'Reformed Egyptian' an evidence for Book of Mormon

One of the few things upon which believers and critics agree is that Joseph Smith could not read ancient languages -- at least in the typical sense. The Book of Mormon was not "translated" by the same method as scholars who, conversant in two different languages, translate ancient texts.

When Nephi began his record he said: "I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians" (1 Nephi 1:2). A thousand years later the prophet Moroni told us that the Nephite record was written "in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech." This script, he explained was more abbreviated than Hebrew and it was unique to the Nephites; altered according to their language and unknown to anyone else (Mormon 9:33-34).

The critics, however, assure us that 1) good Israelites would not have written in pagan Egyptian, 2) there is no such thing as "reformed Egyptian," and 3) there should be evidence of Hebrew language in the ancient New World.

First, would a devout Israelite have written in Egyptian? We now know from archaeological evidence, that some Hebrew and Aramaic texts -- languages used by the Israelites in Lehi's time -- were written in Egyptian characters; sometimes even in modified Egyptian characters. The translation of some ancient Egyptian documents such as Papyrus Amherst 63 had eluded scholars until they realized that while the characters were Egyptian, the underlying text was Aramaic.

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