As reported in the last newsletter, a group of scholars was invited to examine an extensive effort made to translate the Anthon Transcript, the recently discovered page of characters which Martin Harris took to New York City for Charles Anthon's examination in 1829. John Sorenson and Jack Welch integrated the individually-made evaluations and provided them to the translator.
Those who participated were John A. Tvedtnes, Kent Jackson, Paul Hoskisson, Robert F. Smith, Edward Ashment, John Lundquist, Dilworth Parkinson, and Jack Welch. Nearly unanimously, they agreed that "too much liberty" had been taken in assuming that a variety of signs had the same sound value or, conversely, that one symbol might represent several sounds. Different experts also pointed out that the Hebrew/Arabic lexicon used contained some "impossibilities," inconsistencies in logic, and additional faults which reduced the probable value of the proposed translation.
Since no other documents in reformed Egyptian are known to exist, the evaluators pointed out that it wasn't a simple matter of saying, "You've translated this symbol wrong," but rather of saying that "This method of translation wouldn't work on a known language because of the inconsistencies, so it probably hasn't worked on this one either."
The translator received the criticisms well and plans to consider them carefully as he continues his work. The panel also congratulated the translator on his willingness, too often lacking in the past, to present work for internal critique before presenting it to a public unprepared to evaluate such an effort accurately.
Meanwhile, another person has proposed an alternative translation and FARMS has invited the same panel to critique this second effort. The first translator saw the characters as Hebrew/Arabic; the second proposes that they are Egyptian. According to John Sorenson, "The content of the two translations could not be more different. Neither reads the material as a direct translation of wording in the present Book of Mormon, but both claim to involve ideas, names, statements, and phrases represented in the scripture." Further results of the evaluation will appear in the next newsletter.
High quality photographs of the Anthon Transcript have been sent to selected Near Eastern scholars with reliable scholarly reputations who have volunteered to see what comments they could appropriately make on possible parallels to or even readings of the characters.
What does a man do when he spends seven years studying homilectics, hermeneutics, eisegesis, and exegesis to become a Lutheran minister and then joins the Mormon Church? If he's Gary Gillum, he becomes the Ancient Studies and Philosophy Librarian at BYU, teaching New Testament and Book of Mormon part-time.
His respect and affection for Hugh Nibley came as soon as he started reading Nibley during the conversion process. Like Brother Nibley, Gary has a fascination with languages and has proficiency or working ability in fourteen. By choice, his own scholarly method is apologetics and his perspective (Big Picture) is also harmonious with Nibley's. So when Howard Kempton and Truman Madsen suggested a subject index and list of Nibley's scholarly sources, Gary applied successfully for professional development time and money to provide this indispensable aid to the Nibley body of works.
It is now completed except for the indexing of Abraham in Egypt, Nibley's latest work, now available from Deseret Book. Here's the scope of the project:
1. Gary has collected all of Nibley's available works, published and unpublished, including tapes and manuscripts. The compiled bibliography comes to over 150 titles of books, serials, and periodical titles.
2. He has compiled a fat subject index.
3. The unbelievable bibliographic second mile has been compiling a bibliography of all of Nibley's scholarly sources--journals, books, scriptures, the apocrypha, patristics, and the classics. The scripture index cites book, chapter, and verse on every scriptural reference Brother Nibley has used. The Book of Mormon section of this index is available as a FARMS Preliminary Report (see below).
4. He has also, for considerably more than fun, compiled a "Quote Book" containing some of the "interesting, humorous, insightful, and inspiring" passages from Nibley's writings.
Gary is haunted, however, by the statistical certainty that some taped talk, some mimeographed manuscript, has eluded his vigilant eye. If anyone has little-known Nibley material, please let us know. The completed Nibley collection will eventually become an archival collection housed in the Harold B. Lee Library.
FARMS has received a steady flow of interesting papers from those willing to share current research. Some are short studies, some are preliminary drafts, others are near final form and will make a meaningful contribution as they are published. All were extremely welcome. Here are a few of the titles submitted:
1. Richard D. Rust (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), "Typology in the Book of Mormon."
2. John Sorenson (BYU) , "A Reconsideration of Early Metal in MesoAmerica."
3. Scott Norwood (Missouri), "A Bibliographic Essay of Works Concerning the Book of Mormon."
4. John Tvedtnes (Salt Lake City), "The Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon."
5. Marlin Dearden (Quinnipiac College, Connecticut), "Calendric Dating in Ancient MesoAmerica: Mayan and Nephite Methods Compared."
6. Gary Gillum (BYU) , "The Nag Hammadi Library."
7. Robert F. Smith (Independence, Missouri), "Nephite Temple Architecture."
8. Kirk Magleby (American Fork), "A Survey of Meso-American Bearded Figures."
9. Blake Ostler (Provo), "Abraham: An Egyptian Connection," describing similarities between judgment scenes in the Book of Abraham, the Testament of Abraham, the Apocalypse of Abraham, and Egyptian judgment scenes.
10. As this Newsletter goes to press, we have just received Prof. Carlton's report on further linguistic analysis of the names in the Book of Mormon, so look for more on this in the next Newsletter.
We invite others with works in progress to send in their reports.
Several other projects are not to the paper stage yet but are well underway.
Matt Hilton (Salt Lake City) is working on martial law and war patterns in the Book of Mormon.
John Hall (Culver City, Calif.) is working on fasting in the Book of Mormon and ancient Israel.
Blake Ostler is teaming up with Kevin Barney (Provo) on word pairs in ancient Near Eastern languages and the Book of Mormon, and Kevin is pursuing an additional project: New Testament textual variants compared with the corresponding passages in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith Translation.
Kent Jackson is researching the Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon.
James Siebach (Provo) is working on the legal and philosophical implications of opposites in Lehi's counsel to his sons in a context of pre-Socratic philosophy and ancient Near Eastern jurisprudence.
Bruce Woolley (BYU) is probing evidences of drug usage by Lamanite warriors.
Robert F. Smith (Independence, MO.) is preparing a critical textual apparatus to show the textual differences between various editions of the Book of Mormon.
John Hilton (Walnut Creek, Calif.) is continuing his imaginative computer probing into the texts of the Book of Mormon. Several reports will be coming from his busy comer.
We have heard of other projects in the making and will pass the word along when we receive more details. FARMS is eager to help encourage these and research efforts.
You Might Be Interested In . . .
1. Horizon. Wilfred Decoo, chairman of the Education Department at the University of Antwerp, has, after careful preparation, launched a new magazine, Horizon: A Magazine About the Mormon Community. The bimonthly publication will appear first in Dutch in January 1982 followed by French and German, then other languages. It has two purposes: to reduce the loneliness and intellectual isolation sometimes felt by members of the Church in Europe, and to provide a highquality publication suitable for nonmembers, many of whom still encounter negative stories about the Church.
Typically, the format will include articles on the Church in the world and in the country of publication, personality features on Latter-day Saints in the world and the country of publication, ideasharing by local members, the history of the Church in the country of publication, and Mormon studies, humor, and literature.
Brother Decoo, the editor of two professional European journals, has extensive experience in publishing, and has organized a European editorial board and an American advisory board including Larry Brim, Todd Britsch, Thomas Brown, Eugene England, Edward Kimball, Steven Sondrup, Charles Tate, Douglas Tobler, and John Welch.
Inquiries about subscriptions can be sent to Horizon Foundation (Postbus 26, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium). So can contributions, or--and this is important for FARMS members-through FARMS. Under U.S. tax laws, contributions sent to FARMS for Horizon will be tax deductible. (They are not if they are sent directly.) FARMS will meet its legal requirements by earmarking the funds for specific projects to benefit Horizon--such as financing research on a particular topic of interest to Horizon or otherwise helping out. The check should be payable to FARMS. FARMS welcomes this opportunity to help internationalize the Mormon community and wishes Brother Decoo well.
2. Middle American Tours. Middle American Tours is a company based in Orem, Utah, that packages tours to Mexico and Central America. Since many of their tours attract students of the Book of Mormon, they have provided FARMS with the names of many people eager to get more information. FARMS is interested in enriching such tours and invites further inquiries.
3. Society for Early Historic Archaeology (SEHA). Three of the Reprints in our first newsletter came from the Newsletter and Proceedings of the SEHA, an organization that many FARMS members may be interested in. It is a non-profit organization based in Provo, that focuses on "new discoveries in archaeology throwing light on . . . the HebrewChristian and Latterday Saint scriptures." It annually holds a Symposium on the Archaeology of the Scriptures, usually on an October Saturday at BYU, with which it is loosely affiliated. SEHA was founded in 1949 by M. Wells Jakeman and inquiries are welcome at P.O. Box 7488, University Station, Provo, Utah, 84602, or in person at Salmon House on the BYU campus.
The three SEHA papers offered on the FARMS Reprint Series may also available directly from SEHA for no additional charge to its members ($10 per year; $150 for life). Since one of the major functions of FARMS is to coordinate and communicate the efforts of people like those involved with SEHA, FARMS welcome this cooperative relationship.
4. International Field Studies Institute Inc. has issued a call for papers, by March 1, 1982, for an Oct. 1982 Symposium in Salt Lake City on "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon." Write to 27 North Pease Rd., Woodbridge, CT. 06525.