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I’m disappointed that they didn’t address almost any of the concerns raised by recent high profile publications by Dan Vogel and Mormon Stories Podcast with Robert Ritner.
The section on Human Sacrifice actually quotes Ritner. It’s not the first time that Muhlestein and Gee have quoted him on Human Sacrifice and the other times he forcefully objected to the characterization. To cite him here, after his death, is borderline childish.
Additionally, in the Human Sacrifice section sources, Gee and Muhlestein cite themselves almost exclusively. They give the impression that mainstream Egyptologists wouldn’t forcefully object to the characterization of Human Sacrifice.
Allow me to address a few of your points, if I may:
I disagree with your observation that most of Vogel and Ritner’s main concerns were ignored, especially since many of the chapters in A Guide to the Book of Abraham deal directly with those issues. The first four chapters, for example, deal directly with Vogel’s main concerns, albeit the authors are focused on the issues themselves, not necessarily the critics themselves.
It’s worth noting that A Guide to the Book of Abraham is clearly meant to cover a much broader scope of topics than the comparatively smaller range of issues raised by Vogel, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it doesn’t address all of Vogel’s (or Ritner’s) concerns in depth. If it is an in-depth discussion on Vogel’s book you’re thirsting for, one of the authors has already addressed it here: https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/framing-the-book-of-abraham-presumptions-and-paradigms/
As far as your concerns about the characterization of human sacrifice go, I lean with the authors in that “Quibbling over what Egyptologists today prefer to call the practice is largely a red herring. What matters is whether what is described in the text of the Book of Abraham converges with the external evidence” (p. 77, n. 2). That evidence, I would add, is presented rather well in the chapter. Contrary to your claim of the authors nearly exclusively citing themselves, the twelve footnotes in the chapter also cite William James Adams Jr., Kevin Barney, Beate Pongratz-Leisten, Herman te Velde, Donald B. Redford, Jacobus van Dijk, and, of course, Robert Kriech Ritner. This is to say nothing of the additional chapter, “Facsimile 1 as a Sacrifice Scene,” which cites additional others.
First off, I genuinely appreciate the fact that you are willing to engage somewhat rather than simply deleting my comment.
Far from quibling, there is a huge distinction between Human Sacrifice to Gods and ritual surrounding capital punishment. Anthropologists 2,000 years from now might well look at the USA and talk about how we would ritually sacrifice humans guilty of crimes by offering a last meal, providing a priest to hear a confession, and giving opportunities for final words.
All this to say, human sacrifice to Gods is not even close to the same as ritual surrounding capital punishment, even if they superficially have religious elements. To state otherwise so confidently without external sources backing you up is just not right.
If you look at the references again, Kerry Muhlestein is the first listed in reference 2, 4, and 6-12. The quotes within the article are almost exclusively Muhlestein and Gee. All of the controversial statements in particular are the authors themselves.
Reference 3 is academically dishonest, as I’m SURE John Gee is aware that Ritner would and did strongly object to this characterization in this article. This is not a good look.
Hello, and thanks for bringing this to our attention! It’s good to see a fellow Barney tribal member amongst the scholarly! (I’m a Barney also… Walden Barney, to be specific!). And, I share the same fascination with things ancient, though I haven’t had the advantage of all the formal training that you’ve had in that area; nevertheless, I’ve read quite a bit, and primarily articles produced by some of our very studious faithful members, who have done us the favor of sharing the many kernels of truth and wisdom, and gems of understanding that they have extracted from their long years of study and research! Very fascinating stuff! Again, thanks!
currently residing in Sandy, Utah
Thanks for the excellent review, Quinten. I’m looking forward to reading this.