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  1. Absolutely Fantastic! I love this podcast with Doctor Ritner and his knowledge and expertise in Egyptology and the Book of Abraham. I am really excited to see this series continue in the near future! Thank you Doctor Ritner! Thank you RFM and John. Again, just absolutely fantastic!

  2. John, Indian language was compared to Hebrew, but when Native American writing was discussed the pictographs of North America and the hieroglyphic-like writing of the Maya were compared to Egyptian. Thus you have Egyptian writing and Hebrew language.

    1. Dan,

      Was there a general belief that Egyptian and Hebrew were connected, and derivative of the Adamic language? Or was that just Joseph Smith? Or nobody?

  3. It will be very interesting to see if any Mormon Apologist (Dr. John Gee) will ever come on Mormon Stories or RFM to debate or discuss the Book of Abraham with Dr. Ritner. My guess is that the LDS Church hierarchy will not allow it. Which is another method of burying and hiding the truth. I personally look forward to the next segments and hopefully a meaningful debate.

  4. Four mummies. Three female, one male. The Hor papyrus was on the breast of the male. There were two papyri rolls and other fragments.

  5. Commenting on the reference to Pharaoh in Exodus 1:11, Adam Clarke said:

    It may be necessary to observe that all the Egyptian kings, whatever their own name was, took the surname Pharaoh when they came to the throne; a name which, in its general acceptation, signified the same as king or monarch, but in its literal meaning, as Bochart has amply proved, it signifies a crocodile, which being a sacred animal among the Egyptians, the word might be added to their kings in order to procure them the greater reverence and respect.

    1. So what you seem to be saying Dan, is that Smith cribbed these Book of Abraham interpretations from Clarke as well as his JST/IV borrowings.

  6. The heads on the canopic jars probably reminded Joseph Smith of the four beasts mentioned in Revelation 4:7:

    “And the first beast [was] like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast [was] like a flying eagle.” (Rev 4:7)

    Adam Clarke explains that each beast represented a different cardinal point.

    1. Dan — Your insights on this episodes are very helpful. (I have also watched many of your youtube videos which are amazing.)



  7. “Commenting on the reference to Pharaoh in Exodus 1:11, Adam Clarke said:

    It may be necessary to observe that all the Egyptian kings, whatever their own name was, took the surname Pharaoh when they came to the throne; a name which, in its general acceptation, signified the same as king or monarch, but in its literal meaning, as Bochart has amply proved, it signifies a crocodile, which being a sacred animal among the Egyptians, the word might be added to their kings in order to procure them the greater reverence and respect.

    “Adam Clarke explains that each beast represented a different cardinal point.”


    I guess we now know the source of Joseph Smith’s “Bullseyes”!

    BTW, Joseph wouldn’t have lifted anything else from Adam Clarke, would he?

    Dan, you are awesome!

  8. I liked Dr. Ritner’s explanation that the similarities between the Book of Breathings and Mormon temple endowment were possibly due to Freemasonry’s having been influenced by the Egyptomania to which the apologists like to refer in their explanations. Perhaps this was a case of getting the right answer for the wrong reason. It is also a case of “parallelomania,” which is well known in biblical criticism and comparative mythology as an overemphasis or exaggeration of the similarities between texts or cultures to prove a connection without any apparent historical support.

    However, things are not as simple as the apologists make it seem. They look to JS’s explanations of Fac. 2 as justification for asserting the temple endowment came from Egyptian papyri, when JS made no such claim. Yet, their parallels do not come from the hypocephalus, where JS was completely wrong, but rather from Hor’s Book of Breathings, which our best evidence indicates was, as JS claimed, the source of his translation of the Book of Abraham. Apologetic comparisons to the temple endowment are nothing more than a distraction.

    1. Dan, I don’t think the Mormon apologists have done a very good job of connecting the endowment with Fac.2; I’m not assuming the validity of, much less defending, anything along those lines.

      However, my skepticism toward the apologetics notwithstanding, don’t you (and not just you specifically; I’m interested in anyone’s opinions) think it’s a pretty compelling coincidence (synchronicity?) that everything did sort of converge here for Joseph Smith and the doctrinal capstone for his new religion? Even the most charitable reading of history and scholarship does not do the original or “traditional” account of the Book of Abraham any favors. But the fact that there would be any association with passages to the afterlife and the instructions for what to do when you get there…come on…that’s pretty interesting stuff to all kind of tumble out in those last few years of his life. And as wrong or misunderstood or nefarious as it all may or may not have originated, I gotta hand it to Joseph Smith, Jr. for managing to syncretize all this weird Christian, Egyptian, Freemasonic, Kabbalistic, Swedenborgian, Enochian folk magic stuff into something that makes a funny kind of sense to William Conway and Mitt Romney alike.

  9. Outstanding podcast. Loved everything that was gone over in this. Looking forward to the next one. Great work Dr. Ritner, John, and RFM.

  10. Was there something different about the audio processing on this episode? John sounds like he’s using one of those voice-shifting boxes (deeper and weird).

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  11. Thank you, thank you and thank you, John,Bill and Dr. Ritner!
    Never has 3 hours passed so quickly as listening to this excellent interview.
    Thanks for the link of Ritner´s response to “gospel topic essay” and after reading it I want to say thanks to Gerald (and Sandra) Tanner, thanks to a student at the BYU who had a typed copy of the “Egyptian Alphabet” hand copies and also thanks to “another man” who loaned Tanners a microfilm of the original document. Also thanks to Michael Marquardt.
    And thanks again to Dr. Ritner! May he get the medical help he needs!
    Keep up the good work John and Bill!

  12. I just want to challenge a few things, and I hope this is reasonable. It is a little apologetic and relies on faith. I will make that admission from the beginning. That is why the comment is directed more toward the believers, and I admit that non-believers will not accept it at all. That’s ok guys. But here goes.
    (1) Dr. Ritner has no objective evidence that Joseph Smith thought to be extracting paragraphs of text from one symbol. While this is easily accepted by those who are critical, there is nothing manifestly proving this. It is a pure assumption on the side of critics. Dan Vogel and Brian Hauglid seem to also be assuming something like this. Other believers do not.
    (2) The Book of Mormon title page was reportedly taken from what was said to be the first leaf f the plates. If so, that isn’t all that much text. Therefore, the best candidate for the type of underlying ancient language for what was on the title page leaf of the Book of Mormon plates is a text that is a running text of an ancient language, where each symbol represents a sound or series of sounds.
    (3) Dr. Ritner admits that (a) each symbol in the Egyptian language is either a uniliteral (one consonant), biliteral (two consonant), or triliteral (three consonant) and determinative or context-giving symbol. Therefore, since Hebrew is uniliteral only, the Egyptian system of writing can save space by compressing up to three consonants into one symbol. There is no reason to assume that the Nephites, if they truly were writing in some Egyptian-derived system, did not know that fact, and could have used it to their advantage, along with some of the other features of the Egyptian language, such as its picture-writing nature, where sometimes pictures of things could be used to represent objects and idea sometimes in the text giving a further compression of space. It doesn’t mean that most of the Nephite written language was of this pictographic nature, but it could have been leveraged along with multiple consonants in one symbol.
    (4) Papyrus Amherst 63 uses demotic to transcribe a Semitic language. The Greek new testament transcribes words like Armageddon, which is Har Megeddo in Hebrew. Transliterating foreign languages with scripts from other written languages happened all the time. Furthermore, in Papyrus Amherst 63, certain sounds like R’s are used for L sounds. Further compression could have been gained by transcribing multiple similar-sounding consonants with one letter. For example, in Japanese there is no L, and so some words originating from Chinese with L’s are read with the R sound in that language. They are similar sounding, and could have used the same consonant to represent them.
    (5) Egyptology shows us that the *text* for the Explanations for the Facsimiles does not exist in the Facsimiles, or in the Breathing Permit of Hor. Taking Hugh Nibley’s and Michael Rhodes way of reverse-engineering the symbols in the Facsimiles, as an example, in Hugh Nibley’s One Eternal Round Book, he shows that the symbols in the Facsimiles share themes with the text in the Explanations for the Facsimiles. The matching or pairing of symbol to text could be based on a thematic equivelance rather than exact-meaning equivalence.. There is no reason that the text from the Explanations for the Facsimiles did not exist anciently in a papyrus that is missing, and each item in the facsimiles was paired up with running text in such a papyrus. This papyrus did not need to reside on the same scroll that the Breathing Permit resided on. The existence of such a thing is faith-based, so I know that critics will not accept this, but believers might. Therefore, since the title page of the Book of Mormon likely contained a running text, an underlying missing source was a running text that actually contained most of the information in the explanations for the Facsimiles, and it is no longer extant.
    (3) Assuming something like Kevin Barney’s suggestion for Semitic Adaptation, something like this could have been done by the Priest Hor, owner of the Breathing Permit, where Hor matched up and adapted Facsimile symbols with certain themes to text in a no-longer extant underlying running Egyptian text.
    (4) Though controversial, most critical scholars have a consensus that the Prophet Joseph was responsible for the content in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. Assuming that is correct, the symbols in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers are also matched/paired up symbol to text, just like in the Facsimiles to the explanation text. Though many symbols from the Kirtland Egyptian Papers are lifted from the Hor scroll, they are done in the same fashion that the symbols from the Facsimiles are as I said, with a symbol on the left, and a lot of text on the right. There is no reason that an underlying Egyptian running text did not originally contain that meaning in a running Egyptian text. There is no reason to assume that the Prophet Joseph thought to be “extracting” all this information from one symbol like Kircher thought. It seems that the Kircher-like context is being thrust upon the Prophet Joseph’s productions by Ritner and Vogel. Even if the prophet believed that, that doesn’t mean that was what the Priest Hor was thinking when he paired content to symbols anciently. Perhaps the Priest Hor was very literate and was his own scribe, and understood his own productions, but Joseph Smith did not, and assumed too much.
    (5) Therefore, although a believer has no empirical evidence for a missing papyrus, a believer can continue to believe with confidence that there was one or more containing the Abrahamic information that is paired with Facsimile symbols, and Ritner seems to be thrusting the Kircherian context upon Joseph Smith’s productions without objective proof. Furthermore, he is psycho-analyzing the prophet that this is indeed what was in his head.
    (6) Believers will continue to believe, and critics will continue to be critical. But believers will be content with the state of things, and don’t necessarily find all Dr. Rither’s assumptions to be correct. Many of them can be accepted. For example, even if believers are forced by the evidence eventually to accept that Joseph Smith really was responsible for the Kirtland Egyptian Papers as Ritner and Hauglid insist is so, it isn’t a death blow. That just means that believers must start defending the Kirtland Egyptian Papers like they defend the Facsimiles and their explanations. That is just more apologetic homework for believers to do. And we do that kind of homework all the time. We aren’t particularly troubled by the fact that critics won’t accept everything that we accept. For sure, we admit that we accept some of it on faith. That is why we are called believers.

    1. RE: (3) Biliterals and triliterals don’t really make for a physically shorter text in practice. As an example, to write “pr,” the verb “to go out, leave”, there’s usually a biliteral representing the combination pr, a uniliteral representing the sound r (jargon: “phonetic complement”), and a pair of legs as a determinative to distinguish “pr” the verb from other words using the same consonants. Also, hieroglyphs tend to have more detail than the Semitic abjads and thus are harder to shrink down and maintain legibility.

    2. Bill,

      ” For example, even if believers are forced by the evidence eventually to accept that Joseph Smith really was responsible for the Kirtland Egyptian Papers as Ritner and Hauglid insist is so, it isn’t a death blow. That just means that believers must start defending the Kirtland Egyptian Papers like they defend the Facsimiles and their explanations.”

      That’s a lot of work for the believers. What do your masters say, Bill? There are men this day whom you revere as prophets, seers and revelators. If they are the men whom both you and they claim to be they could clear all this up by the end of the week.

    3. In the end, it’s not really the issue that Mormon apologists are able to fashion an apologetic that satisfies their personal needs. That’s just what apologetic is and just what apologists do. Mormon apologetic isn’t special or unique in any way.

      Nobody really cares that TBM apologists believe, and nobody is trying to dissuade or convert them.

      The real issue is something entirely different. Without agreeing with the conclusions, it would at least be nice if believers and apologists and Mormon leaders would be honest and admit that it’s completely justified by the evidence to conclude in the negative against Joseph Smith and the BoA (and against the “first vision” and golden plates and Book of Mormon, and against the Mormon priesthoods and their “restoration,” etc etc etc. And against the burning bosom.)

      Without believers agreeing with no those negative conclusions, it would be nice if they would at least be honest and admit that those negative conclusions are a valid and informed, intelligent and honest and honorable solution to the problem. Instead of Mormon apologists and leaders indulging their shame & blame & judge & condemn against their Mormon family and friends who study it out and very reasonably loose their belief and leave the church.

      That shame and blame operates from GA’s at General Conference all the way down to the membership: there’s always some personal failing or fault of the person who doubts and loses belief. There is just no legitimate or honorable or honest way in Mormonism to conclude against it.

      The refusal of the Mormon leaders and members to be honest and admit that doubt & rejection are reasonable and fully justified by the common evidence we all share actually breaks up and destroys some Mormon families and marriages. And drives wedges between parents and children and sibs and spouses.

      If it first takes a burning bosom before the evidence and arguments are persuasive — and if the only people who conclude in the affirmative have a burning bosom — then the evidence and arguments are just plain weak. Which is the reason why even the most scholarly apologetic of Gee or Muhlestein, et al., can never be published in the more rigorous upper tiers of the truly scholarly peer-reviewed academic literature.

      Same also for the Book of Mormon and its supposed narrative or Semitic or literary complexity. Or a supposedly inexplicable EModE. Or the supposed Semitic & Egyptian influence in Native American languages.

  13. John – its important to note that two of the names of the 4 sons of Horus -‘Elkenah’ (Elkanah) and ‘Libnah’ are both in the Bible, and therefore don’t count for much of anything, let alone as ‘a hit’. This was an obvious source for JS for these names.

    See Exodus 6:24 and Joshua 21:13

  14. I’m an exmo, and the seeds of doubt about BoA authenticity were planted when I was an undergraduate at BYU in 2001. I took a class on the Pearl of Great Price from Michael D. Rhodes. At that time, I found his apologetics unconvincing, and that set me on the path to outer darkness.

    Very happy that we were able to get Dr. Ritner to speak to these issues. I’m sure it comes with some professional risk on his part.

  15. Regarding the question that was raised during the podcast of why Joseph Smith chose Egyptian as the language of the golden plates, rather than Hebrew, it seems relevant to note that one of the arguments that Ethan Smith in View of the Hebrews presented for an Israelite heritage of the American Indians is that both constructed pyramids: “Various authors unite, as will appear, in stating the great similarity between those Mexican pyramids, and those of Egypt. And our noted author M. Humbolt exclaims; ‘We are astonished to see, in regions the most remote, men following the same model in their edifices.’ This is here claimed as a great argument in favour of the Israelitish extraction of those Indians.” So, it appears that a connection between Egypt and Israel and the American Indians was assumed at the time and place in which Joseph Smith “translated” the BOM. I believe that B.H. Roberts identified the concern with Egyptian as one of the parallels he identified between The VOH and the BOM.

  16. VOH also argues for an Egyptian connection, though the Israelites, based on the alleged fact that some American Indians used hieroglyphs: “Whence could have been derived the knowledge of the accurate hieroglyphical paintings, which this most learned author exhibits as found among some of the Indians; unless they had learned them from people to whom the knowledge of hieroglyphics had been transmitted from Egypt, its original source? “

  17. More from View of the Hebrews: “These American high places are striking resemblances of the Egyptian pyramids. Consult those in the region of Mexico, as already stated from Mr. Humbolt; and it seems as though they must have been made by the same people with those of Egypt. But the Egyptian pyramids were seen and well known by ancient Israel; and it has long been conjectured they were built by their labours during their bondage in Egypt. How natural then, that they should carry down to succeeding generations the deep impression of them in their minds. And what other nation on earth would be so likely to form such imitations of them, in a remote outcast region, as they?” And, just for fun, we even get a mention of “plates of gold”: “And after further noting the ‘four principle stories’ of a great Teocalli, or pyramid, near Mexico, and noting its composition , he adds; ‘This construction calls to mind that one of the Egyptian pyramids of Sackhara, which was Six stories, is a mass of pebbles and yellow mortar, covered on the outside with rough stones.’ The two great Mexican pyramids (this author informs) had on their summit huge statues of the sun and moon, formed of the stone and covered with plates of gold, which the soldiers of Cortez plundered.”

  18. Thanks a million Dr. Rittner. Wouldn’t know how to email you but your insights are wonrdeful.
    Living in the Netherlands medical challanges are very different, but I hope your health will allow you many more years.
    Would love to learn more!

  19. Thank you Dr. Ritner! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this information. Millions of us have been deceived by John Gee, Kerry Muhelstein, Hugh Nibley and the church leadership for DECADES!!! I am so grateful that you have sacrificed your time to debunk this pathetic and, in the words of Brian Hauglid, “abhorrent scholarship.” I know your colleagues view your efforts as a waste of time because it’s completely obvious that Joseph Smith made it all up but please know that your efforts are helping thousands of people learn the truth and escape a deceptive, fundamentalist religion. I can’t thank you enough!

  20. Loved it. For some reason I never would have expected it, but it seems a natural. It was Ritner’s writing that introduced me to the BoA charade. And the nonsense of Gee & Muhlestein, et al. And eventually to Dan Vogel on the BoA.

    Maybe I missed it, but was there someplace a reference to Hauglid’s acknowledgement that the apologetic “scholarship” of Muhlestein and Gee is abhorrent?

    And while I considered Ritner’s words and tone regarding Gee and Muhlestein to have been very moderate and apropos in every way, maybe even deliberate understatement — even his most biting assessments — I’m a little concerned there could be some in even secular academia who might consider them too personalized and polemical. Of course, they could just was well think they were too generous. I hope and trust there’ll be no negative academic fallout from anybody who matters.

    Look forward to the next Ritner episodes. Thanks!

  21. Loved this podcast and I can’t wait for the others.

    Lots of new information I’d never heard before in this session, the one that stands out is the usage of the name Potiphar, which was unknown/unused in Egypt before 600 BCE. Smoking gun right there … as if this episode wasn’t already chock full of smoking guns.

    My own faith crisis was kick-started in 1978 when in the height of King Tut mania I visited a small museum in Albany New York that had on display a mummy, on a lion table with actual canopic jars and an unfurled Book of the Dead papyrus under glass WITH a drawing that was almost identical to Facsimile 1. Of course this entire display was explained with translated call-out placards etc.. At first I thought it was one of the Chandler mummies and I darted home to get my triple combination to compare the facsimile with the real thing in front of me. That’s the first time I realized that Smith couldn’t read Egyptian but other scholars could and that what Smith took as Abraham’s tale was merely a common funerary prayer… that there were thousands of them all over the world.

    Dr. Ritner, you don’t have any guesses as to where that mummy/jars display that I saw in Albany in 1978 could be now, do you?

  22. Bill,

    My apologies for the length of this reply. I hope some, especially Bill, will find benefit.

    It really has nothing to do with believers vs. non-believers, but good vs. poor scholarship. You seem to hold an erroneous opinion that theories of traditional/conservative/fundamentalist LDS scholars should be privileged over more liberal/non-literal/non-Mormon scholarship. Declaring yourself a believer doesn’t immunize your theories from rigorous analysis and testing. I have nothing to say against faith, and only suggest that you don’t build upon the sandy foundation the poor apologetic arguments of Nibley, Gee, and Muhlestein. Their mistake is that they do not know the sources that relate to the Book of Abraham, whereas Hauglid does. I highly recommend his essay in Producing Ancient Scripture. You also seem unfamiliar with the English source materials and rely too much on their weak apologetic arguments.

    I’m not concerned with your speculations about what the term Reformed Egyptian means, while at the same time ignoring the fact that the characters Joseph Smith supplied are mere inventions. The Book of Mormon’s declaration that it was written in Reformed Egyptian script because it was a more compact script than Hebrew doesn’t tell us how that was accomplished. You attempt to resolve this in a rather illogical way, apparently arguing that when Smith said the title page came from the first leaf of the plates it proved that “the best candidate for the type of underlying ancient language for what was on the title page leaf of the Book of Mormon plates is a text that is a running text of an ancient language, where each symbol represents a sound or series of sounds.” I don’t see how you get this conclusion from Smith’s 1839 statement unless you are making the huge assumption that Smith meant his statement to be understood that the title page was the only thing written on the last leaf and that it occupied the entire plate, which isn’t at all apparent in his statement. So the premise upon which you build other arguments is extremely flawed.

    You follow Nibley and others in denying the possibility that Smith thought he was “extracting paragraphs of text from one symbol.” If Nibley/Gee/Muhlestein took time to study English-Egyptian texts, they would discover that is exactly what Smith believed. The Egyptian Grammar book begins by explaining how each line and dot in a character contains a meaning that can be amplified in five degrees, thus producing a paragraph of translation. Specifically, in conjunction with W. W. Phelps translation text written about the same time, it shows how the compound character Kiah-broam-Kiah-bra-oam produced Abraham 1:2-3. So, on this criticism, the apologists are wrong, and have been wrong for fifty years.

    This is why Cowdery subsequently wrote in the December 1835 issue of the Messenger and Advocate, in which he discussed the Egyptian papyri in detail, that Egyptian was a “very comprehensive” language. To return to the Book of Mormon, David Whitmer in describing Smith’s use of a seer stone in translation said: “frequently one character would make two lines of manuscript, while others made but a word or two words” (Chicago Times, 17 Oct. 1881, in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 5:86). According to W. W. Phelps, Martin Harris represented Professor Charles Anthon as identifying the Book of Mormon characters as “shorthand Egyptian” (Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 273). I think these statements should take priority over your assumptions and speculations.

    You next try an astounding feat of mental gymnastics that frankly left my head spinning. You begin by acknowledging that JS didn’t get his interpretations of the facsimiles from the texts written on the vignettes or in Hor’s Breathing Permit, although JS said he did. You then want to allow Nibley and Rhodes to make loosely-made thematic parallels between JS’s explanations and the literal Egyptian meanings, opening the door to what we all know as “parallelomania,” in which anyone with imagination can invent. Then, for some reason, you shift from this argument to a missing papyrus theory, arguing:

    “There is no reason that the text from the Explanations for the Facsimiles did not exist anciently in a papyrus that is missing, and each item in the facsimiles was paired up with running text in such a papyrus. This papyrus did not need to reside on the same scroll that the Breathing Permit resided on.”

    You must give us a reason for asserting this theory: “there is no reason it can’t” isn’t a legitimate argument. Those with some training will recognize this as an Argumentum ad Ignorantiam or the fallacy of possible proof. You need a compelling reason for asserting this besides faith. As you state, “The existence of such a thing is faith-based, so I know that critics will not accept this, but believers might.” Certainly, your theory shouldn’t prevail simply because others might share your religious faith. Aren’t you exploiting other people’s faith for your own purposes? Do you not see this as unethical?

    Continuing with your unfounded and admittedly “faith-based” assertions: You seem familiar with Dr. Ritner’s criticism of Gee’s and Muhlestein’s theory that the Abraham text occupied a now missing portion of the Hor papyrus. Having abandoned that theory, you now assert that in addition to Abraham there was also a “running text” of Hor’s explanations of the facsimiles which were possibly written on a completely different now-missing papyrus. You need more than apologetic necessity to assert such a thing. It seems a bit contradictory to assert this while at the same time criticizing Ritner for having “no objective evidence” for other things.

    Frankly, your assertion that “the Priest Hor, owner of the Breathing Permit, … matched up and adapted Facsimile symbols with certain themes to text in a no-longer extant underlying running Egyptian text,” seems pulled out of thin air out of apologetic desperation and should be taken seriously by no one. Simply, all the mistakes Joseph Smith made in his interpretations of the facsimiles are now Hor’s fault. Not likely. Moreover, you now need to explain why Hor would make two scrolls with opposing religions and why he didn’t simply make one scroll with the correct text.

    Finally, “more apologetic homework” is the wrong attitude. You should be open to the possibility that it might lead you to a more sophisticated and nuanced faith.

    1. At the end of the day the issue is that we’re talking academics. If someone here needs a nuance religion in which everything squares up with an evolving knowledge base…well, all TBM, liberal Mo’s and ex-Mo’s are abusing weed. Such religion does not exist. Religions are based on the supernatural. The BoA is also based, partially, on the supernatural. If anyone has walked off that building just leave it and don’t look back. Dr. Gee, to name a person, had to toil equally hard as Dr. Ritner for his PhD. His work, however, is entirely different. Is it moral to be paid to salvage a doctrine in crisis using academia? It’s a job and like being a plumber, not necessarily the best smelling job. But it takes courage to do that, perhaps the same amount of courage that it takes for someone to accept the fact that they do not believe anymore. I’d expect someone like RFM who, in his own words, did the bad smelling job regardless until it finally he could not do it anymore. He’d know, personally, the amount of willpower it took to do it. Instead of making a habit of dinging both apologists and critics [although both may deserve some critique] it is US, the members, ex-members and even antagonists who deserve a close look under the microscope. I was raised somewhere where The President, for the longest time had a god like status for 6 years. I wonder if all folks in the culture , but specially Americans, Americans in conservative states and pseudo-libertarians like Waterman could really live in a theocracy. Seeing the critique to places like Iran and Saudi Arabia i gather they will not be comfortable. A theocracy has many faces.

      1. Coriantumr,

        I get it. Your “I’m the adult in this room and you kids should all just learn to get along” manner would probably carry a little more weight without the prance-about stage name “Coriantumr” (or should I say: GORDON SUMNER!).


        Isn’t it a false equivalency comparing Dr. Gee to Dr. Ritner? I don’t pretend to know the recesses of their hearts, but what I see is one person who is faithfully studying the dimensions of a pyramid and another who is furiously filing away at the corners of a pyramid to make it conform to his preconceptions. One man of world-class expertise in a highly specialized field is answering questions as if he is addressing fellow human beings, the other is presumptuously and superciliously answering the questions that we all “should have asked” if we were only righteous enough. One could go on and on, but you get the point.

        Which brings me to my point: Since parallelomania is all the rage in LDS apologetics, let me offer one that is a little closer to the present that, I believe, is something a member of the church can ponder without feeling that his or her soul is in jeopardy. It involves a german catholic nun whose life even overlaps with Joseph Smith’s (although I would imagine that she is probably around the age of his mother). Her name is Catherine Anne Emmerich (1780-1829). She claimed to have visions from her youth and that these were so “ordinary” to her that she just assumed that everyone had them and was chagrined when she finally realized that this was not the case. From then on, as much as possible, she kept them to herself. (Which was probably a wise move, and makes me wonder if there is a certain General Authority out there who might now have second thoughts about sharing his sacred experience involving Lazarus the Gnat – but, I digress…) At any rate, I will spare the details of what is admittedly a hagiography and try to cut to the chase. Towards the end of her life, she said that she was told in a vision that her visions were not to be just for her own edification but shared with others. Her confessor arranged for a scribe to sit at her bed for (I believe) a four year period to record everything that she could remember from all her visions. And she had a lot! And after all the notes were arranged in the order of the events described we basically end up with her catholic version of the Pearl of Great Price. She speaks of what she saw of the “War in Heaven” and the Fallen Angels, the creation of Man and the Garden of Eden (that one is kind of “trippy” and would require CGI animation, I think, to portray the event as she claimed to have seen it). She describes a ton of “lacuna” not mentioned in the Bible. Although there is little dialogue in her account her imagery is quite striking and detailed even down to the description of landscapes, people, place names, clothes, statuary, etc. etc. In fact, Mel Gibson drew from some of her material in his movie “The Passion of Christ”. Her version, “The Dolorous Passion of the Lord” was published in 1836 and as her scribe, Bruno Clemens, died in 1843 (or 1844?) I am fairly certain that the rest of her corpus was published before his death. So all her stuff was written around the same time as Joseph Smith’s books (which eventually became TOGP).
        But to cut to the chase: She also speaks of Abraham in Egypt (as well as the events of Joseph’s stay there) and this in detail enough that an Egyptologist would be able to confirm or refute her account as either a factual history or a work of the imagination. Needless to say, little of what Anne Catherine said that she saw matches with anything Joseph Smith said that he translated. Her account, however, includes two of the names of the Egyptian Deities. She calls them Osiris and Isis and she mentions also that the crocodile was considered to be a sacred animal. Bullseye? But wait, the plot thickens. It turns out that her scribe was a writer of poems and stories before he had renounced the world after the death of his wife to live in a monastery. And there is some controversy as to what he might have personally inserted into her account.

        Now my question for a faithful latter-day saint would be: If some believing catholic said that only a believing catholic egyptologist is qualified to verify anything as regards ancient Egypt that she describes her account, would that fly with you? If all the Egyptologists in all the gin joints in all the world (except the Catholic Egyptologists) point out obvious anachronisms and confusion of place names, etc, how inclined would you be to embrace what would appear to be a biased minority of Catholic Egyptologists? What if Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich described two things right and forty things wrong, would that inspire you to immediately dust off your rosaries and start praying? Do you think that Dr. Ritner is qualified to judge her account of ancient Egypt? Or do you think that he will only be qualified to evaluate the evidence after fasting and praying in a monastery for four years? Or, are LDS Egyptologists the only avatars on the planet who can speak with any authority on all things Egyptian, at all?

        My intent here is not to offend any faithful latter-day saints or those who faithfully try to emulate the former-day saints. Any factual errors here are my own.

        1. Comparing Gee to Ritner is absolutely a false equivalency. Ritner’s intent it to inform, Gee’s intent is to take advantage of ignorance. Ritner knows that he’s able to defend his assertions to fellow scholars, Gee knows he can’t.

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    AUGUST 5, 2020 AT 10:28 AM
    I’d like to add that in both of these two presentations, the joint hosting between John and RFM has been extremely successful. RFM’s comments were always additive, helpful and welcome. Very good “play-by-play” and “color commentary” hosting here guys.

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  28. Simply. Amazing.

    There is so much truth from Dr. Ritner that it makes my heart hurt for TBMs.

    Thank you, good Doctor! John Dehlin! RFM!

    Simply. AMAZING!

  29. All of the sparring aside, if the church in general, and John Gee et al in particular we truly followers of Christ, they would put down their weapons and dedicate the church’s not inconsiderable resources to securing a donar kidney for Dr Rittner.

    I believe Jesus said something about loving your enemy and doing good to them which despitefully use you.

  30. Dr. Ritner……

    I’m afraid it isn’t possible to properly express our gratitude or relay to you for the significance of what your life’s work applied to this mess has done. Its one thing to have acquired all this specialized wisdom over a lifetime and quite another to be able to take the complexities of such a field and teach it in such a clear accessible way to the average person. Add to that the insane complexity of Joseph Smith trying to legitimize something he knows nothing about and successfully leading millions astray based on his ruse with ‘reformed egyptian ” for almost 200 years! It’s not harmless.

    I would be hard pressed to say which talent you excel at more…Egyptology or teaching?…fortunately you’re one that didn’t have to choose. The prowess with which you untangled each problem by knowing just what needed to be cleared up first before you just gave the answer. You really understand what needs to be in place for your student to understand the facts and make sense of them in a way that they will retain. You did not unnecessarily bog us down with too much in an already very detailed topic with so many moving parts.

    Really that was your brilliance….over and over you dove to the heart of the matter , making what would overwhelm most and patiently guided us painstakingly through, making sense of the absurdity in context with what Joseph claimed with what the facts actually are….not to mention the added buffoonery of mormon apologetics!

    Your point at the end was well taken in that you are just applying your knowledge to the papyri and not weighing in on anything else. The scrutiny that Joseph’s translation has been subjected to here should be beyond embarrassing and shocking to any true believing mormon. While it was not your aim to impact anyone’s faith, what you have done has been critical if faith is to have any relationship with truth.

    Mormons are not easily reached when it comes to challenging any of the established narrative no matter how convincing the evidence is. What you have managed to do here, on record, I believe is something that can’t help but reach some who wouldn’t be reached otherwise. These interviews with you , an expert outsider, will be tremendously useful to us mormons who have left, who wish to have something we can share with those left behind….something that is definitive and inarguable about the lies that their beloved Joseph Smith has founded their religion on. If there is a slam dunk, this is it!

    While this wasn’t your intention, it will however remain a powerful lasting legacy of good that can be turned to in one place again and again.

    Thank you for your generosity and talent and work on these things. May God bless you and may your life be extended through the miracle of a matching transplant donor.

  31. John, Dr. Ritner, RFM,

    Clearly, two epic episodes.

    Thank you to Dr. Ritner for doing the “dirty work” and taking on Mormon apologists when everyone else in the field probably feels like they have better things to do than respond to obviously ridiculous claims about a fringe topic in a fringe religion. We exmo’s are an even tinier fringe group ourselves, so the fact that you would take so much time to set the record straight means a lot to us.

    The one thing that wasn’t said that I found particularly ironic and funny, is that of all the facsimile’s that would have anything to do with the Mormon religion, Facsimile 3 would be the closest. One of the faithful arguments I’ve heard is that perhaps the facsimiles are just Egyptian adulterations of earlier documents depicting true teachings of the gospel, which is why the things on the JS Papyri are still so sacred. Facsimile 3 shows the deceased being presented as worthy to enter paradise by holy witnesses before a god , which is exactly how things are acted out in the temple. Of all the things Joseph Smith could have easily nailed, it would have been that one. “Here is Abraham (or whoever) being presented before God, having been found worthy, giving the signs and tokens…” Apologists would have a gold mine of evidence for that “Egyptian adulteration” argument. I find it especially funny that even without knowing the correct interpretation of Facsimile 3 it’s so obvious that’s what’s going on, but Joseph got the interpretation so far off even though the correct interpretation has such a strong parallel to deep Mormon doctrine.

    Again, thanks so much for the episode. Please let us know how things are going with Dr. Ritner’s health.

  32. A couple of additions that weren’t discussed in this podcast (although it was very good).’

    Facsimile 1: Not only does it NOT mention Abraham anywhere in the drawing but the ORIGINAL drawing/vignette you will notice has writing both to the LEFT and RIGHT side of Resurrection of Hor drawing. How do we know it’s for Hor? Because in the text to the RIGHT of the vignette where it contains the writing of a standard Book of Breathings it also contains the NAME of the person for who the Book of Breathing is for. It literally has the name of Hor in that writing identifying him as the subject of the Book of Breathing. In other words the person ON the LION COUCH is Hor (in the form of Osiris being resurrected).

    Facsimile 2: The outer script with the missing sections filled in. Two problems as I understand it. First the script copied from the Book of Breathings makes NO sense in reference to the other text. Meaning it creates random, inserted words/phrases with NO relation to the rest of the text. Almost like having an unrelated sentence fragment inserted another coherent sentence. Using a popular Lincoln quote “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a …he said…at…to begin with…all… that all men are created equal”. Not only that, but the copied text from what I understand, was inserted upside down or at least NOT in the same character direction that the rest of the characters around the circle are written in.

    Facsimile 3: Is just a complete fabrication in every-single-interpretation with NO exceptions.

    1. Actually WITHHELD, all of your concerns, additions, and summaries were covered in great detail and agreement was had by all…

      1. Thanks Phred. I must have missed those details.

        Another point I want to expound upon re: Facsimile 2 and the 4 sons of horus.

        The erroneous “stretch” that they represent the four corners of the earth is made even worse because:

        The appearance of those four sons of Horus are defined by the context in which they are used. Both Facsimile 1 and Facsimile 2 are funerary texts. IOW associated with the death and afterlife of the Mummies they were found with and that they are associated with BY NAME. In the Joseph Smith papyri the appearance of the four sons of Horus are exactly representing what they do in every single Resurrection of Osiris and every single Hypocephalus in which they appear. They are there as the gods used to protect the spirits of the dead and deceased. They are NEVER, EVER in any Resurrection of Osiris or Hypocephalus (and they do appear in many others) representative of the four corners of the earth. NEVER. John Gee commits intellectual fraud in claiming in this one exceptional instance of the Joseph Smith Papyri those four gods represent something they NEVER do in the context of death, resurrection and afterlife. Are all other Resurrection of Osiris vignettes and all other Hypocephali referencing the four sons of Horus actually representing the four corners of the earth per Gee’s claims meaning all interpretations of them by legitimate Egyptologists saying they are acting in their roles of Gods over the spirits of the deceased WRONG? Made worse by John Gee’s dishonesty is that he references an appearance of those four Gods as messengers sent to the four corners in which context it has NOTHING to do with death, spirits, resurrection, etc. The announcement of Ramses II taking crowns (Gee’s dishonest attempt to create a tie) is a completely different context and usage than their appearance in the Joseph Smith Papyri (both Facsimile 1 and 2) and ALL OTHER EXAMPLES of their appearance on other Vignettes and Hypocephali of the same.

        Shame on Gee for that dishonest attempt to legitimize a falsehood. Worse is he knows it’s false and isn’t honest enough to admit it.

  33. What a treat. Like being back in grad school. It is delightful listening to someone who clearly relishes his work and takes the responsibilities of honest scholarship very seriously.

    John, RFM, this is the best you’ve done to date.

    Dr. Ritner hasn’t just debunked the apologists – he’s nuked the BOA from orbit.

    1. Sooo true! I’m nearly 80, but this podcast made me feel like I was back in graduate school. Man, I listened hard, as if I were going to be tested on the material, including the pro and con arguments. I loved our small group discussions in grad school and the way I felt when I learned some thing new, or more about that which I already knew.
      Doc Ritner , Doc Dehlin, and Senor RFM, Thanks for a damned good discussion that carried me back many years to a time that I loved so much. And to those of you who submitted questions, you sounded like class mates and helped to make the discussion more surreal.

      I resigned from the church in 1975, so you can see how TBM I was for so long, but I was always aware of cracks in the LDS arguments and guarantees. Finally I just couldn’t put up with the lies from the church I had to believe or my own lies I had to tell in order to remain a member. My cognitive dissonance was great, so I decided to resign.

      I wish now that I had been more cognizant of the internet and podcast such as yours, John. I spent my career as a college English and Spanish professor, and I think I am fairly intelligent, but I was not so intelligent to extract myself from a cult before giving away so much time, talent, energy and money to an organization that always blamed me for not reading deeply enough, praying hard enough, working hard enough for the companionship of the spirit, or for being one of those dastardly intellectuals.

      Now that I have left the “confines” of the church, I finally feel as if I can be the person I was in grad school when I was thirsty for new knowledge, not afraid to learn”forbidden” things, and was open to new and challenging ideas.

      Thanks, boys, for such thought provoking discussion!

      sincerely yours,

      Barry Richins

      1. I believe that RFM is also a Doctor, since he is an attorney, he has his Juris Doctor. So, all three, Doctors!

      2. Hello I veture over on the Mormondialogue board where Ritner is poisen. It so hard for them to see. They attack him personally over his disagreement with Gee and removal from Gee’s phd committee. Gee has been quiet so far. He got smacked in regards to the long scroll argument.

  34. It was a stroke of genius for Dehlin to include RFM. The episodes are amazing.

    Also, Thanks a ton Dan Vogel for taking the time to chime in this comment section. It is appreciated!

  35. I’ve seen your great video about the book of Abraham and I’m shocked to see it. But if it is not a translation and it is clear that it is not where does the story that JS describes come from?

    1. “Where does the story that JS describes come from?”

      I think that a reasonable answer is that it comes from a farrago of sources including the author ‘s own imagination. Were it of Divine origin one has to wonder why it required this ridiculous charade of calling it a “translation” — a word by the way which now means something different to mormon apologists than it does to everyone else on this planet (including Joseph and his immediate circle of followers).

  36. This is clearly the most important discussion concerning the antiquity (or the modernity) of the Book of Abraham. John, you have outdone yourself on this one. And thanks to Doctor Ritner for fleshing out the truth about the origins of the Book of Abraham and dealing so forthrightly with the Mormon apologists who have clearly sought to muddy the waters on this matter.

  37. The insidious nature of the deception by Gee and other apologists has been extended to try and sway public sources to cover up the deception.

    In the Wikipedia article for Warren Parrish, some dishonest Mormon Apologists have edited the entry regarding his involvement in the Book of Abraham translation to insert unsupported apologetics\

    It said:
    Attempts at translation
    Joseph Smith recorded in his journal that Parrish had been promised the ability to “know of hidden things” and be “endowed with a knowledge of hidden languages.”[3] During the fall of 1835, Parrish, along with Oliver Cowdery, William W. Phelps and Frederick G. Williams, attempted to translate from Joseph Smith’s already completed Book of Abraham papyrii and failed.[4] Parrish and Phelps also produced a set of documents called the “Grammar & A[l]phabet of the Egyptian Language”. [5]

    I have changed it to the actual facts per Parrish’s own journal that he recorded the translation as Joseph Smith dictated it and in accordance with the History of the Church recordings from the same time. All contemporary sources from that time align that the translation of the Book of Abraham and the KEP documents are one and the same. There is ZERO evidence at all of any contemporary source whatsoever that the Book of Abraham was complete and that the KEP were just an exercise unrelated to the translation by Joseph Smith of the papyrii.

    The claim that the KEP are unrelated at all to the translation of the Book of Abraham is a modern fabrication by dishonest mormon apologists (I cannot in good conscience call them scholars since they no longer adhere to the standards of scholarship, truth or honesty in any way, shape or form) that has NO basis in anything or any evidence from primary source records from the 1830’s to the later 1850’s. All of those sources point to the KEP being a direct representation and result of Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham translation efforts.

    We need to be vigilant that the dishonesty of mormon apologists doesn’t spread like a cancer beyond the domain of their ecclesiastical control.

  38. These podcasts with Dr. Ritner have been an eye opener for me, 40 years as a member (not now). Having worked in the Temple for many years, would ask questions, would be told not to question the brethren. my father & grandfather happen to be free masons, at an early age I know about early church history & the involvement of the early Prophets with the free masons..” NOT ALL TRUTH IS USEFUL”.
    God bless you all for your great work

  39. Will Gee, Muhlstein and other mormon apologists/ex-scholars ever accept the truth regarding the Book of Abraham per the facts and evidence or do you think they’ll continue to willfully lie and deceive until their dying breath?

    I wonder that from time to time and how badly it paints the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when there is a clear choice in being honest, true and accepting fact and instead the choice is consciously made, heavily paid and subsidized instead to be dishonest, to literally hide the facts and instead promulgate complete falsehoods…in essence the soul of the Church has been sold for self-proclaimed pottage that in reality is boiled sawdust and water.

    Gee, Mulstein and other mormon ex-scholars are the literal flat-earthers of the Church. They, their opinions and their beliefs regarding the Book of Abraham should be treated as such.

  40. We have John Gee on video saying that he starts out with the premise that the B0A is true, an inset scripture, and works out from there. This is the antithesis of legitimate scholarship. That statement alone should dismiss him from any real discussion about the legitimacy of the B0A.

  41. I do have one question that I wish you could have addressed on the podcast. In the many rabbit holes I have gone down studying Mormonism, I have come across a couple “studies” done by BYU claiming to have discovered Egyptian mummies with Mormon-looking garments/temple clothing. I’ve seen many Mormon’s claim this as evidence to “doubt my doubts.” The linen clothing the mummies were wearing apparently had marks over both breasts, navel, and knee cap as you would find in Mormon garments. They also link knots tied over the left and right shoulders of the mummies to Mormon temple robes.

    It would be greatly appreciated if someone on here could provide their thoughts on the studies/excavations done in Fayum, Egypt. I will post links below of the sources I have read from. Pages 225-227 of the downloadable PDF from the BYU Studies link reference the rosettes and have pictures.

    1. Ricky,

      After wading through the church-approved links you posted, I am assuming that you are referring to the following passage from the report cited:

      “Ten of the robes on this burial are plain linen garments but the many strands of linen ribbon wrapped around the upper half of the body are gathered together into a complex knot. This knot is found on the left shoulder on two of the robes and on the right shoulder of the remaining eight robes. The symbol of the sacred knot or bow is common in Egypt and elsewhere and may indicate sacerdotal or priestly authority.

      The piece of clothing closest to the body is not usually well preserved due to the destructive influence of fluids and chemicals remaining in the body. In this burial, as well as a few others, however, the woolen garment next to the skin is sufficiently well preserved for us to observe that small rosettes have been woven into the material in particular locations. There is one rosette over each breast and one on the right leg near the knee, but there is no corresponding rosette on the left leg. Across the lower abdomen, the material also has a hemmed slit about six inches long.

      Considered all together, the various items of clothing all previously unused and many containing symbols and designs, argue strongly for belief not only in an afterlife, but also for appropriate attire, most likely accompanied by or representative of a multifaceted and complex ritual process which would assure safe and successful passage into the realm of the divine.”

      It’s rather obvious that this is all meant to somehow tie in to the free-Mason/Mormon temple endowment ceremony and I have no doubt this information rocked the world of Egyptology in Provo Utah. The article dates this find south of Cairo from the 2nd to 6th century AD long after the plain and precious Mormon Christianity was taken from the earth and only the great and abominable Apostate Christianity flourished, however. But, I guess this could be a bullseye for Joseph Smith if you want it to be. God knows that when it comes to Bullseyes, the Prophet Joseph can use all the help he can get. Disclaimer: I am not an Egyptologist. (But, then again, neither was the author of the article you cited.)

  42. After the last two episodes, respect for both John Gee’s scholarship and person had already dropped thru the floor, but this is now sickening. And it’s not only on John Gee, alone, but also on the Mormon church and Russell Nelson and Dallin Oaks and John Holland, et al.

    At some point for purely pragmatic considerations the Mormon leadership will have to conclude that the damage from such abhorrent scholarship and personal misbehavior outweighs the benefits. There must be a limit even for the Mormon church to how much dishonesty and abhorrent scholarship and stupidity they can be tolerate and pay for. This is utterly disgusting.

    I left the Mormon church years ago for reasons had nothing to do with Joseph Smith or “controversial issues.” I still have fond memories of that Mormon church and I still love my Mormon family and friends. But too much of what the Mormon church has become since then is just plain ugly. And that’s beyond all of the lies and deceptions that I didn’t even know about when I left Mormonism.

    This is very sad. But kudos and credit to Dr. Ritner. It was his paper following the church “essay” that really re- introduced me to the Book of Abraham issues. I had to read it two or three times before I fully understood it and could see what really became quite obvious.

  43. Thanks for this interview, John. It will rank up there with the most important Mormon Stories episodes. So great to get a world-class scholar like Dr. Ritner on the show.

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