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. Watch a few videos on the topic below:
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.
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:
Consider the process through which English and other Indo-European languages evolved:
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.
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.
Egyptian writing impacted Phoenician, which in turn influenced Greek, Roman, Hebrew and others alphabets.
Egyptian itself also developed from another language family:
Returning to our focus: Egyptian and reformed Egyptian.
Three types of Egyptian writing:
Demotic was a cursive form modified from the earlier Egyptian cursive style, Heiratic.
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.
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.
Small section of Beowulf (Old English) below:
Further, Japanese characters are reformed 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.
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.”
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.
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.”