source site Ancient records are often transmitted as copies or as copies of copies. The record of Abraham could have been edited or redacted by later writers much as the Book of Mormon prophet-historians Mormon and Moroni revised the writings of earlier peoples. They are common pagan prayers and embalming instructions.
These documents were very important rituals that were central to the Egyptian religion, and it is impossible to believe the meaning could be changed so much that it would turn the scrolls from a story about Abraham to funerary texts. Moreover, documents initially composed for one context can be repackaged for another context or purpose. The opposite could also be true : illustrations with no clear connection to Abraham anciently could, by revelation, shed light on the life and teachings of this prophetic figure. Apologists here are literally throwing every possibility at the wall and hoping that something sticks.
Occam's razor would tell us that the solution that requires the least amount of assumptions is the correct one, and in this case the only conclusion is that the translation is not from God and not correct. We must remember that this essay has been approved by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. Some have assumed that the hieroglyphs adjacent to and surrounding facsimile 1 must be a source for the text of the book of Abraham.
But this claim rests on the assumption that a vignette and its adjacent text must be associated in meaning. In fact, it was not uncommon for ancient Egyptian vignettes to be placed some distance from their associated commentary.
The Kirtland Egyptian Papers, for which Joseph took credit, which bear his handwriting, and which this essay admitted previously were made with his participation and direction, make it clear that these characters ARE the source of the Book of Abraham. We have translation manuscripts that prove this, which will be shown below. In April , Joseph received a revelation for Oliver Cowdery that taught that both intellectual work and revelation were essential to translating sacred records.
Records indicate that Joseph and others studied the papyri and that close observers also believed that the translation came by revelation. The authors of the essay assume most members will not read the source material, but in this case members that do will find a very different meaning than what they have proclaimed. 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. Again, we need only look at the notebook that Joseph and his scribes created while he was translating to see the obvious connection.
We can clearly see the translation laid out systematically, character-by-character, using characters directly from the Hor scroll:. History of the Church, Vol.
Besides, we only need to look at the translations of the characters in the facsimiles to know that Joseph was indeed translating from these papyri. The long scroll theory is pure myth. By measuring the spacing between a damaged portions of the scroll, which repeat rhythmically along the length of the scroll because it was rolled up at the time the damage occurred, the exact length of the scroll has been accurately calculated. It turns out that only about 56 centimeters of the papyrus is missing.
There would have been no room for the Book of Abraham text on the missing portion.
Andrew W. Cook and Christopher C. Claims that the Book of Abraham actually came from a different, longer scroll are invalidated by the fact that the Book of Abraham itself clearly states that Facsimile 1 is part of the same scroll. Smith many decades earlier. Smith is rumored to have claimed by Nibley, via his uncle, that he saw a long scroll in the Nauvoo Mansion when he was five years old.
So this is a retelling of a retelling of a retelling of a year old childhood memory by a man who is a well established teller of tall tales. It is hard to imagine a less reliable source. Even though his name is referenced eight times in the endnotes of this essay, Dr. You have to wonder why the current First Presidency allowed them to occupy such a significant role in this essay. The Facsimiles alone are enough to tell us that these papyri have nothing to do with the Book of Abraham.
Just as mentioned above, Occam's Razor tells us that the simple answer is going to be correct, and in this case again the simple answer is that the papyri do not match what Joseph Smith proclaimed them to say. On the left we see a photographic image of the actual papyrus overlayed on the drawing that is reproduced in the Pearl of Great Price.
The image on the right is a reconstruction of what the original papyrus would have actually looked like, according to Egyptologists. Notice that the actual papyrus has pieces missing. Joseph Smith filled in these holes with his own drawings to restore what he thought the original image might have looked like. It turns out that this is a very well known Egyptian funerary image and there are many examples of it still in existence.
Just like with the translations, Joseph got these wrong as well. One interesting mistake Joseph made was in failing to realize that some of the lines to the right of the center box are wing feathers, because the rest of the bird was missing from his scroll. He turned them into the fingers of a second arm of the struggling Abraham. There are many more problematic issues with this facsimile reconstruction, but this gives a general idea.
Here is another example of this scene from a different scroll. Notice the position of the legs of the person being embalmed E. Wallis Budge, Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection :. This view assumes a broader definition of the words translator and translation. Rather, the physical artifacts provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation.
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. Again, this essay has no answers and just continues to lob one possibility after another hoping that the reader can settle on one of them and just forget that Joseph Smith's own words completely contradict all of them. Among the choices the essay has given are:. It really is the Book of Abraham scroll, but the Book of Abraham portion has been lost. Which is impossible due to what we now know about these funerary texts combined with using a mathematical formula to calculate the missing portion of the scroll.
The existing scroll really is associated with Abraham and still contains elements of his writing, but it has been corrupted and distorted over time by repeated copying beyond the ability of Egyptologists to find it, but it somehow randomly ended up coherently producing actual Egyptian religious ceremonies. Again, this just goes against all common sense and makes no sense considering how Joseph Smith detailed the translation in the manuscript and in the book itself. This is actually a similar problem with the Book of Mormon translation since he never used the gold plates and has translation errors from the King James Bible which was not available for the gold plates along with anachronisms that would not have been known when the plates were engraved.
It is a bit of a "catch all" solution when Joseph Smith's translations contain errors that can not be explained away with any evidence. Worse, none of these excuses about the Abraham text resolve the problems with the facsimiles, for which Joseph Smith actually provided direct translations.
All of these explanations are the scattered theories of apologists desperately looking for alternative ways to explain away the obvious problem, which is that Joseph Smith obtained a piece of papyrus that he claimed was the actual Book of Abraham, written by Abraham's own hand, and that he then went on to produce what he claimed was a genuine translation of the Egyptian writing on that papyrus… which turned out to be dead wrong. Sadly, all evidence points to the fact that Joseph simply made it up with some help from the books in his library and a number of now-outdated 19th century ideas about the nature of the universe.
It sounds harsh to frame it this way, but the essay details this problem pretty clearly. The canonized preface to the Book of Abraham makes it very clear that that it was actually written by Abraham upon papyrus. A Translation of some ancient Records, that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt. President Wilford Woodruff reiterated that the Book of Abraham was literally written by Abraham himself: "Joseph the Seer has presented us some of the Book of Abraham which was written by his own hand but hid from the knowledge of man for the last four thousand years but has now come to light through the mercy of God.
Just as with the gold plates never actually being used to translate the Book of Mormon, why would God go through thousands of years of careful preservation for scriptures that would ultimate just be revealed through a 'seer stone' or inspiration? That is an insulting theory - Faith is believing in something without proof, not believing despite proof that it is wrong.
This is a theory now used with the Book of Mormon issues as well Deutero-Isaiah, King James errors, changes in later versions to go away from trinitarian view, anachronisms, etc. Occam's Razor would tell you that these scriptures are not what they appear to be, and that Joseph Smith did not translate these by the gift and power of God. I know this is a very harsh essay because of the many problems laid out here, but facts are facts. The authors of the essay want you to ignore the facts and focus on how you've felt during your lifetime in the church.
Evidence suggests that elements of the book of Abraham fit comfortably in the ancient world and supports the claim that the book of Abraham is an authentic record. Except that there are many more elements that seem to come from sources contemporary to Joseph Smith. We now know that Joseph Smith owned both of these books K. Mormonism and the American Experience, Klaus Hansen, p.
Taylor calls the planets "governors" and uses the terms "fixed stars and planets" and "grand key.
LDS scholar R. Grant Athay, a research astronomer and director of the University of Colorado Observatory, observed, "At the time that the Book of Abraham was translated Some people of Joseph Smith's day also believed in progressive orders of orbs and the intelligences that inhabited them. This follows issues with the Book of Mormon that many anachronisms just happen to match what was known in Joseph Smith's times, but do not match the time of the scriptures themselves. This is why Richard Bushman himself has been forced to admit that the Book of Mormon "is riddled with nineteenth-century Protestant theology and phrasing, but still is an incredible narrative of a civilization's rise and fall.
The book of Abraham speaks disapprovingly of human sacrifice offered on an altar in Chaldea. Some victims were placed on the altar as sacrifices because they rejected the idols worshipped by their leaders. People who challenged the standing religious order, either in Egypt or in the regions over which it had influence such as Canaan , could and did suffer execution for their offenses.
It would be hard to find a time or place in the history of the world where people were not killed for teaching religious concepts that were not in line with the current regime. Many thousands of people died this way at the hands of Christian inquisitors in Medieval and Renaissance Europe. In fact, it is still happening in the Middle East today. In Jasher the priests were going to burn Abraham, but Joseph changed the story to fit the drawing on his papyrus. The book of Abraham contains other details that are consistent with modern discoveries about the ancient world.
Abraham tells us that he grew up among the Chaldeans. The problem is that all of this happened many centuries before there were any people who could be identified as Chaldeans. Also, even LDS apologists cannot seem to agree on the basic details about this Olishem, like whether the name is Akkadian, Semitic, Egyptian or something else. Some even claim it refers to Jerusalem or someplace in Egypt, rather than Syria, so this is not quite the bullseye advertised here. Both are anachronisms that were written long after the events described.
Facsimile 1 and Abraham mention the idolatrous god Elkenah. This deity is not mentioned in the Bible, yet modern scholars have identified it as being among the gods worshipped by ancient Mesopotamians. These scholars, all of whom happen to be employed by the LDS church, and all of whom seem to be named or sourcing Daniel C. Peterson, make the unfounded assumption that Elkenah is a reference to the Canaanite god El, or possibly the use of the generic word El to signify any of a number ancient Near Eastern gods. Elkenah actually is NOT a recognized name from anywhere in antiquity and is only mentioned the Book of Abraham.
This claim is disingenuous and it is made on very shaky ground because if they want to tell the whole story they might also point out that Yahweh Jehovah made his first appearance as a pagan god in the pantheon of this same El. But Joseph entirely failed to realize that these four figures are really the canopic jars that are were used to preserve the internal organs of Hor, further evidence that this is not a sacrifice scene at all, but an embalming scene. The Hor scroll says nothing about it.
There is a manipulative subtext to this essay in which they admit that the Joseph Smith papyri are not the source of the Book of Abraham, yet at the same time they try to convince you that it really does have a legitimate connection to the Book of Abraham. Each one of these theories have massive issues, but by throwing one out after another, the hope is that the reader will lose interest and feel like they don't have to do the thinking.
It is insulting that they mock scholars when it does not suit their case, but constantly refer to scholars in these paragraphs even as they are referring to LDS apologists that do not have the backing of anyone outside of BYU. The book of Abraham is consistent with various details found in nonbiblical stories about Abraham that circulated in the ancient world around the time the papyri were likely created in other words, not from the time of Abraham at all as proclaimed in the history, but some years later!
In the book of Abraham, God teaches Abraham about the sun, the moon, and the stars. For example, Eupolemus, who lived under Egyptian rule in the second century B. Again, this is information that comes from thousands of years after Abraham and is found in Josephus, a book that Joesph Smith owned and talked about. A third-century papyrus from an Egyptian temple library connects Abraham with an illustration similar to facsimile 1 in the book of Abraham.
This association is shamefully deceptive and genuinely disrespectful of the reader. The footnote refers to a papyrus from the 2nd to 3rd Century BC called P. Leiden I , shown below:. You will also notice that the figure standing over the mummy is Anubis, not a priest of Elkenah. A later Egyptian text, discovered in the 20th century, tells how the Pharaoh tried to sacrifice Abraham, only to be foiled when Abraham was delivered by an angel.
This is another misdirection, as this Egyptian text is really a document from apocryphal coptic texts which date to almost years AFTER Christ. This actually supports the idea that the story told in the Pearl of Great Price is borrowed from later apocryphal sources. The fact that this particular example in the Nag Hammadi texts was discovered in the 20th century does not diminish the fact Joseph Smith already knew these details by way of the Book of Jasher.
The essayists cross their fingers and hope you will overlook these less faith-promoting but more parsimonious explanations. It also uses Pharaoh as a personal name, apparently unaware that it is a title. Other details in the book of Abraham are found in ancient traditions located across the Near East. The book of Abraham imparts profound truths about the nature of God, His relationship to us as His children, and the purpose of this mortal life. The truth of the book of Abraham is ultimately found through careful study of its teachings, sincere prayer, and the confirmation of the Spirit. Brother Roberts wrote this before the papyri were rediscovered.
None of these arguments about a missing scroll or other complications specific to the Hor scroll apply to that papyrus. This one was created for an Egyptian woman named Ta-shert-Min, and it has nothing to do with Joseph in Egypt, and was written a millennia later. Wilson, Dialogue, Volume 3, Number 2.
Just imagine the excitement if the current prophet published such a translation. Nor have they tried to shine any light on any of the translations, apart from allowing apologists to find a myriad of theories to deflect members from digging deeper into the truth. The real elephant in the room is the fact that the leaders of our church have repeatedly demonstrated that they do not really believe that the Joseph Smith papyri actually contain the Book of Abraham.
If the church really believed their own story about the Book of Abraham they would proclaim loudly and proudly to the world that they have the only document in existence that was written by the shared patriarch of all western religions. What a missionary tool that would be! The reason that the Book of Abraham is such an important issue for the authenticity of the church is that we have the source material to compare to.
Doctrine and Covenants - Many major changes from the Book of Commandments to the Doctrine and Covenants, many that completely changed the meanings of revelations. Book of Abraham - Essay above and our notes highlight all of the many issues. What this adds up to is that Joseph Smith's works have a lot of problems, and the Book of Abraham is a critical piece of evidence because we have the source material.
Those two combined with the many issues with the Book of Mormon tells a very disturbing story as to Joseph Smith's true prophetic abilities, and as stated multiple times in our notes here - Occam's Razor would tell us that the most obvious conclusion here is that these scriptures are works that Joseph Smith wrote without the gift and power of God. The reality is that the only way to get an answer that these works are from God is to go into prayer already looking for a confirmation that they are true.
The evidence is too strong and the issues are too large for there to be any reasonable way to conclude these are the works of God. Unfortunately, it is also one that every church uses, and I refer you to this YouTube video which shows how other churches use it, including a polygamous splinter group from the LDS church.
It is a powerful video to show how spiritual witnesses happen, and why the church continues to use it when they have no answers about their history. Thank you for reading this annotated essay to the end.
I know it is long, and I know it is very difficult to read these things that were previously unknown to almost all LDS members. I hope that you will continue to research this issue and that you will be willing to research from both LDS and non-LDS sources to get the full picture. It is impossible to believe that God would allow Joseph Smith to look so wrong in order to create a need for faith, and also goes against the writings of the Book of Abraham and Joseph Smith as well.
Once There Was a King (Annotated) - Kindle edition by Rabindranath Tagore. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Once upon a time there was a king." When we were children there was no need to know who the king in the fairy story was. It didn't matter whether he was called .
For these reasons it is our unquestionable conclusion that the Book of Abraham is not a writing from Abraham, and thus is a 'smoking gun' against the truthfulness of Joseph Smith and the LDS church as a whole. There are many resources to help those going through a faith crisis, so please email us if you would like any help.
While the church tells us that we will be miserable without it and "where will you go? Please email us with any suggestions, corrections, or if you have any sources that can provide more information that can help enhance this essay. Thank you again! Doctrine and Covenants , 19, Doctrine and Covenants See, for example, Daniel C.
See also Mormon —9. Genesis Abraham —2, 5— Abraham —3, Abraham See also Doctrine and Covenants — Abraham ; , 12, 14— Abraham — The following is an annotated version of the fairy tale. I recommend reading the entire story before exploring the annotations, especially if you have not read the tale recently. King Thrushbeard1. A KING had a daughter who was beautiful beyond all measure,2 but so proud and haughty withal that no suitor was good enough for her.
She sent away one after the other, and ridiculed them as well. Once the King made a great feast4 and invited thereto, from far and near, all the young men likely to marry. They were all marshalled in a row according to their rank and standing; first came the kings, then the grand-dukes, then the princes, the earls, the barons, and the gentry. Then the King's daughter5 was led through the ranks, but to every one she had some objection6 to make; one was too fat, "The wine-cask," she said.
Another was too tall, "Long and thin has little in. So she had something to say against every one, but she made herself especially merry over a good king who stood quite high up in the row, and whose chin had grown a little crooked. But the old King, when he saw that his daugher did nothing but mock the people, and despised all the suitors who were gathered there, was very angry, and swore that she should have for her husband the very first beggar11 that came to his doors.
A few days afterwards a fiddler12 came and sang beneath the windows, trying to earn a small alms. When the King heard him he said, "Let him come up. The King said, "Your song has pleased me so well that I will give you my daughter there, to wife. The King's daughter shuddered, but the King said, "I have taken an oath to give you to the very first beggar-man, and I will keep it.
When that was done the King said, "Now it is not proper for you, a beggar-woman, to stay any longer in my palace, you may just go away with your husband.
The beggar-man led her out by the hand, and she was obliged to walk away on foot with him. When they came to a large forest14 she asked, "To whom does that beautiful forest belong? Afterwards they came to a meadow,17 and she asked again, "To whom does this beautiful green meadow belong? Then they came to a large town,18 and she asked again, "To whom does this fine large town belong? She had to stoop in order to go in at the low door.
Just make a fire at once, and set on water to cook my supper, I am quite tired. When they had finished their scanty meal they went to bed; but he forced her to get up quite early in the morning in order to look after the house. For a few days they lived in this way as well as might be, and came to the end of all their provisions. Then the man said, "Wife, we cannot go on any longer eating and drinking here and earning nothing. You weave23 baskets. Then she began to weave, but the tough willows24 wounded her delicate hands.