Firesides/28 November 2010 - Sweden/4

Table of Contents

Response to questions about the Book of Abraham

1: BoM translation2: Polygamy and Polyandry3: Polygamy forced?4: Book of Abraham5: "Lying for Lord"6: Mark Hofmann7: Blood atonement8: First Vision9: Sanitized history10: "Not all truth is useful"11: Angelic affidavits12: Blacks and priesthood13: Temple concerns14: Evidence of Vikings15: Adam-God16: Kinderhook

The attendees of The "Swedish Rescue" fireside ask the following question:

My other question was about the Book of Abraham if you please can tell us a little bit about your view of this?
  • Church members believed that this was actually a translation of the information Joseph got.
  • And we also know through the Rosetta Stone that it actually is possible to translate it to English or any other language.
  • And we know now that it has actually nothing to do with translation.
  • This was something written 1500 years after Abraham, about 500 before Christ, and has no connection to Abraham whatsoever.

  • Question: How was the Book of Abraham produced? Church members believed that this was actually a translation of the information Joseph got.
    Answer: The text of the Book of Abraham was received by revelation, in the same manner as the Book of Mormon.
    There are various theories about the relationship between the papyri and the revealed text.
  • Very quickly, let me just say a few things about it very simple. Number 1, again, it was received by revelation.
    —Brother Turley's response to this question at the Sweden fireside.

    • Question: Was the translation done in a manner such as that of using a Rosetta stone?
      Answer: No, in this instance, translation was done by revelation.

    Joseph the Seer saw these Record[s] and by the revelation of Jesus Christ could translate these records . . . which when all translated will be a pleasing history and of great value to the saints.
    —John Whitmer, quote in Karen Lynn Davidson, Richard L. Jensen, and David J. Whittaker, eds., The Joseph Smith Papers, Histories, Vol. 2: Assigned Histories, 1831–1847 (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church Historian’s Press, 2012), 86.

    • Question: Did Joseph and others believe that the Book of Abraham was contained in the characters displayed on the papyri?
      Answer: Yes, Joseph believed that the translation the he received by revelation was of the Egyptian characters on the papyri.

    I have set by his side and penned down the translation of the Egyptian Hieroglyphicks [sic] as he claimed to receive it by direct inspiration from Heaven.
    —Warren Parrish, letter to the editor, Painesville Republican, 15 February 1838, cited in John Gee, "Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri," FARMS Review 20, no. 1 (2008): 115, n. 4.

    • Question: Did Joseph utilize his seer stone to translate the Book of Abraham in the same manner as he did for the Book of Mormon?
      Answer: Very likely.

    The Lord is blessing Joseph with power to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of God; to translate through the Urim and Thummim ancient records and hieroglyphics old as Abraham or Adam which caused our hearts to burn within us while we behold their glorious truths opened unto us.
    —Wilford Woodruff journal, February 19, 1842.

    • Question: If Joseph used the seer stone (the Urim and Thummim in this case) to translate, did he need to directly view the papyri?
      Answer: No. He received revelation through the seer stone directly.

    The Prophet translated the part of these writings which, as I have said is contained in the Pearl of Great Price, and known as the Book of Abraham. Thus you see one of the first gifts bestowed by the Lord for the benefit of His people, was that of revelation-the gift to translate, by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, the gift of bringing to light old and ancient records.
    —Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 20:65.

    • Question: Do they believe that they translate the papyrus now that they are death scrolls or do they believe still is Abraham writing them?
      Answer: We know that the paprus fragements that we have are an Egyptian funerary text. This information was published in the Church's official magazine within two months of the papyri being returned to the Church.

    The papyrus that we have...we know what books those are from [the] Egyptian.
    —Brother Turley's response to this question at the Sweden fireside.

    • Question: Do you still believe there are fragments that we don’t have that are 1500 years younger? Or older?
      Answer: We know that the papyrus that we have does not date back to the time of Abraham, but was written much later. It is clear that we only have a small amount of the papyri originally in Joseph's possession.

    There’s a difference between the date of the copy and the date of the text. So the text, yes, we believe is older. The actual copy could be later.
    —Brother Turley's response to this question at the Sweden fireside.

    |link=Book of Abraham/How was it produced |subject=How did Joseph Smith produce the Book of Abraham? |summary=Did Joseph Smith translate the Book of Abraham from characters on Egyptian papyri? Did Joseph Smith use his seer stone (the Urim and Thummim) to produce the Book of Abraham text?