Episode 87: Pricey Pearl 5 – Moses 8-Abraham 1

July 6, 2015

Episodes

Episode 87: Pricey Pearl 5 – Moses 8-Abraham 1

We finish up The Book of Moses and then jump right into The Book of Abraham. Oh, and there’s an Egyptian third grader’s art class homework in between. And sadly, the racism and misogyny just keeps getting layered on more and more.

“Drink” Count – 9

Just a beer and a half

1f37b[1]

And don’t forget to check out my interview with John Dehlin from the Mormon Stories podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngomGsqa4l0

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23 Comments on “Episode 87: Pricey Pearl 5 – Moses 8-Abraham 1”

  1. Duke of Earl Grey Says:

    Here is the Book of Abraham Facsimile in high resolution, for anyone who hasn’t seen it:

    Reply

  2. Duke of Earl Grey Says:

    You asked how it was that this record, written by the hand of Abraham himself on papyrus, should find its way into the hands of Joseph Smith? Cast your mind back to Kirtland, Ohio (headquarters of the Mormon church), in the year 1835. Some guy strolls into town with four Egyptian mummies on his wagon, displaying them for money as a bit of a sideshow attraction (for two bits a gander, I like to think.) Found buried with these mummies were some papyrus scrolls, which are also on display. This fellow, Michael Chandler, knowing Joseph Smith to have some claim as a translator of ancient languages, cleverly knew this would be a good town to add to his route…

    Yes, Joseph Smith was interesting in these scrolls, although whether he himself was anxious to begin another translation side project, it’s hard to say. More likely, I think, his many lap dogs saw cool ancient writing of curious workmanship, and thought, “Hey, I bet Joseph can tell us what that is!” How could he say no to that?

    And indeed, Joseph declared the scrolls to be the writings of Abraham in Egypt (fancy that!), as well as Joseph of Egypt (Joseph Smith never did get around to that translation). I rather fancy that he foolishly made this pronouncement in the hearing of Mr. Chandler, and before a price had been negotiated, because when Joseph asked to buy the papyrus, Chandler said, “Sorry, those are part of the exhibit. I can’t sell you the papyrus unless I sell you all the mummies, too.”
    “How much?”
    “Well… I think $2,400 should do it.” (A lot of money, back then.)
    “Oh, that’s too bad,” said Joseph. “You see, I don’t have that kind of money, and…”
    “We do!” shouted lap dogs Simeon Andrews and Joseph Coe enthusiastically, throwing fistfuls of cash at Michael Chandler.

    And thus some random guy with a traveling mummy show became the instrument of the Lord to instruct his people on why black people can’t have the Priesthood, and other fun things yet to come.

    Reply

  3. Deg Says:

    Dave,

    I have issues with you saying God is mean when killing people. From a faithful perspective we’re taught that this can be seen as an act of mercy… accelerate the process to returning to the Lord and entering into his rest if you will.

    It would be really mean and sad if this life were all there is to it… but there is more, and that’s the whole point. God wants us to wander, goof up, make our own mistakes and learn from them. Learn how to live righteously (lovingly), although we seem to doing a poor job at it…

    This life is meant to be merely a day at school when we contrast it with the eternity that is yet to come. Otherwise, how could we live with ourselves and the notion that only the here and now exists?

    We are definitely more than just mere walking bags of electrochemical reactions.

    Reply

    • Andrew Says:

      Well, I personally don’t have a problem living with myself and the notion that only the here and now exists. That’s the problem with some religions – they allow heads to be buried in the sand in the only world that exists and people to waste the only lives they are ever going to have…

      Not that some religions are not in many ways positive, but the ‘there must be something more than this’ argument has always struck me as possibly the most fatuous raised in favour of a theistic world view. It also can be one of the most dangerous – creating martyrs who don’t mind ‘taking a few unbelievers with them’, for instance.

      Reply

    • My Book of Mormon Says:

      I have no way to respond to a worldview that looks at willfully starving people as “an act of mercy”. By this logic, if someone kidnapped your kids and starved them to death you should thank them for being so merciful and for “accelerating the process to returning to the Lord”. If people REALLY acted that way at the death of a loved one, this would be a pretty messed up world to live in.

      It’s also hard to describe the feeling of liberation that comes with accepting that this one life is all we’ve got. If you ever get there, you’ll start to appreciate life so much more. There isn’t much to appreciate if you’re living your life like it’s just “merely a day at school”. In fact, your life can be so much more than that. And accepting that really is a great feeling, at least for me.

      Lastly, we are, in fact, walking bags of electrochemical reactions. That isn’t an opinion, it’s just a fact. However, unlike a star (for example) that is also just a serious of chemicals and reactions, we have evolved the ability to see, to think, to feel, and to experience consciousnesses. And as far as we know, we are the only species in the universe that possess those abilities. That’s pretty awesome, because without us the universe would have no meaning, and I for one don’t take that responsibility lightly.

      Reply

    • emma Says:

      If god wants us to mess up in this earthly sandbox, why is he messing around WITH us?

      If He is the source of morality, doesn’t He have to live up to his own rules?

      They are both horrifying thoughts to imagine as true. Not comforting. At all.

      Reply

  4. Andrew Says:

    Key historical perspective

    When Joseph Smith was writing Egyptian hieroglyphs were basically untranslated. So Smith’s achievement here was massive. You couldn’t have just sent the papyrus to the local Egyptologist to translate.

    However, even as Smith was working the world was changing. The magnificent scholarship of Champollion was ‘cracking the code’ in the early 1820s and after a few years his method became disseminated among other scholars. Suddenly, hieroglyphs were easily translated by competent Egyptologists.

    Happily, of course, this could confirm Smith as a Prophet since Egyptologists could confirm the accuracy of his translation. Smith rushed to do this – oh, sorry, no he didn’t.
    Unfortunately, if his translation wasn’t accurate then it would of course have fatal implications for Smith’s credibility as a translator of not only the papyrus but of anything else written in, for instance, ‘Reformed Egyptian’.

    Smith’s actions (or non-actions) are suggestive. Egyptologists interpretations of the facsimiles and of (allegedly) the re-discovered papyrus (it had been misplaced) might be considered to have confirmed those suggestions as to just why Smith didn’t rush to confirm his translation and his status as a prophet.

    I know most of you folks know all this but just in case anyone has come upon this, like me, having never been part of the LDS or ex-LDS community.

    Reply

  5. Tina Says:

    I have been waiting to share with you, David, the LDS Church’s official apologetic response as to why the Book of Abraham does not match up with anything any Egyptologist would ever expect. That day is finally here. Woo hoo!

    There is an essay on the Church’s website specifically about this problem. It is actually pretty new, having been published within the past year or two. To sum it up, the word “translate” does not really mean translate. It’s a huge exercise in trying to redefine words to something other than their traditional meanings in order to fit the LDS narrative. Here it is. Enjoy!
    https://www.lds.org/topics/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham?lang=eng

    Reply

    • J. Reuben Clerk Says:

      David, I think the essay might have some spoilers regarding the content of the Book of Abraham, so you read the essay after you finish the Book of Abraham itself.

      Reply

  6. Clint Kimball Says:

    The discovery of the Rosetta Stone completely and utterly destroyed any credibility Joseph Smith may have had.

    Reply

  7. colddodger2015 Says:

    Fan-fiction, eh? Challenge accepted.

    [warning: blasphemies and strong language ahead. Also, please pardon a racist tone in some of the characters –– it is not the view of this author towards anyone who was or is actually a real and living person, and it only serves to satirize the Mormon scriptural canon.]

    “And in those days there were giants on the earth, and they sought Noah to take away his life; but the Lord was with Noah, and the power of the Lord was upon Noah.” (Moses 8: 18)

    Noah cast he eyes round about him, taking in the scene. The sounds of hammers and the sawing of wood in the distance filled they air. Birds sang and animals lowed, yelped or growled in the distance as they were boarding a large wooden vessel. The sky was blue as azure and betrayed not a hint of the impending doom that hung above the earth awaiting God’s orders.

    The time was at hand for Noah and his sons and their wives to board the ark with a sampling of living things who, after the flood, would be the only breathing flesh left on the earth.

    Shem and Japheth were hard working boys, but Noah had problems with Ham. Ham had married a Canaanite, despite his father’s wishes. Noah tried to reason with Ham that such things were against the Lord’s designs, but Ham always responded by calling Noah a racist ass hole, and if God really gave a shit, then he could kiss his own ass.

    So, Noah left Ham alone whenever possible. Noah was always careful to explain that he wasn’t racist, but –– but Ham would never let him get past the “but” and told his father so shove off before he kicked his white and delightsome ass –– so at length, Noah decided it was best left alone. He got to name their first daughter, however, so he named her Egyptus, and snickered to himself that Egyptus’ parents couldn’t figure out what was so funny.

    Today, the Ark was nearly complete. Noah took in the breeze and closed his eyes to appreciate the beauty of the antediluvian creation one last time.

    womp. womp. womp.

    Noah heard a sound in the distance. What was that?.

    Womp! WOmp! WOMP!

    He looked around, finally he saw the shapes of men coming over the horizon. The ground shook with every step they took. There were three of them.

    But wait, they weren’t men. According to how tall they appeared to be at the distance that they were, they would have to be at least three stories tall!

    “giants!…” the 600 year old man tried to yell, but his raspy voice was hardly heard over the wind. He wheezed and coughed up some phlegm, and then tried again, “GIANTS!!!”

    Shem and Japheth were outside already. They looked out to the silhouettes approaching, who were now in a steady jog.

    Gjsh! Gjsh! Gjsh!

    The ground was starting to shake violently. Japheth wet himself, and Shem nervously held up a hammer, as if a hammer was any defense against this.

    The giants had wanted Noah dead for a long time. Noah told them to repent once, and they were so perturbed by it, they only way they every thought they could regain their former composure was by slaying this so-called prophet of God.

    Ham came out of the Ark where he left his wife and daughter to hide behind what safety the gopher wood could afford. Ham yelled to his father.

    “Call upon the name of your racist God that he may deliver us!”

    Noah disdained taking any orders from Ham, but he knew he had to summon the Lord, or they would all die. He reached in his napsack and brought out a brass ball of curious workmanship. He rubbed it vigorously with one hand and repeated “Peh-Lay-Ayl!” over and over again.

    At last a cloud erupted from the top of the brass ball. The heavens darkened as the sun bowed in reverence. The clouds enveloped the whole sky, and once they had stretched from horizon to horizon like green-tinted tornado clouds concealing a torrential secret, a pillar of fire came down a mile high and rested a stones throw before Noah’s face.

    The fire vanished as quickly as it came, and in its place stood the most glorious being Noah’s family had ever seen. He had robes that appeared to woven with rainbows, what looked like a thousand crowns on his head, and his feet rested upon a disk of some kind, like a floating saucer that seemed to burn his feet the color of brazen brass (but make no mistake, the rest of him was peak and perfection of all whiteness that every lighted the face of the earth).

    “Behold, I am Jehovah!” the Being began.

    Noah cut him short, “Ya, ya, ya. We’ve been doing this thing for 600 years, buddy. I know the routine. You were a little over the top this time.”

    Jehovah’s lips turned into a frown. He looked at the ground, dejected.

    “I thought this was the most bad-ass summoning yet…” He started to get a little teary in one eye.

    “Look,” Noah pointed.

    Jehovah came to himself and looked at the giants who were still charging from over the horizon. They only stopped for a moment to take in the awesome powers of Jehovah’s appearance before they regained their courage and began charging again. They were only a thousand yards away now.

    Jehovah’s pupils dilated and his shoulders stiffened. If there was one thing, just one thing he disliked more than Canaanites…

    “Giants,” he said in a short, determined breath. A pause, and then immediately Jehovah grew to a height twice the size of the giants, a whopping six stories high!

    Noah ran towards the ark to help his sons load the last little bit of animals into the boat before they shut the door. The clouds above began to rain.

    As the water picked up momentum, Jehovah tied a black bandana around his forehead. It had an insignia of a golden angel standing on a ball blowing a trumpet. Underneath the insignia it read, “Holiness to the Lord; I Am the LORD.”

    As the first giant came into reach, Jehovah met him with a backhand across the face. The giant stumbled and fell over into the water which was already up to their shins. The rain continued to pick up momentum.

    Jehovah started to hum a tune called “A mighty Fortress is our God,” and he charged the two standing giants who were just standing there.

    Back the Ark, the last animal had just been loaded, or so Noah thought.

    “Damnit!” Shem shouted.

    Noah turned. “What?”

    “The dinosaurs! We forgot the dinosaurs!”

    “You idiot!” Noah yelled. “Where did you see them last!”

    “I took them on a morning walk and they all ran away!”

    “Well,” Noah sighed. “I guess it was meant to be. Quickly get inside!”

    The shockwaves of four giants exchanging punches and yelps of pain rippled the air and assisted Noah and Shem as they closed the door. The last shockwave slammed the door shut tightly with a violent thud.

    Noah ran as quickly as he could up to the poop deck. It was a fight that would have set both Pacific Rim and Godzilla starry-eyed for months! One giant was already face down in the water and probably wasn’t going to get up again. The water was now up to Jehovah’s knees, the giants’ chests. It was hard to tell.

    Jehovah had another one pinned under the water with his foot, and the other in a full nelson that looked painful.

    “Who is your daddy?” God said through gritted teeth.

    “yr-m-ddy!” the giant tried to say in between struggles for breath. There were bubbles coming up from under Jehovah’s right leg where he held the other giant under Captain Morgan style.

    Noah was disgusted. “Jesus Christ!”

    All commotion stopped in a little longer than instant, but let then a moment. All was still.

    A six story God of wrath slowly cocked his head in Noah’s direction. There seemed to be fire in his eyes as he smote Noah with his awry gaze.

    “Not in front of the kids, goddamnit!”

    Shem, Ham and Japheth were all on deck staring at the scene with their jaws agape.

    God looked to them and then back to Noah and then back to them. He paused, and then released the giant under his foot who came gasping up for air, but otherwise ok. The giant in his arms he released, who began rubbing his arms and neck.

    Everyone looked over in unison to the last giant, still floating in the water, lifeless.

    Noah was livid. “You are a cruel and vengeful God!”

    Jehovah’s right eye started twitching at Noah’s words, but he didn’t move at first.

    “This is your omniscient plan? What the FUCK!”

    God turned towards Noah with murder in his eyes. The winds and the rain intensified in an instant, but Noah didn’t back down.

    “Isn’t it morbid enough to let everything in the world drown! You psychopath!”

    A fire from heaven came down and enveloped Jehovah. In flash of light, he had gone back up into heaven.

    The third and last giant began moving and the other two giants helped him out of the water. He was coughing up water, but alive, for now. Almost as if it were a miracle

    “Some miracle,” Noah murmured –– to revive a creature only to drown it instead! The thought was terrible.

    The water was already up to their chins. Waves were starting to form in the furious tempest, and the ark began to float despite the weight of a million different species of animals. That gopher wood was some stuff, whatever it was, Noah thought. A wave rocked the Ark and pushed it away from the giants. The giants were wading at the surface now. After another wave, Noah’s Ark lost sight of them altogether.

    Noah took out his journal and began to write today’s entry.

    “And in those days there were giants on the earth, and they sought Noah to take away his life; but the Lord was with Noah, and the power of the Lord was upon Noah.”

    Noah closed his journal thinking he better leave it at just that. Posterity didn’t need to know THAT much about the Lord.

    Reply

    • Ephima Morphew Says:

      That sounds “so BIBICAL,” you are the next new big thing in Mormondumb. A seer and revelator of mighty repute you are you are.
      And the use of the Liahona was so inspiring to your testimony. Had you mentioned the use of Testimony Gloves your scripture would have been fulfilled; Noah used them to cast off.
      I want more of your words of wisdom. Please continue
      I could gulp down all you have to give.
      PAX

      Reply

    • Yarjka Says:

      The giants appear in the King James Version of Genesis 6:4. Coincidentally (or probably not coincidentally), they are called the Nephilim (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nephilim). Anyways, they make a more detailed appearance in the apocryphal Book of Enoch. They also appear in the recent film “Noah” (2014), directed by Darren Aronofsky.

      Reply

  8. Alexis Says:

    I see that there is some fanfiction here already. Here’s what I wrote. I tried to emulate the pearl of great price as best I could, but there are probably quite a few mistakes. Let me know what you think.

    The Book of Moses

    Chapter 9

    how giants came to be – giants cause a great destruction – Noah fights the giants – the people are filled with faith

    [1] Now I have told you that in those days, the days of Noah, that there were giants who did walk the Earth.
    [2] They had height even as unto the tallest buildings of men, and if ten thousand men were to combine their force they would not as reach even the smallest of the giants.
    [3] Yea, but these were cursed with a sore curse whereafter they felt only sorrow and in their hearts only was hatred and sin, and there was no goodness therein.

    [4] It came to pass that these the giants were struck with envy for the blessings that had been placed by the hand of God upon Noah and his sons.
    [5]They sought to destroy him and they brought with them weapons of the Earth, bringing clubs and rocks and trees which they had uprooted from the Earth, which were weapons of barbarism. [6] And every man in the land lay in fear of these, for in his own heart he had not love of God but love only of the devil, and that which springs forth from the devil, so that each man would know that in these giants was punishment for his own ways of wickedness, of which was thievings and murders and whoredoms.

    [7]Noah, who was a revelator and a prophet, cast his eyes to the east which was the giants’ origin.
    [8] Yea, he saw upon the Earth were a crowd of thousands of these.
    [9] And the wife of Noah was filled with doubt, but he spake unto her, “Woman, fear not and doubt not, for the Lord casts his mercy among the upright who follow his commandments.”

    [10] It came to pass that Noah was given power with which to fight the giants, and these were powers of God, and the spirit of revelation also was with him.
    [11] These weapons which were given to him could call forth from the Earth fire out of dust, and bring up mountains from the flat plains, and transfer from any material substance any other material substance, so that when the clubs and rocks and uprooted trees fell upon him they crumbled into dust, even as the dust which lay on the ground and has no life.

    [12] From every place came giants, seeking only evil in their hearts and understanding not the ways of God, and from every corner Noah smote them.
    [13] Yea, he raised his weapons of flame and smote off their heads so that their blood fell upon the Earth as drops of rain do in a flood.
    [14] And when his gaze was cast in their direction, in their bodies came a fire of God, which would radiate outward until the giant fell and split open the very ground of the Earth.
    [15] And never did any giant or evil man ever strike Noah, for when an arm was lifted to strike Noah it would wither and die as unto a vine in a time of famine.

    [16] And the families of Noah looked upon this and fell to their knees, crying out to the Lord in one voice, “Praise, praise be unto him whose blessings spill out upon the righteous who follow in his name!”
    [17] And the wife of Noah durst not say these words, lest the Lord should look down and see the face of one who had doubt in her heart.
    [18] But Noah spake unto her, “Repent of your sin and be filled with faith and goodness,” therefor she repented and was filled with spirit, and she spake the words with a fervor so great that she did fall to the Earth and not rise for many days.

    Reply

  9. Jordan Says:

    I can’t believe I never saw the blatant racism until I heard you read it out loud. I heard it was in the Book of Abraham and served as the basis for the priesthood ban, but until I heard you read “Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of the Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs world faith claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry.” I just glanced right over it for years. I feel terrible.

    Reply

    • ohokyeah Says:

      It also effectively destroys the claim of anyone being of the lineage of Ephraim or Manasseh in patriarchal blessings as being able to hold the priesthood either because of Genesis 41:50-51 indicating that Joseph’s wife who bore him Ephraim and Manasseh was the daughter of an Egyptian priest. The Mormon church holds that priesthood blessings are literal assignments to that tribe, meaning that you are literally a descendant of the tribe you’re assigned to. Joseph Smith Jr’s patriarchal blessing assigned him to the tribe of Ephraim. Functionally, any person who is of the tribe of Ephraim or Manasseh should not have had the ability to hold the priesthood until the 1978 reversal, and these are the two most commonly reported houses as per /r/patriarchalblessing.

      “A patriarchal blessing includes a declaration of lineage, stating that the person is of the house of Israel—a descendant of Abraham, belonging to a specific tribe of Jacob. Many Latter-day Saints are of the tribe of Ephraim, the tribe given the primary responsibility to lead the latter-day work of the Lord.

      Because each of us has many bloodlines running in us, two members of the same family may be declared as being of different tribes in Israel.

      It does not matter if a person’s lineage in the house of Israel is through bloodlines or by adoption. Church members are counted as a descendant of Abraham and an heir to all the promises and blessings contained in the Abrahamic covenant”

      https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/gen/41.50-51?lang=eng#49

      https://www.lds.org/topics/patriarchal-blessings?lang=eng

      It’s a pretty substantial oversight on the part of Joseph Smith which undermines his authority claim and all claims by those who succeeded him. Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders indicated that having even a tiny fraction of black ancestry revoked the ability to obtain the priesthood.

      Internal consistency is hard!

      Reply

      • Spanner Says:

        This was one of the first issues that had me questioning during seminary.

        Later (after coming across innumerable problems) I saw an explanation on an apologist sure that claimed the Egyptian protest was actually from the Hyksos dynasty (Semites who invaded and ruled Egypt for a while). There are a number of problems with this apologetic as well when you dig into timings etc, but the remote probability is all that is needed to wear out of this one.

        Meanwhile, factors like sickle-cell trait do show there is genetic continuity between north Africa and the Levant.

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