Criticism of Mormonism/Online documents/Letter to a CES Director/Book of Abraham Concerns & Questions

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    Response to "Book of Abraham Concerns & Questions"


A FairMormon Analysis of: Letter to a CES Director


The Book of Abraham. An inspired translation of the writings of Abraham. Joseph Smith began the translation in 1835 after obtaining some Egyptian papyri. The translation was published serially in the Times and Seasons beginning March 1, 1842, at Nauvoo, Illinois.
—Introduction, Pearl of Great Price (2013 edition). off-site
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Response Section

"scholars have found the original papyrus Joseph translated and have dated it in first century AD, nearly 2,000 years after Abraham could have written it"

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author notes that, "scholars have found the original papyrus Joseph translated and have dated it in first century AD, nearly 2,000 years after Abraham could have written it."


Response

  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responds to these questions:
"Unit 31: Day 2, The Coming Forth of the Pearl of Great Price," Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, (2013)
In 1966, 11 fragments of papyri the Prophet Joseph Smith once had were discovered in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. These papyri contain authentic Egyptian writings, but they do not date to the time of Abraham, nor do they contain the actual personally handwritten account of Abraham. It is important to remember that only a few fragments and not all of the papyri that Joseph Smith possessed have been found. The book of Abraham may have been translated from papyri that have not been recovered. These lost papyri may have contained copies of Abraham’s writings.


At the present time we simply do not know the exact nature of the relationship between the book of Abraham and the papyri Joseph Smith possessed. There are various theories proposed as to how the prophet translated these writings, but we simply do not know the details. We do know that the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the book of Abraham by the gift and power of God.
(Click here for full article)
  •   The author got one fact correct:  
    The papyrus is dated much later than Abraham. Hugh Nibley suggested that the phrase “by his own hand upon papyrus” was a part of the original title of the ancient text.
  •   Fact:  
    However, Kirtland Egyptian Paper (KEP) - A1 has the following caption: “Translation of the Book of Abraham written by his own hand upon papyrus and found in the catacombs of Egypt.”[1] This seems to indicate that the phrase "by his own hand upon papyrus" is a 19th century addition to the text by either Joseph Smith, or the two scribes in whose handwriting the documents are written in, viz., W. W. Phelps and Willard Richards, respectively. This is bolstered by the addition of the phrase “and found in the catacombs of Egypt” that appear in KEPA 1. The phrase "found in the catacombs of Egypt" would not have appeared on the papyrus itself.
  •   Fact:  
    It is obvious from the historical data that Joseph Smith and the early brethren considered the scroll of Horos to be the source of the Book of Abraham (though not, as is argued by the critics, necessarily the Book of Breathings text).
  •   Answer:  
    It seems likely that the early brethren, when working with the papyrus, simply assumed that the papyrus in their possession was the actual document written "by the hand of Abraham." In other words, they would have thought that Abraham himself physically wrote on the papyrus in their possession. As Michael Ash explained, “it seems reasonable to conclude that Joseph may have believed that Abraham himself, with pen in hand, wrote the very words that he was translating... Joseph, by way of revelation, saw that the papyri contained scriptural teachings of Abraham and it would have been natural, therefore, to assume that Abraham wrote the papyri.”[2]




"It has absolutely nothing to do with Abraham or anything Joseph claimed in his translation for the Book of Abraham"

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author claims that the Joseph Smith papyri "has absolutely nothing to do with Abraham or anything Joseph claimed in his translation for the Book of Abraham."


Response

  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responds to these questions:
"Unit 31: Day 2, The Coming Forth of the Pearl of Great Price," Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, (2013)
In 1966, 11 fragments of papyri the Prophet Joseph Smith once had were discovered in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. These papyri contain authentic Egyptian writings, but they do not date to the time of Abraham, nor do they contain the actual personally handwritten account of Abraham. It is important to remember that only a few fragments and not all of the papyri that Joseph Smith possessed have been found. The book of Abraham may have been translated from papyri that have not been recovered. These lost papyri may have contained copies of Abraham’s writings.


At the present time we simply do not know the exact nature of the relationship between the book of Abraham and the papyri Joseph Smith possessed. There are various theories proposed as to how the prophet translated these writings, but we simply do not know the details. We do know that the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the book of Abraham by the gift and power of God.
(Click here for full article)
  •   Fact:  
    Joseph Smith had in his possession three or four long scrolls, plus a hypocephalus (Facsimile 2). Of these original materials, only a handful of fragments were recovered at the Metropolitan Museum. The majority of the papyri remains lost, and has likely been destroyed.
  •   Fact:  
    The Egyptian characters on the recovered documents are a portion of the "Book of Breathings," an Egyptian religious text buried with mummies that instructed the dead on how to successfully reach the afterlife. This particular Book of Breathings was written for a deceased man named Hor, so it it usually called the Hor Book of Breathings.
  •   Fact:  
    The extant fragments include the original Facsimile 1. The papyri containing Facsimile 2 and Facsimile 3 have never been recovered.
  •   Fact:  
    Other than the vignette represented in Facsimile 1, the material on the papyri received by the Church, at least from a standard Egyptological point of view, does not include the actual text of the Book of Abraham. This was discussed in the Church publication, the Improvement Era in January 1968. off-site


Quotes to consider

  • Scientist Henry Eyring (father of President Henry B. Eyring, counselor in the First Presidency) on the Book of Abraham:

An example of what I am talking about is the recent discovery of the papyrus scrolls from which Joseph Smith was presumed to have translated the book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. Modern scholars, looking at the scrolls, found nothing they considered to be similar to that book. I remarked at the time that such a finding didn't bother me in the least. God doesn't need a crib sheet in the form of a papyrus scroll to reveal Abraham's thoughts and words to Joseph Smith, with any degree of precision He considers necessary for His purposes. If the only function of the scrolls was to awaken the Prophet to the idea of receiving such inspiration, they would have fulfilled their purpose.
—Henry Eyring, Reflections of a Scientist, p. 46


IE Jan1968 cover.jpg Egyptian.papyri.rediscovered.funeral.documents.improvement.era.jan.1968.p12.jpg

Facsimile 1

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author claims that the Joseph Smith papyri "has absolutely nothing to do with Abraham or anything Joseph claimed in his translation for the Book of Abraham." The letter then analyzes Facsimile 1, the "lion couch" scene, which Joseph claimed represents an illustration of an attempt to sacrifice Abraham.


Response

  •   Fact:  
    The scene represented by Facsimile 1, according to Egyptologists, represents the resurrection of Osiris. In this case, Joseph has used the image to illustrate the attempted sacrifice of Abraham.
  •   Fact:  
    One point of interest is that another "lion couch" scene has been discovered which actually includes Abraham's name. Note that it does not claim that Abraham is the figure on the lion couch, and notes that "[t]he figure on the lion couch in this papyrus is a woman." See John Gee, Research and Perspectives: Abraham in Ancient Egyptian Texts on lds.org (July 1992)
  •   Fact:  
    Also of interest is some correlation between The Book of Abraham and the Apocalypse of Abraham, a Jewish document composed between about 70–150 AD. The Apocalypse of Abraham describes the idolatry of Abraham's father in detail, and talks of how Abraham came to disbelieve in his father's gods. The following quotes describe how God told Abraham to leave his father's house so that he would not be destroyed.
  • Abraham 1:15-17:

15 And as they lifted up their hands upon me, that they might offer me up and take away my life, behold, I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and he filled me with the vision of the Almighty, and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands;

16 And his voice was unto me: Abraham, Abraham, behold, my name is Jehovah, and I have heard thee, and have come down to deliver thee, and to take thee away from thy father’s house, and from all thy kinsfolk, into a strange land which thou knowest not of;

17 And this because they have turned their hearts away from me, to worship the god of Elkenah, and the god of Libnah, and the god of Mahmackrah, and the god of Korash, and the god of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; therefore I have come down to visit them, and to destroy him who hath lifted up his hand against thee, Abraham, my son, to take away thy life.

VIII. And it came to pass while I spake thus to my father Terah in the court of my house, there cometh down the voice of a Mighty One from heaven in a fiery cloud-burst, saying and crying: “Abraham, Abraham!” And I said: “Here am I.” And He said: “Thou art seeking in the understanding of thine heart the God of Gods and the Creator; I am He: Go out from thy father Terah, and get thee out from the house, that thou also be not slain in the sins of thy father’s house.” And I went out. And it came to pass when I went out, that before I succeeded in getting out in front of the door of the court, there came a sound of a [great] thunder and burnt him and his house, and everything whatsoever in his house, down to the ground, forty cubits.



Lion.couch.scene.with.abrahams.name.Leiden.Papyrus.I.384.jpg

"The following image is what Facsimile 1 is really supposed to look like"

The Charles Larson restoration of Facsimile 1

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author posts an image of a "restored" version of Facsimile 1 found in Charles Larson's book By His Own Hand upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri. The author states "The following image is what Facsimile 1 is really supposed to look like, based on Egyptology and the same scene discovered elsewhere in Egypt". The Larson restoration shows a second bird instead of a second hand on the reclining figure.


Response

  •   The author got one fact incorrect:  
    The Charles Larson restoration of Facsimile 1 has a number of inaccuracies, which are noted by a non-Mormon Egyptologist.


Quotes to consider

Let me state clearly at the outset my conviction that the questionable traces above the head of the Osiris figure are actually the remains of his right hand; in other words, Joseph Smith was correct in his understanding of the drawing at this point. Ashment 1979, pp. 36, 41 (Illustration 13), is very balanced in his analysis of the problem, presenting compelling arguments for reading two hands; Gee 1992, p. 102 and n. 25, refers to Michael Lyon in describing the "thumb stroke" of the upper (right) hand; cf. Gee 2000, pp. 37-38; and Rhodes 2002, p. 19, concludes: "... a careful comparison of the traces with the hand below as well as the tip of the bird's wing to the right makes it quite clear that it is the other hand of the deceased."...An important clue is provided in the orientation of the thumbs of the upraised hands toward the face. This is the expected way of depicting the hands of mourners and others when they are held up to (both sides of) their heads or before their faces.
—(non-Mormon) Egyptologist Lanny Bell, "The Ancient Egyptian 'Books of Breathing,' the Mormon 'Book of Abraham,' and the Development of Egyptology in America," Egypt and Beyond: Essays Presented to Leonard H. Lesko upon his Retirement from the Wilbour Chair of Egyptology at Brown University June 2005, (ed. Stephen E. Thompson), Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies, Brown University, 2008, p. 28.


Comparison of high resolution image of the Joseph Smith papyrus with Charles Larson restoration - detail of the "hand versus wing". Rotation and comparison of the existing bird wing with the disputed section of the papyrus

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author posts an image of a "restored" version of Facsimile 1 found in Charles Larson's book By His Own Hand upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri. The author states "The following image is what Facsimile 1 is really supposed to look like, based on Egyptology and the same scene discovered elsewhere in Egypt". The Larson restoration shows a figure with a phallus.


Response

  • The Charles Larson restoration of Facsimile 1 has a number of inaccuracies, which are noted by a non-Mormon Egyptologist.


Quotes to consider
  The author got one fact incorrect:  
This image should not be ithyphallic:

...the representation of an ithyphallic figure wearing a kilt would not be unparalleled. However, judging from the position of the erect phallus of the reclining kilted earth god Geb in a cosmological scene on Dynasty 21 Theban coffins now in Turin and Bristol, there would not be enough available space to restore the hand of Anubis, the erect phallus of the Osiris, and the body and wings of Isis in P.JS I: Anubis would have to be grasping the phallus himself and assisting Isis in alighting on it—which is unimaginable. . . .In this area, I believe the Parker-Baer-Ashment reconstruction (with its "implied" erect phallus) is seriously flawed.
(non Mormon) Egyptologist Lanny Bell, "The Ancient Egyptian 'Books of Breathing,'", p. 29


Comparison of high resolution image of the Joseph Smith papyrus with Charles Larson restoration - kilt detail

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author posts an image of a "restored" version of Facsimile 1 found in Charles Larson's book By His Own Hand upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri. The author states "The following image is what Facsimile 1 is really supposed to look like, based on Egyptology and the same scene discovered elsewhere in Egypt". The Larson restoration shows a priest with the jackal head of Anubis.


Response

  •   The author got one fact correct:  
    One thing that the Larson restoration likely got correct is that the head of the priest should have been the jackal head associated with Anubis.



Larson.restoration.anubis.2.jpg

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author states, regarding Facsimile 1: "The following images shows the same funeral scene which has been discovered elsewhere in Egypt. Notice that the jackal-headed Egyptian god Anubis is consistent in every funerary scene."


Response

  •   The author got one fact correct:  
    We agree that Facsimile 1 likely had the jackal head of Anubis rather than the human head, which appears to have been copied from the reclining figure.
  •   Fact:  
    Missing sections of the Facsimiles were filled in before their publication in the newspaper. We do not know if Joseph Smith directed the "restoration" of the missing sections, or if it was done by the engraver, Reuben Hedlock.
  •   The author got one fact incorrect:  
    However, we do not agree that it is the "same funeral scene." Facsimile 1 actually depicts the resurrection of Osiris. The figure on the couch is alive. The figures to which it is compared all show the preparation of a mummy.



Mummy.fac.1.comparison.jpg Lion couch scene at the louvre.jpg

Facsimile 2

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author examines Facsimile 2 and compares the way the Joseph and Egyptologists have interpreted the figures.


Response

  •   Fact:  
    It should be noted that portions of the original Facsimile 2 appear to have been missing, and that the missing portions were filled in with characters or images taken from other sources before the image was published in the Times and Seasons. Some material was copied from the Joseph Smith papyri. Among the missing sections may have been the area identified as section #3, which matches a figure which appears on Joseph Smith Papyrus IV.
  •   Fact:  
    One interesting thing about this restoration is that the figure in the bark boat actually does appear in this section of at least one other hypocephalus.



Hypocephalus.split.3D.1.jpg Hawk-headed.god.Re.in.Joseph.Smith.Papyri.jpg

Facsimile 3

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author notes, "Egyptologists state that Joseph Smith’s translation of the papyri and facsimiles are gibberish and have absolutely nothing to do with what the papyri and facsimiles actually are and what they actually say....Facsimile #3:
Joseph misidentifies the Egyptian god Osiris as Abraham.
Misidentifies the Egyptian god Isis as the Pharaoh.
Misidentifies the Egyptian god Maat as the Prince of the Pharaoh.
Misidentifies the Egyptian god Anubis as a slave.
Misidentifies the dead Hor as a waiter.
Joseph misidentifies – twice – a female as a male.


Response

  •   Fact:  
    It is quite easy to identify the two female figures in the drawing.
  •   Answer:  
    Joseph Smith would obviously also have noted that these figures were female, so it does raise a good question: Why would he deliberately identify two female figures as male? We do not know the answer to this, however, it does suggest that Joseph was using the existing image to illustrate a concept. Robert K. Ritner, Professor of Egyptology at the University of Chicago, states that "Smith’s hopeless translation also turns the goddess Maat into a male prince, the papyrus owner into a waiter, and the black jackal Anubis into a Negro slave."[3] Larry E. Morris notes the following in response to criticism leveled by Professor Ritner at the Book of Abraham,

Furthermore, Ritner does not inform his readers that certain elements of the Book of Abraham also appear in ancient or medieval texts. Take, for example, Facsimile 3, which depicts, as Ritner puts it, "enthroned Abraham lecturing the male Pharaoh (actually enthroned Osiris with the female Isis)" (JNES, p. 162). In what Ritner describes as nonsense, Joseph Smith claimed that Abraham is "sitting upon Pharoah's throne . . . reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy" (Facsimile 3, explanation).

Clearly, Joseph Smith's interpretation did not come from Genesis (where there is no discussion of Abraham doing such a thing). From Ritner's point of view, therefore, this must qualify as one of Joseph's "uninspired fantasies." But going a layer deeper reveals interesting complexities. A number of ancient texts, for example, state that Abraham taught astronomy to the Egyptians. Citing the Jewish writer Artapanus (who lived prior to the first century BC), a fourth-century bishop of Caesarea, Eusebius, states: "They were called Hebrews after Abraham. [Artapanus] says that the latter came to Egypt with all his household to the Egyptian king Pharethothes, and taught him astrology, that he remained there twenty years and then departed again for the regions of Syria."22

As for Abraham sitting on a king's throne—another detail not mentioned in Genesis—note this example from Qisas al-Anbiya' (Stories of the Prophets), an Islamic text compiled in AD 1310: "The chamberlain brought Abraham to the king. The king looked at Abraham; he was good looking and handsome. The king honoured Abraham and seated him at his side."23 [4]

  • Morris concludes,

Ritner may counter that such parallels do not establish the authenticity of the Book of Abraham. That is true, but certainly they deserve some mention. At the very least, these parallels show that "all of this nonsense" is not really an appropriate description of Joseph Smith's interpretation. Fairness demands that Ritner, in his dismissal of the content of the Book of Abraham, at least mention similarities between it and other texts about Abraham and point readers to other sources of information. [5]




Facsimile3.jpg

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author states, "The following is a side-by-side comparison of what Joseph Smith translated in Facsimile #2 versus what it actually says according to Egyptologists and modern Egyptology." The letter displays a graphic from "mormoninfographics.com" called "The Book of Abraham - Hypocephalus, a funerary amulet," which compares Joseph Smith's interpretations of elements of Facsimile 2 with those provided by Egyptologists.


Response

  •   The author got one fact correct:  
    The graphic notes that Joseph may have gotten an element correct: "there is some agreement."



Mormoninfographic.facsimile2.sons.of.horus.jpg

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author states, "One of the most disturbing facts I discovered in my research of Facsimile 2 is figure #7. Joseph Smith said that this is “God sitting on his throne…” It’s actually Min, the pagan Egyptian god of fertility or sex. Min is sitting on a throne with an erect penis (which can be seen in the figure). In other words, Joseph Smith is saying that this figure with an erect penis is Heavenly Father sitting on his throne."


Response

  •   Answer:  
    The Egyptians had multiple gods, each representing a particular characteristic. Latter-day Saints, (and Christians in general), on the other hand, worship one God, who encompasses all characteristics. Thus, Joseph could have identified any Egyptian god in Facsimile 2 as "God, sitting on his throne," not just Min. He does, in fact, also identify the hawk-headed god Re in the exact same manner. The is no Egyptian representation of the God that we know as "God the Father."
  • With regard to the nudity (and the phallus in particular), the Egyptians had no cultural reservations about depicting nudity, unlike our current society. Therefore, the depiction of Min and his phallus is used by critics to create an absurdity: that Joseph would dare to associate such a figure with God the Father. To ancient Egyptians, however, there would have been no absurdity in doing so. Joseph simply equated both the god Re and the god Min with "God sitting on his throne."
  • References in the figure below are to Michael D. Rhodes, "The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus . . . Twenty Years Later." off-site



Mormoninfographic.min.the.ithyphallic.god.jpg

"the sun gets its light from Kolob"

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author states, "Facsimile 2, Figure #5 states the sun gets its light from Kolob. We now know that the process of nuclear fusion is what makes the stars and suns shine. With the discovery of quantum mechanics, scientists learned that the sun’s source of energy is internal, and not external. The sun shines because of thermonuclear fusion; not because it gets its light from any other star as claimed by the Book of Abraham."


Response

  • Here is the explanation offered for Figure #5 Facsimile 2:

Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, as also Floeese or the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions. This planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob.

  •   The author got one fact incorrect:  
    The author claims that the Book of Abraham teaches that "the sun gets it light from Kolob." This is incorrect. The actual explanation offered by Joseph states that it "is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash." Joseph is claiming that the Egyptians believe this. It is nonsense to infer that Latter-day Saints believe or even ought to believe that Abraham taught that the photons leaving the surface of our sun originally came from Kolob.
  • There are many scriptures or statements by the prophets that seem to have scientific implications. Unfortunately, they are never couched in modern scientific terms and their meanings are often very obscure. The wording of Joseph Smith’s explanation of Figure 5 in Facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham is, in fact, very difficult to interpret. Some of the challenges are:
  1. To “borrow” means to receive with the intention of returning, especially said of a material object or substance. Does the Sun intend to repay the light it borrowed?
  2. What is meant by 'light' in this context? Is it the light of Christ?
  3. A “medium” can mean a material through which some signal propagates or a means or channel through which something is achieved. What does it mean here? Does it refer to a material or a means?
  4. What is Kae-e-vanrash? The Book of Abraham says that it is a “grand Key,” or “governing power.” What does that mean? Is Kae-e-vanrash a term for nuclear reactions, gravitation, cosmic rays? Or is it a more spiritual medium such as priesthood or faith, or an organizational structure, or a means used for administrative communications?
  •   Answer:  
    And, finally, what are we to understand about the nature of Book of Abraham astronomy? Is it a revelation from God to Abraham explaining the structure of the universe as it would be seen by the astronomers of our day? Or should we remember that “The Lord said unto me: Abraham, I show these things unto thee before ye go into Egypt, that ye may declare all these words.” Abraham 3:15, so that, as John Gee has suggested ("The Larger Issue"), this is simply the teaching that would be easiest for the Egyptians to understand — one that would teach them that Elohim, who dwells near Kolob, rules over than the sun-god, Amen-Re?




"There’s a book published in 1830 by Thomas Dick entitled 'The Philosophy of the Future State'"

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author claims that the Book of Abraham may be based upon ideas presented in Thomas Dick's book Philosophy of a Future State. The author states that "Joseph Smith owned a copy of the book and Oliver Cowdery quoted some lengthy excerpts from the book in the December 1836 Messenger and Advocate."


Response

  •   Answer:  
    Many of the ideas promoted by Thomas Dick were common Protestant beliefs and were therefore available without having to read Dick’s work. Joseph Smith never made any public or written statements indicating that he was aware of or that he had ever read Dick’s book. The only evidence that even suggests the possibility is circumstantial and is based upon the appearance of several passages from A Philosophy of a Future State in the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate.
  • More importantly, Joseph Smith rejected or contradicted many of the ideas put forth by Dick in A Philosophy of a Future State. It is therefore unlikely, contrary to Fawn Brodie’s speculation in her book No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, that Joseph had been “recently reading” Dick’s work and that it made a “lasting impression” upon the Prophet.



Links to detailed answers


"Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was directly asked about the papyri not matching the Book of Abraham in a March 2012 BBC interview"

From "A Letter to a CES Director"
The author states, "Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was directly asked about the papyri not matching the Book of Abraham in a March 2012 BBC interview:
Sweeney: Mr. Smith got this papyri and he translated them and subsequently as the Egyptologists cracked the code something completely different…
Holland: (Interrupts) All I’m saying…all I’m saying is that what got translated got translated into the word of God. The vehicle for that, I do not understand and don’t claim to know and know Egyptian.


Response

  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responds to these questions:
"The Book of Abraham," The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, (2000)
How Did the Prophet Translate the Ancient Writings?


The Prophet Joseph Smith never communicated his method of translating these records. As with all other scriptures, a testimony of the truthfulness of these writings is primarily a matter of faith. The greatest evidence of the truthfulness of the book of Abraham is not found in an analysis of physical evidence nor historical background, but in prayerful consideration of its content and power.
(Click here for full article)
  •   Fact:  
    The Church has known and publicly acknowledged in the Improvement Era that the papyri fragments do not match the text of the Book of Abraham since 1968 (for over 45 years). This isn't something new. Elder Holland knows this.
  •   Answer:  
    Elder Holland's statement is consistent with what the Church itself says on this subject in the The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual. Elder Holland said "what got translated got translated into the word of God." The manual says, "The greatest evidence of the truthfulness of the book of Abraham is not found in an analysis of physical evidence nor historical background, but in prayerful consideration of its content and power."




Endnotes

  1. [note]  Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Abraham, edited by John Gee, Vol. 18 in the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley (Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah: Deseret Book / FARMS, 2009), 546. ISBN 1606410547.
  2. [note]  Michael Ash, “Book of Abraham 201: Papyri, Revelation, and Modern Egyptology”, presented at the 2006 FAIR Conference. FairMormon link (Accessed 29 August, 2009).
  3. [note] Robert K. Ritner, “The Breathing Permit of Hor Among the Joseph Smith Papyri," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, (University of Chicago, 2003), p. 162, note 4. Dr. Ritner is one of Dr. John Gee's former professors at Yale. Ritner's article in the Journal of Near eastern Studies is highly critical of his former student's involvement with any LDS apologetic effort on the part of the Book of Abraham, specifically because he was not included in a peer review.
  4. [note] Larry E. Morris, "The Book of Abraham: Ask the Right Questions and Keep On Looking (Review of: “The ‘Breathing Permit of Hor’ Thirty-four Years Later.” Dialogue 33/4 (2000): 97–119)," FARMS Review 16/2 (2004): 355–380. off-site
  5. [note] Larry E. Morris, "The Book of Abraham: Ask the Right Questions and Keep On Looking (Review of: “The ‘Breathing Permit of Hor’ Thirty-four Years Later.” Dialogue 33/4 (2000): 97–119)," FARMS Review 16/2 (2004): 355–380. off-site