Question: How were the missing portions of the Joseph Smith Papyri facsimiles restored?

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Question: How were the missing portions of the Joseph Smith Papyri facsimiles restored?

It is likely that Joseph Smith or Reuben Hedlock (the engraver) simply filled in the lacunae in the papyri the best he could for purposes of publication

The facsimiles in the Joseph Smith papyri contain some missing sections. Before the facsimiles were published, the missing sections were filled in. Critics charge that the sections that were filled in are incorrect, and that this proves that Joseph Smith was not a prophet.

It is not known who performed the "restoration" of the missing sections. It is likely that Joseph Smith or Reuben Hedlock (the engraver) simply filled in the lacunae in the papyri the best he could for purposes of publication. Modern documentary editing standards would require that any holes or gaps in the papyri be represented as such, but the Book of Abraham was published long before the rise of such standards. Just as it was the practice of the day to edit out infelicities rather than to preserve them (as modern scholars do), so it would have been thought inaesthetic to publish incomplete or marred facsimiles. If this is the correct explanation, one need not suppose that the textual repair for purposes of publication was the result of revealed insight. Some restorations were actually correct and/or were okay considering the message of the Book of Abraham. See here and here for more details.

Joseph was involved in the preparation of the plates of metal that were made for the purpose of publication, however.

Willard Richards recorded the involvement of Joseph Smith in his journal on:

23 February 1842

Gave R. Hadlock [sic] instructions concerning the cut for the altar & Gods in the Record of Abraham. As designed for the Times & Seasons.[1]

1 March 1842

"During the forenoon at his office. & printing office correcting the first plate or cut. of the Records of Father Abraham, prepared by Reuben Hadlock [sic] for the Times & Seasons [2]

As John Gee explains about this entry in "An Introduction to the Book of Abraham":

Examination of the metal plates that Hedlock used shows that Joseph Smith changed only the position of some of the numbers. The first installment of the Book of Abraham that was published in the Times and Seasons (vol. 2, no 9, containing Abraham 1:1-2:18 and Facsimile 1) is dated to 1 March but apparently did not actually come on this day.[3]

4 March 1842

Exhibiting the Book of Abraham, in the original, To Bro Reuben Hadlock [sic], so that he might take the size of the several plates or cuts, & prepare the blocks for the Times & Seasons & also gave instructions concerning the arrangement of the writing on the Large cut, illustrating the principles of Astronomy."[4]

As John Gee explains about this journal entry in "An Introduction to the Book of Abraham":

The "large cut" was Facsimile 2, which was printed in a special foldout printed to size, and the image was larger than the page of the Times and Seasons[5]

Notes

  1. Joseph Smith, Journal 1841-1842, in Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, 2:36; Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 2:360
  2. Joseph Smith, Illinois Journal, 1841-1842, in Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, 2:39; Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 2:363-64
  3. Gee, John "An Introduction to the Book of Abraham" Deseret Book (2018): Salt Lake City, UT
  4. Joseph Smith, Illinois Journal, 1841-1842, in Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, 2:39; Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 2:366
  5. Gee, John "An Introduction to the Book of Abraham". Deseret Book (2018): Salt Lake City, UT p. 19