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 Post subject: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:30 am 
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Curiously, though, the scribes who recorded them in Papyrus Amherst 63, most likely (according to handwriting experts) in the fourth century B.C., did so in Demotic — a cursive and relatively late Egyptian script — rather than in the customary Aramaic or Hebrew script. This delayed their decipherment for more than 120 years; although the script was clear enough, it seemed to be meaningless gibberish to the Egyptologists who studied it until they realized that the language of the underlying text wasn’t Egyptian at all.

Many Latter-day Saint scholars believe the Book of Mormon to have been written in Hebrew or something very like it, but in an Egyptian script, and they have long pointed to Papyrus Amherst 63 as evidence of an ancient biblical text recorded in precisely that way. (See, for example, William J. Hamblin, “Reformed Egyptian” published at publications.mi.BYU.edu).)

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900 ... pyrus.html

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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:32 am 
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Why the heck would a bunch of Jews from Jerusalem c. 600 BC chose not to use the extremely convenient Hebrew alphabet, and go for a version of the much more complicated Egyptian script?

Clearly if they had moved to a part of the world where Egyptian script was in everyday use (like the Aramaic-speaking Jewish community in Luxor, Egypt, who produced this papyrus), they might have chosen to do that But in the Americas? What possible reason could they have had?

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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:36 am 
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2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.


I have never quite understood how learning of the Jews came to mean the Hebrew language and language of the Egyptians came to mean nothing more than writing. The whole thing makes no sense. Learning of the Jews makes more sense in this context as the traditions of the Hebrew Scriptures, while “language of the Egyptians” is simply “Egyptian.”

The model for the Book of Mormon is the Book of Joseph, which was written by Joseph the patriarch in Egypt, in the Egyptian language, but concerned the history of the Hebrew people, hence “learning of the Hebrews” and “language of the Egyptians.” The early chapters of 1 Nephi serve two purposes: 1) to explain the origin of the Native Americans in the flight of Lehi and family from Jerusalem, and 2) establish their Israelite lineage with its distinctive Josephite tradition.

The latter part of number 2 is the recovery of the plates possessed by Laban. The plates of brass contain a genealogy of the family of Lehi, and also a record of the Jews:

Quote:
3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.


Frankly, it sounds like the family Bible, but granting the Book of Mormon just a bit more credit than that . . .

Quote:
19 And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers;

20 And also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the


Notice that there is here, in the declining part of the chiasm, a reference to the language of the plates, which is the language of the Egyptians, and the words of the prophets, i.e., the learning of the Hebrews.

1 Nephi 1:2

A learning of the Jews
B language of the Egyptians

1 Nephi 3:19-20

B language of our fathers
A words of the holy prophets


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:19 am 
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More grist to the mill:

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10 And after they had given thanks unto the God of Israel, my father, Lehi, took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and he did search them from the beginning.

11 And he beheld that they did contain the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents;

12 And also a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah;

13 And also the prophecies of the holy prophets, from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah; and also many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah.

14 And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.

15 And they were also led out of captivity and out of the land of Egypt, by that same God who had preserved them.

16 And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records.


Man, this is a dead giveaway that Smith was thinking of the printed Bible in his time when he wrote this. The interesting quirks of constant references to the “beginning” may indicate more expansive contents than the KJV of Smith’s day, and, indeed, the Book of Mormon contains the Allegory of Zenos, and many other references to this non-OT prophet. The Book of Mormon also contains a citation of Joseph not found in the OT.

So, although this description of the plates of brass sounds like the English family Bible, there is more to it, and that difference is the Josephite tradition. The plates are written in Egyptian, which is the hieratic language of the descendants of Joseph. The use of Egyptian as a special language explains why the Jewish Bible does not contain the material the Book of Mormon cites (of Joseph, Zenos, etc.). The Jews with their less complete Bible, therefore, and inability to read Joseph’s Egyptian (which Moses could read) are forerunners of the Lamanites in their apostasy and loss of knowledge, the difference being the Lamanites’ more complete loss of knowledge.


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:31 am 
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A comparison of the Jewish “Bible” and the plates of brass:

Quote:
1 Nephi 13:23

23 And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.


Again, the plates of brass contain more than the writings of the OT.


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:50 am 
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There is a recurring theme in the Book of Mormon tying language with memory. Corruption of language is concomitant with lacking access to the scriptures and loss of knowledge and faith.

Consider Omni’s account of Mosiah finding the people of Zarahemla, who fled Jerusalem at the same time as Lehi:

Quote:
17 And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them.

18 But it came to pass that Mosiah caused that they should be taught in his language. And it came to pass that after they were taught in the language of Mosiah, Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory; and they are written, but not in these plates.


This pattern is partly drawn from the Bible’s description of the confounding of languages at Babel, which is a foundational event in the Book of Mormon mythology, as it explains God’s first colonization of America the pure land with a people of pure language:

Quote:
33 Which Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others and their families, from the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the cface of the earth; and according to the word of the Lord the people were scattered.


Quote:
35 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon Jared; therefore he did not confound the language of Jared; and Jared and his brother were not confounded.

36 Then Jared said unto his brother: Cry again unto the Lord, and it may be that he will turn away his anger from them who are our friends, that he confound not their language.


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:06 am 
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The Book of Mormon as we have it was written beginning with Mosiah. This is called Mosiah Priority and it was first recognized by Brent Metcalfe. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosiah_priority.

Notice how prominently the issue of language and sacred knowledge features in that book:

Mosiah 1:2-7

Quote:
2 And it came to pass that he had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord.

3 And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God.

4 For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time.

5 I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.

6 O my sons, I would that ye should remember that these sayings are true, and also that these records are true. And behold, also the plates of Nephi, which contain the records and the sayings of our fathers from the time they left Jerusalem until now, and they are true; and we can know of their surety because we have them before our eyes.

7 And now, my sons, I would that ye should remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby; and I would that ye should keep the commandments of God, that ye may prosper in the land according to the promises which the Lord made unto our fathers.


In the order of translation/composition this passage comes first. It mentions the “language of the Egyptians”; the “learning of the Jews” is the CONTENT transmitted in the Egyptian language. It is not Hebrew written in Egyptian characters.


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:59 am 
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One important point to remember in the interpretation of 1 Nephi 1:2 is that the passage uses the word language in two senses:

Quote:
2 Yea, I make a record in the 1) language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the 2) language of the Egyptians.


One sense in which the author uses the word language is one's message/mode of expression:

Consider 1 Nephi 5:3

Quote:
3 And after this manner of language had my mother complained against my father.


Here the author is referring to Nephi's mother's message. It is not the case that she chose to complain in Assyrian vel sim.

Lehi then comforts Sariah, and the author describes this in the following way:

Quote:
6 And after this manner of language did my father, Lehi, comfort my mother, Sariah, concerning us, while we journeyed in the wilderness up to the land of Jerusalem, to obtain the record of the Jews.


Then Sariah responds:

Quote:
8 And she spake, saying: Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak.


Another sense in which the author uses the word language is to refer to language as a system of signs and sounds such Egyptian, Hebrew, Adamic, etc.

So, to return to 1 Nephi 1:2:

Quote:
2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.


Rendered in a formula

language of my father=learning of Jews+language of Egyptians

C = A + B

C ≠ B

Language of my father=Father's mode of expression/message

Learning of Jews=teachings and history of Jews

Language of Egyptians=Egyptian

Perhaps our logicians can help me here, but I am having a difficult time in all of this seeing how "language of my father" equals "Hebrew" + "Egyptian writing."


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:40 pm 
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I really liked the comment by PhilPhil - Salt Lake City, Utah
July 4, 2018, 1:18 p.m.
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Dr. Peterson truly deserves consideration for a Pulitzer prize.

I would add that Dr. Peterson should also be accorded the status of Operating Thetan Level 8.

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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 2:29 pm 
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Can I play too, Kish?

Let us start with 1 Nephi 1.2 (I have naturally taken the text from the 1830 Palmyra edition of the Book of Mormon):

Quote:
....yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.


Your argument is that the "language" of the Egyptians means just that - Ancient Egyptian - and that the learning of the Jews is the content that was expressed in that language.

I want to argue that there is no reason why Nephi would have taken it into his head to compose the Small Plates in Ancient Egyptian. It just makes no sense. And this is Nephi talking - Mormon did not abridge this part of the Nephite record, so we can have a high degree of confidence that we are reading the words of Nephi ben Lehi himself, written within a generation of 600 BC.

So why does Nephi bring up Egyptian? What did he mean by the term? Apostates and anti-Mormons would doubtless say that the text was written by Brother Joseph (as if he could do such a thing in 60 days!), and that Joseph was influenced by later Euro-American fantasies about Egypt as a land of mysteries. But such an explanation is obviously not open to faithful Latter-day Saint scholars. Nephi was not an Orientalist, and "Egypt" to a Judahite in 600 BC did not signify esoteric exoticism. It signified slavery and oppression. The early prophets (Hosea, Amos, Micah and Nephi's beloved Isaiah) repeatedly reference the narrative of Israel's liberation from Egypt in the exodus as a programmatic model for YHWH's dealings with his chosen people. Jeremiah, who we know was a contemporary of Nephi, incorporated the same theme into his preaching.

I suggest, then, that "Egypt" in the Book of Mormon text signifies oppressive, idolatrous enemies, from whom God's remnant people look to be delivered by his divine hand. It is plausible that the members of the Lehite colony used the terms "Egypt" and "Egyptians" to denote the native peoples of the Americas. So the "language of the Egyptians" that Nephi employed would have been the language of the Maya - a language which he and his family would have had to learn on arriving in the New WOrld, and which would no doubt have become more familiar to him over time than his native Hebrew.


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 2:32 pm 
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What about the brass plates?, I hear you ask.

In 1 Nephi 3.19, the "language of our fathers" cannot be anything other than Hebrew. The phrase "our fathers" can only mean the historic inhabitants of Israel and Judah, and it follows that Nephi must be referring to Hebrew.

There is no analogy with 1 Nephi 1.2, as in that passage Nephi is speaking specifically of his own father, Lehi, not of his "fathers" in the sense of his ethno-linguistic ancestors. This is, of course, the well known pater/genitor distinction.

Moreover, Nephi knew how to refer explicitly to the "language of the Egyptians" when he wanted to - and indeed he had already done so at 1.2. There is no reason to think that he would switch to calling it by the enigmatic phrase "language of our fathers" when he got to 3.19. This argument holds whether you think that "Egyptian" was Egyptian or Mayan.


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 2:38 pm 
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Finally, here is the well known passage from Mormon 9.32-34:

Quote:
And now behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge in the characters, which are called among us the reformed Egyptian being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large, we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in the Hebrew, behold, ye would have had none imperfection in our record. But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof.


I have argued that "Egyptian" in Nephi's time was code for "Mayan". But this passage was written by Mormon centuries after the time of Nephi, in the 4th century AD. By then, the term "Egyptian" could have meant anything - the "characters" of "reformed Egyptian" could be any central American writing system. The characters were presumably "reformed" by being adapted to write some Semitic-influenced hybrid language rather than an Amerindian language.

The identity of the underlying language is a total mystery. Mormon sayd that the Hebrew of the original Lehite colonists "hath been altered" - and you don't need to be a glottochronologist to take his word for this, as the 300s AD are a long time removed from the 500s BC. But the language in which Mormon is writing must be something different again. It can't be Hebrew, even an "altered" form of it. If it was Hebrew, it would have been a simple matter for Mormon to have said so. Instead, he says expressly that "none other people knoweth our language". This immediately rules out Hebrew, as Mormon is happy to talk about Hebrew as if the (imagined future) reader knows quite well what it is. Perhaps Mormon is writing in some sort of unique hybrid of altered-Hebrew, Maya and/or some other Amerindian language(s); but it would be pretty stupid to make gratuitous conjectures about such things.


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:24 pm 
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Ingenious work, Johannes. I love it! I don’t agree, however. Language of our fathers is not Hebrew but the scribal Egyptian passed down by descendants of Joseph. This is precisely why Nephi would think to write in Egyptian. It is in the tradition of Joseph his ancestor to keep records in Egyptian.

I can see the attraction of identifying Egyptian as the enemy language. It’s very clever, particularly since the Book of Mormon is a self-consciously Exodus-style narrative that refers to the exodus from Egypt regularly. But America is not Egypt. It is the Promised Land. If any language were to refer to the language of the people inhabiting the Promised Land it would be Canaanite, not Egyptian.

No, Egyptian is the link back to Joseph, who remained more closely associated with Egypt than the other Israelites, even Abraham and Moses. The Book of Mormon is a Josephite text. Joseph, who married an Egyptian woman and had children with her, was integrated into Egyptian culture and power. Egyptian is a marker of pride to Josephites. It is not simply the language of the enemy. It can’t be. It is also the language of family.


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:03 am 
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Well played, sir. But how about these points:

1. How do we know that Lehi and Nephi were descendants of Joseph? We only have Nephi's word for it. What's more, the claim is embedded in the highly suspicious story of the theft of the brass plates from Laban; and Nephi is remarkably cagey about setting out the details of the family line at 1 Ne. 2.1ff. Nephi may have seen himself as a new Joseph - a favoured younger son of a patriarch who came into conflict with his brothers - and embroidered his narrative accordingly, but there is no way of verifying his claimed ancestry. Plus, Joseph's line is associated with the northern kingdom, so what is a Josephite family doing in Jerusalem anyway?

2. I'm not persuaded that Egyptian would have been handed down in the tribe of Joseph. We'd know about it if it had; and the stigma against Egypt in monarchic-era Israelite culture tells against the idea that it would be a "marker of pride". I suppose it could have been a semi-clandestine scribal language, as you suggest,, but then the phrase "language of our fathers" doesn't really fit. Latin plays a vaguely similar role in our culture, but I'd never call it the language of our fathers.


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:26 pm 
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I actually have no problem with the idea of Reformed Egyptian. It is was not at all unusual for languages in antiquity to be written in different scripts. Hebrew, for example, had its own script that was only occasionally used after the sixth century (Maccabeean coins; used to write the divine name in the Dead Sea Scrolls), which the Samaritans still use today, but which has been written in the Aramaic alphabet ever since. Celtiberian was written in a reformed Latin, as was Gaulish (and in Greek too). Turkish today is written in reformed Roman script, which replaced its reformed Arabic script. Hell, I'm writing this in the Reformed Greek that the Romans first invented, which was itself Reformed Phoenician. There is also the example of Meroitic, which is more relevant to the Book of Mormon.

Johannes wrote:
1. How do we know that Lehi and Nephi were descendants of Joseph? We only have Nephi's word for it. What's more, the claim is embedded in the highly suspicious story of the theft of the brass plates from Laban; and Nephi is remarkably cagey about setting out the details of the family line at 1 Ne. 2.1ff. Nephi may have seen himself as a new Joseph - a favoured younger son of a patriarch who came into conflict with his brothers - and embroidered his narrative accordingly, but there is no way of verifying his claimed ancestry. Plus, Joseph's line is associated with the northern kingdom, so what is a Josephite family doing in Jerusalem anyway?


Well, there was a great deal of intercourse between the North and the South—our Biblical text, with its mixture of the Elohist and the Yahwist elements, for example, was in its earlier stages a composite text that could be used both by Southerners and refugees from the North who fled after the Assyrian conquest of 722. Lehi's family had probably come south in one of those migratory waves. But why should we doubt Nephi's account in any case? The information in the text connecting Lehi to Joseph is told quite nonchalantly, in fact. At the very least, Joseph was an important figure for Lehi, as well, since he named his son after the patriarch. And Egyptian names (Pahoran, Helaman, and so on) attest to the importance, if not the fact, of an Egyptian connection among the Nephite scribal class.

Quote:
2. I'm not persuaded that Egyptian would have been handed down in the tribe of Joseph. We'd know about it if it had; and the stigma against Egypt in monarchic-era Israelite culture tells against the idea that it would be a "marker of pride". I suppose it could have been a semi-clandestine scribal language, as you suggest,, but then the phrase "language of our fathers" doesn't really fit. Latin plays a vaguely similar role in our culture, but I'd never call it the language of our fathers.


I think it's more complicated than that. Attitudes toward Egypt ebbed and flowed and were no doubt not uniform across society. Perhaps there was a strong anti-Egyptian feeling in the late seventh century, culminating in outright war and the death of Josiah, but things had changed by the beginning of the sixth century, when the ancestors of the Nephite scribal dynasties left Jerusalem. If anything, the Judahite scribal class at that time was much more anti-Babylonian, which in the political of the time implied pro-Egyptian—this is why the Babylonians destroyed the city in the end—and even the prophets who were to some degree opposed to the pro-Egyptian elements in Zedekiah's regime ended up in Egypt (Jeremiah, for example). But in all events, it is the anti-Babylonian sentiment that has remained with us via Jewish apocalyptic, a literature not unlike what we find in the Nephite literary tradition. They ardently opposed the Whore of Babylon, but we hear nothing of a Whore of Memphis or a Harlot of Thebes.

But Lehi of course was not a scribe but a merchant who must have known Egyptian to have the sort of enterprise that could acquire all that gold and silver for the family. He also probably knew Greek, and he was really good friends with Thales and Solon, as Nibley has pointed out. His connections were wide and it is much more likely that he, a relative provincial, learned the international languages of his day rather than that his contacts learned to speak his barbarous dialect of Hebrew (lliboleth for shibboleth...ugh...he probably sounded like a Welshman). It's unlikely that he would have learned to interpret hieroglyphs, but it's certainly reasonable that he learned Demotic

I have submitted arguments elsewhere to Cassius (see here) that Nephite politico-religious history can, and indeed should, be understood in terms of the conflict between monarchists and an elite scribal class. The latter were able to maintain a foothold in politics and occasionally a grasp on power in part because of the perception they fostered among society that they alone had access to the divine mind, and therefore to divine power. They did this notably, though not exclusively, through control on literacy. The transmission of texts (plates and so on) was also the transmission of this priestly, almost magical language, which was likely some form of Egyptian (as Kish has brilliantly and convincingly argued here). Whatever it was, it was even farther removed from the spoken language of your average Nephite and Lamanite than Latin is from English. It may have been an ancient Esperanto for all we know, but they called it Egyptian, and I can see no serious reason for doubting their belief.

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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:05 pm 
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Great job, Symmachus, but "I wanna push back". Why, according to Nephi, should we believe that he had Josephite ancestry? Because Lehi (he says) found his genealogy written on Laban's brass plates:

Quote:
And it came to pass that my father Lehi also found upon the plates of brass, a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph which was the son of Jacob, which was sold into Egypt, and which was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father Jacob and all his household from perishing with famine. And they were also led out of captivity and out of the land of Egypt, by the same God who had preserved them. And thus my father Lehi did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records.


There are several things here that don't add up:

1. The whole story of Nephi killing Laban and taking the brass plates is very suspicious. I don't doubt that Nephi told it about himself once he was safely in the New World - probably at immoderate length and frequency. But the sheer implausibility of the narrative (his own brothers didn't recognise him?) must give us pause.

2. Nephi says that the plates otherwise contained pre-exilic Israelite scripture (or what would become scripture). This, if it existed, is clearly some sort of semi-public religious archive of which Laban is the custodian owing to his high position in Jerusalem society. So why would it contain a private genealogy? To reverse Kishkumen's point, it's not a frontier Bible.

3. Perhaps we can explain point 2 using some tenuous argument about how the genealogy ended up on the plates because Laban was attempting to legitimate his social position by (literally) inscribing his ancestry into sacred history... but then why would the plates contain Lehi's genealogy?

4. Why doesn't Nephi, who starts his text off by boasting about his goodly parents and so forth, proudly set out the genealogy in detail? He doesn't only pass over this omission, he feels uneasy about it and attempts to justify it.

And also - I'll concede that there's nothing necessarily extraordinary about a Josephite family living in Jerusalem, but it adds to the sense that something is seriously amiss here. It also isn't apologetically useful. Anti-Mormons say that the Prophet modelled the Book of Mormon on modern speculation that the American Indians were the ten lost tribes of Israel. The southern origin of Lehi and his family is a powerful point against this apostate theory. If you contest this point, you are effectively siding with the enemies of the Church.

Still, great job!


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:14 pm 
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On point 2....

I'll concede the point about the geopolitical position of Egypt in 600 BC, but I maintain that Egypt and things Egyptian would have had an ideological payload that can't easily be accommodated in Kish's theory that Egyptian was a straightforward "marker of pride" in Nephi's milieu ("Mitzraim" still has similar overtones in some Jewish discourse today).

I find the notion that Lehi and other members of his family learnt Egyptian as a trading language more plausible than the idea that it was an inherited scribal vernacular passed down through the Josephite line. But we still come up against that phrase "language of our fathers". THe plain and natural referent of that phrase is Hebrew. It's a very strange way for a full-blooded Judahite or Israelite to describe the Egyptian language.

THe Nephites may well have developed a scribal class with an esoteric language, but I wanna push back on that being Egyptian. The one thing that gives me pause is the Book of Mormon onomasticon, which, as you say, has been proven by Interpreter Foundation scholars to contain Egyptian elements.

Still, nice job!


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:25 pm 
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Symmachus wrote:
It may have been an ancient Esperanto for all we know


I wonder if it was some sort of constructed language.... After all, Zamenhof constructed Esperanto in order to smooth over tensions in a time and place of ethnic and religious division, which is not unlike the situation in whcih the Nephites found themselves.


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:11 pm 
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You raise some very strong points, Johannes, but let me say first that whether or not my arguments support or erode the Church's present and past claims, I am but a humble scholar of Book of Mormon studies. I simply want to understand the Jaredites and Nephites, not to help or hurt the Church which owns the copyright on their literatures.

Perhaps there is some difficulty with the genealogy (point 4). Your strongest observation is that Nephi doesn't actually give the genealogy. That does seem to be something we expect (something along the lines of "Joseph begat Manasseh, who begat...who begat Lehi"), but we must remember the aims of the Small Plates: matters of religious importance. Notice that in the section you quote from Nephi's emphasis is not on the genealogy but on how the genealogy fulfills prophecy. In the words immediately following, he writes:

Nephi wrote:
And now I, Nephi, do not give the genealogy of my fathers in this part of my record; neither at any time shall I give it after upon these plates which I am writing; for it is given in the record which has been kept by my father; wherefore, I do not write it in this work. For it sufficeth me to say that we are descendants of Joseph. And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father, for they cannot be written upon these plates, for I desire the room that I may write of the things of God. For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved. Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world. Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men.


One could object that this is too much protesting, but that's really a matter of opinion. We should believe a historical source unless we have a solid reason not to, and in this case we may have reasons but they're not solid. A solid reason would be a contradiction or an impossibility, for example, but I find nothing yet to contradict Nephi's claims, which are certainly plausible.

There would have been no need to transcribe the genealogy anyway, because whoever had access to Nephi's plates also had access to the plates containing the genealogy, which constituted a separate set of plates and were transmitted at least until the time of Alma the Younger (Alma 37:3).

Sorry not to address them in order, but your third point must be tackled first in order to address the remaining two. On your third point, the plates with the genealogy contain Lehi's genealogy and Laban's because they were related:

Nephi wrote:
And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records.


To your second point, on the nature of the record and it's "private genealogy," Hugh Nibley has already tackled this in his brilliant misreading of the Lachish letters in An Approach to the Book of Mormon (and see his essay here). Given that Laban was an important political figure—the chief military authority in Jerusalem—records would naturally have been kept with his office (more on that below) and any "private genealogy" would have been essentially a matter of public record. But the nature of the Brass Plates should be understood: they contained "the record of the Jews" and also the genealogy of Lehi's and Laban's forefathers, because they were related. They were not additions to scripture per se but rather an additional record kept in the archives of the military governor, Laban.

That connects to the first point you raise: Nephi's story. I have no doubt that that time and Nephi's ultimate political success in establishing a petty state of scribe-kings imbued the story of Laban's murder with a moral color when he got down to writing it: success was his justification. The simple fact is that he killed his third- or fourth-cousin and stole one of his books, but that kind of family violence would only be thinkable in the sort of culture that believed power was wedded to writing. The whole of Nephite religio-political history is founded on that cultural assumption. It may not seem believable, but if Nephi is poor story-teller, he was a cunning politician.

But he had to kill for the record? Yes, certainly. These records were a source of legitimation for someone like Laban. As you point out, there is something problematic about northerners in the southern kingdom. After the fall of the northern kingdom and an influx of refugees, how were the ruling classes in Judah to know who was who? I suspect that genealogy was written—perhaps forged—by Lehi's and Laban's progenitors as a mechanism to establish their identification and to build social capital in their new society. They were enterprising aristocrats who had lost all wealth and position now that the northern kingdom of Israel was no more. How were they to establish themselves, rebuild their fortunes, and recapture their social position? Laban's branch of the family ingratiated themselves among the Judahite ruling elite and legitimated their new station by harking back to the patriarchal age: they may not have been tied to the House of David, but they could show that they were descended from Joseph. They were elite in their own way. Note even Laban's name, which was also the name of one of the patriarch Joseph's grandfathers (Isaac, the son of Abraham, was the other). This family was deeply invested in this genealogy because their genealogy was their passport into Judean society. The plates put their pretense to prestige not merely into written form; it fixed it as fact, which Nephi and his descendants were to use later.

Now, keep in mind that it was at this time that the Elohist texts began circulating among the scribal elite tied to the court. Obviously, this family was only one of many elite families fleeing from Israel who used holy writings to win a similarly elite place in the southern kingdom. Laban's branch of the family clearly trafficked in this sort of stuff much more than Lehi's, because Laban's branch became politically important. Lehi's branch, however, cast their eyes on wider horizons than merely Judah; they went into the import-export business. This is why we find Lehi as a merchant who knows less about his genealogy than he knows he should. But he also knows the social prizes a good genealogy can win. And so he has his sons kill a relative to get the evidence and legitimation of their ancestry—just as they're heading off on a new venture and just as Lehi's ancestors had earlier done following the collapse of the Israel.

On the relationship with Egypt, I think the most hostile elements would only ever have been at the court in Judah, and even then sentiment shifted constantly depending on the needs of the regime. The exodus story and its anti-Egyptian elements were pushed hard by Josiah, who had a new scripture forged by his propaganda ministers (Deuteronomy), but that doesn't mean someone like Lehi, who was on the margins of political society a couple of decades later, would have bought into that. The Nephites are aware of the story, but it doesn't loom large in the Book of Mormon. When it is mentioned, it is not to use wicked Egypt as a foil to righteous Israel but as a sign of god's power. In short, what matters i is that god was powerful enough to kill a pharaoh, not that the land of pharaohs was a symbol of idolatry. This is not Josiah's propaganda.

I'm not sure what Kish would say, but I don't view Lehi as inheriting a scribal language going back to Joseph. I think his family had always maintained contacts with Egypt, admired Egyptian culture, and were proud of their ancestral connection to the place. I think he raised his children bilingually (Nephi is probably an Egyptian name, as is Sam, as Nibley dubiously showed), and they perhaps even grew up there or lived part of their childhood there.

And snce Nephi's family were only tangentially connected to the Judahite court—in fact, Lehi was a strong critic, which is why he fled—they were probably less literate in Hebrew than you imagine. If anything, Nephi's literate education was probably more Egyptian than Hebrew because that's what he would have needed for the family business. I'm sure he spoke a dialect of Hebrew as a mother tongue, and he could read it obviously, but that doesn't mean he could write a record like his in Hebrew. Sure, he could scratch his name and make some letters, but to actually compose a narrative account with theological arguments? That takes a lot of training. Anyone who has ever taught first-year writing knows how hard it is even for most native-speakers of a language to compose anything of substance in a logical manner without training. It is not uncommon to find at elite universities in many parts of the world students who can write English essays flawlessly but who can't write five coherent sentences in their native language because writing and speaking are very different things. One is spontaneous, the other constructed. Learning to write means not merely scratching letter but learning how to construct a thought in language, and it's hard.

Notice that large parts of Second Nephi have Nephi interpreting Hebrew texts (Isaiah) like a scribe to an audience, which suggests that members of his community were even less capable in understanding Hebrew than he was. They may have been able to carry on their conversations in their dialect, but they needed a literary text interpreted for them, as many native English speakers in the Mormon Church need the Book of Mormon, which is in Modern English, continually explained to them and reinterpreted with a vernacular feel.

What happened then, in my view, is that Egyptian became the de facto language of writing for the Nephites from the first because that is the written language that Lehi and his sons knew best. Nephi didn't know how to write Biblical Hebrew; at best he knew how to ape it, like Joseph Smith. Instead, he was most familiar with the language of business that is Demotic Egyptian (hence the jargon-ish and legalistic feel to the Book of Mormon's style), and probably they were familiar with some of the Egyptian classics and attempted to emulate them. It is that language that became the esoteric language of the Nephite scribes.

_________________
"As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them."

—B. Redd McConkie


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:00 pm 
God
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thank you, all

laughing my ass off


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 Post subject: Re: Papyrus Amherst 63 = Reformed Egyptian = BofM is true.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:27 pm 
God

Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:25 pm
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Morley wrote:
thank you, all

laughing my ass off

ditto!
Quote:
...Nephi didn't know how to write Biblical Hebrew; at best he knew how to ape it, like Joseph Smith. Instead, he was most familiar with the language of business....

priceless.


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