The relationship between the Book of Abraham and the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri continues to receive scholarly attention from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Professor Ritner (LDS egyptologist John Gee's former professor) has given his response to the LDS Church essay on the Book of Abraham. Such a declaration may seem reasonable to those already predisposed to accept it, but on closer reading, the LDS church posting suggests discomfort with its own conclusions and reasoning.
The web posting notes also two writings by John Gee (notes 44 and 45), purporting to prove a memory of the sacrifice of Abraham by Pharaoh in later Egypt. In combination with other borrowed Old Testament names, Abraham (in varying spellings) occurs as a name of power throughout the magical papyri, but there is no special connection with the lion bed.
The Coptic text is not an original Egyptian story but based on Greek and written after the Arabic conquest. Since a literal meaning of Smith's words disproves the Book of Abraham, the desire of the LDS church to change Smith's clear meaning is understandable, but not believable. The Tanner volume that first published these manuscripts is cumbersome to use as it lacks running pagination, but relevant manuscript pages are lettered J through M, with a second series labeled out of order S, R, Q, N, P and O.
The identity of the underlying Egyptian text is particularly clear in the series Q, N and O, and these are discussed in detail below. Page Q in both microfilm and transcription follows, corresponding directly to the Book of Abraham 1: 13-18.
Here follow the microfilm and transcription of page N, containing Book of Abraham 1: 26-31, and the corresponding Egyptian signs from P. The copied Egyptian thus continues directly from pages N to O, with no new Egyptian signs available for the intervening English translation on page P.
It is not surprising that Smith's translation of just a few Egyptian words could become a lengthy narrative. From the fruitfulness of the Osirian bowl, in which, drawn by some marvelous sympathy, it flows ceaselessly, strong in power hidden in its two-faced self. The all-seeing Chenosiris, guard of the sacred channels which are the humid nature in which the life of all things consists.
It is to this symbolic tradition invoking spirits, astronomy and sacred tablets that the prolix translation of Joseph Smith belongs. It must be stressed again that the real translation of the Egyptian signs discussed above is acknowledged in editions of the papyri not only by Egyptologists but by Mormon authors as well (Nibley, Rhodes and Gee).
With the Book of Abraham now confirmed as a perhaps well-meaning, but erroneous invention by Joseph Smith, the LDS church may well devote some reflection to the status of the text. The book of Abraham is one of the canonized works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are also problems concerning the content of the book of Abraham, but the essay spent almost no time discussing those.
Neither the Lord nor Joseph Smith explained the process of translation of the book of Abraham… The truth of the book of Abraham is ultimately found through careful study of its teachings, sincere prayer, and the confirmation of the Spirit.
However, if the book of Abraham only needs its teachings and the Holy Ghost to verify it, to prove its truthfulness, what is the purpose of this essay? While it is true that we can never know with 100% certainty how the translation took place, there is enough of the historical record existing in journals and the "Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language" to conclude that Joseph was actually attempting a real character-by-character translation. Some evidence suggests that Joseph studied the characters on the Egyptian papyri and attempted to learn the Egyptian language.
Neither the rules nor the translations in the grammar book correspond to those recognized by Egyptologists today. As a side note, the Book of Mormon reportedly took Joesph Smith about 90 days to translate, but the book of Abraham was started in 1835, but not published until 1842. The loss of a significant portion of the papyri means the relationship of the papyri to the published text cannot be settled conclusively by reference to the papyri. Regardless, the Grammar and Alphabet that Joseph produced make it clear, along with the hieroglyphs transcribed and meanings of those hieroglyphs penned (which meanings later show up in the book of Abraham), that he had no idea how to render Egyptian hieroglyphs into English.
Alternatively, Joseph's study of the papyri may have led to a revelation about key events and teachings in the life of Abraham, much as he had earlier received a revelation about the life of Moses while studying the Bible. In this scenario, even if Joseph were presented a picture of a chariot, or if he held onto a chicken bone, he could have learned about the life and teachings of Abraham (or any other topic) from an object. Considering that Joseph purported to receive many revelations for the Doctrine and Covenants without doing this, why the need for a physical object to help him meditate and reflect?
Additionally, couldn't he have written about Abraham while creating his inspired translation of the bible? Joseph repeatedly said that he translated the Book of Mormon, in which he took a book in one language and interpreted it into another. As Possibility 2 above said, Joseph believed he was making a language-to-language translation.
In the above quote it says that Joseph must "examine or unfold" the rolls in order for him to give a more full account. The idea that the physical scrolls were a catalyst for revelation simply does not hold up to evidence or reason. Joseph seems very clear in his other scriptural translations to be aware of what the processes were. Regardless of these problems, it seems that the Church may be positioning themselves to do just this. A careful study of the book of Abraham provides a better measure of the book's merits than any hypothesis that treats the text as a conventional translation. The book's status as scripture lies in the eternal truths it teaches and the powerful spirit it conveys. The book of Abraham's status as scripture ultimately rests on faith in the saving truths found within the book itself as witnessed by the Holy Ghost.
If the only requirement for something to be scripture is that the Holy Ghost bears witness of "saving truths," then someone like Elder Paul H. If "eternal truths it teaches and the powerful spirit it conveys," is the touchstone for what scripture is, then why hasn't the Church canonized other writings as scripture?
If the Church pursues this direction, will they be adding to the idea that words spoken in General Conference are scripture? When one of the brethren stands before a congregation of the people today, and the inspiration of the Lord is upon him, he speaks that which the Lord would have him speak. If the Church pursues that line of thinking, then they will have to deal with the problems of why so many leaders of the Church without the inspiration of the Lord (since some doctrines of the past have now been discarded as theories) and how we can trust that what the leaders speaking now are inspired of the Lord. There is not room here for a discussion on what, if any, is the role of modern prophets, seers, revelators and translators as it relates to scripture, but it is an important one that must be had if the Church continues to share these essays anonymously. For an organization that has a direct link to God's word and truth through their prophets, seers and revelators, why can't the current leaders go to God and get a definitive answer on exactly how Joseph brought about the book of Abraham?


The essay mostly tries to explain how it is possible for Joseph Smith to have called the process for bringing forth the book of Abraham a "translation" when it is obvious that it was not a translation of the Egyptian papyri in his possession, into the book of Abraham. For a century now, professors and LDS students from this leading institute of Egyptian studies have analyzed and debated the papyri and its relationship to Joseph Smith's translation.
Robert Ritner is the latest University of Chicago Egyptologist to turn his attention to the papyri. Robert Ritner, Professor of Egyptology in the Oriental Institute, housed at the University of Chicago. Not a single opposing scholar is mentioned by name, nor are their reasons for rejecting the Book of Abraham. The facsimiles are all based on ancient Egyptian documents, and the Egyptian texts of all three can now be deciphered.
39), it is absolutely impossible to identify that god with the Egyptian canopic jar deity Qebehsenuef as Smith did in his explanation of Facsimile 1, Fig. These pages, unmentioned in the new LDS church posting, were published in 1966 in microfilm reproductions and in transcription by Jerald Tanner as Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, Salt Lake City, Utah Lighthouse Ministry. The Egyptian copies are so clear that they can be recognized easily by laymen with no knowledge of Egyptian scripts.
Those pages are followed by identifications of the copied Egyptian within the Joseph Smith papyrus corpus. Before the 1822 decipherment of hieroglyphs by Jean-François Champollion in France, it had been wrongly assumed that the Egyptian writing system was purely symbolic, not phonetic. To be clear, since the Book of Abraham is now proved to be based on the surviving Hôr papyrus, LDS church-sponsored editions of that text effectively disprove the validity of the Book of Abraham. The former Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, since 2001 renamed the Community of Christ, avoids this issue by treating the Book of Abraham as speculative writing by Smith, not as a document of historical truth. For the scholarly critiques and the varying LDS defenses, see Ritner, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, pp. For the essentially unanimous readings and translations by Ritner (2002), Baer (1968), Parker (1968), Gee, Rhodes and Nibley (2005), Rhodes (2002), and Nibley (1975), see Ritner, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri, 2011, pp.
As such, it is accepted by the Church as the word of God, giving His divine instruction to man. Joseph Smith claimed to have translated the original document, an ancient papyrus covered with mysterious symbols, from the Egyptian language into English. They did offer a few items that attempts to show through scholarly study that the content of the book of Abraham is accurate. Wouldn't the Church be better off to leave all the scholarly attempts alone and merely say to people, "Read it and pray about it," much like Moroni's promise concerning the Book of Mormon?
His history reports that, in July 1835, he was "continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients. None of the characters on the papyrus fragments mentioned Abraham's name or any of the events recorded in the book of Abraham. However, based on the work of Ritner, Marquardt and Woods (The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, 2013) and the work of Cook and Smith (see below), it should be clear that there is no papyri missing that could contain all of the book of Abraham. In this definition, Joseph was still translating, but the definition is now one that involves moving something from point A to point B.
Why was there a need for some papyri to give Joseph Smith "an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation"? He covered the time period of Abraham as he worked through Genesis, why wasn't he so moved to write more about him like he did with Moses, which is how the book of Moses came to be? He never said he translated the Doctrine and Covenants, he said that he received revelation from God, in which he moved information (God's word and will) from heaven to earth.
If one is translating an actual character, doesn't that imply a real translation and not some "spiritual" translation that doesn't need the papyri? If he simply used the scrolls as a medium to receive revelation, why "examine" and "unfold" the rolls? But since there is no way of knowing how Joseph created the book of Abraham, the Church can assign whatever method they wish. So with the book of Abraham, why would God in essence lie to Joseph Smith (or, at the least, keep him in the dark) about the process?
Dunn, one time President of the First Council of the Seventy, created a lot of scripture in his day.
Apparently the topic is important enough to address in a special essay, and important enough that it causes many to dwindle in unbelief, why not a quick prayer and revelation from God to clear up the matter? His book, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, includes the first ever complete translation of the papyri. It is a response to an essay posted on the LDS Church website titled Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham. Yet the LDS paper attempts to engage in scholarly debate from a one-sided position, repeatedly citing in the footnotes the same limited set of apologists who are primarily church employees at BYU in Provo. 3581B, and Zoega Borgia fragment ccxxii), and a combined scholarly edition was published by E. Gee's article is not honest in its title, its suppression of prior important scholarship, and its presentation of the principal actors. But in these texts, the English is the text of the Book of Abraham as it was being modified and would be published, with obvious deletions and revisions in the handwritten English text.
Not surprisingly, all of the Egyptian signs are taken from the Breathing Permit of Hôr, exactly as one would suspect from Facsimiles 1 and 3 and the internal references within the Book of Abraham to the Facsimiles as noted above.
99-101 of Ritner, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, 2011 = Plate V and pp. Since it is canonized, it must adhere to the strictest definition of what scripture is and one would expect its origins to be beyond reproach.
Today however, non-LDS experts on the ancient Egyptian language and even the Church itself in this essay, tell us that the book of Abraham has nothing whatsoever to do with the papyri from which Joseph Smith claims to have translated it. As soon as they open the possibility of using empirical evidence to authenticate the book of Abraham, they have to be willing to accept all empirical evidence.
Mormon and non-Mormon Egyptologists agree that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the book of Abraham. If this was revealed directly from God, it would seem that the timeline would be more in keeping with the speed with which the Book of Mormon was claimed to be translated.
The best measurement for the missing portion of the scroll was conducted by Cook and Smith in which they believe approximately 22 inches are missing. According to this view, Joseph's translation was not a literal rendering of the papyri as a conventional translation would be.
In this case, the idea is that Joseph was moving information about Abraham from the heavenly sphere to the earthly sphere.


Why would Joseph need to pay $2400 to get a papyrus that gave him an opportunity to meditate and reflect? Because of his translation, Joseph learned that a papyrus actually contained the "writings of Abraham" which was the reason for buying the scrolls.
So how can the Church square this inaccurate Egyptian translation with the canonized book of Abraham? He was a dynamic speaker and millions of Mormons were touched by the spirit through the lies he told. Far too often, the LDS approach has been to find individual minor identifications or remote possibilities that cannot in sum either explain or justify the Book of Abraham.
Despite its inauthenticity as a genuine historical narrative, the Book of Abraham remains a valuable witness to early American religious history and to the recourse to ancient texts as sources of modern religious faith and speculation.
Ritner, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, The Smith Pettit Foundation, 2011, released in paperback by Signature Books in 2013 with differing pagination.
Rather, the following is a response to the Church's attempt to explain how the book of Abraham came to be. Instead, they choose to cherry-pick just the evidence that bolsters their position and ignore the evidence that doesn't. John Gee, an LDS apologist, believed that the missing amount was more like 1250.5 cm, or 41 feet. Rather, the physical artifacts provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation. Why study the Egyptian on the papyri, and pretend to write its meaning in the Grammar and Alphabet?
He still possessed them and could have readily used them to hold to help him meditate and reflect. It wasn't claimed that Joseph merely touched the papyrus and felt an impression that if he further touched the papyrus he would have transmitted to him writings about Abraham, he says he translated some Egyptian hieroglyphs and found that the scrolls actually contained Abraham's writings. In fact, the very meaning of the word "scripture" may need to be redefined as well as a new understanding of how scripture comes about if God chooses to manipulate people without their knowledge, something which is opposed to the Church's teaching about free will. JS 1), part of the group of Egyptian texts purchased by Smith in 1835 and long thought lost in the Chicago fire of 1871.
Winstedt in 1908.13 The Christian tale recounts the attempted martyrdom of a saint, but not necessarily the patriarch, Abraham, who is cast into a fiery furnace.
The new LDS citations of sources that are of minor relevance, misleading or false does not advance the cause of the church and its disputed scripture. With the rediscovery of the papyri at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1967, analysis by John Wilson, Richard Parker and Klaus Baer (all 1968), and even the LDS apologist Hugh Nibley (in 1975) disproved any possibility that the Book of Abraham could be an acceptable translation of the surviving Egyptian papyri. In these documents, often garbled bits of Egyptian hieroglyphs or cursive hieratic script are copied in a left hand column and equated on the right with lengthy and quite impossible translations. That section of the papyrus was not reproduced in the Book of Abraham or any other publication until the rediscovery of the Smith papyri in New York in 1967 and the publication of sepia photographs in The Improvement Era in January and February of 1968.
As mentioned above, both of these manuscripts can be found easily in the 1966 Tanner publication. The only truly ancient sources in the Book of Abraham are the many reworked Hebrew passages from Genesis, as outlined explicitly by H. The book still has its uses and significance, but not for the ancient world of Egypt and Abraham. In either edition, for Facsimile 1 compare plates III and IV, and for Facsimile 2 compare plates XXII and XXIII. They catalyzed a process whereby God gave to Joseph Smith a revelation about the life of Abraham, even if that revelation did not directly correlate to the characters on the papyri." And also "[I]llustrations with no clear connection to Abraham anciently could, by revelation, shed light on the life and teachings of this prophetic figure. Why would the Church pay $2400 for the mummies and papyri if Joseph didn't need the papyri to "translate" the story of Abraham? Ritner's permission for readers who are interested in ongoing discussions surrounding the Book of Abraham. These papyri were rediscovered in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1967 and quickly transferred to the LDS church, which published the first photographs of the texts the next year in the church magazine The Improvement Era. 5-8), particularly in a society where political and religious issues are not sharply distinguished.
My own works on the papyri (in 2002, 2003, 2011 and 2013)showed the same result, as did the LDS-sponsored translations by Michael Rhodes (2002) and the 2005 revision of Nibley's volume. Where it is possible to identify copied hieroglyphs, they again come from the Hôr papyrus (Fragment I, col. The copies made in 1965 and 1966, and the 1966 publication by Tanner, cannot then be forgeries since no forger could have had the unknown papyrus as a model to copy. The two manuscripts copy the same Egyptian signs for the same English text, with pages J and R being duplicates, as are pages K and Q, L and N, M and O. That ambiguity could be argued for the modern United States as well, since civil execution for murder is often linked to condemnation for killing in the Ten Commandments, a distinctly religious text. The body on the lion bed is certainly that of the deceased Osiris (as it is Hôr's vignette), not a threatened Abraham. Crum, however, showed that the more likely identification is with the Persian-era martyr Abraham, bishop of Arbela (modern Irbil in Iraq), who was beheaded for his Christian faith ca. It does not matter in whose hand the copies were made, since the work was under the direction of Smith, who alone claimed the rights of translation. The first hand copy of page P is probably the same Egyptian group copied first on pages M and O.
That would happen under Roman prosecution of Christians, but personal worship (or its refusal) was not a basic concern of the ancient Egyptian state. In all cases, the Egyptian hand copies by Parrish (S, R, Q, N, P and O) are better (more legible) than those of Williams. The LDS citation of Muhlestein's work does not support the narrative of the Book of Abraham.
Ultimately, however, it does not matter in whose handwriting the pages are copied, since Smith alone controlled the translation process —as Parrish noted in his 1838 letter. The selective defense of these explanations by the church is telling, and all other explanations are simply indefensible except by distorting Egyptian evidence.



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