace language to its Adamic form were convinced that the further back you go, the more compressed and concise language becomes. By the time you get to the hieroglyph, ... you have the linguistic equivalent of a kind of neutron bomb, so that the notion being that here is a priestly emblem that has magically and mystically oracularly condensed within itself worlds of meaning which only a priestly power can unlock and allow to blossom into fullness. When I think of Joseph Smith laboring over the Egyptian Papyri and the whole Abrahamic cosmology that emerges out of this, it seems to me that we get a perfect understanding of how the hieroglyph was understood.
Interesting and eloquently expressed, but to me this seems painfully unaware of some essentials. Givens here places Joseph into the mindset prior to the Napoleonic engagement with Egypt, meaning, of course, that Given's feels Joseph and his brethren were somehow swept up in Egyptomania without being aware of the hottest news in the world of Egyptomania, namely, that the Rosetta Stone had been found showing Egyptian to be a running language like Greek, hot and widely discussed news from 1799, coupled with the 1822 news that Champollion had begun to decipher Egyptian. These were key drivers for Egyptomania in the 19th century, and cannot be so readily excised from Joseph's world. Givens' view arguably would divorce Joseph from his environment in 1835 and from the very Egyptomania that supposedly inspired him.

Even if the Joseph Smith of 1835 were still in "uneducated farm boy mode" and had been unaware of Champollion before purchasing the mummies and scrolls from Chandler, Chandler and the many other educated people who would come to Kirtland to see the artifacts and meet Joseph surely would have broken the well-known news to him: "What, you didn't hear? It's largely a phonetic language that can be deciphered; it's not all mysticism with vast treasures of text hidden within each character."

Givens' view, romantic as it may be,  also requires divorcing Joseph from the Book of Mormon. Joseph's views on Egyptian arguably should not depart wildly from the views expressed by Mormon in the manuscript Joseph translated. Mormon in Mormon 10:32 tell us that:
[W]e have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.
The reformed Egyptian of the Book of Mormon reflected speech. It must have been phonetic, or at least the reformed script Mormon referred to, like the reformed Egyptian script of demotic. That sensible view is wildly incompatible with the romantic notions Givens and others want to see in Joseph's approach to the Book of Abraham. But there's more to consider. On the Joseph Smith Papers website, you can see this quote from Joseph as he discusses the title page of the Book of Mormon, which came from the last plate (not the last character!) in the Nephite record:
I would mention here also in order to correct a misunderstanding, which has gone abroad concerning the title page of the Book of Mormon, that it is not a composition of mine or of any other man’s who has lived or does live in this generation, but that it is a literal translation taken from the last leaf of the plates, on the left hand side of the collection of plates, the language running same as ​all​ Hebrew ​ writing​ in general​. 
It was a running language. Not an utterly mystical one where each squiggle could be paragraphs of English. With his experience in reformed Egyptian behind him, does it stand to reason that once he saw the Egyptian scrolls in 1835, he would suddenly reverse course and see it as pure mysticism completely unlike Hebrew, no longer phonetic or a running language?

Further evidence against such a view comes from Joseph's comments on the meaning of the Facsimiles. The four hieroglyphs for the four sons of Horus become a remarkably concise "the four quarters of the earth," a statement that is actually quite accurate (but you aren't going to hear that from critics). Other statements he makes regarding the facsimiles and the characters tend to be equally brief. No sign of magical compactness with neutron bombs of meaning waiting to be unfolded. That idea died swiftly, though not universally, as news of the translation of the Rosetta Stone spread. It was old news when Joseph saw the scrolls.

Unfortunately, Givens' view may have been shaped by an unwarranted opinion from the editors of Volume 4 of the Joseph Smith Papers, one of whom, Brian Hauglid, is a co-author with Givens on an upcoming book of the Pearl of Great Price (coming out in August), where, sadly, I expect the beleaguered Book of Abraham might receive a little more unnecessary beleaguering based on the popular model of Joseph erroneously seeing worlds of text in a few squiggles, and, if my fears come true, the Book of Abraham treatment will lack discussion of the many treasures in favor of its antiquity and in favor of other models of the translation. After all, Hauglid has openly expressed his hostility to "apologetics" and has denounced the LDS Egyptologists who have pointed to many important evidences which genuinely need to be considered. In Volume 4 of the Joseph Smith Papers, we read the questionable view that Champollion's work really wasn't well known until decades later and that it did not really changed the way typical people thought about Egyptian. Here's the statement from the opening pages:
Even after Champollion's groundbreaking discoveries, though, some continued to assert competing theories about Egyptian hieroglyphs, whether they rejected Champollion's findings or were ignorant of them. Indeed, in America in the 1830s and 1840s, Champollion's findings were available to only a small group of scholars who either read them in French or gleaned them from a limited number of English translations or summaries. (Volume 4, p. xviii)
That's an astonishing assertion. Americans in the 1830s had not heard of Champollion's work? Only a tiny group of scholars were in on the news? And should we also believe that news of the Rosetta Stone and its related implications had also gone unnoticed in the U.S.? Sure, the detailed scholarly work of Champollion was for scholars, but the headlines were for everyone. Was there Egyptomania or not?

Was Champollion an unknown in Joseph's day? If so, one clue might be found in books and newspapers that mention Champollion. Do they need to take several sentences to explain to all the non-scholars and non-French speakers just who he is and what the Rosetta Stone was in order to bring readers up to speed, or do they act as if everyone knows the man and what he did? Below is an 1828 newspaper from Delaware, not far from where the Saints were. The source is the Delaware Journal, October 10, 1828, page 2, available at the Library of Congress' Chronicling America site (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov):



Here it is taken for granted that readers know who Champollion is, and that his first name need not be given, just M. for Monsieur. It is taken for granted that readers know that he has translated Egyptian hieroglyphics, and even the Rosetta Stone need not be mentioned. That he can read an Egyptian scroll is taken for granted. That's not news -- the news is what might be on the scroll. This was an era when people knew of Champollion. How could there be Egyptomania without being aware of the most amazing news in the history of Egyptology, that Champollion had begun to decipher Egyptian? And what the Rosetta Stone shows us is that a reasonable number of Greek characters correspond to a reasonable number of Egyptian characters. 

Maybe folks in Delaware were up to speed on this, but perhaps you are wondering about the more remote netherworld of Ohio. Could those more rural folks, perhaps swept up in their own agrarian brand of Egyptomania, have heard anything of the Rosetta Stone and its translator? The following story from an Ohio newspaper in 1837 does remind us of the history of the Rosetta Stone, but assumes readers understand its multilingual nature. Champollion and Dr. Young are mentioned as if readers will know these famous men with no need to give their first names or the details of what they did regarding their "discoveries concerning hieroglyphic language of Egypt." The source is the Maumee Express, November 18, 1837, p. 2, also available at Chronicling America (hat tip to Val Sederholm):

(Click to enlarge)


Critics of the Book of Abraham and even some faithful LDS writers have proposed that crazed Egyptomania fueled the imagination of the early Latter-day Saints, leading them to believe that Egyptian was a purely mystical language where a single character could require paragraphs of text to convey the intricate details hidden within. Such thinking was rapidly overthrown by the 1799 discovery of the Rosetta Stone and especially the 1822 translation work. Val Sederholm does a great job in describing what that would mean for ordinary people in Ohio during the Kirtland era (the text below is an excerpt from his I Began to Reflect blog, "What did Joseph Smith say about the nature of Egyptian hieroglyphs?"):
What did Ohioans in Joseph Smith's day know about Champollion's cracking of the Egyptian hieroglyphic script?

The Maumee Express, dated 18 November 1837 (page 2), gives us the answer.

In a notice entitled "Antique," [shown above] we read that "The Currators [sic] of the Albany Institute [Albany, New York] acknowledge the donation of a copy in plaster of the Rosetta Stone, now in the British Museum, from Henry James Esq."

The notice, doubtless published in various states, goes on to say: "The interest of this piece of antiquity is increased by the fact that all the discoveries of Dr. Young and Champollion concerning the hieroglyphic language of Egypt, originated in a study of the inscription on it."

One thing to admire about this little notice is how it tosses off "all the discoveries of Dr. Young and Champollion" without elaboration. Ohioans, and other Americans, back in 1837 knew more about "all the discoveries of Dr. Young and Champollion" than do Ohioans today.


Professor John T. Irwin has written about how these sensational discoveries awoke American intellectual--and, yes, imaginative--curiosity among academics and the populace at large. "In 1829 Henry Wheaton, the noted legal historian and diplomat, published in the North American a twenty-five-page review of one of Champollion's works." By 1831 Edward Everett was already publishing lengthy, widely-distributed, articles on the question of Champollion's priority over Thomas Young, while at once dismissing Athanasius Kircher's older views about hieroglyphs as metaphysical emblem with snorts of disdain: "utterly baseless;" "laboriously absurd" (John T. Irwin, American Hieroglyphics, 4-5). On the other hand, "laboriously absurd" also perfectly describes the symbolic priestly writing at Dendara, a system of hieroglyphic writing students struggle to grasp even today. And at Dendara we find the great astronomical ceiling, the mapped Egyptian heaven, ironically the object of Everett's attention. 

I'm just looking over the shoulder of a typical Ohio farmer in 1837, as he opens his newspaper and nods knowingly. . .


Egyptology sprang from the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799. Because the stone bore a text in hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek, the world thereafter knew that "the hieroglyphic language of Egypt" was a running script as Greek was a running script, or perhaps as Chinese was a running ideographic script. 1799 thus marks a clean break between timeless speculations about the metaphysical nature of the script and what scholars now plainly saw on the Stone. The news went everywhere--even to the American frontier.

And to the South--and on to Hawaii, where the work of Young, Champollion, and Rosselini was pondered beneath the palms of Kona and Waikiki (The Polynesian). 
The Edgefield Advertiser (South Carolina), dated 12 April 1838 (pg. 1), has much to say about the work of Champollion:


"The genealogical and chronological table of Abydos, discovered in 1818, by Mr. Bankes, so well studied, explained, and commented upon by Champollion [see, they knew a lot about all this], and which is universally regarded as the most interesting and precious monument which has been drawn from the ruins of ancient Egypt since the celebrated stone of Rosetta. . ." (the italic added).

Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/


The above sampling, easily multiplied, shows both keen interest and an easy familiarity--not to know about these breakthroughs in 1837 would be like not knowing about the railroad or the steam engine.

One thing is for sure: the documentary evidence upsets conclusions put forward by the editors of the latest volume of the Joseph Smith Papers (Documents 5): "Though French scholar Jean-Francois Champollion came to recognize the phonetic nature of Egyptian hieroglyphs during the 1820s and early 1830s, his ideas were not fully embraced or widely published until decades after his death in 1832" (p. 81, italic added). "Though news of Champollion's work had reached the United States by the 1830s, few Americans had access to it or understood the significance of his work on Egyptian hieroglyphs" (83 n. 354; Isaac Stuart's translation of Greppo's essay on Champollion, Boston, 1830, is mentioned). 

There is a need to sort out the basic difference between Champollions's written work and his winged ideas.

Professor Irwin hits the nail on the head: "The name Champollion appears in some of the most important literary works of the American Renaissance". . . "Yet for most modern readers, it is a name that requires an identifying footnote" (Irwin, ibid., 3). Ohioans in 1837 didn't need a Jean-Francois attached to their Champollion.
If we want a "a perfect understanding of how the hieroglyph was understood," we need to quit looking at the Book of Abraham and the Kirtland Egyptian Papers with a blurry romantic lens. We need to pay attention to what Joseph Smith actually said and did. The Kirtland Egyptian Papers, whose dates may be much later than the Joseph Smith Papers Project indicates (see "Moses Stuart or Joshua Seixas? Exploring the Influence of Hebrew Study on the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language"), simply cannot reflect the translation in process, no matter how appealing,  romantic, or scholarly that seems, but represent some strange and perhaps romantic effort after at least much of the translation was done, an exercise that was quickly abandoned. It's time we consider the data more fully and with the proper lens.

Though I disagree with some of the views that Dr. Terryl Givens has expressed, I remain a fan and am very appreciative of his many excellent LDS-related works. Things are complex with the Pearl of Great Price, though, and popular theories among scholars (and critics) can lead to blindness and painful errors. I've made many myself as I blog and write, and recognize that I also need to called to task when I blunder. That's how we learn and progress.

For Brian Hauglid, whose transformative journey has unfortunately challenged the faith of some impressionable Latter-day Saints, may I suggest that you step back and learn from the Book of Mormon before you reconsider what the Book of Abraham documents actually show.  Have a conversation with Jack Welch and the things he has learned about the early Book of Mormon manuscripts, especially the clues from the mistakes that scribes make when they are transcribing dictation versus copying an existing manuscript. Then evaluate the claims of Dan Vogel regarding the two manuscripts that Dan and you believe reveal Joseph Smith dictating fresh text for the Book of Abraham from a few characters in the margins. With that added awareness, it may become apparent to you that some important assumptions in your transformative journey was wrong. Then look at the influence of Hebrew study on the KEP, including Moses Stuart's strange Hebrew coin letter for letter #2, beth, which just happens to be exactly the same as the Egyptian Counting document for the number 2. That and the other obvious uses of Hebrew letters in the KEP strongly suggests that the dating of the GAEL and other key documents must be much later than you and our critics have been assuming. Reset your assumptions, drop the hostile accusations and recognize that your fellow mortals make all sorts of mistakes but may be acting in good faith, Joseph Smith included, and seek guidance on how you should balance the legitimate question marks with the significant body of non-abhorrent apologetic data that deserves more room than you've left for it in your recent remarks. The Book of Abraham is puzzling, but wonderful, and need not be recast as mere human error from a prophet who didn't know the first thing about translation. Indeed, the nature of his translation from the reformed Egyptian of the Book of Mormon suggests that at least when speaking as a prophet through the power of God, he somehow knew a great deal about that running language.


This post is part of a recent series on the Book of Abraham, inspired by a frustrating presentation from the Maxwell Institute. Here are the related posts:

31 comments:

Clark said...

I think you're right that more attention has to be paid to popular understanding about Egyptian and not just the more "mystical" tradition in the hermetic, masonic and platonic traditions. I think the latter definitely are an influence but simultaneously those interested in Egyptian almost certainly would be paying attention to the understanding of the prior decades and not just Kircher's ideas or what persisted in the masonic mythic tradition.

Anonymous said...

I love the way that what Joseph wrote about Egyptian can be evidence of his knowledge of Champollion, but the BoA’s passages about “intelligences” etc. are not evidence of Smith’s knowledge of Philosophy of a Future State.

It seems that if the evidence goes against Smith, we get snide cracks about his non-existent “vast frontier library.” If the evidence favors Smith, then Jeff assumes a much more liberal and realistic view of the way ideas circulate in a culture. Since I’ve been chiding Jeff on the latter point for some time now, I guess I should be glad for this progress, however partial.

Now if Jeff would only start thinking seriously about his apologetic methodology, which regularly (and quite predictably) generates methodological artifacts that he mistakes for “bull’s eyes.”

— OK

Jeff Lindsay said...

OK, I'm a little disappointed when you repeat the same things with declarations of triumph rather than reading and processing my responses. I've provided a fairly detailed response to Fawn Brodie's highly irresponsible and unreliable claims of plagiarism from Thomas Dick both here to some degree and at The Interpreter. Please read and consider my remarks in "Joseph Smith’s Universe vs. Some Wonders of Chinese Science Fiction," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 29 (2018): 105-152. While you are there, please read some of the many other articles there. They might be helpful to you.

In that article, I mentioned that the word "intelligence" for soul was a relatively widely used religious term. For Joseph to use a term from his environment is hardly a case if "plagiarism" -- that's what language is. Language, of course, involves terms and concepts expressed in ways we pick up from our environment. "Intelligence" was not a telltale invention of Thomas Dick, whose teachings actually contradict some of Browdie's claims. If you think "intelligence" for a human soul is a unique invention of Thomas Dick, then simply Google it in Google Books, and set the time filter to 1600 to 1835. You can search for the plural only, which will give you fewer but more focused hits. It was out there. Consider, for example, this 1792 publication as it speaks of fallen souls or "lapsed intelligences" and their need for redemption through the Atonement of Christ. A good reminder! May we all pursue transformative journeys in that direction.

Jeff Lindsay said...

There's a difference between general concepts that are "out there" and unusual trivia that requires a specific source. "Intelligences" was out there, Champollion was out there, but Olishem as a place near Ur, the four sons of Horus as the four quarters of the earth, metal plates as an ancient form of preserving scripture, Nahom/Nehem as a specific place in Yemen, and Bountiful as a green place due east of Nahom, were not concepts one can reasonable expect to have been "out there" in Joseph's environment. In fact, he was mocked for many of these "bulls-eyes". Finding rare European maps with Nehem's name on it does not provide a reasonable explanation for Nahom in the Book of Mormon. Finding scattered unique and unusual concepts in books that Joseph probably didn't read or have access to does not explain the origins of the Book of Mormon or the Book of Abraham. There needs to be a reasonable mechanism for the transmission of that information. Intricate details don't circulate the way exciting headlines do.

Anonymous said...

Jeff - I'm majorly disappointed when you repeat the same things with declarations of triumph rather than reading and processing many, many of the solid retorts in a decade of comments on your blog. Nahom, metal plates, etc., all thoroughly debunked and you consistently run away from rejoining because you can't. OK pointing out that your language games lack a principle of scientific rigor called falsifiability, was pointed out a long, long time ago. When its right, its a translation, when its wrong its voice of the translator. You originally denied any Mormon ever played the voice of the translator game, only to become one of your favorite games.

Jeff, when are you ever going to address any of the substantive items instead of repeating the same debunked inane items over and over again.

Anonymous said...

Because Givens and Hauglid fundamentally misunderstand the nature of Joseph Smith's revelations, we're going to get a lot of unhelpful and uninteresting things from them in this book.

Anonymous said...

A couple of quick questions, Jeff:

First, what are the odds of flipping a coin ten times and having the coin come up exactly in this order? —

heads
heads
tails
heads
tails
heads
tails
tails
tails
heads

Second, how would you estimate the odds of Joseph Smith having some knowledge of View of the Hebrews, a map of Arabia, a Captain Kidd book or map depicting Moroni and Comora, The Late War, etc. (add a half dozen or so other works the critics claim Smith might have drawn from).

What would you give as a ballpark figure as the odds that Smith, despite his lack of formal education, his lack of access to big libraries, etc., might have been able to peruse these works?

— OK

Anonymous said...

"There needs to be a reasonable mechanism for the transmission of that information."

And your reasonable explanation is divine intervention? The two don't exist together.

For OK's theory to be infinitely more reasonable, all he must do is prove that the items you listed above were known. For your theory to be reasonable, you must first prove that God exists, second, that he interferes in the doings of man, third that he chose Joseph Smith as his mouthpiece, and fourth that Joseph got it right. I'd like you to start at the top. . .

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that that your Champollion argument proves anything. Consider this quote from him regarding Egyptian:

"It is a complex system, writing figurative, symbolic, and phonetic all at once, in the same text, the same phrase, I would almost say in the same word."

Does Champolion tell us that one symbol can't represent multiple lines of text?

Conflict of Justice said...

OK,

The issues you bring up are soundly debunked, and not relevant to the discussion. The only actual similarity to View of the Hebrews is the idea that Hebrews migrated to America, which many people have theorized. The similarities to The Late War are nonsense, carefully framed by CES Letter and others to look similar, but not alike when viewed in context. It is pure confirmation bias. You can see similarity between two things when you want so badly to have evidence Joseph Smith looked it up. It's why conspiracy theorists are absolutely sure aliens visited the Mayans when they see a gold figurine that looks like an airplane. Captain Kidd and the Comoros theory is a Wikipedia hoax based on falsehoods. The island's name was Comoros, not Camora as CES Letter and other Antimos allege, and the city Meroni didn't have that name until after the Book of Mormon was published. Antimos are desperate to build some kind of narrative for how the Book of Mormon was created because it seems so impossible if you don't believe it is divine. It's easy to take snippets of things out of context and draw a false association.

As for the actual issue of this excellent blog post by Lindsay, even the "experts" and church schools are prone to look at things outside of proper context and see what they want to see, and rather than tilt bias toward the church narrative this inevitably seems to tilt things toward a skeptic narrative. It's an interesting phenomenon. I am very grateful we have people like Jeff Linsay fact-checking and scrutinizing evidence.

Anonymous said...

Conflict if justice - most critics I know do not think Joseph Smith used the late war. It merely indicates the similarity of using a King James version style of narating and that such a technique is obviously not unique to Smith. The late war represents an excellent proof of concept that predates the Book of Mormon. the evidence for camorah islands and Capt kidd is stronger than the late war tid bit, but even most critics think it is a weak item, but does surpass Jeff's standard of plausibility, but there way more interesting items to critique.

CoJ, you r guilty of everything you're accusing OK of. Your hypocrisy, double standard is kind of a the whole point.

JoePeaceman said...


Another awesome article, thanks Jeff. This is important. In the past I’ve just accepted the idea that early LDS had no helpful knowledge of Champollion. I haven’t had time to read all of what you’ve written previously but, if I understand correctly-
as you are ingeniously pointing out, before WWP created the GAEL: they (or he) had a rudimentary knowledge of Hebrew and the structure, with meanings, behind the original characters of the alphabet (perhaps some of this is from the discussion in Stuart’s GofHL). This knowledge may show Stuart's influence (if not Seixas). And, (I think you’ve discussed some of this previously) evidence also indicates that they, or he, had some previous knowledge of how the BofA story would play out, if not a complete knowledge of up to Abr. 3. They also clearly had some knowledge of Semitic and Egyptian names, culture, places, etc. etc., and perhaps some Greek (Egyptus, and so on).
Also, interestingly, they didn’t consider Joseph to be a linguistic authority (disagreed, even debated pronunciations, etc. sought for a different teacher, and JS was excited about getting one, etc.) but probably did see a relationship between some of the most ancient writing on the BofM plates and Hebrew, Egyptian, and Adam. All of this fits well with the evidence as provided by Gee, Sederholm, you, etc.
Vogel and Co.s claims seem less and less logical each day.
It would be interesting to know more about what Brian is thinking on this one....

JoePeaceman said...

ANONYMOUS, OK??
Hi, again- nice to see that you’ve tried to work in some on-topic and upbeat thoughts this time :). I also enjoyed reading CofJ and Jeff’s patient responses. I’m a bit behind on my reading. Could you please point me to evidence showing how familiar JS was with Philosophy of a Future State? It might be a big step forward for your desire to enlighten. One thing is, if JS were a fraud, and was trying to convert Americans, Dick would be an excellent source. Cowdery quotes him in support of our future state, yet, Smith goes against so many of Dick’s central themes- e.g. as Jeff pointed out, “intelligences” was a commonly used 19th C. word, BUT as he probably also pointed out, Joseph’s “intelligences” were our eternal selves, un-created, disembodied, etc. Dick’s "intelligences" were created, and were general living things (i.e. included animals, angels, etc. but NOT rocks, etc.) apparently created by an ex-nihilo type God. If Critics find that out, they’ll probably argue that Joseph never actually read P of a FS. If you have evidence showing that he really had recently been reading it (Brodie, Palmer, etc. seemed to have evidence that JS spent a lot of time studying it but, unfortunately, I'm unaware of them sharing that evidence before passing). This evidence could more firmly help establish his independence on that one, along with all the others.

And, with as little diversion as you can muster, could you please point out where you gave “...solid retorts in a decade of comments on your blog. Nahom, metal plates, etc., all thoroughly debunked…” The best links to Jeff's previous blogs should do, not much time here. I’ll do my best to give some accolades if you’ve finally done it…. “debunked Nahom, metal plates, etc.” :) And, with that kind of moxie and dedication, you could probably make a lot of money working for hate groups and such, so why limit it to Jeff, if u do?

Thanks, much appreciated. <3

Ramer said...

JoePeaceman, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but don't expect the non-OK Anonymous to actually give you anything you asked for. I've interacted with him in the past, and all he does is assume the absolute worst out of everyone he responds to and use the assumption to insinuate that you are the one doing all the bad things you've said, complete with blatant lies, ad hominem insults, and unsourced blanket statements.

(Watch - now he's going to make a comment like that about me. Start the clock!)

JoePeaceman said...

Thanks for the tip Ramer :), seems like he's an anti-Mormon then...those are the symptoms, as I understand them ;) He must know there's a huge difference between being aware of relatively widespread stories of Champollion cracking the phonetic aspects of Egyptian VS limping 400 miles (or even the critic's 40 (why not drop a zero or two?) to Western PA, to find a fitting place name for Lehi's party (did he sneak a peek at Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien und den umliegenden Ländern or Heron's translation, Or?), traveling back in time to create the connection between Native Americans and Semites, knowing steel swords would be discovered from Nephi's time, and so on and on and on.....

Anonymous said...

“point me to evidence showing how familiar JS was with Philosophy of a Future State?”

Joe,

Interesting that the similarities aren’t evidence enough for you. It seems your standard for evidence changes when a couple of quotes about Champollion are given. Can you point us to evidence showing how familiar JS and his cohorts were with Champollion and his work?

JoePeaceman said...

ANONYMOUS OK??
The similarity between JS and Dick's spellings of hundreds of words, including "intelligences", could be used as evidence that JS had read Dick's Philosophy as a child, while he was gathering the necessary information for his future BofM, BofM, BofA, etc. But, at least by 1833, Joseph was using the word "intelligences" in completely different ways, even though he still spelled "it" Dick's way! So, even if they originally used the same 1824 dictionary, Joseph somehow managed to branch off in his theology.

And, I'm not sure how long I've had the privilege of knowing and being watched by you, but if you've noticed those subtle changes I've been making in my standards, you've been paying far more attention to me than anyone else is, and that's really kind of you.

And yes, I happen to know of an enlightening blog from a guy going by the screen name "Jeff" (I believe some call him "Lindsay"), he provides evidence for "how familiar JS and his cohorts were with Champollion and his work".... I hope that helps you with your desire to help other people at all times : ). Is there anything else I can do to repay your kindness?

Hope you don't mind if I ask you some questions, you might be the only one awake this time of day:
Were you able to find the decade of comments where you "thoroughly debunked" metal plates, Nahom, etc.?

And, more on topic, do you lean more towards Vogel's explanation of the origins of the BofA (paragraphs from a character) or do you believe it was less miraculous? I just have such a hard time understanding how people could believe all that, when it makes little sense....almost like they're saying the BofA came from thin air, rather than papyri or revelation....just don't get it bro., no offense to your beliefs or anything (if you feel that way), just trying to understand.

Anonymous said...

Joe,

You’ve been responding to a person who doesn’t sign his posts “OK.” Why would you assume you are responding to “OK”?

I am not the poster “OK,” though I agree with most of what he posts on here because it makes sense and has roots in sound academic research and knowledge. You on the other hand, have an interesting combination of smugness and ignorance that makes for an entertaining, if unenlightening read.

“if you've noticed those subtle changes I've been making in my standards, you've been paying far more attention to me than anyone else is”

One need only read your posts above to see your shifting standards. You ask for specific examples of “how familiar JS was with Philosophy of a Future State” to prove that it influenced Smith, but when Jeff provides examples of some American writers referencing Champollion as evidence that JS knew the Egyptian code had been cracked, you take that claim at face value. I’m merely requesting that you maintain your high standards and provide us with examples of JS or anyone within his circle referencing Champollion.

For those who have studied literature, it’s easy to find evidence of the 19th century in all of the works Joseph translated. Combine that with finding specifics in the BoM that were available to be had in Joseph’s time, and you have evidence enough that they were borrowed. Then, as I mentioned above, it is up to you to prove divine intervention, which is much more difficult to do. The more reasonable explanation is that the information was borrowed.

JoePeaceman said...

OK, so you're not OK...I still love you : ),
even though you might be missing the point..s. I’m almost certain that JS was influenced by Thomas Dick, and even you are, obviously, influenced by him. The off-topic question was- if Joseph was that enamored with Thomas Dick (and I was hoping you could give even more evidence to support that he was), why didn’t he actually go along with more of what Thomas taught? Yes, they used similar Bible based cultural languages (as Jeff may have explained over a decade) but JS disagreed in fundamental ways. Dick was popular in the States. Oliver quotes him at length to support his own faith. Joseph was likely even more familiar with his work than Champollion’s (the more the better) and it would be a shrewd and gainful move to “restore” (wink wink) teachings similar to Dick’s Bible philosophy. BUT, Joseph’s teachings on intelligences, creation, (for examples), etc. and The Book of Abraham’s teachings on cosmology, etc. go against Dick’s in unpopular ways. It’s almost as if JS thought his “philosophy” was the philosophy of men. With all of his gifts, JS could have lived a long, wealthy, and easy life if he would have only conformed a bit more to America’s popular Protestantism.

JoePeaceman said...

And, for the rest of your questions?- I don’t know if Joseph knew the code has been cracked, but Jeff gives evidence that shows that it is more likely than I once believed. There is a good chance that he could have known. It might be a waste of time explain but, notice that I said “In the past I’ve just accepted the idea that early LDS had no helpful knowledge of Champollion.” Now there’s evidence that I MAY have been wrong to simply assume that. Not “JS knew the Egyptian code had been cracked” but, yes, I do take the newspaper articles “at face value” as a matter of maintaining “high standards.” I don’t need to provide examples “of JS or anyone within his circle referencing Champollion” to sustain my beliefs that it might be wrong to assume that JS didn’t know about Champollion. It’s an assumption that I made without any legitimate evidence to back it up. Jeff has done a great job of overturning THAT assumption. We will need further evidence if we are to know for sure…. On the other hand, you’ve made some specific claims of having accomplished certain tasks for decades. I only asked you to point me to the blog and a clear comment. : ) See, my standards VS your standards. Different, and different is OK : )

“For those who have studied literature, it’s easy to find evidence of the 19th century in all of the works Joseph translated.” Of course, he lived in the 19th Century. “It’s a cow farm, gonna be cows outside” That’s like arguing that Isaiah wasn’t inspired because he “wrote after the manner of the Jews”, or arguing that Moses isn’t a prophet because he shows Egyptian influence in his revelations, they should be universal, right? Maybe he should have given commandments about phone usage?

“Combine that with finding specifics in the BoM that were available to be had in Joseph’s time, and you have evidence enough that they were borrowed.” Big leap of faith for U? Lets use Nahom as an example, the Liahona, the Semitic/Native American religious connection, etc. e.g. please show how you demolished Nahom, or etc. so I know what we are discussing. And, we could converse on those topics on a BofM blog, this is more interesting right now.

“Then, as I mentioned above, it is up to you to prove divine intervention, which is much more difficult to do.” Not really (i.e. why is that up to me? Every truth seeker is obligated to answer that question for himself, and not more difficult)

“The more reasonable explanation is that the information was borrowed.” NOW we can get back to our topics….Reason, logic, evidence

JoePeaceman said...

Gotta stay focused if you want to save the world, not-OK-Anonymous. You’ve probably missed your opportunity to help enlighten the world with even more evidence that Joseph was enraptured with Thomas. It’s very interesting that critics have been forced to put in so much effort to explain away the BofA. Why not just take it at face value? Instead, y’all have come up with a complex scenario claiming Joseph had to have sources, but this is mainly a statement acknowledging that he couldn’t have just made it up. There are too many details, too many targets, and so on and on, but, alas--) I’m here because I have some different questions. It started with wondering how someone as awesome as Brian could dis on people as awesome as Gee, Muhlestein etc. (others by association might include Nibley, and those of us who can't see logic in Dan) AND accept arguments as illogical as those presented by Vogel. Now please stay focused not-OK Anonymous, yes, Brian might be simply shooting for niceness but, why not be nice to the faithful also? So, I might be missing something, and would appreciate your focused help in understanding. Here’s a question: the Critic’s idea that the KEP represent the actual translation makes very little sense to me, will you share evidences and reasons, etc. for your hope (if you have any) that Joseph actually pulled the BofA out of his hat (so to speak), rather than having an actual source?
Right now, the more sensible idea seems to be that Joseph actually gave us an ancient record and, less importantly, that WWP, WP, and FGW had a BofA manuscript in hand when they created the JSP/KEP manuscripts (partial, if not substantial). This was the assertion of Kerry, etc. There is abundant evidence for that, and Jeff has shared much of it. What evidence is there to the contrary?


I hope Jeff doesn’t mind if I post some longer comments today. Here’s some trivia about why I’m here, and not going away until Dan, Brian, Muhlestein, Gee, etc. agree and make up ;) : I’m no scholar. I did graduate from High School (Utah’s Kearns, go cougs, yay :)). I have “some college,” but chose to work in a bread factory, following a youthful belief that it was legitimate work, more helpful to humanity, etc.--thinking emoji ; ).
I now put in long hours, sometimes troubleshooting with “Logix” software, and gathering information from machine Operators, supposed experts (Engineers, PhDs, etc.), replays, etc. and I eventually put together puzzle pieces, then test, and assess the truthfulness of breakdowns, routines, etc. by using logic- AND, OR, BUT, IF THEN, on/1=“true”, off/0=false, etc. If I make a big mistake, people could die. I’m not always right, nor are others. Some operators even lie, etc. BUT logic is useful, machines work well when the logic is correct... no need to send sophistry in my direction : ), not that you are, just sayin.

Anonymous said...

Joe - don't understand "you could probably make a lot of money working for hate groups and such". Are you starting with a poisoned well? If you are, then you have already proven that you are like others here, Jesus himself could appear to you and logical explained to you your errors in reasoning and you would call him a liar, so what is the point?

Anonymous said...

“With all of his gifts, JS could have lived a long, wealthy, and easy life if he would have only conformed a bit more to America’s popular Protestantism.”

You’re right. He fell into the trap that most cult leaders fall into—he couldn’t keep his hands off the ladies.

JoePeaceman said...


Dude, don’t give in to doubt. Stay the path :), you know I love you and I’m not at all intimidating (you’ve seen my credentials). Just saying there are hate groups, people trying to destroy faith, discourage primary teachers (get them to stop teaching children to: be kind, love neighbors, avoid drugs, be honest, take care of the earth, etc. etc.), and etc. They would be thrilled if you really had destroyed Nahom (not that it makes a difference to the truthfulness of the BofM, there’s sufficient evidence without that), but they, and we, know the BofM is an untouchable survivor. On the bright side, it might not be too late to join Jeff and others in sharing the beautiful message of the Restoration.

JoePeaceman said...

But, if you must stay on the spacious porch (so to speak), you can still be helpful in legitimate ways by honestly and openly joining me in seeking truth : ) Admitting that the BofM is true is a big first step toward approaching neutrality on BofA questions. There's no need to divert or anything else... You see, critics can't be neutral on the BofA. Any hint of the miraculous discredits their lives, incomes, etc. so they must turn blind eyes to most of the evidence.
You and I don't need that!
Having accepted the historic nature of the BofM sets us free! We can go in to BofA studies without needing it to be true OR false---this might not be making sense to you but think about it---we can accept that the BofA was a mistake OR that it wasn't, without losing anything. I can look at it without fear, with an open heart, no need to attack or close my eyes.
Critics can't do this. They have needs, reputations, motives, etc. (we all do, but I'm not going to fall to pieces either way).....so, let her rip tater chip... : ).

Q 1- do you really believe Vogel when he says the KEP represent the translation? If so, why?
Q-2 how do you explain the evidence for the BofA in context of Vogel's assertions (doesn't have to be Vogel, but you know, he's sort of a critical piper?

Anonymous said...

Joe - Who said anything about the BoM not being true? Like you said, Nahom has nothing to do with truth of the BoM. Everyone knows that the BoM is true and so is the Koran. Duh. How does accepting historic nature set us free? Free from what? Why can't we be whatever this free is, without accepting the historic nature of the BofM? How does a person destroy a hypothetical place (Nahom)? Do they drop a bomb a hypothetical bomb? Who are these mystery critics you speak of? I have never heard of any real person as you describe these critics. Who are these sadistic hate groups you speak of? Or did just make all that up, these supposed critics and hate groups don't real exist as you describe them?

JoePeaceman said...

Hmmm, so not-OK.
How about OK??
Any reflections?
Mirrors, without the smoke?

Or Dan Vogel? Maybe he could drop in again and respond to Jeff's evidences, or common sense, or CLEARLY explain the reasoning that supports his assertions…. ; ) : )

No offence not-Ok...still love ya, and it's really awesome that you know the BofM is true! It's a big step (I have no evidence for the Koran, but you're free to believe it). I'm not abandoning you....you've progressed a lot--bet you were awesome at dodge-ball as a kid... and now look at you :).

Anonymous said...

Big step, progressed? I guess you are confusing your Psychokinesis with me taking a step.

All these years since childhood and I am still not even half as good as you at dodge ball. Awesome.

Since you are not abandoning me, looking forward to actual answers to my questions.

Anonymous said...

Joe, I struggle to understand your reasoning. There's no logical thread to what you've written in your posts.

JoePeaceman said...


My friend, in all seriousness, please understand that I do care about you and like to have fun while seeking truth. I’m trying to understand some things and am sorry if I haven’t been clear :). I don’t have a lot of time to cover ground that I’ve already covered for myself. If u are really seeking answers, also, I’d be happy to pause, but I think it’s best to take one thing at a time and current topic (friendly fire) is best place to start.
: ). Do u have questions about the KEP-JSP and the BofA translation process from a Hauglid/Vogel point of view VS a more Jeff/Kerry/Gee point of view?

Also, I didn’t realize you were actually asking questions. It seemed more like judgments, conclusions, or accusations, etc. But, e.g., if you were asking if JS’s murderers justified themselves because he “couldn’t keep his hands off the ladies”, I’ll explain that those encouraging his murder, and the driving and extermination of members of Christ’s Church were doing so long before they knew anything about polygamy. And, in fact, while Joseph was a polygamist, some of the haters who sought his blood (and the blood of other LDS) actually couldn’t keep their hands off the ladies (or, evidently, in the case of Higbee and Bennett, women and men). There is also some evidence that the wife of W. Law (another founder of ex-Mormon and author of the Expositor), actually tried to seduce Joseph and did the Potiphar's wife thing when he refused. So, really, there’s no logical evidence indicating that Joseph was murdered for anything other than his faith in Christ. Bennett, for example, was also a leader, but tried to run a prostitution ring, and was upset when the house was raised by faithful LDS. He helped author one of the first anti-Mormon books, etc., so, of course, no one called for his blood, but he incited the murder of faithful servants of Christ.
I think I answered the question about why Joseph showed 19th Century influence but, if you want to discuss that more maybe we could find one of Jeff’s blog’s on that subject : )
Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Joe - You appear to be talking to about 3 different Anons.

You did not answer any of Anon 10:50 questions, to which your justification appears to be " It seemed more like judgments, conclusions, or accusations, etc. " So you did recognized your reflection. Now that is real progress.