Reason # 174: That Alphabet and Grammar
( This is an image of Joseph Smith’s “Alphabet and Grammar,” containing most of the text of the Pearl of Great Price’s Book of Abraham 1:13-17. The arrows point to symbols found on the papyri from which Smith supposedly translated the PofGP.
The point? Those three little symbols he said represented all those words, including many multisyllabic foreign names including Elkanah, Korash, Shagreel, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Rahleenos, and Abraham, Ur, and Chaldea.
Photo courtesy of UTLM: http://www.utlm.org/newsletters/no111.htm )
Researcher Bruce MacArthur asks the following questions:
Joseph Smith supposedly spent the period between late 1827 and middle 1829 in “translating” from the fabled golden plates to the Book of Mormon.
Several years later, the “curiosities” were purchased from Chandler.
First, Smith did what you have called a “while-you-wait” translation of the papyrus, then he did something which seems to be much more ambitious in which the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar (EAG)- was phase-one and the Book of Abraham was phase-two.
Still later, the Kinderhook Plates surfaced, and Joseph Smith claimed to recognize several of the characters from his prior work with the golden plates and the Book of Mormon.
01 — Why was neither “alphabet” nor “grammar” needed for the golden plates and the Book of Mormon?
02 — Why WAS such needed for the papyrus and the Book of Abraham –especially (as you remarked) when he had already done the while-you-wait translation for Chandler?
03 — Why did Joseph Smith fail to consult his own EAG when the Kinderhook Plates were found — it “should” have made the full translation of these new plates to be almost “automatic”, and certainly a LOT faster than the actual process followed!
04 — Why do NONE of the EAG characters resemble any of the vaunted ”Anthon Transcript” characters in a functional way?
05 — Why do NONE of the EAG characters resemble any of the Kinderhook Plate characters in a functional way — if they really WERE recognizable to Smith from his golden plate and Book of Mormon experience?
06 — Just what good did the EAG presumably DO for Joseph Smith if he really WAS able to “translate” Egyptian “live” (that is, as you and I can translate Spanish)?
07 — I have studied Chinese language which is written in non-alphabetic characters. Chinese characters are sequenced in a dictionary by “radical” (or “root”) — and the radicals-roots are, thenselves, sequenced by “stroke-count”! — and by the number of thenon-radical (or non-root) strokes. In dictionaries of the “simplified” Chinese characters, there are some (but very few) characters with more than 20 or 25 strokes (total); dictionaries of the “traditional” Chinese characters “might” have a very few characters of over 30 or 40 total strokes. Egyptian characters seem to be a LOT simpler than even most of the “simplified” Chinese characters — SO, just how can Mormons tolerate the notion that each stroke of an Egyptian character has its own meaning AND that a rather simple character can have the meaning that English needs some 25-100 words to express?