If you’ve been following the LDS blogging world for the last 20 years or so, you’ll recognize Ivan Wolfe from posts and comments at various blogs. Ivan lives in Arizona, where he teaches writing at ASU. He has published essays on several topics I’d like to hear more about, including Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy, The Princess Bride and Philosophy, and others. Please join me in welcoming Ivan Wolfe.
Author: Jonathan Green
About that FEC fine
It’s true: In March 2022, the FEC fined the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s presidential election campaign for incorrectly declaring payments to an oppo research firm involved with the Steele dossier. As a Democratic voter in 2016, I must say that news of the fine means…absolutely nothing to me. The stakes in the 2016 election were a lot higher than whether the FEC agreed with every point of the Clinton campaign’s interpretation of campaign finance law.
Looking at Hamline in the mirror
If you’ve followed the controversy at Hamline University (located in St. Paul, Minnesota) in recent months with BYU in the back of your mind, you might have felt a degree of familiarity.
Linguistic notes on the 1843 letter to the Green Mountain Boys
Joseph Smith’s 1843 appeal to the Green Mountain Boys, ghostwritten by W. W. Phelps and published in (the original) Times and Seasons contains a series of foreign language quotations that are interesting not only because they include using the GAEL as a source for Egyptian.
IX. Joseph the Seer
How did Joseph Smith and his associates create a translation that shows knowledge of a grammar that presumes the existence of the translation? Given what we know of the documents and the timeline for the translation of the Book of Abraham, the only way to solve the chicken-and-egg problem is this:
VIII. Catalyst theories of revelation
The previous posts have put us in the vicinity of catalyst theories of revelation, but none of the formulations that I’ve seen are adequate for describing the Book of Abraham translation, and I think “catalyst” is the wrong chemical metaphor.
VII. The GAEL and Linguistic Typology
The GAEL provides for a mode of interpretation that finds expansive (but not unlimited) meaning in seemingly simple characters. Zakioan-hiash, as we have seen, is both a name, a word with a specific phonetic realization, and the equivalent of at least one sentence.
VI. Non-Egyptian Linguistic Influences on the GAEL
Champollion – and Egyptian – aren’t the only influences on the GAEL.
V. The GAEL’s Degrees and the Structure of Abraham 1:2b-3
Two related features of the GAEL that have been the focus of the most controversy and puzzlement are how one character might represent much longer English texts, and the GAEL’s use of a five-fold system of degrees to expand a character’s potential meaning.
IV. The GAEL and the structure of Abraham 1:1-2a
In his 2009 article, Chris Smith argued for the textual dependence of the Book of Abraham on the GAEL. While Dan Vogel’s recent book about the Book of Abraham and related apologetics strenuously objects to any suggestion that the GAEL was reverse engineered from the translation of Abraham, Vogel nevertheless entirely rejects the basis of Chris Smith’s argument.
III. What Joseph Smith Knew About Champollion
With the preliminary deliberations out of the way, it’s time for a close look at the GAEL.
II. What Joseph Smith Would Have Known About Champollion
Before we get to the heart of my argument – which is coming up next in a long post with a detailed look at what’s in the GAEL – we need to look at what Joseph Smith and his associates would have known about Champollion and the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics by 1835.
I. Putting the grammar back in GAEL
Scholars from seemingly every corner of Mormon Studies agree: While working on the Egyptian papyri, Joseph Smith and his associates were either unaware of Champollion’s recent work to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics, or simply unaffected by the recent advances in Egyptology. Not only is this position untenable, it’s demonstrably incorrect.
Firing faculty: some educated guesses
Like most media outlets, Inside Higher Ed isn’t well equipped to report stories about BYU-Idaho – it doesn’t entirely understand that BYU and BYU-Idaho are two different schools, for example. But if I had to read between the lines and make an educated guess, this is what I think is happening.
A Centrist Church in a Polarized Age
On most cultural issues, the Church is situated somewhere between the center left and the center right.
Season 4 of Stranger Things took a detour inside an exotic world it had never explored before: a Latter-day Saint home in mid-80s Utah.
Standing with Babylon
One nice thing about reading the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon together is that it lets us expand our mental geography of Zion into a full cartographic plane.
Thoughts on Ukraine
It’s going to be horrific.
Options for BYU faculty
Over at BCC, John S. has a post that is, overall, not very helpful.
Making Sense of Prophecies (6): Concluding Thoughts
The question “Did Samuel Lutz really write this” is ultimately not as useful as the question of how the prophecy of “Lutius Gratiano” came about, and what function it served for those who kept it in circulation.