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By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus Part 8

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By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus Part 8

A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri — Part 8 (Appendix, Part 2 and Notes)
Charles M. Larson

Brown's Charge No. 5: The Tanners knew of Nelson's false credentials ... the Tanners had the most to gain from pushing Nelson into the forefront with regards to the Book of Abraham, and little to lose if Nelson crashed (p. 154, 160-163, and elsewhere).

What the Browns are implying here is that the Tanners (and other "anti-Mormon elements") found Nelson to be such a desirable part of their "false case against the Book of Abraham" that they would have hated to see anything come up that would "weaken" that case for them. (This, of course, reflects their own belief that the credibility of any challenge to the Book of Abraham somehow rests upon the credibility of Nelson.) But in making reference to Nelson, the Browns point out there was one way in which the Tanners had always been different from everyone else. Under the headline DID THE TANNERS SUPPRESS THE TRUTH ABOUT DEE JAY NELSON? they write:

While this author was reading all the information about Dee Jay Nelson, it occurred to me that the Tanners were the only anti-Mormon propagandists that didn't refer to Nelson as 'Prof.' or 'Dr.' Nelson. We thought it quite strange that with all the publicity surrounding Nelson, they would be the only ones not to fall for his phony credentials. Every other writer referred to Nelson as 'Dr.' or 'Prof.' Nelson when quoting him (p. 160).

A letter from Sandra Tanner is then shown that is dated January 3, 1981 -- well after Nelson's false credentials had been exposed -- in which she wrote, "By the way, we never claimed he was a Ph.D .... all he claimed to us was he was self-taught."

The Browns are unable to view this situation as a case of the Tanners having merely made a successful effort to be accurate. Instead, they see their failure to make use of Nelson's false credentials as incriminating evidence that they were aware of them, and that they attempted to cover up the entire matter in order, presumably, to continue using the "strength" of Nelson for their "false case." The Tanners could hope, perhaps, that the subject would never be noticed or become an issue, but if it ever did they could blithely state that "we never claimed he was a Ph.D." -- thus letting themselves off the hook. The Browns then demand:

Sandra, why did you keep it a secret from everybody? For the past three years [as of the Browns' writing in July, 1981], all over the country and especially in Utah, Nelson has been advertising his false degree as well as his other false credentials. Have you never heard his wild claims? (p. 161)

Following this they observe that "putting a little pressure on the scales of checks and balances helps make people honest," and point out that Tanners' book Changing World of Mormonism, which had gone through two printings in 1980, had been revised for its third (1981) printing. Nelson's use of false credentials was discovered, the new edition said, following the Tanners' own investigation, and therefore he was no longer being quoted by them.

This prompted the Browns to raise another headline question, WHY ALL OF A SUDDEN DID THE TANNERS DECIDE TO INVESTIGATE NELSON? which they answer as follows:

In making the above revision, the Tanners also received encouragement from the Moody Bible Institute which published their book ... This author, in the latter part of 1980, sent information about Dee Jay Nelson to Moody Press. A call to Moody Press indicated that the material had been passed on to Jerald and Sandra Tanner with the instructions to revise the section concerning Dee Jay Nelson ... Between the Moody Press and us, it looks like the Tanners had no choice but to come clean (p. 161).

Again, the Browns emphasize the importance of what they believe to be their own role in this:

... when Moody Press discovered the truth about Dee Jay Nelson (with help from this author), they insisted that the Tanners remove references to him (p. 163).

Thus, according to the Browns, we are asked to see three things:

1. The Tanners knew of Nelson's false credentials, and deliberately failed to expose them so that they might continue taking advantage of Nelson as an "authority."
2. The Tanners never used Nelson's false credentials themselves, so that if they were ever uncovered by anyone they could plead ignorance.
3. The Browns "put[ting] a little pressure" on the Tanners by providing information on Nelson to Moody Press in the latter part of 1980, is what then forced the Tanners to "come clean" in a "hastily revised" edition of their book.

What is wrong with the above picture? Practically everything! The first point is clearly totally subjective. The Browns, caught up in their own bitterness and suspicion towards any and all so-called "anti-Mormon propagandists," apparently cannot help but ascribe ulterior motives to the "elements" that they see as being a part of their "anti-Mormon" conspiracy. The same is true of the second point; one suspects that if the Tanners had picked up on and repeated Nelson's self-awarded academic titles, the Browns would have criticized them for doing so -- just as they criticized other non-Mormons (but never Mormons!) throughout their book for falling for them. Moreover, the Browns fail to take into account the simple fact that the Tanners' writings about Nelson were all pretty much completed with their 1972 edition of Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? at least six years before Nelson began claiming to have earned a Ph.D. In it they generally referred to him as ''the Mormon Egyptologist, Dee Jay Nelson.'' Since the Browns take at least as great exception to Nelson's unwarranted use of the title ''Egyptologist'' (which turns out to be one of the points their book does an effective job of demonstrating) as they do to ''Dr.'' or ''Professor,'' should they not in fairness be able to concede that the Tanners evidently did, in fact, fall for his phony credentials, just as others had?

The third point, though is an objective claim that can be examined and tested. Did the Tanners suddenly decide to investigate Nelson, and subsequently disassociate themselves from him, as a result of the Browns having contacted Moody Press in the latter part of 1980?

Again, material that can be found in the Browns' own book proves otherwise. Furthermore, as we shall see, there were also other materials, both in the Browns' possession or available to them, to establish the fact that the Tanners were responsible for initiating their own investigation into Nelson's credentials, and that, in fact, they were the first to prove that Nelson had received a bogus Ph. D. from a diploma mill.

Let us begin by looking at ''the latter part of 1980.''

On Saturday, November 1, 1980, the Mesa Tribune (Mesa, Arizona) ran a full page paid advertisement that was placed by a group called ''Concerned Christians of Mesa.'' This advertisement (reproduced in the Brown's book on pp. 250-252) attempted to establish among other things, that Nelson's papyri translations and overall treatment of Egyptian were valid, and that therefore the question of Nelson's academic credentials ''had no bearing on his ability to speak as a witness to and a translator of the papyri in question.''

Robert Brown prepared a rebuttal to this article, which also was published in the Mesa Tribune (though no date is given), and which is shown in the Brown's book on pages 254-263. Here he chided the ''Concerned Christians'' group for continuing to appeal to Nelson's work (though he did note that they had stopped referring to him as ''Dr.'' Nelson) since Jerald and Sandra Tanner, ''the most outspoken of the anti-Mormon groups in the U.S., were suddenly prompted to disown Nelson because he could not prove his credentials'' (p. 255). To underscore his point, Mr. Brown then went on to explain:

The Tanners had written a six-page, single spaced letter to Nelson asking him to explain his credentials. If the Tanners have chosen to disassociate themselves from Nelson, it would seem logical that the people of this area should also question the validity of his statements. A copy of their letter was voluntarily sent to me by the Tanners. Excerpts are shown below ... (Ibid, emphasis added)

Mr. Brown reproduces on pages 256-258 of his book some five pages of this six-page letter from the Tanners, along with a second one-page letter (from Jerald Tanner), as he had prepared them to appear in his Tribune article.

While it is interesting, in light of the Browns' persistent allegation that the Tanners were involved in a conspiracy to suppress the whole Nelson affair, that Mr. Brown admits that "a copy of their letter was voluntarily sent to me by the Tanners," the letter itself is even more revealing. First, the letter is dated March 11, 1980. This is less than three weeks after Nelson's lectures were given in Arizona, during which the Browns first decided to investigate him. This does very little to aid the Browns' contention that the Tanners were forced to act on the basis of something the Browns did "in the latter part" of that same year. Rather, it indicates that the Tanners, with no outside pressure from anyone (including Moody Press or the Browns), acted on their own initiative to investigate Nelson's claims as soon as it came to their attention -- just as the Browns themselves did. It is no more appropriate to insinuate that the Tanners should have become suspicious of Nelson earlier than they did, than it would be to charge that the Browns should have noticed his false claims earlier than they did.

Second, contrary to any "conspiracy" notion of the Browns,' Jerald Tanner is quoted as bringing up repeated instances of discrepancies to Nelson regarding his experiences and credentials, particularly in regards to his "Ph.D." and the school from which he supposedly obtained it, and insisting upon receiving some satisfactory answers from him. At one point in the letter, Tanner writes:

It is now March 12 as I finish the last part of this letter. As I indicated at the beginning, it now appears that you do not have a legitimate doctoral degree. Even if you have a piece of paper making such a claim it apparently does not amount to anything.

I must confess that I feel disappointed and sad because of this whole matter . . . In any case, I feel it is my obligation to make this information available to the public. I will, therefore, probably be printing hundreds or even thousands of copies of this letter to distribute to the general public. I am convinced that our case against the Book of Abraham is absolutely devastating, and I would not want to weaken it in any way by trying to cover up or remain silent concerning such an important matter.

... Even though I still believe in the general accuracy of your translation and conclusions concerning the Joseph Smith Papyri, I will not be reprinting any of the books. (letter by Jerald Tanner dated March 11, 1980, as shown on pp. 257-258 of Browns' book, emphasis added.)

All of this hardly supports the Browns' theory that the Tanners were trying to "hide" things for their own benefit. The copy of this letter which Mr. Brown received, and which he admits was "voluntarily sent" to him, was part of the "hundreds or even thousands" of copies that the Tanners distributed in their effort to "make this information available to the public."

A third interesting point is shown in the second, one-page letter the Browns reproduce on page 258, which shows that the Tanners' investigation was already close to being completed by March 20, 1980. This letter (bearing that date) was also among the material that the Tanners "voluntarily sent" to Brown, and which was being freely distributed by the thousands. In it Tanner told Nelson:

On the 18th we received the certificate which purports to be your diploma ... After examining the diploma and the other paper you included, we became suspicious that this was not a genuine university. Sandra contacted a noted educator from the University of Utah, who in turn called the Executive Secretary of the Northwestern Association of Schools and Colleges in Washington. He learned from him that Pacific Northwestern University was only a 'diploma mill' which the Federal Government had investigated for mail fraud ...

In conclusion it appears that your claim to a doctor's degree in anthropology cannot be substantiated ... (Ibid., dated March 20, 1980)

The Tanners did much more than merely write and distribute these letters, though. By the first part of April, 1980, they had written an article exposing Nelson's false credentials, published it beginning on page 7 in their newsletter Salt Lake City Messenger for that month, and mailed out approximately 10,000 copies of that paper -- including a copy sent to Moody Press, publishers of their book Changing World of Mormonism. With some adaptations, this article became the basis of the revision that appeared in the 3rd printing of the book the following year.

Thus, if the Browns "forced the Tanners to come clean" by sending material to Moody "in the latter part of 1980," as they claim, how is it that the Tanners were declaring to Nelson their intention to print and distribute "hundreds or thousands" of copies of letters exposing him as early as March; or how is it that by the end of March the Tanners had already discovered the truth behind Nelson's "diploma" and "school" if they were "all of a sudden" prompted to investigate several months later by the Browns; and how is it that the Tanners' newsletter exposed Nelson in April, in the early part of 1980, if the Browns were responsible for "putting a little pressure on the scales of checks and balances" to "make them honest" late in the year? That the Browns could even make such a claim is altogether incredible, especially when they could so easily check the date on the letter the Tanners provided them!

It is also quite likely that the Browns had at some point prior to this obtained their own copy of the Tanners' expose of Nelson in the April issue of Salt Lake City Messenger, as well, since a portion of that article read:

... We contacted a noted educator from the University of Utah who checked with Dr. James Bemis, Executive Director of the Higher Commission of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, and found that Pacific Northwestern University was only a 'diploma mill of the worst kind.' We confirmed this report by calling the U.S. Postal Department in Seattle and the King County Attorney's Office. (Salt Lake City Messenger, April, 1980, p. 7. More information concerning this matter will be sent to the reader by the publisher free by upon request.)

The "information sent free upon request" which the Tanners mention, included the letters the Browns partially reproduced in their book. The only way the Tanners would have been able to send them was if the Browns had requested them, and the most obvious way for the Browns to have found out how to request them would be through the Tanners' April Messenger. If the Browns were aware of this early exposure, to suggest that the Tanners did nothing about Nelson until forced to by Moody Press at the instigation of the Browns is nothing less than an outright misrepresentation.

Going back to these letters for a moment, or more particularly to the longer one, the one dated March 11, the reader will recall that we mentioned the Browns reproduced approximately five pages of material from what was originally a six-page letter. What about the portion they did not include? Was it merely a repetition of areas already covered, innocuously left out to conserve space? Or was there another reason the letter was trimmed?

Material the Brown's Withheld

A look at the omitted portion of Jerald Tanner's letter (see pp. 214,215), though, shows that the Browns apparently have practiced what amounts to a double standard when it comes to withholding information. Note that virtually everything mentioned in the portion of this letter which the Browns withheld, is damaging to the view of things their book presents. For instance:

First, it makes detailed reference (in paragraphs 1-5) to "Dr. Webb," the man with the bogus Ph.D. that for many years LDS authorities endorsed and supported for his "defense" of Joseph Smith's work. The Brown's entire premise loses its moral force when we learn that "a disreputable man with false credentials" defended the Book of Abraham, and that he was hired to do so on behalf of the LDS Church authorities, who were fully aware of the deception!

Second, it demonstrates that Hugh Nibley went on record as defending "Webb" (paragraphs 6, 7) on the basis of the position that not only his credentials, but even his true name was completely irrelevant in relation to what it was he said. Again, this argument is exactly opposite the one used by the Browns to justify their condemnation of Nelson's views of the papyri.

Third, it spells out in very precise terms (paragraphs 8, 9) the fact that Nibley considered Nelson's initial work with the papyri to be "usable and reliable," a point which the Browns did mention on page 111 of their book but which is here placed in a context that is much more difficult for them to obscure.

Fourth, the letter emphasizes the point (in paragraph 10) that the Tanners consider any work by Nelson to be quite incidental to the case against the Book of Abraham, and that others -- including Baer, Wilson, and Parker -- have all the "authority" necessary to use as evidence in that case. While each of these points represents an area that the Browns either failed to address successfully in their book or else neglected to deal with at all, the first one would seem to be by far the most damaging to them. Thus, by omitting the portion of Tanner's letter that mentions "Webb," the bogus Ph.D. that defended the Book of Abraham, the Browns are not only free to attack Nelson, the phony Ph.D. that was critical of it, they are also free to create an image of "anti-Mormon" deception and cover-up as well. In order to do this convincingly, however, their readers must be kept ignorant of the entire matter. To do this, it was necessary to suppress this particular portion of Tanner's letter to Nelson, which included statements like the following:

If I were to overlook misrepresentation on the part of non-Mormon writers I would be operating on a double standard. You will no doubt remember what we wrote about 'Dr. Webb' -- the great defender of the Mormon faith ... (Tanner to Nelson, first paragraph of omitted portion of March 11, 1980 letter)


If it turns out that you do not have a Dr.'s degree, honesty would demand that I make a public statement to that effect. Otherwise, I would find myself in the same position as the Mormon leaders who concealed the true identity of 'Dr. Webb' ... (Ibid., paragraph 5)


I doubt that the Mormon Church leaders will ever have the courage to directly attack you concerning the issue of credentials because of their use and support of 'Dr. Webb.' Even Dr. Hugh Nibley defended 'Dr. Webb' ... (Ibid., paragraph 6)


At any rate, even though the Mormon Church will probably remain silent concerning your credentials,* I feel that my conscience will not allow me to keep silent if there is a problem ... (Ibid., paragraph 8)

And, as we have seen, Tanner did not keep silent. Within two weeks of writing this letter, enough proof of Nelson's fraudulent credentials had been gathered by the Tanners to expose him fully -- a point which the Browns have not only overlooked, but have obscured and misrepresented.

There are still other instances where the Browns have used their book knowingly and deliberately to suppress information that would otherwise discredit their own representations -- and one in particular is even more flagrant than the one we just discussed. It too goes back to one of the statements that appeared in the "Concerned Christians" article we mentioned earlier, and can be found in the Browns' book on page 251: "Thomas Stuart Ferguson, a Mormon lawyer and founder of the New World Archaeological Foundation, has lost faith in the Joseph Smith translation [of the Book of Abraham] and Mormonism ... '' (excerpt from Concerned Christians of Mesa article)

Brown's Claim No. 6: Ferguson remained a convinced Mormon until his death. Robert Brown took exception to this point due to the fact that Nelson had made a similar comment during his lecture in Mesa several months earlier, but since that time the Browns had come up with something which they believed to be proof to the contrary. In his rebuttal, Brown wrote:

We contacted Mr. Ferguson and in a letter to us dated October 23, 1980, he states: 'I do not recall ever meeting Dee Jay Nelson or ever corresponding with him. I am an active member of the Mormon Church and always have been.' (from Brown's undated rebuttal in the Mesa Tribune, as shown on p. 261 of his book)

On the surface this letter does give one the impression that Mr. Ferguson was still a "believer" since he described himself as an "active Mormon." The fact remains, however, that Thomas Ferguson no longer believed the cardinal truths of Mormonism, as his letters on pages 178-183 of this book reveal. It would be wrong to fault the Browns on this point, however, because when Robert Brown responded to the "Concerned Christians" article it is unlikely that they had ever seen Ferguson's other letters.

At just about the same time -- in the "latter part of 1980" -- the Browns also sent their material about Nelson to Moody Press, and included a copy of their letter from Ferguson, since the Tanners had also been among those who had previously mentioned his lack of belief in Mormonism.

Contrary to what the Browns indicate in their book, Moody Press did not become alarmed about the "Nelson affair" at this point and subsequently insist the Tanners produce a "hastily revised" section for their own book. The Tanners, after all, had already provided Moody with a copy of their own expos?of Nelson several months earlier, and at that time the revision was well along, if not already completed. Moody did forward the Browns' concerns to the Tanners, though, and included what was then to them a new objection -- the letter from Ferguson.

The Tanners responded by sending to both Moody Press and to the Browns, on December 8, 1980, copies of a number of Thomas Stuart Ferguson's personal letters to close friends or acquaintances that they had collected over the years (see pp. 178-183 of this book) .

By the second week in December of 1980, then, the Browns had in their possession information showing that the Tanners, "Concerned Christians" -- and even Nelson -- had all been telling the truth about Thomas Stuart Ferguson no longer believing that the Mormon religion was true or of God. How did the Browns respond to this information?

When the first edition of their book was published in July, 1981, the Browns printed a full-page copy of their letter from Ferguson on page 228, and on the page immediately preceding it they made this statement: THOMAS STUART FERGUSON IS OFTEN REFERRED TO BY JERALD & SANDRA TANNER AND OTHER ANTI-MORMON WRITERS AS A STALWART MORMON, DEFENDER OF THE BOOK OF MORMON, AUTHOR AND LECTURER OF THE LDS CHURCH, THAT HAS LOST HIS FAITH IN MORMONISM AND JOSEPH SMITH. DOES THIS LETTER SOUND THAT WAY TO YOU?

Ferguson's other letters, the ones sent to Browns by the Tanners, are ignored completely, as though the Browns had no knowledge of them, or they had never existed.

This same example of what is thus characterized as an "anti-Mormon lie" is emphasized two other times in their book, as well -- once in a comment they make upon a remark by Nelson from his lecture on page 149, and again on page 261 when they reprint Robert Brown's response to the "Concerned Christians" article.

Why would the Browns -- or anyone else -- do this? What real difference could it possibly make to them what one man happens to believe or not believe? Were they simply so intent upon discrediting the claims of "anti-Mormons" that they did not care if there was actually validity to those claims? Perhaps part of the answer lies in just what Thomas Stuart Ferguson represented, and continues to represent, in the eyes of many Latter-day Saints.

The reader will recall that Ferguson was, among other things, an LDS writer, and that the major focus of his writing was his effort to link ancient American legends, prehistory, and archaeology to the themes of the Book of Mormon.

One of the more successful subjects he helped to popularize involved the sixteenth-century legends of Ixtlilxochitl, and the "feathered serpent" of Aztec lore, the mythical god Quetzacoatl. This Quetzacoatl, he attempted to demonstrate, was actually Jesus Christ during his visit to the Americas following his crucifixion -- a prominent Book of Mormon theme. There have been other LDS writers who have used the same treatment of Quetzacoatl, but Ferguson did so more convincingly than any of them, and his writings, though they are no longer in print, were eagerly accepted. The concepts he presented became enormously useful to the Church's missionary effort, as well as being helpful in establishing or strengthening the "testimonies" of members.

Though Ferguson's own letters show that he privately rejected such ideas later on, the LDS Church certainly never has. In the minds of many Latter-day Saints, Quetzacoatl is a tangible link between something recognized by the world and something appreciated only by themselves. A visitor to Salt Lake City today can go to Temple Square and view a film presentation of "Christ in America" which features the legend of Quetzacoatl as sober fact.

Where does this leave the Browns? Though their book is primarily an attempt to defend the Book of Abraham, they have also made an effort to provide at least a few tantalizing bits of "evidence" to support the Book of Mormon, as well. Thus, when reviewing and commenting upon their transcription of some of the points raised during Nelson's Mesa lecture, they end up discussing and promoting Ixtlilxochitl and Quetzacoatl, along with other sources that Ferguson had written about. And since Ferguson was so closely associated with these particular "intellectual approaches" to creating credibility for the Book of Mormon, and could even be considered an expert regarding them, the Browns must have realized that it would be disconcerting to many Latter-day Saints who felt that their testimonies had been strengthened by such things, to discover that the man who had helped popularize them no longer believed them himself.

So Ferguson's letter to the Browns is prominently displayed and hailed as "proof" of his belief in what the Browns believe, and the other letters -- the ones the Tanners provided that show otherwise are never mentioned by the Browns.

We could go on and on giving further examples of the types of flaws that are so prevalent throughout They Lie in Wait to Deceive, but we feel our point has been made. Many of these faults can be passed off as fairly innocent mistakes, the result of poor and often inadequate research; while others are reflections of the writers' unavoidable bias against any but their own view, an intolerance repeatedly expressed through bitterness, hostility, suspicion, and sarcasm. But while neither of these first two conditions are particularly commendable, they, unlike a third, are at least to some degree excusable. The other, the use of deliberate and intentional misrepresentation, is not. The frequent resort to such measures within They Lie in Wait to Deceive could easily suggest to the reader that the Browns' title was autobiographical.

Is there anything good that can be said about the book? As a matter of fact there is. In spite of their tendency at times to go overboard and leap to false conclusions, the Browns have nevertheless provided a convincing demonstration that fraudulent claims have been made by Dee Jay Nelson, a demonstration that is both appropriate and useful.

In what way do we mean appropriate? And just how is this information useful, and to whom? It must be remembered that Nelson was primarily a professional lecturer. During the two lectures the Browns attended in Mesa early in 1980, they admit that though they disagreed with his message they were impressed by his ability to entertain an audience. He had apparently made the greatest part of his living for quite some time doing lectures, and could have successfully presented almost any subject he chose that was of interest to him.

His involvement with the Metropolitan Papyri, including his association with Hugh Nibley and his arrangement with N. Eldon Tanner, are a matter of record. He also managed, based largely upon his own abilities and resources, to produce and have published the first reasonably accurate translations and interpretations of those papyri. These conditions alone would have qualified him to speak with authority and from experience on the subject of the Book of Abraham if he had chosen to do so. Unfortunately, those qualifications alone were not what he used. From the very beginning of the papyri affair (and apparently for quite some time prior to that), it appears that Nelson purposely inflated his personal and professional image. Why he did this is unclear, and does not really matter at any rate. The fact is, it had become a habit, and once begun it was apparently impossible to break. Furthermore, the evidence that the papyri presented against the Book of Abraham was impressive in and of itself, and could easily be used to add credibility to his growing list of claims about himself. The temptation to do this -- whether it was originally intended or not -- existed, and in the end Nelson exploited the LDS Church's vulnerability over the issue for his personal gain.

It is appropriate that Nelson's false claims should have been exposed, then, because an issue is often judged on the basis of the person who presents it. The case against the Book of Abraham deserves to be recognized and examined on its own merit, and, particularly since the issue of people's faith is involved, it should never become a thing to be exploited for anyone's personal benefit.

Moreover, this information is useful in that it helps to place Nelson's entire involvement with the papyri in a proper sense of perspective to the case against the Book of Abraham. It demonstrates that nothing is ever achieved by making false claims; any "advantage" thus gained is really only an illusion, and is usually more than offset by the damage done to one's credibility when the truth comes out.

Yes, it is true that the Tanners exposed Nelson, and that they did so early on of their own accord and at considerable expense and effort. It is also true that at least some of the research the Browns take credit for was provided or inspired by leads originally developed by the Tanners (Nelson's "diploma" from "Pacific Northwestern University," for example, which is twice shown so triumphantly in They Lie in Wait to Deceive, was reproduced by the Browns from a copy that had been sent to them by the Tanners!). The Browns, however, have gone beyond the Tanners in many ways. While the Tanners exposed only the false claims made by Nelson regarding his association with the Book of Abraham controversy, the Browns made it a point to expose every claim that they could, even to the point of reproducing his high school transcripts!

There are, as we have mentioned, instances where their conclusions have been faulty or oversimplified (as with Nibley's letter, the meeting with N. Eldon Tanner, the canopic jar identifications, etc.), but in many cases they have shed light upon aspects of Nelson's misrepresentations that would have otherwise remained unknown. His self-proclaimed "mathematical ability" in personally calculating the weight of King Tut's gold coffin (which it turns out he developed from a misprint in a book!), his "gifts" from King Farouk, his alter-ego "business manager" (who was actually himself), and several other claims are very convincingly demonstrated to be false. The Browns' file of response letters from various institutions, foundations, and professionals in the field of Egyptology who have never heard of Nelson and cannot verify any of his purported achievements should alone put to rest his claim to be a well-known professional in that field.

And actually, there is a certain value to their having done this, a value which the Browns probably failed to recognize themselves. By clearly exposing as many aspects of Nelson's fraud as possible, others -- be they writers, lecturers, or investigators -- will be prevented from ever again allowing him to "represent" the case against the Book of Abraham. Nelson can rightfully be regarded as a footnote, and never again be confused as an "originator."

If the Browns had only set out originally with such an intent, if they had been able to avoid the false conclusions that colored their work and led them to present their own misrepresentations, their work could have been an effective, and admirable contribution to those seeking to learn the truth.


Part I

Chapter One - How It All Began

1 Book of Mormon, 2 Ne. 28; Morm. 8:28, 31-33. Pearl of Great Price, JS H 1:18, 19 (This is a portion of the popular version of Joseph Smith's First Vision account).

2 Ibid., JS H 1:30-34, 42.

3 Book of Mormon -- The Testimony of Three Witnesses; Introduction.

4 Ibid., Introduction.

5 Ibid., 2 Ne. 26:15, 16. This corresponds to Isaiah 29:4, and by shifting the passage to refer to America rather than Jerusalem (even ignoring the meaning of the term "familiar spirit"), LDS are able to regard this as a "Biblical proof" for the Book of Mormon.

6 Ibid., Morm. 9:32.

7 History of the Church, Vol. 1, p. 64, 77.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid., p. 124, 125.

10 Ibid., p. 181-183.

11 Ibid., p. 189. Doctrine and Covenants -- sec. 57.

12 Ibid, sec. 103:11-36, especially vv. 13, 18-20, 26, and 34.

13 History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 106, 107.

14 Doctrine and Covenants, sec. 105:1-9.

15 Pearl of Great Price, JS H 1:60.

16 The following excerpts are from a letter written by David Whitmer (one of the original Three Witnesses) to the RLDS periodical Latter Day Saints Herald, which was published February 5, 1887: "Some of the revelations as they now appear in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants have been changed and added to. Some of the changes being of the greatest importance as the meaning is entirely changed on some very important matters; as if the Lord had changed his mind a few years after he gave the revelations ... But in the winter of 1834 they saw that some of the revelations in the Book of Commandments had to be changed, because the heads of the church had gone too far, and had done things in which they had already gone ahead of some of the former revelations. So the book of 'Doctrine and Covenants' was printed in 1835, and some of the revelations changed and added to."

17 History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 235.

18 Ibid.

19 Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ( New York: MacMillan, 1992), Vol. 1, s.v. 'Book of Abraham -- Origins of the Book of Abraham,' p. 132; History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 236.

20 Ibid.

21 Letter written by Oliver Cowdery to Wm Frye dated December 25, 1835, as published in the early LDS periodical Messenger and Advocate, December, 1835, p. 235.

22 Ibid., p. 236.

23 History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 238, 318, 320, etc.

24 Ibid., p. 350, 351.

Chapter Two - The Book of Abraham: A Timely Document

1 History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 236 (commencement of first phase); Vol. 4 p. 518 (commencement of second phase). These were first published in two installments in the Times and Seasons in March, 1842. See note on p. 42, this book.

2 This view is well demonstrated in the following observation by Sidney B. Sperry in his book Ancient Records Testify in Papyrus and Stone, p. 83: "... the authors or editors of the book we call Genesis lived after the events recorded therein [in the Book of Abraham] took place. Our text of Genesis can therefore not be dated earlier than the latest event mentioned by it. It is evident that the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, of which our printed Book of Abraham is a copy, must of necessity be older than the original text of Genesis."

3 Diary of Wilford Woodruff, Feb. 19, 1842 (see quote on p. 170 of this book).

4 David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ (Richmond, Missouri: 1887), p. 59-65. Whitmer writes: "This manner of 'priesthood,' since the days of Sidney Rigdon, has been the great hobby and stumbling block of the Latter-day Saints ... This matter of the two orders of priesthood in the Church of Christ, and lineal priesthood of the old law being in the church, all originated in the mind of Sidney Rigdon." ( p. 64)

5 Ibid., p. 56, 57.

6 For Joseph Smith's denials see -- Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, p. 909 (1842); ibid. p. 939; ibid., Vol. 5, p. 423 (1844). Hyrum Smith, Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 871 (1842); ibid. Vol. 5, p. 474 (1844).

7 The issue of Joseph Smith's teaching a doctrine of plurality of gods was one of the three main charges leveled against him by the Nauvoo Expositor in June, 1844. Smith ordered the paper and its press destroyed as a "public nuisance," and was subsequently arrested and brought to jail at Carthage, Illinois, where he was killed. (The other two charges made by the Expositor dealt with polygamy and Joseph Smith's land schemes.) Cf. note on p. 80 this book. (An exact reproduction of the Expositor is available on request from the publisher of this book.)

8 Steven L. Shields, Divergent Paths of the Restoration, 3rd ed. (Bountiful, Utah, 1982) It has been estimated that well over one hundred different groups have claimed to have sole authority over the "Restoration" since Joseph Smith's death.

9 Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, (Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966) p. 564.

Chapter Three - Charges and Rebuttals: The Challenge Begins

1 See Egyptian Grammar, Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphics, by Sir Alan Gardiner, 3rd ed. (by London: Oxford University Press, 1964)

2 William E. Berrett, The Restored Church, 14th ed., 1969, p. 107.

3 In Dr. Hugh Nibley's book Abraham in Egypt (Deseret Book Co., 1981) -- The text of the original 1842 heading was erroneously assumed by Nibley to lack the words "that have fallen into our hands." Nibley then charged that it was the 1851 Pearl of Great Price editor, Franklin D. Richards, who originated the idea that "actual possession of the (Egyptian) records is what made translation possible," -- in this way attempting to build a case for a "translation" of the Book of Abraham without having to account for Smith's papyri turning out to be merely common funeral texts (cf. The ''Catalyst Theory", p. 132ff, this book). See also the review of Dr. Nibley's book by H. Michael Marquardt in The Journal of Pastoral Practice, Vol. V, No. 4, p. 113-116.

4 Dr. Arthur Mace, Assistant Curator, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Dept. of Egyptian Art.

5 Dr. A. H. Sayce, Oxford, England.

6 James H. Breasted, Ph.D., Haskell Oriental Museum, University of Chicago.

7 Dr. W. M. Flinders Petrie, London University.

8 Improvement Era, Vol. 16, February 1913, p. 343.

9 New York Times, Magazine Section, December, 1912.

10 Improvement Era, Vol. 16, February 1913, p. 321.

11 B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 139.

12 At the Pearl of Great Price Conference held at Brigham Young University on December 10, 1960, Dr. Sperry, speaking of "Webb," stated, "He wrote a wonderful book, Case Against Mormonism, under the name of Robert C. Webb, Ph.D. I regret that the Brethren let him put down Robert C. Webb, Ph.D., because he was no Ph.D." Sperry gives his name as J.C. Homans, introducing some confusion as to his middle initial.

13 William E. Berrett, op. cit., p. 107.

Chapter Four - The Papyri Rediscovered: A Timely Opportunity?

1 Dr. Atiya's full account of his part in the rediscovery of the papyri appeared in the January 1968 issue of Improvement Era. There is evidence, however, that their existence was known much earlier -- see interview with Dr. Henry G. Fischer of the Metropolitan Museum in the Winter, 1967 issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

2 Dr. Hugh Nibley, Brigham Young University Studies, Winter, 1968 p. 171.

3 The back of Papyrus Joseph Smith II, for example, contains a map of the Kirtland area in Ohio, and is shown on p. 25 of the January, 1968 Improvement Era.

4 Walter Whipple, et al, From the of the Dust Decades (Salt Lake City, 1968) p. 116.

5 Journal of Discourses, Vol. 20, p. 65-67 -- sermon by LDS Apostle Orson Pratt.

6 LDS Apostle John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, Vol. 1, p. 203.

7 Bruce R. McConkie, op. cit., pp. 700, 701.

Part II

Chapter Five - An Identification and the Critical Link

1 Up to the time when photographs of the papyri finally appeared in the February 1968 Improvement Era, they were generally not available to the public -- even though the Church had had sets of photographs for nearly a year-and-half prior to that time. See the discussion of this matter in the appendix, of this book.

2 There is also evidence, from Dr. Sperry's account, that the Grammar's existence was already known of, at least by some members of the Church Historian's Office.

3 See, for example, Jay M. Todd's The Saga of the Book of Abraham, p. 364. Todd writes: "Outside of a few associates, Dr. Clark had kept the fragment [contained with the Grammar material] a matter of confidence, under instructions from the Historian's Office, for over 30 years."

4 Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1968, p. 91.

5 William E. Berrett, op. cit., 1956 ed., p. 133, 134.

6 Dr. Sidney B. Sperry, December 10, 1960, Pearl of Great Price Conference.

7 See speech by Reed Durham, LDS Institute of Religion, University of Utah, March 7, 1972.

8 Letter of I. E. Edwards, Keeper of the Department of Egyptian Antiquities, dated June 9, 1966.

9 James R. Clark in Progress in Archaeology, Brigham Young University, 1963, writes: "These symbols [on the Book of Abraham translation manuscripts included with the Grammar material], judging from their translation, were a highly specialized type of ideograph where a few strokes of the pen or brush conveyed an entire concept." See also similar remarks by Clark at Pearl of Great Price Conference, December 10, 1960.

10 Though later apologists have attempted to reverse this conclusion, there was no disagreement with it when first discovered (before the damaging implications had fully set in). See discussion of this point in LDS Reactions, this book.

Chapter Six - The Beginning of Disappointment

1 Among Nibley's numerous published works were the books Sounding Brass and The Myth Makers, both satirical and sarcastic denunciations of "anti-Mormon" writers and writings.

2 Dr. Nibley subsequently studied under Klaus Baer, as well.

3 For lack of preparedness within the Church, see Nibley's comments in BYU's Daily Universe, December 1, 1967; Brigham Young University Studies, Winter 1968, pp. 171-172. Nibley never seems to have been suspicious of Nelson's extravagant claims, but apparently accepted them at face value, as did many others both in and out of the LDS Church.

4 For context of this letter, see the discussion in the Appendix of this book.

5 See discussion of this matter in the Appendix of this book.

6 Improvement Era, February, 1968, p. 40-H.

7 This is Nelson's account as he related it to Jerald and Sandra Tanner.

8 It is significant that these professionals were approached by "private" individuals. The LDS Church never did officially seek an expert and impartial verdict regarding the papyri. In a letter dated December 4, 1967, Fischer (of the Metropolitan Museum) wrote: "We have not been commissioned to translate the papyri, nor do I know of anyone else who has been asked to do so."

9 See Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, 1982 ed., p. 309.

10 Improvement Era, May 1970, pp. 82,83 .

11 The disqualifying of Nelson's "credentials" has become a chief basis for "vindicating" the Book of Abraham to some LDS minds. See discussion of the red herring technique on pp. 138ff of this book.

Chapter Seven - The Evidence of the Papyri

1 John A. Wilson in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1968, p. 70.

2 Dr. Klaus Baer, ibid., Autumn 1968, p. 111.

3 Hugh Nibley has assigned a date of 60 A.D. to the Hor Sensen Papyrus, placing it firmly within the Roman period. While other scholars have perhaps been slightly more liberal with the time frame they have allowed for the production of the papyrus, there is no particular reason to reject to Dr. Nibley's date.

4 Ibid., p. 116, 117.

5 History of the Church, Vol. 4, p. 518, under the date of February 23, 1842: Wednesday, 23 --"Settled with and paid Brother Chase, and assisted in the counting room in settling with Ebenezer Robinson, visiting the printing office, and gave Reuben Hedlock instruction concerning the cut for the altar and gods in the Records of Abraham, as designed for the Times and Seasons."

6 Richard A. Parker in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1968, p. 98.

7 Wilson, op. cit., p. 71-85

8 Baer, op. cit., p. 111.

9 This was the basis for the article in the February, 1968 Improvement Era, p. 40-A through 40-G, in which the full set of photographs of the papyri first appeared.

Chapter Eight - The Book of Joseph?

1 History of the Church, Vol. 2. p. 236.

2 William E. Berrett, op. cit., p. 106, 107.

3 Wilson in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1968, p. 68.

4 As appears in Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar, Modern Microfilm Co., 1966; and in The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papers, compiled by H. Michael Marquardt, 1981, p. 109. 6 Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1979), p. 97.

Chapter Nine - Translating Egyptian: A Comparison

1 An excellent, illustrated explanation of the rudiments of Egyptian grammar can be found in the book Egyptian Hieroglyphics by Patrick F. O'Mara, Ph. D.

2 Egyptian hieroglyphics could be written to read in any direction -- left to right, right to left, up, or down, depending on the direction the pictographs were facing. Hieratic writing, on the other hand, was virtually always written and read from right to left.

3 Except when vowels are known through sources dating from Classical times.

4 From the "Wentworth Letter," a letter of Joseph Smith to John Wentworth published in Times and Seasons on March 1, 1842, as recorded in History of the Church, Vol. 4, p. 537.

5 See note no. 9, Part Two, Chapter Five, above.

6 See photocopies in Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar, p. 1; also The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papers, p. 6

7 See p. 127f. of this book.

8 Several of these are listed on pp. 124, 125 of this book.

9 See p. 125, 126 of this book; also remarks by Josiah Quincy and others as recorded in The Saga of the Book of Abraham.

10 Daniel Ludlow, ed. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York: MacMillan, 1992), Vol. 1, s.v. 'Book of Abraham -- Translation and Publication of the Book of Abraham,' p. 134.

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid., p. 132.

13 The 1992 equivalent figure in U.S. dollars is based on inflation data in The Economist magazine, "Economic Brief: A Short History of Inflation," (February 22, 1992), p. 68.

Chapter Ten - A Close Look at the Facsimiles

1 This explanation is more detailed (though in the same context) than the one initally given by Dr. Klaus Baer in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1968, p. 118.

2 James R. Clark, of Brigham Young University, in his book The Story of the Pearl of Great Price, evidences this traditional view when he writes: "Another thing to be noticed about the Book of Abraham is that the Facsimiles are intended to serve as illustrations of the text . . .'' "But he, Abraham, wanted to make sure that his reader would clearly understand what the altar actually looked like so he 'drew a picture' for his reader. That picture or illustration is Facsimile No. 1." -- p. 119, See, Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 1:12, 14.

3 M. Theodule Deveria in A Journey to Great Salt Lake, Vol. 2, as quoted in Deseret News, January 4, 1913, writes: "It is evident to me that several of the figures to be found in these various manuscripts have been intentionally altered."

4 Translation of hieroglyphics as by Michael Dennis Rhodes, Brigham Young University Studies, Spring, 1977, p. 265; translation of hieratic by Richard A. Parker (note no. 6, Part Two, Chapter 7, above).

5 Explanation and translation by Dr. Klaus Baer, op. cit., p. 126, 127.

6 Originally Nibley, Improvement Era, February, 1968, p. 20; more recently Ed Ashment in Sunstone, December, 1979, pp. 33ff.

Part III

Chapter Eleven - The Intellectual Approaches

1 Statement by Hugh Nibley, as quoted by Ian Barber in his booklet What Mormonism Isn't -- A Response to the Research of Jerald and Sandra Tanner.

2 Brigham Young University Studies, Spring 1968, p. 249.

3 Nelson pointed this out in his booklet The Joseph Smith Papyri, Part 2, p. 14; the same thought was also expressed by Professor Richard A. Parker in a letter to Marvin Cowan dated January 9, 1968.

4 Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology, October 25, 1968, pp. 1-4.

5 Ibid., June 2, 1969, pp. 11, 12.

6 Nibley in Brigham Young University Studies, Autumn 1968, p. 101, 102.

7 As quoted in Jay Todd's book The Saga of the Book of Abraham, 1969, p. 386.

8 Sidney B. Sperry, op. cit., p. 68.

9 Ibid., pp. 68, 69.

10 Hyrum L. Andrus, Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price, 1967 (1970 ed.), p. 25.

11 See the article "Judging and Prejudging the Book of Abraham," by Dr. Hugh Nibley (undated) as published in They Lie in Wait to Deceive, by Robert and Rosemary Brown, pp. 236-245.

12 Ibid., p. 241.

13 Ibid., p. 239.

14 Ibid., p. 242

15 Ibid, p. 239.

16 Ibid.,. p. 238.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid., p. 241.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 The Voice of Truth (1844), p. 16, 17, as quoted in No Man Knows My History, p. 292.

22 As to the authenticity of Brodie's source, she was writing in 1945 and would have had no way to determine whether or not Joseph Smith's "Egyptian" phrase had ever been recorded in any other place than in the 1844 pamphlet she quoted from. The publishing of Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar in 1966 verified her source as authentic more than 20 years after she quoted from it.

23 Times and Seasons, Vol. 4, p. 373.

24 Nibley, op. cit., p. 240.

25 Ibid., p. 242.

26 Today, the above article is circulated primarily through the book They Lie in Wait to Deceive, and also through the F.A.R.M.S. (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies) organization.

27 This theory is also described in the article by Nibley referenced in note no. 11, above.

28 Harris' theory was contested by Larry C. Porter, who felt that there was evidence to indicate that the blessing referred to was not actually written down in the Patriarchal Blessing Book until September, 1835, as mentioned in Joseph Fielding Smith's Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, p. 99.

29 All of Barber's quotes in this section are from the work referenced.

30 Dr. Hugh Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, 1981, p. 4.

31 Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York: MacMillan, 1992), Vol. 1, s.v. 'Book of Abraham -- Origins of the Book of Abraham,' p. 134.

32 Ibid.

33 Remark made in a speech by Hugh Nibley at the University of Utah on May 20, 1968, as recorded on p. 317 of Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, 1982 ed.

34 Letter by Richard A. Parker to Marvin Cowan dated March 22, 1966.

Chapter Twelve - All is Well: Creating an Appearance

1 This is the "promise" of Moroni 10:4 (Book of Mormon) and is used extensively by LDS missionaries during the proselytizing of others to their faith.

2 See, for instance, Todd's Saga of the Book of Abraham.

3 An interesting omission of material from The Restored Church in The Latter-day Saints is Berrett quoting Oliver Cowdery's 1835 letter about the Book of Joseph scroll as it appeared in The Latter-day Saint's Messenger and Advocate (See pp. 80ff., this book). Berrett quoted a great deal of Cowdery's letter in The Restored Church and made proud reference to the "Book of Joseph" scroll; but after the rediscovery and examination of the Ta-shert-Min Book of the Dead fragments, Berrett entirely omitted all remarks concerning such material in The Latter-day Saints.

4 "Do Not Spread Disease Germs" -- address by Apostle Boyd K. Packer given on August 22, 1981, as published in Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1981, p. 259, 262-278 (esp. p. 264).

5 Ibid., pp. 267,271.

6 This term was used following LDS historian and scholar D. Michael Quinn's strong reaction to Elder Packer's speech (see article that appeared in the now defunct independent BYU newspaper The Seventh East Press, November 18, 1981) in a paper by Quinn entitled "On Being A Mormon Historian."

7 Response to Ashment's article by Hugh Nibley, Sunstone, December 1979, p. 49.

8 Ibid.

9 Browns, They Lie in Wait to Deceive, statement on front cover.

10 Ibid., p. 154.

11 New York Times, Magazine Section, December 29, 1912.

12 See note no. 8, Part One, Chapter 3, above.

13 That is, Nibley's article "Judging and Prejudging the Book of Abraham."

14 Browns. op. cit., p. 172.

15 I have frequently heard the book They Lie in Wait to Deceive endorsed and recommended by well meaning people, who have also candidly admitted they have read or heard about "very little" else relating to the subject.

Chapter Thirteen - The Criteria for Rationalization

1 The Reorganized LDS Church (RLDS), headquartered in Independence, Missouri, could be said to have been established on April 6, 1860, when Joseph Smith III, son of the Mormon leader Joseph Smith, Jr., became its first president. This group never embraced many "Mormon" doctrines, such as polygamy, and while in its early years it accorded the Book of Abraham limited use as a sort of semi-scriptural work, it publicly rejected the notion of the Book of Abraham being scripturally binding shortly after the rediscovery of the papyri in 1967.

2 This subject, along with many others, is well covered in Jerald and Sandra Tanner's The Changing World of Mormonism, Moody Press, 1980; cf. also, the Tanners' Major Problems of Mormonism, Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1989.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

Part IV

Chapter Fourteen - Facing the Truth

1 Early LDS Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, pp. 15, 16.

2 McConkie, op. cit., under the heading Seers, p. 701, states: "The President of the Church holds the office of seership. (D.&C. 107:92; 124:94, 125.) Indeed, the apostolic office itself is one of seership, and the members of the Council of the Twelve, together with the Presidency and Patriarch to the Church, are chosen and sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators to the Church."

3 Though polygamy was developed and practiced only secretly during Joseph Smith's lifetime, by 1852 the doctrine was being taught and practiced openly in the territory of Utah.

Chapter Fifteen - Moving Beyond Rationalization

1 Commonly known as a "Fast and Testimony" meeting and held on the first Sunday of the month, members abstain from food (fast) for two of their three daily meals prior to sharing their testimonies with each other in the meeting.

2 McConkie, op. cit., under Testimony, p. 785, writes: "A testimony of the gospel is the sure knowledge, received by revelation from the Holy Ghost, of the divinity of the great latter-day work."

Chapter Sixteen - Does All This Really Matter?

1 Jerald and Sandra Tanner have quoted portions of these letters in Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, both 1972 and 1982 editions, and in The Changing World of Mormonism, 1980; also Wesley P. Walters in Joseph Smith Among the Egyptians, 1973, and others.

2 The following observations by a Mormon writer named Klaus Hansen, which were made during the height of the papyri controversy, appeared in the Summer 1970 issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, p. 110, and offer some insight into Ferguson's remarks: "To a professional historian, for example, the recent translation of the Joseph Smith papyri may well represent the potentially most damaging case against Mormonism since its foundation. Yet the 'Powers That Be' at the Church Historian's Office should take comfort in the fact that the almost total lack of response to this translation is uncanny proof of Frank Kermode's observation that even the most devastating acts of disconfirmation will have noeffect whatever upon true believers. Perhaps an even more telling response is that of the 'liberals,' or cultural Mormons. After the Joseph Smith Papyri affair, one might well have expected a mass exodus of these people from the Church. Yet none has occurred. Why? Because cultural Mormons, of course, do not believe in the historical authenticity of the Mormon scriptures in the first place. So there is nothing to disconfirm."

End of Notes section for By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus.




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