Saturday, January 19, 2013

Asking the Wrong Questions II

The second of Dave Lauer's questions is:
What work (if any) is being done now in regards to the Joseph Smith papyri [sic]? If work is being done, by whom and with what objective?
I am the co-chair of a project dealing with research on the Book of Abraham and the Joseph Smith Papyri. There are a number of individuals doing research on those subjects. I know about their research but I leave them the right to announce their results for themselves. So I am not at liberty to discuss their work in public before they have a chance to do so themselves. To do so would not be fair to them. Nor am I in the habit of announcing my own work until it appears in print. I do have at least article dealing with one aspect of the Joseph Smith Papyri in press in a non-Mormon scholarly venue. I have a number that are already in print. You can find them here, here, here, here, and in a few other publications that do not even have any sort of internet link.

There are thirteen publications that purport to be Egyptological publications of the Joseph Smith Papyri. Thirteen in forty-six years, that is one every three and a half years! (For a list when there were only twelve, see note 42 in this article.) I can think of no other Egyptian papyrus that has been published so frequently. While I can think of fruitful lines of research on the papyri that have not yet been done, I think that most of the publications of the papyri themselves were probably unnecessary and whose main purpose appears to be to boost the egos of the authors rather than advance the understanding of the papyri. I have not felt the need to do my own edition because there are already good editions out there. Some of them even use legal photographs of the papyri with permission of the owners.