The most interesting thing about this article is that, within a month after it was printed, a cover story appeared in the prestigious journal Science recounting the strange achievement of an Apache Indian by the name of Silas John, who not only claimed to have had a whole writing system revealed to him in a dream for holy purposes, but actually produced the system, which turns out to be a highly efficient one; an instant alphabet, not out of nothing, but out of a dream.1 If it could happen in 1904 to a semi-literate Apache, could it not have happened earlier?
Only such evidence could break the vicious circular argument which has long prevented serious investigation into the origins of writing. Many writers in scientific journals have recently deplored the way in which scientific conclusions reached long ago and held as unimpeachable truths turn students away from avenues of research which might well prove most fruitful. The evolutionary rule-of-thumb — convenient, satisfying, universal — is cited as the prime offender. Here is a test of how it works: Ask your students to write a paper on "A Day in the Life of a Primitive Man." None of them has ever seen a primitive man or ever will, but does that stop them? Before the question is on the board they are off and running and can go on writing at top speed indefinitely. They all know exactly how it should have been; evolution emancipated them from the drudgery of research. And in all of science there never was a more open-and-shut case than the origin of writing: intuitively we know it must have begun with pictures, and traditionally we know it can have developed in only one way — very slowly and gradually from simple to more complex forms, and all that. Some may elaborate on the theme with tree-alphabets, ogams, runes and (as we have) arrow-markings, but if there ever was a hypothesis which enjoyed complete and unquestioning obedience, the origin of writing has been it. Yet the discerning Kipling, taking a hard common-sense look at the official solution, found it simply absurd. It is the same hypothesis that we now dare to question, grateful for the support of the noble Silas John.
We have all grown up in a world nurtured on the comfortable Victorian doctrine of uniformitarianism, the idea that what happens in this world is all just more of the same: what lies ahead is pretty much what lies behind, for the same forces that are at work on the earth today were at work in the same manner, with the same intensity and the same effects at all times past and will go on operating inexorably and irresistibly in just the same way forever hereafter. There is no real cause for alarm in a world where everything is under control beneath the watchful eye of science, as evolution takes its undeviating forward course, steady, reliable, imperceptibly slow and gentle, and gratifyingly predictable. According to an eminent British scholar of the 1920s,
The skies as far as the utmost star are clear of any malignant Intelligences, and even the untoward accidents of life are due to causes comfortably impersonal. . . . The possibility that the Unknown contains Powers deliberately hostile to him is one the ordinary modern man can hardly entertain even in imagination.2
In such a world one needed no longer to run to God for comfort. The matter-of-fact, no-nonsense approach of science had since the days of the Miletian school and the ancient atomists banished all childish fears and consigned the horrendous and spectacular aspects of the human past and future to the realm of myth and fantasy.
Quite recently, however, scientists have noted with a shock that in looking forward not to the distant but to the immediate future what they discern is not just more of the same but something totally different, something for which they confess themselves entirely unprepared, since it is all entirely unexpected.3 The idea that what lies ahead is by no means the simple and predictable projection of our knowledge of the present has, as John Lear points out, reconditioned our minds for another look at the past as well as the future. Since the past is wholly a construction of our own imaginations, we have always found there just what we expected to find, that is, more of the same. But now "future shock" has prepared us for "past shock," and we find ourselves almost forced to accept a view of the past that is utterly alien to anything in the experience of modern man.4
Antiquity of Writing
Joseph Smith as a prophet also looked both ahead and behind and came up with a picture of both worlds that violently shocked and offended his Victorian contemporaries. He presented his peculiar picture of the past in the most daring possible way, in the form of a number of books which he claimed to be of ancient origin, their contents given to him "by the Spirit." But his image of the future and the past was not conveyed in mystical utterances in the manner of Swedenborg, Jakob Boehme, or the "Urantia Volume," whose assertions may be tested only by waiting for history to catch up with them. His story was rather to be found in the pages of ancient books that purportedly existed and either still survived in the world or had left unmistakable marks behind them.
In the first lesson of the current Melchizedek Priesthood manual President Joseph Fielding Smith brings this formidable contribution to our attention:
The Latter-day Saints are doubly blessed with the word of the Lord which has come to light through the restoration of the gospel. We have been given the records of the Nephites and the Jaredites. . . . The Lord restored much that had been originally revealed to Adam and Enoch and Abraham, . . . and it is to their condemnation when members of the Church do not take advantage of their opportunities to read, study, and learn what the records contain.5
Few people realize that in Joseph Smith's day no really ancient manuscripts were known. Egyptian and Babylonian could not be read; the Greek and Latin classics were the oldest literature available, preserved almost entirely in bad medieval copies no older than the Byzantine and Carolingian periods. The oldest text of the Hebrew Bible was the Ben Asher Codex from the ninth century A.D. Today we have whole libraries of documents more than 4,000 years old — not just their contents, but the actual writings themselves going back to the very beginnings of civilization. It is just as easy to dig back 6,000 years as it is to remove the dust of 5,000 years; and when we do so, what do we find in the way of written documents? Let us consider three main points: (1) what can be inferred from Joseph Smith's statements as to the nature of the oldest human records, (2) what the ancients themselves have to say about those records, and (3) what the actual condition of the records indicates.
First, if Joseph Smith is right, the written records should be as old as the human race itself, for, he tells us, "a book of remembrance was kept . . . in . . . the language of Adam" (Moses 6:7).6 Now what do the ancients themselves have to say on the subject? Surprisingly, a great deal, of which we can give only a few quotations here.
According to them, the king had access to that divine book which was consulted at the time of the creation of the world: "I am a scribe of the god's book," says one of the earliest pharaohs, "who says what is and brings about what is not."7 A later but still ancient (Thirteenth Dynasty) pharaoh recalls, "My heart yearned to behold the most ancient books of Atum. Open them before me for diligent searching, that I may know god as he really is!"8 Over the lintel of the ancient library of the great temple at Edfu was a relief showing four kneeling figures giving praise to the heavenly book descending to earth; hieroglyphs above their heads show them to represent Sia and Hw, or the Divine Intelligence and the Divine Utterance (the Word) by which the world was created (fig. 59).9 In Egypt every step of the founding of a new temple had to follow the prescriptions given in the heavenly book, since such a founding represented and dramatized the creation of the earth itself.
And what does the actual state of the documents attest? If writing evolved gradually and slowly as everything is supposed to have done, there should be a vast accumulation of transitional scribblings as countless crude and stumbling attempts at writing would leave their marks on stone, bone, clay, and wood over countless millennia of groping trial and error. Only there are no such accumulations of primitive writing anywhere. Primitive writing is as illusive as that primitive language, the existence of which has never been attested. And indeed the very nature of writing precludes anything in the way of a slow, gradual, step-by-step evolution: one either catches on to how it is done or one does not, and once one knows, the whole mystery lies revealed. All the evidence shows that that is the way it actually was. "Suddenly . . . graves in the predynastic cemeteries" display "the art of writing . . . with a fairly long period of development behind it," writes Engelbach. "In fact it was writing well past the stage of picture writing."10 Both the long period of development and a primal picture writing must here be assumed, since there is no evidence for them. If writing did evolve in Egypt, the process took only "a few decades," after which the art remained unchanged "for thousands of years," according to Capar. 11 Alan Gardiner notes the same strange and paradoxical state of affairs: hieroglyphic "was a thing of rapid growth," but "once established remained immutable for fully 3,000 years."12 So also A. Scharff assures us that with the First Dynasty "writing was introduced and perfected (ausgebildet) with astounding speed and detail."13 "There is no evidence of a gradual development of script in Egypt," writes Elise Baumgartel,14 and yet there is no evidence of that script anywhere else. There is something wrong with this evolutionary process by which one and the same people develop a system of writing almost overnight, and then refuse to budge an inch on the way of progress forever after. Stuart Piggott finds that immediately after "ambiguous stammerings . . . on the slate palettes . . . a rapid cursive form of writing with pen and ink" is in evidence.15 Stranger still, on the most famous of those predynastic slate palettes with their ambiguous stammerings that suggest only the dawn of writing we see clearly depicted a king (Narmer) following behind an attendant (tt) who is carrying the classic two inkpots of the Egyptian scribe (fig. 60). The tombs of the First Dynasty "show that they had a well-developed written language, a knowledge of the preparation of papyrus."16 Inscriptions found on tags and labels of First-Dynasty jars, often regarded because of their crudeness and brevity as primitive attempts at writing, are crude and brief because they were meant to be identification tags and nothing more — not literary compositions; actually, as Sethe points out, "they are written in a sophisticated cursive writing."17 For though "hieroglyphics appear all at once in the world as an Egyptian invention cir. 3000 B.C.," hieratic, the cursive writing of the same symbols, was also in use just as early.18
Complexity of Nascent Languages
All of which is most retrograde to tenaciously held theories of the evolution of writing in Egypt. But how about the rest of the world? Wherever we look the earliest systems of writing are somehow connected with the Egyptian and appear suddenly in the same paradoxical way. Though there is "a prehistoric connection with Babylonian cuneiform" and Egyptian, according to Sethe,19 and though J. Friedrich has demonstrated the connection by an impressive catalogue of striking parallels,20 the gap between the two systems is still too wide to allow any thought of deriving the one from the other.21 "The writing which appeared without antecedents at the beginning of the First Dynasty (in Egypt) was by no means primitive," writes Frankfort. "It has, in fact, a complex structure of . . . precisely the same state of complexity which had been reached in Mesopotamia. . . . To deny . . . that Egyptian and Mesopotamian systems of writing are related amounts to maintaining that Egypt invented independently a complex and very consistent system at the very moment of being influenced in its art and architecture by Mesopotamia where a precisely similar system had just been developed."22 Not only are these two systems related, but they show remarkable affinities to the earliest Chinese writing,23 as well as the Hittite, proto-Indian,24 and proto-Elamitic scripts.25 P. Mordell insists that the Hebrew alphabet is related to an Egyptian linear writing system, a real alphabet, which "evolved at a date when hieroglyphic writing was unknown, then persisted with a strange vitality, and was never absorbed or ousted."26 This was that mysterious prehistoric "Mediterranean" alphabet which is said to be older than hieroglyphic,27 and which suddenly spread all over the Near East at the end of the second millennium B.C.28
"Evolved"? Many scholars have pointed out that the alphabet is the miracle of miracles, the greatest of all inventions, by which even the television and jet-planes pale in comparison, and, as such, a thing absolutely unique in time and place; they also agree that it was of Egyptian or West-Semitic origin.29 It is also argued that by the very nature of the thing it can only have been the work of a single inventor.30 "The gulf between the idea and the written word," writes H. Schmitt, "could only have been bridged once, by a miracle of invention."31
Dearth of Evolutionary Clues
Given the evolutionary hypothesis, any healthy normal growing boy can describe in convincing detail how long ago "the naive child of nature" everywhere drew crude pictures to convey his simple thoughts,32 and how out of this the process moved "everywhere inexorably . . . towards the final stage, the alphabetic writing."33 To save our eager high-school student from undue embarrassment, we have just quoted two eminent scholars. But if it really happened that way, then we would find traces of evolving writing "everywhere"; veritable middens of scratched rock and bones and shells would attest the universal groping toward the inexorable final stage over tens of thousands of years, while the clumsy transitional forms should outnumber proper writing by at least a million to one. However, the vast accumulations of attempts at writing simply do not exist; there is no evidence whatever of a worldwide groping towards the goal. Having made his lucid and logical statement, the author of our last quotation observes with perplexity that "it is surprising that the ultimate stage in evolution . . . was only achieved in a very few spots on the globe."34 That is, we do not find a multiplicity of writing systems throughout the world; in fact when we come right down to it there seems to have been only one! We find "only a very few systems of writing," says David, ". . . and even these are so much alike and so closely related in time and space that their independence appears at least problematical."35 The vast world-wide corpus of embryonic scribblings that should attest the long ages of slow transition from picture writing to true writing simply is not there, and the innumerable systems of writing which must have resulted from the basic psychological need of men everywhere to express themselves can be counted on the fingers, and most probably on the thumbs, of one hand.
Pictures Not Origin of Writing
People have always drawn pictures, but was that the origin of writing? Was there ever a real picture writing? E. Doblhofer defines "pictorial writing," which he says is "incredibly ancient," as "a series of images [which] can possibly be 'read' accurately by any spectator."36 Kurt Sethe would agree: a "pure" picture writing is one which "could be read in any language at sight."37 And right here the issue is settled: if there ever was a true picture writing it has not yet been discovered. Where on earth is a single inscription to which any and all beholders, scholars or laymen alike, regardless of their own language and culture, would give the identical interpretation? When Sethe sought for a true picture writing to illustrate the process by which hieroglyphic emerged, the only examples he could find in all the world were North American Indian petroglyphs, which no one can "read" or interpret to this day.38 "True picturewriting," wrote Alan Gardiner, "makes excessive demand upon the skill and ingenuity of the writer, and its results are far from unambiguous."39 It takes special skill, that is, to execute "true picturewriting" and special skill to read it: which is to say that it is not the simple and uninhibited drawing and viewing of pictures at all. Doblhofer himself confirms this when he assures us that "the most primitive pictorial writings . . . translate . . . abstract ideas with the aid of symbolical signs," for symbolical signs are not plain pictures but conventional devices which must be learned; that is, even "the most primitive" picture writing is not just picture writing as he defines it.40 In the very earliest Egyptian writing it is impossible to interpret the pictures as such, and there is no evidence of pictograms in Egypt at any time, according to Sethe.41 Also, we must not forget that along with the most "primitive" Egyptian writing in prehistoric times we find a genuine alphabetic writing flourishing most paradoxically.42 Long wrestling with the problem of deriving the alphabet from a syllabic writing, that is, from a system in which the names of things depicted supplied certain sound combinations, has led to the general conclusion that syllabic writing was "a blind alley which could not lead to alphabetic writing."43
Like the earliest Egyptian documents, the Babylonian tablets bearing "the oldest written signs thus far known" are highly stylized and cannot be read.44 Granted they are picture writing, no two scholars "read" them the same. Mesopotamia offers to date the only chance of presenting the evolutionary sequence of the development of writing by a stratigraphic pattern. Only, alas, it doesn't work. Though it is assumed, of course, that "the earliest examples of writing in Mesopotamia are pictographs. . . . Very few of these were actually excavated scientifically, so that, from the chronological point of view, there is little help to be obtained from stratigraphic connections," according to Burton-Brown, who should also have pointed out that the inscriptions which have been scientifically excavated have a way of refuting the expected patterns, since some of the most primitive writing is found in late strata and vice versa.45
The paradox that anything as advanced and sophisticated as writing should come into the world full-blown and all at once is invincibly repugnant to the evolutionary way of thinking. Of recent years the anthropologists have taken a strong stand on the "tool" theory of civilization. The idea is that primitive hominids quite thoughtlessly and accidentally blundered on the use of this or that piece of wood, bone, or rock as a tool, and that "it was the success of the simplest tools that started the whole trend of human evolution and led to the civilizations of today."46 It is the primitive tool, falling fortuitously into its hands, which draws mankind irresistibly forward to new levels of attainment, for "when men make a tool, they commit themselves, man depends upon his tools for his very humanity."47 In a word, "social evolution is a consequence of technologic evolution."48
Some of the scientific speculators, however, take the opposite position, that man "has always had reservoirs of response far more than his devices (tools) asked of him," and that in "his attempts to transcend his biological limitations" his mind always runs ahead of his tools, not behind them.49 When men need a tool they invent it, not the other way around.50 Men themselves decide what tools they will have, so that one evolutionist notes with perplexity that "one of the most puzzling aspects of the culture" of the "Cavemen" is "their heavy dependence on tools whose use is now a complete mystery."51 Carleton S. Coon observed that "for the simple reason that human beings are not equipped by nature to live without tools," we must suppose that they always had all the tools they needed for survival even in Pliocene.52 Petrie, in a significant and neglected study, pointed out that instead of eagerly adopting a superior tool as soon as it was made known to them, human beings have shown "a resistance of almost 100 percent" to any new tool coming from the outside.53 Though all the neighbors of the Egyptians knew about their superior axe forms for thousands of years, the only other ancient people to adopt them were of all things the South Americans.54 Petrie knows of seventeen Egyptian tools and weapons, some of unsurpassed efficiency, which are over the centuries never found outside of Egypt, and, he observes, "the converse is equally true."55
Writing: A Gift from Heaven
Then whatever induced one people to adopt writing from another? The interesting thing here is that though the idea quickly caught on, each people in adopting it insisted on making it its own exclusive possession and devised from the first a native style that set it off from all the others. Both the popularity and the variety of ancient writing is to be explained by its religious nature. E. von Mülinen has noted that new scripts invariably appear as the vehicles of new religions,56 while Jürgen Smolian points out that all of man's greatest inventions or discoveries seem to have the primary purpose of putting him into communication with the other world.57 If Joseph Smith was right, books and writing are a gift to man from heaven, "for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration" (Moses 6:7). The art of writing was a special dispensation, an inestimable boon, enabling the righteous to retain the memory of divine visitations and communications ever fresh before them, and assisting them in coordinating their earthly activities with the heavenly order: "The immediate will of heaven is contained in the Scriptures," said the Prophet Joseph.58
The earliest records of the race have much to say "about the miracle of writing, which the Ancients regarded as a gift from heaven."59 The Egyptians believed that writing was a sacred trust given to the king as "high-priest and scribe" to keep him and his people ever in touch with the mind and will of heaven.60 Thus the Book of the Foundation of Temples was thought to have been sent down from heaven to the immortal genius Imhotep, the Vizier of King Djoser of the Third Dynasty and the greatest builder of all time (cf. fig. 51A, p. 390), after which the book "was taken away to heaven at the time the gods left the earth," but was sent down again by Imhotep at a later time, when he "caused it to fall from heaven at the place north of Memphis" (cf. fig. 55, p. 413).61 In Babylonia
the King is the Sent One. He has ascended to heaven to receive . . . the tablets of destiny and to get his commission. Then he is sent out, i.e., he descends again. . . . And so the knowledge is communicated to the king, it is of a mysterious character, bearing upon the great mysteries of heaven and earth, the hidden things, and is a revelation of the hidden knowledge by the gods (the god). Can we style it "primordial revelation"?62
The idea of a primordial revelation is that a complete knowledge of the world from its beginning to its end is already written down and has been vouchsafed to certain chosen spirits from time to time, a doctrine familiar to Latter-day Saints.63 The heavenly origin of writing is constantly referred to anciently in the doctrine that writing and the symbols of writing are derived from the starry heavens (fig. 61). The Tablets of Destiny which contain all knowledge and impart all authority "are the divination of the world, the stars and constellations form the writing."64 As Clement of Alexandria observed, both in Egypt and Chaldaea, "Writing and a knowledge of the heavens necessarily go together."65 How this is can be seen if one considers where all of the oldest writings of the race are found.
If we turn from ancient doctrine to concrete discovery we are soon made aware that the oldest writings are always found in temples. "It is in these temples that we find the first signs of writing. . . . The script appears from the first as a system of conventional signs . . . such as might have been introduced all at once. We are confronted with a true invention, not with an adaption of pictorial art."66 For Egypt, Steindorff maintained that "the birthplace of this 'hieroglyphic system' of writing was the sacerdotal school of Heliopolis."67 In Babylonia, according to Hrozný, it was in the Uruk period, 3200 B.C., that "there originated . . . from the records of business transaction in the temple enclosure, the picture writing which in later times developed into cuneiform writing."68 Though these symbols cannot be read (i.e., they were not picture writings, but "a collection of abstract tokens eked out with pictograms"),69 it is apparent that they "were for the most part lists of commodities supplied to or delivered by officials and others concerned with the administration of the Temple."70
Here we have a combination of business and religion which has given rise to the discussion of the rivalry of Kultschrift (cultic or religious writing) and Gebrauchschrift (practical business writing). Actually no rivalry exists between them: the consensus is that the oldest written symbols are property marks, such as arrow markings and cattle brands (fig. 62), and in order to be respected as such they have to be sacrosanct, holy symbols duly registered in the temple.71 If the oldest writing is used for business, it is always temple business, and the writing is also used for other — far more important — purposes. Examining the claims of the two, Helmut Arntz concluded that the holy or cultic writing has clear priority.72 One can, like old Commodore Vanderbilt, carry on business in a state of total illiteracy, and indeed men of affairs have always viewed men of letters with suspicion: "Writing is an art despised by the Roman businessman," wrote Cornelius Nepos, "who have all their writing done for them by hirelings."73 But one cannot carry on the holy business of the temple without the divine gift of writing.74 "Hieroglyphic is correctly named," Sethe observed, being devised "only for the walls of temples. . . . It is a survival from prehistoric times."75 It is no accident that temple architecture and writing appear suddenly together.76 The templum is, as we have shown elsewhere, an observatory, where one takes one's bearings on the universe.77 There the heavens are carefully observed, and to be of value those observations must be recorded. Alphabet, calendar, and temple naturally go together, all devised for handling messages from the stars and planets.78 "We may think of the stars as letters inscribed on the heavens," said Plotinus, and we may think of the heavens as a great book which men copy and project on tangible materials at the holy places.79 Recent studies by Gerald Hawkins, Peter Tompkins, Giorgio de Santillana, and others have given vivid reality to the heretofore vaguely surmised existence of ritual complexes of great antiquity where men observed the heavens and acquired an astonishing amount of knowledge about them, which, in order to use, they faithfully committed to their books.
From first to last, ancient writing remains in the hands not of businessmen but of priests; it is a holy and a secret thing, imparted only to the elect and zealously withheld from all others. "He who divulges it," we read of a typical holy book, "dies a sudden death and an immediate cutting-off. Thou shalt keep very far away from it. It is to be read only by a scribe in the workshop, whose name has been duly registered in the House of Life."80 "Only the prophets may read and understand the holy books" is the rule.81 Each system of writing itself is an effective seal on the holy books, a cryptogram, "a secret formula which the profane do not know."82 The key to power and priesthood lies "in the midst of the Sea of Coptos, in a box of iron, the box of iron being (in) a box (of bronze, the box of bronze) in a box of kete-wood in a box of ivory and ebony, the box of ivory and ebony in a (box of silver, and the box) of silver in a box of gold, wherein is the book."83 The idea of the holy book that is taken away from the earth and restored from time to time, or is handed down secretly from father to son for generations, or hidden up in the earth, preserved by ingenious methods of storage with precious imperishable materials, to be brought forth in a later and more righteous generation (i.e., Moses 1:41), is becoming increasingly familiar with the discovery and publication of ever more ancient apocryphal works, Jewish, Christian, and others.84 But nowhere does the idea find clearer or completer expression than in the pages of the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price.
What is perhaps the oldest religious book known, the so-called Shabako Stone, instead of the primitive mumbo jumbo one might expect, contains a story strangely familiar to Latter-day Saints (cf. fig. 43, pp. 180-81). It is the text of a ritual drama enacted in the temple to celebrate the founding of the First Dynasty of Egypt, and it depicts the council in heaven, the creation of the world, the fall of man, and the means by which he may achieve resurrection and be reinstated in his primal glory. The book, on a scroll, was hidden up in the wall of that same temple of Ptah of Memphis, founded by Menes, the first Pharaoh, and was discovered by a later king, Shabako, who followed the same text in the rites establishing his own (Twenty-fifth) Dynasty.85
Another king reports that "when His Majesty settled the lands . . . he mounted the throne of Horus. . . . He spoke to his noble ones, the Smrw of his immediate presence, the faithful writers-down of the divine words, who were in charge of all the secrets."86 Writing, here shared only with his intimates, is par excellence "the King's Secret," which gives him all advantage over his fellows and the ability to rule them. The technique of writing is the foundation of empire, for only the written document can overcome the limitations of space and carry a ruler's word and authority out of sight and beyond the hills, and even defeat the inroads of time on human memory by preserving the words of command and judgement for unlimited numbers of years.87 The king describes himself as the mediator and scribe of the god in heaven in the administration of his empire: "I sit before him, I open his boxes, I break open his edicts, I seal his dispatches, I send out messengers."88 In Mesopotamia also "the supreme sovereignty of the universe connected with the tablets of destiny is thus identical with the casting of the oracles of lots," the possession of which could give even a robber "possession of the rulership of the world."89 The Pharaoh was authorized to rule only when "the master of the house of the divine books" had inscribed his royal names" on the true records deposited in the heavenly archives" (fig. 63).90 The archives were known in Egypt as the House of Life (cf. fig. 1, p. 12), housing the writings upon which the life of all things ultimately depended.91 It was a powerhouse humming with vital electricity, transmitting cosmic forces from heaven to earth, a place of deadly peril to any mortal not holding the necessary priestly credentials.92 Wherever the heavenly book is mentioned, the heavenly scribe appears as king, priest, and mediator, in early Jewish and Christian as well as older traditions.93 Pharaoh is preeminently "He who knows, being in possession of the divine book."94 Like the Egyptian Thoth, the Babylonian Nabu, the prophet and scribe writes all things down in the "unalterable tablets" of destiny which determine all that happens upon the earth.95 In the earthly as in the heavenly court, everything was written down, not only to follow the divine example but to coordinate earthly with celestial proceedings. In Persia, for example,
the entire administration, as was customary from the earliest times in the Orient, was carried on by written documents, as it was in the courts of Egypt, Babylonia, and Assyria. . . . Everything is carefully written down; even in battle the King's secretary is beside him taking notes; every royal remark is written down and then gathered into "Daybooks" or "Memoranda books," such as have been found in the archives of Suza, Babylonia, Ecbatana, etc.96
The Myth of Irra, one of the oldest stories in existence, shows "that Mesopotamian theologians were not ignorant of the concept of a 'sacred book,' that is, of a divinely inspired, even dictated text, which contains the only correct and valid account of the 'story' of deity."97 In Egypt it is "the King who is over the spirits, who unites hearts — so says He who is in charge of wisdom, being great, and who bears the god's book, even Sia ['the personification of intelligence and understanding' — Faulkner] who is at the right hand of Re."98 The relief, mentioned above (cf. fig. 59, p. 455), from the temple library of Dendera shows us the scribe's palette, the Egyptian symbol of writing and all that it implies, descending from heaven; it is supported by two figures who strike the pose signifying "eternity" and who face each other, denoting "from eternity to eternity," while four other figures are in the attitude of adoration; hieroglyphic symbols above the head of each show them to represent the ear that hears, the eye that sees, the mind or intelligence (Sia) which conceives, and the word of power (Hw) which consummates the creation of all things.99
The books were consulted on every occasion: "Copy thy fathers who have gone before thee. . . . Behold, their words are recorded in writing. Open and read and copy."100 When King Djoser away back in the Third Dynasty asked his all-wise minister Imhotep to explain a seven-years' famine, the latter "begged permission 'that I may enter into the Mansion of Life, and may open the books and may seek guidance from them.' "101 Interestingly enough, the most important of all writings were genealogical records, and Gardiner concluded not only that the House of Life was, properly speaking, nothing more or less than the genealogical archives, but that the Great Pyramid itself was built to contain the royal genealogical records.102 The astonishing mass and charge of ancient book making may be attributed to the basic doctrine that everything must be written down: "The Babylonian conception of Canonicity, . . . that the sum of revealed knowledge was given once for all by the antediluvian sages," necessarily posits the existence of the Primordial Book that contains everything that was, is, and is to come, and presents "a remarkable parallel to the Rabbinic view that God's revelation in its entirety is contained in the Torah," according to W. G. K. Lambert.103
Knowledge: A Gift from Heaven
This is consistent with the marvelous function of writing as the great synthesizer. To write is to synthesize. The basic idea of writing is that symbols represent sounds and that smaller units make up larger units—not compounds or composites, but true units. Thus a letter by itself is without significance; there must be a reference to something which goes beyond it—other letters making a word or a name. A single letter, heraldic mark, tally, crest, or wasm has no meaning without reference to the official heraldic list of such and the names they represent. The word in turn is also meaningless without reference to other words; even a one-word sentence such as "Alas!" takes its meaning from other unspoken words. The meaning of every sentence also depends on its larger context; even a short aphorism must be understood in its cultural context. For the ancients, any self-contained message was a book. They were not disturbed by the extreme brevity of many "books," because they regarded every book also as part of a larger context—for the Egyptians the "Hermetic" books. Every proper Arabic book, regardless of its subject, still opens with a paragraph praising God for his creation and the place in it which this particular writing occupies. Ancient records come to us not in single books but in whole libraries. These are not mere collections but organic entities, as the archaic Egyptian sign of the Book-lady Seshat attests: her seven-pointed star goes with her seven books, representing every department of human knowledge, being let down from the opened heavens (cf. fig. 46B, p. 229).104
The House of Life where the books were copied and studied had from the earliest times the aspect of a university, a super graduate-school;105 "there it was that all questions relating to . . . learned matters were settled."106 The place was always part of the temple, and the books contain the earliest poetry, for poiema means "creation" and the business of the Muses at the temple was to sing the Creation song with the Morning stars;107 naturally the hymn was sung to music, and some scholars would derive the first writing from musical notation.108 It was performed in a sacred circle or chorus, so that poetry, music, and the dance go out to the world from the temple, called by the Greeks the museon, or shrine of the Muses (cf. fig. 6, p. 24). The creation hymn was part of the great dramatic presentation that took place yearly at the temple, dealing with the fall and redemption of man, represented by various forms of combat, making the place the scene of the ritual athletic contests sanctified throughout the world. The victor in the contest was the father of the race, the priestking himself, whose triumphant procession, coronation, and marriage took place on the occasion, making this the seat and source of government (the king was always crowned in the temple rather than the palace).109 Since the entire race was expected to be present for the event, a busy exchange of goods from various distant regions took place, the booths of pilgrims serving as the market booths for great fairs, while the necessity of converting various and bizarre forms of wealth into acceptable offerings for the temple led to an active banking and exchange in the temple courts; the earliest "money," from the shrine of Juno Moneta at Rome, is temple money (cf. fig. 7, p. 24). Since the place began as an observatory, and all things were tied to the calendar and the stars, mathematics flourished and astronomy was a Muse. History was another Muse, for the rites were meant for the dead as well as the living, and memorials to former great ones (believed to be in attendance) encouraged the production of a marvelous art of portraiture, of sculpture and painting, which would have flourished anyway as architectural adornments, since the design and measurements (the middot) of the temple structure itself as a sort of scale model of the universe and cosmic computer were all-important; the architecture of the hierocentric structure was of primary concern. And since from that central point all the earth was measured and all the lands distributed, geometry was essential: "In the Beginning the One God promised Horus that he should inherit the land of Egypt, which was written in the Books by order of the Lord of All. . . . At the Division of the Lands it was decreed in writing."110
The writings produced and copied in the House of Life were also discussed there, giving rise to philosophy, but concerned largely with cosmology and natural science. In short, there is no aspect of our civilization that does not have its rise in the temple, thanks to the power of the written word. In the all-embracing relationships of the Divine Book everything is relevant. Nothing is really dead or forgotten; every detail belongs in the picture, which would be incomplete without it. Lacking such a synthesizing principle, our present-day knowledge becomes ever more fragmented, and our universities and libraries crumble and disintegrate as they expand. Where the temple that gave it birth is missing, civilization itself becomes a hollow shell.
A Necessary Addition
In the short compass of a single lecture one always raises more questions than can be answered or discussed. The true origin of writing must remain, as Siegfried Schott observes, a subject of the purest speculation for a long time to come, and possibly forever.111 The fact that all the scholars are merely guessing should not deter us from the fascinating game, for as Karl Popper puts it, it is only by guessing and discussing that any science makes any progress.
Some years ago there was a consensus among students that Egypt was the ultimate home of the alphabet. The decisive study was that of Kurt Sethe, who tried to follow a strictly evolutionary line, with writing evolving inevitably from everyday human needs throughout the world as if by natural law,112 "gradually and imperceptibly," culminating in a full-blown alphabet in Egypt.113 In the beginning, he avers, humans everywhere communicated by pictures, and to prove this he cites cases in which the white man astounded the Indians by communicating in writing without pictures; he then furnishes as a classical example of Indian picture writing the headstone of a famous chief on which three short vertical strokes represent three seriously wounded warriors while sixteen short horizontal strokes denote sixteen war-parties.114 And this is picture writing? Well might the white man have been astounded that the Indians could thus communicate without letters. None, in fact, of the more than a dozen reproductions of Indian picture writing supplied by Sethe can be read as pictures, and Sethe himself concludes that all these examples are nothing but "mnemotechnical aids" to help the writer fix things in his own mind rather than convey them to others; most of the sketches are so reduced and stylized as to be entirely symbolic, with no attempt at realism, reduced cues that mean nothing to those who have not already experienced what they depict (fig. 64; cf. fig. 58, pp. 422-23).115
This, however, is not true picture writing, according to Sethe, that being a foolproof system in which "every single element of the thought process has its own picture."116 But if Sethe's examples of primitive picture writing (of which he could find none in Egypt) were inadequate and even irrelevant, his examples of true picture writing leave even more to be desired—there are none. All his evidence he must find embedded in later hieroglyphic writing.117 In true picture writing, he says, every concept has its picture, so that the writing can be read by anybody anywhere in the world.118 As an example he gives the sign of the cross, which accompanying a name signifies a dead person, forgetting that it only does so as a purely abstract and highly conventionalized symbol, and not as a picture.119 But since "man thinks in words," according to Sethe, everywhere the true picture writing was "automatically" and "very early converted to phonetic writing."120 But if men were thinking in words all the time they were drawing pictures, how long would it take them to associate the two? Why does there have to be a gap at all? The evolutionary rule requires it: true writing, being purely phonetic, must necessarily be the last step in the long evolutionary process.121 Again the evidence is missing: all known picture writings in the Old World, according to Sethe, had already become phonetic scripts before their earliest appearance, so that we can only infer the existence of the previous primitive—and true picture writing—systems from indications discovered in the known systems.122 The only clear evidence that Sethe can find for the evolutionary process is the existence of independent systems of writing, all of which, according to him, must have emerged in the same way from primitive picture writing; he lists ten such systems, of which only three had been deciphered in his time.123 Since then the list has been extended, and in the process the independence of the various systems from each other has been brought under serious questioning. Since alphabetic writing is the ultimate perfection in the chain of evolution, it is disturbing that Sethe must conclude that the less efficient, clumsier, and more primitive syllabic writing was evolved from the more perfect alphabetic writing, and not the other way around.124
Sethe's thesis is that the Egyptians, beginning with a true picture writing containing "originally a countless multitude of symbols"125 (which strangely enough have never turned up anywhere), through a series of inevitable and "purely mechanical" steps, "quite unconsciously and without intention" produced an alphabet of twenty-four letters, all consonants,126 from which all the alphabets of the world were eventually derived.127 The crucial step was the adoption of these characters to their own language by the Hebrews in Sinai—possibly by Moses himself.128 For Sethe, the "missing link" was supplied by Petrie's discovery of the Siniatic script in 1905.129 From first to last "the entire developmental process of writing from pictures to letters can be viewed in the framework of natural science" (fig. 65).130
To Sethe's famous study (based on a series of lectures, 1916-1934), Schott added an appendage in 1964. He notes that certain conclusions of Sethe are necessarily premature: the Sinai script has not yet been read with certainty.131 And he cites the later study of Hans Bauer, who, while agreeing that "the Egyptian origin of alphabetic writing is by no means in doubt" and that "anything as rare and marvelous . . . can hardly have originated twice,"132 sees the all-important transition to the standard Semitic alphabet taking place not in Sinai but in Canaan to the north.133 The split between the northern and southern schools still maintains simply because of a lack of evidence.134 Schott wonders if it is necessary to go through all that rigamarole about the various stages of picture writing, for which no rigorous test is possible.135 If we are dealing with a "rare and marvelous" invention, where must we draw the line as to the inventor's inspiration—can he not have invented the whole thing? The trouble with the evolutionary concept in Egyptian writing, Schott observes, is that the process unfortunately runs backwards.136 The only way to account for the total lack of evidence for all the necessary long transitional phases, according to Schott, is the assumption that everything in those days was written on perishable material, a proposition which he finds untenable.137
And this is where we come in—without apologies, since everything is pretty much up in the air, and there is much to be said that has not been said. Since it is admittedly poverty of evidence that leaves us all in a box canyon, one would think that the scholars, if only in desperation, would venture to consider all of the evidence and not only that which comes under the heading of natural science. With all other ways blocked, it might be a good idea to try some of the neglected passages and ask some of the unasked questions. Here are a few:
1. How are we to account for yawning gaps in the evolutionary record, the complete absence of those transitional documents which should, according to the theory, be exceedingly numerous?
2. What about the sudden emergence first of hieroglyphic writing and then of the Semitic alphabet, each in its perfectly developed form? Why in the case of admitted human inventions, the work of obvious genius, must we still assume long periods of gradual, accidental, unconscious development if no evidence for such development exists outside of the theory itself?
3. The oldest writing appears side by side with the oldest legends about writing. Wouldn't normal curiosity suggest a hearing of those legends? Greek tradition attributing the origin of the alphabet to Phoenicians has been thoroughly vindicated; no scholar denies that. Then why not examine other legends seriously, at least until something better turns up?
4. Why is it that the ancients are unanimous in attributing the origins of writing, including the alphabet, to a heavenly source?
5. Why are the earliest written documents always found in temples? Why do they always deal with religious matters?
6. Whence the unfailing identification of reading and writing with divination, that is, with interpreting the will of heaven?
7. "There is in the very nature of writing something marvelous and mysterious, which at all times has exercised a powerful attraction on thoughful minds," writes Sethe.138 Why, then, does he insist that the first true writing, the process of an unconscious, mindless, "automatic" process "can contain only very trivial matters"?139 Could anything so "Wunderbares und Geheimnisvolles" (wonderful and mysterious)140 have been invented in a humdrum way for purely humdrum purposes?
8. The supernatural power of the written symbol is as old as the marking of arrows. How can one comprehend the nature of the earliest writing without considering the miraculous or magical powers it exercised over man and beast?141
9. The first writing appears full-blown with the founding of the First Dynasty of Egypt, and in a form far too well-knit and consistent to have evolved, according to Schott.142 What is the significance of writing as "the King's secret," the indispensable implement to government and authority?
10. Why is writing always a mystery, a guild secret, a kingly and priestly monopoly? "The really marvelous things that writing does, the astounding feats of thought-stimulation, thought-preservation, and thought-transmission . . . are of no interest to practical people: business records, private letters, school exercises, and the like are periodically consigned to the incinerator by clerks and merchants to whom eternal preservation and limitless transmission mean nothing."143 Why must the latter be given the credit for inventing writing?
Let these ten questions suffice to justify our own speculations. Schott rejects Sethe's main thesis, that the Egyptians had a true alphabet, on the grounds that they mingled their alphabetic signs with syllabic and picture writing (the ideograms or determinatives that come at the end of words; cf. fig. 44, p. 218). But whereas the scribes make constant use of the twenty-four letters or single-consonant symbols and could not write without them, they often omit the other signs and seem to be playing with them. Schott maintains that only the Phoenician genius suddenly realized the possibility of doing without the syllabic and pictographic elements entirely; yet for ages the Egyptian scribes freely dispensed with them, now in one word and now in another—they knew it could be done. Pictures? Hieratic is as old as hieroglyphic, yet it contains no recognizable pictures, and demotic is anything but picture writing. Why retain pictures in such systems, since no one can recognize them? To an Egyptian who spoke the language, the alphabetic signs would be enough, just as the same signs, without vowels, are quite adequate for the reading of Semitic lanugages. Granted that some of the other signs are necessary, why is the whole massive and awkward machinery of both picture writing and syllabic writing retained to clutter up an economical and efficient alphabet? I would like to suggest that those who employed the "holy engravings" (for that is what hieroglyphic means) had not only their own people in mind but were thinking of others as well. One need only think of countless early funeral-steles, consciously addressed to distant generations yet unborn. Without ideograms any learned Egyptian scribe could still read a text, but we today could never understand Egyptian without those pictures. Can it be that they are put in there for our benefit or the benefit of others like us? Likewise the eking out of the alphabetic signs with syllabic forms suggests a patient repetition and emphasis for the benefit of stumbling children. If Egyptian writing, because of its compound nature, is absolutely unique, perhaps its intention was also unique—to communicate more widely than the other languages. There is a good deal of evidence to support this theory, but we cannot go into it here. For many years learned men guessed at the meaning of hieroglyphics, and when some of them, like Horapollo, Kircher, or Seiffert, made some happy strikes, it was the pictographs that enabled them to do so and which could have put them on the right track had they properly pursued them. In the 1880s Egyptologists of a number of lands, under the leadership of Professor Samuel Birch of Oxford, collected and interpreted all the available hypocephali of that time, and came up with a surprising unity of views, based on the symbolism alone. Today, as many experts are pointing out, it is doubtful whether anyone really understands any Egyptian religious text; there is still a long way to go, though much progress has been made. But the point is that the evidence is all there before our eyes and that the Egyptians have perhaps consciously supplied us with an overload of material, a safety factor to make sure that in the end the message would get across.
As for the Semitic alphabet and our own, derived from the Egyptian and often called the greatest of all inventions, the most wonderful thing about it is that it seems to have been devised for the express purpose of recording the scriptures—our scriptures. The objection today to Sethe's suggestion that Moses himself may well have been the inventor is that the alphabet is older than Moses and seems to have been at home at an earlier time up north—in Canaan. Sethe does not apologize for citing a Jewish writer, Eupolemos, in support of the claims put in for Moses,144 and so it seems only fair to point out that by far the overwhelming authority of Jewish tradition favors not Moses but Abraham as the inventor of the alphabet, though some say he inherited it from Enoch. Of recent years a number of new alphabets have turned up in the Near East, dating to 2000-1500 B.C. and all "clearly the inventions of individuals."145 Well, why not? Once one knows it can be done, one is free to invent one's own alphabet; the Deseret Alphabet is an impressive demonstration of that (fig. 66). But it would seem that "the Canaanitic alphabet, which has conquered the world," is the oldest of all, and as such is "a witness to the ancient origin of the Torah."146 Some think it may be as old as or even older than hieroglyphic itself.147
By the most cautious estimate of the situation, it is safe to say that the scriptures are not to be taken lightly. When scholars who pride themselves on their freedom from any religious commitment are found seriously considering the genesis of the written word not only in holy writings but specifically in our own scriptures, it behooves us to pay attention. Whoever reads the Standard Works today has before him the words of God to men from the beginning, in witness of which the very letters on the page are but slightly conventionalized forms of the original symbols in which the message was conveyed. Merely as a cultural phenomenon the possibility is awe-inspiring, but that it should all go back to Israel and Egypt is too much to hope for. As members of the human race we are bound to approach the scriptures with new feelings of reverence and respect. They are the nearest approach and the best clue thus far discovered to the genesis of the written word.
*This was first delivered as the Commissioner's Lecture in 1972 and was published by BYU Press in 1973. It was later reprinted (without the complete footnotes) in New Era 3 (September 1973): 38-50, and in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless (Provo, Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1978), 101-27, with the preface included above.
1. This note appeared at the end of the New Era version, p. 50: Since these reflections first appeared in the Commissioner's Lecture Series, an important study on the subject has emerged in a feature article by K. H. Basso and Ned Anderson, "A Western Apache Writing System: The Symbols of Silas John," Science 180, no. 4090 (8 June 1973): 1013-22. The authors begin by deploring the strange indifference and neglect shown by scientists in the past toward the study of "so-called 'primitive' writing systems," as a result of which the present-day world is almost completely in the dark on the subject. "Under these circumstances," they write, "it is with considerable enthusiasm" that they call attention to an authentic Western Apache writing system that is still in use. The system is ingenious, original, and highly efficient, and is entirely the invention of one man, Silas John Edwards, who produced it in 1904, insisting that the whole thing was given to him in a "dream from God, . . . at one time in one dream," for the sole purpose of recording certain ritual prayers and ordinances that have since been faithfully perpetuated among his people. Since the value of the writing was the power to preserve the divine instructions unaltered through time, the knowledge of the system has been "restricted to a small band of elite ritual specialists" (1015). Of course, Silas John knew about alphabetic writing, yet his system is a "totally unique cultural form . . . among the significant intellectual achievements of an American Indian during the 20th century" (1013).
The thing to notice here is that Silas John was a plain, simple, but deeply religious Indian, while the system of writing he produced suddenly in 1904 was not only highly sophisticated but has proven perfectly functional. No long ages of evolution were necessary to its emergence; the thing was given, he always maintained, in a single vision, for the express purpose of instructing men in the will of heaven and keeping them faithfully observant of it; it has never been used for anything else. Here in a leading scientific journal is a scientific description of how a system of writing actually came into being among a "primitive" people, and it confirms our own suspicions at every point.
2. Edwyn Bevan, Hellenism and Christianity (London: Allen and Unwin, 1921), 81.
3. John Lear, "The Star-Fixed Ages of Man," Saturday Review 10 (January 1970): 99, speaking in particular of population and pollution problems.
4. "What is happening now is . . . an abandonment of Renaissance-inspired approaches. . . . The new approach is quite different in spirit and in method. It begins with a clear acknowledgment of the impossibility of reconstructing the original order of things human," William D. Stahlman, "Global Myths Record Their Passage," in ibid., 101.
5. Joseph Fielding Smith, Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1972), 4.
6. Early Jewish apocrypha emphasize the close association between Adam and the art of writing, a theme which cannot be handled in the scope of this paper. He is called "the four-lettered Adam" in the Sibylline Oracles 3:24, referring to the well-known Jewish doctrine that all things were created out of letters in the first place, the theme of the Sefer Yetzira.
7. Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (Oxford: Clarendon, 1969), no. 510:1146.
8. That this Atum is to be identified with Adam has been suggested by leading Egyptologists: Eugene Lefebure, "Le cham et l'adam égyptiens," Biblical Archaeological Society Proceedings 9 (1893): 174-81; Alexandre Moret, Histoire de l'Orient, 2 vols. (Paris: Presses universitaires, 1945), 1:209.
9. Jean Capart, "L'exaltation du Livre," Chronique d'Egypte 22 (1946): 25.
10. R. Englebach, "An Essay on the Advent of the Dynastic Race in Egypt and Its Consequences," ASAE 42 (1942): 197-98.
11. Jean Capart, "Thème religieux ou fantaisie," Egyptian Religion 1 (1933): 117.
12. Alan H. Gardiner, "The Nature and Development of the Egyptian Hieroglyphic Writing," JEA 2 (1915): 62.
13. Alexander Scharff and Anton Moortgat, Aegypten und Vorderasien im Altertum (Munich: Bruckmann, 1950), 22.
14. Elise Baumgartel, Prehistoric Egypt (London: Oxford University Press, 1947), 48.
15. Stuart Piggott, The Dawn of Civilization (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961), 127.
16. Walter B. Emery, "The Tombs of the First Pharoahs," Scientific American 197 (July 1957): 112.
17. Kurt Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben: Die Entstehungsgeschichte der Schrift, vol. 12 of Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Altertumskunde Aegyptens (Hildesheim: Olms, 1964), 27-28.
18. Scharff and Moortgat, Aegypten und Vorderasien im Altertum, 46.
19. Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 20.
20. Johannes Friedrich, "Schriftsysteme und Schrifterfindungen im alten Orient und bei modernen Naturvölkern," Archiv Orientalni 19 (1951): 251-52.
21. Henri Frankfort, The Birth of Civilization in the Near East (London: Williams and Norgate, 1954), 110.
22. Ibid., 106-7.
23. Antal Dávid, "Remarques sur l'origine de l'écriture sumérienne," Archiv Orientalni 18/2 (1950): 51-54.
24. Bedrich Hrozný, Ancient History of Western Asia, India, and Crete (New York: Philosophical Library, 1953), 116-17.
25. J. Jordan, "Ausgrabungen in Warka," Archiv für Orientforschung 6 (1930-31): 318.
26. Phineas Mordell, "The Origin of Letters and Numerals According to Sefer Yesirah," JQR 2 (1911-12): 575.
27. Émile Massoulard, Préhistoire et Protohistoire d'Égypte (Paris: Institut d'Ethnologie, 1950), 323-24.
28. Naphtali H. Tur-Sinai, "The Origin of the Alphabet," JQR 41 (1950-51): 296.
29. Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 20; Friedrich, "Schriftsysteme und Schrifterfindungen," 259; Hrozný, Ancient History of Western Asia, 166-72, looks for the place of origin in northern Syria, northwestern Mesopotamia, or eastern Asia Minor.
30. Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 45-47.
31. A. Schmitt, cited in Helmut Arntz, "Zur Geschichte der Schrift," Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gessellschaft 97 (1947): 82-83.
32. Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 10.
33. Ernst Doblhofer, Voices in Stone, tr. Mervyn Savill (New York: Viking, 1961), 33.
35. Dávid, "Remarques sur l'origine," 49.
36. Doblhofer, Voices in Stone, 22.
37. Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 24-25.
38. Ibid., 9.
39. Gardiner, "Egyptian Hieroglyphic Writing," 64.
40. Doblhofer, Voices in Stone, 28 (emphasis added).
41. Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 28.
42. Ibid., 18.
43. William F. Edgerton, "On the Theory of Writing," JNES 11 (1953): 287-90.
44. Heinrich J. Lanzen, "New Discoveries at Warka in Southern Iraq," Archaeology 17 (1964): 125.
45. T. Burton-Brown, Studies in Third Millennium History (London: Luzac, 1946), 66-67.
46. Sherwood L. Washburn, "Tools and Human Evolution," Scientific American 203 (September 1960): 63.
47. James K. Feibleman, "Philosophy of Tools," Social Forces 45 (1967): 331-37. See also Kenneth P. Oakley, "Dating the Emergence of Man," Advancement of Science 18 (1948): 422. Lewis Mumford, "Man the Finder," Technology and Culture 6 (1965): 375-81.
48. Leslie A. White, "Energy and the Evolution of Culture," American Anthropologist 45 (1943): 338, 347.
49. "Cybernation and Man," Man on Earth 1/4 (1965): 6.
50. Amélia Hertz, "L'histoire de l'outil en fer d'après les documents égyptiens hittites, et assyro-babyloniens," L'Anthropologie 35 (1925): 75-95.
51. Jean Hiernaux, "How Man Will Evolve," Science Digest 58 (August 1965): 93.
52. Carleton S. Coon, The Story of Man (New York: Knopf, 1962), 64. The Leakeys would concur with his verdict.
53. William F. Petrie, "History in Tools," Smithsonian Institution Annual Report (1918): 568.
54. Ibid., 568-69.
55. Ibid., 570.
56. E. von Mülinen, "Sprachen und Schriften des vorderen Orients im Verhältnis zu den Religionen und Kulturkreisen," Zeitschrift des Deutschen-Palästina-Vereins 47 (1924): 88, 90.
57. Jürgen Smolian, "Vehicula Religiosa: Wagen in Mythos, Ritus, Kultus und Mysterium," Numen 10 (1963): 203, citing as examples fire, wheels, wagons, architecture, and ships.
58. Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1947), 54 (emphasis added).
59. Naphtali H. Tur-Sinai, "Sitir Samê, die Himmelsschrift," Archiv Orientalni 17 (1949): 433.
60. Hermes Trismegistus, 1, cited in Theodor Hopfner, Fontes Historiae Religionis Aegyptiacae (Bonn: Marcus and Weber, 1922-24), 393.
61. Henri Brugsch, "Bau und Maasse des Tempels von Edfu," Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 10 (1872): 3-4.
62. Geo Widengren, The Ascension of the Apostle and the Heavenly Book (Uppsala: Boktryckeri, 1950), 21.
63. Smith, Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions, 5; Moses 7:67.
64. Alfred Jeremias, Das alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1916), 51.
65. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata V, 4, in PG 9:44.
66. Frankfort, Birth of Civilization, 55-56.
67. George Steindorff, Egypt (New York: Augustin, 1943), 24.
68. Hrozný, Ancient History of Western Asia, India, and Crete, 36-37.
69. Frankfort, Birth of Civilization, 56, n. 1.
70. Piggott, Dawn of Civilization, 90.
71. See Hugh W. Nibley, "The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State," WPQ 2/3 (1949): 329-39; reprinted in CWHN 10:2-15; Hugh W. Nibley, "Controlling the Past: Part V," IE 58 (May 1955): 307-8; reprinted in CWHN 4:245-47.
72. Arntz, "Zur Geschichte der Schrift," 76.
73. Cornelius Nepos, On the Great Generals of Foreign Nations XVIII, Eumenes I, 5.
74. Nibley, "Controlling the Past: Part V," 307-8; reprinted in CWHN 4:245-53.
75. Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 20-21.
76. Siegfried Schott, Mythe und Mythenbildung im alten Aegypten, vol. 15 of Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Altertumskunde Aegyptens (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1945), 10-11.
77. See Hugh W. Nibley, "Tenting, Toll, and Taxing," WPQ 19 (December 1966): 603-7; reprinted in CWHN 10:41-43; see also Hugh W. Nibley, "The Hierocentric State," WPQ 4/2 (1951): 235-38; reprinted in CWHN 10:110-14.
78. Scharff and Moortgat, Aegypten und Vorderasien im Altertum, 3; there is a striking passage in Syncellus, cited in Hopfner, Fontes Historiae Religionis Aegyptiacae, 74.
79. Plotinus, Enneads II, 3, On Whether the Stars Are Causes 7.
80. Papyrus Salt 825A, in Alan H. Gardiner, "The House of Life," JEA 24 (1938): 167.
81. Heliodorus, Aethiopica (Ethiopians) II, 28, 2.
82. Étienne Drioton, L'écriture énigmatique du livre du jour et de la nuit (Cairo: l'Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale, 1942), 86.
83. Francis L. Griffith, Stories of the High Priests of Memphis (Oxford: Clarendon, 1900), 21-22.
84. Leo Koep, Das himmlische Buch in Antike und Christentum (Bonn: Hanstein, 1952); Widengren, Ascension of the Apostle and the Heavenly Book.
85. Kurt H. Sethe, Dramatische Texte zu altaegyptischen Mysterienspielen, 2 vols. (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1928), 1:5, 8.
86. Max Pieper, Die grosse Inschrift des Königs Neferhotep (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1929), 6-11.
87. Moret, Histoire de l'Orient, 1:96-107.
88. Pyramid Text (PT) 309:490-91.
89. Widengren, Ascension of the Apostle and the Heavenly Book, 11, 10.
90. Alexandre Moret, Du caractère religieux de la royauté pharaonique (Paris: Leroux, 1902), 102.
91. Winfried Barta, "Bemerkungen zur Darstellung der Jahreszeiten im Grabe des Mrr-wj-k3.j," Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 97 (1971): 7.
92. Gardiner, "The House of Life," 76.
93. Heinrich Zimmern, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament (Berlin: Reuther & Richard, 1903), 405.
94. PT 250:267.
95. Bruno Meissner, Babylonien und Assyrien, 2 vols. (Heidelberg: Winter, 1927), 2:124-25.
96. Eduard Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, 4 vols. (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1910-58), 1:42-44.
97. A. Leo Oppenheim, "Mesopotamian Mythology III," Orientalia 19 (1950): 155.
98. PT 250:267.
99. Capart, "L'exaltation du Livre," 25-27.
100. Alan H. Gardiner, "New Literary Works from Ancient Egypt," JEA 1 (1914): 25.
101. Gardiner, "The House of Life," 166.
102. Alan H. Gardiner, "The Secret Chambers of the Sanctuary of Thoth," JEA 11 (1925): 4.
103. W. K. G. Lambert, "Ancestors, Authors, and Canonicity," Journal of Cuneiform Studies 11 (1957): 9.
104. Heinrich Schäfer, "Mousa bei Horapollo II, 29 und die Göttin Ss3-t," Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 42 (1905): 72-75.
105. Siegried Schott, in "Nachwort," to Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 81.
106. Gardiner, "The House of Life," 159; cf. 174-79.
107. Walter Otto, Die Musen und der göttliche Ursprung des Singens und Sagens (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1961).
108. Fritz M. Heichelheim, "The Earliest Musical Notations of Mankind and the Invention of Our Alphabet," Epigraphica rivista italiana di epigrafia 12 (1950): 111-15.
109. We have treated the overall theme in "Hierocentric State," 226-53; in CWHN 10:99-147.
110. Siegfried Schott, Das Buch vom Sieg über Seth (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1929), 16.
111. Schott, in "Nachwort," to Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 83.
112. Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 2-3; the only motivating force was immediate practical need, 41, 66.
113. Ibid., 32, speaking of Egyptian linear writing; ibid., 39, speaking of the Egyptian alphabet.
114. Ibid., 4-5; fig. 2.
115. Ibid., 6, 11, 14-17.
116. Ibid., 17.
117. Ibid., 18-19.
118. Ibid., 24-25.
119. Ibid., 25-26.
120. Ibid., 26.
121. Ibid., 27.
122. Ibid., 28.
123. Ibid., 20.
124. Ibid., 29.
125. Ibid., 34.
126. Ibid., 38.
127. Ibid., 45-63.
128. Ibid., 55-56.
129. Ibid., 57-59.
130. Ibid., 66.
131. Ibid., 73.
132. Bauer, Alte Orient, 12-13; citing Schott, in "Nachwort," to Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 75.
133. Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 74.
134. Ibid., 75.
135. Ibid., 76.
136. Ibid., 80.
137. Ibid., 81.
138. Ibid., 1.
139. Ibid., 73.
140. Ibid., 1.
141. See Nibley, "The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State," 328-44; in CWHN 10:1-32.
142. Schott, in Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 81.
143. Nibley, "Controlling the Past: Part V," 307-8; reprinted in CWHN 4:245-47.
144. Sethe, Vom Bilde zum Buchstaben, 55.
145. Alfred Jirku, "Der Kult des Mondgottes im alter Palästina-Syrien," Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 100 (1950): 520.
146. Tur-Sinai, "The Origin of the Alphabet," 296.
147. Mordell, "Letters and Numerals According to Sefer Yesirah," 575.