Reformed Egyptian

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Reformed Egyptian

Post  msistarted on Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:18 pm

According to the Book of Mormon, that scripture of the Latter Day Saint movement was originally written in reformed Egyptian characters[1] on plates of "ore"[2] by prophets living in the Western Hemisphere between 600 BC and AD 421. Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the movement, published the Book of Mormon in 1830 as a translation of these golden plates. Scholarly reference works on languages do not, however, acknowledge the existence of either a "reformed Egyptian" language or "reformed Egyptian" orthography as it has been described in Mormon belief. No archaeological, linguistic, or other evidence of the use of Egyptian writing in ancient America has been discovered.[3]
Contents [hide]
1 Reformed Egyptian and the Book of Mormon
2 Mainstream scholarly view of reformed Egyptian
3 The Anthon Transcript
4 Hofmann forgeries
5 "Stick of Joseph"
6 Mormon studies of reformed Egyptian
7 Notes
8 External links
[edit]Reformed Egyptian and the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon uses the term "reformed Egyptian" in only one verse, Mormon 9:32, which says that "the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, [were] handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech" and that "none other people knoweth our language."[4] The Book of Mormon also implies that its record is written in "reformed Egyptian" both because it took less space on the golden plates than Hebrew and because of the evolution of the language since the people left Jerusalem.[5]
Although accounts of the process differ, Smith is said to have translated the reformed Egyptian characters engraved on golden plates into English through various means including the use of a seer stone or the Urim and Thummim, or both.[6] When Smith finished the translation, he said that he returned the plates to the angel Moroni, and therefore they are unavailable for study.[7]
[edit]Mainstream scholarly view of reformed Egyptian

Standard language reference works contain no reference to "reformed Egyptian".[3] No non-Mormon scholars acknowledge the existence of either a "reformed Egyptian" language or a "reformed Egyptian" orthography as it has been described in Mormon belief. For instance, in 1966, John A. Wilson, professor of Egyptology at the University of Chicago, wrote, "From time to time there are allegations that picture writing has been found in America… In no case has a professional Egyptologist been able to recognize these characters as Egyptian hieroglyphs. From our standpoint there is no such language as 'reformed Egyptian'."[8] Klaus Baer, another Egyptologist at the University of Chicago, called the characters of the "Caractors" document nothing but "doodlings".[9] An early twentieth century scholar said that the "Caractors" document looked more like "deformed English." [10] Anthropologist Michael D. Coe of Yale University, an expert in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican studies, has written, "Of all the peoples of the pre-Columbian New World, only the ancient Maya had a complete script."[11]


Photograph of what is believed to be the 1830 document known as the Anthon Transcript
[edit]The Anthon Transcript

Main article: Anthon Transcript
The Anthon Transcript (also known as the "Caractors" document) is small piece of paper on which Joseph Smith, Jr. is said to have transcribed reformed Egyptian characters from the Golden Plates (the ancient record from which Smith claimed to have translated the Book of Mormon). Smith said that when this sample was presented by Smith's colleague Martin Harris to Columbia College professor Charles Anthon, a noted classical scholar, that Anthon had attested to the characters' authenticity in writing but had then ripped up his certification after hearing that the plates had been revealed by an angel. Anthon wrote, to the contrary, that he had believed from the first that Harris was the victim of fraud.[12]
[edit]Hofmann forgeries



Hofmann forgery of "Reformed Egyptian" document, LDS archives. Note the columnar arrangement and the "Mexican Calendar" described by Anthon.
During the early 1980s, forger Mark Hofmann sold alleged Mormon materials to Mormon investors and the LDS Church, including a sample of reformed Egyptian characters probably copied (somewhat recklessly) from the Caractors Transcript in a manner intended to make them more closely agree with the description given by Anthon.[13]
[edit]"Stick of Joseph"

Main article: Stick of Joseph
In 1844, the LDS church published a broadside about the Book of Mormon called The Stick of Joseph, which reprinted some "reformed Egyptian" characters that resemble those on the Anthon transcript.[14]
[edit]Mormon studies of reformed Egyptian

LDS studies of "reformed Egyptian" are necessarily limited to whatever linguistic evidence might be discovered in the text of the Book of Mormon plus the extant seven-line "Caractors" document that may be or may not be the characters said to have been copied from the gold plates.[15] Some Mormons have attempted to decipher the "Caractors" document but, according to Brigham Young University Egyptologist John Gee, "the corpus is not large enough to render decipherment feasible."[16] Nevertheless, various LDS scholars and one RLDS scholar, have made the attempt, including Ariel L. Crowley,[17] Blair Bryant,[18] and Stan and Polly Johnson.[19]
Others have argued that the characters are early examples of Egyptian symbols being used "to transliterate Hebrew words and vice versa," that demotic is a "reformed Egyptian", and that the mixing of a Semitic language with modified Egyptian characters is demonstrated in inscriptions of ancient Syria and Palestine.[20]
It has been hypothesized that the characters resemble those of shorthand or other languages[21] including Hebrew,[22]Demotic,[23] Hieratic,[24] Coptic,[25] Mayan/Olmec,[26] and Irish ogham ciphers.[27] Nevertheless, to make such identifications, the characters often have to be turned upside down or sideways.
Mormon apologists argue that the lack of New World evidence for Egyptian writing is unsurprising given that the Book of Mormon does not depict the script as a common or national language.


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msistarted

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