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Message to Critics & Believers of Joseph Smith (Part 6 of 6)

One of the things I find really interesting about Dr. Larry Foster is that he seems to disagree with both critics and supporters of Joseph Smith.   In our final conversation with Larry, we will close up some loose ends and seek to find a middle ground that best explain Joseph Smith.

Larry:  I think it’s really hard for people who have the sort of complete hero worship idea, or sort of a pasteboard saint, to really understand Joseph Smith. It’s really hard for people who think he was just a total scoundrel and crook and con man and confidence man, or whatever it was, to see him properly. I think that there’s an element of both in him. So, my latest piece on trying to reconcile the fact that so many people for so many years, have either thought that he was a true prophet of God that could do no evil, or he was a terrible scoundrel and con man.

I think that the fact that so many people have had those opposing viewpoints [means that neither can be the whole truth.] I always believe that most people are trying to do the right thing or be honest, unless I see otherwise. So, I think there’s something that’s very special about Joseph Smith. There’s also some stuff about him that looks like he’s manipulative, and so forth. So, I argue that he was genuinely committed to his religious beliefs and ideals, but that he was also willing to cut corners and even lie or make false statements in order to try to accomplish his goals.

GT:  Now, I just spoke with Dan Vogel recently.

Larry:  Yeah, we’re very much on the same page on this.

GT:  So, you would go with pious fraud?

Larry:  No, I don’t use that. [I call him] a sincere charlatan. That was the term that I developed. I think pious and fraud both are [problematic.] Pious sounds like you’re not really true, and fraud is fraud. I mean, charlatan, trickster would be better, maybe than charlatan. But I think that he really had a genuine religious vision and ideals. I also think that he was willing to manipulate other people as part of that in ways that from outsiders’ perspective look like he was a fraud. If you don’t bring the two together, you can’t understand the overall dynamic. He was a great man. He was also a flawed man. And he, of course, recognized that the prophet is a prophet only when it’s acting as such. But even though he was acting as such, sometimes he may have deviated.

Dr. Larry Foster addresses both fans and critics of Joseph Smith.

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Critiquing Book of Abraham Apologetics (Part 9 of 9)

Historian Dan Vogel will conclude his discussion on the Book of Abraham.  He will tell why he thinks some apologetic arguments about the Book of Abraham just aren’t valid.

Dan: [Hugh] Nibley tried to say, and the current apologists repeat it, that, “Oh, these characters in the column is just an exotic way of organizing all three documents, so that they know where to go to each paragraph, that’s the same.” The problem with that is that they really don’t begin each paragraph. They begin each part of the translation.

When you look really close, it’s not a paragraph where each character appears. Sometimes the paragraphs are split right in the middle of a sentence and another character, or there’s a fragment of a sentence, just about five words to a character. So they’re dividing the text up to line up with the characters. They’re not arbitrarily put in there for decoration or an exotic way of organizing the paragraphs. It’s very obvious. At the top of the third translation of the Book of Abraham, the one that has three verses in the handwriting of W. W. Phelps. At the top says, “Translation of records have been found in the catacombs of Egypt.” And in the other column “character.” Then Phelps takes the first character and numbers it one, the second character he numbers it two. Then over here he underlines, Chaldea one. Abraham two.

Then there’s a third character he wrote, which is a real elaborate one that is dissected in the alphabet. But it doesn’t number it, because it has a lot of parts. The other two just have one part. This one has a lot of parts. You read all over the place trying to match it up. But the translation next to it, if you look in the grammar, and you find that character, that’s the translation given that character.

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Historian Dan Vogel critiques various apologetic arguments on the Book of Abraham.

Check out our other conversations!

294: Lost Book of Abraham?

293: How We Got Book of Abraham

292: First Vision Conflicts

291: 1835 Account of First Vision

290: Making a Case for Melchizedek Priesthood in 1831?

289: Methodist Visions

288: Why “Pious Fraud” Ticks off Everyone

287: Dan Vogel Was a McConkie Mormon!

 

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Lost Book of Abraham? (Part 8 of 9)

The papyrus fragments believed to contain the Book of Abraham were lost for decades in the Great Chicago Fire.  What happened to them?  Are some still lost?  Historian Dan Vogel will answer these questions.

GT: So I guess in a nutshell, the Hugh Nibley line of reasoning is we’ve got these Kirtland Egyptian papers. They don’t match. The translation is incorrect from what we have. We lost it in the Great Chicago Fire. But there was something that was lost, which I guess, could we assume that that’s the book of Joseph that was lost in Chicago?

Dan:  No, we have the book of Joseph, which is the Ta-Sherit-Min papyrus, which is part of the ones that are chopped up onto the thick paper that we have.

GT  Those are the Joseph scrolls?

Dan   That was identified as Joseph.  In December of 1835, Oliver Cowdery, in the Messenger and Advocate described that papyrus including the Pillar of Enoch; also, the three in one God. There’s a little drawing of three figures.

So we lost the part that was intact, the two feet.  We have one foot of the beginning part, facsimile one, and the next one, and then another fragment. Then there was two more feet, probably, that were missing, that included facsimile three. And the reason why we know that is because when Emma sold the papyri to Combs, and then Combs sold part of it to the St. Louis Museum, there was an Egyptologist there. I’m not remembering his name right off. But he gave a description of the papyri for the museum’s catalog. And in there he mentioned facsimile three.

GT:   So, have we lost anything, then?

Dan:  The name Osiris was on it, because the name Osiris is on this.

GT:  So that’s the only piece that we lost?

Dan:  Or that we know of; that we can exactly say. We don’t know.

GT:  But, we have essentially, what Joseph said was the entire Book of Abraham, the entire Book of Joseph. We have those that we can still look at today. But those are really the Hor scroll and the Book of Breathing scroll. Is that correct?

Dan:  Right. So, we don’t have the Amenhotep fragments. They could have been there. Facsimile two, the hypoocephalus, the round one was already pretty damaged, because they made a drawing of it and there’s parts missing, and Joseph Smith had Headlock fill in the missing part to make it look nice and neat. I don’t think he’s being tricky. I just think they’re just too fussy about it looking good. But, so those could have been among the ones that were burned, or they could have just totally fragmented and that’s why they had them copy parts into these books.

Check out our conversation….

What was lost in the Great Chicago Fire? Dan Vogel tells us.

Don’t miss out other conversations with Dan!

293: How We Got Book of Abraham

292: First Vision Conflicts

291: 1835 Account of First Vision

290: Making a Case for Melchizedek Priesthood in 1831?

289: Methodist Visions

288: Why “Pious Fraud” Ticks off Everyone

287: Dan Vogel Was a McConkie Mormon!