This new volume of the Joseph Smith Papers is another Facsimile Edition, which means it is an oversized volume (approx. 12 1/4 x 9 1/2 inches, matching the other Facsimile Editions in the series) with all of the items related to the Book of Abraham available to the public for the first time in full color. It contains photos of the extant papyri, the collection of documents commonly known as the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, and the Book of Abraham as first published in the Times and Seasons, along with the printing plates that were used.
As with all the books in the JSP series, there is a great volume introduction that gives the historical background and an overview of what the volume contains. It explains how the mummies and papyri came into the possession of Joseph Smith, what the various sets of documents are and how they might relate, and how revelation and translation were understood at the time by Joseph and the Saints. This is important since it has been known since the extant fragments were recovered in the 1960s that they actually contain common funerary texts (see https://archive.org/stream/improvementera7101unse#page/n13/mode/2up). There are two theories that explain this discrepancy – either the scriptural text was on the much larger portion of papyri that was lost, or it was revealed without regard to what the papyri actually contain (see https://www.lds.org/topics/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham?lang=eng) – the introduction focuses on the latter. [Read more…] about Book Review: Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, Vol. 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts