Date: February 26, 2013 10:56PM
Recently, BYU professor Kerry Muhlestein has recorded a series of youtube videos where he defends the veracity of Joseph Smith's translation of the Egyptian papyrus as the Book of Abraham. These video can be found on the youtube channel "mormonchallenges".
In these videos, Kerry makes all kinds of claims about how Egyptology is discovering new connections between ancient egypt and the patriarch Abraham. I know all of the traditional objections to the translation problems of the book of Abraham and its accompanying facsimiles. I even made a video about it a while ago on my flackerman channel.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvdqiTOf0PA
However, Kerry made it seem as if there has been some new information that has come out. Not being an Egyptologist, I decided to e-mail 3 professors of Egyptology at UCLA, where Kerry got his degree, and see if they agreed with his claims.
The first professor said that he did not have time to watch the videos, but that he was familiar with the Joseph Smith papyrus and the book of Abraham. He instead referred me to Professor Robert Ritner's book "The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri. A Complete Edition" and said that he agreed with Dr. Ritner's conclusions. Dr. Ritner is the beared professor who appeared in the "book of Abraham" video documentary that so many of us has watched on youtube. He concluded in that video that there was no connection of any kind between the papyrus, the facsimiles, and the book of Abraham.
The second professor told me that the translation and interpretation of the Joseph Smith papyri are a religious, instead of a scholarly endeavor. I responded that I appreciated his religious sensitivity, but that professor Muhlestein was making a scholarly claim that the science of Egyptology had discovered a connection between the book of the Dead, the hypocephalus, and Abraham. After watching at least one of the videos, he responded that I was right and that he would "discuss it with him".
The last professor wrote me the following:
"I watched the three videos, and I don't agree with any of it. The ancient Egyptians had no concept of Abraham, so I don't know where he gets these comparisons… And No, most Egyptologists do not agree, despite what Kerry says. I know Kerry, but I do not have much respect for his work. Now I have even less. The fact that he is digging in Egypt is even more worrisome… This PhD was awarded before I arrived at UCLA, although I know that Kerry finished his text based dissertation after only two years of Egyptian language training, which is rather laughable.
Have you read Robert Ritner's work about this in Journal of Near Eastern Studies? It's the best out there… Kerry is just spinning out the same Mormon rhetoric. What is different is: Mormons are funding PhDs in Egyptology and Biblical Studies and then funding positions at BYU and elsewhere and passing these people off as experts, when they are only ideologically driven researchers, not experts interested in actual evidence.
Thanks for sending. It's important to know who these people are"
So there you have it. All 3 of the professors of Egyptology at the University where Kerry got his degree disagree with his claims. Peer review is a bitch, isn't it Kerry.