Reformed Egyptian

In the last 50 years many Hebrew inscriptions using Egyptian hieratic characters have been found in the areas surrounding the Holy Land.
This is another historical evidence of the Book of Mormon.

Book of Mormon Central has more here.

This Interpreter Radio Show features a productive discussion on “reformed Egyptian” in the below broadcast.  From the 16:40 mark till around the 48:00 mark.

Interpreter Radio Show — May 6, 2018

Languages — the spoken forms and written forms/alphabets — are reformed from another older language. That is, languages evolve and are constantly impacted by neighboring languages.  One could say newer languages were adapted, modified, or reformed from older languages.  Don’t forget that reformed Egyptian isn’t a title, but a description.

Let’s start with descriptions of language development:

Image result for semitic language evolution

Consider the process through which English and other Indo-European languages evolved:

Image result for indoeuropen language tree

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.

 

Image result for semitic language evolution

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.

Image result for semitic language evolution

Egyptian writing impacted Phoenician, which in turn influenced Greek, Roman, Hebrew and others alphabets.

Image result for egyptian hieroglyphs demotic hieratic

Egyptian itself also developed from another language family:

Image result for egyptian language

 

Returning to our focus: Egyptian and reformed Egyptian.

Three types of Egyptian writing:

Image result for egyptian hieroglyphs demotic hieratic

Demotic was a cursive form modified from the earlier Egyptian cursive  style, Heiratic.

Image result for egyptian hieroglyphs demotic hieratic

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.

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

Image result for coptic and greek letters

Has Egyptian writing has been modified in other ways in other places?  Yes, Egyptian was reformed and became Coptic.  See letters above.

Coptic is a modified Greek alphabet with modified Egyptian characters.

Further, Beowulf’s English isn’t today’s English.  Not even close.

Image result for beowulf english

Small section of Beowulf (Old English) below:

Image result for beowulf english

Further, Japanese characters are reformed Chinese characters.

Image result for japanese from chinese characters

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 by LDS scholars Stephen D. Ricks and John A. Tvedtnes :  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.

Image result for Papyrus Amherst 63

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.”

Image result for reformed egyptian characters

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 script was used by the Nephites to compact language.

Image result for charles anthon

Charles Anthon (language scholar) first explained that Martin’s copied characters were an example of “shorthand” Egyptian.  Harris was convinced Joseph had a real  record.

 

Several podcasts providing evidence for reformed Egyptian:

The fun Backyard Professor:

 

LDS linguist Brian Stubbs is a leading expert on the Uto-Aztecan language family.  Brian has studied the Egyptian and Hebrew cognates found in Uto-Aztecan languages, spanning from Mexico to Utah.

How did Egyptian and Hebrew words end up in a language family in Mexico and the American Southwest?  The answer is connected to the Book of Mormon:

Brian Stubbs wrote an article on reformed Egyptian and Book of Mormon language here.

Egyptian — in contrast to Hebrew — really did save space:

“Concerning Book of Mormon composition,  Mormon 9:33 indicates that limited space on the Gold Plates dictated using Egyptian characters rather than Hebrew.

In Lehi’s day, both Hebrew and Egyptian were written with consonants only. Unlike Hebrew, Egyptian had bi-consonantal and even triconsonantal signs. Employing such characters-particularly in modified form-would save space.”

The language surely changed with time:

“Though some of Lehi’s group that left Jerusalem may have spoken Egyptian, a reading knowledge of the script on the brass plates would have allowed them to “read these engravings” (Mosiah 1:4).

But the possibility that Lehi’s colony could maintain spoken Egyptian as a second language through a thousand years without merging it with Hebrew or losing it is beyond probability. Therefore, the fact that the Nephites had “altered” the Egyptian characters according to their “manner of speech” underscores the probability that they were writing Hebrew with Egyptian characters.

In addition, Moroni’s language (c. A.D. 400) was probably different enough from that of Lehi (c. 600 B.C.) that reading Lehi’s language may have required as much study in Moroni’s day as Old English requires of modern English-speaking people.”

 

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.  

Image result for semitic language evolution

Consider the process through which English evolved:

Image result for indoeuropen language tree

 

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.

Image result for semitic language evolution

 

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.

Image result for semitic language evolution

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

Image result for egyptian hieroglyphs demotic hieratic

Egyptian itself also developed from another language family:

Image result for egyptian language

 

Three types of Egyptian writing:

Image result for egyptian hieroglyphs demotic hieratic

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

Image result for egyptian hieroglyphs demotic hieratic

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.

Image result for coptic and greek letters

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.

Image result for beowulf english

Small section of Beowulf (and Old English) below:

Image result for beowulf english

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

Image result for japanese from chinese characters

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.

Image result for Papyrus Amherst 63

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.

Image result for reformed egyptian characters

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.

Image result for charles anthon

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.”

Linguistics, Uto-Aztecan language family, and the Nephites

“The Next Big Thing in LDS Apologetics: Strong Semitic and Egyptian Elements in Uto-Aztecan Languages” by Jeff Lindsay has been published on The Interpreter Foundation

http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/the-next-big-thing-in-lds-apologetics-strong-semitic-and-egyptian-elements-in-uto-aztecan-languages/

 

Linguist Brian Stubbs discusses some of his findings of both Hebrew and Egyptian — the two languages mentioned in The Book of Mormon — in the languages of the Native Indians in his 2006 FAIR Conference address.

Brian Stubbs in 4/2016:

Brian Stubbs at the 2016 FAIR conference:

 

Book of Mormon Historicity: Evidence from Archaeology, Flora, Fauna, and other Sources

The Historicity of the Book of Mormon

Elder Oaks presented this above-linked paper in 1993 at a FARMs conference and had it published again in 2001.

Image result for dallin h oaks

Opening key points:

The issue of the historicity of the Book of Mormon highlights the difference between those who rely solely on scholarship and those who rely on revelation, faith, and scholarship.

Those who rely solely on scholarship reject revelation and focus on a limited number of issues. But they can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon through their secular evidence and methods.

On the other hand, those who rely on a combination of revelation, faith, and scholarship can see and understand all of the complex issues of the Book of Mormon record, and it is only through that combination that the question of the historicity of the Book of Mormon can be answered.

Image result for historicity of book of mormon

Closing summary:

In this message I have offered some thoughts on matters relating to the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

1. On this subject, as on so many others involving our faith and theology, it is important to rely on faith and revelation as well as scholarship.

2. I am convinced that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

3. Those who deny the historicity of the Book of Mormon have the difficult task of trying to prove a negative. They also have the awkward duty of explaining how they can dismiss the Book of Mormon as a fable while still praising some of its contents.

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4. We know from the Bible that Jesus taught His apostles that in the important matter of His own identity and mission they were “blessed” for relying on the witness of revelation (“the things that be of God”), and it is offensive to Him for them to act upon worldly values and reasoning (“the things . . . that be of men”) (Matt. 16:23).

5. Those scholars who rely on faith and revelation as well as scholarship, and who assume the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, must endure ridicule from those who disdain these things of God.

6. I have also illustrated that not all scholars disdain the value of religious belief and the legitimacy of the supernatural when applied to theological truth. Some even criticize the “intellectual provincialism” of those who apply the methods of historical criticism to the Book of Mormon.

I testify of Jesus Christ, whom we serve, whose Church this is. I invoke his blessings upon you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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Elder Oaks references this essay by world-famous LDS author Orson Scott Card:  The Book of Mormon – Artifact or Artifice?

OSC’s final paragraph:

“Joseph Smith didn’t write the Book of Mormon, though he did translate it, so that his voice is present when we read, including the flaws in his language and understanding.

Those who wrote the original were also fallible human beings who will reveal their culture and their assumptions just as surely as the writers of I Love Lucy did.

Image result for i love lucy

But unlike the writers of that TV show, the prophets wrote and translated under the direction of the Lord, out of love for us. It’s well worth finding out who these men were, the culture from which they wrote, how it’s different from ours, and how it’s also very much the same.”

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By William Hamblin:  Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon
Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon.

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Before getting into the specific evidences, please consider Brant Gardner presentation as it discusses Mormon as editor of the Book of Mormon.  He didn’t simply abridge or chop the volume down from lots to less.  Mormon was active, intentional, and selective in his process.  He was completing his duty as a national scribe.

Brant shares evidence of Mormon having an outline of his work in advance, before he completed the abridging process at age 57 near the Hill Shim.  He got the full collection of plates around the 367th year at age 56.   He chronicled for 22 years on the large plates of Nephi.

Image result for hill shim book of mormon

For 13 years Mormon read and digested the collection of plates, preparing an outline or draft.  He wrote the Book by at least 379 (58 years old) and completed writing in 385.  He died between AD  385 and 391, by which time Moroni is writing.

Chapter Head notes:  synoptic headnotes for Helaman and 3 Nephi.  Mormon wrote them prior to their chapters.

Image result for book of mormon book head notes

Most head notes are in the beginning of named books.  1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, and Jacob had head notes.  Appear at every book Mormon edited, but Mosiah.  The lost 116 pages included at least the first chapter of Mosiah, which book now lacks a head note.  Mormon didn’t edit Mormon, Ether, or Moroni — 3 books which lack headnotes.

Mormon had a clear plan in advance and wrote a summary in advance.  He wrote his own text (Mormon), as he progressed and approached his death.

Brant also points out that books change names, only as changes occur in political lines.  That is, when Mormon sees a newly seeded ruler.

Please also consider this presentation on Book of Mormon “hits.”

Historicity is defined as the historical actuality of persons and events, meaning the quality of being part of history as opposed to being a historical myth, legend, or fiction.

Image result for historicity book of mormon

Critics have long cried out that this or that animal and plant — mentioned in the Book of Mormon — was never in the Americas.  Critics claim Joseph’s creative mind made it all up .  We disagree and will describe the evidence in support of Book of Mormon historicity.

Or that a certain plant or animal was introduced after Columbus, but not before.  Over time, more and more evidence has accumulated in favor of the Book of Mormon account.

If Joseph had created the book out of thin air, how did he possibly get more than a few things right?

As an uneducated farm boy how did he even create a coherent narrative with 100s of internally consistent correspondences that actually match much — not just 1-2 things — in Mesoamerica?

Martin Tanner at KSL in Salt Lake City is a good place to start.  Martin discusses the archaeological challenges  associated with the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  He spends most of this podcast discussing Mesoamerica and Book of Mormon evidences.

Matt Roper discusses previous claims — once considered “howlers” or slam dunks against the Book of Mormon.  Current scholarship has rejected many previous, critical claims and greatly strengthened the claims in support of the Book of Mormon.

Robert Boylan’s insight about authentic names in the Book of Mormon:

FAIR Mormon reports on Geology, Archaeology, and Mesoamerican history.

 

Jeff Lindsay responds here to controversy surrounding previous Book of Mormon historicity statements by the Smithsonian.

More from Jeff Lindsay on criticisms related to wheat, barley, figs, grapes, bees, chicken, turkeys, swine, oxen, horses, elephants and more.

An LDS critic interviewed famed Mesoamericanist, Dr. Michael Coe, about Book of Mormon evidence. There was more than 1 issue with that interview.

Dr. John Sorensen responded here to the Dr. Coe interview. 

Perhaps the newest evidence supporting the Book of Mormon relates to language:

Linguist Brian Stubbs discusses some of his findings of both Hebrew and Egyptian — the two languages mentioned in The Book of Mormon — in the languages of the Native Indians in his 2006 FAIR Conference address.

Another conference with Brian Stubbs in 4/2016:

Brian Stubbs and the linguistic connection at the 2016 FAIR conference:

The Nephites could have set up their first established city in the Guatamalan Highlands.

Brant Gardner, John Sorenson, and others share insight into the use of metals in the Book of Mormon:

Alternate hypothesis that fits with history in Mesoamerica.

Watch the rest of these related Book of Mormon videos here.

Wade Miller spent his career at BYU as a professor of Paleontology and Geology.   He discusses more specific (and in the past controversial) topics below:

I just ordered Dr. Miller’s book (see below):

Image result for Science and the book of mormon

 

Nephi stated that Laban’s sword was of the “most precious steel”. That makes no sense in a 19th century context, but perfect sense in the Bronze Age.

Daggers, axes and jewelry made from rare iron during the Bronze Age are literally out of this world, according to new research finding that ancient artisans crafted these metal artifacts with iron from outer space carried to Earth by meteorites.

Horses in Pre-Columbian America:

More on horses:

 

Daniel Johnson in his 2010 Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum:

Coins weren’t used.  Instead, weights were.

Dr. Clark discusses the topic for the first 35 minutes of this video:

Progress from 1842 to 2005. Screenshots from Dr. Clark’s presentation above:

 

Matthew Roper is currently a Research Scholar at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. He received a B.A. in History and a M.A. in Sociology from Brigham Young University.

 

Joseph Smith gave a wide variety of opinions about the location of the Book of Mormon peoples.   You can read about his many views  here.

In 1842, for the first time, Joseph considered Mesoamerica after reading  a very popular book by John L. Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan.  

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1 OCT. 1842: ZARAHEMLA “STOOD UPON THIS LAND” OF CENTRAL AMERICA

NOTE: Page 942 of this issue of the Times and Seasons states: “The Times and Seasons, Is edited, printed and published about the first fifteenth of every month, on the corner of Water and Bain Streets, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, by JOSEPH SMITH.”

[W]e have found another important fact relating to the truth of the Book of Mormon. Central America, or Guatimala [Guatemala], is situated north of the Isthmus of Darien and once embraced several hundred miles of territory from north to south.-The city of Zarahemla, burnt at the crucifixion of the Savior, and rebuilt afterwards, stood upon this land as will be seen from the following words in the book of Alma…

It is certainly a good thing for the excellency and veracity, of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, that the ruins of Zarahemla have been found where the Nephites left them: and that a large stone with engravings upon it as Mosiah said; and a ‘large round stone, with the sides sculptured in hieroglyphics,’ as Mr. Stephens has published, is also among the left remembrances of the, (to him,) lost and unknown.

We are not going to declare positively that the ruins of Quirigua are those of Zarahemla, but when the land and the stones, and the books tell the story so plain, we are of opinion, that it would require more proof than the Jews could bring to prove the disciples stole the body of Jesus from the tomb, to prove that the ruins of the city in question, are not one of those referred to in the Book of Mormon…

It will not be a bad plan to compare Mr. Stephens’ ruined cities with those in the Book of Mormon: light cleaves to light, and facts are supported by facts.(emphasis added)

LDS Truth Claims relative to the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica:

Uto-Aztecan language family: Book of Mormon linguistical evidence for the Book of Mormon

This evidence won’t prove the Book of Mormon to be true.   Nothing, in fact, proves the Book of Mormon is true.  Testimony and learning line upon line is the way to increase your belief.

However, I’ve heard critics exclaim that no a pinch of evidence exists for the Book of Mormon. Not so! Share this story — along with the many other evidences — of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Uto-Aztecan is a very exciting piece of the overall Book of Mormon narrative.