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The Use of Egyptian Magical Papyri to Authenticate the Book of Abraham Part 2

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The Use of Egyptian Magical Papyri to Authenticate the Book of Abraham Part 2

Endnotes and Bibliography
Edward H. Ashment


[1] Stephen E. Thompson generously read and commented on an earlier draft of this essay, for which I am grateful.

[2] While FARMS stated that the article was 'based on research by John Gee', Gee elsewhere takes credit for having written it (1991, 28 note 168).

[3] See Insights: An Ancient Window, (Jan 1992), 4.

[4] For its designation as the last column, see Johnson 1975, 49f.

[5] See Lexikon der Ägyptologie 4:840; Johnson in Hughes Studies, 105.

[6] For which, see Baer 1968, 111.

[7] See Griffith and Thompson 1904, 14; Johnson 1976, 2f.

[8] For a discussion about Egyptian lamp divination, see Jacq 1985, 61f.

[9] Betz (1992, xlvii) notes that the "underworld deities, the demons and the spirits of the dead, are constantly and unscrupulously invoked and exploited as the most important means for achieving the goals of human life on earth: the acquisition of love, wealth, health, fame, knowledge of the future, control over other persons, and so forth. In other words, there is a consensus that the best way to success and worldly pleasures is by using the underworld, death, and the forces of death."

[10] In fact, the lion-couch vignette is not captioned. For a vignette with captions, see Leiden I 384:4: 'The god is labelled Seth, in Old Coptic; the two spears are labelled Gerbeth and Bolxoseth Oseiro, also in Old Coptic' (Johnson 1975, 30).

[11] See Johnson 1975, 44 note A.

[12] See Mosher 1992, 155f.

[13] Rather, it invokes a god, who, among other things, hap sw m wedjat r msw.f 'conceals himself in the Sound Eye from his children' (Allen 1960, 285). There is no indication in the spell that the 'sound eye' refers to a hypocephalus.

[14] Budge (1901, 119) speculated that the hypocephalus 'represents the pupil of the eye of Horus'. But Bonnet (1952, 390) cites only Spiegelberg's explanation that the hypocephalus originally was a round pillow (Kopfkissen) that later Egyptians misinterpreted as a round disk when they saw it on ancient depictions (GerŠtfriesen). More recently, Kessler (1980, 693) suggests 'a biscuit' as the Middle Kingdom precursor to the hypocephalus. In that the purpose of the hypocephalus was to provide the heat of the sun-god Re to the deceased in order to facilitate rebirth, it would not be unreasonable to regard it as a representation of the solar disk. See Goyon 1972, 276.

[15] For references to Jesus, see Betz 1992, 62, 96, 319, 323. Ritner (1993, 246) notes that the presence of 'foreign elements in the latest Demotic spells... simply continues the syncretistic nature of Egyptian theology, absorbing Nubian, Greek, and Semitic elements as the New Kingdom had assimilated the gods (Baal, Astarte, Reshep, and Huruna) and spells of its neighbors (Cretan and Semitic)'.

[16] See Grese in Betz 1992, 96 note 395.

[17] See Merkelbach and Totti (1991, 146) regarding the Greek god Aion and Iao, a Greek form of Jehovah: 'The highest god and creator of the world is called by many names. One of his names is Aiwn. When the vowels were rearranged, the name of the one Jewish God, Iaw, was produced. While Aion, the great god that lived in Alexandria, was Greek, [he] was Iao himself to the many Jews in [Egypt]'.

[18] See Meyer in Betz 1992, 37 note 12.

[19] For the unusual writing of 's', see Griffith 1909, 130.

[20] In the Egyptian Gnostic tradition, 'the lowest class of angels created the world and men'. Abrasaks ('Abrasax', 'Abraxas'), which had 'for its basis the numerical value 365', was the name of their leader, 'the God of the Jews'. The Gnostics believed that Jesus was sent to deliver the world from the tyranny of Abrasaks (Rudolph 1983, 311). Rudolph (1983, plate 3-7) notes that 'Abrasax or Abraxas has the Greek letters corresponding to the number 365, and thus represents the god of the (solar) year and of eternity (aion)'. See Harris 1971, 159-161.

[21] See Quinn 1987, 55; citations in A Supplement to the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language, vol. 1, s.v. 'abraxas'.

[22] See Betz 1992, 110, 164, 191, 268.

[23] For a discussion of the magical potency of divine names and wording in the magical papyri, see Betz 1995, 163-165.

[24] 'Old Coptic' is the term for the earliest period (i.e., the third century C.E.) when the Egyptian language was written in Greek script with additional letters to represent sounds not found in Greek. See Lambdin 1983, vii.

[25] The Egyptians feared that Greek was 'unable to transmit the hidden active force (energeia) of the Egyptian words, which had special, magic, qualities and functions (ergwn)' (Iversen 1984, 50).

[26] This is how Griffith (1909, 127) interpreted the word: '(`Br`-)hme with det. of wood and man in magic name: gloss (ABRA)CAM. Preserved in Copt. construct [ham-] "artificer": possi bly the absolute form also'. See Erichsen 1954, 303f., who notes an occurrence of the word in Magical 21:29 with the meaning of 'handiwork, art'.

[27] Johnson (1975, 52 note 41) observes that ABRACAM in 384:2*. 16 is the same word as the gloss in Magical 8:8.

[28] For informative discussions on the origin and meaning of 'Abraham', see Thompson 1974, 22-36; Van Seters 1975, 40-42.

[29] Examples of other spells that involve stones are: - PGM 1.42-95: the magician was to take a magically-provided oblong stone and engrave on it, inter alia, the name 'acha achacha chach charchara chach'. The purpose of the spell was to conjure a spirit assistant for the magician (O'Neil in Betz 1992, 5-7). - PGM 4.930-114: the magician was to 'clasp... to [his] breasts' a pebble with the magically-potent number 3663 on it. The purpose of the spell was divination (Grese in Betz 1992, 56). - PGM 4.1716-1870: the magician was to take a stone and engrave on it, inter alia, ACHMAGE RARPEPSEI... ACHAPA ADONAIE BASMA CHARAKO IAKOB IAO E PHARPHAREI... SSSSSSSS... EEEEEEEE'. The purpose of the spell was to attract women (O'Neil in Betz 1992, 69). - PGM 4.2785-2890: the magician was to take a stone and carve faces into it. The purpose of the stone was to be a protective charm (O'Neil in Betz 1992, 92). - PGM 5.213-303: the magician was to carve a scarab out of 'costly green stone' and engrave Isis on the underside. The purpose of the spell was to magically empower the scarab (Smith in Betz 1992, 104-105). - PGM 5.447-58: the magician was to take 'a jasper-like agate' and, inter alia, engrave 'the [magical] name [of Serapis?]'. The stone was to be used with a ring in lamp divination (Smith in Betz 1992, 109).

[30] See also Betz 1992, 8, 110, 191, 268, 310.

[31] Liddell and Scott 1166b, sv. nekuV. Griffiths (1980, 169) points out that when the Egyptian tradition "is reproduced by Manetho, a typically Greek twist is given by the statement that the following dynasty was that of the 'Heroes' or 'Spirits of the Dead' and 'Demigods' [nekueV kai hmideoi]." See Beckerath 1975, 1233, 1235 note 6.

[32] What Seeber says is that ancient Egyptian illustrations ordinarily made no distinction between gods and possibly-masked priests in the role of gods (1980, 1197). The Egyptians focused on depicting the gods rather than their human portrayers because, as Assmann (1992, 98-99) observes, the vignettes, or iconic portions, tend to be the canonical parts of Egyptian writings. The texts are interpretations of the vignettes designed to 'enrich the meaning and to adapt the rite to specific theological and mythological contexts'. He notes that: "The temple reliefs of the Late period reflect a full-fledged tradition of ritual exegesis, a culture of interpretation ("Auslegungskultur") applied not to texts-as in the more-or-less contemporaneous Alexandrian and Jewish institutions of interpretation-but to pictures. However, this culture of interpretation is anything but a symptom of Hellenistic influence; on the contrary, it is deeply rooted in the Egyptian cult." In that regard, Bleeker (1975, 100) observes that 'the illustrations of the texts are no artistic extras, but form an essential part of the texts, and sometimes even the main part'. Note that the Egyptians never depicted the priests performing rituals as substitutes for the king: 'All the priests serving the myriad cults were merely [the king's] delegates, temple iconography depicting only the king performing the ritual' (Trigger, Kemp, O'Connor, and Lloyd 1983, 201). Concerning the one known instance in which the priest's head is depicted within the mask, SchŠfer (1974, 121f.) observes that the artist wished to show how the priest was placed in the mask and needed to be led. But that is a rare exception, since it never occurred to anyone to show the human head inside the very common figures of a priest dressed as a jackal-headed funerary deity who attends to the mummy; instead the priest playing the role of the god is always represented as if he really had an animal head.

[33] For a fuller discussion of this problem, see Ashment 1979, 36-38.

[34] For the date of the spell, see Smither 1941, 131.

[35] See Ashment 1979, 40-42.

[36] Hopfner's observation accurately reflects the Egyptian context. The 'apple' (pupil [¶f(?]), inter alia, refers to 'the pupil of the moon-eye' (Mondauge; Wb. 5:573.4). The wedjat eye itself refers to the 'undamaged eye of Horus, that is, the full moon' (der volle Mond; Wb. 1:401.12). Elsewhere the magical texts relate the wedjat eye and the moon: 'You should speak to the moon when it fills the sound-eye [wedjat]'; 'when [the moon] fills the sound-eye [wedjat], you see the figure of the god in sound-eye [wedjat] speaking to you' (Johnson in Betz 1992, 233). Elsewhere, the wedjat eye is a vignette in a moon spell (Betz 1992, 29).

[37] See Aune in Betz 1992, 110 note 63.

[38] In another spell (PGM 1.42-195) Aion is called 'God of Gods, mighty, boundless, undefiled, indescribable, firmly established Aion' (O'Neil in Betz 1992, 7). Merkelbach and Totti (1991, 146) observe that Aion is one of the names of 'the highest god and creator of the world'. ('Other names of the god are Zeus, Adonai ("Lord") and Sarapis'.) The vowels from Aion are the same as those that comprise Iao the Greek 'name of the one Jewish God'. That seems to account for the interchangeability and parallel use of Aion and Iao.

[39] Other apologists have made similar remarks about the Book of Mormon: Hilton 1990, 90: "The understanding that the Book of Mormon has a divine origin is obtainable only by developing faith. Thus, while valid and objective wordprinting is no substitute for faith, wordprinting can, nevertheless, bolster the establishment of faith by rigorously demonstrating factual information about the book."

Skousen 1992, 24:

"My own testimony of the Book of Mormon is not based on my work on the critical text, but rather on my own personal witness of some 15 years ago that this book records events which actually happened. Nonetheless, it has been a delight to have discovered evidence in the original manuscript to support what witnesses said about how Joseph Smith translated."

Hoskisson 1982, 41:

"suffice it to say that in addition to the personal witness of the Spirit that is extended to prayerful readers, these evidences sustain the truth that the Book of Mormon is what it purports to be: a document with deep roots in the ancient Near Eastern milieu of Lehi's culture." Ostler 1987, 67: "I bring to this study a believer's experience. I see meaning and possibilities where the nonbeliever does not or finds no reason to see such meaning.... Faith enables one to see and expresses commitments before all the evidence is in."

[40] That is a moot point, since Smith's exposure to the concept of Abraham in Egypt came from the King James Version of the Bible, from which the majority of the contents of the Book of Abraham originated (viz., chapters 2, 4-5). See Ashment 1990b, 245.

[41] In his important study, Ritner (1993, 247) convincingly argues that Egyptian magic was the 'technique' or 'mechanics' of Egyptian religion it was the 'cultic manipulation' of the dynamic, divine creative force 'by recitation, substance, and ritual'.

[42] For a discussion of this phenomenon, see Ashment 1989, 3.

[43] For an analysis of similar methodologies regarding Book of Mormon apologetics, see Ashment 1993.

[44] See Ashment 1992, 284f.; 1990, 2f., 7f.; 1989, 2ff.

[45] Recent examples are Midgley 1991, 261-311, and Robinson 1991, 312-318.

[46] For a discussion of this approach, see Ashment 1992.

[47] See L'Heureux 1981, 47.



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