FairMormon is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of the doctrine, practice, and history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Question: What are the criticisms related to Facsimile 3?
The following are common criticisms associated with Facsimile 3
- The scene depicted is a known Egyptian vignette which Egyptologists state has nothing to do with Abraham.
- Joseph indicated that specific characters in the facsimile confirmed the identities that he assigned to specific figures.
- Joseph identified two obviously female figures as "King Pharaoh" and "Prince of Pharaoh."
The majority of those who bring forth these issues are not experts on Egyptian writing or art, so you must choose which expert you want to believe
Like almost all of us, the majority of those who bring forth these issues are not experts on Egyptian writing or art. So, this presents an interesting problem--if we are going to take an "academic" or "intellectual" approach to the problem, both believers and critics must all decide to trust an expert. The problem that we immediately encounter is that there are multiple "experts," and these experts do not all agree. Therefore, we are left to decide which "expert" we will trust. There are Latter-day Saint experts who believe the Book of Abraham is a genuine artifact and that it testifies to Joseph Smith' status as a prophet. Non-Latter-day Saint experts obviously aren't going to openly agree with that (Though they may do so indirectly, which is what faithful experts cite in their work).
Latter-day Saints, as believers unequipped to deal with Egyptology, are not able to really assess that information for ourselves. We would need 15-20 years of schooling to do it. So, we can either trust our spiritual future to the experts of our choice, or we can rely ultimately upon revelation.
Critics' claim that Facsimile #3 alone is enough to settle the question of whether or not Joseph Smith was a prophet. This is very convenient for them, because it allows one to focus only on one (very complex) issue that only a few people have the tools to understand. It is, in a sense, to put the critic in an "unassailable position." The critics has made his or her choice, and does not want to debate it or be told he or she is wrong, or return to the question.
And, what the critic might consider a "slam dunk" or "vital point," might (from a believer's or some Egyptologist's point of view) really not be so conclusive OR so vital.