A Welcome Response,
but Flaws Remain

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Abstract: After Interpreter published my lengthy paper that discussed apparent bias and flaws in scholarship in the Joseph Smith Papers volume on the Book of Abraham, two members of the JSP Project team have responded with a defense of their volume. Their reply is welcome and points to some of the strengths in the methodology behind much of the volume. However, the specific evidence for bias and flawed scholarship seems to stand and merits further attention.


After feeling compelled to point out some painful gaps and apparent bias in what is nonetheless a remarkably valuable resource on the Book of Abraham from the Joseph Smith Papers Project,1 I was happy to see a response from some of the people involved with publication of Volume 4 of The Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations (hereafter JSPRT4).2 Criticizing any aspect of such an important and beautiful volume published by the Church that I love is not something I did with any pleasure, but I felt that readers of the volume and those who follow the public lectures or podcasts of the editors must be aware of the problems I noticed.

I am grateful for the thoughtful response from Matt Grow and Matthew C. Godfrey, two of the series editors for the Joseph Smith Papers Project. I can imagine that it must be frustrating and perhaps even offensive for such an important work to have received criticism [Page 106] a fellow member of the Church who cannot be aware firsthand of just how much care went into that project.

Considering Bias and Unintended Consequences

Grow and Godfrey state that I misunderstand “the scope and purpose of the Joseph Smith Papers, which is to provide reputable and accurate transcriptions of Joseph Smith’s papers with contextual annotation for both Latter-day Saint and non-Latter-day Saint scholars” and not to provide “first aid” for apparent problems associated with the Book of Abraham.

I appreciate their reiteration of the reasonable policies and goals of the Joseph Smith Papers and the assurance that many people were involved in carefully reviewing many aspects of the work to give us this remarkable production with detailed photographs and extensive transcripts. I appreciate their assurance that policies and procedures were followed.

My question remains, though: Is there evidence of potentially harmful bias, or does the volume simply “provide reputable and accurate transcriptions of Joseph Smith’s papers” with unbiased “contextual annotation”? Based on the after-publication public statements of the volume editors — statements not publicly challenged, countered, or disavowed by either Grow or Godfrey — we can gain insight into the volume editors’ personal views and can see extensive evidence that these views appear to have influenced many choices and judgments made in JSPRT4. The specifics of these choices and judgments raised in the reviews of this volume3 are not addressed in the series editors’ reply and cannot be resolved simply through a recounting of the editorial and production processes of JSPRT4.

I was both surprised and disappointed that the volume editors of JSPRT4 were not included as co-authors in the reply to our reviews, as some of the perspectives they have published elsewhere seem to exude a different spirit from the calm, conciliatory, and welcome views expressed by Grow and Godfrey. Brian Hauglid, for example, has stated that he finds the “apologetic” views of two BYU Egyptologists to be “abhorrent.”4 He further expresses his firm conclusion “that the [Kirtland] Egyptian papers [Page 107]were used to produce the BoA.”5 He has changed his mind from his earlier public statements on the origins of the Book of Abraham and says that as a result, the JSPRT4 volume he co-edited is “much more open” to the views of a leading critic of the Book of Abraham.6

Grow and Godfrey’s response is that “the question of how and when Joseph translated the Book of Abraham is a complex one — but it is not the question that this volume strives to answer.” However, in several places JSPRT4 belies this statement of neutrality. For example, John Gee mentions in his review this bold statement in the volume’s commentary: “No evidence indicates that JS studied any of the hieroglyphs from the hypocephalus in his 1835 effort to understand the Egyptian language. However, the explanation of Facsimile 2 is clearly related to that effort, since some of the entries in this document borrow heavily from the Grammar and Alphabet volume.”7 This is one of numerous statements where a controversial position is taken without alerting the reader that a controversy exists. What evidence is there to support the editors’ personal opinion here rather than the overlooked and arguably more plausible alternative that related entries in the GAEL were derived from Joseph’s existing comments on Facsimile 2? The volume editors’ statement suggesting the translation of Facsimile 2 derives or borrows from the GAEL is a questionable assumption made even more explicit in subsequent public comments by Hauglid. Can we really accept that this volume is free of bias and even mischief, however unintended?

My review points out several other examples of such bias that merit a more complete response, including the statement suggesting there is “some evidence” that Abraham 1:1‒3 was derived from the GAEL, based solely on a critic’s publication which asserts derivation because those verses strike him as choppy.8 Of particular importance is the claim that the “twin” Book of Abraham manuscripts represent live dictation directly from Joseph Smith of either live original translation or newly edited translation of the Book of Abraham, thus ignoring significant textual evidence that this was not a case of Joseph’s dictating new scripture but represented work with an existing manuscript.9

[Page 108]Astonishingly, the overlooked evidence includes the reasonably supported position given in an earlier JSP volume which explains why it is clear that an existing manuscript was being used by the scribes writing the “twin” manuscripts rather than taking direct translation from Joseph. It also overlooks significant additional evidence from the text which I illustrate in detail in my review but which is not mentioned by Grow and Godfrey. The position taken by the volume editors, apparently reflecting personal bias rather than scholarly consensus, gives credence to the assertion of critics that these manuscripts represent a “window” into how Joseph translated (that is, turning one character into large chunks of English), which was also the theme of the volume editors’ January 2019 seminar at BYU, which profoundly disturbed some members of the Church.10

Assurances about policies and procedures do not address the many issues around the subtle but serious mishandling of the “twin” manuscripts, including the volume editors’ failure to consider the reasonable views of other scholars (including their own JSP peers) and the failure to account for textual evidence discussed in my review and the very heading or title given at the top of the twin manuscripts. This suggests that their intent is to support further entries for a section in the GAEL, as discussed in my article for Meridian Magazine,11 which underscores the role of Joseph’s translation as a source for the GAEL and not the other way around. But all such evidence is brushed aside with assertions that, as Hauglid stated after publication, are surprisingly “open” to the views of a leading critic of the Book of Abraham.12 Such errors can occur unintentionally and in good faith, but they do not align with the high ideals of the Joseph Smith Papers Project as very ably expressed in the Grow and Godfrey response. If they are not errors, and my analysis is unfounded, I welcome a more detailed response explaining why. This is one case in which I would sincerely like to be wrong in my misgivings.

[Page 109]Other issues I feel Grow and Godfrey have not addressed include:

  • An easily demonstrated error in the historical treatment of “Egyptomania without Champollion,” which helps support the critics’ framework that Joseph and the Saints were ignorant of the nature of Egyptian revealed from the Rosetta Stone and the work of Champollion.13
  • Failure to consider Joseph’s own statements and the Book of Mormon’s teachings on the nature of the “reformed” Egyptian language that undermine assertions from critics on how Joseph thought one character of Egyptian could explode into hundreds of words of English when translated.14
  • Errors in dating of documents that tend to favor positions taken by some critics while overlooking recent scholarship from Latter-day Saint authors that gives other date ranges. Statements on what was translated in 1842 vs. 1835 also display a similar lack of balance.15

In all this, I do not intend to call into question the faithfulness of the volume editors, but all involved with the Joseph Smith Papers Project should understand the unavoidable consequences of the publicly stated positions of the volume editors and the impact of the numerous positions taken in JSPRT4 that seem to align improperly with views of some critics while undermining reasonable positions that can be and have been taken by other scholars.

Lauding the process of transcription and production is one thing, but catching unstated assumptions and unquestioned biases can be painfully difficult. For example, I would not expect the many reviewers who assisted with the preparation of JSPRT4 to recognize the errors and potential harm from the hidden assumptions and biases in the way the “twin” Book of Abraham manuscripts are presented unless they were dealing with the details of some current arguments from critics of the Book of Abraham. These are unnecessary gaps in scholarship that can also incidentally and unintentionally lead to gaps in testimonies of those struggling with Book of Abraham issues.

I believe my review demonstrates with abundant examples that the commentary, footnotes, omissions, and many other editorial choices nudge the reader toward specific views while undermining the views of others in ways that don’t reflect objectivity. I would urge any readers [Page 110]to evaluate the examples I provide and make up their own minds as to whether they exhibit the objectivity that Grow and Godfrey rightly indicate is the ideal.

Historiography and the Missing Hugh Nibley

One fact I mentioned in my review as a potential indicator of possible bias was the complete absence of any reference to Hugh Nibley and his extensive writings concerning the Book of Abraham, the Joseph Smith papyri, and the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.16 Grow and Godfrey assert that in noting this I am asking “the Joseph Smith Papers to engage in historiography, or reciting and evaluating the history of scholarship on a given topic.” They correctly state that it is “the long-established policy of the Joseph Smith Papers Project to refrain from historiographical discussions.”

After reading Grow and Godfrey’s response, I fear that perhaps my concern regarding Nibley was not stated clearly enough, for which I apologize. I am certainly not asking for historiography per se, or a study of the history of who said what. I am asking for appropriate scholarship in commenting on what is discussed in JSPRT4. The volume makes numerous interpretive comments that guide the reader in understanding key issues related to the nature of the documents it covers. The editors discuss issues such as the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, the nature of Joseph’s translation, Joseph’s understanding of the nature of the language he was looking at, the nature of the Egyptian documents, the meaning of the Egyptian characters and figures, the dating of the documents, the manner in which Joseph translated, and what was translated when, etc. As Grow and Godfrey recognize, a variety of viewpoints exist on all these issues and others. Fortunately, important scholarship has been carried out by scholars like Hugh Nibley and others, though in my opinion none are so prolific, wide-ranging, and influential as Nibley’s. Readers of JSPRT4 wouldn’t know that, however, because the works of Nibley are not referenced once in over a thousand citations.

For example, in terms of translating the Egyptian characters to understand their meaning, to my knowledge three key scholars have historically contributed extensive translation: Michael Rhodes, Robert K. Ritner (a scholar openly skeptical of Joseph Smith’s translations), and Hugh Nibley. Of these three, the one most extensively cited in JSPRT4 is Ritner, with citations of Rhodes coming in a distant second. Nibley, as I noted, is never cited — not even once.

[Page 111]The neglect of Nibley is clearly an editorial choice I cannot fathom as being simply a matter of policy regarding historiography. Is it possible that an unstated and unrecognized bias against apologetics resulted in a failure to consider referencing Nibley’s analysis of the papyri and their place in Egyptian history, Nibley’s analysis of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers or any of the many volumes of scholarship on the Book of Abraham that Nibley produced?

Conclusion

JSPRT4 is a precious resource, and I am grateful for the vision of the Joseph Smith Papers Project team and the Church for making it available. However, the painful possibility of improper bias aligned with some common but debatable views of our critics needs to be recognized by those who use the volume, lest those views be assumed to be the consensus of sound scholarship and the implicit position of the Church. Such bias needs to be recognized by those who encounter past presentations by or interviews of the editors as they discuss the origins and purported warts of the Book of Abraham.

The messaging resulting from this volume and subsequent public statements by the volume editors has done damage to the testimonies of some vulnerable members of the Church. A more balanced approach would overtly leave the door open to other views, which arguably have a stronger evidentiary basis than some of the questionable positions taken by the editors of JSPRT4. Again, my concerns are not about historiography or even apologetics but about sound and even-handed scholarship. That’s the most painful gap my review seeks to address. It is also the gap not directly addressed by Grow and Godfrey.

Again I am thankful for the response provided by Grow and Godfrey and congratulate all members of the Joseph Smith Papers Project on the string of breakthroughs their project has brought in many related areas. I hope my warnings regarding this unusual volume, as painful as they may be, will not dampen the appreciation of many of us for what the Joseph Smith Papers Project has achieved.




1. See Jeffrey Dean Lindsay, “A Precious Resource with Some Gaps,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Faith and Scholarship 33 (2019), 13–104, https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/a-precious-resource-with-some-gaps/.
2. The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, Volume 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts, eds. Scott  Scott Jensen and Brian M. Hauglid (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2018).
3. Besides my review, see also John Gee, “The Joseph Smith Papers Project Stumbles,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Faith and Scholarship 33 (2019), 175–86, https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/the-joseph-smith-papers-project-stumbles/.
4. Brian Hauglid, November 9, 2018, comment on Dan Vogel, “Truth of the Book of Abraham (Part 6) — Joseph Smith As a Student of Hebrew,” Facebook, November 9, 2018, https://www.facebook.com/dan.vogel.35/posts/1398006876998582.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Gee, “The Joseph Smith Papers Project Stumbles,” 181, citing Jensen and Hauglid, Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts, 276.
8. See Lindsay, “A Precious Resource with Some Gaps,” beginning at p. 72.
9. Ibid., 61–76.
10. Brian Hauglid and Robin Jensen, “A Window into Joseph Smith’s Translation” (Neal A. Maxwell Institute seminar, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, Jan. 11, 2019), https://mi.byu.edu/news-events/01-11-jensen-hauglid/.
11. Jeff Lindsay, “Dealing with ‘Friendly Fire’ on the Book of Abraham,” Meridian Magazine (August 25, 2019), https://latterdaysaintmag.com/dealing-with-friendly-fire-on-the-book-of-abraham/; and Jeff Lindsay, “The Meaning of the Twin Book of Abraham Manuscripts,” Meridian Magazine (August 26, 2019), https://latterdaysaintmag.com/the-meaning-of-the-twin-book-of-abraham-manuscripts/.
12. Hauglid, November 9, 2018, comment on Dan Vogel’s Facebook page, discussed in Lindsay, “A Precious Resource with Some Gaps,” 19–21.
13. Lindsay, “A Precious Resource with Some Gaps,” 76–86.
14. Ibid., 79–80.
15. Ibid., 35, 58–61, 69–70.
16. Lindsay, “A Precious Resource with Some Gaps,” 21–24.

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About Jeff Lindsay

Jeffrey Dean Lindsay and his wife, Kendra, are residents of Shanghai, China. Jeff has been providing online materials defending the LDS faith for over twenty years, primarily at JeffLindsay.com. His Mormanity blog (http://mormanity.blogspot.com) has been in operation since 2004. He also wrote weekly for Orson Scott Card’s Nauvoo Times (NauvooTimes.com) from 2012 through 2016 and is currently on the Board of Advisors for The Interpreter Foundation. Jeff has a PhD in chemical engineering from BYU and is a registered US patent agent. For the past six years he was the Head of Intellectual Property for Asia Pulp and Paper, but has just started a new role as Head of R&D and IP for Lume Deodorant. Formerly, he was associate professor at the Institute of Paper Science and Technology (now the Renewable Bioproducts Institute) at Georgia Tech, then went into R&D at Kimberly-Clark Corporation, eventually becoming corporate patent strategist and senior research fellow. He then spent several years at Innovationedge in Neenah, Wisconsin, helping many companies with innovation and IP strategy. Since 2015, Jeff has been recognized as a leading IP strategist by Intellectual Asset Magazine in their global IAM300 listing based on peer input. He is also lead author of Conquering Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). He is active in the chemical engineering community and was recently named a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Jeff served a mission in the German‑speaking Switzerland Zurich Mission and currently serves as counselor in the district presidency of the Shanghai International District. He and his wife Kendra are the parents of four boys and have ten grandchildren.

31 thoughts on “A Welcome Response, but Flaws Remain

  1. Just had time to read this, and the important conversations below. Sorry about my redundant comment on the “Response.”

    These are exciting times! The JS Papers truly are “an essential resource for scholars and students.” Scholars have played important roles in helping us finally begin understanding the Book of Abraham, KEP, and so on.

    And, for examples:
    I personally hope that Bro. Gee will soon have evidence indicating that the “Old Man” was not Hor, and therefore could have gathered texts/vignettes from caches, etc. to go along with the “long scroll” identified by eyewitnesses as containing the BofA. This will throw a different light on interpreting vignettes and etc.
    And, Jeff is at the forefront of finally cracking several BofA questions (and giving further support to Nibley’s early belief that the KEP represent a retrofit, and Gee’s belief that most of the current BofA translation took place in Kirtland, and etc.)? (no time to cross check today…)

    Jeff’s ability to humbly self correct, study, repent, seek, say “I’m sorry,” etc. are exemplary for truth seeking. He agrees with critics on those occasions when they make valid points, but doesn’t mind that hate groups hate him for seeking truth. Jeff, John, Kerry, Nibley, Brian, Robin Michael, Val, and many other greats have been attacked by critics in the past (and it’s still ongoing for most of those…despised and rejected) and we’ve all been blessed as they continue to boldly and independently seek the truth.

    The Church reaches out to Critics, and I strongly support the ongoing bridge-building efforts of faithful scholars and fearless Leaders. I’m also OK with JSPP editors agreeing with Critics such as Dan Vogel, C. Smith, etc. I don’t believe Jeff has implied that such agreement constitutes a “transition” to the dark side (although internet critics are implying that this is the case).
    I entered conversations with Jeff, Dan, etc. having sound knowledge and evidence that the BofM is true, and with my mind open to the possibility that critics could be right about certain aspects of the KEP, translation method, etc. However, they aren’t right on the important details.
    If you’ve watched Dan’s critical videos (which he claims have influenced Brian), if you carefully read his dialogue (including comments here), and so on, you may notice (and this is important) that after lengthy conversations with Jeff, etc. Dan Vogel no longer agrees with Dan Vogel (and other critics) on some key JSP issues. And, these outdated criticisms may have unintentionally filtered into the JSP editorial commentary. I’ll discuss further below (and, if I know Dan, he’ll have a difficult time admitting this, and since Dan knows I love him, he’ll feel free to ask :), right Dan?.)

    Therefore, if critics are the source of misinformation in the JSPP, it would be wise for all of us (especially editors responsible for the widely impactful project) to open our hearts to faithful “apologists” and ask some questions— for example:

    1- What are the intentions of Ritner, IRR, Dan, MT, Chris Smith, LHM, etc.? Is there a neutrality that accepts truth even if it involves Christ, Angels, and modern Prophets? And why does it no longer seem OK to question them?

    2- Does Leader approval of the JSPP imply agreement with potentially false Critical teachings, or is it simply support for intellectual freedom?
    Gotta go…
    Details to follow on issues when time permits…
    And, Jeff, just saw your question about HuffPost, I’ll look for that ASAP also

  2. Thank you Mr. Lindsay for your work on this issue. This specific, and I might add, the more important concerns expressed by you simply were not addressed by the editors in their response. That is disappointing. I want you to be wrong too, as you have stated. But all we have as a response is the argument to the effect we followed processes and policies and this not by the actual editors of the specific volume at issue but others involved in the work. I think that is disappointing too.

    • Thanks, Brett. Naturally, it may be difficult for leaders in the JSP Project to get into the intricate details regarding this volume, so I don’t think we should have expected a lengthy response on numerous points. But I agree that something more than assurances about sound policies and procedures is needed when there is significant evidence of gaps in scholarship and improper bias, however unintentional, that may have adversely affected the utility and value of this volume for future scholars. Recognizing those problems and documenting them may be an important step toward helping this volume better achieve its purpose. I hope this can be done without the unwarranted suspicion that to criticize various aspects of this generally fine volume is to denounce the faithfulness of the scholars involved — healthy dialog and discussion is needed if we wish to advance scholarship in this field. If I am misguided in my criticism, I hope others can point out the specific flaws in the arguments.

  3. Everything comes down to the reverse-translation theory. Unfortunately, this old Nibley apologetic continues to be defended by Gee, Muhlestein, and Lindsay. Grow and Godfrey are right to worry about the transience of historical interpretations, especially one based on apologetic necessity and not on a good understanding of the documents.

    The major problem with the reverse-translation theory is that the Alphabets and bound Grammar do not derive from the text of Abraham but are independent translations of other documents. The characters in the margins of the three BofA manuscripts come from JSP XI, except for about six groups of invented characters dealing with the founding of Egypt. Whereas the characters and content in the three Alphabets deal with princess Katumin, who was mentioned in the translation of the now-lost Amenhotep fragments in the Valuable Discovery notebooks, the pure Adamic language, and then the five columns that flank Fac. 1 on JSP I. Because the Alphabets and GAEL do not cover the same material, they can’t be said to derive from Abraham.

    The reverse-translation theory has led to other weak theories. There is no reason to argue that the entire Book of Abraham as we have it and possibly more was dictated by JS in July 1835 other than to support the reverse-translation theory. There is not a shred of evidence to support the existence of such a document. Instead, there is strong evidence that Williams and Parrish wrote Abraham 1:4-2:2 from oral dictation, rather than visual copying. This evidence is so strong that even Lindsay can’t deny it. It consists in nearly identical emendations in both documents, which can only be reasonably explained as simultaneous recording from dictation. (The Valuable Discovery notebooks also contain evidence of simultaneous recording by Cowdery and Phelps from JS’s dictation.) However, since Parrish didn’t become JS’s scribe until late October 1835, Lindsay wants to escape the implications of this evidence. So he has adopted the theory that Parrish read aloud from a pre-existing document while Williams copied. Although the emendations in the Parrish-Williams documents are typical of the kinds that appear in texts that are orally composed, Lindsay goes to great lengths to explain the emendations as misreadings by Parrish, but these attempts are extremely incoherent and implausible.

    Lindsay shouldn’t be so critical. From my perspective, Jensen and Gee do not escape apologetics altogether. They do suggest that the so-called “twin” documents may have been created by JS reading to Williams and Parrish from a pre-existing text while making some emendations (p. 203), and they attempt to explain references in Abraham 1:12 and 14 to Fac. 1 as interlinear insertions, when they are not (p. 239nn57 and 64). Yet they have obviously attempted to produce something that a majority of scholars can use no matter their perspective. In my case, I can reject an apologetic theory, especially one that already has one foot in the grave, without disputing the BofA’s inspiration.

    • No, Dan, my article explains that the reverse translation theory is one of several possibilities. One doesn’t even need a theory regarding the purpose of the GAEL to recognize the many problems in this volume. But that said, the GAEL has much that draws upon BOA material (most heavily from Abr. 1:1-3 but also including info from Facs. 2, Kolob, Pharaoh, land of Egypt, the Creation, etc.) as well as material in the Doctrine and Covenants (which I note is more consistent with theories other than reverse translation) and possibly some of the extensive missing text of the BOA (e.g., the history of planets and other material that Joseph mentioned from the BOA in 1838 teachings and that the intro of the Book of Abraham indicates should be part of the text).

      Recall that in 1838, Anson Call noted that it took two hours of reading to get through the Book of Abraham, causing Oliver Cowdery to become weary with reading. If accurate, that puts the text at well over twice as long and probably 4 times as long as what we have. Some of that material is likely in the GAEL.

      You said, “There is no reason to argue that the entire Book of Abraham as we have it and possibly more was dictated by JS in July 1835 other than to support the reverse-translation theory.” The possibility of translation past Abraham 2:18 is not raised in a desperate attempt to prop up the reverse-translation theory, but is a possibility responsibly raised by the historical record itself and noted by several scholars, and is improperly neglected in this volume, apparently reflecting personal opinions. Sound scholarship would have at least noted that there is a debate among scholars on the issue and mentioned the evidence.

      Jensen and Hauglid in JSPRT4 do mention the well-known Anson Call story on op. xxvii, and it is online in the introductory commentary, where footnote 109 seeks to explain away the plain significance of the account: “Church member Anson Call stated that the group read from ‘the Book of Abraham.’ The existing text of the Book of Abraham is relatively short and likely would not take two hours to read. If accurate, therefore, Call’s recollection of reading for two hours would imply either that they read additional Book of Abraham material that is no longer extant or that a lengthy conversation took place along with the reading. It is also possible that Call did not know or failed to state that they were reading from multiple records. He began the anecdote by saying that he brought both the ‘translation of the Bible and the Egyptian Records’ to Joseph Smith.”

      Here they raise 3 possibilities for the 2 hours of reading: (1) they were reading additional BOA material no longer extant, (2) they spent a lot of time discussing what little they read, and (3) they were also reading from Joseph’s translation of the Bible. The most important and basic implication/theory NOT directly mentioned or considered in this volume is that they were reading material beyond Abraham 2:18 that Joseph had already translated in 1835.

      The statement that Anson call began his account by mentioning Bible records and so this may be what they read strikes me as another reflection of personal bias. It’s not how he begins the story, but is a peripheral detail that is clearly, expressly excluded by Anson’s account:

      “While at Far West I happened in John Corls [Corrill’s] or the Church store and my attention was called by Vincent [Vinson] Knights who was opening some boxes of goods. Says he, ‘Joseph will be much pleased with these. He has been very uneasy about the translation of the Bible and the Egyptian Records. Hear they are.’ Placing them on the table, he said to me, ‘If you will take one of these, I will the other and we will carry them over to Joseph’s office.’ There we found Joseph and six or seven other brethren. Joseph was much pleased with the arrival of the books, and said to us, ‘Sit down and we will read to you from the translations of the Book of Abraham.’ Oliver Cowdery then read until he was tired when Thomas Marsh read making altogether about two hours.”

      He could have carried a whole library into that meeting. But it was the Book of Abraham that Joseph was excited about and that Oliver Cowdery and Thomas Marsh read. Now yes, Anson Call may have got the time wrong and conflated his memory with something else, but as written his account does not begin with a reference to the Bible translation and leaves no hint that that’s what was read that night. JSPRT4 should have noted the implication that this account contradicts their assumptions on the dates of creation of later material such as Abraham 3.

      I find that this footnote does violence to what Anson Call stated, once again reflecting…

      • There is, of course, further evidence that much more of the Book of Abraham translation was finished in 1835 and that relatively little (perhaps just the glosses of adding Hebrew terms) was done in 1842 Gee and Muhlenstein have discussed the imbalance in the pace based between 1835 and 1842, showing that the vast majority should have been in place in 1835. But we also find references in the GAEL and Egyptian Alphabets to terms that are in Facs. 2 and some concepts related to Abraham 3-5 such as Kolob, some info on stars, references to the Creation etc. Jensen and Hauglid note the relationship between Facs. 2 and the GAEL, and then imply that this means that the GAEL was used to create Facs. 2, once again improperly ignoring and excluding the possibility that it was the other way around. On several issues of importance to the debate on the origins of the Book of Abraham, they make subtle decisions like that, excluding or neglecting other possibilities advocated by other LDS scholars, failing to cite related scholarship (didn’t it surprise you to see Nibley utterly absent?), subtly arguing against points that don’t fit their views (as in the treatment of Anson Call’s Journal), choosing the framing (Egyptomania without Champollion as the key background for understanding the Book of Abraham), and even in the layout of the documents (progression from Egyptian to KEP and then finally Book of Abraham text begins to appear, when the KEP most likely drew upon the existing translation rather than serving as a foundation for it). It’s a marvelous volume, but there are problems with bias that need to be faced.

        As for the emendations in the twin manuscripts, their nature, as well as the nature of the spelling errors, strongly suggest that the scribes were working from an existing manuscript and that the purpose of the twin manuscripts, as shown in the title that JSPRT4 doesn’t explain (nor do our critics): “sign of the fifth degree of the Second​ part” strongly suggesting that their purpose was to create additional entries of keywords in the GAEL section of that name, continuing what Phelps had begun but not could not continue with his heavier duties elsewhere. Most of these emendations don’t make sense if Joseph were dictating live revelation (see my related post at Mormanity), but are the kind of reading mistakes easily made when reading a document aloud. I consider some of the evidence in my original article here, but there is more detail at Mormanity. Evidence based on the title, the nature of the emendations, as well as the punctuation and formatting all suggest that the scribes are working with an existing manuscript (some of this was properly noted in JSP vol. 5, with a reasonable conclusion that is ignored in JSPRT4).

        If Warren Parrish and Frederick G. Williams both were seeking to help develop the GAEL, then it would make sense that they would want copies of the existing BOA text to work with. That would explain why the twin manuscripts start at Abraham 1:4 right after where W.W. Phelps’ manuscript had ended. With one document and two men, one feasible way of expediting the copy is to have one read aloud to the other, line by line, also writing down what has been read. But mistakes can be made and then noted and corrected as they go, giving us the live emendations that are atypical of Joseph’s dictation sessions. Based on spelling of difficult names, it’s clear that one man, Parrish, is getting them with high consistency while the other, Williams, is inconsistent, as if Parrish is the one who can see the document (the reader). In this case, though, the reader quits early and then Williams must copy from the document (not dictation now), and that’s when he blunders by copying a chunk of text he has already written — a dittography, which can easily happen when copying by sight, but is less likely when dictating. You can say it’s all crazy and unreasonable, but I hope people will look at the evidence and the manuscripts to ponder the issue themselves.

        One more question: How do you know that the “Valuable Discovery” document (or the two Katumin-related notebooks) is the result of simultaneous dictation from Joseph Smith? I recognize that his signature is on the title page that mentions the valuable discovery of some Egyptian material, but that title page doesn’t suggest that a translation is included nor that it’s the work of Joseph. How do we know who created the translation? How do we know simultaneous dictation is at play? Seems unlikely since Cowdery has some Egyptian mingled with his English text. How do we know that Joseph was dictating, if dictation was the means used to make the copies? It may have been as you say, but it seems like some assumptions are required to reach that conclusion. As with much in JSPRT4, hidden assumptions may need to be explored.

        Thank you for…

        • Yes, you may have mentioned other possibilities, but you are obviously only interested in defending and promoting the reverse-translation theory. Otherwise why go to great lengths denying the “twin” documents were composed simultaneously as JS dictated if not to date the entire BOA to July 1835? You also seem unaware of how some of these “other possibilities” are actually connected to the reverse-translation theory. Nevertheless, your response to me contains several unsupportable assertions, which I will briefly address.

          Of course the GAEL draws on Abr. 1:1-3, which no one disputes came earlier than JS’s dictation of Abr. 1:4-2:2 to Williams and Parrish, probably in November 1835. Anyone who reads the Egyptian Alphabets (EA) and GAEL can see that they do not deal with the BOA, that is, until the end of the former and beginning of the latter. When they do deal with Abraham, it is in connection with Abr. 1:1-3 and the three characters that are also in WWP’s transcription of those verses. Gee even complained about this lack of comparison between the BOA and the EG, not realizing the problem it caused for his theory.

          The GAEL discusses ancient astronomy, which JS used in 1842 to explain Fac. 2, not the other way round. The GAEL interprets characters from the col. 2 on JSP I, not Fac. 2.

          The discussion of the discovery of Egypt by a woman while it was still under water came from the discussion of princess Katumin and her parents, who lived well after Abraham. JS dropped this information in his dictation of the Abra. 1:21-26, while at the same time inventing characters partly from the characters in the EG right where the Hor scroll is missing. These characters were added to all three BOA manuscripts in different ink. The ideas originated in the EA in connection with explaining the identities of the mummies and why they had the records of the patriarchs, then developed in the GAEL, and then inserted in the BOA as a gloss or commentary providing historical context for what Abraham was experiencing.

          The only reason to postulate JS dictated more text than we have is to explain the non-BOA material in the EA and GAEL or account for all the times JS’s journal mentions translating. This last point rests on the false assumption that the EA and GAEL were not translations and therefore JS’s journal could only be referring to the BOA. The former point attempts to create yet a longer missing document that preceded the EA and GAEL and therefore defend the reverse-translation theory. However, the Williams and Parrish documents are original dictations by JS. That’s what the simultaneous emendations show, despite your desperate attempt to make them into reading mistakes. Any unbiased person will cringe when reading your convoluted explanations on Mormanity, none of which are the expected sight mistakes of dittography or haplography. Instead, they are the kinds of changes in wording one expects to see in orally created texts. You say this is atypical for JS, but we have few original dictated revelations, although they (as well as the BOM) bear examples of changing direction and rewording without striking out text, which is also typical of dictated texts. Of course, JS’s dictated letters have strikeouts.

          When JS mentioned the history of the planets and Abraham’s writings in 1838, it doesn’t prove he had dictated the text to scribes, at least not as a continuation of the BOA. However, JS had dictated the GAEL, which included his translation of “Abrahams writings upon the Plannettary system.” Indeed, Kolob is a translation of a character from col. 3 on JSP I. There is not a shred of evidence that JS dictated an interpretation of Fac. 2 in 1835.

          Anson Call’s reminiscence is a weak source upon which to base an extremely implausible theory. JS’s journal is very clear that on 8-9 March 1842 he worked on the translation for the 10th number of the Times and Seasons, which published Abr. 2:19-5:21. Call’s account should be used with caution since it is unlikely that Cowdery could have been there since he had been excommunicated or at least was about to be. Moreover, he and JS were not on friendly terms because of OC’s accusations of adultery and feeling he had been slandered by JS. Nevertheless, Jensen and Hauglid’s treatment is unsatisfactory, although they are right to question Call’s account. If Call’s memory has some substance, it makes more sense that the men read from the translation book containing Abr. 1:1-2:18 as well as from the GAEL, which included a translation of another part of Abraham’s record. JS’s journal entries force us to either dismiss Call’s account as an outlier or interpret it in a way that harmonizes it with the strongest evidence. One certainly doesn’t attempt a convoluted interpretation of JS’s journal in defense of Call’s late reminiscence to defend a weak apologetic theory.

          • Dan wrote:
            The GAEL discusses ancient astronomy, which JS used in 1842 to explain Fac. 2, not the other way round. The GAEL interprets characters from the col. 2 on JSP I, not Fac. 2.

            That’s quite an assumption to say that Joseph used the GAEL in 1842 to create his explanations for Facs. 2, when he indicated on Oct. 1, 1835 that in his work on the translation, the system of astronomy was unfolded. He was lecturing on principles of astronomy from the Book of Abraham in 1838. There are multiple lines of evidence suggesting that Abraham 3 and Facs. 2 were in place before 1842 (see the Muhlenstein and Hansen reference cited below). The fact that the GAEL has terms used in Facs. 2 doesn’t mean Facs. 2 was created using the GAEL. This is an assumption, and a poor one.

            The discussion of the discovery of Egypt by a woman while it was still under water came from the discussion of princess Katumin and her parents, who lived well after Abraham. JS dropped this information in his dictation of the Abra. 1:21-26, while at the same time inventing characters partly from the characters in the EG right where the Hor scroll is missing. These characters were added to all three BOA manuscripts in different ink.

            Different ink? Looks pretty much the same to me. How do you know it was different ink? Is your theory that these characters were added after the English text? I thought you were strongly opposed to the idea that English text was written first and the characters were added later, but perhaps you allow for some exceptions?

            The only reason to postulate JS dictated more text than we have is to explain the non-BOA material in the EA and GAEL or account for all the times JS’s journal mentions translating….

            Here I think that you again seem to ignore the evidence presented for various issues and instead attack what you assume is the desperate reason behind the desire to make an argument. Responding to the assumed reason for an argument rather than the argument itself and the evidence for it is an inadequate response. The evidence for early translation of much in the Book of Abraham – as well as material that we no longer have – is extensive. On this matter, see Kerry Muhlestein and Megan Hansen, “‘The Work of Translating’: The Book of Abraham’s Translation Chronology,” in Let Us Reason Together: Essays in Honor of the Life’s Work of Robert L. Millet, ed. J. Spencer Fluhman and Brent L. Top (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: 2016), 139–62.

            Out of time now, more to follow. Again, thanks for sharing your views.

        • Gee’s and Muhlestein’s argument from imbalance rests on the false assumption that all references in JS’s journals to translating have to be the BOA. JS History mentions that he “translated” an Alphabet. JS was able to dictate Abra. 2:19-5:21 in two days in 1842, as stated in his journal, because most of it was based on Genesis. The argument from disproportion is therefore weak.

          The presence of Hebrew in Abr. 3-5 is evidence against its being dictated in 1835. The suggestion that the Hebrew terms were added in 1842 is mere wishful thinking. JS’s journal says he was translating for the 10th number of the Times and Seasons.

          No one has quite figured out what is meant by “sign of the fifth degree of the Secondpart,” or why there is a character and why it was changed from first to second part, not even you. You assert: “If Warren Parrish and Frederick G. Williams both were seeking to help develop the GAEL, then it would make sense that they would want copies of the existing BOA text to work with. That would explain why the twin manuscripts start at Abraham 1:4 right after where W.W. Phelps’ manuscript had ended.” Your theory is pure fantasy and doesn’t explain anything; it certainly doesn’t follow from the heading. The heading mentions degree and part, but nothing in the EA and GAEL explains what is meant by “sign of the fifth degree.” The character is unique and doesn’t come from the unfinished part 2 of the EA or GAEL. If Williams and Parrish were continuing WWP’s work in the GAEL, they would have continued with the next character following Kolob, which as I have mentioned came from col. 3 on JSP I. If they were to planning to skip to the BOA, it would have been part 6. The project Parrish and Williams were continuing was not the EA or GAEL, but the one WWP had begun in the translation book.

          In support of your theory that Parrish read aloud to Williams, you argue: “Based on spelling of difficult names, it’s clear that one man, Parrish, is getting them with high consistency while the other, Williams, is inconsistent, as if Parrish is the one who can see the document (the reader).” It only means that Parrish was more consistent than FGW. Why would spelling consistency mean WP is looking at a document? If the document WP was supposedly looking at was the original dictated manuscript, wouldn’t that be inconsistent? On the spelling of Elkkener/Elkkenah, the confusion was probably due to JS’s New England non-rhotic accent, where a final r can sound like an h, and vice versa. A similar error occurred on page 34 in the GAEL when JS said Kolob had been “discovered by Methuselah and also by Abraham” but Parrish wrote “Methuselar.” Out of the seven instances of Elkkener/Elkkenah, Williams wrote –er the first two times and then –ah the remainder. Whereas Parrish consistently wrote –er, except once he wrote –ah and then overwrote it with –er. This doesn’t prove Parrish was looking at a document and Williams wasn’t.

          Just because something is debated doesn’t mean that they are debatable. Scientific books are not incomplete because they don’t address Creationism or intelligent design. The reverse-translation theory, long-scroll theory, missing-scroll theory, together with unsupported assertions like the BOA was complete and possibly more in July 1835, that in 1835 JS dictated four times what he published in 1842, that the Hebrew terms in Abr. 3-5 were added in 1842 should be considered fringe scholarship unworthy to be discussed by serious scholars except to refute them.

          • Regarding spelling in the twin manuscripts, it’s not just consistency, but accuracy, as I explained in detail in the paper and in my post at Mormanity that you replied to several times. See “The Twin Book of Abraham Manuscripts: Do They Reflect Live Translation Produced by Joseph Smith, or Were They Copied From an Existing Document?

            In Williams’s Book of Abraham Manuscript (A), he writes Mah-mackrah and then Mah-Mach-rah. Parrish only gives us Mahmachrah, though on its first of 3 occurrences it is not capitalized. For Chaldea/Chaldean/Chaldeas, Williams sometimes has the final vowels as “ea,” “ee”, “eea”, and “ia”, while Parrish always has “ea”. For Canaanites, Williams has Cananitess, and cannites. Parrish gets it right but lacks capitalization the first time, again. For Onitah, Parrish gets it right, while Williams writes Onitus and then strikes it and gets it correct, perhaps after asking for guidance or being corrected. So you might think Parrish is a great speller — but he’s not. He writes “preist,” “sacrafice,” “fassion” (fashion), “patraarch,” “govermnent,” “pople” (people), “Idolitry,” “deliniate,” “runing,” and “smiten.” His high accuracy with difficult names that Williams struggles with suggests he sees the document being copied.

            Your argument about Methuselah/r is from the very last line of the GAEL and assumes, once again, that this was created by dictation from Joseph Smith when there is no evidence for that. But certainly someone could have been reading to Parrish at that point to help him complete Phelps’ document. Perhaps someone with a Yankee accent. But Joseph wasn’t the only Yankee. If Frederick G. Williams were helping Parrish to flesh out the GAEL after Phelps became too busy on other tasks to continue his work on the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, would it not make sense that Williams would also assist Parrish in expanding some of the last entries in that volume? Williams was born in Suffield, Connecticut and in his youth there may have acquired a Yankee accent.

            Parrish, by the way, was born in New York and was likely to have had a touch of the Yankee accent as well. If a Yankee accent is behind Williams’ misspelling of Elkkenah as Elk=Kener twice before he began writing Elk=Keenah, Elk-keenah, Elk Kee-nah, Elk-Keenah, and Elkkeenah, why must it be Joseph’s accent? Parrish’s accent would do just fine here. Parrish, by the way, spells each of the occurrences the same, Elkkener. If he were reading from an existing document and could see how this word and other difficult words were spelled, it would make sense that this poor speller could be accurate and consistent.

          • Regarding the “sign of the fifth degree of the Second​ part,” the key thing in my argument is the reference to “fifth degree of the Second​ part”. As you know, the “fifth degree” is the highest degree in the GAEL, said to generally have the richest meaning. There is an incomplete section with that title (“Second part, 5th degree,” p. 164 of JSPRT4). You can see the first page here and the last page here, which has one entry, Kolob, followed by 12 blank pages. To accelerate the project and flesh out this highly important section, to me it seems like going to the 2nd part of the 5th degree would be logical.

            The sign is puzzling. There the two forms of the sign in question, one like an F in Williams’ Manuscript A and in Parrish’s Manuscript B, one like an F without the top horizontal stroke. These are akin to the archaic Greek capital letters Digamma and a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heta”>Heta, respectively. Like many GAEL entries, the “sign” may reflect someone’s (I would say Phelps’) exposure to archaic Greek alphabet letters, which are found elsewhere in Phelps’ GAEL (forms of theta, phi, lambda, etc. — cf. characters 2.17, 2.18, 2.25, 2.27, 2.35, 2.37, and 2. 38).

            The “sign” is also very much like the ninth and last occurrence of beth (char. 2.15) in the GAEL, which, after being a straight vertical line many times before, suddenly is drawn as a vertical line with a dash in the middle on the right-hand side, very much like the form of the “sign” drawn by Warren Parrish at the top of BOA Manuscript B. And can you guess where this unique form of beth occurs in the GAEL? Yep – near the top of the first page of the section entitled “Second part, 5th Degree” (p. 160 in JSPRT4). That may be a hint of a connection using the sign as well as the words of the title there. Or just a weird coincidence.

            What is also interesting is that those two forms of the “sign” seem to be part of a many of the “Egyptian” characters in the margins of the twin manuscripts. See BOA characters (as numbered in the Concordance of JSPRT4, pp. 378ff) 2, 3, 4, and then note how the twin manuscripts for Character 5 have it even though the hieratic character being copied doesn’t. Then Characters 6 and 7, though Egyptian, can be viewed as containing the sign, as may apply to 10 and 11. Concocted characters 12, 13, and 14 definitely have it on the right side. There may be a hint of it in 15. We don’t know what the scribes were thinking, but there’s something about that symbol that the scribes might have seen as pervading the characters in those documents, adding meaning or mystique to the characters, perhaps making them especially suitable for whatever the purpose of the GAEL was. Or those relationships might just be coincidental.

            There is much unexplained, of course, and some of what I said here is certainly speculative, but regardless of what the sign means, the heading that mentions the arguably most important section and clearly incomplete section of the GAEL suggests that these documents were meant to continue whatever Phelps was doing in his work with Abraham 1:1-3, and that appears to be linking keywords or concepts in the existing translation of the Book of Abraham with various characters to continue what Phelps had been doing: creating entries in the GAEL. But the project fizzled out before those newly used Egyptian characters (and some concocted “sign”-containing characters) ever could be processed for whatever purpose was behind the GAEL, reverse engineering the Egyptian code or creating a reverse cipher or creating a pure language guide or some other unclear purpose.

            The theory that there is a relationship between the twin manuscripts and the GAEL does not require fully understanding that the sign means. Even without the sign and even without the leading words “fifth degree of the Second​ part,” the fact that Phelps had been creating the GAEL usiing Abraham 1:1-3 and some characters, and then two new scribes took up the project continuing where he left off, suggests continuity in purpose, whatever that purpose was.

          • Dan wrote, “JS was able to dictate Abra. 2:19-5:21 in two days in 1842, as stated in his journal, because most of it was based on Genesis.” His journal, for the record, does not state that he was translating Abr. 2:19-5:21. That’s an assumption and that of JSPRT4’s editors (although Muhlenstein and Hansen explain why it’s not an unreasonable one, but also explain why it doesn’t hold up). The act of “translating” can certainly include editing the text for final preparation, including incorporation of Hebrew terms. Abraham 3 is a complex chapter, and the Biblical material is not a simple copy and paste effort from the KJV. A day and half to create all that is an exceptional pace compared to his 1835 work.

            How do you account for the multiple hints that at least initial translation for Abraham 3 and Facs. 2 were in place before 1842, and how do you rule out the reasonable hypothesis that the GAEL terms related to those are derived from the translation rather then serving as sources for it?

            From Muhlenstein and Hansen, some things to consider:

            [In the GAEL] appears the line “The first Being—supreme intelligence.” This is evocative of the language in Abraham 3:19. This does not necessitate that Abraham 3:19 had been translated by the time GAEL 3 was created, but it strongly suggests it. Likewise, a few pages later in the grammar a discussion of Abraham being foreordained and chosen to go to Egypt to preach the gospel appears. These are concepts found only in Abraham 3, again strongly suggesting the translation had proceeded at least that far before the end of 1835. These last two attestations are important because, unlike many other references to astronomy that could come from either Facsimile 2 or Abraham 3, these two phrases appear only in Abraham 3. This strengthens the likelihood that other astronomical references were linked to Abraham 3, again indicating that the translation had reached that stage by the end of 1835.

            Similarly, the word “Shinehah” is attested in Abraham 3:13, where it is part of the astronomical explanation given there.However, in section 86 of the 1835 edition of Doctrine and Covenants, the word “Shinehah” is used as a code for “Kirtland.” This happens again in the heading of section 96, as well as three times in section 98. While it is possible that this was a code word that Joseph randomly created and then later inserted into Abraham 3, it seems more likely that he translated through Abraham 3 and then borrowed a word from that text. If this assumption is correct, then, again, Joseph had translated Abraham 3 before the end of 1835.

            As mentioned above, in early October the principles of astronomy were unfolded to Smith and others while working on a grammar. We cannot be certain this is tied directly to any text from the Book of Abraham, but it seems most likely that either an understanding of Facsimile 2 or a translation of Abraham 3 was provided at this time. Given the references to chapter 3 in the Grammar, that text is the likely referent. Further evidence strengthens this supposition, as is evident when we examine the principles of astronomy outlined in Abraham 3 and alluded to in Facsimile 2, which were frequently employed by Joseph in following years.

            As a case in point, when Wilford Woodruff was set apart as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, he was told “that [he] should visit COLUB.” Later, in December of 1838, Woodruff again spoke of “COLOB.” Both of these journal entries make it clear that Joseph’s colleagues were familiar with Kolob. Given the paucity of other or earlier references to Kolob in the documentary record, these mentions in Woodruff’s journal likely serve as evidence of familiarity with Facsimile 2 or Abraham 3, indicating that knowledge of Kolob arose in 1835.

            A similar example comes from a May 6, 1838, record of a Joseph Smith sermon: “This day, President Smith. delivered a discourse. to the people. . . . He also instructed the Church, in the mistories of the Kingdom of God; giving them a history of the Plannets &c. and of Abrahams writings upon the Plannettary system &c.” The specific phrase “writings upon the Plannettary system” strongly suggests that the Prophet was preaching about Abraham 3; nothing else in his revelations match that description. Despite this language, the entry could be referring to Joseph’s understanding of Facsimile 2.

            The use of Shinehah to mean the sun is rather interesting given the plausibility of that connection in Egyptian. See “Shinehah, The Sun” at Pearl of Great Price Central. One of several interesting evidences of antiquity in the Book of Abraham. Possibly a coincidence, of course, but interesting.

            Thanks again for your time and input.

          • Correction regarding the “sign” at the top of the twin manuscripts: I think both manuscripts are showing the same form, a somewhat vertical line with a horizontal stroke going from the midpoint to the right. There isn’t a F-like form — I was mistaking a smudge in Williams’ document as the supposed top stroke of something like an F. That simplifies things, though what they were doing with that sign is unclear.

            • Dan said, “A similar error occurred on page 34 in the GAEL when JS said Kolob had been “discovered by Methuselah and also by Abraham” but Parrish wrote ‘Methuselar.'”

              What is the evidence that it was Joseph dictating? Parrish may be working with Phelps for some of these late entries in the GAEL. Why could it not be Phelps or some other Yankee (of many available) dictating to Parrish, if dictation is the only explanation for this mistake?

        • How do we know that OC and WWP were writing simultaneously as JS dictated the Katumin passage in the Valuable Discovery (VD) notebooks? For the second emendation, WWP made an in-line correction: “who reigned began to reign.” Whereas OC corrected his text differently: “who reigned.” This is clear evidence that WWP and OC were writing simultaneously from Joseph Smith’s dictation. I don’t think one of them was reading from a pre-existing text and the other one was copying. JS’s history makes it clear that JS was doing the translating and OC and WWP were scribes. The VD notebooks and part 1 in the EA deal with Katumin and the royal family. WWP was working on JS’s history at the time it was composed, so obviously he didn’t think he or OC were authors of the EA or GAEL.

          WWP wrote the entire paragraph of hieratic characters without designating which characters were being translated, whereas OC apparently copied the specific characters, twice in the margin at the beginning of the two sentences, and once in the middle of the text. This was not unlike what Parrish apparently did when he and Williams were writing simultaneously, which is suggested by the fact that his document ends with a character in the margin without an accompanying text.

          You ask, “How do we know that Joseph was dictating, if dictation was the means used to make the copies?” You have this backwards. How do you know FGW and WP were copying, if JS generally used two scribes when dictating during the Egyptian project? There is no evidence that JS or his scribes made copies by reading them rather than the normal visual copying.

          • Dan, if the two Katumin-related documents represent dictation by Joseph to two scribes, can you explain how this fits the details? First, the two bound notebooks are quite different. There is common material for the Katumin-related passage, but the rest shows significant differences. Phelps, for example, draws figures and add captions. Those elements aren’t in Oliver’s. Phelps’ translation comes on page 2, before the related characters. For Oliver, it comes at the end of the notebook, and lacks the Egyptian passage he is translating, which is in Phelps’ notebook. Oliver has some characters with the English, while Phelps does not. And none of the emendations are actually identical. The closest is the one you base your argument on, but let’s look at the whole text to see how oral dictation would work. The translations are in (1) the “Valuable Discovery” document from Oliver Cowdery, and (2) the “Notebook of Copied Characters” document from W.W. Phelps.

            Looking at Oliver’s document, here’s a hypothetical dictation scenario. I will spell out punctuation and verbally indicate striking out, etc. I won’t cover clues for upper vs. lower case.

            Joseph: “Brethren, copy these 3 characters [he could show them, write them, or state which characters of a manuscript to copy]. Now here’s the translation: ‘Katumin [the website has Katamin, but I agree with the evaluation in JSPRT4 of Katumin — the upper portion of the first stroke of the first “a” has enough of inward curl to hint at the closing of the loop, distinguishing it from the open “u”, so Katumin is favored] comma Princess comma daughter of On hyphen i hyphen tas left bracket Pharaoh — no, strike out Pharaoh and write King right bracket of Egypt’ comma. Oh, strike the brackets. Good. Now after the comma, write the next 3 characters [shows them]. OK, here’s the translation: ‘who reigned’ –oops, change ‘reigned’ to ‘reign’ and before that word, please use a caret to insert ‘​began to​’ above the line. Let’s continue: ‘in the year of the world 2962.’

            “Now start a paragraph and write the next character [shown]. Oliver, you’ve got it backwards. Oh, never mind. Now here’s the translation: ‘Katumin was born in the 30th year of the reign of her father comma and died when she was 28 years old comma which was the year 3020.'”

            If these same instructions were to be followed by W.W. Phelps, we would expect a very similar document. But note the differences:

            1. Phelps has a title specifying that this is a translation and denotes where the original Egyptian is (the next page). Cowdery lacks those elements.
            2. Cowdery’s document lacks the Egyptian related to the translation. Why? For the characters he used, was he copying characters from a papyrus fragment or from Phelps’ notebook?
            3. Phelps has no Egyptian inline with his text, unlike Cowdery. If Joseph were dictating and using a process like he is alleged to have used with the twin manuscripts, we would expect Egyptian to be present in both cases.
            4. Instead of hyphens in the name Onitas, Phelps has “=” marks. (Probably just his style — a trivial issue.)
            5. Phelps has a tiny “King” inserted above the line with a caret indicating where to insert it. He completely lacks the brackets, the word “Pharaoh,” and the inline “King” of Cowdery, a cluster of significant differences.
            6. Phelps lacks the above-line insertion of “began to”, though he does have “reigned” changed to “reign” by striking out the last two letters.
            7. In the last sentence Phelps writes “28th” and then scratches out the “th” immediately while the ink is still wet, resulting in some streaking of ink. Cowdery lacks this mistake and correction. If Phelps were taking diction, hearing “28 years” and writing “28th years” seems odd. But immediately above his 28th in the previous line is “30th”. If Phelps were making a visual copy rather than taking dictation, seeing and having written “30th” shortly before could lead to the copying error of writing “28th.” That may be more likely than hearing “28 years” and writing “28th”.
            8. At the very end, Phelps writes “which was 3020” and then uses a caret to insert “the year” before 3020. Cowdery lacks this.

            It’s hard to see how these many differences align with the theory that Joseph is doing the same thing here as you allege he was doing with the twin manuscripts. Yes, there seems to be some connection to give that one repeated error involve “began to reign”, but this could come by copying. For example, if Phelps were copying what Oliver had or something similar, it’s possible to write “who reigned” (especially if the line…

          • My comment was truncated. Final sentence should be this:

            For example, if Phelps were copying what Oliver had or something similar, it’s possible to write “who reigned” (especially if the line through “ed” was initially faint) before noticing the insertion. If simultaneous, they shouldn’t be so different.

            A touch more:
            These documents differ in content. Their purposes are unknown but may be different. They have different Egyptian. We don’t know if the English was added initially or much later. We don’t really know who was doing the translation — Joseph was not the only daring to try his hand at revelation and translation. Is it possible that Phelps was copying from Cowdery or from another source document? Given the many differences in these documents, it’s far from a slam-dunk case that Joseph was dictating simultaneously, and this hardly establishes a clear modus operandi of using two scribes at a time for Book of Abraham work.

        • The source for JS’s 1842 explanation of Fac. 2 being the GAEL is not an assumption. It only seems like it to you, because you hold a theory that has no evidence. Raukeeyang points to after JS’s Hebrew lessons. There was no temple theology with secret words in 1835. You have no reason to question the chronology resulting from order of the documents we actually have.

          JS’s journal for 1 Oct. 1835 pertains to the GAEL, which is designated “Egyptian Alphabet” at the top of many of its pages. JS’s lecturing on astronomy from Abraham’s writings proves nothing. Muhlestein and Hansen’s essay is flawed. The GAEL actually has more terms and description that Fac. 2, which destroys the argument that the GAEL came from Fac. 2.

          For the invented characters appearing in different ink, see Jensen and Hauglid, pp. 199, 240n83; 211, 241n143; 227, 242n171. Parrish’s shorter document ends with a character without accompanying English text, which implies the characters were written at the time, not later as some apologists want to believe. On the other hand, Parrish’s longer document following WWP’s text has two character groups scraped off, implying that in this instance he had copied the characters before copying the English text. Because the text is not divided by paragraphs but sometimes in mid-sentence to align with the characters, meaning the characters were not afterthoughts but integral to the text, it doesn’t matter when the characters were written.

          I don’t think you understand the motivation behind your fellow apologists’ arguments. Regardless, I have responded directly to their evidence for the reverse-translation theory, which requires the BOA to precede the EA and GAEL. The claim that JS translated more than the present BOA is designed to explain material in those documents not found in the BOA. You just used that argument in just that way. Concerning Call’s account, you said: “If accurate, that puts the text at well over twice as long and probably 4 times as long as what we have. Some of that material is likely in the GAEL.” These theories result from problems in the central theory. The evidence for these ad hoc theories is not “extensive,” and Muhlestein and Hansen’s essay is flawed in its logic.

          • Dan wrote: “The source for JS’s 1842 explanation of Fac. 2 being the GAEL is not an assumption…. The GAEL actually has more terms and description that Fac. 2, which destroys the argument that the GAEL came from Fac. 2.”

            It destroys the argument that the GAEL came EXCLUSIVELY from Facs. 2, but that’s not what I said. I’ve already noted that the GAEL includes material from earlier sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, that it includes numerous characters that aren’t from the papyri, that it includes material from Abraham 1 and later chapters, and a few other things, including some influence from Hebrew and a touch of Greek.

            Joseph never said he was working on an alphabet for translation of the Book of Abraham, but “an alphabet TO the Book of Abraham.” The use of that phrase, an “alphabet to” some specific target, as I’ve shown for all relevant examples in Joseph’s era and earlier that I’ve been able to find, indicates one is creating an index, guide, etc. based on an existing text or existing source of knowledge, not a tool for creating the referred to target. Joseph’s words can best be understood as creating an alphabet based on the translation of the Book of Abraham, not a tool that could then be used to translate the Book of Abraham. Revelation via Urim and Thummim/spiritual gifts first, then the intellectual effort to create some kind of alphabet for unclear purposes using the existing text. Somewhat like Champollion first needed the tool of the Rosetta Stone in order to create his “alphabet,” as the fruit of his work was often called.

            If the purpose of the GAEL was to actually translate at least part of the BOA, such as Facs. 2, rather than being based upon the translation, then how do you account for the abandonment of the existing “translation” of Phelps’ six characters in his pure language document? His May 1835 letter, as I’ve discussed, shows those 6 non-Egyptian, partially Masonic characters and their sounds and meaning. After the Book of Abraham translation was well underway, we see these very characters, in exactly the same order in the Egyptian Alphabets, but with different sounds and meanings. These are incorporated into various places of the GAEL. The GAEL meanings relate to angels, ministers of God or sinful/unauthorized ministers, and to mankind, concepts found in the Book of Abraham (e.g., Abr. 2: 6, where the Lord tells Abraham He will make Abraham a “minister” to bear His name, and gives him authority for his “ministry” in 2:9 that will bless all nations, in contrast to the evil Egyptian priest who seeks to slay Abraham, only to be thwarted by intervention of an angel). The Book of Abraham translation appears to have led to a revision in the previously assigned meanings for the “pure language” characters. Again, it’s an alphabet TO the Book of Abraham. Why would it be any different for Facs. 2? When the ancient principles of astronomy/cosmology are “unfolded” by Oct. 1, 1835, and when Joseph is then lecturing on “the mistories of the Kingdom of God; giving them a history of the Plannets &c. and of Abrahams writings upon the Plannettary System &c” on May 6, 1838, what makes you think he had to wait until 1842 to have at least some of Facs. 2 and Abraham 3 in place? The Temple system doesn’t have to be in place for Joseph to recognize the link to Masonry in the compass and square symbols on Facs. 2 and to be inspired to see a connection to “key words” of the priesthood, though it is possible that this phrase was added in 1842 as he made revisions to Facs. 2 in his very brief translation work to prepare things for publication. But when we see many terms and concepts from Facs. 2 in the GAEL, you need to recognize that you are making an assumption when you decide that Joseph must be translating the Book of Abraham from the GAEL, rather than it being based on the Book of Abraham. There’s evidence that the Book of Abraham came first and the GAEL draws upon it, and specific evidence that the principles of cosmology in the BOA came first, followed by creation of the cosmological material in the GAEL.

          • Dan, you said the invented characters were in different ink. When I questioned that, you cited JSPRT4: “For the invented characters appearing in different ink, see Jensen and Hauglid, pp. 199, 240n83; 211, 241n143; 227, 242n171.” But I think you might have missed an important detail, as I often do as well. Jensen and Hauglid in each instance state that there is a “different ink FLOW” (emphasis added), not different ink. Using the same ink, one can have a different ink flow for a variety of reasons. There can be different ink flow within a single sentence or even a single word. Minor detail, but thought you would like to know. Thanks again for the input.

        • Parrish was a more consistent speller of names than FGW. That’s all. It doesn’t prove Parrish was looking at a manuscript. As I asked, if WP was looking at a dictated manuscript, why was it consistent? How is it that WP misspelled common words? What kind of document could WP have been looking at? Your logic is flawed on this matter. It only means WP was consistent with his first spelling of a strange name, while FGW can’t even spell Canaanites or Chaldea consistently. Besides, WP’s emendations do not result from visual errors, but are most like someone dictating and searching for their words.

          Even if you can’t bring yourself to admit JS was the author of the GAEL, the non-rhotic ending of Methuselah is established and hopefully you get the point about Elkkener/Elkkenah. As I mentioned, on page 4 of WP’s document, he first wrote –ah, wipe erased it, then wrote –er, which shows that even he got confused with JS’s accent (see Jensen and Hauglid, p. 211). As you can see, your visual theory has many problems?

          On the sign of the fifth degree, second part: you speculated that WP and FGW were continuing the GAEL, but it has no evidence, makes no sense, and explains nothing.

          On 1842 translating, JS’s journal says he was translating for the 10th number of the T&S, which was Abr. 2:19-5:21. Only the second day mentions editing, and the fragment we have of Abr. 3 shows editing. There is no evidence for the existence of an 1835 text for Abr. 3-5, let alone that it was edited to include Hebrew terms. That’s a huge assumption for someone who believes connecting JS’s journal with what was published in the T&S is an assumption.

          Muhlestein and Hensen’s use of the GAEL mention of “The first Being—supreme intelligence” and Abr. 3:19 is weak. When you trace the development from the EA through the five degrees of the GAEL, it goes from different kinds of power and then includes intelligence among others. Nothing like Abr. 3:19, and nothing to show direction of influence, even if there was some.

          Abraham’s foreordination is complete distortion of what actually occurs in Abraham and the GAEL.

          Despite the assertions of Gee, Hauglid, Muhlestein, and Hansen, Shinehah, as one of the code names used in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, probably pre-dates the arrival of the Egyptian papyri in July 1835. Indeed, there is no indication that any of the code names were influenced by the Egyptian project. There are two non-Hebrew names from Abraham 3:13—Shinehah and Olea—where they are said to mean the sun and the moon. This departs from the bound Grammar, which names the moon Flo-ees and the sun Flos-isis. the probable source of Shinehah and Olea in Abraham 3:13 is an 8 July 1838 revelation that speaks of both the “mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman” and the “plains of Olaha Shinehah, or the land where Adam dwelt” (D&C 117:8). An early copy of this revelation in the handwriting of Edward Partridge as well as two other sources close to Joseph Smith read “Olea Shinihah.” The use of “Olea Shinihah” in this revelation is not intended as a code name but as an actual place name in the Adamic language comparable to Adam-ondi-Ahman. Thus the two non-Hebrew names Shinehah and Olea in Abraham 3:13 seem to have their origin in this 1838 revelation, although Shinehah as a code name probably pre-dated the Book of Abraham. It therefore seems probable that in Abraham 3:13 Joseph Smith was blending Hebrew and Adamic terminology.

          How can Wilford Woodruff’s mention of Kolob in 1838 prove Abr. 3 was translated in 1835? Did Muhlestein and Hansen forget about the GAEL?

          • “How is it that WP misspelled common words?” The process of reading a passage out loud to another and then writing what one has just read makes it very easy to remember the words spoken in order to write them but to not accurately notice and reproduce the spelling. One can introduce one’s own spelling mistakes for common words through sloppiness here. When there’s a bizarre name, one can’t just rely on verbal memory, but will have a question: “How to spell that strange word??”, forcing a glance back at the manuscript to get it right. No need to do that for all the common words where one feels confident about spelling.

          • Dan wrote, “Shinehah, as one of the code names used in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, probably pre-dates the arrival of the Egyptian papyri in July 1835.” Many edits were made to prepare that volume for its Aug. 1835 publication. By that date, it is possible that the relevant portion of the Book of Abraham with Shinehah = the sun had already been translated. What evidence do you have that Shinehah predated July 1835? I am not aware of any reference to Shinehah that can be established before August 1835. There was no need to include codenames in the original revelations — where the original manuscripts are extant, the code names are absent, but they appear to have been added to prepare for public printing. See David J. Whittaker, “Substituted Names in the Published Revelations of Joseph Smith,” BYU Studies Quarterly, 23/1 (1983): 103-112, citation at p. 106.

            Given that Shinehah is prima facie evidence of some kind of connection between the Doctrine and Covenant code names and the Book of Abraham, how can you say “there is no indication that any of the code names were influenced by the Egyptian project”?

          • Dan writes: “Even if you can’t bring yourself to admit JS was the author of the GAEL, the non-rhotic ending of Methuselah is established and hopefully you get the point about Elkkener/Elkkenah. As I mentioned, on page 4 of WP’s document, he first wrote –ah, wipe erased it, then wrote –er, which shows that even he got confused with JS’s accent (see Jensen and Hauglid, p. 211).”

            Several points to consider:
            1. Evidence of Joseph as author? If Joseph was the author of GAEL, was he the author of the Egyptian alphabet documents as well from which the GAEL is derived? Why is it that in the brief portion of one EA manuscript where his handwriting appears, he is obviously copying someone else’s document, and also completely fails to follow the format that Phelps has provided on the document? Why does his writing never appear in the GAEL?

            (more to follow)

          • 2. The KEP only from Kirtland? Why no Kirtland Egyptian Papers work from Nauvoo? If Joseph used the GAEL or any of the KEP to translate any of the later portions of the BOA in Nauvoo, as you suggest, why is it that the KEP documents are all from the Kirtland era? They are clearly unfinished, preliminary works. Why did work on the GAEL and other documents stop in Kirtland if a great deal of basic translation remained to be done and would be done in Nauvoo, and would need the GAEL to do at least some of it? Why wasn’t work on the GAEL or on other documents continued after the Kirtland era?

            3. Joseph dictating? Parrish consistently ends Elkkener in “r”, but for one moment near the end of the document he slips and gives it “ah” at the end, which he immediately scratches out before the ink is dry and repairs it. Does that mean Joseph was dictating? Does it mean anyone was dictating? For Yankees, a trailing “er” and “ah” can sound the same and it’s a possible source of confusion, especially if he is reading aloud to Williams before writing himself and then recalling the audible memory. (Of course, it’s also possible that Williams or someone else took a turn reading aloud if Parrish was having a coughing fit or something — he had to stop scribal work at the end of January for a while due to his respiratory illness, and that may be why Parrish stopped early relative to Williams in BOA Manuscript B.) But note that in the few lines before he made the -ah/er slip, he has just written and seen a host of names ending in “ah” or “a”: Zibnah. Mahmackrah, Noah, Chaldea (Pharaoh with its final “h” was also there). Now comes a name whose sound can register in the Yankee brain as ending in “r” or “ah”. It’s possible to have a slip at that point and favor a terminal “ah” for just a moment. There’s no need to require someone besides him reading, but even if there were someone else reading, there’s no reason it has to be Joseph Smith (could have been Williams or any 3rd party), and even if Joseph were reading, there’s no reason to deny the evidence for an existing manuscript being used and the evidence that this was not a document of newly translated scripture. That’s a key point here: an existing manuscript is obviously present for multiple reasons, even more than those noted by the editors of JSP Vol. 5.

  4. I believe that Jeff Lindsay does a remarkable job in stating the issues which should have been addressed in the JSPRP4 project. His arguments are cogent, informative and instructive. It would have been well-advised that his questions be positively addressed by the editors involved in the JSPRP “project.”
    I for one, see no problem with valid expressions of dismay over the possibility that the already publicly stated biases of Hauglid against BYU or LDS apologists might not have (and probably did) crept into the editorial process. After all, the facts as stated are hard to ignore and have nothing to do with Jeff’s purported bias, but stand-alone as facts to themselves. If there were potential “other” possibilities of historical events (as Jeff mentioned) why couldn’t they have been included, instead of “cherry-picking” one side only and then presenting it as fact (which happens to mirror the critic’s opinions of Joseph Smith and not potentially the other way around.) At least (as Jeff states) mentioning the existence of other possibilities which the editors deduce from thin air would have seemed like the more reasonable approach for an editor to have taken. Reminding once again that this is just one example of several introduced by Lindsay and Gee, that as previously discussed, discerning who dictated a document without someone specifically attributing said dictation has inherent problems of potentially mistaken identity of who actually dictated. (I can see it clearly in my mind, “Well who dictated this document?” And the answer coming from whoever wants to make their point, “Well, it was obviously dictated by Joseph Smith (or Warren Parrish or Donald Trump or Dan Peterson for that matter) or whoever else the person might say it is, because we have no videographic proof that he actually did dictate it. To ascribe ownership (dictatorship?) without actual knowledge of who was actually dictating is irrefutably egregious behavior.)
    By and large, after reading both Jeff Lindsay and John Gee’s first review followed by editors Grow and Godfrey’s response, and once again followed by Lindsay and Gee, I remain even more skeptical that Brian Hauglid’s biases did not in fact bias the entire Book of Abraham’s JSPRP4’s editing wherever his decisions held sway. This gives me great concern regarding this particular project, and a feeling that follow-up corrections and emendations might ought to be considered.

  5. You like to discuss bias quite a bit in your writings, Jeff, but who is the most likely party here that is driven in their conclusions by bias? A group that is employed and closely monitored by the church’s highest general authorities who shifted their perspectives after using the critical methods that they each learned by being trained historians and documentary editors, or you, who have continued to argue (unconvincingly I might add) against all evidence that Dr. Gee’s approach to this issue is accurate.
    All of us have bias that we can’t get away from but we are capable of being aware of and wrestling with our individual biases. Unfortunately, in your passion and focus on the idea of bias you have forgotten your own. The thing that bothers me most is that you haven’t allowed the evidence to help you rethink your positions enough to be critical of your own bias. Maybe that will happen in the future, maybe not, but to continue to claim bias of a group of historians that have the full confidence of the Church’s leadership highlights, enough for me, that you are playing rhetorical games far more than you are engaging in real scholarship.

    • I’ve offered some fairly specific evidence of bias. If I’m wrong, I welcome pointing out the flaws in the arguments and evidence. There’s a prima facie case for bias when Hauglid’s own “coming out” statement suggests that his new views are reflected in JSPRT4. Those new views are contrary to his publicly expressed views from the past (the views people must have assumed he had when he was appointed as an editor). Don’t assume that the Church somehow endorses his controversial personal views.

      Hauglid’s late 2018 statement refers to the twin manuscripts and argues that the KEP was used to help create the BOA, etc. I show that a host of flawed assumptions are behind those positions and show that they are subtly woven into JSPRT4, consistent with Hauglid’s coming out statement. Just alleging that I’m biased and blind without getting into the specific issues is not a meaningful response IMO, you’re welcome to your opinion, of course.

      Take a look at the twin manuscripts issue. Hauglid and Jensen don’t inform readers of the various controversies at play and take positions favoring one side of those controversies without letting their readers (and reviewers, I would add) know what assumptions have been made and what positions and arguments have been dismissed. Their views on the twin manuscripts are supported by the questionable views on Egyptomania without Champollion, by assumptions regarding dating and other issues. Unless the reviewers in the Church were intimately familiar with details regarding recent attacks on the Book of Abraham, it’s unlikely that they noticed that bias was present and that it was potentially harmful bias.

      It’s unreasonable to believe that the personal views of the editors on such details and they way they influenced JSPRT4 were known, noticed, debated, and agreed upon by the Church. Take the critical issue of whether the twin manuscripts represent live dictation from Joseph to create new scripture. JSPRT4 clearly favors that position and does not mention the multiple arguments that can be made against it. How do they know it was Joseph dictating? Why do they not mention the possibility that these documents were connected with creation of entries for Phelps’ GAEL based on an existing translation? If you think every detail worked into the Joseph Smith Papers have the explicit blessing and informed approval of the Church, how is it that the position favored in JSPRT4 is opposite to that published in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents: Volume 5, January 1835–October 1838 (Salt Lake City: The Church Historian’s Press, 2017), edited by Brent M. Rogers, et al.? From pp. 74‒75 of that volume regarding the “twin manuscripts,” BOA Manuscripts A and B: “Textual evidence suggests that these Book of Abraham texts were based on an earlier manuscript that no longer exists.” The supporting footnote explains:

      Documents dictated directly by JS typically had few paragraph breaks, punctuation marks, or contemporaneous alterations to the text. All the extant copies, including the featured text, have regular paragraphing and punctuation included at the time of transcription as well as several cancellations and insertions.

      That is a reasonable scholarly insight that is ignored in JSPRT4. As I stated, this point should have been made in JSPRT4, not to support apologetics (nor to add unnecessary historiography!), but to point out something obvious about the manuscripts that, incidentally, weakens a common argument from Book of Abraham critics. The apologetic argument need not be raised, but the evidence pointing to the existence of an earlier manuscript is relevant and should not be brushed aside in favor of anyone’s personal theory that these documents show a “window” into the live translation process of Joseph Smith, as Hauglid and Jensen argued in a seminar for the Maxwell Institute. I am certain that the reviewers of JSPRT4 and the leaders of the Church were not presented with this issue and asked if they agreed that it’s time to reject the prior analysis of Rogers et al. in JSP Volume 5. Why would a reviewer even notice the new angle?

      The Church has trusted the JSP Project with the task of providing detailed transcriptions of original documents to support future scholarship. To assume that the Church therefore takes a position on any assumptions made by the editors in their footnotes or commentary or choices of what to include or exclude is truly unfounded. When prima facie evidence of possible bias or error is presented, as is the case, you can’t plausibly defend it by saying it has the blessing of the Church, no more than you can defend the errant position of any BYU professor on any topic by saying he’s a Church-approved professor at a Church school, so the Church must agree.

      • That’s an interesting omission about the structure of the manuscripts which you point out. I have a question. I know we don’t have many original copies of revelations dictated by Joseph Smith, but do we have any which come after the proposed dates for the twin manuscripts?

        If we do, then it might be profitable to check the structure of those revelations. If we have evidence of a low-punctuation, low-paragraph break pattern in Joseph Smith’s dictation after the twin manuscripts, it weakens the case that he was just stepping outside his norm to produce the documents.

        • Good question, Hoosier. One example is from Jan. 1836 when Joseph dictated fresh revelation that would become our Section 137. You can see what the scribe Warren Parrish wrote for Joseph in the Joseph Smith Papers website. See “Visions, 21 January 1836 [D&C 137].” The Historical Introduction there indicates that “Warren Parrish recorded JS’s narrative of those heavenly manifestations, including a description of the celestial kingdom and the individuals who would dwell therein, in JS’s journal; that text is featured here.” I am not positive if that means live dictation is involved, but that seems reasonable. (In some other cases, revelations recorded in Joseph’s journal were copied from another manuscript no longer extant.) The manuscript is not formatted into paragraphs. There are emendations as if this were the key working manuscript but they generally appear to be made later with different ink, not during the dictation (not contemporaneous).

          Another candidate may be the revelations that became Sections 114 and 115 or Section 118 or Section 125.

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