This video discusses how the Book of Abraham was produced and how critics use assumptions to attack the record which are not applicable.
So in this video I want to talk about the Book of Abraham. This has a been a tough issue for many decades, really, since 1967 in particular. We’ll talk about that. Critics attacking the Church for this specific topic. And so I want to spend some time, but it is a Cliff’s Notes version so I can’t go into great detail, but I want to hit the kind of the key issues and highlights. And there’s some critical pieces in this video towards the end. So I hope you’ll watch the whole thing.
I’ve got about a five minute clip. So the Joseph Smith Papers just released volume four of the Revelations and Translations series, which is on the Book of Abraham. And the editors spoke down at BYU at the Maxwell Institute, and there’s a five minute clip I think it’s critical to hear right now on this topic.
So first of all, how do we get the Book of Abraham? It’s kind of strange to think of Joseph coming across this in 1835 in almost frontier America essentially. But it started with Napoleon invading Egypt in 1798, and so lots of discoveries were happening throughout this period. There was a man named Antonio Lebolo who discovered these mummies, 11 mummies, and the handful of papyri scrolls that in 1817 to 1822 shipped them back to Italy. There was an Egyptomania that was going on in Europe through all these discoveries.
But eventually that really got saturated. He shipped them to New York, and they were going around the Eastern Seaboard in a sense for a while. They ended up in 1835 with Michael Chandler, who was a traveling antiques dealer. And that’s where he ended up coming into Kirtland. By that point, he was down to four mummies. He had sold others, and several scrolls, two scrolls, and some some scraps of other things.
So this was purchased by Joseph. He wanted to just purchase the papyri, but it was a combined deal. It was sold to him for $2,400. The saints raised the money. It was about 60,000 in today’s dollars. Then after Joesph died, this was an income source for his mother Lucy. Would show them to people for 25 cents. And after she died, Emma got rid of them immediately, and sold them to a man named Arthur Combs.
So there were some fragments that had been mounted and put on glass. And the Joseph Smith Papers, they talk about a little bit of this, these maybe be privileged parts of the Book of Abraham. I’ll mention that in a minute. But those he kept. He sold to the St. Louis Museum the rest essentially, and that ended up at the Wood’s Museum is this, long trail, but through the Chicago Museum, which became the Wood’s Museum, which burned down in 1871. The great Chicago fire of 1871 burned down two thirds of the structures. The only thing left of this museum was a revolver somebody found. So completely gone. Adds a crazy dimension to this whole story of maybe we lost the book of Abraham possibly.
Well, those fragments were then passed down to his caretaker. In his will, he gave them to his caretaker, Charlotte Weaver. That was in 1892 Philadelphia. Her son-in-law sold it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1946. It was then discovered by a University of Utah professor actually in 1966 there. And he helped to get those actually back to the Church in 1967.
Now that’s where things got crazy. Because now we actually had the Egyptian hieroglyphics and the characters that we now understood how to translate Egyptian. In Joseph’s day, they didn’t. Champollion had discovered the Rosetta Stone, was cracking the code, but it didn’t reach over here until after Joseph had had died.
But now we have that. So they could say, okay, now we can sit down and figure out if Joseph Smith was a prophet. Because we can now prove if his translation matched these characters here. So it turned out that these characters were just simply what they call funerary text, a book of breathings, a book of the dead. They would put these with the mummies essentially as a way to help you get through the afterlife. Ways that you can handle the afterlife and breathe again, the breathings, those kinds of things.
So that’s part of the challenge. How do you understand this or interpret it? Well, we have this lost scroll possibility. That’s where the Book of Abraham was essentially. Or you have what saying revelation, that the papyri acted as a catalyst for Joseph Smith to receive the Book of Abraham similar to how the Book of Mormon happened with the golden plates. Talk about that more in a minute.
But I want to stop for a second and have you think about this. Think about how does God work? Would God have set this up so that this would have been proved that Joseph Smith was a prophet? No, he doesn’t work that way. Think about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. How critical that is for everyone that ever lives on this earth. God could create a way to absolutely prove that that happened, to remove it from the realm of faith. He doesn’t. The golden plates were taken back . If you look at the way that God has worked throughout time, it’s to create and require faith. So that’s one interesting aspect of it.
And then think about this, if you read the book of breathings, it’s yawnarama for us. I’m glad he didn’t translate what was actually on those characters there. So it is interesting. Now, over time, this has really been an interesting dynamic. Hugh Nibley, as an example, he had the feeling that this was the catalyst approach when he put out his book, The Egyptian Endowment, about the papyri in 1975. He really did a 180, and went with the missing scroll. That that’s where the Book of Abraham took place.
The Joseph Smith Papers, the editors here, it’s interesting. Brian Hauglid, one of the editors, he did a 180 through this project. He actually believed in the missing scroll, and now he’s much more in the catalyst camp. So it’s just it’s really interesting and fascinating to see how this has developed over time there.
Now let’s talk about some of these key points. So first of all, I’ll tell you, if you look here the way the Joseph Smith Papers, they really want to emphasize what the word translation means. They define it right at the beginning. “Joseph Smith used the term translation to describe this work on the Book of Abraham. His usage, however, did not correspond to the conventional meaning of the word. The decipherment of the Egyptian language was newly underway when Smith began to study the papyri, and there is no evidence that he was acquainted with the progress that had been made. He was certainly unequipped to translate the scrolls as a scholar would. The translation of the Book of Abraham is perhaps best understood by examining the way in which Smith produced other scriptural works, namely the Book of Mormon, the Bible revision, and his revelations.”
Now let me show you a couple of quick quotes on catalyst and the missing scroll. So catalyst, as an example, I love this from Henry Eyring. “Modern scholars looking at the scrolls found nothing they considered to be similar to the Book of Abraham. 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.”
And then on the Gospel Topics essay on the Book of Abraham, “Joseph’s study of the papyri may have led to a revelation about key events and teachings and the life of Abraham, much as he had earlier received a revelation about the life of Moses while studying the Bible.” Which is twice as long as the book of Abraham. “This view assumes a broader definition of the words translator and translation. According to this view, Joseph’s translation was not a literal rendering of the papyri as a conventional translation would be. Rather the physical artifacts provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation. They catalyzed the 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.”
Okay, on the Church website, here’s something on the missing scroll, as an example. So this was a article Michael Rhodes, the title “Why doesn’t the translation of the Egyptian papyri found in 1967 match the text of the Book of Abraham?” “One explanation is that it may have been taken from a different portion of the papyrus rolls in Joseph Smith’s possession. In other words, we don’t have all of the papyri Joseph Smith had, and what we do have is obviously not the text in the Book of Abraham. The prophet described the papyri he used in translation in these words, ‘The record found with the mummies is beautifully written on papyrus, with black, and a small part red, ink or paint in perfect preservation.'”
“The Book of Breathings papyrus has no writing in red ink and is extremely poor state of preservation. It must’ve been in the same condition in Joseph Smith’s day when fragments of it were glued haphazardly to other totally unrelated papyri. In fact, part of the outer border effects of Facsimile Two in the Book of Abraham has some of these unrelated fragments inserted on it.”
But this is very subjective. What does this mean? Did the red fade, or was it a different part that we don’t have? What does perfect preservation mean as a subjective term? So it again, kind of can be confusing and hard to know for sure on there.
So, let’s talk about translation though. How it was done. So with the Book of Abraham and the Joseph Smith Papers, there are a couple of great quotes that I wanted to share. So. “Little is known concerning the process Joseph Smith employed in bringing forth the Book of Abraham, and only a few ambiguous observations are available. For instance, John Whitmer, an early church historian, recorded in July 1835 that Joseph Smith, by the revelation of Jesus Christ, could translate these records, which gave an account of our forefathers.”
“In a critical account published in the Painesville Republican in 1838, Joseph Smith’s former scribe Warren Parrish, noted that he had, ‘Set by Joseph’s side and pinned down the translation of the Egyptian hieroglyphs as he claimed to receive it by direct inspiration of heaven.’ In February 1842, as he was assisting in setting the type for printing the first page of the Book of Abraham to be presented to the world, Wilford Woodruff spoke of the power of Joseph the seer to reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, to translate through the Urim and Thummim ancient records and hieroglyphs as old as Abraham or Adam.”
And then listen to this. This is kind of crazy from Lucy. This was reported from the Quakers who visited. “After Joseph’s death, Joseph’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, retained the mummies and papyri and showed them to visitors. According to the published 1846 account of a group of visiting Quakers, she described a process similar to that of Parrish, one that paralleled some accounts regarding how the Book of Mormon was dictated. She said that when Joseph was reading the papyrus, he closed his eyes and held a hat over his face, and that the revelation came to him. And where the papyrus was torn, he could read the parts that were destroyed equally as well as those that were there, and that the scribe sat by him writing as he expounded.”
And then lastly here, “A few sources state that Joseph used Urim and Thummim, apparently his seer stone, during his Nauvoo-era work on the Book of Abraham. Apostle Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal in 1842 that Joseph was translating the Book of Abraham through the Urim and Thummim. Parley P. Pratt, another member of the Quorum of the Twelve published an article in England a few months later reporting to the saints that the book of Abraham was in course of translation by the means of the Urim and Thummim.”
And then, “In reminiscence several years later, a fellow apostle Orson Pratt seemed to imply that Joseph’s method for translating the Book of Abraham was similar to the process for creating Bible revisions and delivering his later revelations, inspiration without the use of a seer stone. Orson Pratt stated that he saw Smith’s countenance lighted up as the inspiration of the Holy Ghost rested upon him dictating the great and most precious revelations now printed for our guide. ‘I saw him translating by inspiration the Old and New Testaments and the inspired Book of Abraham from Egyptian papyri.’ Differences in these accounts suggests that if Smith used the seer stone during the translation of the Book of Abraham, he did not use it at all times.”
I want you to look at this picture right now. I want you to think about the translation of the Book of Mormon. Notice a couple things here. First of all, where are the plates in this picture? They are wrapped up there. You might even say why did Joseph need the plates, in a sense, if he’s getting it through the seer stone there? They are tangible evidence for us, and the papyri may have shared this case too, for us to have even greater faith in the record in a sense of it’s the ancient nature of it there, that physical aspect of it.
But I also want you to think about this process of Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon, and the length of time that it took. So they did about eight pages a day, which is miraculous from any other comparison to anything you could make. But think about how long does it take you to read eight pages of the Book of Mormon. Think about it. Maybe 30 minutes. Took them all day to do that.
So what was happening? It’s not like Joseph Smith is a fax machine, and he’s just getting this text. We don’t know how… he says the gift and power of God. The way it happened, we don’t know the details, but there was clearly this process that Joseph went through, and happened with the Book of Abraham as well. Think about how long it would take you to read the Book of Abraham. Maybe 40 minutes. It’s about 11 pages. So probably just over half an hour. But look how long it took them to to do the Book of Abraham. So it really is interesting to think about the process now that they went through in trying to to do this.
There’s also a lot of other examples if you look here, this is in the Joseph Smith Papers. “According to contemporary accounts, Joseph Smith also accessed the divine in a variety of ways. When he dictated revelations, he and his followers recorded that he used seer stones, experienced heavenly visions, and received revelations by direct inspiration without use of any physical tool or artifact. When revising the Bible, Joseph Smith worked with a copy of the King James version apparently with no other instrument at hand.”
“Some revisions like minor grammatical changes may well have been considered to be the result of human revision rather than divine revelation. A subset of the changes appears to be the results of an attempt to harmonize differences among the gospels or other scriptures, and evidence also suggests that Smith and his scribes consulted Adam Clarke’s biblical commentary as they consider the text. All these processes, both intellectual and inspired, provided precedence that Joseph Smith could have drawn upon while he was producing the Book of Abraham.”
D&C 73:4 talks about how the revision of the Bible is called the translation. D&C 7, were Joseph sees the translation of the parchment of John, that he sees in a vision. It’s revealed translation of a lost record by John on there. So studying it out in your mind that process. Here’s another piece from the Joseph Smith papers. I’ll just put it on the screen. You can pause it if you’d like to to read that there. But just that process of studying out in your mind.
And then I wanna just pause the video for a second just to show you, or give you a clip that we had from Terryl Givens at a conference, the Mormon Translation Conference in 2017 up in Logan. And this is talking about the Egyptian characters, and it’s a glimpse into some of the deeper background issues that I think are helpful about how Joseph may have experienced this culturally. So listen for a sec.
The third point I want to make is about the hieroglyph at the end of the early modern period. We’ve had a few references today to 19th Century Egyptomania. The point I want to make is that the kind of Egyptomania that I think might have been most relevant to Joseph Smith’s religious fashioning predates the Napoleonic engagement with Egypt. It goes back to the early modern period. And I’m going to just summarize this very quickly for you by saying this. The notion of hieroglyphs in particular in the Enlightenment and Romantic circles carried echoes of priestly powers of expression and discernment, but the term was also taken to imply an almost mystical concision and economy of expression unknown to modern languages. Many language theorists working in the 19th Century to try to trace language to its Adamic form were convinced that the further back you go, the more compressed and concise language becomes.
By the time you get to the hieroglyph, which even somebody like Hegel referred to as a form of or consciousness, you have the linguistic equivalent of a kind of neutron bomb. So that the notion being that here’s this priestly emblem that has magically and mystically, oracularly condensed within itself worlds of meaning which only a priestly power can unlock and allow to blossom into fullness. And when I think of Joseph Smith laboring over the Egyptian papyri, and the whole Abrahamic cosmology that emerges out of this, it seems to me that we get a perfect understanding of how the hieroglyph was understood. If we step in back of Joseph Smith and try to look toward the future through lens rather than has been the norm, standing at a point of modernity and looking back at him and evaluating him through the prism of Egyptology and modern linguistics.
And so I just had a number of these, and we don’t need to read through them, but in each of these cases you have major figures starting in the 18th century moving forward, poets, philosophers of history, and philosophers and others who fastened on this idea of the hieroglyph as this powerful, powerful mechanism of communication that is more powerful than any normal linguistic form of utterance. And I can’t imagine Joseph Smith not being kind of immersed in that cultural language of the hieroglyph.
So I think that’s fascinating what Terryl has to say about that. And it’s interesting when you look at the Joseph Smith Papers project, you can really see how they were developing the grammar and alphabet of the Egyptian languages. They were trying to understand and interpret it. But they had this thing, it’s called five degrees. So they really tried to… each degree up in interpreting the characters, to get deeper and deeper understanding they could apply to that. It’s fascinating there as part of this, maybe studying it out in your mind, and how long it took them to do this. It’s really fascinating.
Joesph Smith Papers, “The Egyptian language manuscript created by Smith and his associates while they worked with the papyri from July through about November 1835, gave the only firsthand contemporaneous evidence of how they understood the Egyptian language. Textual evidence in the manuscript indicates Smith and his clerks closely scrutinized the papyri copying characters from the papyri into notebooks or other loose sheets by adding little or no commentary.”
“Other characters were copied into the Egyptian alphabet documents, and then into the grammar and alphabet volume. But like many similar efforts at the time to unravel the mysteries of the Egyptian language, these attempts are considered by modern Egyptologists, both Latter-day Saints and others, to be of no actual value in understanding Egyptian.”
In the end, Joseph did not understand Egyptian the way we do now. Now Hugh Nibley said, “I can tell you what it says, but not what it means,” on this. So there may have been deeper meaning. And remember this is also could have been reinterpreted from 200 B.C. in the way they saw… they had a great fascination with ancient Egypt and Hebrew influence, and could have been reinterpreting some of these things. So Joseph may have been even a two step process possibly with some of that. We don’t know for sure. Okay.
Then these go on to say, “It’s unclear when in 1835 Joseph Smith began creating the existing Book of Abraham manuscripts, or what relationship the Book of Abraham manuscripts have to the Egyptian language documents. While some of the documents are clearly textually dependent upon each other, there’s also evidence of overlapping creation, false starts, and building upon previous work. The sequence of the creation of the Kirtland era Book of Abraham Manuscript, and the various manuscripts of the Egyptian language project is unknown.”
“Considerable overlap of themes exist between the Book of Abraham and the Egyptian language documents. Both have information concerning Abraham, Egypt, the Creation, Adam and Eve, Eden, astronomy and Kolob, and other stars, among other topics. Some evidence indicates that material from the grammar and alphabet volume was incorporated into at least one portion of the Book of Abraham text in Kirtland. But most of the Book of Abraham is not textually dependent on any of the extant Egyptian language documents. The inverse is also true. Most of the content in the Egyptian language documents is independent of the Book of Abraham.”
So it’s still a ton of confusion about how this was all happening. But I will tell you this, the Joseph Smith Paper editors do a great job showing this at the Maxwell Institute at BYU, that if you look at this Facsimile One, when it was obtained, the characters that were shown on the side of it, they essentially looked at the Book of Abraham transcript, and it looked like they were going right in order with how the hieroglyphs were right next to this Facsimile One here. So they really felt that this was an attempt, that they were really trying to use these characters in this.
And that what we have, these were privileged pieces here, that the Book of Abraham wasn’t on this missing scroll that did… there was a missing scroll. It did get burned up. But that what we have was actually the catalyst for Joseph to really receive these revelations and they were trying to understand it. Even though it doesn’t make sense to modern Egyptologists, it was a catalyst for them to understand these things.
Now on the flip side, the others will say, well now maybe this came after the fact, and they were trying to reverse engineer and try and figure this all out after Joseph had received it. From all this documentation, there’s no way you can conclusively decide which way it was per se there. And then I’ll let you pause this if you want. This also just talks about how even a text next to a facsimile didn’t mean that it had to go with the text per se. On there. a lot of good evidence for that. And then love to finish up with a few other key things.
So some key insightful quotes from Joseph Smith showing how involved he really was. Some say, well maybe this Egyptian paper project, Joseph wasn’t involved as much. But in 1835, in July, he says, “The remainder of this month, I was continuously engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients.”
Then in October 1835, “This afternoon I labored on the Egyptian alphabet in company with brothers, Oliver Cowdery and W.W Phelps, and during the research, the principles of astronomy as understood by Father Abraham and the ancients unfolded to our understanding the particulars of which will appear here after.” And then in March 1842 in a letter, Joseph said, “I am now very busily engaged in translating, and therefore cannot give as much time to public matters as I could wish.”
So historically, a lot of times that people thought it all happened in 1835. This is pretty clear he was translating also in 1842. This was well after the Kirtland Egyptian papers project had been done. And some of the Hebrew that they had studied in 1836 showed up in these later chapters three, four, and five from the Nauvoo period. Okay.
Last couple of things here. So the Book of Abraham was actually published in the Times and Seasons over a couple of different volumes. There was more promised to come. It never actually came. And if you look at the end of the Book of Abraham, it seems very cut off at the end. So we never received that further information. Also last line here, “Smith and others also had conversations about finishing and printing the grammar and alphabet volume, but it was never published.”
Now I want to pause for a second and show you this video clip of Robin Jensen, one of the editors on the Joseph Smith Papers, and how we can maybe understand some of this in a way that we can really relate to. And I think it really resonated with me when I heard this. So I’m going to share this with you.
But I think the principle is true. Let’s say for instance that parents have a sick child. They want to receive a revelation on how to make their child better. They are not going to only pray the illness away. They of course, they’re going to consult medical professionals. They’re going to do research. They’re going to talk to friends, talk to others that may have had similar issues. In other words, they’re confronted this problem, they’re going to approach it both on an intellectual basis and a revelatory basis. The parents do all of that. They study, they pray, they receive a revelation. There’s something that the Lord gives them that they do, and it heals the child. It’s a miracle.
This I hope isn’t too far afield of what we’ve experienced in our own personal revelation. What happens to those parents when, after the fact they found out that the doctors that they consulted were actually not doctors. They were charlatans. What if they found out that the WebMD address that they looked at was full of baloney? In other words, what if the basis upon which they base their revelatory process was not accurate? Does that invalidate the revelation itself?
In other words, how much of our cultural assumptions are tied up in the revelations that we receive? We’ve talked a little bit about seer stones. I think if you’ve been paying attention the last couple of years, you’re aware that seer stones have been in the news recently. Joseph Smith used seer stones to translate the Book of Mormon. When I talk about seer stones, I as a historian, I’m deeply interested in those things. They capture a worldview, a culture that is so deeply interesting, fascinating.
But on a personal level, seer stones are weird. I hope that’s okay to say. Growing up in the Church, when I turned eight I was baptized. My parents did not say, “Congratulations, you’re baptized. Here’s your seer stone. This is how you approach deity.” It’s not how I was raised. When I was confronted with a problem, I didn’t put a rock in a hat and look at it. Maybe some of you have that experience. That’s foreign to me.
What I was taught was I should kneel down, fold my arms, bow my head, and close my eyes. Potentially an equally strange thing to someone not of that culture, right? We’re all taught to approach the divine, and we have different ways of doing that. Even amongst us, largely Wasatch Front members of the Church. We think that we’re kind of uniform, but we’re actually not. We all have differing ways to approach deity, and I find that, as a member of the church, rich and rewarding. To me, that shows that we have a loving Heavenly Father who is willing to talk to us based upon our cultural assumptions.
If we have certain thoughts or ideas about how God works in our lives, God might actually work that way. My mom has a testimony of dreams. She believes that God talks to her through dreams. That is not my experience. Dreams for me, mean that I have had weird food the night before. I don’t believe that God talks to me through dreams. I’m not, however, going to tell my mom that you need to not talk like that because that’s weird. God talks to me through scholarly articles. I don’t know how many of you have that experience. Maybe I’m a little weird.
When Joseph Smith first received visions, the angels didn’t come and say, “Hey Joseph, you’ve got a great work in store, but you got to ditch the rock.” God was willing to work through Joseph Smith’s understanding, his worldview to bring about important messages. Okay, we have a scripture for this, right? 2 Nephi. “For the Lord God, giveth light unto the understanding, for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.” I believe that that is not just English. God is not a native English speaker, right? But I think that God also not just knows different languages, he knows different cultures. He knows how we can approach him. Okay.
Okay. I hope you enjoyed that. Last couple of issues real quick that people will bring up. One is that it says that this came from the hand of Abraham. And so a quote here from Hugh Nibley, “Two important and peculiar aspects of ancient authorship must be considered when we are told that a writing is by the hand of Abraham or anybody else. One is that according to Egyptian Hebrew thinking in a copy of a book originally written by Abraham would be regarded and designated as the very work of his hand forever after, no matter how many reproductions had been made and handed down throughout the years. The other is that no matter who did the writing originally, it was Abraham who commissioned or directed the work. He would take the credit for the actual writing of the document, whether he penned it or not.”
So I think if the scroll was a missing a scroll issue, this may have been from 200 B.C. copy, copy, copy, and they viewed it as from Abraham. That’s who essentially wrote it. If it was the catalyst theory and Joseph received it, that’s how Joseph felt. This was directly from Abraham. So either way, no issue there in my mind.
The last one is anachronisms, or things that are out of place in the text. As an example, the word pharaoh. We view that fine today, but that was not the way it was said. It was more the Egyptian king back in Abraham’s day. The word pharaoh came about in 1200 BC. So that would be an example. Critics would pound on that saying, this is an anachronism. So again, if you think about this, how Joseph goes, he recontextualized for our day. The Lord speaks to us in our day, adapts to our language. That’s our language. That’s how we would receive it. Also, if it comes back to the missing scroll, and it was 200 B.C., that’s how they received it as well. So again, there’s very good ways to be able to understand these things in I think a powerful way thinking these through.
So last thing I want to say is stay flexible. See the big picture even how some of these scholars will turn and change maybe the way they view this. At the end of the day, we have to still step back and say, we have to really look at the big picture, and see that the test of Joseph being a prophet, the test of the Restoration is the Book of Mormon. Not the Book of Abraham, it’s the Book of Mormon. And Moroni 10 says it’s up to us to find this out.
I love this quote here from President Benson. “We do not have to prove the Book of Mormon is true. The book is its own proof. All we need to do is read it and declare it. The Book of Mormon is not on trial. The people of the world, including the members of the Church, are on trial as to what they will do with the second witness for Christ.” And then Hugh Nibley. “The evidence that will prove or disprove the Book of Mormon does not exist.”
But again, we can find out through that spiritual witness. And I loved the talk Elder Lawrence Corbett just gave down at BYU in a devotional where he talked about primary questions and secondary questions. And I view the Book of Mormon as our witness of the Restoration. And that primary question, he says, “If you answer the secondary questions, they don’t necessarily answer the primary questions, but if you answer the primary questions, your lens of the way you look at the secondary questions can really change.”
And that’s how I view especially this issue with the Book of Abraham in particular. And I have to close with this wonderful quote from Elder Maxwell. Elder Maxwell wrote in his book Plain and Precious Things, “It is the author’s opinion that all the scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, will remain in the realm of faith. Science will not be able to prove or disprove holy writ. However enough plausible evidence will come forth to prevent scoffers from having a field day, but not enough to remove the requirements of faith. Believers must be patient during such unfolding.”
And that’s why I did an Evidences video on the Book of Abraham. Please watch it right now. It is fantastic in my mind, and it shows a lot of the evidences, like how could Joseph have gotten so many of these things right? He got a lot of things that were very confusing, but God’s also going to give us some of those witnesses as well. Hope you enjoyed the video. Subscribe for more.
The Pearl of Greatest Price: Mormonism’s Most Controversial Scripture by Terryl Givens
The Story of the Book of Abraham by H Donl Peterson
An Introduction to the Book of Abraham by John Gee
The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Eqyptian Endowment by Hugh Nibley
An Approach to the Book of Abraham by Hugh Nibley
Traditions About the Early Life of Abraham – John Tvedtnes, Brian Hauglid & John Gee
Chapters in the following books – No Weapon Shall Prosper, A Reason for Fatih, Shaken Faith Syndrome, Bamboozled by the CES Letter, The Threshing Floor of Faith
“Lets Talk About The Book of Abraham” by Kerry Muhlestein
BYU Studies Quarterly Volume 61, Number 4 (2022) was entirely dedicated to the Book of Abraham (authors: Stephen Smoot John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein and John Thompson) – it is 300+ pages and is a serious deep dive on the topic. Here is a direct link to the pdf of that publication (physical copy is available for order online): https://byustudies.byu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/61-4final.pdf
LDS Perspectives Episode 97: The Book of Abraham with Robin Scott Jensen (co-editer of Joseph Smith Papers) https://www.ldsperspectives.com/2018/…
LDS Perspectives Episode 51: Joseph’s Study of Hebrew and the Book of Abraham – Matthew Grey https://www.ldsperspectives.com/2017/…
LDS Perspectives Episode 13: Jospeh Smith’s Papyri – John Gee https://www.ldsperspectives.com/2017/…
BYU Maxwell Instituted presentation by Robin Jensen & Brian Hauglid (JSP Editors) – ‘A Window in to Joseph Smith’s Translation’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tznpR…
Jensen & Hauglid at Benchmark Books when the JSP Rev & Translations Vol 4 was published: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3-SK…
Terryl Givens – Translation in the 19th Century: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYkEP…
LDS Church History – Book of Abraham Translation (with Robin Jensen): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F19d5…
LDS Truth Claims – Episode 20 – Book of Abraham Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8KRa…
LDS Truth Claims – Episode 21 – Book of Abraham Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPPH2…
Fairmormon produced video on the Book of Abraham (‘A Most Remarkable Book – Evidence for the Book of Abraham’): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jGad…
Many Fairmormon conference videos available upon search
Joseph Smith Papers – Revelations & Translations – Vol 4, Book of Abraham: https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/int…
Book of Abraham Project: http://www.atik.com.mx
Jeff Lindsay’s Mormonity Website: https://mormanity.blogspot.com
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.