Question: Does anyone assert that the GAEL was an actual correlation between Egyptian and the explanations offered?

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Question: Does anyone assert that the GAEL was an actual correlation between Egyptian and the explanations offered?

The assumed correlations between the characters and explanations on the GAEL has nothing to do with actual Egyptian

Scholars do not know the role that the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language (GAEL) played in the production of the Book of Abraham. The text of the Book of Abraham was produced by revelation. The GAEL lists Egyptian characters taken from the papyri on the right, and associates them with long passages of text from the Book of Abraham on the right. Critics assume that the GAEL is some sort of "crib sheet" used to produce the Book of Abraham.

It appears, however, that after the Book of Abraham was translated, that a group of individuals used both the papyri and the Book of Abraham text in an attempt to deduce which characters matched specific passages in the Book of Abraham. In essence, they were attempting to "reverse engineer" the translation and produce an "Egyptian Grammar."

As noted, the explanations corresponding to the Egyptian characters copied from the papyri do not match the true Egyptian meanings of those characters. However, Joseph and his contemporaries appear to have believed that the explanations were valid, which explains why Joseph would have used them in his attempt to translate the Kinderhook plates.

The validity of the GAEL explanations has nothing to do with the Kinderhook plates

A critic of the Church offers the following, which completely avoids the fact that Don Bradley's Kinderhook presentation, "‘President Joseph Has Translated a Portion’: Solving the Mystery of the Kinderhook Plates," [1] has accounted for all of the existing historical evidence [2]:

Anyone who seriously thinks that a single Egyptian hieroglyphic, let alone one which represents two consonants, translates into: "Ha e Oop Hah - honor by birth, kingly power by the line of Pharaoh, possession by birth; one who reigns upon his throne universally…possessor of heaven and earth and of the blessings of the earth" …either does not understand the Egyptian language or is deliberately making stuff up. [3]

and

"The GAEL is nonsense. The Kinderhook Plates are fake. There is no indication that Joseph believed anything other than that both were legitimate and real." [3]

The critic then shifts the focus away from Don Bradley's data by simply concluding that none of it matters, because the GAEL is "nonsense" and the "Kinderhook plates are fake" (a fact which Bradley himself clearly notes at the beginning of his presentation). Rather than even coherently describing Bradley's data, the critic simply reverts to the argument that it is all fake anyway and doesn't warrant the attention.

The critic therefore avoids engaging the totality of Bradley's Kinderhook presentation directly. Nobody is asserting the the GAEL was an actual correlation between Egyptian and the explanations offered - the validity of the GAEL has nothing to do with the Kinderhook plates. What is important in this instance is that Joseph Smith believed that the GAEL explanations were valid, and was therefore willing to utilize them as a translation tool. It is therefore ironic that the critic's last statement: "There is no indication that Joseph believed anything other than that both were legitimate and real" actually validates Bradley's data: Joseph believed that the GAEL explanations had value sufficient to use them to translate "a portion" of the Kinderhook plates.

Notes

  1. Don Bradley, "‘President Joseph Has Translated a Portion’: Solving the Mystery of the Kinderhook Plates" (2011) off-site
  2. The term typically used by critics to describe such a change of focus is "moving the goalposts."
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jeremy Runnells, "Debunking FairMormon - Letter to a CES Director" (2014)