Date: July 02, 2014 08:47PM
When he published his early paper "The Breathing Permit of Hor," I was in the middle of debating the BOA's authenticity with some Mopologists on alt.religion.mormon. Ritner's paper demolished Joseph Smith's "interpretations" as well as the defenses by Mopologists such as John Gee. Here's my ARM post from 2003 quoting Ritner's paper:
In case some of you are unable or unwilling to read Egyptologist Robert
Ritner's paper "The Breathing Permit of Hor," here are a few of the most
"A customary scholarly request to examine the original Joseph Smith Papyri for
this publication was refused by Steven R. Sorenson, Director of LDS Church
"Facsimile No. 2, Explanation. Attempts to salvage these pseudo-Egyptian
transcriptions reach desperate levels in suggestions by current apologists
Michael Rhodes and John Gee....."---page 161, note 3.
Referring to Hugh Nibley's series of articles in the 'Improvement Era' in 1968:
"Nibley undercuts this 'appeal to authority' by a series of personal
attacks...Nibley's logic is peculiar in these tracts circulated only among the
faithful...Nibley wants a sympathetic audience, not Egyptological fact. The
August 1968 continuation [of Nibley's articles] derides the careers of T.
Deveria, J. Peters, A. C. Mace, A. M. Lythgoe, G. Barton, E. Banks, and E.A.W.
Nibley's tactic has been adopted by his followers. The earlier version of this
article produced internet discussions devoted not to the translation, but to
scurrilous remarks concerning my own religious and personal habits. Let the
scholar be warned."---Page 162, note 7.
"With the regard to the articles by my former student John Gee, I am
constrained to note than unlike the interaction between Baer and Nibley, and
the practice of all my other Egyptology students, Gee never chose to share
drafts of his publications with me to elicit scholarly criticism, so that I
have encountered these only recently. It must be understood that in these apologetic writings, Gee's opinions do not necessarily reflect my own, nor the
standards of Egyptological proof that I required at Yale or Chicago."---p. 167.
Page 168, footnote 41, where Ritner states that "the most reasonable
explanations of the vignettes" [facsimiles] were done by Klaus Baer, Edward
Ashment, and Stephen Thompson---not Nibley, Gee, or Rhodes.
"Human sacrifice in
Egypt was rare and more political execution, never depicted as on the altered
Book of Abraham rendition of P JS I.....The early assessments of this material
by Egyptologists Breasted, Petrie, Mercer, et al. solicited by Spalding in 1912
remain valid in 2003, despite ad hominem attacks by Nibley, cited by Gee....."
Page 172, note 88: "My citation of the available image of P JS IV should not be
construed as an endorsement of Nibley's scholarship, contra the implications of
Nibley had asserted that Egyptologist Klaus Baer had written him that the
vignette depicted in Facsimile 3 "is not a judgment scene." Nibley and other
Mopologists misrepresent Baer's statement and used it to support Joseph Smith's
claim that the vignette depicted a human sacrifice. But Ritner explains:
"Baer's statement that it is 'similar to but not identical with scenes showing
judgment of the deceased before Osiris'..... and 'is not a judgment
scene'.....means only that the actual process of judgment is not shown. This
image *does*, however, form part of standard judgment scenes."---page 175, note
Page 176, note 128, regarding: "Stephen E. Thompson, 'Egyptology and the Book of
Abraham,' Dialogue 28/1 (1995): 145-48. Gee's brief rebuttal (A Guide to the
Joseph Smith Papyri, pp. 40 and 67, n. 17) is unacceptable. Reference to a
costumed private individual in the Roman procession of Isis is not evidence
that the figure of Isis here (no. 2) is 'King Pharaoh, whose name is given in
the characters above his head,' as published by Joseph Smith.
Smith misunderstood 'Pharaoh' as a personal name (cf. Abraham 1:25), and the
name above fig. 2 is unquestionably that of the female Isis. Osiris (fig. 1)
is certainly not 'Abraham,' nor is it possible that the altar of Osiris (fig.3) 'signifies Abraham.' Maat (fig. 4) is not a male 'prince,' Hor (fig. 5) is
not a 'waiter,' nor is Anubis (fig. 6) a 'slave' (because of his dark skin).
Such interpretations are uninspired fantasies and are defended only with the
forfeiture of scholarly judgement and credibility."