"The Papyri & the Plates": A Reply to Kerry re: the Kinderhook Plates

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BeNotDeceived
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Re: "The Papyri & the Plates": A Reply to Kerry re: the Kinderhook Plates

Post by BeNotDeceived »

Can we just accept, based on proven historical evidence, that Smith didn't translate anything and made up everything? :oops: The guy was a con-man and charlatan of the highest order, not to mention other things.
Don Bradley
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Re: "The Papyri & the Plates": A Reply to Kerry re: the Kinderhook Plates

Post by Don Bradley »

Marcus wrote:
Mon Jun 13, 2022 2:04 pm
Don Bradley wrote:
Mon Jun 13, 2022 7:50 am

...we actually offered, not an apologia for the Book of Abraham, but a work of historical scholarship on the Kinderhook plates.
ok. but i am struggling with reconciling 'a work of historical scholarship' with this:
That the matching of characters like mine between the GAEL and the KPs and yours between the GAEL and the papyrus, is not a method of revelation is a fact self-evident under any intelligible definition of the term revelation.
is there an actual "definition of the term revelation" in historical scholarship? given that it's an element of supernatural communication, i can see definitions existing of what believers think it is, but it's difficult to imagine an actual objective definition qualifying as historical scholarship. maybe there is some short hand going on here, but a use of the term as though everyone agrees it exists seems an overreach.
Ahh, sorry for the misunderstanding here, Marcus. Thank you for the chance to clarify.

When I and others discuss the issue of whether Joseph Smith translated the Kinderhook plates "by revelation," this means "by claimed revelation." Philo, Shulem, and I have all discussed whether Smith translated them "by revelation," as have others. In using terminology like this, none of us have meant did he translate them by actual divine power, but, rather, did he claim revelation in translating--was he was purporting to do it by a revelatory process (i.e., God somehow speaking the answer to him).

As to whether "revelation" is a concept in the academic study of religion, yes, of course! Since revelation is an important concept in many revelations, scholars of religious studies have theorized revelation and developed various working definitions of the concept in the context of academic discourse. An excellent place to begin would be A Theory of Religion by sociologists of religion Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, or Stark's later "A Theory of Revelations."

'Hope that helps!

Don
Last edited by Don Bradley on Tue Jun 14, 2022 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Don Bradley
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Re: "The Papyri & the Plates": A Reply to Kerry re: the Kinderhook Plates

Post by Don Bradley »

Philo Sofee wrote:
Mon Jun 13, 2022 12:29 pm
Dear Don,

I have enjoyed thoroughly your correction to my presentation, and, indeed, will relook at materials and make sure my audience understands your points of view clearer. I meant no offense to either you or Mark and am looking forward to reading more. I was the one who went into apologetic mode and probably read my own thinking into your work, for which I will correct in a future podcast. Thank you for calling my attention to this! And I look forward to conversations with you and George on the Book of Abraham timeline!

All the best!
Kerry
Thank you, my friend!

You actually shouldn't take the blame for thinking the paper's point was apologetic. That's actually my fault (along with Mark). Because the Kinderhook plates has mostly been an issue of interest to people because the plates are fake but Joseph Smith translated from them (which is really an issue of apologetics and criticism, rather than of history as such), Mark and I decided to spell out and emphasize for readers how our discoveries had implications for that issue that we assumed we be of interest to most of them. The thing is, I didn't realize just how much that made the paper look apologetic in purpose until I heard you go through and quote all those parts. I was a bit mortified, since I then saw how much it made our research look like it was aimed at something it was not. In reality, I should be thanking you for bringing that to my attention, since now I can better understand why some people are reading the paper that way.

That said, this really was not the intent. What Mark and I hoped to do (and which I think we did) was to write the definitive analysis of the sources on the Kinderhook plates and on how Joseph Smith arrived at the translation text William Clayton said he did. Hence, we tried to contextualize each relevant historical source, and to place Smith's engagement with the Kinderhook plates in the context of his overall interest in the subject of translation. Probably one place we could have done that more would have been looking further into his Kirtland work with the GAEL, but given that this topic is so complex, that may have taken us far afield.

In any case, I guess my overall point is, that while it's quite understandable that you would have read the paper as apologetic because of the emphasis we placed on how our discoveries are relevant to questions involved in apologetic-critical debate, our primary purpose was just to present what happened, much of which I had figured out while an ex-Mormon atheist, when I clearly had no stake in making an apologetic case for Joseph Smith.

I appreciate you be willing to clarify that for your audience.

I'll looking forward to talking with you and George!

Don
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Re: "The Papyri & the Plates": A Reply to Kerry re: the Kinderhook Plates

Post by Don Bradley »

I left out the quote from the chapter I'd intended to put in the opening post, so I've added it there and am including it below:
Bradley and Ashurst-McGee, p. 517 wrote:Whereas Joseph Smith’s open use of the Egyptian Alphabet book indicates that he saw himself acting in this case as a linguist, not a prophet, his possession and use of the book has implications for how his relationship with the book should be understood. Many, if not most, Mormon scholars have been skeptical about Smith’s involvement in the production of the curious Egyptian Alphabet documents, which do not reflect modern Egyptological understanding. Some have outright dismissed the relevance of these documents in understanding Smith’s translation of the Book of Abraham.

Samuel Brown, in an article on the relationship between Joseph Smith and William Phelps, argues that while Smith had been interested and involved in the production of the Egyptian Alphabet documents in 1835, he had then laid them aside, only to have Phelps revive them when Smith assigned Phelps to write a letter for him in November 1843. Brown writes: “Phelps appears to have made use of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers fairly autonomously in 1843, bringing the documents back to Smith’s attention after a long hiatus. . . . Smith does not seem to have been concerned with the Egyptian Grammar documents until Phelps came calling with his letter to James Arlington Bennet in hand.”

However, Smith’s autonomous use of the Egyptian Alphabet book six months earlier in the translation of the Kinderhook plates shows that he considered it a legitimate translation tool. Perhaps it was Smith who brought the document back to Phelps’s attention. Smith’s reliance on the book to translate a portion of the Kinderhook plates thus calls for a reconsideration of Smith’s relationship with this and the other Egyptian study documents.
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