Criticism of Mormonism/Websites/ Book of Abraham

Table of Contents

A FairMormon Analysis of:
A work by author: Anonymous

A FairMormon Analysis of FutureMissionary page "The Book of Abraham"


The positions that the FutureMissionary article "The Book of Abraham" appears to take are the following:

  • That LDS Egyptologist John Gee "confirms" the Joseph Smith translation from the existing papyrus fragments. This is false.
  • That Thomas Stuart Ferguson was an archaeologist. This is false.
  • That Edward Ashment is an Egyptologist. This is false.
  • That the Kirtland Egyptian Papers represent Joseph Smith's attempt to physically translate each Egyptian character. This is only the critics' view, and has not been conclusively determined.


The author(s) of make(s) the following claim:

The website states that "Joseph Smith was the only person alive who could translate Egyptian."

FairMormon Response

  • This is incorrect. Joseph could not read Egyptian any more than he could read the characters on the plates that were used to produce the Book of Mormon. Nobody could read Egyptian at that time. What Joseph claimed was that he could translate ancient records. This he did through revelation.

The author(s) of make(s) the following claim:

The website poses the question "Do Egyptologists confirm Joseph’s translation?" The answer given is that "Every Egyptologist who has inspected the facsimiles or the actual papyrus claim that it is funeral papyri."

FairMormon Response

  • The existing fragments of papyrus contain an Egyptian funerary document. This was confirmed by the Church in the January 1968 Improvement Era. Even the LDS Egyptologists confirm that this is a funerary document.

The author(s) of make(s) the following claim:

The website claims that "John Gee is the only LDS Egyptologist who confirms Joseph Smith’s translation." and that "Other LDS Egyptologists and archeologist, like Stuart Ferguson and Edward H. Ashment disagree with Gee’s findings.

FairMormon Response

  • This is totally incorrect.
  • Dr. Gee, along with other LDS Egyptologists, confirm that the existing papyrus fragments are funerary documents, and that they do not contain the text of the Book of Abraham.
  • Thomas Stuart Ferguson was not an archaeologist, and had nothing to do with the Book of Abraham papyri in any case.
  • Edward H. Ashment is not an Egyptologist.

|quote= Here is what John Gee actually said about the papyri (John Gee, "Book of Abraham, I Presume", FAIR Conference, August 2012):

The relationship of the papyri to the Book of Abraham.

  1. Book of Abraham was translated from the papyri. Almost no knowledgeable people in the Church believe this. This is a straw man.
  2. Book of Abraham was translated from papyri that we no longer have. This seems to be the most likely.
  3. Book of Abraham was translated using revelation only. This has less evidence.

The contents of the current fragments are irrelevant to the debate because of point 1.

|link= |subject= |summary= }}

The author(s) of make(s) the following claim:

The website poses the question "Does the church still have the papyri?"

FairMormon Response

|quote= |link=Book of Abraham/Joseph Smith Papyri |subject=Joseph Smith Papyri |summary=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. }}

The author(s) of make(s) the following claim:

The website poses the question "What’s the Egyptian Book of Alphabet & Grammar?" The response is that it is Joseph's attempt to translate Egyptian characters into English.

FairMormon Response

  • The purpose of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers has never been determined.

|quote= |link=Book of Abraham/Joseph Smith Papyri/Kirtland Egyptian Papers |subject=The Kirtland Egyptian Papers |summary=Among the early Book-of-Abraham-related-manuscripts that have survived from the days of Joseph Smith are a number of papers collectively referred to as the "Kirtland Egyptian Papers" (KEP). These pages were written while the Saints lived in Kirtland, Ohio, and were recorded in the general time frame that Joseph was translating the Book of Abraham. They are in the same handwriting of several of Joseph's scribes. Critics charge that the KEP represent Joseph's attempt to translate the hieroglyphics from those portions that are still extant, noting that Egyptologists tell us that the alleged "translations" do not accurately reflect the meanings of the hieroglyphics. In some cases, several paragraphs of the English translation of the Book of Abraham are associated with Egyptian characters from the Joseph Smith papyri. In some instances, one Egyptian character seems to yield several sentences of English text. From what may be surmised from the "Kirtland Egyptian Papers" the surviving Egyptian papyri are claimed by critics to be the source for the Book of Abraham. Critics point out that Egyptologists agree that these papyri are part of a collection of Egyptian funerary documents known as the Book of Breathings and do not deal with Abraham. }}