Question: What are the differences between Genesis 11-12 and Abraham 2?

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Question: What are the differences between Genesis 11-12 and Abraham 2?

There are a number of significant differences between the two texts, differences supported by Abrahamic lore in many cases, that make an accusation of simple plagiarism farfetched

Some critics have claimed that Abraham 2 is simply a copy of Genesis 12. There are a number of differences between the two texts, supported by ancient Abrahamic lore in many cases, that make an accusation of simple plagiarism farfetched. Below we list the differences:

  • The Book of Abraham is cast in the first-person. This changes a lot of the textual correspondence between the two books significantly.
  • The Book of Abraham refers to him by his covenant name with the added “ha”
  • The Book of Abraham records that Haran died in the famine (2:1)
  • The Book of Abraham records that he and his family named Haran (2:4)
  • The Book of Abraham records that Terah, after repenting of his idolatry, went back to it. (2:5)
    • Abü al-Fida' 2, pp. 433—34
    • Al—Kisä’i 72, p. 388
    • Al-T‘aban‘ 252—70241; 325—2621, pp. 343, 349
    • Apocalypse of Abraham 26:3, p. 60
    • Book of Jasher 12:68, p. 149[1]
    • Chronicles of Jerahmeel 35:1, p. 133
    • Ibn al-Tayyib 7:6, pp. 254-55
    • Qur'an 60:4, p. 296
    • Tanna debe Eliyahu 8, pg.
    • Zohar: Genesis 77b, 78b, pp. 155-56, 157-58
  • The Book of Abraham emphasizes that Abraham sought God diligently (2:12)
    • Al-Kisa‘fi' 51, pp. 386—87
    • Al-Mas‘u‘di, Meadows 4:1, p. 352
    • Al-Rabghu'zi 16, p. 438
    • Al-T_abari 252—7028—10, p. 336
    • Al-Tha‘labi 2:10, pp. 364—65
    • Apocalypse of Abraham 7:12; 8:3, pp. 56, 57
    • Armenian Paraphrase of Genesis: after Genesis 11:30, versions A and B, pp. 284—85
    • Augustine, City of God 10.32, p. 200
    • Book of Jasher 11:14, p. 140 [2]
    • Clementine Recognitions 33, p. 186
    • Falasha Story 2, pp. 485—86
    • George Hamartolos, pp. 237—38
    • Gregory of Nyssa, pp. 187—88
    • Ibn Isha‘q 5—6, pp. 304—5
    • Jubilees 11:17, p. 15[3]
    • Kebra Nagast 14, pp. 278—79
    • Medieval Testament of Naphtali 10:2, p. 128
    • Michael the Syrian 2.6.2, p. 263
    • Other Muslim Traditions: Prophet Abraham 5, pp. 460—61
    • Pcsikta Rabbati 3323a, p. 80
    • Philo of Alexandria, De Abrahamo 68, p. 39
    • Pirqe dc Rabbi Eliewr 26, pp. 45—46
    • Zohar: Genesis 76b, 86a, pp. 155, 160—61
  • The Book of Abraham records that God saved Abraham by an angel from the priest of Elkenah (2:13)
    • AI-Baidäwi 4:8, 11, pp. 431—32
    • Al-Kisa"i 52, 88, 138—39, 142, pp. 387, 389, 393, 394
    • Al-Rabghu‘zi 35, 38, 42, pp. 443, 444
    • Al-Tabari 252—7031, 33—34, pp. 341-42
    • Al-Tarafi 93—96, p. 378
    • Al-Tha‘labi 2:10, pp. 364—65
    • Al-Zamakhshari 2:578, pp. 412—13
    • Babylonian Talmud Pesahim 118a, p. 120
    • Chronicles of Iorahmecl 34:13; 35:3, pp. 133, 134
    • Falasha Story 4, pp. 486—87
    • Ibn al—Athir 10—11, pp. 425—26
    • Ibn al-Iawzi 2, pp. 419—20
    • Ibn Isha’q 13—14, pp. 307—8
    • Ibn Kathir 27—30, p. 457
    • Isha’q ibn Bishr 168B23—4, 8, 11, p. 323
    • Ka‘b al-Ahbär 13, p. 301
    • Midrash Rabbah Genesis 44:13, p 99; Exodus 18:5, p. 103; Song of Songs 1:12.1; 3:11.1, pp. 116-17
    • Other Muslim Traditions: Prophet Abraham 6, p. 461
    • Ra‘wandi 4, 6, pp. 415, 416
    • Story of Abraham . . . with Nimrod 32, p. 174
    • Study (Mz'drash) of Abraham Our Father 4, p. 179
  • The Book of Abraham records that Abraham was 62 years old instead of 75 years old when he left Haran (2:14).
    • Al-Mas‘u‘di, News 2, p. 353
    • Babylonian Talmud A‘bodalz Zarah 9a, p. 122
    • Genesis Commentary: 4QcommGen A, p. 31
    • Georgius Cedrenus 3, p. 270
    • Pesikta Rabbati 42:3a, pp. 81—82
    • Sa‘id ibn Batriq (Eutychius) 3, p. 246
    • Contrast Isha‘q ibn Bishr 169A216, p. 324
  • The Book of Abraham records that, prior to entering Canaan, his family passed through the land of Jershon. This connection to Jershon is not contained in the Bible. (2:16)
  • The Book of Abraham records that Abraham built an altar in the land of Jershon and made an offering (2:17)
  • The Book of Abraham records that Abraham offered sacrifice in the plains of Moreh (2:18)
  • The Book of Abraham records that the Lord was the one to command Sariah to tell the Egyptians that she was Abraham’s sister. (2:22)
    • Bakhayla M1k“a"él (Zo‘srm‘a‘s) 17b.1, p. 283
    • Genesis Apocryphon XIX, 14-21, pp. 26—27
    • Isha‘q ibn Bishr 169B:17—170A:1, p. 325
    • Zohar: Genesis 81b, 82a, p. 159
    • Contrast Zohar: Genesis 82a, p. 159; see al-Tarafi 115, pp. 379—80

By simply sampling the differences, we can see the accusations of plagiarism here are going to be stretched. Below is a word for word reproduction of the two accounts with changes in bold. Since there are far more textual differences, mainly the narratological elements will be highlighted for convenience:

Genesis 11-12 Abraham 2
31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

Chapter 12 1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

6 ¶ And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.

9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.

10 ¶ And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:

12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.

13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

14 ¶ And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.

15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.

16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.

17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.

18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?

19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.

20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

1 Now the Lord God caused the famine to wax sore in the land of Ur, insomuch that Haran, my brother, died; but Terah, my father, yet lived in the land of Ur, of the Chaldees.

2 And it came to pass that I, Abraham, took Sarai to wife, and Nahor, my brother, took Milcah to wife, who was the daughter of Haran.

3 Now the Lord had said unto me: Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.

4 Therefore I left the land of Ur, of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and I took Lot, my brother’s son, and his wife, and Sarai my wife; and also my father followed after me, unto the land which we denominated Haran.

5 And the famine abated; and my father tarried in Haran and dwelt there, as there were many flocks in Haran; and my father turned again unto his idolatry, therefore he continued in Haran.

6 But I, Abraham, and Lot, my brother’s son, prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord appeared unto me, and said unto me: Arise, and take Lot with thee; for I have purposed to take thee away out of Haran, and to make of thee a minister to bear my name in a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice.

7 For I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot; I say to the mountains—Depart hence—and behold, they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant, suddenly.

8 My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.

9 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;

10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;

11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.

12 Now, after the Lord had withdrawn from speaking to me, and withdrawn his face from me, I said in my heart: Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee;

13 Thou didst send thine angel to deliver me from the gods of Elkenah, and I will do well to hearken unto thy voice, therefore let thy servant rise up and depart in peace.

14 So I, Abraham, departed as the Lord had said unto me, and Lot with me; and I, Abraham, was sixty and two years old when I departed out of Haran.

15 And I took Sarai, whom I took to wife when I was in Ur, in Chaldea, and Lot, my brother’s son, and all our substance that we had gathered, and the souls that we had won in Haran, and came forth in the way to the land of Canaan, and dwelt in tents as we came on our way;

16 Therefore, eternity was our covering and our rock and our salvation, as we journeyed from Haran by the way of Jershon, to come to the land of Canaan.

17 Now I, Abraham, built an altar in the land of Jershon, and made an offering unto the Lord, and prayed that the famine might be turned away from my father’s house, that they might not perish.

18 And then we passed from Jershon through the land unto the place of Sechem; it was situated in the plains of Moreh[4], and we had already come into the borders of the land of the Canaanites, and I offered sacrifice there in the plains of Moreh, and called on the Lord devoutly, because we had already come into the land of this idolatrous nation.

19 And the Lord appeared unto me in answer to my prayers, and said unto me: Unto thy seed will I give this land.

20 And I, Abraham, arose from the place of the altar which I had built unto the Lord, and removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched my tent there, Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east; and there I built another altar unto the Lord, and called again upon the name of the Lord.

21 And I, Abraham, journeyed, going on still towards the south; and there was a continuation of a famine in the land; and I, Abraham, concluded to go down into Egypt, to sojourn there, for the famine became very grievous.

22 And it came to pass when I was come near to enter into Egypt, the Lord said unto me: Behold, Sarai, thy wife, is a very fair woman to look upon;

23 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see her, they will say—She is his wife; and they will kill you, but they will save her alive; therefore see that ye do on this wise:

24 Let her say unto the Egyptians, she is thy sister, and thy soul shall live.

25 And it came to pass that I, Abraham, told Sarai, my wife, all that the Lord had said unto me—Therefore say unto them, I pray thee, thou art my sister, that it may be well with me for thy sake, and my soul shall live because of thee.

As can be seen, the narrative of the Book of Abraham contains key textual and narratological differences that make accusation of simple plagiarism farfetched.

Aside from the differences, why might there be similarities between the KJV textual rendering of the Abraham account and the Book of Abraham?

Four possibilities exist:

  1. The account we have in Genesis is generally a clean rendition of the account left by Abraham, and scribal errors/interpolations have not entered the account.
  2. The Genesis writers and the scribes/editors/redactors of the Book of Abraham may have been contemporary to one another
  3. Joseph/The Lord decided that the KJV rendering of the text was sufficient to render the general meaning left in the Book of Abraham.
  4. Some combination of 2 to all 3 of the above.

Further text critical research of the Book of Abraham will need to be performed to establish what might come from which. Until then, FairMormon remains neutral as to how members see the text as currently canonized.

Notes

  1. Like the Book of Abraham, the Book of Jasher mentions as well that Haran was the only place suitable for raising livestock. In the Book of Jasher it reads that the land was exceedingly good for "pasture" while the Book of Abraham reads that "there were many flocks in Haran". Regarding Terah's repentance, the Book of Jasher records that Abram spoke to Terah. It has a 4 verset quadrant where Abram exhorts Terah to repentance. The Book of Abraham only has a passing reference to this. This part of the Book of Abraham was also translated before the publication of the Book of Jasher in 1840.
  2. ref>The Book of Jasher reads "And Abram knew the Lord, and he went in his ways and instructions, and the Lord his God was with him". The Book of Abraham reads "Now, after the Lord had withdrawn from speaking to me, and withdrawn his face from me, I said in my heart: They servant has south thee earnestly; now I have found thee;"
  3. This verse in the Book of Jubilees states that Abraham "...began to pray to the Creator of all so that he might save him from the straying of the sons of men," and so that his portion might not fall into straying after the pollution and scorn."
  4. Some have claimed that the “plains of Moreh” is a mistranslation of the original Hebrew text and should instead read “oak” of Moreh or something similar. Both would be acceptable here. This has been addressed well in a Wikipedia article.