Joseph Smith Papyri
When the Book of Abraham was first published in March 1842, the title of the work, as it appeared in the Times and Seasons, read thusly: “A TRANSLATION Of some ancient Records that have fallen into our hands, from the Catecombs of Egypt, purporting to be the writings of Abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the BOOK OF ABRAHAM, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.” A look at the manuscripts of the Book of Abraham shows that this explanatory “title,” as it were, for the Book of Abraham dates to the earliest stages of the book’s production. Our earliest (surviving) manuscript for the Book of Abraham, which Brian Hauglid designates Ab1, and which the scholars at the Joseph Smith Papers Project date to “Summer–Fall 1835,” reads: “Translation of the Book of Abraham written by his own hand upon papyrus and found in the CataCombs of Egypt.” [Read more…] about “By His Own Hand, Upon Papyrus”: Another Look
Mormon fascination with the ancient world stems largely from an exotic corpus of writings found in the canon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One book in the Church’s canon, the Book of Abraham, which Joseph Smith claimed to be an inspired translation of some ancient Egyptian papyri, has captured Mormon imagination with a vibrant narrative involving the eponymous biblical patriarch, human sacrifice, far-off lands, divine encounters and a grand cosmology.
One BYU professor, Kerry Muhlestein, has devoted a good portion of his academic career (over a decade) investigating the saga of the Book of Abraham. Muhlestein, who holds a PhD in Egyptology from UCLA, is an associate professor of ancient scripture at BYU. According to his faculty bio on the BYU Religious Education website, Muhlestein “is the director of the BYU Egypt Excavation Project,” which has led successful archaeological digs in Egypt, and has academic expertise in fields including “Ancient Egypt, Hebrew Bible, [and the] Pearl of Great Price.” [Read more…] about Egyptology and the Book of Abraham: An Interview with Egyptologist Kerry Muhlestein
Fascinating new research regarding the Book of Abraham has been published in the most recent edition of the Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture, published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. The two articles are by Egyptologists Kerry Muhlestein (PhD, UCLA) and John Gee (PhD, Yale). [Read more…] about New Research on the Book of Abraham
The Book of Abraham continues to be a hotly debated book. Critics of and apologists for the Book of Abraham continue to sound forth their judgments on the fraudulence or authenticity of this controversial scriptural work. There does not seem to be any end in sight for this controversy. With the survival of some of Joseph Smith’s Egyptian papyri – ostensibly the source of the Book of Abraham – critics have, in the words of Hugh Nibley, been “endlessly dinning into the ears of the public that what was written on that small and battered strip of papyrus prove[s] beyond a doubt that Joseph Smith [is] a fraud because he thought it contained the Book of Abraham, whereas it contains nothing of the sort.” The most recent salvo aimed at thrashing Joseph Smith’s interpretation of these documents comes in the form of a respected Egyptologist publishing his highly critical material with a press known for being, at times, extremely hostile towards Mormon orthodoxy. This Egyptologist’s conclusion? “Except for those willfully blind… the case is closed.”
That seems to be it for the poor Mormons.
Well, maybe not.
This week FAIR has released a new DVD exploring the issues surrounding the Book of Abraham. “A Most Remarkable Book: Evidence for the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Abraham” puts forth answers to various criticisms directed against the Book of Abraham, as well as provides evidence favorable to the Book of Abraham’s ancient authenticity.
[Read more…] about “A Most Remarkable Book”: Supplementary Reading