All Lies? My Experience with the Book of Abraham

A number of years ago a member of our ward left the Church and started a popular anti-Mormon Website. When I went to his Website to learn of his story, it appeared that losing his testimony over the Book of Abraham was what drove him out of the Church. After reading the critiques on the BOA from anti-Mormon publications, he became convinced that Joseph Smith lied about his ability to translate with the power of God. He and his family soon left the Church. I can sympathize with his initial reaction (but not with his later pursuit of full-blown anti-Mormonism) because it almost happened to me, too.

I think it was early 1995 when I seriously read and pondered some of the Book of Abraham attacks published by a Utah anti-Mormon ministry. I had experienced anti-Mormon rhetoric and thought it would be easy to see through the attacks they offered – but this was different than the typical anti brochure. A seemingly clear and convincing case was presented: (1) Joseph had some papyrus documents that he “translated” as the Book of Abraham; (2) those documents were lost for many years but have now been found; (3) scholars who now can translate Egyptian confirm that THE PAPYRUS SCROLLS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ABRAHAM. It was all a fraud. Ouch!!

I was very troubled by the evidence and was unprepared to deal with it. Could it be that Joseph just got it all wrong with the Book of Abraham? It sure seemed that way – but that created a real puzzle because there was no doubt in my mind, intellectually and spiritually, on the basis of extensive evidence and experience and powerful personal revelation, that the Book of Mormon was an authentic, divine work. Could he have gotten the Book of Mormon right and then fell as a prophet to mess up the Book of Abraham completely? I went to the Lord in prayer and asked for guidance, and explained that I sincerely wanted to know the truth, wanted to be able to bear testimony honestly of what was really true and needed to know if the Book of Abraham was divine or not. After this prayer, I simply felt that I needed to study more and be patient.

As I started digging up information on the Book of Abraham to understand the issues raised by critics, I soon felt CHEATED AND BETRAYED. Not by Joseph Smith, but by the anti-Mormons who had conveniently left out some of the most important information about the Book of Abraham. The anti-Mormon critiques I had read left the reader without the slightest hint that the Joseph Smith papyri – the fragments that were found in 1967 – were remnants of a much larger collection of scrolls, and that these remnants DO NOT MATCH the multiple physical descriptions of the scroll Joseph Smith translated as the Book of Abraham. That scroll appears to have been in the collection that was sold to sold to a St. Louis museum in 1856 and then later sent to a Chicago museum, where it appears to have burned in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The critics almost universally assert that the Book of Abraham scroll has been found, not allowing the reader to know the gaps in their argument. To inform people that some of the OTHER related documents in the Joseph Smith collection do not deal with Abraham is just not faith shattering enough, I guess – but even that does raise some legitimate questions, especially since some of the figures that are included with the Book of Abraham were attached to some of the other documents. But now the debate is of quite a different flavor. The results of my investigation, and the evidence that the anti-Mormons left out, are given in my LDSFAQ page, “The Truth about the Book of Abraham, Part 1.”

Now in my recent post about lies, I made a comment about the “direct hits” I see in the Book of Abraham, and was asked for specifics. I go into these in some detail in my LDSFAQ page, “The Book of Abraham, Part 2 – Evidence that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and in “Part 3: Ancient Records Offer New Support for the Book of Abraham.”

Here’s one sample issue: Figure 6 in Facsimile 2, said by Joseph Smith AND modern scholars to represent “the four quarters of the earth.” Bullseye. Just a lucky guess? Here’s an excerpt from my page (“Part 2”) that deals with the direct hits:

Figure 6 is the same as the four canopic figures under the lion couch of Facs. 1 and is said by Joseph to represent “this earth in its four quarters.” How many farmers would have guessed that four little statues represented such a thing? But it is an entirely plausible explanation based on a modern understanding of Egyptian, and fits nicely into the themes of the hypocephalus. E. Wallis Budge explained, “These jars were under the protection of Isis, Nephthys, Neith, and Serqet, and represented the south, north, east, and west respectively” [Budge, 1904, 1:210]. In the forward to Budge’s translation of the Book of the Dead, Budge wrote that the four “children of Horus” were each “supposed to be lord of one of the quarters of the world, and finally became the god of one of the cardinal points” [Budge, 1967, p. cxxiv, emphasis mine]. Joseph was absolutely correct.

According to John Gee [Gee, 1991], the four canopic vessels represent the four Sons of Horus, each of which has its own unique name, its own animal head, and its own cardinal direction. The link between the Sons of Horus and the cardinal directions was first established in 1857 [Brugsch, 1857], so Joseph could not have drawn upon scholarly knowledge in saying that they represented the four quarters of the earth. Indeed, there was essentially no valid knowledge of Egyptian to draw upon in 1842 when the Book of Abraham was published.

Stephen E. Thompson criticizes Joseph Smith’s interpretation of Figure 4 [Thompson, 1995]. Concerning the claim of LDS scholars that the fours sons of Horus represent the four quarters of the earth, Thompson objects:

“As far as ancient Egypt is concerned, there is no evidence currently available to support this claim. There is only one context in which the sons of Horus are associated with the cardinal directions, i.e., ‘the earth in its four quarters.’ They were sent out, in the form of birds, as heralds of the king’s coronation….I must emphasize that it is only in this context, and in the form of birds, that these gods were associated with the cardinal points. In the funerary context no such relationship is evident. Furthermore, the fact that these gods are sent to the four quarters of the earth does not mean that the Egyptians equated them with these directions. There is no evidence that they did so.”

Thompson’s approach fascinates me. Instead of marveling at how Joseph could have guessed even a remotely plausible meaning for the canopic figures, he quibbles. After flatly stating that there is no evidence for a link to the four quarters of the earth, then he admits that there is only one context – coronations – in which such a link exists. He then denies the relevance of that link, alleging that Facsimile 2 is only a funerary scene. I wonder if he is unaware of what Hugh Nibley has been writing about Facsimile 2 for many years: that it is centers around the concept of the endowment, which is the “coronation” of the resurrected soul in the kingdom of God. Indeed, non-LDS scholars acknowledge that figures of this type (the hypocephalus) are concerned with the life after, with a triumphant resurrection and entrance into eternity. It seems entirely reasonable to me to place Facsimile 2 into the context of a coronation scene, the one scene for which Thompson says the sons of Horus are linked to the four quarters of the earth. But Thompson can allow no room for plausibility in anything Joseph says.

I also disagree with Thompson’s stance that only one context permits a relationship between the sons of Horus and the cardinal directions. John Gee provides others in his article. For example, in the Pyramid Texts, “the Sons of Horus are associated with the orientation of the four corners of the earth and used to orient the Pyramid” [Gee, 1991, p. 38]. They are also connected to winds from the four corners of the sky.

I feel that identifying the “four quarters” with the sons of Horus in Figure 6 is especially appropriate, since the four legs of the adjacent cow, Hathor = ‘house of Horus’, have a similar meaning mentioned in the quote from Campbell above.

Still puzzled about Thompson’s allegation, I borrowed a copy of Richard W. Wilkinson’s Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art [Wilkinson, 1994] from our local library. The discussion of the Sons of Horus in Wilkinson clearly links them to the four quarters of the earth or the four cardinal directions, with no hint at all that this connection only occurred during coronation ceremonies. For example, Wilkinson’s glossary entry for the Sons of Horus explains that they “were four genii or minor deities connected with the cardinal points and which guarded the viscera of the deceased. Originally human-headed, they were regularly portrayed with the heads of different creatures: Imsety, human-headed (south); Duamutef, jackal-headed (east); Hapy, ape-headed (north); Qebesenuef, falcon-headed (west)” (p. 213). His section on the meaning of the number four notes that the four Sons of Horus were one of several groups of four commonly found in Egyptian art. Then he writes, “Frequently the number [four] appears to connote totality and completeness and is tied to the four cardinal points…The four cardinal points are certainly an ancient concept…. Usually … the four areas represent the four quarters of the earth alone. This is the case in most religious rituals which find representational expressions” [Wilkinson, 1994, pp. 133-134, emphasis mine]. He does cite the coronation of the king as well as the jubilee ceremony as examples involving the cardinal directions, but there is no hint that the connection between the four Sons of Horus and the four quarters of the earth only occurs in a narrow and limited context.

Page 145 of Wilkinson shows a photograph of canopic jars (shaped as the Sons of Horus, containing human viscera) in a decorated chest (22nd Dynasty). Each side of the chest also has one of the four Sons of Horus on it, being protected by the goddesses Isis, Nephthys, Neith, and Selket. This concept is discussed on pages 70-71 in the context of placement of coffins, which were sometimes oriented with the cardinal directions (head to the north, with the body sideways facing east). The four Sons of Horus were sometimes placed on the long sides of the coffin, with two on the west side and two on the east. Wilkinson then notes that the Son of Horus are sometimes represented on the four sides of the chests in which canopic jars were stored. Again, the Sons of Horus are linked to directions in a context other than coronation rites alone. Joseph’s “four quarters of the earth” remains a “direct hit,” in my eyes. Now how can the critics explain that? If Joseph were a fraud, why the direct hits?

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Author: Jeff Lindsay

79 thoughts on “All Lies? My Experience with the Book of Abraham

  1. Hugh Nibley has written many great books on The Book of Abraham, my favorite being “Abraham in Egypt.”

  2. Such an interesting pattern: that which is weak is made strong. The Book of Abraham appeared to be a laughable weakness in the armor of the Church for a while, but further research has shown that it’s one of the strongest witnesses that Joseph was a real prophet. The evidence from other ancient documents is really interesting!

  3. Interesting post. Grant Palmer, LDS CES Director, comes to a different conclusion (pg. 36 of “Insider’s View…)

    “My conclusion is that a large body of evidence demonstrates that Joseph mistranslated a number of documents. I know of no substantial evidence to support his claim to have ever literally translated any document…I harbor the suspicion that they (BofM, BoA) represent a nineteenth-century encounter with God rather than an ancient epic. This is enlightening on a spiritual level but of no value in trying to learn more about ancient America or the MIddle East.”

  4. Haha wow sounds like Bro. palmer needs to read Jeff’s FAQ. It’s so hard to believe the CES director does not agree with joseph smith’s statement that he translated the book of mormon from an ancient record. I guess everyone is entitlted to their own opinions, but his certainly fall far from the tree. i’d hate to have him teaching my kids

  5. Bill, quoting Palmer: “My conclusion is that a large body of evidence demonstrates that Joseph mistranslated a number of documents. I know of no substantial evidence to support his claim to have ever literally translated any document….”

    If Palmer truly believes this (and I think he does), it is not because there is no evidence, but because he has failed to interact with it.

    Palmer’s Insider’s View is an irresponsible book written by an unbelieving CES employee who wouldn’t come clean for 20 years, but instead waited for his pension to kick in before declaring his unfaith.

  6. Bill said: Grant Palmer, LDS CES Director

    Makes him sound like the head of CES, however in truth, an LDS Institute director in Los Angeles, northern California and at the Utah State Prison. It sounds like there are a LOT of CES Directors

  7. Yes, there are a lot of regional or local directors in CES. I don’t know the exact title.

    It is a paid position of CES “Church Education System”, which is some kind of subsidiary of the church, or a corporation that is owned by the church.

    Our local director, here in central Indiana, supervises about 40 teachers of seminary and institute.

    As I understand it, the teachers are unpaid positions, but I might be wrong.

    Our local CES director has a secretary, but that is a part-time position.

  8. i believe that, because of the amount of work that institute and seminary teachers are expected to put in, they do get paid, though it’s not nearly enough to get rich on.

  9. Also see the great, great book,

    “The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri.”

    Very in depth, very well documented, and the best scientific backing for the Book of Abraham I have ever read.

  10. ESO: Careful now. The RfM’ers might jump down your throat for calling it “volunteer” when they are “called” to the position. <wink>

  11. If your evidence of the BOA is so convincing why doesn’t the Church endorse it on their website and use as a missionary tool instead of having all the members sort through all the other theories explaining the BOA?

  12. Anonymous said…

    If your evidence of the BOA is so convincing why doesn’t the Church endorse it on their website and use as a missionary tool instead of having all the members sort through all the other theories explaining the BOA?

    Because the Church does not want us to rely on physical evidence but on spiritual confirmations that the scriptures are true.

  13. Book of Abraham – a different perspective

    The knowledge of the Egyptian language among Egyptian scholars in the 1830’s was in its infancy. Six years prior to acquiring the Egyptian mummies and papyri, Joseph had completed the translation the Book of Mormon which was reportedly inscribed with strange characters called “altered Egyptian.” His natural curiosity for understanding and translating strange and ancient languages must have been peaked. This was also to include a period of time in Kirtland when the church hired a Jewish Rabbi to teach the Hebrew language to interested church members.

    On July 3,1835 some of the saints at Kirtland purchased the mummies and papyrus [from a Mr. Chandler], and I [Joseph, Smith, Jr.], with W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc. a more full account of which will appear in their place, as I proceed to examine or unfold them. Truly can we say, The Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of peace and truth. [LDS Church History, vol 2, pp 235-236; RLDS Church History, vol 1, pp 568-569]

    From 1835-1836, Joseph occasionally mentions in his diary working with his scribes to create a grammar of the Egyptian language as an aid in translating the papyri, working on the translation and displaying the mummies and papyri to interested parties.

    JOSEPH SMITH APPEARED TO HAVE HIS OWN DOUBTS

    During the entire process of translation of the Book of Abraham, Joseph never claimed direct inspiration of God. Apparently it was produced through application of his acquired knowledge, rather than with any claim to extraordinary [divine] assistance. [C. Webb, Joseph Smith as a Translator (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1936), p.73]

    Although at times Joseph referred to the ancient records as “sacred”, he never referred to the Book of Abraham as scripture. In the Doctrine and Covenants, there are many references to the Bible and the Book of Mormon. There was no reference in the 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants to the Book of Abraham even though the Book of Abraham had been purchased 9 years prior and had been published 2 years before the death of Joseph Smith.

    The first part of the translation of the Book of Abraham was finally published in Times and Seasons [vol 3, No.9 (March 1,1842), pg 703-706]. The title and preface read as follows: “Of some ancient Records that have fallen into our hands, from the Catacombs of Egypt, purporting to be the writings of Abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.” The use of the words “purporting to be” would seem to indicate at least some degree of doubt on the part of Joseph Smith, Jr. regarding its authenticity. This same preface as written above is repeated verbatim in the LDS History, vol 4, p 524. The original 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great

    Price carried the same inscription. In the later editions of the Pearl of Great Price, as published by the LDS Church, the preface is also given, however, without the words, “purporting to be.”

    The same edition of the Times and Seasons that carried the first portion of the Book of Abraham, is also found the “Wentworth Letter” in which Joseph outlined the beliefs of the church. In the outline, Joseph stated, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” Even though the first installment of the Book of Abraham was being published, Joseph neglects to mention it as part of the beliefs of the Church.

    Two months prior to Joseph Smith’s death, an article was published in the Times and Seasons which stated, “If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the book of Doctrine and Covenants, set him down as an impostor.” [Times and Seasons, vol 5, No.7 (April 1,1844), pg 490] What is interesting is that there is no mention of the Book of Abraham, even though it had been published two years prior while Joseph was the editor of the Times and Seasons.

    If Joseph Smith was responsible for both the Inspired Translation of the Bible (Inspired Version) and the Book of Abraham AND IF he considered both scriptural, why didn’t he modify both to teach the same thing ( either a monotheistic God or plurality of Gods. The abrupt difference would suggest that his translation of the Book of Abraham was simply an honest human effort by one interested in ancient languages. Because his perceptions of the Egyptian alphabet gave rise to the translation that discusses plural gods it does not necessarily endorse that belief. Compare KJV Genesis 1:1-5 with the Inspired Version Genesis 1:3-8 which inidcate monotheism and the Book of Abraham 4:1-5 which inidicates polytheism.

    I seem to recall that in the Hebrew language, the plural form of a word is sometimes used only to emphasize the importance of the subject, not to be taken as literally plural. Recall those Hebrew classes in which Joseph was a student? Might it also be that references to “Gods” may really mean that there is only one but a very important God?

    PAPYRI LOST?

    It is thought by some that Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the prophet, had been instrumental in the original purchase of the mummies and papyri. This might explain why she was able to gain custody of the Egyptian artifacts after the death of Joseph Smith, Jr. When she died in May 1855, Emma Smith, Joseph’s wife, took custody. A little over a year later, Emma sold the mummies and papyri to Mr. A. Combs. For many years, it was presumed that the mummies and the papyri were eventually taken to Chicago for museum display. After the great Chicago fire of 1871, it was believed that all had been destroyed. However, the records were no longer to be found. Consequently, Joseph’s translation would have to stand unchallenged for many years to come – accepted only on faith.

    CANONIZED

    During the 1880 semiannual conference of the LDS Church, the Pearl of Great Price was accepted as one of their standard books of scripture. Along with it, the Book of Abraham was elevated to scriptural status. As canonized scripture, the LDS Church committed itself to the accuracy and validity of the book.

    PAPYRI REDISCOVERED?

    In 1967, what some claim to be Joseph’s papyri were rediscovered in the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The artifacts even included the bill of sale, signed by Emma Smith Bidamon. According to Dr. Hugh Nibley the documents were not the source material for the Book of Abraham. Among other things, the papyri of Joseph Smith’s day specifically mentioned a small amount of red ink. There was no red ink to be found on the recently acquired documents. Dr. Nibley identified the papyri as the “Book of Breathings.” There are certain similarities, however, between Joseph Smith1s still existent Egyptian alphabet and some of the newly discovered papyri. Some feel certain that certain portions of these papyri were in fact used by Joseph when he wrote the Book of Abraham. However, current translations have no similarity to Joseph’s translation but are in fact pages from the Book of the Dead belonging to the lady Ta-shert-Min, daughter of Nes-Khensu and from the Book of the Dead belonging to lady Amon-Re Neferirnub. The facsimiles, as published in the Pearl of Great Price, are identical to those found with the papyri, and are consistent with the Egyptian Book of Breathings. Those who are dedicated to the authenticity of the Book of Abraham are not in agreement regarding how to explain the inconsistencies from the analysis of these “new” papyri.

    In an interesting comparison, the BOM had two sets of witnesses. The group of three witnesses testify of being shown the plates by the gift and power of God. The group of eight witnesses testify of physically being shown the plates by Joseph Smith and handling the plates. The two groups together indicate the physical existance of the plates and the divine authority and protection.

    If the Book of Abraham is an inaccurate translation of a BoB or a BOD, then Joseph’s translation of the BOM could be brought into question. I see the translation of the BOM by Joseph Smith as being through the gift and power of God. I see the translation of the BoA by Joseph Smith as being a human effort alone, without the assistance of God. By accepting the BOM as scripture and not accepting the BoA as scripture, I am not condemning Joseph Smith’s efforts. I see Joseph Smith as very human, and when acting on his own was lousy at translating ancient languages. I consider the translation of the BoA to be considered solely the human effort of a very human Joseph Smith. I am, instead, praising the handiwork of God. The importance of the BoA is to prove to the world that it was God who preserved and provided us with the BOM, not Joseph Smith. As more and more evidences are found to support the Book of Mormon, it is not Joseph Smith that is vindicated but Almighty God, Himself.

    I am RLDS, hence a different perspective. goirish2@cox.net

  14. If what you say is true about Joseph having “doubts,” and him not translating it with the divine power he used to translate the Book of Mormon, it would not seem weird. Considering the fact that Joseph didn’t translate the Book of Abraham the same way as the Book of Mormon, one would be worried that he didn’t do it correctly. Nevertheless, Joseph still had the BoA published.

  15. I haven’t studied super-extensively into this topic, but I can relate to Jeff, in that when I exposed to it, it gave rise to certain questions in my own mind.
    I had of course encountered the allegations against the Book of Abraham sometime over my mission (which, btw, I served in Wisconsin&the UP of Michigan), maybe some before, and was placated by the explanation that not all the papyrus was recovered, and the red-ink thing, etc. However, I came across some evidence on an atheist web-site which led me to a bit of further research, and I discovered a paper by John Tvedtnes, transcribed by Kerry Shirts, called “Mnemonic Device of the Joseph Smith Papyri, Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar & the Book of Abraham.” In there it puts forth an explanation concerning what Hugh Nibley referred to as the Hor Sen-Sen Papyrus, and it being a Mnemonic Device, or super-crypto-gram, for the message of the Book of Abraham, also speaking of its relationship to Joseph Smith’s “Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar.” It seems to be a reasonable explanation, but it is from 1968.

    My question is to Jeff: Have you seen this, and do you think it is still a viable option after about 40 years? Also, did you receive a more definitive answer to your prayers on the matter, other than the physical information you found?

    I got my copy of the text from http://www2.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/mnemonic.htm

    As I side note, I would like to mention that my testimony of the restored Gospel is not based on these bits of information and insights to Church History. Mine is not an intellectual testimony only, but is in fact based more on prayer and fasting. Sometimes our intellect can be fooled. Sometimes history can really get messed with. I read the book on Mark Hoffman’s case, and it opened my eyes to things as far as forgeries go too. Anyhow, I know the truth of the gospel. I was raised as a non-Christian (non-religious), have been an atheist, and agnostic. In my later teens I thought a lot more about what is truth in this world, and though I had rejected the Bible and Christians, (in part because of ‘Christians’ I had met), I came to believe in Christ thru the Book of Mormon, and thru prayer and communication with God. I am an intellectual person, and find myself interested in many of these periphery things, like some of the issues of Church history, etc.

    -Dirk

  16. Perhaps the greatest witness to the authenticity of the BoA and Joseph Smith’s calling as the Prophet of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times is the temple. I find fascinating the many references to temple concepts in the BoA including:

    – A desire by a man to become a “rightful heir” and to hold the “right of the firstborn” (Abraham 1:1-4);

    – Evidence that the curse was continued in the land, and in that day and age (patriarchy vs. matriarchy; Abraham 1:21-24);

    – An imitation of the holy order (Abraham 1:25-28);

    – The sacrifice at an altar (Facsimile 1);

    – An arrested sacrifice and a substitute provided (Abraham 1:20);

    – The promise of eternal seed and priesthood (Abraham 2:6-11);

    – Seeking and finding the Lord (Abraham 2:12);

    – The testing of a man and his wife to their covenants with the Lord, and with each other (Abraham 2:22-25);

    – A seer stone or Urim and Thummim that provides knowledge of a “higher order of kingdoms” (Abraham 3:1f; cf. D&C 130:10);

    – A vision of the cosmos and one’s place in it (Abraham 3:2f; cf. 2 Nephi 27:7);

    – A vision given in a “circle” (Facsimile 2); and,

    – A coronation scene of a righteous priesthood holder sitting on the throne “by politeness of the king” (Facsimile 3).

    Without the temple and the BoA, it would be difficult to comprehend why the saints would be told to “do the works of Abraham” (D&C 132:32).

  17. Note some of the temple paralles in the “Papyrus of Ani Eqyptian Book of the Dead” translated by E.A. Wallis Budge. I don’t know what this means but if you have been to the temple you can see some of the elementshttp://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/egyptian_bookofdead03.htm.

  18. If you want to understand the parallels between Egyptian practices and the temple, read Hugh Nibley’s “Temple and Cosmos.” It’s fascinating and very clear and straightforward.

    RLDS Guy:

    “Oliver Cowdery spoke of volumes that would be necessary to contain it.” Other people expressed the same opinion of the lengthy nature of the Book of Abraham in its entirety. This might explain why Joseph Smith did not include it with the other scriptures as you mentioned. That might also explain why it was not canonized immediately, since it was apparently regarded as an unfinished work, like the so-called Inspired Version of the KJV Bible, which was later included as the Joseph Smith Translation.

    President Joseph Fielding Smith said:

    “Now, do you think that these discoveries and inventions … have come just because these men have been sitting down and concentrating their minds upon these matters and have discovered them though their thought or accidentally? Not in the least, but the Spirit of the Lord, the Light of Christ, has been back of it. … We are ready for these discoveries, these inventions, and they all have a bearing upon the restoration of the gospel and preparation for the time which is yet future, but which is shortly to come, when Christ shall reign on the earth, and for a thousand years peace shall be established.”

    With all of the evidences for the truth of the Book of Abraham, particularly in the wording and representation of things, it would certainly be a stretch to say that Joseph Smith translated the BoA merely by means of his own intellect.

    You seem to suggest that the BoA may have been an attempt to translate a Book of the Dead. You have obviously not read Hugh Nibley’s extensive works on this subject. Here are a few suggestions:

    Abraham’s Temple Drama

    The Facsimiles in the Book of Abraham

    Abraham in Egypt

    [Source of quotations: Andrew Skinner, “The Book of Abraham: A Most Remarkable Book,” Ensign, Mar 1997, 16].

  19. Dear RDLS friend,

    I looked over your comments. They were thought provoking, but you are not correct in your idea that Joseph had “doubt” over the Book of Abraham because “During the entire process of translation of the Book of Abraham, Joseph never claimed direct inspiration of God.Apparently it was produced through application of his acquired knowledge, rather than with any claim to extraordinary [divine] assistance.”

    This is not the case.

    Warren Parrish noted,

    “I have set [sic] by his, Joseph Smith’s side and penned down the translation of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics [sic] as he claimed to receive it by direct inspiration from heaven.” (Letter from Warren Parrish, Kirtland Ohio, Feb. 5, 1838; “Painsville Republican”, Vol. 2, nos. 14,15; Feb. 15, 1838, whole # 67)

    Joseph DID claim to recieve direct revelation concerning the text of the Book of Abraham, so your claim that he must have had doubts over the Book of Abraham because of this factor is not in harmony with the historical record. But not that I am trying to argue anything with you, just to inform you that Joseph did recieve revelation on the Book of Abraham.

    I would like to discuss your views in more detail later.(You have sparked my curiosity.) But I do not have time now. There is so much more that needs to be taken into consideration, I believe, but it would take too much time for me to explain them in full detail. Later, perhaps.

  20. This is the same Warren Parrish that, in the summer of 1837, arrayed with several others against Joseph Smith, Jr. After Joseph’s return from Jackson County in 1837, Joseph wrote: “During my absence Warren Parrish, John F. Boynton, Luke Johnson, Joseph Coe, and some others united together for the overthrow of the church. Note that Joseph lists poor Warren first in his list.

    Ten days before the quote that you mention, there is another quote from Warren in the same publication: — February 5, 1838 Warren writes in the Painesville Republican that Joseph said “that the audible voice of God instructed him to establish a Banking-Anti-Banking Institution, which, like Aaron’s rod, should swallow up all other banks … and grow and flourish and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.” We both know that the Banking-Anit-Banking situation failed.

    If you wish to represent Warren Parrish as a creditable source of information, I will pray for you.

    RLDS friend

  21. mr rlds said… (or rather copy and pasted)

    If Joseph Smith was responsible for both the Inspired Translation of the Bible (Inspired Version) and the Book of Abraham AND IF he considered both scriptural, why didn’t he modify both to teach the same thing ( either a monotheistic God or plurality of Gods. The abrupt difference would suggest that his translation of the Book of Abraham was simply an honest human effort by one interested in ancient languages. Because his perceptions of the Egyptian alphabet gave rise to the translation that discusses plural gods it does not necessarily endorse that belief. Compare KJV Genesis 1:1-5 with the Inspired Version Genesis 1:3-8 which inidcate monotheism and the Book of Abraham 4:1-5 which inidicates polytheism.

    he wasn’t out to “modify” it that’s not what translation is…

    both viws in both books are completely true…

  22. who cares what the rlds have to say! their views are off-kilter anyway… … it’s like they’re looking at the gospel through a kolidescope… wouldn’t you think they’d be on the same side as us?… notice no one cares to attack them…

  23. about multiple gods… maybe there are multiple gods?… who’s to say god didn’t have a god… to not aknowledge such a possiblity is a narrow minded sectarian view…

    god is the one and only god that we worship… but who’s to say he’s the only god that ever existed?

    “the absence of evidence is not the proof of non existence… “
    MP

  24. It is absolutely uncontroverted that Joseph’s published Egyptian alphabet and the translation of the 3 facsimiles are all entirely incorrect.

    The fact the Joseph used language of the 4 corners of earth is also of no surprise. The fact that he used this phrase (ie got only one thing right) does not prove anything. The phrase “four corners of the earth” besides being generally masonic in origin, was one of Joseph’s favorite phrases. Search the Book of Mormon, D&C and History of the Church for the phrase; you will find that the use of the phrase by Joseph or “the Lord” is abnormally frequent. The fact that it is included in Joseph’s “translation” of BOA more likely proves that he was using his own words.

    Does not any one see that you can argue about each and every little dispute of truth in the mormon church until you blue in the face. But when looking at the discrepancy in evidence that hurts the church’s claim to true (ie first vision, treasure digging, 3 & 8 Witnesses, error in the B of M, no evidence of B of M, or nephites, no box on the hill cumorah where the plates where kept, polygamy, the many discrepancy in doctrine ect. . .) in the totality, that the church in all probability and likelihood is false. I would not bet my salvation upon a “spiritual” feeling that the church is true, especially when it was my “heart felt” desire that it be true.

    It is not likely that God setup all the evidentiary obstacles to the claim that the church was true, so that those of us who are rational, objective and logical would fail in the grand scheme.

  25. Argue you can. And argue people do. One can find reason to believe or disbelieve just about anything, and justify their belief quite reasonably.

    When you mention all the evidences that you claim are against the Church being true, why didn’t you mention the evidences that verify its truth? To deny their existence would be purely an emotional response.

    We just don’t know all things, like God does. And our intellects are incapable of knowing all things, like God does. That simple, yet profound fact, illustrates the absolute essentiality the Holy Ghost, and of communion with the Almighty in our pursuit of truth.

    If satan can appear as an angel of light, fooling the physical senses, imagine how he can fool the intellect which derives all it knows through the pysical senses alone.

  26. Intellectual argument can be disputed by intellectual argument but the witness of the Holy Ghost cannot be argued away by the opinions of others.

  27. “It is absolutely uncontroverted that Joseph’s published Egyptian alphabet and the translation of the 3 facsimiles are all entirely incorrect.”

    But John A. Wilson an Egyptologist out of Chicago, who was well qualified
    to caution critics, noted that scholarship requires a more responsible
    analysis than “a lot of indignant snorts” (“Thousands of Years: An
    Archaeologists Search For Ancient Egypt”, p. 176) Wilson added that
    “the Mormons will survive this criticism because: Egyptologists can claim
    no inspiration. We can only scrape the surface meaning. If Joseph Smith
    was a prophet, he was an instrument of divine authority, so that he
    might find the deepest meaning.” (Wilson, “Ibid”., p.174, 176).

    We must becareful not to judge something to harshly that we do not understand.