The Book of Breathings in Its Place
Michael D. Rhodes’s publication on the Hor Book of Breathings is an unusual book in many ways. It is a scholarly Egyptological work, dealing with an understudied type of text from an understudied era of Egyptian history, appearing in the midst of a series that has been dedicated to the exploration of a book considered to be scripture by the Latter-day Saints. Additionally, it deals with what many have incorrectly considered to be a text that can be used to test the revelatory ability of the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The nature of Rhodes’s publication raises questions, only some of which can be entertained here: What does Rhodes’s book claim to be? What is its value to the Egyptological community? What is its value to Latter-day Saint nonspecialist teachers of the scriptures, to the lay membership of the church, and to LDS Egyptologists?
The Contents of the Book and Its Value to the Egyptological Community
The simplest, and yet most lengthy, answer is to the question about the nature of the publication. Closely associated with this question is its value to the Egyptological community since the nature of the book makes it apparent that this group of scholars is its most immediate audience. Rhodes wisely addresses only Egyptological issues, leaving discussions of the relationship between this text and the Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith’s translation abilities, and other religious-centered topics for other more appropriate forums and venues. In this monograph Rhodes provides an admirable presentation of an ancient text. The Book of Breathings, also known as the snsn text, or a breathing permit, is an Egyptian text aimed at providing its owner with the knowledge, power, and transformation necessary to achieve a desired station in the afterlife. It is in the same tradition as the Book of the Dead, a more commonly used and usually larger collection of texts with essentially the same intent. The Book of Breathings increasingly replaced the Book of the Dead in the Theban area during the Ptolemaic and Roman eras of Egypt. The particular text Rhodes translates has certainly been the most controversial of the twenty-three extant books of its type. The text under study was owned by one Hor—a priest from an influential Theban family—and is contained on three fragments of papyri designated as Joseph Smith Papyri I, X, and XI, as well as on several small fragments glued next to other portions of the Joseph Smith Papyri.
While Books of Breathings have received remarkably little academic attention, the Hor Book of Breathings has received an incongruent amount of scrutiny and translations because of its unique place in a modern-day religion. Since the modern discovery of the Joseph Smith Papyri, the text has been translated by Richard A. Parker, Klaus Baer, Hugh W. Nibley, Robert K. Ritner (twice), and Michael D. Rhodes. As Ritner notes, Baer’s translation has served as a basis for all subsequent translations. Yet Baer himself affirmed that his translation was not a definitive edition but a preliminary study. As recently as the year 2000, Ritner wrote that a full formal edition of the text had not been published. Unfortunately, he declared this again in 2003, after an announcement of Rhodes’s publication had been made in a national meeting and after the publication had actually appeared. The Hor Book of Breathings is incontestably a full formal publication of the text, executed with a precision and scope that rivals the formal edition of any ancient text. It is now the standard publication of these fragments of the Joseph Smith Papyri.
In creating this edition of the text, Rhodes has maintained just enough mixing of older studies with recent scholarship to provide clarity without confusion. Unfortunately, as initial studies were made into Books of Breathings, there were misunderstandings about the Egyptian names for the texts, and the resulting Egyptological terms for them became somewhat confusing misnomers. Recently Marc Coenen has proposed a more precise terminology regarding Books of Breathings that is more reflective of the Egyptian names for the texts, a practice that is preferred when possible. Accordingly, Rhodes refers to Hor’s Book of Breathings as a “Book of Breathings Made by Isis” (p. 13), the exact term used by the ancients, thereby conforming to Coenen’s suggestions. Yet at the same time, Rhodes refers to the different fragments of the papyri by the numbers assigned to them in their initial publication in the Improvement Era, a numbering system that clearly does not reflect the textual sequence of the fragments themselves. While there are minor drawbacks to using this system, they are fewer than the disadvantages that would follow a renumbering of the texts. When Baer first published his translation, he suggested the Improvement Era‘s numbering system be followed until a definitive edition of the text was published. However, in the nearly thirty-four years between his statement and the appearance of Rhodes’s edition, the fragments have been referred to by the Improvement Era numbering system in so many publications that to change the designations now would result in far greater confusion than that which would result by numbering them in a manner reflective of their internal cohesion. Rhodes maintains the now standard system.
The book begins with a concise treatment of the necessary background information. Rhodes describes the discovery of the papyri, previous studies of the papyri, and their dating (pp. 1-3). While originally dated to the Roman period of Egypt, recent studies by Quaegebeur and Coenen point to the first half of the second century BC, during the Ptolemaic period. Coenen has since refined this suggestion by gaining a greater degree of certainty on who the owners of the papyri were. John Gee is currently in the process of clarifying and verifying the dating further. If Coenen’s dating is correct, then the Hor Book of Breathings is the earliest known version of a datable Book of Breathings, thereby increasing the importance of understanding this document.
Rhodes also includes a section on paleography, demonstrating that the style of signs used on the papyri matches most closely that of papyri from the Greco-Roman period (pp. 5-6). For the Egyptologist interested in paleographic transitions in the Late Period, this section is particularly useful—especially Rhodes’s highlighting of signs that are unlike Möller’s and his discussion of the use of a Demotic sign instead of its hieratic equivalent. He also provides a very short section on Late Period orthography, which is helpful to the specialist but of little use to most readers. This section is followed by a discussion of grammatical forms. Such a discussion is helpful for scholars or students of the Egyptian language, especially for those seeking to refine their understanding of Late and Middle Egyptian. As the dating of the papyri becomes more precise, the grammatical forms section will help us to better identify and understand trends such as the use of w for sn as a third-person plural suffix pronoun (p. 7) or n-im=s for the preposition im=s (p. 8). More information would be helpful for novice students of Egyptian, so that they will know if the forms Rhodes describes are unusual in Middle Egyptian for this time period (for example, the r + infinitive uses described on p. 9, among others, are typical of Middle Egyptian). In some cases this information is provided, such as when Rhodes notes that the r is often omitted in the r + infinitive form (p. 9), or when he describes the use of the Late Egyptian/Demotic pattern of inserting iw before the circumstantial sdm=f (p. 10). Even with these notes, a further summary of how much the grammatical forms differ from the norm for the time period would be a valuable contribution for the scholar. Rhodes supplies such a contribution for Greco-Roman vocabulary (p. 11) and, very informatively, in his list of scribal errors and additions (p. 11). This latter section carries with it the potential to make studies of scribal traditions possible. Future studies on textual criticism of Late Period afterlife books will be indebted to Rhodes for the work he has done. For most readers, this section will be meaningless, yet its value for the specialist not only justifies its inclusion but is part of what makes this such a sterling example of the correct way to publish a text.
In order to fit the text under translation into its proper context, Rhodes discusses what Books of Breathings are, explores the terminological question raised by Coenen, and gives a brief outline of the contents of Books of Breathings, also comparing the Hor Book of Breathings with a more complete version in the Louvre (pp. 13-16). This contextual information allows the reader to make a better assessment of the meaning of the translation.
Next Rhodes discusses the vignettes, providing also a reproduction of their associated hieroglyphic texts, along with their transliteration and translation. A more in-depth investigation of the transliteration and translation is provided in appendix H. For the initial vignette known as Facsimile 1, Rhodes outlines both what it has in common with similar vignettes and what is unique about this particular version (pp. 18-20). For both Egyptologists and other scholars, as well as for the general Latter-day Saint audience, such a comparison allows for a better understanding of the place that the vignette and the Joseph Smith Papyri hold among Books of Breathings. That this is the only copy of any Book of Breathings with this vignette and that the position of the hands and legs is unique for this type of vignette, as well other singular elements, allows for the type of comparison that may help scholars piece together the reason for its inclusion with these papyri and its relationship to similar scenes. Rhodes also refutes the proposition that the second hand of the deceased may instead be the remains of a wing tip (p. 19). While it may be true that Rhodes is able to make this assessment because he had access to the papyri and to better photos than those who have disagreed on this point, in the end that is part of the value of this publication: the descriptions are made by one who has had such access and are accompanied by photographs whose quality makes verification of his observations possible. Rhodes points out that the black skin of the standing figure in the vignette allows us to identify it with Anubis. Initial research shows that it is actually more common to picture Anubis with blue or flesh-colored skin than with black skin, but it is possible that black skin is most likely to appear on papyri dealing with funerary scenes. I am currently researching this matter and hope to provide even more comparative details regarding this aspect than those that Rhodes has already done.
In comparison with the discussion of Facsimile 1, the section on Facsimile 3 seems weak (p. 23), partially because the scene is less complicated. Moreover, the original has not survived, and less research has been done on this scene. Still, a clear need for conducting scholarly research into this type of vignette, along with its contexts, meanings, and uses, remains. The brevity of this section is reflective of the paucity of scholarly attention given to this type of scene in both Latter-day Saint and Egyptological studies overall. I expect Rhodes’s work will engender further research.
The transliteration and translation of the text are well done. The diacritical apparatuses are clearly explained, the divisions in the text are easy to work with, and the notes not only explain translation choices but compare this Book of Breathings with others, making further comparisons and analyses easier to perform. This translation has been done with an eye toward further research along a number of avenues, making it exactly what a critical publication of a text should be. This is equally the case with appendix A, which includes high-quality color photographs of the papyri that are labeled according to columns and are accompanied by hieroglyphic transcriptions of the hieratic text pictured on the photographs of the papyri. This effort is furthered by grayscale pictures of the papyri in appendix B. The grayscale photographs make some things more discernible than the color and vice versa—hence the importance of including both. The labeling of columns makes comparing the hieroglyphic transcription, the transliteration, and the translation much easier. Appendixes A and B must now be considered the standard reproductions of the papyri since they match the highest quality of any text publications in the discipline. If one had wanted to investigate the coloring of the Anubis-figure on Facsimile 1 in the past, determining the exact coloration would have been difficult. At this point it has become easy—the photographs in Rhodes’s publication are of such quality that one can be sure of the minutest shades of coloration. This is just one example of the many ways such reproductions will further future research.
In appendix C, Rhodes creates a chart that synchronizes the numbering systems of the papyri used by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Wilson, and by the Improvement Era (now the standard). While these differences can still be confusing, the chart will prove to be very helpful for those researching the history of publications regarding the papyri, thus avoiding further confusion. Appendix D is an excellent presentation of the hieratic text of Papyrus Louvre 3284, the most complete copy of a Book of Breathings Made by Isis, along with a hieroglyphic transcription. This is accompanied by appendix E, the translation of this text. Since the Hor Book of Breathings is fragmentary, a transcription and translation of this complete text provides the necessary broader contextual meaning for these documents. This translation and transcription, accompanied by the comparisons made in the footnotes of the translation of Joseph Smith Papyri I, X, and XI, clear the way for more comprehensive contextual studies and understandings of Books of Breathings, and of Late Period afterlife books in general. Appendix F’s list of other Books of Breathings Made by Isis, along with their owners’ names when known, provides further information for making broader textual and contextual comparisons. Because of the high quality of the reproduction of the text of Joseph Smith Papyri I, X, and XI, both in photographs and in transcriptions and translation, and because of all the broader contextual elements provided by Rhodes, no future study of Books of Breathings will be complete without taking this work into account; concomitantly, all future studies of Books of Breathings will be facilitated by this publication. This is also true of any future studies of Late Period afterlife books in general, as well as Late Period orthography, paleography, and grammar.
The “Glossary of Gods, Place Names, and Egyptian Terminology” will be helpful for examining this text. (After reading that Osiris will be brought to the great pool of Khonsu and then learning from the glossary that Khonsu is the Theban god of the moon, however, lay readers will probably still wonder what Khonsu’s great pool has to do with anything.) While the “Complete Glossary of Egyptian Words in the Hor Book of Breathings” will probably not be used by the specialist, it may help the scholar who possesses some familiarity with Egyptian and certainly makes the entire publication a potential study text for those learning Egyptian.
Furthermore, the work put into making and using fonts for transcription and transliteration of hieroglyphs should prove to be valuable in future publications, particularly for anyone publishing with FARMS or BYU in the future. It will hopefully be true of other Egyptologists as well. Too often these mechanical difficulties are worked out time and again by different people in different places with varying degrees of success. I encourage Egyptological scholars to take part in a dialogue with Rhodes and others who have grappled with this issue and to share experiences and resources to better deal with this vexing problem.
In summary, Rhodes’s book is a well-done critical publication of an ancient Egyptian text. Rhodes has maintained a scholarly tone throughout. The book has been created in such a way that it will be useful for ongoing and future research. Rhodes has been thorough and thoughtful in his compilation of tools necessary to examine not only the text itself but also its context.
Value to Various Latter-day Saint Audiences
The usefulness of The Hor Book of Breathings to the teacher of the scriptures and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be different from its value to Latter-day Saint Egyptologists and LDS scholars. While the former groups were clearly not the primary audience of this book, it still has some value for them. The sections of the book dealing with grammatical forms, orthography, and the transliterations will be of little use. The pictures of the papyri are of interest and can be valuable teaching aids. These, as well as the translation of the text—when coupled with Rhodes’s other works on the Book of Abraham and works by other scholars such as John Gee or Hugh Nibley—can round out a good understanding of the issues surrounding these papyri.
Perhaps the greatest value for the Saints stems from the mere existence of this book. We often underestimate the value of being public about our understanding of this text. The fact that a scholar understands what this text is, as well as the issues surrounding it, and does not find this to conflict with his faith as a Latter-day Saint speaks more eloquently than a dozen articles devoted to the subject. This publication makes a number of things apparent: Latter-day Saints understand what the Joseph Smith Papyri are; we are not hiding the contents of the papyri; we are very interested in what can be learned from the papyri; and these things are not incompatible with our faith in the restored gospel nor in the revelatory ability of Joseph Smith. Just a few weeks ago I was traveling from the Logan airport in Boston to Cambridge for the annual meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt. While in the airport shuttle I visited with other Egyptological scholars, one of whom was planning to mention something about the Joseph Smith Papyri in her presentation. She asked if anything was being “straightened out” about “those papyri.” In response, I showed her The Hor Book of Breathings, which I happened to have with me. Later that night, after a presentation, as I visited with a few Cambridge-area Latter-day Saint graduate students who had questions about the Joseph Smith Papyri, I also showed them the book. Both of these groups seemed to learn more from the existence of this publication than from its contents. A number of audiences can benefit from what Rhodes has done in this publication.
The smallest audience of The Hor Book of Breathings, that of LDS Egyptologists and like-minded scholars, may be the group with the greatest potential benefit from the publication. This group asks questions such as what is the relationship between these fragments, the rest of the Joseph Smith Papyri, and the Book of Abraham? Why would the Book of Abraham be interred with Egyptian mummies? What is the relationship between Egyptian traditions of representation and Abrahamic stories? What is the context of the interment of the papyri, and what light can that shed on why Egyptians had Jewish documents? What can these documents tell us about both the Book of Abraham and the gospel in Egypt? What is the relationship between the Jews of Egypt and these particular Egyptians, if any? Can we learn anything more about Abraham from the context of these papyri fragments? The Book of Breathings and Facsimile 1, as presented in Rhodes’s publication, may not be the key to answering these questions, but they may be a key. There is clearly a need to better understand the relationship of the Book of Abraham and the context from which it came; such an understanding will add to historical and religious studies. A better understanding of the Book of Breathings will help in this quest, especially if coupled with more extensive studies of Egyptian thought on the afterlife, with studies of this time period, and perhaps with specific studies on the genealogy of the owners of these papyri. Rhodes’s work will further research along all these lines.
Being able to examine a clear presentation of Facsimile 1, seeing how the Book of Breathings fits in with other afterlife books both historically and contextually, and searching for an understanding of the text itself takes us several steps forward. This book provides pieces to the puzzle so that as thinking progresses or as other pieces come to light (perhaps because of this study), those parts will more easily fall into place. The questions, both those listed above and those not yet posited, may thereby be more easily answered.
As Larry Morris has argued, a comparison of two nearly concurrent translations of the Hor Book of Breathings—those of Rhodes and Ritner—should be made. I have made such a comparison and have not found variations that would suggest a remarkably different interpretation of the document or its context. Yet some differences are worth noting, and I do so below. Entries in the chart below appear only if I felt the differences merited comment. (Most do not.) I do not note general preferences, such as Rhodes’s tendency to translate verbs in certain contexts as prospective as opposed to Ritner’s tendency to translate them as indicatives, where the graphemes allow either translation. Neither of these tendencies is right or wrong, and neither preference essentially changes the nature of the meaning of the translation. In the variations I note in the chart, sometimes the translations are equally meritorious. Where I feel one choice is preferable, I indicate that preference and provide an explanation. Differences are highlighted in boldfaced letters. Differences in reconstruction are occasionally noted.
|Rhodes’s Translation and Transliteration||Ritner’s Translation and Transliteration|
|JSP I 1/1||priest of Min, who massacres his enemieshm Mnw sm3 hrwy.w=f(p. 21)||prophet of Min who slaughters his enemieshm Mnw sm3 hrwy.w=f|
|JSP I 1/2-3||Hor, justified, the son of one of like titles, master of the secrets, god’s priest, Usirwer, justified, born of [the housewife, the musician of Amon-Re,] Taykhebyt.Hr, m3′ hrw, s3 mi nn, hry sšt3, w3b ntr, Wsir-wr, m3′ hrw, ir n nb[.t pr ihy.t n ‘Imn-r’,] T3hy-by.t.s (pp. 21, 23)||Hor, the justified, son of the similarly titled overseer of secrets and purifier of the god, Osorwer, the justified, born by the [housewife and sistrum-player of Amon]-Re, Taikhibit, the justified!Hr m3′-hrw s3 mi-nn hry-sšt3 ‘b ntr Wsir-wr m3′-hrw ir.n n[b.t-pr ihy.(t) n ‘Imn]-R’ T3y-hy-b(y).t m3’t-hrw|
|JSP I 1/4||. . . (pp. 21, 23)||[“O Anubis, . . .] justification[. . .] . . . m3′|
|JSP XI 1/6-7||. . . left arm near his heart, while the bearer of his coffin works on its outside.i3by=f mtr h(3)ty=f iw ir p(3) rmn t3y=f qris m p(3y)=s bnr (p. 27)||. . . left arm in the midst of his heart. The remainder of his wrapping shall be made over it.i3by n mtr h3.ty=f iw ir=w p(3) mn n t3y=f qris.(t) r p(3y)=s bnr|
|JSP XI 2/1||The beginning [of the Document of Breathing], which [Isis] made [for her brother . . .]h3.t-‘ m [š'(.t) sn]sn ir. [n s.t n sn=s . . .] (p. 28)||Beginning of the [Breath]ing [document] that [Isis] made [for her brother . . .]h3.t-‘ m [š’y.t n sns]n ir.t[.n s.t n sn=s . . .]|
|JSP XI 2/3||. . . Osiris Hor, justified [born of Taykhebyt, justified.]Wsir Hr, m3′-hrw, ms.[n T3y-hy-by.t, m3′-hrw.] (p. 28)||Osiris Hor, the justified, son [of . . . Osorwer, the justified, born of Taikhibit, the justified.]Wsir hr, m3′-hrw, s[3 . . . Wsir-wr m3′-hrw ms.n T3y-hy-by.t, m3′.t-hrw]|
|JSP XI 2/3||Hide (it)! Keep (it) secret!h3p sp 2, imn sp 2. (p. 28)||Hide [it! Hide it!]h3[p sp-2]|
|JSP XI 2/5||[ . . . your front is in] (a state of ) purity . . .h3t=k m] w’b (p. 28)||[ . . . Your front is in] a state of purity . . .h3t=k m] ‘bw|
|JSP XI 2/7-8||May Wadjet and Nekhbet purify you in the fourth hour of the night and the [fourth] hour [of the day]. (p. 29)||Edjo and Nekhbet have purified you in the third hour of night and in the third hour [of day].|
|JSP X 3/1||. . . may] your name [endure] and may your body last, then [your mummy] will flourish.mn] rn=k, dd h3.t=k rwt.hr [s’h=k (p. 29)||May your name [end]ure, may your corpse abide, and may your mummy thrive.m]n rn=k d[d] h3.t=k rwd s3h=k|
|JSP X 3/3||. . . Your flesh is on] bones, made like your form on earth.h’.t=k hr] qs.w<=k> irw mi q(i)=k h-tp t3. (p. 30)||[Your flesh is on] your bones in accordance with the form that you had on earth.h’.w=k hr] qs.w=k mi qi=k hr-tp t3|
|JSP X 3/6||. . . your heart being the heart of Re, and your limbs . . .ib=k ib n R’, h’.t=k (p. 30)||Your heart is the heart of Re; your flesh . . .ib=k ib n R’ iwf=k|
|JSP X 4/7||You] have arisen in your formiw=k] h’.tw m ti.t=k (p. 32)||. . . appearing gloriously in your proper form.iw=k] h’.tw m qd=k|
|JSP X 4/9||. . . your ka, may it live, prosper, and be healthy. May the Document of Breathing cause you to flourish.k3=k ‘nh, wd3, snb. 
||. . . your ka-spirit and has made you flourish by means of the Breathing Document.k3=k sw3d=f tw=k m š3.t snsn|
|JSP X 4/10-11||May you enter into the god’s [very] great hall in Busiris . . . (p. 32)||[Come,] may you enter into the very great embalming [booth] in Busiris.|
For examples of those who have asserted this, see Edward H. Ashment, “Reducing Dissonance: The Book of Abraham as a Case Study,” in The Word of God: Essays on Mormon Scripture, ed. Dan Vogel (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990), 221-36; Grant S. Heward and Jerald Tanner, “The Source of the Book of Abraham Identified,” Dialogue 3/2 (1968): 92-97; and Jerald Tanner and Sandra Tanner, “Solving the Mystery of the Joseph Smith Papyri,” Salt Lake City Messenger, September 1992. For other points of view, see John Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000); and Hugh Nibley, “The Meaning of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers,” BYU Studies 11/4 (1971): 350-99.
Marc Coenen, “The Dating of the Papyri Joseph Smith I, X and XI and Min Who Massacres His Enemies,” in Egyptian Religion: The Last Thousand Years, Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Jan Quaegebeur, ed. Willy Clarysse, Antoon Schoors and Harco Willems (Louvain: Peeters, 1998), 2:1103.
Richard A. Parker, “The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: Translations and Interpretations: The Book of Breathings (Fragment 1, The ‘Sensen’ Text, with Restorations from Louvre Papyrus 3284),” Dialogue 3/2 (1968): 98-99.
Klaus Baer, “The Breathing Permit of Hôr: A Translation of the Apparent Source of the Book of Abraham,” Dialogue 3/3 (1968): 109-34.
Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2005). The first edition, published by Deseret Book, appeared in 1975.
Robert K. Ritner, “‘The Breathing Permit of Hôr’ Thirty-four Years Later,” Dialogue 33/4 (2000): 97-119; and Ritner, “The ‘Breathing Permit of Hôr’ among the Joseph Smith Papyri,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 62/3 (2003): 161-80; these are not really two translations but basically a reproduction of the same translation twice with slightly different commentary and prologue. For a review of these articles, see Larry E. Morris, “The Book of Abraham: Ask the Right Questions and Keep on Looking,” FARMS Review 16/2 (2004): 355-80.
Ritner, “‘Breathing Permit of Hôr’ Thirty-four Years Later,” 98.
Baer, “Breathing Permit of Hôr,” 111.
Ritner, “‘Breathing Permit of Hôr’ Thirty-four Years Later,” 98.
Ritner, “‘Breathing Permit of Hôr’ among the Joseph Smith Papyri,” 163.
Rhodes presented his research and plans for publication in April 2002 at the annual American Research Center in Egypt conference held in Baltimore.
See, for example, Jean-Claude Goyon, Rituels funéraires de l’ancienne Égypte (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1972).
Marc Coenen, “Books of Breathings: More Than a Terminological Question?” Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica 26 (1995): 29-38.
“New Light on Joseph Smith’s Egyptian Papyri,” Improvement Era, February 1968, 40.
Baer, “Breathing Permit of Hôr,” 110.
Jan Quaegebeur, “Books of Thoth Belonging to Owners of Portraits? On Dating Later Hieratic Funerary Papyri,” in Portraits and Masks: Burial Customs in Roman Egypt, ed. Morris L. Bierbrier (London: British Museum, 1997), 74.
Coenen, “Dating of the Papyri Joseph Smith I, X and XI,” 2:1103-15.
Marc Coenen, “Horos, Prophet of Min Who Massacres His Enemies,” Chronique d’Égypte 74 (1999): 257-60.
Others are likely older but cannot be as securely dated.
See Georg Möller, Hieratische Paläographie (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1936), vol. 3.
This is exactly the kind of information that would make possible an Egyptian equivalent to works like Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), or Frederick J. Mabie, “Ancient Near Eastern Scribes and the Mark(s) They Left” (PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2004).
This is not the case with Ritner’s articles in Dialogue and Journal of Near Eastern Studies (JNES). Given the tenor of the Dialogue article, it is not surprising that Ritner’s JNES article continues with his caustic and thoroughly unscholarly tone. In any peer review done for a good journal, one is asked if the author maintains the canons of good scholarship, including the lack of personal attack and vituperative language. Clearly Ritner’s JNES article did not meet this standard, and yet the editors of JNES allowed its inclusion in their journal, thus neglecting to perform fully their editorial mandate.
For example, Michael D. Rhodes, “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus . . . Seventeen Years Later” (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1994); or Rhodes, “Teaching the Book of Abraham Facsimiles,” Religious Educator 4/2 (2003): 115-24.
For example, see John Gee, “A Tragedy of Errors,” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 4 (1992): 93-119; Gee, “Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence of the Joseph Smith Papyri,” in The Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, ed. Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000): 175-217; and John Gee and Stephen D. Ricks, “Historical Plausibility: The Historicity of the Book of Abraham as a Case Study,” in Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2001), 63-98.
For example, see Hugh Nibley, “The Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham: A Response,” Sunstone, December 1979, 49-51; and Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2000).
Morris, “Ask the Right Questions,” 357.
While the translations are essentially the same and the transliterations are identical, in his footnotes Ritner describes the glyphs incorrectly. He writes, in note 44, that hrwy.w=f is written “with knife, oar, plural strokes, enemy determinative, and flesh-sign (for =f).” However, the glyphs on the papyrus are the “s-cloth,” the sickle (Gardner sign-list U1), the lung and windpipe (Gardner sign-list F36), plural strokes, enemy determinative, and flesh sign for =f. It is difficult to know if this misreading is due to the quality of photographs Ritner used, which are from Charles M. Larson, By His Own Hand upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri (Grand Rapids, MI: Institute for Religious Research, 1992), or to not actually looking at the glyphs themselves, or for some other reason.
The fragment is somewhat broken here, but a comparison of the color and grayscale photographs makes it appear that Rhodes’s transliteration and translation are preferable here. In this case we see a leg, surmounted by a water pot pouring water over a horn. Normally the pot pours water over the horn, with the leg nearby, or the pot is atop the leg pouring water, but not over the horn. The particular arrangement present in this text is not addressed either in Adolf Erman and Hermann Grapow, Das Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1926-63), or in Rainer Hannig, Grosses Handwörterbuch Ägyptisch-Deutsch (2800-950 v. Christus): Die Sprache der Pharaonen (Mainz: von Zabern, 1995), but is in Raymond O. Faulkner, A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian (Oxford: Griffith Institute, 1986), which seems to have taken into account the various places in which this form appears. While the water pot being poured over the horn by itself (Gardiner sign-list F17) is usually transliterated as ‘b, when the water pot is atop a leg (Gardiner sign-list D60), as is done here, it is usually transliterated as w’b, and thus translated as “priest.” Rhodes translates this as “priest,” and the printing of w3b instead of w’b seems to be a mechanical oversight, given the translation Rhodes provides.
Ritner’s addition of “the justified” is not in the hieroglyphic text.
As Morris, “Ask the Right Questions,” 361, has pointed out, here Ritner provides a reconstruction with essentially no explanation, failing to note that Baer and others felt that a reconstruction was not wise, and then proceeded to use his reconstruction in an argument against Gee that is of little or no meaning in the first place. It is interesting to note that Ritner does not make the reconstruction in his transliteration.
The “t” transliterated by Ritner does appear to be in the papyrus text. Rhodes translates it as a relative (the “t” would indicate thus), and in his hieroglyphic transcription he includes the “t loaf.”
Here Ritner sees the word s3 where Rhodes does not. The characters support Rhodes’s reading, although it is extremely difficult to make out the characters here. However, the physical space for the missing text (given the reconstructions of lines 4 and 5) seems to indicate there is more to be reconstructed than Rhodes provides. While Ritner’s reconstruction seems to make sense, he provides no evidence, and the initial character does not support his proposal.
Here Rhodes notes a word missed by Ritner.
In this case, the sign indicates only the water pot being poured over the horn, thus suggesting that the transliteration should be ‘b as opposed to w’b.
On the papyrus, this section is poorly preserved. When the hour of the night is mentioned, it looks as if three strokes are present, indicating that it was the third hour, though there may be remains of a fourth stroke. When the hour of the day is mentioned (which should be the same number as that for the night), the section is very poorly preserved, and yet the remnants of four strokes seem to be barely discernible. Reconstruction from other Books of Breathings is not possible, since other hours, such as the eighth or ninth hour, are listed. Thus, we can draw no firm conclusion as to which hour is represented in this papyrus.
This is probably a hr.
Here the transliteration s’h is preferable to s3h because the former translates as “mummy,” which makes the most sense, and since it matches parallel texts.
The papyrus text includes irw here, though this is different from parallel texts and is difficult to make sense of grammatically. While Ritner leaves it out, Rhodes includes it in his transliteration, makes sense of it in the translation, and includes a note as to the difficulty of dealing with the grapheme and what he has done with it. The latter treatment is preferable.
Here Ritner notes that Nibley had transliterated this according to P. Louvre 3284 and not according to JSP X, which has a parallel in P. Louvre 3291. Rhodes apparently follows Nibley and P. Louvre 3284. After a careful examination of how the scribe in JSP X draws the “f snake” (Gardiner sign-list I9) and the “flaxen cord” (Gardiner sign-list V28), as well as looking at the characters before the one in question and at the end of the papyrus fragment just after it, it seems to me that Ritner is correct in his transliteration, and that this scribe has used the iwf variant.
Here the papyrus text indicates that qd=k is the correct transliteration, as Ritner argues. The curious thing is that in his hieroglyphic transcription, Rhodes records the glyphs for qd=k, but in his transliteration he writes ti.t=k.
While Ritner complains about Nibley’s transliteration and translation here, Nibley, and now Rhodes in turn, have included a full transliteration of this section. Ritner does not account for all of the signs in his transliteration and leaves out the standard formula for life, prosperity, and health that is written on this papyrus (though it does not appear on parallel texts). Rhodes notes this variation, accounts for all of the signs, and restores the “s” in sw3d.tw=k that was omitted due to haplography.
Either translation is valid.