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John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 6:55 am
by blazerb
I have some thoughts that I'd like some feedback on from the more historically knowledgeable.

In a recent Mormon Stories episode, (https://www.mormonstories.org/podcast/1 ... s-project/)John Dehlin and Radio Free Mormon break down John Gee's attack on the Joseph Smith Papers Project for its handling of the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language, among other primary sources from the time. It seems to me that Gee just hasn't received the latest memos about how the GAEL is used in apologetics regarding the Kinderhook plates.

If I understand Gee's position correctly, he claims that the Book of Abraham is translated correctly from the Egyptian off a papyrus that we no longer have, perhaps it was destroyed a long time ago. This seems to be contradicted by the GAEL which shows symbols from the papyrus we have along with chunks of the BoA. Gee follows Hugh Nibley's explanation that the symbols were included by people other than JS who were trying to "reverse engineer" the BoA in order to get a way to translate other works in Egyptian. So, Gee has devised a timeline that keeps JS away from the development of the GAEL.

Besides being contradicted by other historical evidence, this ignores the latest from the Kinderhook plates. The current apologetics (https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Forg ... _Plates.22)around them says that the "translation" was just JS giving them a brief glance. He noticed a symbol on them that was similar to one of the symbols included in the GAEL. Thus, he used that symbol to come up with his meaning.

If Gee's position were correct, we have to wonder why JS didn't call in his scribes to say, "You donkey's patoots. You didn't even get symbols from the right scroll. Get rid of this immediately." I'm not sure how Gee would explain this because no one ever asks him. I predict a quiet retirement for Gee in the near future. I would like to know if my musings have any merit.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 8:27 am
by jfro18
That's a really great point, and you're right I've never seen that addressed by anyone.

Nice catch!

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 8:39 am
by Hagoth
Man, being a church-sponsored apologist must be exhausting. Uphill all the way.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 2:06 pm
by LSOF
I've been out long enough that I've forgotten what GAEL stands for, and I had to open the thread to refresh my memory. :D

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 3:45 pm
by 2bizE
I have lost motivation to engage in the BoA and John Gee discussions. Now that I know what I know, it seems like arguing whether the tooth fairy is able to carry only coins or if it can also carry folding money.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:51 pm
by Yobispo
2bizE wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 3:45 pm
I have lost motivation to engage in the BoA and John Gee discussions. Now that I know what I know, it seems like arguing whether the tooth fairy is able to carry only coins or if it can also carry folding money.
Bills only, of course. Duh.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 6:57 pm
by 2bizE
Yobispo wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:51 pm
2bizE wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 3:45 pm
I have lost motivation to engage in the BoA and John Gee discussions. Now that I know what I know, it seems like arguing whether the tooth fairy is able to carry only coins or if it can also carry folding money.
Bills only, of course. Duh.
As a child, I only experienced the tooth fairy bringing a quarter or two. Much to my surprise, my wife had received dollar bills. I had a cheap tooth fairy.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:18 pm
by Reuben
2bizE wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 6:57 pm
Yobispo wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:51 pm
2bizE wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 3:45 pm
I have lost motivation to engage in the BoA and John Gee discussions. Now that I know what I know, it seems like arguing whether the tooth fairy is able to carry only coins or if it can also carry folding money.
Bills only, of course. Duh.
As a child, I only experienced the tooth fairy bringing a quarter or two. Much to my surprise, my wife had received dollar bills. I had a cheap tooth fairy.
I once left an IOU for one of my kids' teeth.

Maybe worse, once I left a drawing of a dollar bill. To be fair, though, my daughter had left a drawing of a tooth under her pillow, because she had swallowed the tooth in her sleep.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:01 pm
by Red Ryder
LSOF wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 2:06 pm
I've been out long enough that I've forgotten what GAEL stands for, and I had to open the thread to refresh my memory. :D
Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 5:34 pm
by 2bizE
blazerb wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 6:55 am
I have some thoughts that I'd like some feedback on from the more historically knowledgeable.

In a recent Mormon Stories episode, (https://www.mormonstories.org/podcast/1 ... s-project/)John Dehlin and Radio Free Mormon break down John Gee's attack on the Joseph Smith Papers Project for its handling of the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language, among other primary sources from the time. It seems to me that Gee just hasn't received the latest memos about how the GAEL is used in apologetics regarding the Kinderhook plates.

If I understand Gee's position correctly, he claims that the Book of Abraham is translated correctly from the Egyptian off a papyrus that we no longer have, perhaps it was destroyed a long time ago. This seems to be contradicted by the GAEL which shows symbols from the papyrus we have along with chunks of the BoA. Gee follows Hugh Nibley's explanation that the symbols were included by people other than JS who were trying to "reverse engineer" the BoA in order to get a way to translate other works in Egyptian. So, Gee has devised a timeline that keeps JS away from the development of the GAEL.

Besides being contradicted by other historical evidence, this ignores the latest from the Kinderhook plates. The current apologetics (https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Forg ... _Plates.22)around them says that the "translation" was just JS giving them a brief glance. He noticed a symbol on them that was similar to one of the symbols included in the GAEL. Thus, he used that symbol to come up with his meaning.

If Gee's position were correct, we have to wonder why JS didn't call in his scribes to say, "You donkey's patoots. You didn't even get symbols from the right scroll. Get rid of this immediately." I'm not sure how Gee would explain this because no one ever asks him. I predict a quiet retirement for Gee in the near future. I would like to know if my musings have any merit.
I completely agree with your predictions about Gee fading into retirement. He was purposefully left off the JS Papers project, which made him angry and jealous because they included Brian Haglund.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 7:58 am
by Hagoth
Gee really has no where to go except out to pasture. He certainly can't publish his BoA apologetics in any kind of real-world archeological or Egyptological journal and he has painted himself into a corner as only being employable by the Mormon church. When they decide they are done with him he's finished.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 11:28 am
by blazerb
I think the arguments between Gee and the JSPP and FAIRMormon can sound like debates about the tooth fairy. I do think that those at the JSPP and the historians who found the link between the GAEL and the Kinderhook plates are at least acknowledging some realities about the tooth fairy that get ignored by Gee and FAIR. Every serious historian I've ever read has some pretty nuanced views about Mormon truth claims. I think this is another aspect of the growing divide between the membership and the intellectuals in the church.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 9:02 am
by deacon blues
John Gee reminds me of Thomas Stewart Ferguson, before he finally figured out Zarahemla wasn't in Central America. With the help of the Joseph smith papyri, Ferguson was able to see past his biases. I'm not sure Gee will be able to do that; Too much pride to admit he mis-interpreted the data.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:09 pm
by Cnsl1
Well, not that I have much of an inclination or good understanding of the man to defend him, but I imagine that if he publicly admitted he's wrong and gave up his tenuous toe hold as the church's Abraham expert, he'd be in danger of losing his tenure and retirement. I imagine that one could come up with all kinds of rationalizations for disingenuous dialogue for the sake of taking care of your family, not to mention the best interests of the church.

We've a long history of lying for the Lord. Science be damned. It's true already, nothing to see here, just go do your ministering.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:52 am
by Hagoth
Cnsl1 wrote:
Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:09 pm
Well, not that I have much of an inclination or good understanding of the man to defend him, but I imagine that if he publicly admitted he's wrong and gave up his tenuous toe hold as the church's Abraham expert, he'd be in danger of losing his tenure and retirement.
Which is exactly why Brian Hauglid kept his mouth shut until after he retired. And people like Dan Peterson still tried to go after his pension. The Men Of God these guys work for/with are not all good people.

Re: John Gee and the GAEL

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:34 pm
by deacon blues
Excellent points. One advantage of being a (retired) music teacher was that I didn't offend people. I had one or two students who were JW's and I'd just release them from performing in the Christmas programs. But if I had been a history or science teacher, I might have run up against TBM parents who didn't like evolution or unbiased history. If Gee did change his mind about the BOA :o he would face all kinds of problems at BYU. :(
The Church despite its talk, walks a very retributive walk. :roll: