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Home Book of Abraham Special Section Original of Facsimile 2 in "Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar" Critically compared with Joseph Smith Hypocephalus

Original of Facsimile 2 in "Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar" Critically compared with Joseph Smith Hypocephalus

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Research by Kerry A. Shirts

The "Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar" hypocephalus is an incomplete hypocephalus: Pictured below.

Critics have argued that this is the original that Joseph Smith had at his disposal to come up with the completed hypcephalus in the Pearl of Great Price. Looking critically at this and comparing it with the J.S. Hypo as well as others is most instructive in helping us deal with several problems that critics bring up against Joseph Smith and his interpretations. The first area we want to look at is the central figure. Pictured below.

On the left is the J.S. Hypo, the right is the EAG copy. We notice several very interesting things here. Notice how the panels in the EAG copy are way out of whack! The upper right lines go far above and beyond the compartment and in the middle the other lines don't meet. It is out of proportion, and at an impossible angle to connect them, yet Hedlock correctly put the panels together in the JS Hypo. Everything lines up correctly, as we see on other hypocephali as well. Also notice that there is only one serpent next to the babboon's legs on the left. On the right there is a missing serpent, which Hedlock included correctly in the JS Hypo. Other hypocephali also have the two serpents. That is a correct restoration. Again, the EAG artist does not have the correct depictions of the moondisc on the babboons' heads, the one completely missing, the other on the right in the hands of the babboon, not on his head, while the JS Hypo depicts them exact and without question. Interestingly, this dislocation of the sun and moondiscs in the EAG may realistically account for the strange and new way that Figure 1 is drawn offset from the body! Perhaps some of the pieces of the papyri were loose and shifting around. James David on his website makes a big argument (in his opinion) about this and claims it proves Joseph Smith was faking things. This is not a necessary conclusion at all, based on what we have with the EAG which James David has never analyzed in careful detail. Had he done so he would have been aware of this possibility. Instead he quickly comes to negative conclusions, while the evidence certainly depicts other situations.The British Museum 8445 erases all doubt about how the moondiscs should be placed. See below.

(British Museum 8445) This one, along with the JS Hypo are very clear in comparison with the EAG artist who is out to sea, concerning the moondiscs on the babboons' heads. Notice also the rather noncommital Tau cross on the EAG, while on the JS Hypo it is bold and centered with no questioning. Compare with other hypocephali, such as the incomplete one below. That Tau cross is centered and boldly placed right on the central figure, who also we note, wears the rams horns as in the JS Hypo. Also notice the two serpents by the babboons which are encircled in this example. Again, the JS Hypo is correctly depicting the situation, while the supposed original, the EAG is missing these.

Critics also contend that Joseph Smith simply copied the standing figure 2 head from the top of the hypo onto this central head. In the J.S. Hypo we notice the two rams horns sticking out of the head, almost antennae like. Usually the four headed rams in hypos have the magnificent, ornate crown, such as seen below from the Kunsthhistorisches Museum.

(Kunsthistorisches Museum) The JS Hypo only has the Rams horns, which is one such exact way that the central figure was depicted on hypocephali, as seen below from the Cairo Museum 9445 hypo.

(Cairo Museum 9445) Here the rams horns are like those in the JS Hypo. Nothing is in the EAG, the supposed original that Joseph Smith was working from, yet he correctly displays a correct set of horns on the central figure. So this is an authentic touch in favor of Joseph Smith. Now on the other hand, in looking at the EAG Hypo and the JS Hypo, there was plenty of room for Hedlock (The engraver of the JS Hypo) to include the crown from Figure 2 if that is what he was copying into the central panel in the JS Hypo. But Hedlock didn't use the whole head, and he would have been incorrect if he had done so! There is no example of that type of crown on figure 2 in the central panel and on the central figure from any other hypocephali in existence. Hedlock would have blundered had he done so, yet he deftly included the correct type of authentic crown in the correct place, on the correct figure, namely the fig 1! So if this is a mere reconstruction from a man who knew nothing about Egyptology or the language of the ancient Egyptians, how is it that he gets so much correct? Notice also the sceptres and instruments the figure holds in his hands! Joseph Smith correctly put them in his Hypo also! For an interesting discussion of these instruments, see Percy E. Newberry, "The Shpehard's Crook and the So-Called 'Flail' or 'Scourge' of Osiris," in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 1929, pp. 84-94. Besides these correct additions, Joseph Smith also included the full Wepwawet Standard in the hands of Fig. 2, showing it going all the way to the ground, which is correct. This is not shown correctly drawn in the EAG. More to the point, granted that the two heads of the figures are very nearly identical, but the explanation from Joseph Smith also shows that their functions are nearly identical as well! Interestingly, there are transpositions of heads and bodies in these two figures on other hypocephali! In the Walter Nash hypo the head of our figure 1 along with his double body, double human face, and double feather crown is placed on the body of Fig 2. See below. The top figure in the center even has the sceptres normally carried by the Fig 1 in the JS Hypo!

(Nash Hypocephalus) Again, we find that in another hypocephalus, Berlin 7792, Fig. 1 has a single body, as does Fig. 2, instead of his usual double body. See below. So if the figures are thus transposable, and if Fig. 2 can borrow the body of Fig. 1 why can't Fig. 1 borrow the head of Fig. 2 in our version? Such identity would be in keeping both with the Egyptian practice and with Joseph Smith's interpretations! Yet James David's website claims the borrowing from one figure for another is cheating. Well if it is, then along with these other hypocephali the ancient Egyptians were cheating. Joseph Smith is obviously doing things according to the ancient Egyptian conceptions.

(Berlin 7792) This illustrates the trasnpositions of bodies between just these two figures. And we notice other things that critics have passed over in silence as well. Looking at the EAG Fig. 7 (turning it upside up to see it better we have this:

(EAG Fig. 7) Notice the figure which is presenting the Wedjat eye is harldy drawn, and the EAG artist didn't know what to do with the Wedjat Eye! It doesn't resemble it at all. Compare this with the JS Hypo however.

(JS Hypo Fig. 7) Here the bird figure is correctly drawn as a bird's head, and the wedjat eye is also clearly drawn and obvious. This is strictly correct according to the conventions of hypocephali, such as the British Museum 9445a below.

(British Museum 9445a) So what is the point in all this? For one thing, critics need to analyze the documents much more carefully than they have in the past. Their vague over-generalizations get them nowhere fast, while a critically close look reveals several things. For one thing, the sloppiness may have been an ancient problem, not necessarily Joseph Smith practicing deception. The evidence clearly shows this. For another thing, the EAG copy may not have been in such an incomplete state in Joseph Smith's day as it is today. Considering so many essentially correct things that were drawn in, as opposed to the incorrect things, either Joseph Smith had more available to him than we do today in the EAG, or else he really was a super inspired daredevil! The one place where James David makes a big whoop tee do about the head being drawn on Fig 1 crookedly, the evidence from the EAG hypo may very well account for why it is so drawn. This is not deception so much as confusion about what was really there as we note on the EAG. And since the hypocephalus itself is not scripture, (see my article Various Editions of the Hypocephalus in the Pearl of Great Price Compared) we don't see this as being nearly so critical against Joseph Smith as James David does. Of course, James is totally SILENT about all the rest of this material! He has other problems which I have discussed at Hypocephalus - Facsimile #2 in the Book of Abraham Analyzed - James David's site "A Close Look at Mormonism" Refuted With Evidence He Ignores It is becoming rather amusingly typical of critics, since all they ever want to establish is quick negative conclusions, which on closer analysis do not hold up at all. Everything else in the JS Hypo is drawn very closely to the ancient Egyptian practice of hypocephali, including the swapping of heads and bodies of Figs. 1 and 2, as we see here. Joseph Smith and Reuben Hedlock are surprisingly accurate many times over, which, of course, critics have been overly silent about.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2010 11:55  

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