Joseph Smith’s Treasure Hunting, Emma, Seer Stones, and Tumbaga

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General background on Joseph and the seer stones here.

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Josiah Stowell’s nephew filed a suit against Joseph.  Josiah Stowell, the man for whom Joseph worked, testified in court on behalf of Joseph against the charge of Joseph being a conman.  No conviction.

Emma met Joseph while Joseph was employed by Josiah Stowell.  Joseph, in fact, stayed in Emma’s home.  Emma’s parents didn’t approve of their courtship.

 

Bill Reel discusses the history behind well digging, treasure digging, the seer stone, diving rods, and more.

Rather than being a treasure digger, Bill argues that Joseph was a lost-item finder.  Several anecdotes support this theory.

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Josiah Stowell surely heard about Joseph’s ability to find things, and hired Joseph to find rumored Spanish gold near Harmony, PA .  Joseph had a spiritual gift or talent.  He was not, however, a serial conman.  In fact, Joseph told Josiah Stowell to stop his gold-seeking enterprise, since it wasn’t successful.

Joseph was tried for glass looking after Stowell’s nephew pressed charges.  Joseph was ultimately exonerated.

***  The fellow who did the podcast (in 2014), Bill Reel, is now far from the kind of believer he was when he made this podcast. Faith is similar to any living organism. Must be nourished.

I’ve called Bill Reel. Nice guy. Sadly, he’s now very (very, very, very, very) far from the basics.

Excellent podcast, however!

Seer stones, Reformed Egyptian, and Translation

Wonderful contributions by John Welch.  In the first video below, Jack presents a timeline of the Book of Mormon translation.  “Hours Never to be Forgotten:  Timing the Book of Mormon Translation.”

In September of 2018, Jack discusses the beginning of the translation:

 

The Interpreter reports on Book of Mormon grammar, finding examples that reflect more from the 16th Century than from Joseph’s day.

Barlow on Book of Mormon Language: An Examination of Some Strained Grammar

 

The Church has long been transparent about the seer stones.  Read this article in the Friend in 1974:

“To help him with the translation, Joseph found with the gold plates “a curious instrument which the ancients called Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones set in a rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate.”

Joseph also used an egg-shaped, brown rock for translating called a seer stone…”

The Ensign in 1977 provided many details of the translation process, including an account of the rock in the hat.

Several podcasts about Joseph’s seer stones:

 

The Salt Lake Tribune interviewed Richard Bushman on the topic of seer stones:

More from Bushman on seer stones:

 

Discussion about reformed Egyptian:

Many languages are reformed from another language. That is, languages evolve and are constantly impacted by neighboring languages.  They were reformed.  Reformed Egyptian isn’t a title, but a description.  

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Consider the process through which English evolved:

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Hebrew — the language spoken by Lehi — likewise went through a long evolution:

Proto-Semitic gave rise to Arabic, Aramaic (likely what Jesus spoke), Phoenician, Hebrew, Ethiopian, and other languages.

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The Phoenician alphabet is derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs. It became one of the most widely used writing systems, spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures.

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Egyptian impacted Phoenician, which in turn influenced Greek, Roman, and Hebrew (and others).

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Egyptian itself also developed from another language family:

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Three types of Egyptian writing:

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Demotic was a cursive form modified from the already-established cursive Heiratic.

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Heiratic and Demotic are variations of the original language script (Egyptian hieroglyphs).  Heiratic was a cursive script used on papyri.  Demotic was an even more cursive, more compact variety.  

But — as with virtually all langages and writing scripts — one was developed or reformed or altered from the other.  That is, Demotic was modified from the earlier version, Heiratic.

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Egyptian has been modified in other ways in other places?  Yes, Egyptian was reformed and became Coptic.  Coptic is a modified Greek alphabet with modified Egyptian characters.  Further, Beowulf English isn’t today’s English.

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Small section of Beowulf (and Old English) below:

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Further, Japanese is reformed Chinese.  Although, we don’t typically categorize Japanese this way, but it’s true. Linguists and scholars know this.  

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Scholars may not use the exact words “reformed” to describe Japanese.  That’s fine.  We could say “evolved” or “modified” or “reformed” Chinese.  Japanese descended from Chinese, however 1 wants to explain it.

 

Evidence exists of compact reformed Egyptian writing of Hebrew represented by Egyptian characters.  In other words, texts exist that are composed of Semitic languages written in Egyptian characters.  Consider reading this article:  Jewish and Other Semitic Texts Written in Egyptian Characters.

From the link above:  “One such text is Papyrus Amherst 63, a document written in Egyptian demotic and dating to the second century B.C.  The document had, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, been preserved in an earthen jar and was discovered in Thebes, Egypt, during the second half of the nineteenth century.

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For years, Egyptologists struggled with the text but could make no sense of
it. The letters were clear (Demotic script), but they did not form intelligible words.  In 1944, Raymond Bowman of the University of Chicago realized that, while the script is Egyptian, the underlying language is Aramaic….

At both Arad and Kadesh-Barnea, there were, in addition to the “combination texts” discussed, other ostraca written entirely in either Hebrew or Egyptian hieratic.

The implication is clear: Scribes or students contemporary or nearly contemporary with Lehi were being trained in both Hebrew and Egyptian writing systems. The use of Egyptian script by Lehi’s descendants now
becomes not only plausible, but perfectly reasonable in the light of archaeological discoveries made more than a century after Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon.

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Both hieratic and demotic were in use in Lehi’s time and can properly be termed “reformed Egyptian.”  From the account in Mormon 9:32, it seems likely that the Nephites further reformed the characters.

Lehi would have spoken Hebrew.  In Moroni 9:34 we learn Egyptian was used by the Nephites to compact language.

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Charles Anthon (language scholar) first explained that Martin’s copied characters were an example of “shorthand” Egyptian.  Harris was convinced Joseph had a real (not fabricated) record.

 

Several podcasts providing evidence for reformed Egyptian:

The fun Backyard Professor:

 

Brian Stubbs on the Egyptian and Hebrew cognates found in Uto-Aztecan: language family spanning from Mexico to Utah:

John Hall’s 2007 FAIR speech:  “The Problem with Tampering with the Word of God:  As far as it is translated correctly.”

Book of Mormon Translation, Manuscripts, Original Text, and Textual Variants

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Tad R. Callister delivered a masterpiece on 10/1/17 about Joseph’s translation process.  Joseph was neither a creative nor theological genius.  He was an inspired prophet!

Watch Elder Callister’s talk here.

 

Watch this video about the 2 manuscripts:  1) the dictated or original manuscript and 2) the printer’s manuscript.

Watch this about the preservation of the printer’s manuscript by David Whitmer:

 

LDS Truth Claims insight:

Royal Skousen in his 2003 Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum Presentation.

Book of Mormon textual changes

Summary: The claim is often heard that there are more than 4000 changes to the Book of Mormon text. The majority of these are typographical. Few of the changes are significant. We examine the more noteworthy changes.

JUMP TO SUBTOPIC:

 

John Hall’s 2007 FAIR speech:  “The Problem with Tampering with the Word of God:  As far as it is translated correctly.”

Richard Bushman & Rough Stone Rolling (Joseph Smith’s biography)

Richard Lyman Bushman is a stake patriarch, in addition to being a world-class scholar. He currently serving as the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University and Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University.
 
He is also a general editor of the ongoing Joseph Smith Papers project. Bushman sat down with host Blair Hodges for an extended two-part interview. Part one discusses Bushman’s biography of Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling. We discuss polygamy, seer stones, gold plates, and other Joseph Smith-related questions.
Part ONE:

Part TWO: