Recently, BYU Egyptologist John Gee published an article via the online Mormon apologetic website “The Interpreter” – attacking the scholarship of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, specifically Volume 4 of “The Joseph Smith Papers Revelations and Translations.” The article is entitled: “Fantasy and Reality in the Translation of the Book of Abraham.”

Gee’s main attack targets are recently retired BYU professor Brian Hauglid and current LDS church employee Robin Jensen.

  • Why would a BYU professor be attacking the work of the Joseph Smith Papers project – both of which are owned and controlled by the LDS Church?
  • What issues are at stake in this battle between old style and new style Mormon apologists?

Join me and Radio Free Mormon on Friday at 11:15am Utah time as we discuss the history and details of this “civil war” within the world of Mormon apologetics.

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  1. Diana McMillan February 13, 2021 at 1:08 am - Reply

    2:02:40 JD: “For me that just begs the question why is the Church funneling a million dollars plus into the Interpreter Foundation only to have the Interpreter Foundation trash the Church in claiming that its own authors or editors of the publication are faithless infidels?”

    The Church is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side it is losing membership who feel the Church lied to them by hiding so much history and so many documents. On the other side the history and documents do not support the Church’s narrative. So to solve both problems the Church publishes the Joseph Smith Papers which shows openness, but on the other hand there are apologists who will attack the JSP when their openness and honesty harm the Church’s narrative. Having critics of the JSP etc. can mitigate the problem that openness created while being able to claim they are not hiding anything. This way they can have their cake and eat it too.

  2. RobG February 15, 2021 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Very nice, Mormon Stories. It was pretty clear from the Ritner interview that however nice Gee may generally mostly be, also he has real character and honesty issues. Plus, in addition to turning some people into zealous stripling warriors, Jesus and God and religion can make also make some people do really stupid things.

    But it’s all really pretty sad for everybody involved. Gee and Muhlestein and Dan Peterson would never want to go anyplace else, anyway, but outside of BYU and the Mormon bubble they’ve destroyed their academic reputation and credibility and couldn’t go even if they wanted. Meanwhile, the Mormon church has more money than God and can spread it however they want or imagine it might help, even in contradictory ways. Their interest income, alone, is more than enough to make them self-sustaining even if the tithing and donations dry up as they continue to lose the growth-rate battle and membership war.

    It’s just kind of sad the Mormon church isn’t more rooted in reality.

    Also, it must be kinda fun and interesting for John Dehlin and RFM to speak openly like this knowing full-well that John Gee and Dan Peterson and Kerry Muhlestein will eventually be listening in.

  3. Dave February 18, 2021 at 10:37 am - Reply

    Well done John and RFM! I truly believe my support of your podcasts is money well spent. Please keep up the great work.

    The Q15 have become the scribes and Pharisees Christ condemned in Matthew chapter 23. The apologists are their proselytes referred to in verse 15. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

    The Q15 have monetarily supported these apologist’s work to obfuscate the truth, minimize and compartmentalize the issues for TBM members. Like the parable of the blind men and the elephant, these apologists try to provide “reasonable” explanations to members regarding each piece of the elephant while mischaracterizing the whole. Now that the truth about the church and the Q15 is available to members via the internet and your podcasts, the Q15 continue to preach abstinence from “anti-Mormon” (sorry, win for Satan) information while retreating from earlier positions and non-changing doctrine. No wonder John Gee attacks this retreat. He has fallen victim to his personal understanding of the elephant which has transformed into a white salamander.

  4. Brent February 18, 2021 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    Everyone you discuss in this podcast is referenced in footnote sources on the church’s website about the book of Abraham. All the theories are discussed and all given some credence. It’s a mess of wish wash.

  5. Phillip February 26, 2021 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    John at the beginning you agreed that you would address what he had written not who John Gee is, such as character assassination. You do not know John, all of your statements are your opinion. Fine he may believe differently than you but is doing no different than you are, just on the other side of the canyon. Some of your stuff here is great but again stop assassinating characters. I grew up with John, this man is a complete genius. I have met few that have the depth of intelligence of John. You may not agree, others may not agree with him but to say he is intentionally doing harm is in this situation the pot calling the kettle black, stick to truths not attacking those who disagree with your thoughts. I am disheartened as I have learned a bunch here but every time the bus wheels run over someone, including you, stop the fight spread the truth and LIGHT.

  6. cl_rand February 27, 2021 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Anyone who has worked for a large blue chip corporation for a long time eventually gets mothballed into retirement as their talents and intellect gradually erode until they are no longer relevant to the work at hand or completely obsolete to the work at hand.

    It sounds like Gee has spent his career attempting to defend the BOA by starting with requisite, faith promoting, conclusion and then arranging the evidence to support the foregone conclusion. As the corporation he works for is being repeatedly exposed for supporting that kind of pseudo-scholarship I can easily imagine the cognitive dissonance Gee is experiencing. Most ex-mos are all too familiar with this type of gaslighting. As his own colleagues are backing away from that type of non-scholarship nonsense to create work that might actually qualify as scholarship he sees his life’s work being relegated to the bin just prior to the dustbin of history. I dare say that a child born within Mormonism today will never hear Mr. Gee’s name or anything about his work or, if they do come across it, their church leaders will undoubtedly assure them it was the work of little known dead guy who wasn’t taken seriously. That’s got to be painful. While he might find it advantageous to handle his loss of status a bit more gracefully, that doesn’t appear to be within his nature.

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