Question: Couldn't the "Egyptian Alphabet" have referred to the "reformed Egyptian" characters on the Anthon transcript?

Table of Contents

Question: Couldn't the "Egyptian Alphabet" have referred to the "reformed Egyptian" characters on the Anthon transcript?

The Anthon transcript was never referred to as the "Egyptian Alphabet". That label was applied to the GAEL.

It is noted that Joseph did indeed have a copy of the Book of Mormon characters in his possession in December 1842, months after he saw the Kinderhook plates. The following is a diary entry from the Reverend George Moore:

Tuesday Evening, December 19th (1843)

Called on the "Prophet Jo [Joseph] Smith." His carriage was at the door and he was about going away, but he received me very kindly, asked me into his house. I remained about 10 minutes. He was very communicative. We conversed about the golden plates, which he professes to have dug up and translated into the Book of Mormon. "Those plates are not now in this country," he said--"they were exhibited to a few at first for the sake of obtaining their testimony--no others have ever seen them--and they will never again be exhibited." He showed me some specimens of the hieroglyphics, such as, he says, were on the gold plates. He asked me if I was a Clergyman--and of what denomination--and what were the fundamental doctrines of our faith--on my telling him that we believed in divine Unity--in one God in one person--he said, we don't agree with you there. We believe in three Gods, equal in power and glory. There are three personages in heaven, but those three are not one. I suppose, from what I hear, that Smith makes it a point not to agree with any one in regard to his religious opinions, and adapts himself to the person with whom he talks for the time being . . . He expressed a desire to have a long conversation with me, but he had an engagement, and I was soon going away, so that we could not have much conversation. Our interview was short, but pleasant. [Diary, pp. 105-106.] [1]

Therefore, Joseph had a copy of the Book of Mormon characters and he did show them to someone. As our critic puts it, "Joseph Smith was parading around and showing others the Egyptian hieroglyphics he copied off the gold plates around the same time as the discovery of the Kinderhook Plates." [2] Could this not be the source of the comment from "A Gentile" that the Egyptian Alphabet came "from the plates which the Book of Mormon was translated?"

Moores's diary entry doesn't seem to indicate that Joseph was "parading around and showing others" (this appears to be a bit of hyperbole on the part of the critic), but Joseph does seem to have shown Moore what he likely would have referred to as "reformed Egyptian" characters. This may or may not have been the actual Anthon transcript. However, there was already a document in existence called the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language for the last eight years - it would certainly have been known to the Saints as the "Egyptian Alphabet," whereas the Anthon transcript, to our knowledge, was never referred to by that name.

A critic misses the point: "We can play this game too using the Anthon transcript"

After making a perfunctory and failed attempt to address Don Bradley's data, the critic erroneously assumes that the deconstruction of the Kinderhook character was produced by FairMormon, when it is, in fact, part of Bradley's own data. The critic states: "So, what does FAIR do? They 'deconstruct' it".[2]

The critic then assumes that the document referred to as the "Egyptian Alphabet" by "A Gentile" was, in reality, the Anthon transcript, noting that "We can play this game too using the Anthon transcript".[2] He offers his own "reconstruction" of a deconstructed "boat" character on the Anthon transcript similar to that demonstrated by Don Bradley which matches the "boat" character on the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language, thereby removing the "boat" character from the Kinderhook plates themselves from the process. Once you link to the character on the GAEL, the entire "translation" produced by Joseph comes with it:

A "reconstruction" by a critic of a "boat" character from the Anthon transcript matched to the corresponding character from the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language (GAEL). Given that it has been demonstrated by Don Bradley that the GAEL "boat" character shown correlates with Joseph's "translation" of a portion of the Kinderhook plates, we are unsure why the critic has "proven" that Joseph "translated" a portion of the Anthon transcript instead.[2]

So, let's assume that Joseph did use the "boat" character from the Anthon transcript. The critic demonstrates a match between a "boat" character on the Anthon transcript and the corresponding character on the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language'. All he has done is remove the actual Kinderhook plates from Don Bradley's explanation and replace them with the Anthon transcript.

To summarize:

  • Bradley: Kinderhook "boat" character -> GAEL "boat" character -> GAEL explanation of the character -> Joseph's "translation" of a portion of the Kinderhook plates.
  • Critic: Anthon transcript "boat" character -> GAEL "boat" character -> GAEL explanation of the character -> Joseph's "translation" of a portion of the Kinderhook plates.

Where are the Kinderhook plates in this process? The author's graphic simply "proves" that Joseph "translated" a portion of the Anthon transcript.

Unlike the GAEL, there is no extant "translation" of the Anthon transcript characters

Moreover, it makes absolutely no sense that Joseph would have used the Anthon transcript in any attempt to "translate" the Kinderhook Plates - there is no extant translation of the Anthon transcript characters. The characters likely came from the portion of the Book of Mormon plates corresponding to the lost 116 pages, and no translation of these characters was ever recorded by Joseph Smith. Don Bradley's Kinderhook explanation, however, clearly links the "boat" character on the GAEL and its assigned meaning with the actual "translation" of a portion of the Kinderhook plates produced by Joseph. The text shows a correlation.

The critics are missing the point in that the GAEL=Kinderhook "boat" connection has quite a bit of explanatory power--it really accounts for all available evidence quite nicely. Just because you can play games with other "boat" shaped characters in other contexts (for which the imagined connection explains exactly nothing) does not invalidate that. It is the explanatory power of all of the available evidence, the character on the Kinderhook plates, the explanation of a similar character on the GAEL, and the similarity to the content of translation that Joseph produced, that makes Bradley's thesis compelling.


Notes

  1. George Moore, 1811-1847 Diary (1842-1844) off-site (emphasis added)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Jeremy Runnells, "Debunking FairMormon - Letter to a CES Director" (2014)