The recent web posting on the Book of Abraham by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-
Day Saints (hereafter the LDS church) represents new reflection on a document whose
authenticity as verifiable history is now officially acknowledged to be in serious dispute.
Thus the position paper concludes with a concession by noting (unnamed) modern
scholarly debate: “The veracity and value of the book of Abraham cannot be settled by
scholarly debate concerning the book’s translation and historicity.” Rather, the truth of
the book is sought in ways that cannot be verified externally, relying exclusively upon
traditional faith: “a careful study of its teachings, sincere prayer, and the confirmation of
Such a declaration may seem reasonable to those already predisposed to accept it, but on
closer reading, the LDS church posting suggests discomfort with its own conclusions and
reasoning. Not a single opposing scholar is mentioned by name, nor are their reasons for
rejecting the Book of Abraham. Yet the LDS paper attempts to engage in scholarly
debate from a one-sided position, repeatedly citing in the footnotes the same limited set
of apologists who are primarily church employees at BYU in Provo. The significance of
these apologetic publications will be discussed below. If scholarly dispute over
translation and historicity is ultimately irrelevant, why bother to devote extended
paragraphs to rebuttals of unmentioned objections on “Translation and the Book of
Abraham,” “The Papyri,” and “The Book of Abraham and the Ancient World”?
The published text of the Book of Abraham is accompanied by three woodcut
“Facsimiles” with explanations authored by Joseph Smith himself. The facsimiles are all
based on ancient Egyptian documents, and the Egyptian texts of all three can now be
deciphered. In addition, the representations on all three conform to well-known Egyptian
models. Facsimiles 1 and 3 represent sections of one papyrus: the “Breathing Permit of
Hôr” (P. JS 1), part of the group of Egyptian texts purchased by Smith in 1835 and long
thought lost in the Chicago fire of 1871. These papyri were rediscovered in the
collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1967 and quickly
transferred to the LDS church, which published the first photographs of the texts the next
year in the church magazine The Improvement Era. Comparison of the surviving initial
vignette of the Hôr papyrus with Facsimile 1 proves beyond doubt, as the LDS web post
agrees, that it was “the vignette that became facsimile 1.” However, neither Facsimile 1
nor 2 is a true copy, and both contain added forgeries, including the human-head and
knife of the supposed “idolatrous priest of Elkenah” (Fig. 3 on Facsimile 1) as can be
seen in the crude pencil additions to the original papyrus sheet as mounted and
Facsimile 2 derives from a
“facsimile” were improperly inserted from unrelated papyri. All of Smith’s published
“explanations” are incorrect, including the lone example defended by the new web
posting: the water in which a crocodile is swimming (Fig. 12 of Fascimile 1), supposedly
a representation of “the firmament over our heads … but in this case, in relation to this
subject, the Egyptians meant it to be to signify Shaumau, to be high, or the heavens.”
Although Egyptians might place heavenly boats in the sky, that is not relevant “in this
case” where the water is placed below the figures and represents the Nile, not the sky.
The selective defense of these explanations by the church is telling, and all other
explanations are simply indefensible except by distorting Egyptian evidence. In
Facsimile 3, Smith confuses human and animal heads and males with females. No
amount of special pleading can change the female “Isis the great, the god’s mother”
(Facsimile 3, Fig. 2) into the male “King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters
above his hand,” as even the LDS author Michael D. Rhodes accepts.
Here Smith also
reads “king king” for a goddess’s name that he claims to have understood on the papyrus!
The problems are by no means limited to the Facsimiles, since the text itself includes
the Chaldees, Abraham 1:10) and situations (supposed Egyptian rites of human sacrifice
in Ur conducted by a priest of Pharaoh “after the manner of the Egyptians,” Abraham 1:
11-12). Wherever one locates Ur of the Chaldees, human sacrifice dictated there by
“priests of Pharaoh” is unbelievable to credible scholars of the Ancient Near East.
1:25). As previously noted, “Pharaoh” is a title, not a name. Neither is “Egyptus”
(“Egypt”) an ancient Egyptian personal name, but the name for the primary temple in
Memphis that became generalized outside of Egypt as a designation for the country.
Accurate translation or revelation would not produce such basic errors.
The LDS reaction to these issues is confined to a few citations in the section on “The
The posting cites the work of Kerry Muhlestein (in n. 36)
in an attempt to prove that the
is an example of punishment now known to have been meted out during the Abrahamic
era.” Whether or not Muhlestein expected to find such proof when he began his doctoral
See R. K. Ritner, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, The Smith
pagination. In either edition, for Facsimile 1 compare plates III and IV, and for Facsimile
2 compare plates XXII and XXIII.
See Ritner, ibid, pp. 139-141 (2011 edition) = pp. 173-175 (2013 edition).
See the discussion by Prof. Christopher Woods in Ritner, ibid, pp. 73-74 (2011 edition)
= pp. 89-91 (2013 edition).
Kerry Muhlestein, Violence in the Service of Order: The Religious Framework for
favor of “sanctioned killing,” and the thesis forthrightly concludes “that rebellion was the
chief motive” for such executions (pp. 80 and 82). Muhlestein also rightly notes the
complexity in distinguishing the civil terms “execution” or
capital punishment” from the
political and religious issues are not sharply distinguished. That ambiguity could be
argued for the modern United States as well, since civil execution for murder is often
linked to condemnation for killing in the Ten Commandments, a distinctly religious text.
More to the point, however, while Muhlestein notes capital punishment for political
rebellion and crimes against individuals and the state, including theft of temple property
or resources, there is no parallel to the Book of Abraham’s intended “martyrdom” for
refusing to worship the images of Egyptian gods. That would happen under Roman
prosecution of Christians, but personal worship (or its refusal) was not a basic concern of
the ancient Egyptian state. The LDS citation of Muhlestein’s work does not support the
narrative of the Book of Abraham.
The web posting notes also two writings by John Gee (notes 44 and 45), purporting to
accurate to claim that the third-century Demotic papyrus cited by Gee “connects
Abraham with an illustration similar to facsimile 1 in the book of Abraham.” The text in
question, a Leiden magical papyrus in Demotic Egyptian and Greek (P. Lugd. Bat. I 384
verso = PGM XII), does include a picture of a mummy attended by Anubis —mentioned
by name— on a lion funerary couch (not an “altar”), but the text is a love compulsion
spell intended to force a woman to submit to a male’s sexual lust, not a reflection of the
Book of Abraham. As accompanying magical words of power the speaker recites:
“..aydyo oryx thambyto abraam o epy … planoyegxybyoth” etc. The string of
abracadabra words does include “abraam,” and this spelling has been corrected to
“Abraham” in a recent edition.
However, the name is just one of a string of magical
who are both invoked to inflame the libido of the female victim of the spell. The body on
the lion bed is certainly that of the deceased Osiris (as it is in Hôr’s vignette), not a
In combination with other borrowed Old Testament names, Abraham (in varying
special connection with the lion bed. In PGM V, line 481, the magician invokes Zeus by
declaring: “for I am Silthachoouch, Lailam,” etc., mixing into the middle of the list a
snippet of the Jewish blessing “Barouch Adonai, Eloi Abraam” (“Blessed be Jawhe, …
god of Abraham”).
In PGM VII, line 315, the “famous name Abraam” begins a string of
H. D. Betz, ed., The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation Including the Demotic Spells,
Betz, ibid, p. 110.
Betz, ibid, pp. 126-127 (not translated as Abraham).
magical names in PGM XII, 287 (… Saphtha Nouchitha Abraan Isak Iakkobi …) or the
probable targum extract in PGM XIII, 976.
The latter papyrus also protects against the
Abraam, Isak and Iakob, and of the great god, daimon IAO.”
Another love compulsion
names mixing archangels, abracadabra words and Abraham: “I adjure you by the great
Pap Tapheiao Sabbaoth Arbathiao Zagoure Pagoure and by the great Michael Zouriel
Gabriel Sensengenbarpharanges Istrael Abraam, attract her, NN to NN.”
The use of the
the Hebrew Bible and contemporary Jewish tradition, not from an apocryphal Book of
Gee’s second proposed evidence of “An Egyptian View of Abraham” is even less
The text that Gee presents is a Sahidic Coptic panegyric praising a
three copies (Clarendon Press fragment 65, British Museum Or. 3581B, and Zoega
Borgia fragment ccxxii), and a combined scholarly edition was published by E. O.
Winstedt in 1908.
The Christian tale recounts the attempted martyrdom of a saint, but
discusses over two pages —in careful analysis that Gee intentionally fails to note— if this
Abraham were the patriarch, then the story presented is based on a legend recognized to
be of Persian origin: “the tradition that Abraham was cast into a fiery furnace by
Both Winstedt and the great Coptic scholar W. E. Crum, however, showed
Arbela (modern Irbil in Iraq), who was beheaded for his Christian faith ca. 348 under the
Sasanian Persian ruler Shapur II. This identification is proved by the Coptic text itself:
“And when they cast Abraham into the fire, and the angel of the Lord came straightway
forth in the whole land of Mesopotamia, because his God saved him from the fire of
Sabor the king.”
Betz, ibid, pp. 164 at n. 84 and 194 at n. 137.
Betz, ibid, p. 191.
Betz, ibid p. 276. Further examples are gathered in Karl Preisendanz, Papyri Graecae
John Gee, “An Egyptian View of Abraham,” in A. C. Skinner, D. M. Davis and C.
Griffin, eds., Bountiful Harvest: Essays in Honor of S. Kent Brown, Provo: Maxwell
Institute, 2011, pp. 137-156.
E. O. Winstedt, “Coptic Saints and Sinners,” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical
Winstedt, ibid, pp. 232-233, cited quotation on p. 232.
My translation, cf. Winstedt, ibid, pp. 234-235 (text) and 279 (translation).
The Coptic text is not an original Egyptian story but based on Greek and written after the
Arabic conquest. Greek transcribes “sh” as simple “s” and, under Arabic influence, later
Egyptian Coptic substitutes “b” for “p” (as in modern Bebsi for Pepsi), so that when the
Coptic translation was written the name “Shapur” would easily become “Sabor” as has
been widely recognized. The fact that the martyr’s fame spread “in the whole land of
Mesopotamia” specifically excludes a possible martyrdom in Egypt, and Gee concedes
“it is not clear that the Pharaoh in the text was king over Egypt. He has normally been
equated with one of many Persian kings named Shapur.”
The identification with Shapur (II) is even clearer when one knows that the Coptic word
Gee translates repeatedly as “Pharaoh” simply means “king” of any country, even though
the word is etymologically derived from the ancient word “pharaoh.” Thus Gee’s
anachronistic translation of the term as “Pharaoh” throughout the Coptic text is
intentionally misleading, and the suggestion that “Pharaoh Sabor” might be a minor
Egyptian ruler of Dynasty 14, known only from a single mention in the Turin king list, is
phonetically impossible and stretches credulity.
The Coptic encomium is an adapted
Egyptian view. Nor is the Abraham in question the patriarch, though the story does
conflate differing Mesopotamian/Persian traditions for an attempted martyrdom by fire in
Mesopotamia — not by knife in Egypt. Gee’s article is not honest in its title, its
suppression of prior important scholarship, and its presentation of the principal actors.
Gee never acknowledges that the Abraham of the text is not —or even that he might not
be— the patriarch Abraham. The 1908 publication remains the only reliable edition of
this Coptic text.
Finally, whether or not “the idolatrous god Elkenah” (of Abraham 1: 17 and Facsimile 1)
absolutely impossible to identify that god with the Egyptian canopic jar deity
Qebehsenuef as Smith did in his explanation of Facsimile 1, Fig. 5. Far too often, the
LDS approach has been to find individual minor identifications or remote possibilities
that cannot in sum either explain or justify the Book of Abraham. The new LDS citations
of sources that are of minor relevance, misleading or false does not advance the cause of
the church and its disputed scripture.
The Lengthy Controversy
Scholarly rejection of the authenticity of the Book of Abraham is not new and has
continued unabated since the study by Jules Remy and Théodule Devéria in 1861, with
multiple scholars (including A. H. Sayce, Arthur Mace, Flinders Petrie, and James H.
Breasted) dismissing the book’s validity in 1912. With the rediscovery of the papyri at
the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1967, analysis by John Wilson, Richard Parker
and Klaus Baer (all 1968), and even the LDS apologist Hugh Nibley (in 1975) disproved
any possibility that the Book of Abraham could be an acceptable translation of the
Gee, “An Egyptian View of Abraham,” p. 148.
Gee, ibid, pp. 148-149.
showed the same result, as did the LDS-sponsored translations by Michael Rhodes (2002)
and the 2005 revision of Nibley’s volume. Thus has arisen a host of alternative defenses
for the Book of Abraham, questioning the meaning of the word “translation,” the length
of the original papyri, the possibility of a now-lost section with the Abraham text, etc.
However, clear links between the papyri and the published woodcut illustrations of the
Book of Abraham are unmistakable, and the woodcuts contain explicit “explanations” by
as even the new LDS position paper acknowledges: “
contains a crocodile deity swimming in what Joseph Smith called ‘the firmament over our
Smith also explained the images on the published “Facsimile
2,” writing as follows: “The above translation is given as far as we have any right to
give, at the present time” (emphasis added). The Book of Abraham itself is specifically
subtitled “translated from the papyrus, by Joseph Smith” (again emphasis added).
In addition, Facsimile 1 is specifically referenced in the text of the Book of Abraham
representation at the commencement of this record.” That initial representation is Fig. 4
of Facsimile 1: “The altar for sacrifice by the idolatrous priests, standing before the gods
of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, and the Pharaoh.” Further links appear in
Abraham 1:13-14, which describe the bedstead “altar” and foreign gods (actually canopic
jars) in Facsimile 1, Figs. 5-9. From these clear internal references, the LDS church is
wrong to question whether the vignette/ facsimile “and its adjacent text must be
associated in meaning.” It is simply unacceptable to argue, as the new LDS posting does,
that Facsimile 1 may not be relevant since “it was not uncommon for ancient Egyptian
vignettes to be placed some distance from their associated commentary.” The Abraham
text states clearly that the representation was not at some distance, but “at the
commencement of this record.” There is only one such representation included by Smith
“at the commencement” of the Book of Abraham. If he actually knew what he was
doing, surely he would have copied the correct illustration (which is keyed perfectly —
and repeatedly— to the text).
There can be no reasonable dispute that Smith linked the image of Facsimile 1 to the
Facsimile 1 has survived and is in fact the “Breathing Permit” of an Egyptian priest Hôr,
the Hôr papyrus is without question the text that Smith used for his translation that
produced the Book of Abraham. The same conclusion is proved by Facsimile 3, a now-
lost section of the same papyrus that contains the name of the priest Hôr, mistranslated by
Joseph Smith as “Fig. 5. Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters, as represented by
the characters above his hand.” From Smith’s words here, it is undeniable that he
thought he was translating the Egyptian hieroglyphic characters in the normal meaning of
the word “translate,” just as one would translate Greek or Hebrew characters.
For the scholarly critiques and the varying LDS defenses, see Ritner, The Joseph Smith
See Ritner, ibid, pp. 90-94 (2011 edition) = pp. 113-119 (2013 edition).
Since a literal meaning of Smith’s words disproves the Book of Abraham, the desire of
This is particularly true since there is surviving evidence of the translation process
followed by Smith and the “scribes” to whom he dictated. These include the various
copies by Smith, Oliver Cowdery and William W. Phelps of an attempted alphabet or
grammar of the ancient Egyptian script (now frequently called Smith’s “Egyptian
Alphabet and Grammar”) that is noted in the new LDS church web posting and is being
edited by Brian Hauglid. In these documents, often garbled bits of Egyptian hieroglyphs
or cursive hieratic script are copied in a left hand column and equated on the right with
lengthy and quite impossible translations. Where it is possible to identify copied
hieroglyphs, they again come from the Hôr papyrus (Fragment I, col. 3), the clear basis
for Smith’s work. It does not matter in whose hand the copies were made, since the work
was under the direction of Smith, who alone claimed the rights of translation. Recall that
the book was “translated from the papyrus, by Joseph Smith,” not Cowdery or Phelps.
Despite the insistence of the new LDS position paper, it is not true that “Joseph Smith did
published 1844 “Appeal to the Freemen of the State of Vermont, the ‘Brave Green
Mountain Boys,’ and Honest Men,” Smith claimed to know Chaldean and Egyptian,
among other languages. The supposed Egyptian, “Su-e-eh-ni (What other persons are
those)” is gibberish.
Smith’s claim to know Egyptian is noted even in the LDS web
Egyptian characters” so that “he soon knew what they were.”
The Translation Process— A “Smoking Gun”
Again in contrast to the new LDS statement, it is not true that “
no eyewitness account of
the translation survives.” Smith’s secretary Warren Parrish wrote in an 1838 letter in the
hieroglyphicks (sic) as he claimed to receive it by direct inspiration from heaven.”
Smith’s “divine inspiration” was not, however, divorced from a direct attempt to translate
evolving text of the Book of Abraham. These pages, unmentioned in the new LDS
church posting, were published in 1966 in microfilm reproductions and in transcription
by Jerald Tanner as Joseph Smith’s Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, Salt Lake City,
Utah Lighthouse Ministry. These microfilm pages are the “smoking gun” evidence that
resolves the history of the Book of Abraham translation process.
In his introduction to the volume, Tanner records that his Modern Microfilm Co. was
See Ritner, ibid, p. 4 (2011 edition) = pp. 2-3 (2013 edition), refuting a suggestion by
See Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, New York, 1945 [second edition
another man loaned us a microfilm of the original document.” The microfilm
reproductions found in the Tanner volume were printed from masters produced “in the
early part of 1966,” the same year that the Tanner volume was published. The dates of
1965-1966 are significant, because the microfilm edition contains not only the “Egyptian
Alphabet,” but the evolving manuscript pages for the future Book of Abraham as well.
These pages contain copies of specific Egyptian text from the “Breathing Permit of Hôr,”
column 2. That section of the papyrus was not reproduced in the Book of Abraham or
any other publication until the rediscovery of the Smith papyri in New York in 1967 and
the publication of sepia photographs in The Improvement Era in January and February of
1968. The copies made in 1965 and 1966, and the 1966 publication by Tanner, cannot
then be forgeries since no forger could have had the unknown papyrus as a model to copy.
The equation of the Book of Abraham and the “Breathing Permit of Hôr” is thus
undeniable, and the source of Smith’s nineteenth century composition is settled. Period.
The Tanner volume that first published these manuscripts is cumbersome to use as it
second series labeled out of order S, R, Q, N, P and O. Exactly like the “Alphabet and
Grammar,” the pages include copies of Egyptian script on the left corresponding to
lengthy English on the right. But in these texts, the English is the text of the Book of
Abraham as it was being modified and would be published, with obvious deletions and
revisions in the handwritten English text. Also unlike the “Alphabet and Grammar” hand
copies, the Egyptian script on most of these sheets is immediately clear and readily
translated by modern Egyptologists. Without question, the translation efforts by Smith
and his “scribes” were based directly on Smith’s Egyptian papyri.
The manuscript pages are now summarized by H. Michael Marquardt in his valuable
Marquardt identifies three 1835 translation
corresponds to Manuscript 2 (Abraham 1:4-2:6), copied in Frederick Williams’
handwriting. Manuscript 3, copied in Parrish’s handwriting, corresponds to Abraham 1:4
(“I sought for mine appointment …”) to the end of 2:2 (“… the daughter of Haran.”). As
mentioned above, both of these manuscripts can be found easily in the 1966 Tanner
publication. The two manuscripts copy the same Egyptian signs for the same English text,
with pages J and R being duplicates, as are pages K and Q, L and N, M and O. Pages S
and P alone have indistinct Egyptian copies. The first hand copy of page P is probably
the same Egyptian group copied first on pages M and O. In all cases, the Egyptian hand
copies by Parrish (S, R, Q, N, P and O) are better (more legible) than those of Williams.
It is the Parrish copies that are the focus of my remaining discussion. Ultimately,
however, it does not matter in whose handwriting the pages are copied, since Smith alone
controlled the translation process —as Parrish noted in his 1838 letter.
H. Michael Marquardt, “Joseph Smith’s Egyptian Papers: A History,” in Ritner,
and these are discussed in detail below. The Egyptian copies are so clear that they can be
recognized easily by laymen with no knowledge of Egyptian scripts. The copied
Egyptian text on these pages is unmistakable.
Page Q in both microfilm and transcription follows, corresponding directly to the Book of
within the Joseph Smith papyrus corpus. Not surprisingly, all of the Egyptian signs are
taken from the Breathing Permit of Hôr, exactly as one would suspect from Facsimiles 1
and 3 and the internal references within the Book of Abraham to the Facsimiles as noted
above. The inspiration and basis for the text of the Book of Abraham is P. JS 1.2 (=
Fragment XI) from the Breathing Permit of Hôr, the second column.
link between the text of the Book of Abraham and the adjacent “
representation at the
commencement of this record”
(Abraham 1:12). No “lost papyrus” was used in the
composition of the Book of Abraham.
See Plate V = pp. 99-101 of Ritner, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete
of the word for “lake,” and actually reads: [š]y wr Ḫnsw “[the] great l[a]ke of Khonsu.”
This is the translation accepted not only by me but by all Egyptologists and recent
Mormon translators as well.
For the essentially unanimous readings and translations by Ritner (2002), Baer (1968),
Here follow the microfilm and transcription of page N, containing Book of Abraham 1:
26-31, and the corresponding Egyptian signs from P. JS 1.2, line 2.
The identified signs represent the words ms n “born of.” The upper hand copy, not linked
traces of “the Osiris Hôr, the justified.” The initial strokes of the word “Osiris” still
survive on the papyrus as sight ink traces at the beginning (right edge) of this broken line.
On the lower hand copy at the right edge, the small diagonal line that intersects the
vertical stroke of ms “to be born” is the trailing ink flourish from the end of the word
“voice” in the expression “true of voice” = “justified,” as written often in this papyrus (cf.
P. JS 1.2, column 3, line 3, in the Breathing Permit Paragraph I).
The transcription for the concluding page O of Parrish’s hand copy follows. The English
text corresponds to Book of Abraham 1:36 through 2:2, while the Egyptian signs
continue those copied on p. N, and are taken from P. JS 1.2, the remaining signs of line 2.
The four groups of Egyptian signs copied on page O mistakenly divide the name of Hôr’s
mother Taikhibit (Tꜣy-ḫy-by.t) into three different sections, while incorrectly joining as a
single group the terms “true of voice” (= “justified”) and “likewise.” Group 1 is actually
Tꜣy, group 2 is ḫy-by.t, and the small group 3 is the seated woman determinative that
concludes the name of Taikhibit. Group 4 contains the signs for the phrase mꜣꜥ-ḫrw “true
of voice” and for the word mit.t “likewise.” The genuine translation of these signs
continues the filiation of the priest Hôr, who was born of “Taikhibit, the justified,” and,
in parallel to the god Osiris, was to be towed to the lake of Khonsu “likewise.”
The copied Egyptian thus continues directly from pages N to O, with no new Egyptian
signs available for the intervening English translation on page P. The same problem
exists for page S of the comparable Manuscript 2. However, as noted above, page P
seems to repeat the same initial Egyptian sign as page O (Tꜣy), so that Smith and his
scribes apparently “read” the same Egyptian line twice.
It is now evident that over half of the text of the Book of Abraham was invented by Smith
Fragment XI], lines 1-2). The few Egyptian words “great lake of Khonsu, [and the Osiris
For the comparable readings and translations of these words, see again Ritner, ibid, pp.
of Abraham 1:4-2:2.
It is not surprising that Smith’s translation of just a few Egyptian words could become a
Champollion in France, it had been wrongly assumed that the Egyptian writing system
was purely symbolic, not phonetic. Champollion’s discovery would not have been
known to Smith in America, and when he finally did have the chance to interact with an
Egyptologist from Europe, it was the discredited Gustaf Seyffarth, who denied
Smith’s fanciful translation can be compared with the
Minerva obelisk in Rome in 1666 as:
Hemphta the supreme spirit and archetype infuses its virtue and gifts
in the soul of the sidereal world, that is the solar spirit subject to it
whence comes the vital motion in the material or elemental world, and an
From the fruitfulness of the Osirian bowl, in which, drawn by some marvelous
The all-seeing Chenosiris, guard of the sacred channels which are the humid
Ophionius the good demon for he obtaining of whose favors
And the propagation of life this sacred tablet is consecrated; by whose good will,
and with the assistance of the humid Agathodaemon of divine Osiris, the seven
towers of the heavens (the fortress of the planets) are protected from all harm.
contains just four variants of the royal titles of Pharaoh Apries of Dynasty 26:
The Golden Horus: Enduring of heart, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, The
given life like Re forever.”
See Ritner, ibid, p. 87 (2011 edition) = pp. 109-110 (2013 edition).
Joscelyn Godwin, Athanasius Kircher: A Renaissance Man and the Quest for Lost
prolix translation of Joseph Smith belongs.
It must be stressed again that the real translation of the Egyptian signs discussed above is
as well (Nibley, Rhodes and Gee). To be clear, since the Book of Abraham is now proved
effectively disprove the validity of the Book of Abraham. Here then is final evidence that
Joseph Smith created the Book of Abraham by guesswork translation —in the usual
sense— from the signs on the Egyptian papyri that he owned. The specific source of the
Book of Abraham is the “Breathing Permit of Hôr,” misunderstood and mistranslated by
Joseph Smith. The only truly ancient sources in the Book of Abraham are the many
reworked Hebrew passages from Genesis, as outlined explicitly by H. Michael
With the Book of Abraham now confirmed as a perhaps well-meaning, but erroneous
invention by Joseph Smith, the LDS church may well devote some reflection to the status
of the text. The former Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, since
2001 renamed the Community of Christ, avoids this issue by treating the Book of
Abraham as speculative writing by Smith, not as a document of historical truth. In this
decision they are clearly correct. Despite its inauthenticity as a genuine historical
narrative, the Book of Abraham remains a valuable witness to early American religious
history and to the recourse to ancient texts as sources of modern religious faith and
speculation. The book still has its uses and significance, but not for the ancient world of
Egypt and Abraham.
H. Michael Marquardt, “Joseph Smith’s Egyptian Papers: A History,” in Ritner,
52 (2013 edition).