The Interpreter Published “Joseph Knew First: Moses, The Egyptian Son”

The Interpreter published my article “Joseph Knew First: Moses, The Egyptian Son” on their website on the 10th of May, 2018 (https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/joseph-knew-first-moses-the-egyptian-son/). Here is the origin story for the article:

Origin

The idea behind this article came from two unique events. First, I took an Egyptian history class from Dr. John Gee, who inspired me to start learning hieroglyphs (unfortunately, I never was motivated enough to get very far). Second, I attended a fireside by Dr. Royal Skousen, who spoke about the Book of Mormon critical text project. The idea that struck a chord with me was Dr. Skousen’s emphasis on a collaborative effort (collaborating with all sorts of people, even students) to identify apparent errors in the text of the current Book of Mormon. I was so jazzed that I went straight home to the Book of Mormon on a mission to look for apparent errors.

That next week as I was reading in 2 Nephi 3:17, I noticed something odd in the phrase “I will raise up a Moses.” The indefinite article “a” before Moses seemed an odd insertion there. I immediately thought that this might be evidence of the original Egyptian language of the Book of Mormon coming through the English translation, a vestige of an original Egyptian pun on the name of Moses and it’s meaning of  thougchild. I thought of this possible error being a remnant of the translation process based on Dr. Gee’s article, “La Trahison des Clercs.”

It was thrilling to contact Dr. Skousen and have a summary of our correspondence published in the addenda material of the Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon Part Six available in https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/atv/p6/. (see page 553 of 627.) I also started a paper discussing this odd phrase, but I got stuck on the approach of trying to prove that parts of 2  Nephi 3 may have originally been in Egyptian. I was, and still am, woefully unqualified to do this type of study, so the paper languished for years (I started it in 2005). Egyptian was only one of a handful of problems with this original approach. Needless to say, I didn’t come up with another approach until 2016, which turned into the current paper published by The Interpreter.

 

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Presenting at the SMPT Conference October 13-15, 2016

I was invited to present a paper at the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology’s conference to be held at Brigham Young University 13-15 October 2016 (click here for more information). The abstract I submitted was entitled “The End Worth Enduring for” and can be found in this blog (click here). The full paper was presented on 15 October 2016 at BYU and was entitled, “Christ: the End Worth Enduring for” (click here). The Conference was sponsored by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and the Department of Philosophy, Brigham Young University.

smpt-pamphlet-cover

I received a call for submissions for the Annual SMPT Conference in my Twitter feed (@Mormon_pen). After looking at the topic for the Conference, I identified a recently posted article on my website as a suitable abstract submission. I sent it to the point of contact listed in the notice and waited.

At one point, I actually forgot about it, until I received an acceptance email. Because I had not really expected to hear back from the SMPT about my submission, I did not think that I needed to discuss the possible implications of my submission with my wife, ie. the fact that I might have to go to BYU to present a paper.

Presenting papers at out-of-state Conferences is exciting when you are in College, or it is part of your job, or you have older independent kids, but when you are not these things, it is a little worrisome. From my wife’s point of view, she would be staying at home changing diapers, doing the yard work, taking kids to soccer games, giving kids baths, cooking, and cleaning while I was gallivanting idyllically around all the exciting venues Mormondom has to offer without a care in the world. She was not thrilled at the idea, and I am not sure I am totally prepared for all the favors I will have to fulfill to make up for all the sweat and tears caused by my absence…

The other problem was that I had a month to actually write the paper. I submitted an “abstract”, which was really my full paper. It was about 500 words long, but needed to be around 3,00o words long. Easy, right? As a father and sometimes struggling sole-provider for a household, I have two jobs, which limited the amount of time I actually had to write. So…working at about 15 minutes a day on this paper left me finishing a rough draft the day before my presentation…not exactly ideal.

I found out that the SMPT Conference is a great atmosphere to express ideas and think deeply. There were quite a few kind people. I wish I would have had more time to attend other presentations and hob-nob with the other presenters on the other days…maybe in the future. Thanks SMPT!

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