Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On the "Reformed Egyptian" of the "Nephites"

Series straddling three blogs: 
Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ...on linguistic evolution
...on Tower of Babel or language evolution
Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Milk and Gollum, and Nostratic M-L-Q
Is Boromir a mimsy borogove?
"If God spoke a language" - to correct Grimm
On the "Reformed Egyptian" of the "Nephites"
side issue on previous, Theology: A Gerald Smith on the theme of "Great Apostasy" and "Restored Gospel" - answered
Is Romanides accurate?
Was Romanides accurate? Bis! Not very much at all!
Linguistics for Romanides: Greek, Latin, Patois
Coniectura linguistica, pro casu unitatis vetustissimae indo-europaeae linguae.
Creation vs. Evolution : 32 language families for 72 nations ...
To this essay: 

I quite agree some criticism is pretty shallow.

(Link:) Here a Mormon has answered.

I quite agree, if there had been a people called Nephites, or if there was any people in the Americas descending from Egyptians, it might well have been referring to its script as reformed Egyptian or altered Egyptian or what not. Demotic is reformed or altered hieroglyphics, and although these are the common names among now living linguists for two types of Egyptian Writing, the Egyptians themselves of course called them neither the one or the other, at least before learning Greek. Because Hieroglyphoi is Greek for "Holy Carvings" and Demotica Grammata is Greek for "Popular Letters". And if you take these phrases in English, neither of them is a linguistic terminus technicus.

As a Catholic, I find it quite possible, though maybe not altogether probable (probability heightened by his appearance of martyrdom for his revelation, lessened by the fact that he did not get months in prison as a persuasion method of making him recant to scatter his followers and maybe did not even get one moment to recant) that he witnessed one apparation in which he saw golden or gold coloured plates, at another time tried to retrieve them but was pushed back by a supernatural force, that he succeeded in translating what was to his knowledge a foreign language and a foreign script which he had not had the opportunity to study in a natural manner.

What do I mean by a natural manner? I mean as when I had to learn alpha beta gamma ... on a table, and rosa, rosae, rosae ... on a table, and oikia, oikias, oikiai ... on yet another table and end up pretty fluent in Latin but less than mediocre in Greek. And the tables were not tablets of gold, though it would not have hurt, they were tables with printed black borders surrounding a collection of writing that is not sentences, writing made to examplify what the writing method or the language written looks like.

But does this mean I believe he had a genuine apparition sent by God? No.

Inventing a script, whether from scratch or by altering some Egyptian way of writing is not only in God's but also in man's and in angels' and in the devils' power. The last-named are quite able to invent a script themselves and then pretend it was used by a people long ago. Even some men - as is apparent from people believing accusations against Joseph Smith, and putting him in that category - are able to do that.

Tolkien invented Tengwar and said they were invented long ago by an elf in Tir nan Og (an Elda in Eldalie in his Quenya) but to him that was art, not factual truth, a kind of elaborate joke or poem (indeed he wrote more than one poem in tengwar characters in the Quenya language) as a kind of nostalgia. Joseph Smith need not have been one worse than Tolkien in saying this for founding a false religion, he may have been simply more naive than Tolkien (who would not have believed that angel, even after translating the gold tablets) about what men and angels, demons and possibly elves can do.

Now, although Tolkien could invent Tengwar, and a Quenya language to go along with them, he could not make one learn them at the kind of speed Joseph Smith learned the Reformed Egyptian Characters or the language of the Nephites.

God could do that - He has proven a very fast language teacher (and unteacher) at Babel, and also in connexions a bit like Pentecost (where he was rather simultaneous translator) - but angels also can do that, both the good and the bad ones.

So, Joseph Smith being honest does not in the least prove the revelation he witnessed came from God. As it contradicts Matthew XXVIII, last three verses (scroll down in link!) it apparently does not.

Wonders if a Japanese facing the Tsunami recited Marcirya, and remembered Tolkien was a Catholic, and tried to make his peace with "the God of the Catholics" as soon as he could before drowning? Because, Tolkien too was religious, he wrote Akallabêth with a feeling some of his readers would be facing days like before the Deluge of Noah or (if an other one) the Deluge of Atlantis. And some people who like him also like Japan and presumably prayed for Japan and for Japanese facing death. What I heard about Kobe and about the granny and grandson who survived nine days under débris by eating yoghurt, I think God does so too.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Mouffetard, Paris V
23-III-2011, Wednesday
after II Sunday of Lent


Hans Georg Lundahl said...

A Mormon admitting that Matthew XXVIII poses a kind of problem to them:

Modern Christian orthodoxy often sees itself as properly consisting of not only the events and doctrines revealed in the New Testament but also the historical, theological, and traditional developments of later centuries. It is sometimes argued that in order to be truly Christian modern churches must accept both biblical Christianity and the traditional Christianity that grew out of it. This, in a nutshell, is the historical exclusion. If one does not accept the centuries of historical development and elaboration--the councils, creeds, and customs, the theologians and the philosophers--in addition to the biblical doctrines, then one is not a true Christian. According to this view the biblical revelation taken alone is inadequate for true Christianity.


Hans Georg Lundahl said...

All the while proving Liberal Protestants are no better:

The man was a liberal Protestant historian, and his definition of the term Christian was a historical definition; it had nothing to do with personal belief. To him a Christian was someone whose theological family tree could be traced back through the Protestant Reformation, through the Roman Catholic church, and through the ecumenical councils to the first council of bishops at Nicaea in A.D. 325. His definition had very little to do with what one believed; it was more concerned with how one came by that belief. In his view, if your theology had the right pedigree you were a Christian; if not, though you might believe every word of the New Testament, you were still not a true Christian, because your intellectual and theological genealogy were all wrong.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

A Christian should indeed trace his theological genealogy - are not Mormons famous as genealogists? - to Nicea, but NOT through a break as the Protestant Reformation, rather through a continuity as the Council of Trent refusing the Protestant Reformation.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

It is surprising that Protestants would criticize the Latter-day Saints for believing in an apostasy and rejecting subsequent developments, since Protestants have essentially done the same thing--only instead of rejecting the authority of the traditional church after the first century, they reject it after the fifteenth. Protestant Reformers used many of the same Bible passages cited above to prove that the Roman church was corrupt and to justify their own attempts at reform. Martin Luther and others went so far as to identify the pope as the Antichrist.

And I reject both Luther and Joseph Smith for believing that the Great Apostasy was in the past.

The Great Apostasy of which speak the words of St Paul was to result in an identifiable individual called in the text The Man of Perdition. If he had already been identified a thousand years or more before Luther or Joseph Smith, either he would have been living on for remarcably long or the world would already have ended. I believe totally what the Apocalypse says about him, that he will be cast alive into Gehenna. And that means the Great Apostasy could be going on now, but it was not going on at a pace deserving the epithet Great just a generation after the Apostles.

Their take on Matthew 16:16 contradicts Matthew 28:18-20.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Most Protestants accept as doctrinally valid and binding only the first seven of the great ecumenical councils, the last of which, the Second Council of Nicaea, was held in A.D. 787. Greek Orthodoxy formally rejected the authority of the Western church in A.D. 1054, although their differences began long before this date. Six centuries earlier Armenian, Syrian, Coptic, and Abyssinian Christianity all rejected the "great church" at the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451), and have been separate churches ever since; hence we might ask, If the historical exclusion is applied to these "orthodox" churches--which accept only three of the twenty-one ecumenical councils--can they still be considered Christians? And if the Armenians, Syrians, Abyssinians, and Copts can reject everything in traditional Christianity from the fifth century on and still be Christians, then where is the cutoff that marks how much can be rejected? If it can be as early as the fifth century, then why not as early as the second?

Thus some denominations place their break with the traditional church4 at A.D. 451, while others might put it at 787, 1054, or 1517. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong in any of the schisms, in each case somebody was rejecting the authority of a mother church and refusing to be bound by its traditions and doctrines. Yet no one seriously accuses the Armenians, Copts, Syrians, Greek Orthodox, or Protestants of being non-Christian for having done this.

First of all, a Catholic could do that. There are feeneyites who bemoan but believe that Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic will go to Hell unless they convert to Catholicism.

Second, and more important, there is a true convergence in what all of Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Copts and even Nestorians believe. So much that it is not true to say that they all reject whatever council after the one they (except for XXI council, Vatican II, since none has been held after it) rejected. Armenians and Copts reject Chalcedon, as over judgemental, but do not reject Nicea II as wrong. Greek Orthodox even when rejecting Trent in some aspects confirm it in others, as by their councils of Jerusalem and Iassi (I could once have said our about them, I was two years in Roumanian Orthodox Church). Copts observe that Isaiah 19 confirms Sacrifice of Mass, along with Trent and Iassi, against Protestant denial of such.

To us, Mormons are not "non-Christians" or "not-quite-Christians" as lacking genealogy, but as belonging, loosely but truly, to the Protestant branch, which is a cut-off one. One that extends the rule of evil from Biblical Prophecy's 3 and a half years way on to over one thousand.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Continued here: