There are 4 thoughts on “Prolegomena to a Study of the Egyptian Alphabet Documents in the Joseph Smith Papers”.

  1. I think you miss an important fourth option for theories of translation, sort of a hybrid of your first and third: that Joseph believed he was translating from the extant papyri of the Horus scroll, but was in fact receiving revelation that resulted in the Abrahamic narrative.

    The evidence seems overwhelming to me that Joseph and his scribes genuinely believed the Horus Breathing Permit to be the source for the Book of Abraham. You do a disservice to paint that as the anti-Mormon view.

    I agree with Richard’s comment that the Oct 1, 1835 entry is much more likely in reference to the GAEL and its detailed astronomical content.

    Also your assertions that Joseph was the one copying other EA documents makes no sense to me. Why would Joseph copy Cowdery or Phelp’s alphabet document? The journal entries make it sound quite clear that he was actively involved in this, not merely some passive scribe.

    I also find your assertion that it “is clear that the Egyptian Alphabet document depends on the text of the Book of Abraham” to be unsupported. It is clear that there is some correlation between the EA and the BoA, but I do not see nearly enough evidence to make such a bold statement of dependency as you claim here. In fact the journal entries seem to disagree with you with clear mentions of EA/GAEL work prior to November 1835 where much of the documented BoA manuscript work seems to have taken place.

    By and large it seems to me that Jensen and Hauglid’s editorial work on the JSPRT4 is fair and largely consistent with the evidence and sound reason.

  2. You ignore the extensive discussion of Astronomy at the end of the GAEL, which is a much more likely candidate for the Oct. journal entry.

    At the very least it is a legitimate possibility that should be addressed more.

  3. Thank you, John. I agree. We know that Joseph Smith did some cataloguing of the characters on the gold plates before he began translating by the gift and power of God, but this short endeavor soon met a dead end. None of the scribes for the Book of Mormon mention anything about piecing together, or reverse engineering, an alphabet as a means of translation. Why would this be any different for the Book of Abraham? It makes sense that this was after-project that Joseph had little interest in.

    I have a copy of JSP Vol. 4, and have been annotating it with notes, quotes and commentary, from Gee and Muhlestein. I wish they had been given the reins on the project.

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