What do you feel or know about the translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham?

The whole thing is a sham.  To think that I once believe that the BoA and the PoGP were real - major head slap.  Total BS made up by Joseph Smith. 

 profile image for wasmormon.orgAnonymous

1) Diagrams 1 and 2 are found commonly in the Book of Breathings, which were papyri common to 2nd and 3rd century BCE (not Abraham's time of 4-5k BCE).

2) It's a 300-200 BCE papyri, we now that not just by the diagrams exactly matching others now commonly had in museums, but by the papyri itself. Fragments of the "Joseph Papyri" (as they were catalogued in Chicago, Emma having sold them to those curators) survived the Chicago Fire and were given to the St Louis Museum, which gave them to the Smithsonian, which gave them (1960s) to the LDS church. The Church History office was so convinced (as believing Mormons are and I used to be) that they were of ancient origin, and seeing this as a "proving" moment, that they had them examined. The results were as mentioned, circa 300-200 BCE and common diagrams found in other "Book of Breathings" (mummies were buried w/the papyri as a guide and instructions for the after life).

3) JS' translation of Diagrams 1 and 2 do not match modern Egyptologist's translations/consensus. Egyptologists today can walk into a tomb and read the hieroglyphs. The Rosetta Stone was the beginning of modern interpretation, as it had ancient Egyptian, ancient Greek and Demotic on it announcing the same thing. And more than 150 years of research later, modern Egyptologists know the ancient language. Are we to believe thousands of scholars around the world and living proof (the Rosetta Stone, etc.), or Joseph Smith, regarding the Diagrams?

At least with the BOM Joseph could claim the golden plates full of characters from a reformed language, were taken by an angel back to heaven -- so there's no way to prove or disprove such not-so-distant (400 AD) language. Although, Joseph did write a "Caractors" document, which was taken by Martin Harris to an Egyptologist of the time, Professor Anton, who declared them inauthentic. Mormons have perpetuated a myth that he tore up his certificate of authenticity when he found out they were from gold plates given to Joseph from an angel, but in fact Professor Anton is on record after that event, writing that such an assertion was false, that he had in fact said those characters were not ancient. Nonetheless, there is a contemporary replica of the "Caractors" document owned by the Community of Christ, who until 1980 wanted to prove the BOM was true; they gave copies (you can find it in a quick google search) to the LDS church and others -- and all Egyptologists agree, they are non-sensical, non-Egyptian-based caractors. researchgate.net/figure/…

The LDS church acknowledges the three items above in its Gospel Topics Essay, and offers the apologist view that Joseph used the papyri (which he'd obtained with the mummies) to channel a more ancient time and what Abraham would have wrote. Okay, that's interesting and I'm better with that version (but it's not openly taught, and they had to change the story to "he channeled Abraham, as the Diagrams and surviving Joseph Scrolls are disproven as ancient).

For reference, the oldest Torah scrolls only date to the First Temple period, 1.5-2k years later -- so Joseph's claim that the papyri were Abraham's writing -- would be absolutely incredible and wanted by Jews, Christians and Muslims -- who all claim Abraham.

4) JS also produced the GAEL alphabet, a means to translate ancient Egyptian to modern English. It is completely off to what modern Egyptologists know.

5) JS studied ancient Hebrew while in middle and late Kirtland years -- and while I'm sure JS was an intellectual giant, he made claims of ancient origin that weren't true, and his Hebrew wasn't the best (credit the man, he only learned for a couple years -- yet he was a seer?) eg The Hebrew word for "dog" is "כלב", which is pronounced "Keleb".Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is officially known as "Alpha Canis Majoris," and informally known as "The Dog Star". i.e. "Kolob" was a bastardized word for "dog", and Kolob is Sirius.

Again w/scripture, BoA is like the BOM - not of ancient origin -- but what is scripture? does it have to be historical? Is what it teaches negated by a false, modern claim of ancient authenticity? I think the value of scripture is simply in the meaning of the stories.

If Joseph claimed the BOM was historical, and claimed the BoA was Abraham's writing, and Joseph was deliberately duped by locals on the Kinderhook plates. Does this make the work uninspired? The trouble Joseph had was overselling what he created; had he simply said it was inspired and channeled, there would be no critique. Now ironically, the church's Gospel Topic Essays take that route, to say that the BoA was inspired (as they can't defend historicity, those same diagrams exist commonly and they're from Egyptian catacombs of 2nd-3rd century BCE).

The BoA has some 1820s problems too, read what it says on race.

shawnmatheson profile image for wasmormon.orgshawnmatheson

It has been documented as fraudulent by experts in and out of the church. Joseph Smith willfully deceived his followers. This alone is enough to cast sufficient doubt on any of Joseph Smith’s claims.  

bethlundgreen profile image for wasmormon.orgbethlundgreen

The Book of Abraham was NOT a translation by Joseph Smith, but rather completely fabricated. The papyri he claimed to use have nothing to do with Abraham or anything else written about in that book. I remember that even as a teenager who knew little more about Egypt than what she had learned in elementary school, I knew that the items under the table in Facsimile 1 were clearly canopic jars, not idols.

Janalyn E profile image for wasmormon.orgjrrelzinga

We have the source material(Papyri purchased by Joseph) for the Book of Abraham. Joseph's "translation" of the Book of Abraham doesn't match this record in the slightest. In fact, the Egyptian papyri are actually an Egyptian funeral document that dates to hundreds of years after Abraham lived, and say nothing of Abraham. The facsimile interpretations by Joseph were completely inaccurate. Lastly, the Book of Abraham is also filled with anachronism. In the Book of Abraham, Abraham refers to Chaldeans and Pharaoh, which didn't exist when Abraham was alive. Not to mention the facsimiles on the papyri did not even exist when Abraham was alive, so it would be impossible for him to interpret them. ( the church admits this in the Gospel Topic Essays")

Daniel Johnson profile image for wasmormon.orgdanieljohnson

This was what finally did any hopes of a testimony in. The gospel topic essays are clear in saying the papyrus is actually about a funeral, and not at all about Abraham. I can’t support that being true. 

Becca Walton profile image for wasmormon.orgbecca-walton