There are 33 thoughts on “The Joseph Smith Papers and the Book of Abraham: A Response to Recent Reviews”.

  1. Blake T. Ostler: “Brian Hauglid expressly admitted that he adopted the view of the critics of the Book of Abraham who have argued that it is essenteially a fraud.”

    On Brian, Blake is mistaken.

    Brian has not, tacitly or otherwise, adopted a view that the BoAbr “is essenteially a fraud.” He’s merely saying faith assumptions should not predetermine the outcome of scholarly investigation. This is noncontroversial and is expected of all scholars. Brian compared his research to mine because he (as a believer) and I (as an unbeliever) have grappled with the manuscript evidence for decades and we both wish to promote sound scholarship.

    On me, Blake is mistaken.

    I don’t recall having ever “argued,” “essenteially” or otherwise, the BoAbr “is… a fraud.” In fact, on social media I have argued precisely the opposite. For folks who are interested in my views, my marathon interview with John Dehlin may provide insight.

    Best regards to all,


    • Hi Brent, thanks! I don’t want to bury Jeff’s questions for HAUGLID, GROW, GODFREY, etc. so, EVERYONE, PLEASE READ JEFF’S QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS BELOW THIS AND ON THE REJOINDER. Thanks!

      Brent, I watched your Dehlin marathon a few months ago and was impressed with your openness. I also enjoyed your Egyptus article, and am hoping for some typical thoughtful input from the expert.
      Our friend Dan now feels the GAEL was dependent on Abr. 1:1-3 and that the rest of the EA and GAEL have almost nothing to do with the translation of the BofA. You’re probably aware that most hate groups (and other critics) claim that Joseph fabricated the EA and GAEL first, and then “translated” the BofA from them. For hate groups, this was all about power, sex, and gain…but, of course, they don’t know Joseph as well as you do.

      It seems you’ve also noticed that the authors of the EA and GAEL felt the name of the woman who discovered Egypt started with “Z,” and that Zip tou-es was most likely generalized from, and clearly related to, Zeptah (as Ahbroam was generalized from Abraham, etc.). The “Z” in “Zip” is clearly printed in block capitals for the EA and GAEL.
      It’s also apparent that Parrish and Williams recorded the name of the woman who discovered Egypt as “Egyptes,” and her parent (fn1) is obviously Zeptah/Zep-tah.

      Richards clearly has difficulty reading leading H, Z, and possibly L. He sees “Libnah” rather than “Zibnah;” “Adam,” rather than contextually obvious “Ham;” Geptah (or Jeptah, or Zeptah per the JSP) rather than Zeptah; and Egyptes is Egeptah, and so on.

      Simplified QUESTION—would you agree that: SINCE the GAEL letter leading Zip-tou is clear block-capital “Z,” THEN it follows that the Kirtland era manuscripts 1a, 1b, and 2, were not derived from the GAEL; AND, since Richards saw (fn2) Geptah, Egeptah, Adam, Libnah, etc. (when the context of related script in the Kirtland manuscripts didn’t indicate G, E, A, L, etc.) then it follows that Richards wasn’t solely relying on BA manuscripts 1a, 1b, or 2 or the GAEL, and there was therefore another manuscript?

      Aso, given other details— e.g. Richards (or someone with similar handwriting), apparently added page numbers which align to a missing manuscript wherein page 1 ended where Phelps handwriting ends in BA 2—would you agree that this missing manuscript predates BA 2?

      fn1: unlikely, but the parent is possibly male, since Ham could be father by adoption, as Noah was “Father” to the righteous pharaoh.

      fn2: it’s apparent that these are difficulties in reading, rather than hearing.

      • Joe, great comment. First, no worry about causing any of my questions and replies to be buried here. The questions that I and others have asked probably aren’t going to be noticed and answered, based on what I perceive, anyway. Some may speculate or have speculated that there might be some kind of defensive strategy by someone not to stir things up any further by engaging in the vigorous debate that you and I would like to see. Maybe the authors or other team members are anxious to reply but cannot for some reason. Or maybe everyone is just too busy or finds The Interpreter just too abhorrent to bother. I really don’t know. But the discussion you want to see happen may have been long buried already, so please don’t hesitate to share your outstanding and always interesting thoughts.

        In this case, you’ve brought out some excellent observations. I’ve long been suspected that difficulty in resolving handwriting has been the cause for some of the disparities or changes in names, such as Libnah/Zibnah.But you’ve taken this much further now and offer some excellent points. OK if I cited you on Mormanity, or care to turn this into a guest post?

        • Thanks Jeff, do whatever you want 😊. You’re much better at making sense of my rambles.
          I’m happy if I’m at all helpful on these important issues.

      • Hi Joe,

        I hope you haven’t “watched” my marathon interview with John Dehlin since, unlike many of John’s interviews, mine is only available in audio. 🙂

        I’m preparing for surgery on Monday, so I’m not really up for a protracted discussion of intricate issues on social media—and over the past several years, I rarely engage anonymous interlocutors at length or at all.

        I’m unclear on who “Our friend Dan” is. I’m even less clear on where this “Dan” has proposed GA (previously, “the GAEL”) is dependent on Abraham 1:1–3 (I assume you mean Phelps’s portion of BA2). Text-critical evidence persuades me to believe the opposite.

        I’m not sure I follow your “Simplified QUESTION”; to me, you seem to conflate multiple text-critical concerns. For instance, on whether BA3 involves a visual or oral source, see footnote 21 in my “Egyptus” essay ( Also, the “Zibnah” > “Libnah” shift in BA3 is more complex than you portray. The spelling “Libnah” (a well-known biblical name; see, e.g., Numbers 33:20–21, 2 Chronicles 21:10) was rendered early on in BA3, occurring in the “Explanation” for Facsimile 1 on BA3 p. 2 (verso) and in the narrative on p. 3. {Z\L}ibnah doesn’t appear until pp. 5–6.

        If I’ve misrepresented your views, I welcome your correction.

        (Please be charitable with any typos or misstatements… the pain meds are doing their job and I’m tired.)

        A courageous New Year to all,


        • Hi Brent,
          Sorry to hear that you aren’t at our best. I hope all goes well with your surgery.
          Thanks so much for taking time for dialogue on these important issues. As always, I don’t mind typos and I overlook oversights :).

          😊I stand corrected, I listened to some of the marathon. The part where you explained that you disagreed with Dan about Joseph’s motivations stood out.

          I was speaking of Dan Vogel. Dan has occasionally (and fearlessly) discussed BofA questions in the comment sections on Jeff Lindsay’s Blogs; and also on Jeff’s Rejoinder. If you link over to “A Welcome Response, but Flaws Remain” and search, you should be able to find this: “Dan Vogel on November 30, 2019 at 9:22 am said: 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.”

          I believe his courageous conclusions came after several marathon discussions with Jeff, etc. relating to inserting “Bethka” to align with previously written Abr. 1:1-3; the historical record; word order; script; etc. and the relationship to “Phelps’s BA2.”

          I may have attempted to oversimplify my question. I returned to clarify and happily noticed that you responded.

          First, hopefully you don’t mind that I disagree with fn21 and your conclusions on oral vs visual—
          I’m unaware of evidence contradicting that:
          The “Explanation” for Facsimile 1 on BA3 p. 2 (verso) (or JSP 2a) could have been added after Richards concluded that the name was “Libnah.” (I tend to agree that he was right in this case, since “Libnah” may relate to “white” and this particular god would have been associated with the white direction…however>).
          On pg. 3 Richards appears to have no question about spelling “Libnah.” Pg. 4 is missing. And, as you note, on pg 5 there is an emendation. The original beneath the L resembles his g (e.g. as seen in “gods” below, starting left of the upper loop and swinging counterclockwise). On pg6 the L appears to have originally been a Z with a flat left top-stroke.
          Whatever they were, it’s clear that Richards is questioning, and clarifies after conclusions are made. Regardless of who the reader is, the emendations indicate visual confusion, not a verbal change by Joseph. Again, if Joseph intentionally made a change from BA2’s “Zibnah,” and pronounced “Libnah” the first time, why would he follow by pronouncing soft /g/, Z, or etc. in place of L?
          That someone is visually misreading is even more apparent when other emendations are analyzed. For example, someone mistakenly read “from the loins of adam” rather than “Ham,” but they correctly read “daughter of Ham” and then incorrectly read “from Ham sprang,” etc. It doesn’t make sense that this is an error in hearing, or Joseph changing back and forth on the fly.

          However, that was only a footnote—
          The QUESTION another way:
          We can safely assume that Joseph wasn’t freshly dictating the BofA to Richards. Therefore, they were copying or reading from originals. I feel like some Richards’ emendations indicate an original other than BA 1a, BA1b, or BA2.
          For example: As you note, the GAEL predicts Zeptah for the mother of the woman who discovers Egypt and the woman who discovers Egypt. BA1a and BA1b clearly have Zeptah for the mother, and Egyptes as the woman who discovers Egypt. This indicates that BA1a and BA1b aren’t reliant upon the GAEL. It doesn’t make sense to claim Joseph changed the GAEL from “Zip tau” to “Zeptah” and “Egyptes,” and then changed mother to Geptah and daughter to Egeptah, and then instructs Richards to change both to Egyptus.

          This indicates that BA3 isn’t reliant upon the GAEL, or BA1a or BA1b or BA2, which, together, clearly have GAEL: Zip, Zip Z, Zip Zip, Zip tau, etc. Mother and daughter each beginning with “Z.” BA1a and BA1b have: Zeptah/Zep-tah with Z, and Egyptes with E, and without Ptah.

          How can we justify assuming these were mistakes in hearing and not different interpretations of illegible script?

          I’m taking my 10 year old skiing tomorrow, and it’s late, so will try to clarify this after… 🙂
          Good Night ❤❤

    • HI Brent, I clarified some things and tried to post here. For some reason it’s not working, so I posted in comments on Jeff’s Blog from today-
      “The Willard Richards Book of Abraham Manuscript 2: Live Dictation of Abraham 3 in 1842, or Copying Existing Text?”

      • Hmmm, that worked so…shorter-

        Again, many thanks to Brent for taking time to weigh in, especially while he’s not feeling well.

        I welcome input from anyone interested in courageously finding truths relating to these Book of Abraham mysteries.

        I’m a simple truth seeker. While I currently agree with some of Jeff’s evidence, I’ve personally disagreed with ideas presented on both “sides” of the KEP discussion (including Nibley, Gee, Lindsay, Muhlestein, Vogel, Hauglid, and so on) and, with no “stake” to defend, I’m free to courageously agree or disagree as evidence grows and indicates. I’m not a church employee, I have no videos, papers, or books to defend, and I respectfully maintain freedom to see without position : ).

        BACKGROUND: Under the “Historical Introduction” the JSP editors noted that Richards’s BA (Book of Abraham) manuscript 3 “… may have been copied from an earlier, though unknown, manuscript or set of manuscripts…”

        The QUESTION simplified: Is there justification for assuming that some of Richards’s emendations were based on deciphering script from a missing manuscript which predates the extant Kirtland era manuscripts?

        Focused EVIDENCE FOR QUESTION: As Brent Metcalfe demonstrated, the GAEL authors (i.e. Phelps) saw or heard a Z at the beginning of the name of the woman who discovered Egypt, and also, her mother’s name was also likely the same in the GAEL. Phelps generalized this into Zip tau-es, which is evidently a version of Zeptah (predicting or dependent on, as Ahbroam was reverse generalized from preexisting Abraham), etc.
        As also demonstrated by Metcalfe: authors of the extant Kirtland manuscripts clearly saw or heard “Zeptah” as mother, and “Egyptes” as the woman who discovered Egypt; and, 6 or 7 years later, Richards created a manuscript where he originally saw or heard “Geptah” (or Jeptah, etc. per Metcalfe) for the name of the mother; and for the daughter who discovered Egypt he saw Egeptah’s (19C. possessive? as in “Egeptah’s son” backwards?).

        There is no extant text or combination of extant texts that would lead to this varied result (see below).

        A quick sampling of handwriting indicates that leading Z could easily be mistaken for G, L, or J. I noticed that, in some cases, a hurried Z could also possibly be mistaken for E, but this doesn’t explain where the Eg came from. It obviously wasn’t mistakenly heard from Ze (see notes on—hearing vs reading—to Brent, and perhaps more following). An examination of Zeniff in the BofM printer’s manuscript (e.g.: pg 129, right side, 4 lines down) showed that the double upper loop and lower loop on Cowdery’s Ze could be mistaken for ege, (as in egeniff). This Z could turn the proper Zeptah’s into Egeptah’s, especially if the following eptah was relatively elevated and if they observed that the name signified “Egypt” and had been reading Josephus.

        THEORY (question at will): Joseph, Phelps, Parrish, Williams, and/or Richards each consulted an original manuscript(s), which is no longer extant. Phelps was able to decipher the intended Zeptah for the mother, and Zeptah’s as daughter. He converted to Ziptaues for GAEL. Parrish and Richards saw Zeptah as mother, and misread Egyptes for the daughter. Thus not drawing on the GAEL. Richards, 7 years later, consults the original and sees the “ptah” in both names, but can’t make out the Z. He consults other texts, etc. (JS), and, due to Z’s similarity to “eg” eventually settles on Egyptus for both mother and daughter.


  2. Brother Grow and Godfrey, after your helpful explanation of the careful consideration given in taking positions on controversial areas such as whether the Book of Abraham was largely translated in Kirtland (early) or Nauvoo (late), I was responding to another comment when I had to look at a related issue in the volume. There I noted one of the most significant positions taken in JSPRT4, the one criticized by John Gee for asserting the Facs. 2 is probably derived from the GAEL (in Nauvoo), and not the other way around. As I looked at that again with your reassurance in mind, I noted the footnotes and decided to explore them more carefully to understand the scholarly process that led to this controversial decision.

    Controversial statements on p. 113 point to the alleged importance of the GAEL to Joseph Smith in Nauvoo (related to the issue you raise on Nauvoo being the place where most of the translation was done) and the GAEL’s use in the production of the Book of Abraham during the Nauvoo era (footnotes shown in italics):

    “JS and his associates retained the volume and later used it several times in 1842 and 1843.19 This volume was used extensively when JS and his associates published Facsimile 2 and its accompanying explanation in March 1842.20

    But when I looked at these footnotes, I was quite disappointed. Here they are, from pp. 184-5:

    19. One source claims that JS misidentified a Greek psalter as a dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics in 1842. In spring 1842, a minister named Henry Caswall arrived in Nauvoo, Illinois, incognito, “in order to test the scholarship of the prophet.” Caswall, who published an account in a popular anti-Mormon pamphlet that year, wrote that he brought a Greek psalter from roughly the thirteenth century to JS and pretended ignorance of its content and age. According to Caswall, JS called it “a dictionary of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics.” The Latter-day Saints published a rebuttal to Caswall’s pamphlet, stating that JS had not examined the psalter and observing that Caswall’s words and actions did not become is position as a minister. (Caswall, City of the Mormons, 5, 35-36, italics in original; “Reward of Merit,” Times and Seasons, 15 Oct. 1843, 43:364-365.)

    20. See Historical Introduction to Explanation of Facsimile 2, ca. 15 Mar. 1842, p. 276 herein.

    Footnote 19, the source for the conclusion that Joseph Smith “used it [the GAEL] several times in 1842 and 1843,” was a reference to an anti-Mormon publication quoting a hostile and admittedly deceptive source that was rebutted by the Church. Huh? At best, if Caswall were being completely accurate and Joseph did call some Greek psalms “a dictionary of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics,” how does that tell us anything about Joseph’s ongoing use of the GAEL in Nauvoo? A non sequitr.

    More more important, though, is footnote 20 since it supports the controversial claim that the GAEL “was used extensively when JS and his associates published Facsimile 2 and its accompanying explanation in March 1842.” But what I found was genuinely shocking. It points us to page 276, where we find this:

    “No evidence indicates that JS studied any of the hieroglyphics 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.97

    Footnote 97 becomes the key support then for a significant controversial claim. I wanted to know what the scholarly process was that led to this conclusion, and expected something weighty to overturn Gee, Nibley, Muhlenstein and others on this point to Facsimile 2’s comments “borrow heavily” from the GAEL and not the other way around. But here’s what I found in footnote 97 on page 292, the one that gives support to critically important statements made on p. 276, which in turn is the source for a similar critically important statement made on p. 113:

    “97. See Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language, ca. July–ca. Nov. 1835, p. 113 herein.”

    Wait, it points us back to p. 113. No support at all, just a circular, self-referential footnote. Surely this was unintended.

    I assume that there must have been a glitch that left out the meat and gave us circular footnotes. Can this be fixed, please, on the errata page, and can the process behind this conclusion (contra Gee, Nibley, etc.) be explained for those of us who remain puzzled about the positions taken in this volume and the reasons behind them? The assurances are helpful, but here as in other cases we’ve pointed out, the specifics beg for a little more attention and clarity on the process that led to this controversial decision. Thanks!

    • Jeff, as I’ve read your blog, pondered this discussion, and studied critical claims, I now agree that more should be done, including (as you said in your blog post) “…a recognition that the volume has taken a controversial side on a critical issue without due cause.”

      ONE EXAMPLE of a scholarly JSPP STUMBLE:
      As you mentioned, in spite of solid contrary evidence, the JSPP promotes the idea that the BofA (including facsimiles) is dependent on the EA/GAEL.
      Critics build on this unsound (evidently false) premise-A, and follow with arguments that:
      there is no relevant missing papyri (contra eyewitnesses and scholars); Robert has thus translated the source of the BofA and there’s nothing about Abraham; JS was guessing or fabricating to deceive young girls, claim priesthood, and impress Phelps; and so on, and on.

      I agree with Robin and Brian, we can’t have false information impede members’ understanding about Joseph as a translator and we must keep our minds open, if we are to fearlessly find truth.

      I had nothing to lose when I went into my BofA studies, and was excited about finding whatever truths I could. As “apologists” point out, critics aren’t as open to truth. They are, by nature, defending a critical agenda.
      I leaned toward agreement with the unsound premise-A, and still certainly agree that we should accept it, if given valid evidence. However, I found that NO REAL EVIDENCE has been given. After decades of studying, I’ve recently concluded that premise-A is completely improbable. If anyone really cares about these issues, please read Jeff’s discussion below and on his Blog, etc., and you’ll see that Jeff has not only provided solid evidence that the twin manuscripts are based on a previously translated text, BUT he has also managed to help Dan begin a transformative journey towards more truth :). Dan dragged his feet for many weeks, but now agrees that “Of course the GAEL draws on Abr. 1:1-3…”

      DAN is one of the most KNOWLEDGEABLE BofA critics, and he insists that the “Alphabets and Grammar … mostly…don’t have anything to do with the BofA… [but deals with] the pure language and evolves into defining characters from the columns flanking Fac. 1. Again, while it deals with the Book of Breathings, it has nothing to do with JS’s translation of the BofA.”

      This is important because, if a leading critic ( who has spent years poring over JSP, etc. and has thus influenced Brian, Chris Smith, exmo, Robert, Brent, etc. etc.)…if Dan sees that the EA/GAEL “…has nothing to do with JS’s translation of the BofA” AND, if faithful scholars (e.g. Lindsay, Muhlestein, Gee, Nibley, etc.) agree, then JSP editors should be open to the idea that premise-A is false: the BofA (including facsimiles) is NOT dependent on the EA/GAEL.
      And, dear editors, given that there is at least a serious debate, could you, please, consider correcting or supplementing evidence for JSP comments that were based on this premise-A (e.g. the Chris Smith reference), and so on?

      Dan hasn’t completely come around yet, but Jeff is working on him :), and open minds should be able to agree that the EA/GAEL don’t represent a translation of the BofA, but are, instead, an arrangement of Hebrew and other words with Egyptian and other characters (some Phelps knew were not from any of the papyri, and thus couldn’t be used to translate the BofA, but could be used to reverse Adamic if desired (same with the Valuable Documents text, or any Egyptian), and so on) aligned “to” PREVIOUSLY existing texts, etc.

      Luv You all! : )
      feel free to ask questions if you see issues with my claims…

  3. Sorry about the multiple unedited “hapless layman” comments. I noticed Blake’s post on Jeff’s Blog and, while I respectfully disagree with some of it :), he’s helped clarify my thoughts.
    The bottom line for me is also the lean towards misleading “secular” scholarship, and especially when it’s under the guise of authority. This has crept into some circles at BYU, Maxwell, and so on.

    It’s apparent that conforming to misguided secular intellectualism brought us the “Great Apostasy,” and I’m thankful that Jeff, Brian, and others faithfully help us look in all directions. I hope we can continue to rejoice in our differing opinions as we search for truth.

    The JSPP is a “scholarly” endeavor, which reportedly “meets the requisite scholarly and documentary editing criteria…” In that spirit, editors could continue to examine evidence, seek criticisms, and remain open. They could always hesitate to publish personal opinions with the ring of authority (especially when those opinions agree with misleading critics and contradict much of the evidence).

    I don’t agree with everything Jeff says, but he is right to point out that intellectual freedoms don’t necessarily equal doctrine. We should remain free to disagree.

    As said, I have great respect for the JSPP Editors. I equally respect Nibley, Gee, Lindsay, etc. I don’t know where I’d be without them and their faithful scholarship. I thank God that they question and critique. I freely disagree with Jeff, John, and other so called “apologists” without rebuke from them. If we were all as open as Jeff Lindsay we would be much further along in our united quest for truth.

    My concerns arose independently. When I began reading the JSP “Book of Abraham and Egyptian Material” I was unaware of the “transformation” FB comments (apparently condemning Gee, Nibley, etc. and aligning with Critics: Vogel, Metcalfe, and so on) or that Jeff was seeking open discussion on his blog. From the JSPP, I expected either a neutral scholarly stance, or slight bias in favor of the faithful scholars who know more about the Book of Abraham material than anyone. Instead, I was puzzled by what appeared to be bias in favor of outspoken Critics of the Church.
    For examples—Ritner adds little more than himself and another translation to the discussion, but he seems to have more respect than Rhodes and other bright and thoughtful scholars.

    Chris Smith, another vocal Critic (who dismissed Gee because all “Mormons” can are taught to lie), is apparently favored over evidence from the JSP, Gee, etc.
    Two examples:
    1-It’s argued that— “evidence indicates that material from the Grammar and Alphabet volume was incorporated into at least one portion of the Book of Abraham.” Chris Smith is the only reference, but his primary evidence is “choppiness.” The abundant contrary evidence is not cited, although it sheds light on this very important issue (not to mention that Jeff and others have shown that Chris is wrong).

    2- There is ample evidence for a “long scroll” but a simple search of “Joseph Smith Papers” shows that Critics not only hope Brian is transforming into one of them (see header- “Brian Hauglid experiencing a faith transition?”), but critical sources, wishing to appear legitimate (e.g. Wiki, Huffington Post, etc.) have noticed that, rather than presenting both sides: “The editors of the LDS church funded Joseph Smith Papers project favored the shorter scroll theory, by relegating the longer scroll estimates to speculative footnotes.” Wiki

    For many Church members, all they need to hear is “”The editors of the LDS church funded…” or “reviewed by a panel of General Authorities and approved” and the conversation is over, no questions asked.

    The JSPP should be neutral, or give preference to faithful LDS scholars, unless there is solid evidence that they are wrong. In cases where there is disagreement, both sides could more fairly presented.

    Love you all :).

    • Joe, thanks for another characteristically insightful and valuable comment. That non-LDS sources are recognizing and noting that this volume is taking sides on controversial issues strongly confirms the reality of the problem and the seriousness of the mistakes that were made.

      I have previously expressed the view that no further action may be needed regarding the Book of Abraham volume now that the major issues have been pointed out for those who care, but now that the biased positions taken therein are being noted by those outside the Church and are being mentioned in highly visible sources, the bias in this volume will have a lasting effect on members of the Church and others, whether directly or indirectly. Thus, I need to revise my position. There is a serious problem that demands some form of action. Assurances of sound methodology and good intent are simply not enough.

      I hope that LDS scholars who recognize the seriousness of the problems in this volume can have a dialog with the JSP Team to encourage a reconsideration of their approach and look for ways to prevent further misunderstanding arising from this work.

      Is that extreme? Impractical? Too painful. Perhaps. Let me know what you think.

      • Jeff, I apologize, I haven’t located the HuffPost article, and can’t yet remember the keywords I used in searching. I read it a few months ago and captured the Wiki quote and mentioned the HP piece in an email to siblings. Unfortunately I didn’t capture the HP article. I’ll keep looking, but came across several other discussions and feel it’s important to share- This one references you as a counter argument to: “Brian Hauglid argues against missing papyri theory: ‘They were working off of the papyri that we actually have in the Church today’” it also includes a link to Robin’s discussion at Maxwell (I only watched the “especially..” part). Another shows Brian’s FB comment originally posted in comments giving support to Dan’s Videos, I was unaware of that….

        Before jumping in, let me repeat that: when I re-discovered your blog I had solid knowledge of the historical truth of the BofM. I was somewhat open to the BofA being a blunder. We all make mistakes. However, I was wrong, it’s an ancient record. I still believe the KEP are an honest, yet mistaken effort to retrofit. You’ve provided evidence for that. Robin seems to understand that this may try the faith of some, and shares explanations (in my opinion, intended to provide “first aid” :)). However, you’ve provided powerful evidence in support of the miraculous nature of the BofA. Nibley has helped me understand it and the papyri. Brian has helped me see that the BofA is ancient, and that JS couldn’t have made it up or known what he did without revelation. Rhodes, Ash, Muhelstein, Sederholm, Jensen, and others have shed much light on the BofA, and I thank God for each of you :).

        My hope is that you will all continue to move forward with your work.

        Relevant details:
        1- I don’t need a missing papyrus, but it’s awesome that scholars have provided evidence supporting the “missing papyri theory.” I don’t do math, so can’t check up on Cook vs Gee, but the missing papyrus doesn’t have to be attached to the Hor scroll. Gee has explained that eyewitness accounts give accurate details of a now missing “long” roll of papyrus. For examples: the black embalming salve or bitumen coating (btw I’ve asked a museum curator if any bitumen has been noticed on the Hor scroll and he didn’t notice any–either way, a missing “long” roll has been described). The snake whose tail forms a tripod is accurate, and clearly not the one on papyri in possession of the Church. And on and on. And we all know why critics feel driven to eliminate evidence for a missing papyri.

        2- And you (and others) have provided solid evidence that significant portions of the BofA were translated by revelation (from the missing long roll?) BEFORE work began on the pure language alphabet, twin documents (including WWP’s Abr 1:1-3)., etc. These don’t represent the translation. And, you’ve influenced Dan Vogel, who now somewhat agrees “Of course the GAEL draws on Abr. 1:1-3,…” Dan, Nov 30 9:22 reply. That is, the GAEL was created “to” BofA 1:1-3. So, I agree with Dan again–Abr. 1:1-3 came first (and C. Smith, JSPP editors, former Dan, and most other critics are wrong). Dan also argues that the valuable discovery document (Katumin), the woman, etc. came first. For many reasons, it defies all logic and history for anyone to argue that JS translated the first part of the BofA, the BofM, etc. without a GAEL, and the rest of the BofA came from the GAEL. Dan also explains “Anyone who reads the Egyptian Alphabets (EA) and GAEL can see that they do not deal with the BOA.” This isn’t quite true, but the answer is clear, the BofA isn’t reliant upon the GAEL, the GAEL doesn’t precede the BofA, it is created to it.
        Everything else is details, which you’ve done an excellent job explaining: (e.g. who translated the Katumin text? (contra Dan, we have solid evidence supporting that OC and others tried their hands at translating). At what point did JS begin to sort through the vignettes etc. allowing the Lord to unfold Abraham’s (or the Old Man’s, etc.) version of astronomy? (as you’ve noted, the historical record tells us, so that’s an easy one). And so on.
        Gotta get to work, love you all, and hope ya’ll continue to move forward in these exciting times 🙂

        And, I’d like to mention Robert Ritner’s name, even though this isn’t about him.
        Have a great day…love you all!

        • Reading what I wrote and noticed I didn’t list Bro. Gee (one of the greatest faithful scholars) and decided to cut to the point 😊: John, Jeff, Hugh, Kerry, and so on, have done so much good in strengthening many of us “average” faithful. We don’t know the names of many wonderful scholars in the Church History Department. We did know who Brian Hauglid was, but are a little worried about internet rumors and so on.

          Everyone seems to agree that it’s perfectly ok to faithfully believe that there was no long scroll (in spite of evidence), or that the GAEL was used to create the BofA (again, in spite of contrary evidence presented by Jeff, John, etc), or that none of papyri in Joseph’s possession had “anything to do with Abraham,” and so on. However, we are now finding ourselves in this situation where the JSPP editors seem to agree with Critics in these areas and Jeff, John, etc are providing evidence that the Critics are wrong.

          Dan Vogel has influenced the JSPP editors AND Jeff, John etc have stood firmly to question the Critics and now it appears that, for one example, evidence presented to Dan by Jeff (through conversations in his blog comments, etc) has influenced Dan and he has agreed with Jeff that the JSPP editors were wrong to agree with him previously and wrong to reference and agree with the accusatory critic Chris Smith etc.

          Evidently Jeff and John have pointed us to some encouraging and exciting truths and we should be rejoicing. They aren’t “abhorrent” after all, and maybe this is not my business, but perhaps an apology is due, and a big “thank you!”

          friends at first should be friends at last 😊😊❤️. Brian, we all love and admire you and I for one would love it if u would rejoin faithful abhorrent “apologists” Yay!
          I’m very excited about the things Jeff, John, and all are working on and don’t want anything slowing them down. Jeff, thanks so much for carefully reviewing the twin manuscripts and so on….John, etc. Robin, Brian, Kerry (way to stand against the haters) etc. please continue. People I love need your continued help.
          Thanks. Love you all. ❤️😊

  4. I should probably add that I’ve not noticed Jeff disagreeing with any Church leader. I feel he has been unfairly maligned, but has shown respect towards those he disagrees with.

  5. The fact that a response was seen to be necessary and that the editors and authors of the commentary did not respond is also enlightening. The truth is that the JPP has adopted a secular perspective and purpose. It is not in defense of faith or to even give points that would sustain faith. It is just another religious studies project from the same secular point of view.

    The points that Jeff made about the lack of apologetic appraisal and defense of the Book of Abraham as anything like what Joseph Smith claimed it to be are well taken. Brian Hauglid expressly admitted that he adopted the view of the critics of the Book of Abraham who have argued that it is essenteially a fraud. That such an approach would then be reflected in his editorial work and commentary is not surprising.

    That no response was made to these concerns — the real concerns — is both enlightening and telling. They say that the Book of Abraham was produced in both Nauvoo and Kirtland; what they miss is that the KEP and related documents were not Nauvoo products (and that is the real issue). They say that the evidence is not clear enough to tell when the KEP and related documents were produced and both the Kirtland only and both Kirtland and Nauvoo production are reasonable views, but they pontificate contra Gee: “For instance, we believe the evidence suggests that Joseph Smith translated portions of the Book of Abraham in Kirtland and then later in Nauvoo, while Gee asserts that all of the translation occurred in Kirtland.” They then back off and say that the that particular issue wasn’t really addressed. Really? These volumes take a definite stance on the relation between the KEP and related documents and the Book of Abraham. That is where the issue really lies and they avoid it completely.

    The claim that Jeff has called into question the faith of the editors is absurd. Jeff was careful not to do so. What Jeff did was quote what Brian Hauglid said and pointed out who he was in bed with. Anonymous must be taking that as an attack on his faithfulness. But it is absurd that say that Jeff called anyone’s faith in question — he just let Hauglid speak for himself. And it is clear that Hauglid was an apologist for those leaving the church over the Book of Abraham as a defensible position (not in the volume but in his comments to an audience describing his work). He was not an apologist for those who blelieve in the Book of Abraham (God forbid that the JPP depart from its secular purpose when it comes to shoring up belief).

    • Thank you, Blake, for kindly weighing in and clearly pointing out some core issues that need to be considered. And thank you for pointing out the problems related to the issue of Nauvoo vs. Kirtland for translation of much of the Book of Abraham. That was one of many issues I was not able to address in my rejoinder because it was required to be brief, not another full-length article (what I published was already on the long side, and was half the length of my original rejoinder), but it’s an important issue. It’s not just Gee they are contradicting, but also Kerry Muhlenstein and others. Muhlenstein mounts a massive mound of data pointing to pre-Nauvoo translation of much of what Jensen and Hauglid argue was done in Nauvoo, but his arguments are neglected in JSPRT4. The crucial writings on this topic aren’t even cited, such as 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. Were Muhlenstein’s evidence and arguments genuinely considered by the team and discussed and thoroughly rebutted? Why not at least mention that work, then? Much more likely, it would seem that it was not raised since it is not cited, so how can we trust that the issue was thoroughly explored? I can imagine the co-editors explaining why they favored their conclusion, and unless there were specialists on BOA issues in the conversation who were familiar with the arguments of Gee, Nibley, Muhlenstein, and others, and who knew why those dates were significant, why would we expect anything else than a rubber stamp concurrence of an opinion made by a trusted scholar and expert responsible for managing all those details? But the specter of personal bias has been raised and must be considered, in retrospect, rather than assuming that the perceived consensus of the team really reflected a careful evaluation of neglected, uncited evidence and really delivered an unbiased result. In light of the data for personal bias that favors one side of multiple controversies that often aren’t even raised as controversies for readers to consider, it is overly optimistic to believe that unbiased scholarship has prevailed on some of these issues.

  6. I had the great pleasure to view the September 2018 Face to Face broadcast emanating from Nauvoo with the temple as a backdrop, in which Elder Quentin L. Cook, with participation from church historians Brother Matt Grow and Sister Kate Holbrook, spoke of Church History and the coming forth of the volumes of “Saints” to a group of young single adults. I thought Brother Grow’s inputs and responses were insightful and informed, revealing a deep knowledge and broad perspective of Church historical events. Thus, I hold a very positive view of Brother Grow’s abilities and appreciate his feedback in this response.

    Many years ago I likewise purchased the DVD set of Season 1 of the Joseph Smith Papers and enjoyed the tutoring and perspectives of the many historians participating in that project, including that of Brother Robin Scott Jensen. It is therefore a positive that he was involved as one of the editors of the JSPP, volume 4.

    The real concern for me, however, in the production of volume 4 lies with troubling public statements made by the other editor. Brothers Grow and Godfrey rightly condemn “attacks on the character of colleagues” and the “calling into question the faith of fellow Latter-day Saints”, and yet the other editor of this volume has done just that when (in November 2018) he accused his former BYU and other colleagues of being “outrageous apologists” and participants in “abhorrent scholarship” (he placed the word ‘scholarship’ in quotes apparently to emphasize his derision of their work).

    Next, this same editor publicly linked elbows with two individuals who are highly active in attacking, challenging and ridiculing many of the foundational claims of the Church. I do not consider pointing out this fact as “questioning the faith of a fellow Latter-day Saint.” I am glad for this knowledge and will it will definitely cause me to alter my approach to volume 4.

    I appreciate the clarifications given in this response by Brothers Grow and Godfrey. However, if anyone should be called out, it is the other editor. It is the product of his work that will carry the imprimatur of the Church, not the Interpreter reviews by Lindsay or Gee.


    • Thanks, John. I’ve also had the pleasure of chatting with Bro. Grow and have heard outstanding things about him. I hope readers will understand that to have objections about JSPRT4 and the work of its two co-editors is not to disrespect the good man that he is nor to dismiss the outstanding work of the JSP Team in producing so many precious volumes.

  7. I have several observations for Grow and Godfrey, but unfortunately they seem to be absent from these exchanges. The first is: Their response to Gee regarding errors in transcription is that he was probably using “images” whereas their authors and staff were using the actual documents along with high quality images. If the purpose is to produce a book containing images that others may use in lieu of having access to the documents themselves, it sounds to me like they are admitting that the project has not succeeded and probably cannot succeed? Moreover, it appears that they are also arguing that we should trust the work they have done because of the quality of images they use along with the originals. Gee’s response was that he had more to say on the issue. I look forward to that evidence.

    On another issue, I thought their response about why Nibley is not cited was lame, especially since a vocal opponent of the Book of Abraham, was apparently cited 9 times.

    Most importantly, they completely dismissed the issue of the “assumptions” of the editors and yet Lindsay quotes Hauglid saying he reputed his former positions on the BofA, and was now in agreement with Vogle’s videos, and that people would see his new transformed view in the upcoming publication of this volume. He admits it is there, despite Grow and Godfrey saying the thing goes through so many hands one man’s view can’t be there. I just watched an interview of Kerry Muhlstein by Terryl Givens in which KM noted “assumptions” in the volume. So at least three fairly well informed people about the issues–Gee, Lindsay, and Muhlstein–could see them.

    • Thanks, Dan Bachman. The stance of the editors, evidenced by the unfortunate Facebook comment (hopefully just a glitch on a bad day awaiting clarification or retraction, which would be welcome) and public statements by both editors (seminars and a podcast) show that they do have a particular point of view on some controversies around the origins of the Book of Abraham that may be fine for a personal opinion, but should not be so strongly built into the volume as the Facebook comment suggests and as my review points out based on the content of JSRT4. The unrenounced Facebook comment remain an elephant in the room. I hesitated to mention it, knowing that I would be accused of attacking the character or faith of the editors instead of engaging in vigorous debate on the issues, but felt it was needed to explain the obvious external evidence of bias that helps us understand the abundant but subtle bias in the volume, although I believe it can all be completely unintentional. In choosing to mention the Facebook comment, I also choose to carefully explain that it was not my intent to question the faith of anybody, but to examine the possibility of improper bias in the volume and its scholarship. Such explicit statements may not have been noticed by some, but I stand by them and have openly chided a few who have then criticized the faithfulness of the editors. Let’s stay focused on the scholarship, but the admitted existence of a biased perspective influencing the volume is not data that should be ignored in evaluating the possibility of bias in the scholarship.

  8. Brothers Grow and Godfrey, I am curious about what led you to write this statement: “Scholarly communities thrive when their members engage in vigorous debates of ideas rather than attacks on the character of colleagues. We reject the notion that calling into question the faith of fellow Latter-day Saints has any place in public discourse — scholarly or otherwise.” I believed my original article made it clear that members of the Church can, in good faith, take a variety of views on the origins of the Book of Abraham, and that I was not calling anyone’s faith into question. As I read your reply once again, that statement comes across as an undeserved rebuke. Could you explain where I went wrong? I also don’t think John Gee wrote anything that could be interpreted as denying the faithfulness of the co-editors.

    My objective was to point out problems with bias and flawed scholarship, not to question anyone’s faith. Please let me know where I went wrong.

    • Jeff, I would take it a bit further. I see a pattern. Patterns are often clear, defined, and instructive. Scholars look for patterns, and note them. The pattern I see is that when scholars and writers produce wordcraft that sows doubt or deliberately allows for it—they play a card: Don’t fault me, keep me unaccountable, even unnamed. In any other arena of life we can consider the source. We can call a serpent a snake; we can refuse to drink from tainted fountains. How? Because we are allowed to identify them, name them.
      But not with Latter-day Saints. And Grow and Godfrey have played the card, interestingly, without even cause or red flag. It is the bizarre safe house for those who write rot: Don’t criticize me; I’m immune. Not even a side-eye. Because hey, that’s a personal attack.
      It’s con, and everyone falls for it or caves to it. Now when I walk through Deseret Book store and see the venerable outsized volumes, I will feel a damn betrayal; not even THEY are free of the taint of slant.

      • While I respect both of these fine men and appreciate their effort to respond, I’m puzzled that they seem to think my concerns are an attack on the character and faith of the editors. I felt that my article and John Gee’s are precisely the kind of “vigorous debates of ideas” that should be encouraged. Too vigorous? Let me know.

        If either of us has moved beyond issues of scholarship and bias into ad hominem assaults on faith and character, it’s a startling shock to me and I urge the JSP Team or my readers to let me know where I’ve gone wrong so I can issue a correction or retraction or whatever is needed.

    • I have a very hard time taking this comment seriously. You’ve been explicitly suggesting in your Interpreter posts and on your own blog that the positions throughout the volume you reviewed do damage to faith and help anti-Mormons. You and John Gee have facilitated exactly the kind of response you find below in Glen Danielsen’s comment, the idea that somehow the saints’ minds and faith are polluted if they read this volume because it represents a different opinion then the one you have come to. You might like to think that you allow differing opinions but your posts do not function that way. Instead, they have invited some of the most vicious public personal attacks against Mormon scholars for almost three decades.

      • James, I suspect you aren’t one of my few regular readers, because even my harshest critics there have acknowledged that I am rather liberal about allowing contrary views to be posted on my blog. I do delete comments occasionally, such as profanity or wildly off-topic rants, but in general I try to be respectful of those sharing alternate views though I don’t hesitate to debate them. My statements in my original article for The Interpreter and in my reply to Grow and Godfrey explicitly declare that I am not challenging the faithfulness of the editors, and recognize that faithful Latter-day Saints can hold the views that seem to be favored by Hauglid and Jensen. My objection is about the scholarship and bias in the volume, which, unfortunately, can have unintended consequences on others.

        The fact that Gee and I both felt a need to point out some serious gaps in this volume does not make us promoters of hate or intolerance. I am not accountable for the comment from Danielsen that you find so objectionable. But your paraphrase seems to be off the mark. His reply is not saying that views different than his must be censored because they would pollute the minds of the Saints. He is speaking about a much narrower issue.

        Grow and Godfrey imply that the footnotes in the JSP volume are not biased because Gee is cited 9 times. But citing Gee does not mean that he was properly included, consulted, or understood. His faithful perspective and scholarship is not reflected in this volume, IMHO, which ignores his assessment on dates, on relationships between the KEP and the translation, and on many other vital issues relevant to this volume.

        Danielsen’s point seems to be a fair one: citing Gee 9 times does not solve the problem of improper balance and biased scholarship, for one can insert 9 citations and then completely undermine or ignore the cited author by favoring or citing views of, say, critics. I wouldn’t use the word “pollutant” to describe views contrary to Gee’s, so maybe that’s too strong for my tastes, but Danielsen is not being unreasonable in explaining why 9 citations of Gee doesn’t make the treatment of LDS scholars fair and even-handed. I think it’s a legitimate gap, most obviously evident in the unjustified total absence of Nibley, the most prolific and influential scholar dealing with many of the issues they tackle in their commentary.

        I hope you don’t feel that Danielsen’s response, even if he meant what you say he meant, counts as one “of the most vicious public personal attacks against Mormon scholars for almost three decades” that you claim I have incited. Trusting that his statement is not what you referred to, might I ask what is? I find this truly puzzling and wonder what examples you are thinking of. Whatever harsh complaints you’ve seen that you think I’m accountable for, perhaps you might compare them to what people routinely say about, say, Daniel Peterson or John Gee (cf. a relatively mild comment from a certain BYU professor denouncing Gee for his “abhorrent” apologetics — also a tad harsh, perhaps). And I’ve had my share of harshly negative statements, including much of the profanity that that I do delete on my blog. If Hauglid and Jensen are getting harsher treatment, I’m very sorry, but that doesn’t mean I should remain silent.

  9. Grow/Godfrey state: “ Indeed, Volume 4 cites nine of John Gee’s own works — more than any other author.”

    Irrelevant, given the obvious fact that after the Gee inclusions, any amount of other pollutant views could be inserted, and were.

    • So youre suggesting after reading this that Jeff Lindsay and John Gee are more guided by the spirit to weed out “pollutants” than the general authorities and other church appointed historians are that worked on making sure the volume could be published under the church’s name? That’s a really strange position to find oneself, do you even have a testimony?

      • James, I suggest we all refrain from challenging the faith and character of others just because we disagree with them.

        I can appreciate your trust in the process that have us this JSP volume on the Book of Abraham, but it’s unreasonable to think that the numerous editorial decisions on secondary issues were scrutinized and given approval by the Church, especially when at least one key issue (was were the twin manuscripts original documents based on live dictation from Joseph) differs sharply from the assessment given in another recent JSP volume also published by the Church.

        The primary objective was to transcribe and publish key documents. Done. And done well. The secondary issues such as background commentary, footnotes, dates, etc., are for specialists and scholars, but also have importance. It’s not reasonable to assume that each of these were blessed by the Church. I don’t think that’s even remotely feasible.

        • Well, unfortunately you’re only highlighting your distance from how the project is done, who reads the manuscripts, and the conversations that the general authorities have with the historians at the Church Historian’s office. And you are utilizing your unfounded assumptions about that process to disparage accurate historical notes in the volume.

          • If you propose that the leaders of the Church had time and energy to scrutinize the peripheral details of these volumes and made sure they understood and agreed with each the thousands of subtle choices made, then how do you explain the significant differences in the commentary between this volume and JSP vol. 5 regarding the very important twin manuscripts of the Book of Abraham with Egyptian characters in the margins? JSP vol. 5 states that the format, punctuation, and emendations on the twin manuscripts indicate they were probably copied from an existing manuscript rather than being from live dictation of scripture by Joseph, while this volume on the Book of Abraham favors the notion that Joseph Smith was dictating these documents in creating or at least editing scripture, and the editors have given public presentations claiming that these manuscripts give us a “window” into Joseph’s translation methodology. So per your theory, did the Brethren, in their presumed hundreds of meetings to scrutinize all the details of each volume, decide to change their minds on this important issue? If so, why? Much more likely is that they focused on the big picture, i.e., the major deliverables of presenting key documents and transcriptions, and trusted those chosen as editors to handle the thousands of intricate details responsibly. I doubt anyone even noticed there was tension between the two volumes on this matter, but for those following the details of the debate on origins of the Book of Abraham, these details matter. Sadly, the current volume tends to reflect personal biases that are not always aligned with the best scholarship and that leave the door too widely opened for the positions of certain critics of the Book of Abraham, consistent with the “coming out” statement of one of the editors after this volume was edited.

          • I began reading Jeff’s Blogs after searching the JSPP material for Book of Abraham answers and feeling there were new biases. I spent many days on Jeff’s open blogs, conversing with him and, mainly, Critics of our faith. I respect and admire Brian and, from conversations with those close to him, I understand that he is an intelligent and faithful Saint. His scholarship is also highly regarded. I also believe Jeff greatly respects Brian, Robin, and so on. And, our respect for his position and work is related to the concerns of many.
            At stake is the future path and essence of faithful scholarship. Personal feelings and self-pride are less relevant. Our beloved Bro. Hauglid formerly agreed with so called “apologists” Nibley, etc. Now, he (reportedly) expresses disagreement with faithful peers, and, in some areas, agrees with Dan Vogel, and other critics. Dan reported that his videos have influenced Brian. As I’ve said many times, this is perfectly fine. Critics occasionally help us find truths. However, I’ve viewed the videos and found them to be lacking substance and honesty. I’ve discussed this at length with Dan.
            I would hope that Brian understands that some have concerns. Jeff is not wrong to mention personal experiences with those he knows and the questions they have. As I said on Jeff’s Blog- “Many of us would appreciate a firsthand clarification of [Brian’s] stance, and an open discussion of the evidence which led an honest scholar to disagree with greats such as Nibley, Gee, Muhlestein, and Lindsay, and (apparently) to agree with Dan Vogel. I fully support disagreement with anyone, and I even agreed with Dan once or twice myself :). However, after vigorous attempts, Dan (and anonymous friends at Mormonthink, etc.) have failed to provide scholarly evidence supporting their claims.
            On the other hand, solid evidence has been presented to support that:
            1-the BofA was at least partially translated before the GAEL was created “to” it, and that the GAEL doesn’t represent the BofA translation effort.
            2- the BofA is from, or based on, ancient texts.
            3- the papyri likely contained some Abraham material…”
            I have disagreed with Jeff many times and he responded with thoughtfulness (e.g.- I still believe that the “old man” was not Hor, and that the vignettes and etc. were gathered by a Ptolemaic Jew or Christian, etc….but I digress :)).
            Ultimately, Brian is amazing, and he has every right to agree or disagree with anyone, including Critics. Jeff should also have the right to disagree with anyone on matters of scholarship, including General Authorities.

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