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Radio Free Mormon: 184: The Brian Hauglid Interview

Professor Brian Hauglid is recently retired from BYU where he spent 21-years as Professor of Ancient Scripture.  The extensive work he has done on the Book of Abraham manuscripts has led him to state publicly that the “scholarship” of Book of Abraham apologists such as John Gee and Kerry Muhlestein is “abhorrent.”  Professor Hauglid explains the research that has led him to this conclusion and a changing in his views on the Book of Abraham.

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80 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 184: The Brian Hauglid Interview

        • Ritner was proven wrong along with the other arrogant egyptologists. The egyptologists were debunked back in the year 2014. Can I ask why this is ignored?

          • Richard –That’s a pretty strong claim. Can you provide a link or source citation? Thank you.

          • He’s right the whole Abraham arguement by the anti Mormons was totally debunked to the point no anti Mormon can dare refute it now. It’s like you are all acting in denial of what’s happened. Insane!

        • July 8: Hans Mensch suggests and interview with Robert Ritner.

          July 9: RFM demurs.

          July 9: Hans Mensch reiterates request.

          July 31: RFM interview with Robert Ritner appears.

          And they say miracles have ceased… 🙂

          Thank you!

    • Why do you all avoid comment on the egyptologists being debunked? The egyptologists were debunked in 2014. Why do you anti-Mormons avoid comment on this?

      • Richard can you please expound? By whom were they debunked? Was it done through peer review? Thanks.

        • I am going off of memory here so I invite any correction if what I write is not accurate. My understanding as to one of the main reasons why John Gee needs the BoA to be completed in 1835 is because some of the information in the BoA can be seen as “correct” parallels with ancient history.

          The apologists will say that “there is no way” Joseph could’ve known some of these ancient things about Abraham and the ancient world (in 1835). However, by 1842, it is well documented that Joseph had studied with hebrew experts and had access to sources that would have taught him the information that “he could not have known” in 1835.

          If he could not have known some of the parallels with the ancient world and with Abraham of old, then it “must have been from God.” However, by 1842, we know he had access to this information so he was clearly using that material to write the BoA (which we now know with 100% certainty that he did with the Bible translation, and the temple ceremony… He plagiarized the info from other sources).

          I hope that makes sense and I hope that I am sharing correct information. I ask any BoA expert to please confirm or correct what I have written.

        • I understand your anger Angie but I empathize with Brian’s situation. Even if he eventually came to the knowledge that the church is all a sham and continued to stay at BYU for a few more years, I don’t judge or blame him one bit. It wasn’t his fault he was lied to and pursued the career path he took. That fault lies with the church leadership and their deception and hiding of information for decades. When Brian accepted the position at BYU, I am almost certain he was 100% believing at that point based on the information he had studied and had access to.

          It’s known that once you are a professor at BYU, it is very difficult to have a decent academic career anywhere else. It’s kind of a dead end because other respected institutions look down at BYU. I won’t get into the reasons for this but they should be obvious.

          It’s easy to say that IF Brian lost his faith, he should’ve resigned and come out. Is it really that easy though? I don’t think so. Why should Brian have to suffer financially when the church is the true culprit and deceiver? I hope he gets every dime and more from any retirement that BYU offers. Would you really give up your retirement benefits and further enrich the church? They win in that situation.

          I get what you are saying but I see Brian as more of a victim in this mess just as we all were when we “knew” it was true. We didn’t have the complete picture when we made the critical life decisions we made. We didn’t have access to the information because it was hidden by the 1st pres and Q12. Brian was in that boat too at one time for no fault of his own and I am glad he didn’t take a financial hit for that.

          • Thats the hard choice…have integrity once you know the truth or sell yourself out.

            It sounds like what you’re saying is that because the church screwed him over while he was fully believing , he is justified now in perpetuating the lie with other true believers just to get back at the church.

            He is actually teaching these lies to his TBM students knowing full well they are NOT true! How is that then any different from what the church has done to him? That goes beyond just having his own faith crisis.

            How is that moral or ethical by any standard???

            The greatest men in history were those that sacrificed whatever was necessary to uphold truth, including their own lives at times.

            Of course it presented him with a great moral dilema that he didn’t create, but does that then justify his less than ethical response???

            Losing one’s retirement pales in comparison to losing one’s soul….or at the very least, one’s self respect.

          • Thats the hard choice…have integrity once you know the truth or sell yourself out.

            It sounds like what you’re saying is that because the church screwed him over while he was fully believing , he is justified now in perpetuating the lie with other true believers just to get back at the church.

            He is actually teaching these lies to his TBM students knowing full well they are NOT true! How is that then any different from what the church has done to him? That goes beyond just having his own faith crisis.

            How is that moral or ethical by any standard???

            The greatest men in history were those that sacrificed whatever was necessary to uphold truth, including their own lives at times.

            Of course it presented him with a great moral dilema that he didn’t create, but does that then justify his less than ethical response???

            Losing one’s retirement pales in comparison to losing one’s soul….or at the very least, one’s self respect.

            Consider how Grant Palmer faced a similar dilemma with just as much at stake as a 34 yr. employee of the church in his CES career.

  1. Thank you for mentioning this! That is what I say over and over again. I appreciate all of the deep dives we have taken into the “complexities” of the BoA but even a kindergartner can understand with complete clarity that Joseph could not and did not translate ancient languages.

    WE HAVE JOSEPH’S TRANSLATIONS OF THE FACSIMILES!!! They are canonized in the Pearl of Great Price. He got them ALL WRONG! He utterly failed as a translator of the Egyptian characters on the facsimiles.

    Done. Joseph made it all up. End of discussion.

    It’s SO sad that these apologists are wasting their entire lives and brain power defending something that any 5 year old can figure out in a two minutes.

  2. Ryan: Joseph smith does not translate the facsimiles; rather, tells us what they mean in relation to the text of the Book of Abraham. Moreover, several of his interpretations are dead on in terms of their meaning in Egyptian iconography such as the canopic jars, the Hathor cow (in Fac. #2) and Sobek (in Fac. #1). All of his interpretations are defensible. Moreover, Joseph Smith gave us ONLY his interpretations of the facsimiles and not the KEP or related Egyptian papers. I suspect that there is a reason for that — like he didn’t regard the musings in the KEP as either his own or as inspired.

  3. Brian and RFM, thank you so much for this interview and for the bravery it took to be forthright about scholarship about the BoA.

    Two points I would like to ask about or discuss.

    1) the discussion makes a large connection with the Abrahamic documents meaning the Egyptian grammar and scribes documents in 1835 and how the missing scroll theory and the translation of the BoA having to be competed before the production of the Egyptian papers to sustain the missing scroll. This is obvious to try to dismiss the Egyptian papers being part of the translation which is problematic because the attempt at Egyptian translation in terms of scientific verifiable evidence fails completely. Yet doesn’t the argument that the Egyptian papers only deal with the first part of the BoM? So the later parts could be claimed to be from a part of the papyrus that is not extant? So is there reference in the Abrahamic papers to the latter part of the BoA text?

    2) I wish som scholar would go thru the level JS went to explain Egyptian grammar wit first level second level and third level and how in correct these theories are? Why a long list of every way the attempts is JS failed to translate Egyptian? So how do LDS Egyptologist’s claim that no-one who is not an Egyptologist can comment on the BoA when they will not allow other non-LDS Egyptologist’s peer review their options regarding the BoA?

    Brian makes a valid assertion that the BoA and the Abrahamic papers have nothing to do with Egyptology. But it claims it does so valid Egyptian expertise is necessary to validate or invalidate those assertions. But the LDS Church comes up with apologetic explanations for how real Egyptologist evidence doesn’t matter.

  4. Professor Hauglid commented on his problems with Dr. John Gee’s apologetic work. I also have had difficulties with Gee’s apologetic work.

    About 10 years ago, in a thread on a now defunct website, I commented on a serious mis-statement by Dr. John Gee in his booklet, “A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri.” Gee responded and I commented on Gee’s response. This exchange is documented in an article in another website, http://lds-mormon.com/gee_abraham Following is this portion of the article.

    Since writing the above, I have re-read this booklet and have found a serious misstatement by the author, Dr. John Gee. To bolster his theory, that the Egyptian characters were added to the left margins of the BoA manuscripts after the English text was written, Gee furnishes several examples. On page 22, he claims that in example 1 (KEPA 1, page 8), the Egyptian characters “run over” the margin and the English text. If one examines this closely, one can see that it does overrun the margin; however, it does not run over the English text. I pointed out this misstatement on the Zion Lighthouse Member Board website.
    In this same thread, John Gee, via Daniel Peterson, stated that I incorrectly interpreted “overrun” as meaning, “overwrite.” (On page 21 Gee uses “overrun.” On page 22 he uses “run over.”). Gee’s statement via Peterson is:
    The argument claims that I am (1) stupid because I used the term “overrun” to mean “overwrite,” and (2) dishonest because the text is not overwritten. I never intended the term “overrun” to mean “overwrite” since they are not synonyms. The term “overwrite” means “to write (something) over other writing.” “Overrun,” on the other hand, means “to run farther than or beyond (a certain point, a limit, etc.); to exceed.” I used the term correctly to argue that Egyptian characters ran farther than or beyond the margin line and into the space used for the English text — in fact, in one instance, into the indentation left by the English text. The Egyptian may overrun the English without necessarily overwriting the English.
    Gee is wrong in his interpretation of the meaning of the word “overrun (he did not try to explain “run over”). To double check I looked up “run over” and “overrun” in the 2nd edition of the American Heritage Dictionary. Meaning number 3 of “run over” is the only one that would apply to something written on paper. That definition is “flow over.” The two applicable meanings of “overrun” are 1) “To overflow” and 2) “to run or extend beyond”. Gee was clearly mistaken. He said the Egyptian characters “overrun” or “run over” the English text. He should have said that the Egyptian characters “run over” or “overrun” the area used for English text, without being written on top of the English text.

  5. It appears that Brian Hauglid is not credited in any way as being a part of the team that produced “Revelations and Translations, Volume 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts”. At least, I can’t find his name anywhere on the project team page (https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/articles/project-team).

    Does anyone know why that would be the case?

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