How is lying an improvement?

Book of Mormon God's Favorite Musical

In case you haven’t heard, LDS Inc has updated their scriptures.  Most of the changes are cosmetic, apparently, but Peggy Fletcher Stack notes some that aren’t so cosmetic: changes that reflect views on race and polygamy.  But what’s confusing me is the spin that’s going on with these changes.  In Stack’s article, almost everyone she interviews talks about how refreshing and helpful these changes are.  Yet, some of them are lies and half-truths.  Take the change in the heading to Official Declaration 2:

The Book of Mormon teaches that “all are alike unto God,” including “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33). Throughout the history of the Church, people of every race and ethnicity in many countries have been baptized and have lived as faithful members of the Church. During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood. Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance. The revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978. The revelation removed all restrictions with regard to race that once applied to the priesthood.

Okay, yeah, that’s a quote from the BofM, but the BofM also says dark skin is a curse from god.  But the big whopper is this line, “Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice.”  Really?  That’s the best you can do?  So, the idea that blacks were less worthy in the pre-existence that was taught from the pulpit, was pervasive in the teachings of numerous prophets, and was largely considered doctrine, doesn’t count.  Huh?  That’s funny.

Now, I get that it’s not entirely clear why a formal policy was developed disallowing blacks from the priesthood right around the time Joseph Smith died.  But the justification that arose to defend the policy was everywhere, and there isn’t a hint of admission or recognition of or apology for that racist doctrine in this supposedly refreshing and “modern” version of the scriptures.

Another change appears to be a “victory” for reason and evidence, but it’s actually just an under-handed compromise.  The new introduction to the Pearl of Great Price now calls it “an inspired translation,” code for those in the know that it is really “completely fabricated and indefensible.”  This is a great compromise.  For the people in the pews who don’t know any better, they won’t catch the difference and will be none the wiser.  But for those who do know better, now they can say, “See, the church doesn’t claim Joseph was making a literal translation either.”  Ignoring the fact that all the evidence suggests he thought he was.

I’m sure some people are going to get on my case for criticizing these efforts.  They’ll say things like, “Come on, they’re making efforts.  Can’t you give them some credit?”  To those people I say, “No.  These aren’t efforts to be more open and honest.  These are efforts to cover their asses and more carefully hide the truth.  I’ll give them credit when they say, “The Pearl of Great Price was just made up by Joseph Smith.  It wasn’t any more a translation than the Book of Mormon the musical is a translation of the sealed portion of the golden plates” or when they say, “We used to teach really racist things.  We’re sorry.  The people who taught that obviously were not inspired or they would have known better.  We don’t speak with god any more than anyone else does.  We’re a bunch of old, white men running a corporation and carrying on a charade.”  When they say those things, then I’ll give them props.  No props for lies and half truths.

141 thoughts on “How is lying an improvement?

  1. @98:

    All of which literally means the English idiom “kick the bucket,” which doesn’t literally mean that one kicks a bucket, but that one dies.

    Oh, heavens, you poor little thing. Did you find some translation software?

    Do you not realize that translation software is programmed to understand idioms?

    For instance, consider the French you quote:

    French: manger des pissenlits par la racine ‘to eat dandelions by the root’,

    Why on earth would “eat dandelions by the roots” literally mean “kick the bucket”?

    It is self-evidently not a literal translation for “kick the bucket,” because “kick” is “donner des coups de pied” and “bucket” is “godet.”

    Rather, it is an idiom for “to die.”

    In other words, there’s literal and then there’s literal.

    In other words, the translation is not literal but figurative.

    In other words, there’s literal and then there are people who don’t understand what literal is.

    When I said Joseph literally translated the Book of Abraham from the Egyptian on the scroll, I meant he did it literally. Capeesh?

    Sure. When you said Joseph literally translated the Book of Abraham from the Egyptian on the scroll, you had no idea what you meant or what you were saying.

    Now apply the same principle to Egyptian.

    Sure. The principle here is that you don’t understand idioms, literal translations, or figurative translations.

    Therefore, applying the same principle, you don’t know what you’re talking about and all your points are inaccurate.

  2. Never mind any scrolls. Joseph Smith included the Faksimiles in the Pearl of Great Price to support the claim that he had translated an Egyptian text into English.

    The Faksimiles do not mean what Joseph Smith said they did. That ought to be the end of the discussion for any reasonable person.

    Of course, people can disagree with that but those people would be less than honest or exceptionally stupid. Sorry but that’s all there is to say about that “dispute.”

  3. Obviously it doesn’t end the discussion for anyone but a religious or atheist fundamentalist Hellmut. Saying – “he got the facsimiles wrong, so I can ignore the rest of it” is close-minded.

  4. That ought to be the end of the discussion for any reasonable person.

    It is. Notice who is arguing that the question is still open, and notice how reasonable their arguments are.

  5. Seth,

    I been curious about a couple of things. Are you still on board with LDs Anarchist arguments regarding the Book of Abraham? He has born his testimony, in a typical standard way. Does your testimony parallel his, particularly that his Holy Ghost inspired witness trumps anything else? And, finally, how do you feel about him politely telling you to mind your own business?

    Just curious.

  6. No, he’s on his own making this argument. I haven’t been following it too closely. What I have followed is interesting, but I can’t say I agree with it in all particulars.

    I don’t mind him telling me to mind my own business whatsoever – since it was what I was planning on doing already. And since I’d already told him pretty-much that he was on his own with this one, the response was only fair, don’t you think?

  7. As for witness of the Holy Spirit trumping all else… I don’t have enough from him to answer that anyway.

    What counts as a witness from the Holy Spirit for one thing?

    Secondly, I’m not particularly eager to start ranking which types of witness are more potent than others and how much so. Call me agnostic on that subject if you like.

  8. And yet another take on the new heading:

    “The Book of Abraham is identified as an inspired translation of the “writings of Abraham,” not a translation of “Egyptian papyri” that contain the writings of Abraham. And with this single statement, the Church has successfully thrown out a plethora of poorly made apologetic videos and articles trying desperately to prove that somehow, the Book of Abraham literally appeared on the Egyptian papyri that Joseph Smith held in his possession.”

    http://www.withoutend.org/book-abraham-apologetic-war-pt-1/

  9. “What counts as a witness from the Holy Spirit for one thing?”

    Isn’t that the question that people on this board has raised, to which you have objected so strenuously?

  10. No Parker, that is not the “question” that people on this board raised.

    The people on this board you are referring to were not asking questions about what the spirit was at all. They’d already pretty firmly made up their minds about what they thought the “witness of the holy spirit” was.

  11. Parker, nothing in that heading change prevents anyone from arguing a literal translation whatsoever.

    All it does is allow people to actually posit the “catalyst theory” without immediately getting shouted at by ex-Mormon fundamentalists about how the LDS Church doesn’t allow that theory.

  12. 110 Maybe so, but you don’t help them out when you suggest you don’t know either.

    111 Am I to read that as a dismissal of what you consider a retarded statement? So back up and try again, because your comment doesn’t make sense. He isn’t attacking the Book of Abraham at all, just poorly constructed speculative apologetics (and have we not been exposed to that recently), which it seems to me you would be happy to have not cluttering up the world that you work so hared to defend.

  13. What makes you think I want my religion simplified Parker?

    He’s got a point, Parker. Look how hard he’s working to complicate the Book of Abraham so much more than it deserves.

  14. Actually, since you asked the question, Seth, my reading of you is that you need as much complexity in every phase of your life as possible.

  15. That ought to be the end of the discussion for any reasonable person.

    As Holly and Parker have explained, translators do take into account idioms and multiple meanings. So, what you’re left with is the claim that all of the Egyptian-language texts that Joseph Smith translated in the Facsimiles — though they say things that are familiar and clearly legible to people who speak ancient Egyptian — they just happen to have additional (unknown-to-anyone-who-speaks-ancient Egyptian) idiomatic meanings. All of them. And this is being asserted without evidence by someone who doesn’t claim even the most rudimentary ability to read ancient Egyptian.

    Even though Seth and Anarchist have done a pretty impressive job of demonstrating that an apologist can explain away anything for someone who wants to believe, I hope you guys at least understand why many people see this as a “smoking gun”. If you don’t, please review my Facsimile #4 @78 — because that’s what the BoA facsimiles look like to people who aren’t already convinced that Joseph Smith is a prophet. That’s why the “safe” route for the CoJCoL-dS is to back away from the claim that the Book of Abraham was translated from those papyrus scrolls.

  16. Parker @108 — I was going to link to that article to!! It’s really interesting. In particular, he makes a very interesting point surrounding the fact that the papyrus scrolls are from completely the wrong time period.

    Here’s a representative quote:

    Unfortunately, in their well-intended efforts to defend the scriptural and therefore inspired authenticity of the Book of Abraham, Mormon apologists have for the most part created much more trouble than is necessary for the Book of Abraham by presenting the public with inaccurate arguments and illogical perspectives. Even though these efforts have no doubt been well intended, it is without question a fact that in the end, bad apologetics do far more harm than good.

    As both a serious student of the Bible and the Ancient Near East, and a believing Latter-day Saint who accepts the Book of Abraham as scripture, I strongly maintain that these highly problematic, and to be quite frank, embarrassing apologetic videos and articles that are so easily shown to be inaccurate arguments really need to cease. I would submit that with this new introduction, the Church appears to have opened up the door for a much more sophisticated and accurate understanding of the Book of Abraham.

    Seth, Anarchist — go give this guy what for!! Now that you’ve won the debate here, will you please go bear your testimony to this guy that he just doesn’t understand ancient Egyptian idioms?

  17. p.s. I’m not kidding. I know it’s easy for you guys to dismiss us as “atheist fundamentalists” (@103). Well, David Bokovoy is “a serious student of the Bible and the Ancient Near East, and a believing Latter-day Saint who accepts the Book of Abraham as scripture.” I would be very curious to know his reaction to Anarchist’s “unknown idioms” theory and Seth’s “a Canaanite scribe copied some Egyptian texts and intended them to mean something else” theory.

  18. LDS Anarchist — I’m glad you’ve started commenting on our blog.

    I would like to mention, however, that debating apologetics isn’t really the point of Main Street Plaza. Most of our regulars have been out of the CoJCoL-dS for a long time, aren’t itching to deconvert people, and don’t really care if you believe Joseph Smith’s annotations of the Book of Abraham facsimiles are accurate translations or not.

    If you engage people on these questions, obviously we’ll respond, but note that the topic of the OP wasn’t “How can we see that the Book of Abraham disproves Joseph Smith’s translating abilities?” but rather “What do you think of the fact that the CoJCoL-dS has decided to change the claims made in the introductions to the standard works?” So, a little more current-events oriented.

    I read your blog and find it quite interesting. (You’ve perhaps seen that I link to you occasionally in SiOB.) I think it would be unfortunate if our discussion here got stuck on repeating some apologetic arguments that have been covered I-don’t-know-how-many times on apologetics sites all over the Internet.

    That said, if you’d like to take up your debate over whether the Book of Abraham was really translated from the Egyptian scrolls or not with David Bokovy and the folks on Worlds Without End (Bokovy says it wasn’t), I would be very curious to see what they think of your theories, including the one you just linked.

  19. Chanson, I think Blake Ostler is doing just fine engaging Bokovoy over there, I’ll leave him to it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Bokovoy has already encountered the Canaanite Redaction theory and engaged it somewhat online.

    I don’t really “bear my testimony” to anyone the way most people think of the term. And of course, I’m not going to let your use of the phrase “explain away anything” slide. I think in large measure, it’s the non-believers in the BoA who are “explaining away” a good deal of things. That’s one of the primary reasons for keeping the rhetorical battle over the BoA “simple.”

    As it happens, I don’t dismiss everyone here as “atheist fundamentalists.” Some of the arguments presented here are certainly fundamentalist. And you unquestionably have a few fundamentalists here as regulars. But I’m talking more about a world view than individuals. While I occasionally personalize debates, it’s generally unintentional.

    By the way – I do acknowledge that the BoA is a difficult apologetics issue. I do not think the arguments from the critics are “stupid.” I think the argument over the City Creek Mall is stupid. I don’t think the argument over the Book of Abraham is stupid. Hopefully that clarifies things a bit.

  20. “I don’t really “bear my testimony” to anyone the way most people think of the term.”

    I would very much like to hear your testimony.

  21. @122 The “bear testimony” remark was not directed at you, it was a reference to the last paragraph of Anarchist’s comment @82. Thanks for your clarifications.

  22. Seth @122:

    While I occasionally personalize debates, it’s generally unintentional.

    The fact that you generally don’t know and can’t control what you’re doing in a conversation isn’t really a mark in your favor, Seth, and is one of the reasons others find it hard to converse with you. You really ought to work harder to be more aware of what you’re doing and try to make your comments match your intentions.

  23. @120

    The parentheticals in the Book of Abraham actually have the feel of a scribe writing explanatory commentary.

    You know, there’s this thing you can do with writing: you can intentionally shape it to sound a particular way. Many writers do it quite deliberately. Fiction writers can make up conversations that never happened and shape it to sound like realistic dialogue. You don’t read it and say, “Oh, this dialogue sounds like stuff real people would say! That’s proof that these supposedly fictional characters are actually real people!” Academics writing scholarly articles can shape their work to sound like just about every other scholarly article ever written. You don’t read one and say, ‘Oh, this is proof that a particular author actually found this text lying around and decided to publish it under her name!” Someone writing explanatory commentary, even completely made up commentary for a completely made up text, can shape it to sound like other commentary he’s read. You don’t read it and say, “Oh, this is proof that the commentary was written thousands of years ago!”

    At least, you don’t if you’re reasonable and sane.

    In fact, you’ll note that an individual writer can go back and forth between quite a few different voices. Having written in one voice in one text doesn’t prevent the writer from adopting another voice or other voices, either in the same text or subsequent texts.

    While we’re at it, people have written fake scripture. The fact that the bible has a particular “feel” to it doesn’t mean others can’t try to reproduce that feel, though many reproductions are decidedly inferior–the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham and all the other fictional works of Joseph Smith, for instance.

    If you want to see how it’s done, watch this: http://youtu.be/xOrgLj9lOwk

  24. @121 Holly,

    I would like to mention, however, that debating apologetics isn’t really the point of Main Street Plaza.

    Perhaps you blinked and missed it, but you will notice that my first comment in #16 gave my own understanding of where the BoA came from, which allowed people from the get-go to know my believer’s take on this issue, an important thing to know before engaging in the premise of the post.

    In #25 I then responded to a question Suzanne had asked.

    You got offended by my use of the word “anti” and then you, chanson, engaged me in debating apologetics in #30, the very thing that you say “isn’t really the point of Main Street Plaza.” Now, perhaps you didn’t mean it as engagement, but I took it as such, for you had veered into new territory: the accuracy of the translation, which is an apologetics topic.

    Now, you said,

    If you engage people on these questions, obviously we’ll respond

    In like manner, since you engaged me on this question, I responded. If you do not want this forum to engage in apologetics, then not initiating it yourself would be a good place to start, don’t you think?

    What followed in #31, etc., was my response to your comment over accuracy in #30, in which I turned the tables on you and said that the burden of proof is on your shoulders, not mine.

    …note that the topic of the OP wasn’t “How can we see that the Book of Abraham disproves Joseph Smith’s translating abilities?” but rather “What do you think of the fact that the CoJCoL-dS has decided to change the claims made in the introductions to the standard works?”

    That was duly noted and answered by me back in #36, again which you apparently missed.

    Now, if you want to drop the whole “debate” and “apologetics’ thing, fine, we can agree to drop it and we can agree to disagree. I don’t find many of the apologetics issues all that interesting, any how.

    However, I will make an observation concerning this blog, because although debating apologetics is apparently off the table, debate and more specifically, contention seems to be the standard fare here. Pretty much any view point I’ve brought up on this forum, of whatever topic, has been summarily contradicted by someone here. The impression I get is that if one expresses a believer’s view, that whatever that believer said must be immediately struck down (contradicted) and called nonsense.

    The quickest way to end a conversation is to insult the intelligence of the person you are talking to. No one stands for being called an idiot or a dupe. I unintentionally insult the intelligence of people all the time by my use of the word ignorant to describe people who have not studied certain topics (people instead take it as an insult and think I’m calling them stupid) or in other ways, such as when I introduce new topics or understandings a person has never heard of from any other quarter and doesn’t know how to respond to it because it takes time for it to sink in and be processed. (For example, my use of “spirit is a type of plasmoid” and backing it up with D&C 131. None of you had ever heard of such a concept and could only ridicule it, even though it sorta made sense to your minds as they scrambled to comprehend the principle.) So, I’m used to people being offended by what I say or write.

    Nevertheless, what I notice on this forum is not the standard offense taken by something new that I’ve introduced, but a general feeling of hatred for any support shown toward the gospel, the church or Joseph Smith. This a very different feeling and it causes a knee-jerk response. I’ve often joked off-line that I bet I could make a comment here that the sky is blue and someone would follow up with an, “No, it isn’t!” In other words, the contradictions seem to be made for the sake of being contradictory, because the person who said the sky is blue is a believer.

    All that said, I will continue to comment from a believer’s perspective on anything I find here that catches my attention and which I find interesting. If that pisses people off, so be it.

  25. LDS anachrist @127:

    Perhaps you blinked and missed it, but you will notice that my first comment in #16 gave my own understanding of where the BoA came from, which allowed people from the get-go to know my believer’s take on this issue, an important thing to know before engaging in the premise of the post.

    Right. And it’s the understanding and point of view not just of a believer, but of an apologist. You were an apologist out of the gate, and offered no one anything to respond to but apologist ideas.

    The quickest way to end a conversation is to insult the intelligence of the person you are talking to… No one stands for being called an idiot or a dupe. I unintentionally insult the intelligence of people all the time by my use of the word ignorant to describe people who have not studied certain topics

    You also go out of your way to be insulting, my little man–either that, or you’re incapable of understanding the meaning of many of your statements (which further undermines your already dubious assertions about how language works). Notice your very first words @127: “Perhaps you blinked and missed it, but….”

    which is an insulting way of saying that someone missed something you consider important.

    You’ve been guilty of what you say is the quickest way to end a conversation, and then you profess astonishment that people not only disagree with you, but react personally to your personally insulting statements.

    Perhaps you are too ignorant (that’s not an insulting word, right, according to you?) to ever have heard the old adage, “Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.” You might google it.

    You are, after all, a guest here. You’ve been a very badly behaved guest who, for no reason except his own sense of entitlement, has expected to be treated nicely by hosts he’s rude to.

    Nevertheless, what I notice on this forum is not the standard offense taken by something new that I’ve introduced, but a general feeling of hatred for any support shown toward the gospel, the church or Joseph Smith. This a very different feeling and it causes a knee-jerk response. I’ve often joked off-line that I bet I could make a comment here that the sky is blue and someone would follow up with an, “No, it isn’t!” In other words, the contradictions seem to be made for the sake of being contradictory, because the person who said the sky is blue is a believer.

    First, it’s super flattering to know that this blog is so important to you that you often discuss it off-line and have come up jokes about it! Wow! You must really care about what people here think of you, if you spend that much time discussing the blog offline!

    Second, why don’t you sometime try making here a statement as self-evidently accurate as “the sky is blue” or as universally accepted as “the earth is round” and see what kind of reaction you get? Remember: it has to be self-evidently true or generally accepted as fact–you can’t expect people, as you have in the past, to accept that a “plausible” translation is undeniably true.

    It’s part of the whole empirical approach to life: rather than simply asserting that something is probably one way or another and believing your assertion, you can actually test it out and see if you’re right. Provided you’re interested in having an accurate view of the world instead of just feeling justified in your own assertions and prejudices, it can be a really useful thing.

    p.s. Still wondering: do you actually speak a single foreign language? While the spirit has given me an answer I accept as accurate, I do find it useful to get external verification. Doing so helps me hone my ability to hear and understand spiritual confirmations.

  26. to demonstrate that people who study language actually have genuine expertise and are aware not only of idioms but of all sorts of details and nuances and arcana that laypeople are generally utterly oblivious to, I offer this fun little Ted talk. it’s seven minutes long, and explains texting in a very cool way: http://youtu.be/yoF2vdLxsVQ

  27. Chanson, I think Blake Ostler is doing just fine engaging Bokovoy over there, I’ll leave him to it.

    I was just looking at the comments on that thread, and even Blake Ostler doesn’t appear to be arguing that JS translated the Book of Abraham directly from the papyrus:

    3. There was an author(s) in late second-temple Judaism (150 B.C. to 100 A.D.) who received a true revelation of the same visions shown to Abraham, and this later Jewish author reduced it to writing and used the Egyptian iconography and figures to illustrate his vision, and the same vision/revelation was later given to Joseph Smith as he reviewed the Egyptian papryrii. The Egyptian facsimiles (and not the demotic writing itself) are the source of spurring the revelation for both. The revelation to Joseph Smith is based on both the original vision to Abraham and the illustrative explanation given to the late Jewish author. Joseph Smith couched the revelation in terms of his understanding, world view and reading of the KJV.

    I tend to favor explanation #3

    In other words, he also uses the “Joseph Smith received the BoA as a revelation” to explain away the inconvenient writings on the Facsimiles.

    I think it’s funny that nobody in that discussion even acknowledges this comment:

    I am just a dumb farmer – but it seems odd to me the many theories being tossed about – Why not take the theory that Joseph Smith claimed as factual – A discovery of Papyri written by the hand of Abraham while he was in Egypt? And why would the Church move away from the bold declaration to the world that through the arrangements of God the record was delivered to Joseph for translation. Joseph claimed to have the power to translate the record…why doubt him?

    I can’t decide if that commenter is serious or if he’s a troll, but it would have been interesting to see the faithful apologists answer that one.

    Of course, I think it is essentially answered in part 2 of that discussion. Here’s my favorite part:

    This approach to the BofA has great power. It puts an end to the necessity of the problematic apologetic arguments rightfully criticized by non-LDS scholars and places the BofA on a sphere not subject to scientific objection.

    In other words, now the Book of Abraham — like the Book of Mormon — can be transferred to the realm of the non-falsifiable!! Very tempting, don’t you think?

  28. Of course it’s tempting. But it also has a lot of support for it as well. It’s not just being motivated by a desire to make the “walls” as unassailable as possible.

    Just for clarity sake, here are the major apologetic approaches to defending the Book of Abraham as things now stand:

    1. The missing scrolls. There were additional scrolls that were lost, or portions of scroll that were lost and are no longer in human possession. This argument hinges on historical descriptions of the scrolls and their measurements.

    2. The interpretation overlay. The book of the Dead is what is on the scrolls, but ancient Hebrews interpreted the Egyptian text and gave it a meaning associated with Abraham. Joseph translated the Hebrew/Canaanite applied meaning.

    3. The catalyst. The text Joseph received was by revelation and did not correspond to any text on any of the scrolls in his possession. The scrolls served only as a catalyst for receiving the revelation.

    As you mentioned #3 is probably one of the most newly popular theories among apologists and denizens of the bloggernacle. Bokovoy has openly declared enthusiastic support for this idea.

    Kevin Barney has been the latest to outline the interpretation overlay argument with his Canaanite redactor idea that I mentioned. I personally like this theory the best, but it has it’s problems. In fact, I wouldn’t even go so far as to call Barney a strong advocate for this argument. I have reason to believe from his online material that he actually favors #3.

    As for #1, that argument is favored by John Gee and he’s been having the back-and-forth over scroll thickness that we mentioned earlier in our discussion. It should be pointed out that there is pretty strong evidence that Joseph Smith had another scroll in his possession besides the one that survived. And we certainly don’t have that scroll.

    I’m open to #3, and I could probably live with being forced eventually by the evidence to accept that argument. However, I’m reluctant to go there unless the case is too compelling to disregard.

    I detected just a hint of wistfulness in your remarks Chanson, and I have to say I agree with the sentiment somewhat. Don’t worry though – I’ll be sure not to make too much of it.

  29. As you mentioned #3 is probably one of the most newly popular theories among apologists and denizens of the bloggernacle. Bokovoy has openly declared enthusiastic support for this idea.

    Right, but my point was that @122 you seemed to be suggesting that Blake Ostler was supporting either theory #1 or #2 (like you), but his comment seems to say he is supporting #3.

    I detected just a hint of wistfulness in your remarks Chanson

    You detect incorrectly. I’m just curious as to why you and Anarchist spent so much effort trying to convince us that the Book of Abraham was literally written on those scrolls that JS had, whereas you don’t seem to care that none of the believing apologists are strongly arguing in favor of that position.

  30. No, that’s correct. I’m not too worried about the other apologists taking a different preference than me. And I didn’t mean to say Ostler agrees with me either. I simply felt he was doing a good job qualifying a lot of Bokovoy’s assertions in that discussion.

    Thing is – none of these theories exist in total isolation from each other. They’re all available as overlapping and somewhat supporting theories. For instance, you can believe in both 1 and 2 at the same time. 3 tends to sit a bit more alone from the others, but even that is still looming over my opinions like some sort of fallback position.

  31. Seth @132:

    1. The missing scrolls. There were additional scrolls that were lost, or portions of scroll that were lost and are no longer in human possession. This argument hinges on historical descriptions of the scrolls and their measurements.

    Several of my friends posted on facebook about a display on the BOA that they saw yesterday at the Church History Library in a special one day only display–including original sections of the original papyri. My friends included photos.

    And guess what? There were sections that Joseph didn’t even claim to translate. Quite a few of them, apparently.

    Given that he never claimed to have translated all of the scroll, how does its size prove anything?

  32. Given that he never claimed to have translated all of the scroll, how does its size prove anything?

    I read the article that ProfXM linked earlier. In a nutshell, it’s this:

    There was a scroll that had been rolled in a cylinder for a couple of thousand years containing the ordinary funeral documents of the mummy. Apologists claim that the cylinder contained the Book of Abraham in addition to the standard breathing papers of the deceased, but the paper showed that the scroll was the right length to contain the book of breathing and nothing else.

  33. @137: Right. And I’m pointing out that there were untranslated texts, so the size of the scroll has to account for them as well. You start factoring in these untranslated texts and whatever had to be there because the apologists claim JS did translate that–and how big does the darn thing get? I mean, to invoke Profxm @136, just how much of a man was Joseph?

  34. Scroll length is currently a completely disputed topic.

    Then it’s probably not a very solid basis for any sort of proof of the BOA’s authenticity, is it, Seth? Which I believe has been part of the point of this thread from the beginning.

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