• The Book of Abraham

     

  • Here Comes

    The Book of Abraham

    Part I, ii, III

    (By Paul Osborne)

     

     

    A Revelation to the Twelve Concerning the Times and Seasons

    A Revelation to the twelve concerning the Times and Seasons . . .

     

     

    A Revelation to the Twelve Concerning the Times and Seasons

    A Revelation

    A Revelation to the Twelve Concerning the Times and Seasons

    Verily thus saith the Lord

    A Revelation to the Twelve Concerning the Times and Seasons

    My Holy Spirit

     

     

     

    A LITERAL TRANSLATION

     

    The official name of the Mormon religion when the Book of Abraham papyrus was purchased was THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS as prescribed in a conference held in Kirtland as recorded in the church periodical: THE EVENING AND THE MORNING STAR, Vol. II, May 1834, No. 20, presided over by Joseph Smith Jr., Moderator to the proceedings.

     

    The relevance pertaining to original claims of early Book of Abraham papyrus translations lie squarely in the minds of Joseph Smith and THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS in that time. The modern Church today (headquartered in Utah) is irrelevant to the original claims made by THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS led personally by Joseph Smith in Kirtland Ohio. We need only concern ourselves with the faith, beliefs, and ideals, promoted by living members of THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS headquartered in Kirtland and later in Nauvoo. Consequently, it won’t be necessary to ride the apologetic merry-go-round produced by modern apologists who reject original claims and postulate something other than what Smith and the early Mormons believed through faith and by the Spirit.

     

    Prior to translating the Book of Abraham beginning in 1835, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from so-called reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics (known only to the Nephites) that were etched on gold plates given him by an angel. In 1830, Smith wrote that he had literally translated the Book of Mormon from gold plates by translating it from one language into another:

     

    “I wish to mention here, that the title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that said title-page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation. Therefore, in order to correct an error which generally exists concerning it, I give below that part of the title-page of the English version of the Book of Mormon, which is a genuine and literal translation of the title-page of the original Book of Mormon, as recorded on the plates.” (DHC 1:71, TPJS 7)

     

    Key points of Smith’s declaration in making a literal translation from Egyptian to English are listed in the following order:

     

    1. “The title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation” (The title of the golden book was “Book of Mormon” translated from reformed Egyptian into English)

     

    2. “Taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing” (Smith was specific in pointing out that the Egyptian characters for “Book of Mormon” were etched on the last leaf wherein he could identify them. Note how he said reformed Egyptian runs right to left, the same as Hebrew)

     

    3. “The title-page of the English version of the Book of Mormon, is a genuine and literal translation of the title-page of the original Book of Mormon, as recorded on the plates” (Again, Smith stressed that the title-page of the golden book was literally translated from reformed Egyptian into the English language – a “genuine” translation of one language into another, such as Hebrew into English or English into Hebrew, etc.)

     

    Appeal to Dictionary Authority for a Definition of Translation

     

    AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE BY NOAH WEBSTER 1828

     

    TRANSLATE To interpret; to render into another language; to express the sense of one language in the words of another. The Old Testament was translated into the Greek language more than two hundred years before Christ. The Scriptures are now translated into most of the languages of Europe and Asia.

     

    TRANSLATION That which is produced by turning into another language; a version. We have a good translation of the Scriptures.

     

    Additional written testimony given by Joseph Smith regarding the translation of the gold plates continues to agree and square with the actual definition of the word “translation” contained in the Webster American Dictionary of his time. It’s important to establish that claims of a literal translation from one language to another (ancient Egyptian into modern English) is exactly what Smith claimed to do. The following is taken from the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS) with emphasis added:

     

    “The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians; having been found through the ministration of an holy angel, and translated into our own language by the gift and power of God, after having been hid up in the earth for the last fourteen hundred years, containing the word of God which was delivered unto them.” (TPJS 17)

     

    “The Gospel is shining with all the resplendent glory of an apostolic day; and that the kingdom of the Messiah is greatly spreading, that the Gospel of our Lord is carried to divers nations of the earth, the Scriptures translating into different tongues.” (TPJS 48)

     

    “Moroni, who deposited the plates in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County, New York, being dead and raised again therefrom, appeared unto me, and told me where they were, and gave me directions how to obtain them. I obtained them, and the Urim and Thummim with them, by the means of which I translated the plates; and thus came the Book of Mormon.” (TPJS 119)

     

    “In answer to your inquiries respecting the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon, hymn book, history of the Church, etc., I would say that I entirely approve of the same, and give my consent, with the exception of the hymn book, as a new edition, containing a greater variety of hymns, will be shortly published or printed in this place, which I think will be a standard work. As soon as it is printed, you shall have some sent to you, which you may get translated, and printed into any language you please.” (TPJS 163,164)

     

    “The error I speak of, is the definition of the word ‘Mormon.’ It has been stated that this word was derived from the Greek word ‘mormo.’ This is not the case. There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of Mormon.” (TPJS 299)

     

    To recap important key points from the above narration:

     

    1. The Book of Mormon was first translated into the English language after being hid for 1,400 years on gold plates – translations from English to other tongues ensued thereafter.

     

    2. Although Smith was desirous to see the Book of Mormon “translating into different tongues” he would not live to witness it “translated, and printed into any language” other than English.

     

    3. Smith was adamant that the word Mormo (Greek female spirit) had no relation to the word Mormon and that he translated the Book of Mormon from the plates as previously described.

     

    Joseph Smith’s successors translated the English version of the Book of Mormon into other languages, thus fulfilling the mandate to take the fullness of the gospel to the entire world. The English translation was first published in 1830 following the Danish in 1851, and the French, Welsh, German, and Italian, in 1852.

     

    SMITH TRANSLATES FOR CHANDLER

     

    Prior to the Book of Abraham translation, the Book of Mormon translation was accomplished in secrecy through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. So-called reformed hieroglyphic writing was inscribed on gold plates, whereby, they alleged to translate an unknown Egyptian script into modern English through a translation method, they said was a gift from God. A second opportunity for Smith to translate ancient Egyptian and restore another book of lost scripture arose when Smith obtained papyrus rolls from Michael Chandler, a dealer of ancient Egyptian artifacts. This time the language was conventional Egyptian hieroglyphs penned on ancient rolls of papyri. Unlike the gold plates, anyone and everyone who shared an interest in the curious artifacts was able to examine the papyri, including learned professors. Unfortunately, the ancient Egyptian language was a dead language, and nobody could read it although crude methods of decipherment were ongoing especially in Europe by professional linguists working feverishly to crack the hieroglyphic code. Chandler had so far not been able to obtain a satisfactory explanation or translation for his papyri. But all this was about to change because Chandler was destined to meet Smith! The following citations are from the (LATTER DAY SAINTS’ MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE, by Oliver Cowdery).

    Oliver Cowdery

    Assistant President of the Church

     

     “When Mr. Chandler discovered that there was something with the Mummies, he supposed, or hoped it might be some diamonds or other valuable metal, and was no little chagrined when he saw his disappointment. He was immediately told, while yet in the Custom House, that there was no man in that city, who could translate his roll; but was referred by the same gentleman, (a stranger,) to Mr. Joseph Smith, jr. who, continued he, possesses some kind of power or gifts by which he had previously translate similar characters. Bro. Smith was then unknown to Mr. Chandler, neither did he know that such a book or work as the record of the Nephites had been brought before the public.”

     

    “While Mr. Chandler was in Philadelphia, he used every exertion to find some one who could give him the translation of his papyrus, but could not, satisfactorily, though from some few men of the first eminence, he obtained in a small degree, the translation of a few characters. Here he was referred to bro. Smith. From Philadelphia he visited Harrisburgh, and other places east of the mountains, and was frequently referred to bro. Smith for a translation of his Egyptian Relic.

     

    It would be beyond my purpose to follow this gentleman in his different circuits to the time he visited this place the last of June, or first of July, at which time he presented bro. Smith with his papyrus. Till then neither myself nor brother Smith knew of such relics being in America. Mr. Chandler was told that his writings could be deciphered, and very politely gave me a privilege of copying some four or five different sentences or separate pieces, stating, at the same time, that unless he found some one who could give him a translation soon, he would carry them to London.

     

    I am a little in advance of my narration; The morning Mr. Chandler first presented his papyrus to bro.—Smith, he was shown, by the latter, a number of characters like those upon the writings of Mr. C. which were previously copied from the plates, containing the history of the Nephites, or book of Mormon.

     

    Being solicited by Mr. Chandler to give an opinion concerning his antiquities, or translation of some of the characters, bro. S. gave him the interpretation of some few for his satisfaction. For your gratification I will here annex a certificate which I hold, from under the hand of Mr. Chandler, unsolicited, however, by any person in this place, which will show how far he believed bro. Smith able to unfold from these long obscured rolls the wonders contained therein:

     

    ‘Kirtland, July 6th, 1835.’

     

    ‘This is to make known to all who may be desirous, concerning the knowledge of Mr. Joseph Smith, jr. in deciphering the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic characters, in my possession, which I have, in many eminent cities, shown to the most learned: And, from the information that I could even learn, or meet with, I find that of Mr. Joseph Smith, jr. to correspond in the most minute matters.’

     

    (signed)

     

    ‘MICHAEL H. CHANDLER.’

     

    ‘Travelling with, and proprietor of Egyptian Mummies.’

     

    The foregoing is verbatim as given by Mr. C. excepting the addition of punctuation, and speaks sufficiently plain without requiring comment from me. It was given previous to the purchase of the antiquities, by any person here.”

     

    Oliver Cowdery’s account boasts that Smith can translate Egyptian hieroglyphs from papyrus as well as he could the golden plates and do so to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Of course, Mr. Chandler’s main interest was in selling his artifacts but it seems he was also interested in learning as much as he could about their meaning and what mysterious messages they may contain. Joseph Smith must have been pleased to obtain a certificate of appreciation for his effort in translating a selection of characters to the satisfaction of Mr. Chandler.

     

     

     

    Joseph Smith

    President of the Church wrote:

     

    “On the 3rd of July Michael H. Chandler came to Kirtland to exhibit some Egyptian mummies. There were four human figures, together with some two or more rolls of papyrus covered with hieroglyphic figures and devices. As Mr. Chandler had been told I could translate them, he brought me some of the characters, and I gave him the interpretation, and like a gentleman, he gave me the following certificate:

     

    ‘This is to make known to all who may be desirous, concerning the knowledge of Mr. Joseph Smith, Jun., in deciphering the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic characters in my possession, which I have, in many eminent cities, showed to the most learned; and, from the information that I could ever learn, or meet with, I find that of Mr. Joseph Smith, Jun., to correspond in the most minute matters.

     

    Michael H. Chandler

     

    Traveling with, and proprietor of, Egyptian mummies’.” (Joseph Smith, HC 2:235)

     

    “Soon after this, some of the saints in Kirtland purchased the mummies and papyrus, a description of which will appear hereafter, and with W.W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to my joy found that one of the rolls contained the writing of Abraham, another the writing of Joseph of Egypt, etc., a more full account of which will appear in its place, as I proceed to examine or unfold them. Truly we can say, the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of peace and truth.” (Joseph Smith, HC 2:236)

     

    “From New York he [Mr. Chandler] took his collection on to Philadelphia and obtained the certificate of the learned (see Mess. & Advocate p. 235,) — and from thence came on too Kirtland, as before related in July. Thus I have given a brief history of the manner in which the writings of the Fathers, Abraham, and Joseph have been preserved and how I came into possession of the same, a correct translation of which I shall give in its proper place.” (Joseph Smith, HC 2:348)

     

    So, there we have it. Joseph Smith claimed to translate and interpret some characters provided to him from Mr. Chandler. Of course, the Mormons believed the translations were correct and believed Smith was able to translate Egyptian from papyrus just as he was able to translate Egyptian from gold plates. Smith professed to translate Egyptian and represented that to the entire church as well as the world at large. It was quite a claim! The LATTER DAY SAINTS believed that the manifestation of the Spirit was upon their prophet and that he alone had the gift and ability to translate a dead language written thousands of years ago by the hand of biblical patriarchs. Now with that said, let us consider testimony from two apostolic eyewitnesses who had faith in their prophet and believed that he was in fact translating Egyptian hieroglyphic writing into the English language. In other words, Joseph Smith literally translated Egyptian into English the same as anyone would translate one language into another. Consider the testimony of the Pratt brothers who were original members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, men who witnessed the coming forth of the Book of Abraham, apostles who bore testimony that Joseph Smith translated hieroglyphic characters into English text.

     

     

     

     

    TESTIMONY OF APOSTOLIC EYEWITNESSES

    Elder Parley P Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve – Editor of the Millennial Star

     

     

     

    “Mr. CHANDLER was, of course, anxious to find some one who could interpret or translate this valuable relic of antiquity, and, we believe, on one occasion, met with an individual who was enabled to decipher a small portion, or, at least, to give an opinion of what he supposed its meaning to be. He every where heard mention of JOSEPH SMITH and the Book of Mormon, but so generally associated with something slanderous, that could scarcely think seriously of applying to him. But at length, however, he called upon Mr. SMITH, to inquire if he had a power by which he could translate the ancient Egyptian. Mr. SMITH replied that he had, when Mr. CHANDER presented the fragment which had been partially interpreted. Mr. SMITH retired into his translating room and presently returned with a written translation in English, of the fragment, confirming the supposed meaning ascribed to it by the gentleman to whom it had been previously presented.” (Parley P Pratt, Millennial Star, July 1842, p.46,47)

     

    • Chandler was searching for anyone who could interpret and translate the papyri
    • Smith claimed he could translate the ancient Egyptian
    • Smith translated a fragment containing characters
    • Smith returned the characters with a written translation in English
    • Chandler confirmed the translation was agreeable with what he had learned previously

     

     

    Elder Orson Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve

     

     

     

     

    PREFACE.

     

    “We take pleasure in presenting to the lovers of truth the Twentieth Volume of the JOURNAL OF DISCOURSES. It contains lucid explanations of the laws and doctrines of the true Gospel of Christ, and inspirational teachings suited to the circumstances of the people to whom they were delivered. Those who read the utterances of the servants of God, contained In this book, under the same influence by which the speakers were inspired, cannot fail to receive profit from the perusal. Therefore, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.”

     

    THE PUBLISHER.

     

     

    “And the mummies and the records were exhibited by Mr. Chandler, in New York, Philadelphia, and many of the Eastern States of our Union; and thousands of people saw them, and among them many learned men; and these characters were presented to them, and not unfrequently was Mr. Chandler referred to ‘Joe’ Smith as they used to term him, who, they said, pretended to have translated some records that he found in the western part of New York, and that if Mr. Chandler would go and see him perhaps he would translate those ancient characters. Many of these references were made with the intention of ridiculing Mr. Smith; but it so happened that in traveling through the country he visited Kirtland, Ohio, where the Prophet Joseph Smith resided, bringing the mummies and the ancient papyrus writings with him. Mr. C. had also obtained from learned men the best translation he could of some few characters, which however, was not a translation, but more in the shape of their ideas with regard to it, their acquaintance with the language not being sufficient to enable them to translate it literally. After some conversation with the Prophet Joseph, Mr. Chandler presented to him the ancient characters, asking him if he could translate them. The prophet took them and repaired to his room and inquired of the Lord concerning them. The Lord told him they were sacred records, containing the inspired writings of Abraham when he was in Egypt, and also those of Joseph, while he was in Egypt; and they had been deposited, with these mummies, which had been exhumed. And he also inquired of the Lord concerning some few characters which Mr. Chandler, gave him by way of a test, to see if he could translate them. The Prophet Joseph translated these characters and returned them, with the translation to Mr. Chandler; and who, in comparing it with the translation of the same few characters by learned men, that he had before obtained, found the two to agree.” (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses by President John Taylor, 1880, 20:64,65)

     

    • Learned men were unable to literally translate the papyri
    • God told Smith that the records contained writings of Abraham & Joseph
    • Smith translated the few characters Chandler had given him
    • Smith interpreted the characters and returned the translation to Chandler for approval
    • The translation was tendered as a literal translation from Egyptian into English

     

    The credibility of the historical statement made by elder Pratt in the Journal of Discourses by President John Taylor (1880) was binding and authoritative to the entire church because it served as an eyewitness account of what actually transpired. Also, it was President John Taylor who presented the Book of Abraham before the church in 1880 for canonization. At that time, John Taylor was the absolute authority of the church in all things Book of Abraham. Taylor was an apostle when the Book of Abraham was first printed in the Times and Seasons, was responsible for print shop operations, and assisted Joseph Smith with editing the Book of Abraham. These men solemnly testify to the fact that Joseph Smith represented his work as a literal translation of the hieroglyphic text at hand.

     

    Combined testimonies of Oliver Cowdery, Parley P Pratt, Orson Pratt, and John Taylor, all of whom were eyewitnesses and ordained apostles, mingle their voices with Joseph Smith in declaring the Book of Abraham written by his own hand, upon papyrus, a literal translation. In light of this, there is additional testimony from a fifth apostle who later became President of the Church.

     

     

     

     

    TESTIMONY OF WILFORD WOODRUFF

     

    Apostle and Book of Abraham Printer for the Times and Seasons

     

    “The Lord is Blessing Joseph with Power to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of God; to translate through the urim & Thummim Ancient records & Hyeroglyphics as old as Abraham or Adam, which causes our hearts to burn within us while we behold their glorious truths opened unto us.

     

    Joseph the Seer has presented us some of the Book of Abraham which was written by his own hand but hid from the knowledge of man for the last four thousand years but has now come to light through the mercy of God. Joseph has had these records in his possession for several years but has never presented them before the world in the english language untill now. But he is now about to publish it to the world or parts of it by publishing it in the Times & Seasons, for Joseph the Seer is now the Editor of that paper & Elder Taylor assists him in writing while it has fallen to my lot to take charge of the Business part of the establishment.

     

    I have had the privilege this day of assisting in setting the TIPE for printing the first peace of the B00K OF ABRAHAM that is to be presented to the inhabitants of the EARTH in the LAST DAYS.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 2, p. 155, 19 February 1842)

     

    “Abraham and the later Patriarchs & Prophets have left to the world by there Journals and sacred records some History of the dealings of God with them. But there records were kept upon parchment & papyrus written in Egyptian, Arabic, Chaldeic and Hebrew, mingled with many Hieroglyphics in order to Convey their ideas & principles to future generations, some of which [p.21] have been translated into the English language by the order of King James which now forms the Bible. But what a small History the Bible is of the dealings of God for 4,000 years with the Nations of the Earth.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 6, p. 20, February 12, 1862)

     

    • The papyrus was translated by means of the Urim and Thummim
    • The ancient records contained writings as old as Abraham which was written by his own hand
    • The record had been hidden from the world (buried) for some 4,000 years
    • The Egyptian hieroglyphic content was translated into the English language
    • The Book of Abraham was formally published and presented to the whole world
    • Abraham’s papyrus was a journal, a sacred record, written in the Egyptian language
    • Arabic, Chaldeic, Hebrew, and Hieroglyphics, may be literally translated into English
    • The papyrus written in Egyptian was literally translated into the English language

     

    However:

     

    It’s interesting to note that modern Mormonism today has essentially rejected original truth claims pertaining to the coming forth of the Book of Abraham. The following apologetic statement for the Book of Abraham was tendered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and published on its website in an article entitled: “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham”. The essay is a contribution from scholars and used with their permission.

     

    “Alternatively, Joseph’s study of the papyri may have led to a revelation about key events and teachings in the life of Abraham, much as he had earlier received a revelation about the life of Moses while studying the Bible. This view assumes a broader definition of the words translator and translation. According to this view, Joseph’s translation was not a literal rendering of the papyri as a conventional translation would be. Rather, the physical artifacts provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation. They catalyzed a process whereby God gave to Joseph Smith a revelation about the life of Abraham, even if that revelation did not directly correlate to the characters on the papyri."

     

     

     

    AN EXPERT WITNESS

    Josiah Quincy III

     

    • Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1805–1813)
    • Mayor of Boston (1823–1828)
    • President of Harvard University (1829–1845)
    • 72 years old when he met Joseph Smith in Nauvoo
     
     

    “FIGURES OF THE PAST”

     

    “FROM THE LEAVES OF OLD JOURNALS, BY JOSIAH QUINCY”

    JOSEPH SMITH AT NAUVOO

     

    IT is by no means improbable that some future text-book, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet.” (p. 376)

     

    “The prophet referred to his miraculous gift of understanding all languages, and took down a Bible in various tongues, for the purpose of exhibiting his accomplishments in this particular. Our position as guests prevent our testing his powers by a rigid examination, and rendering of a few familiar texts seemed to be accepted by his followers as a triumphant demonstration of his abilities. It may have been an accident, but I observed that the bulk of his translations were from the Hebrew, which, presumably, his visitors did not understand, rather than from the classical languages, in which they might more easily have caught him tripping.

     

    ‘And now come with me,’ said the prophet, ‘and I will show you the curiosities.’ So saying, he led the way to a lower room where sat a venerable and respectable-looking lady. ‘This is my mother, gentlemen. The curiosities we shall see belong to her. They were purchased with her own money, at a cost of six thousand dollars;’ and then, with deep feeling, were added the words, ‘And that woman was turned out upon the prairie in the dead of night by a mob.’ There were some pine presses fixed against the wall of the room. These receptacles Smith opened, and disclosed four human bodies, shrunken and black with age. ‘These are mummies,’ said the exhibitor. ‘I want you to look at that little runt of a fellow over there. He was a great man in his day. Why that was Pharaoh Necho, King of Egypt!’ Some parchments inscribed with hieroglyphics were then offered us. They were preserved under glass and handled with great respect. That is the handwriting of Abraham, the Father of the Faithful,’ said the prophet. ‘This is the autograph of Moses, and these lines were written by his brother Aaron’.” (p. 385, 386)

     

    • Smith made fantastic claims about his Egyptian curiosities
    • Smith attested to have the handwriting of Abraham
    • Smith respectfully pointed at the autograph of Moses written on papyrus under glass
    • Smith identified hieroglyphic lines that were written by Aaron

     

    There is no reason to reject or deny historical statements made by the honorable Josiah Quincy about his personal interview and visit with Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. There is however, on the other hand, every reason to reject the veracity of the claims made by Joseph Smith as not being factual or true. Smith claimed to have the actual handwriting of Abraham and published that claim in the Times and Seasons in the introduction of the Book of Abraham:

     

     

    One might ask themselves, which is easier to believe?:

     

    1. Moses appeared to Smith in the Kirtland temple

    2. The genuine autograph of Moses and lines written by Aaron were on Smith’s papyrus

     

    Like Josiah Quincy, anyone can determine for themselves how much of Smith’s fantastic claims they regard or accept as true – All, part, or none at all. Other reports appeared in various publications, one of which was the Quincy Whig newspaper in Quincy Illinois, Oct. 1840, wherein an account of an interview given by Joseph Smith to a reporter was publicized:

     

    “He [Joseph Smith] walked to a secretary on the opposite side of the room, and drew out several frames covered with glass, under which were numerous fragments of Egyptian papyrus, on which, as usual, a great variety of hieroglyphical characters had been imprinted.

     

    ‘These ancient records,’ said he, ‘throw great light upon the subject of Christianity. They have been unrolled and preserved with great labor and care. My time has hitherto been too much taken up to translate the whole of them, but I will show you how I interpret certain parts. There,’ said he, pointing to a particular character, ‘that is the signature of the patriarch Abraham.’

     

    It is indeed a most interesting autograph, I replied, and doubtless the only one extant. What an ornament it would be to have these ancient manuscripts handsomely set, in appropriate frames, and hung up around the walls of the temple which you are about to erect in this place.

     

    ‘Yes’, replied the prophet, ‘and the translation hung up with them’. ”

     

     

     

     

    Autograph & Signature

     

    What is meant by the “autograph of Moses” and the “signature of Abraham”? What is an autograph and what is a signature? An appeal to the 1828 Webster’s dictionary sounds highly appropriate in order to better understand what Joseph Smith meant:

     

    Noah Webster

     

    AUTOGRAPH adjective Pertaining to an autograph or one's own hand writing.

     

    SIGNATURE, noun [Latin signo, to sign.] Sign manual; the name of a person written or subscribed by himself.

     

     

    Authentic example of an autograph or signature:

    Joseph Smith Jr.

     

     

     

     

     

    Pointing to a particular character:

     

    “That is the signature of the patriarch Abraham”

     

    A reasonable and rational hypothetical response might be:

     

    “I’m sorry, Mr. Smith, but I’m not convinced that I see Abraham’s signature therein. I don’t see how the autograph or signature of Abraham is contained within the writing of this Egyptian papyrus. I just don’t see it. I don’t believe it.”

     

    Can Mr. Quincy be blamed or anyone else for that matter for refusing to believe Smith’s declaration about Abraham’s signature written on papyrus purchased by the Mormons? Regardless, to question whether Quincy believed Smith’s assertion that a signature of Abraham was actually on the papyrus is immaterial. It doesn’t matter what Quincy thought. What matters is that a genuine signature of Abraham was on the papyrus and if not then what does that imply about Smith’s ability to interpret Egyptian?

     

    Smith’s followers believed that the bedstead scene in Facsimile No. 1 was an actual representation of Abraham upon the sacrificial altar as specifically pointed out in the Book of Abraham text. Be that as it may, the name Abraham is not found on the papyrus fragments in possession of the modern church today. In fact, the extant papyri, especially the hieroglyphic writing that flanks the original vignette of Facsimile No. 1, wherein a conventional reading proves has nothing to do with Smith’s Book of Abraham story. The name of Abraham is not found on the key fragment depicting the alleged sacrifice or on any of the adjoining fragments attributed to the Abrahamic roll. Neither is the name of Abraham found in the hieroglyphic writing of Facsimiles No. 2 & 3.

     

    So, when Joseph Smith pointed at characters on papyrus and claimed there was a signature of Abraham thereon, one was left to leave it to the stretch of their imagination. Take for instance Smith’s interpretation of the Egyptian libation stand (topped with a lotus and water jar) in Facsimile No. 3, Fig. 3, where he explains in his news publication: “Signifies Abraham, in Egypt; as given in the 9th No. of the Times & Seasons.” Smith is claiming that both libation stands signify Abraham in Egypt. But take into consideration the text of verses 3-6 within the periodical and discover the libation stands are actually located in two different geographical locations: The first (Facsimile No. 1, Fig 10) is in the land of Chaldea and the second (Facsimile No. 3, Fig. 3) is at Pharaoh’s court in Egypt. It should be pointed out, however, that Abraham hadn’t been to Egypt prior to his encounter with Pharaoh’s priest in the land of Chaldea! How can the libation stand in Chaldea signify Abraham in Egypt when according to the story he hadn’t yet gone to Egypt? Confused? But wait, there’s more!

     

    Perhaps unknown to Joseph Smith, there are two libation stands depicted in Facsimile No. 2, Fig. 2 & 3 that are set before the feet of the gods of Egypt. Smith’s official Explanations of Facsimile No. 2 say nothing about the libation stands that are supposedly a symbol or representation of Abraham in Egypt. Interesting to note that these libation stands are not anywhere near Egypt, not even on earth! According to Smith, the first is near the star Kolob and the other is at God’s throne in heaven.

     

    So, you see, when it comes to Smith’s explanations, anything goes! Just use your imagination and pretend there is a signature or autograph written by Abraham’s own hand upon papyrus.

     

     

    TRANSLATING EGYPTIAN INTO ENGLISH

     

    What happens if we plug an example of translating the Book of Mormon into the Book of Abraham for a comparison? Will it work? Is it consistent? Would Joseph Smith approve? Let’s plug in Smith’s own words about translating gold plates into the papyrus and see if it works:

     

    I wish to mention here, that the title-page of the Book of Mormon

    I wish to mention here, that the title-page of the Book of Abraham

     

    is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf,

    is a literal translation, taken from the very last page,

     

    on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates,

    on the left hand side of the collection or book of papyrus,

     

    which contained the record which has been translated,

    which contained the record which has been translated,

     

    the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general;

    the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general;

     

    and that said title-page is not by any means a modern composition,

    and that said title-page is not by any means a modern composition,

     

    either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation.

    either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation.

     

    Therefore, in order to correct an error which generally exists concerning it,

    Therefore, in order to correct an error which generally exists concerning it,

     

    I give below that part of the title-page of the English version of the Book of Mormon,

    I give below that part of the title-page of the English version of the Book of Abraham,

     

    which is a genuine and literal translation of the title-page of the original Book of Mormon,

    which is a genuine and literal translation of the title-page of the original Book of Abraham,

     

    as recorded on the plates.

    as recorded on the papyrus.

     

    In every respect, the comparison works! If Joseph Smith is able to translate reformed Egyptian hieroglyphs on gold plates through or by revelatory means then he is also able to translate conventional Egyptian hieroglyphs on papyrus by the same means. Whether on gold plates or papyrus, it is the same, Smith claimed to translate Egyptian. That is an absolute fact.

     

     

     

     

    WRITTEN BY HIS OWN HAND UPON PAPYRUS

     

     

    Appeal to the 1828 Dictionary

     

    written by his own hand upon papyrus

     

     

    1. “written”  Participle passive Expressed in letters.

     

    2. “by”  Through, or with, denoting the agent, means, instrument or cause

     

    3. “his”  Of him

     

    4. “own Belonging to; possessed; peculiar; usually expressing property with emphasis, or in express exclusion of others

     

    5. “hand”  In man, the extremity of the arm, consisting of the palm and fingers, connected with the arm at the wrist; the part with which we hold and use any instrument

     

    6. “upon”  Resting or being on the top or surface

     

    7. “papyrus”  Egyptian plant, a kind of reed, of which the ancients made paper

     

     

    Let’s shift gears and consider the origin of the papyrus as contained in the heading published by Joseph Smith in the Times and Seasons in 1842. The church accepted the above statement at face value through their faith and by the Spirit. It’s interesting to note that the very papyrus purporting to be the writing of Abraham’s own hand had fallen into the hands of THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS in 1835. Testimonials given by eyewitnesses proclaim in unison and are in harmony with the official statement that Abraham’s papyrus was a genuine autograph, written by his own hand while he was in Egypt. Other examples to validate the concept of an autograph are as follows:

     

     

     

    Copyright for Book of Mormon, 11 June 1829

     

    “The Book of Mormon; an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi”

     

     

    Narrative within the Book of Mormon positively links an autograph to one’s own hand:

     

    Nephi:

     

    “I make it with mine own hand . . . upon plates which I have made with mine own hands (1 Nephi 1:3 & 17)

     

    Chemish:

     

    “Now I, Chemish, write what few things I write, in the same book with my brother; for behold, I saw the last which he wrote, that he wrote it with his own hand” (Omni 1:9)

     

    Giddianhi:

     

    “Therefore I have written this epistle, sealing it with mine own hand” (3 Nephi 3:5)

     

    Mormon:

     

    “And behold, I do make the record on plates which I have made with mine own hands” (3 Nephi 5:11)

     

     

     

    Letter to Edward Partridge and Others, 30 March 1834

     

    “Since brothers, Parley & Lyman, arrived I have written

    a few lines with my own hand in a letter” . . .

     

     

     

     

    Church History, 1838–1856, volume D-1 [1 August 1842–1 July 1843]

    (July 1, 1843)

     

    “if he would use his influence to see that the laws were faithfully executed and

    to put down mob violence, and he gave us a paper, written by his own hand

     

     

     

     

    Joseph Smith Letter to Emma, 18 May 1834

     

    “and I hope you will continue to communicate

    to me by your own hand for this is a consolation

    to me to converse with you in this way”

     

     

    The prevailing belief of the validity of the Abrahamic statement “written by his own hand” continued with the saints long after the Book of Abraham was canonized in 1880. It was passed on to future leaders of the church and even expressed by a seasoned apostle in General Conference by elder George Albert Smith who later became President of the Church:

     

    “And then the Latter-day Saints have another witness, and I am minded to read to you, just briefly, the testimony of something the world has not yet received, but which, to my mind, is the truth as contained upon papyrus, and I will read the heading of this:

     

    ‘A translation of some ancient records that have fallen into our hands, from the catacombs of Egypt; the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.’ The Latter-day Saints accept the statement at face value . . . we find in this translation that has been given to us from papyrus, by the prophet Joseph Smith.” (October 1925)

     

     

     

    A Simple Comparison:

     

    “The Book of Mormon;
    an account written by the hand of Mormon
    upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi”

     

    “The Book of Abraham;

    an account written by the hand of Abraham

    upon papyrus taken from the catacombs of Egypt”

     

     

    HOW OLD WAS THE PAPYRUS?

     

    First and foremost, in order for the church to believe that the papyrus was a genuine autograph written by Abraham’s own hand it would necessitate a claim that the very papyrus in question must be as old as Abraham, some 4,000 years ago! That is exactly what the saints preached and that is exactly what they believed with faith and spirit and did so under the direction and blessing of Joseph Smith himself. Recall earlier that Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal about how the papyrus had been hidden from the world in which “Hyeroglyphics as old as Abraham” being written by his own hand and being buried up until now, “but hid from the knowledge of man for four thousand years” not seeing the light of day until excavated from the Egyptian tomb and presented to the world through Smith’s translation. Joseph Smith’s solemn testimony about the age of papyrus was published in the November 1, 1843 edition of the Times and Seasons and positively confirms he was the authoritative source for dating papyrus to ancient times reaching back to the patriarchs some three thousand five hundred years ago. First, he declared to have translated the Book of Mormon from hieroglyphics and then dates papyri affixed to the bosoms of his mummies to patriarchal times, having survived intact:

     

    “The boldness of my plans and measures, can readily be tested by the touch stone of all schemes, systems, projects, and adventures,-truth, for truth is a matter of fact; and the fact is, that by the power of God I translated the Book of Mormon from hieroglyphics; the knowledge of which was lost to the world . . .

     

    Now let me ask one for facts: was there ever such a place on the earth as Egypt? Geography says yes; ancient history says yes; and the Bible says yes . . .

     

    Besides these tangible facts, so easily proven and demonstrated by simple rules of testimony unimpeached, the art (now lost) of embalming human bodies, and preserving them in the catacombs of Egypt, whereby men, women and children as mummies, after a lapse of near three thousand five hundred years, come forth among the living, and although dead, the papyrus which has lived in their bosoms, unharmed, speaks for them, in language like the sound of an earthquake: Ecce veritas! Ecce cadaveros. Behold the truth! Behold the mummies!

     

    . . . The spirit of prophesy is the testimony of Jesus.

     

    And to close, let me say in the name of Jesus Christ . . .

     

    JOSEPH SMITH.”

     

    Elder Parley P Pratt is on record for having testified that the church believed the original records of Abraham and Joseph were preserved through Pharaoh’s family line and later hid up with the mummies in the possession of the church:

     

    “The record is now in course of translation by the means of the Urim and Thummim, and proves to be a record written partly by the father of the faithful, Abraham, and finished by Joseph when in Egypt. After his death, it is supposed they were preserved in the family of the Pharaohs and afterwards hid up with the embalmed body of the female with whom they were found.” (Parley P Pratt, Millennial Star, July 1842, p.47)

     

    Linking the phrase: “written by his own hand, upon papyrus” to “four thousand years” ago, proves conclusively, that the Mormons truly did claim the papyrus was a literal autograph of Abraham – not a copy or a copy of a copy. It was the genuine penned artifact produced by the patriarch’s own hand. Wilford Woodruff was cited earlier for specifically using the “four thousand years” chronology to date the actual Book of Abraham papyrus:

     

    “Joseph the Seer has presented us some of the Book of Abraham which was written by his own hand but hid from the knowledge of man for the last four thousand years

     

    Let’s collaborate other eyewitnesses to support the claim of a 4,000 year old papyrus. William I Appleby was a faithful Mormon missionary who visited Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, received instructions about the papyrus, and toured the Egyptian exhibit on display. He recorded the following in his 1841 journal:

     

     

    “The male mummy was one of the Ancient –

    Pharaoh’s of Egypt, and a Priest, as he is embalmed with his tongue

    extended, representing a speaker. The females were his wife and two

    daughters, as part of the writing has been translated, and informs

    us, who they were, also whose writing it is, and when those mummies

    were embalmed, which is nearly four thousand years ago.” 

    (William I Appleby Journal, 5 May 1841, p. 72)

     

    Appleby’s written testimony of his personal encounter with Smith and the artifacts provides further evidence that the Mormons claimed the papyrus rolls of Abraham and Joseph were genuine original autographs from antiquity – penned by the very hands of the patriarchs themselves. In his journal he faithfully records the following:

     

    “Today I paid Br. Joseph a visit, received instruction concerning 'Baptism for Dead.' Read the revelation as given by the Lord last January concerning the same, and recorded in the 'Book of the Law of the Lord' viewed four mummies, one male and three females, brought from ancient Thebes in Egypt, saw the rolls of papyrus, and the writings thereon, taken from off the bosom of the male mummy, being some of the writing of ancient Abraham and of Joseph, that was sold into Egypt. The writings are chiefly in the Egyptian language, with the exception of a little Hebrew, I believe. They give a description of some of the scenes of ancient Egypt, of their worship, their idol gods, and cetera. The writings are beautiful and plain, composed of red, and black ink. There is a perceptible difference between the writings. Joseph appears to have been the best scribe.

     

    Agreeable with other accounts expressing differences in the quality of writing on the individual scrolls, Appleby notes there are marked difference in the quality of hieroglyphic penmanship and that Joseph was a better scribe, better than Abraham. This perceptible difference between the writings implicates Joseph as the “best scribe”. Joseph had better penmanship than Abraham! Hence, the expression, “written by his own hand, upon papyrus” means exactly that. These were original autographs written by the very hands of Abraham and Joseph. That is exactly what the Mormons believed and taught and their faith was grounded in these claims.

     

    We also have the account of Benjamin F Johnson who was a personal friend of the prophet, a private secretary to Joseph Smith, and a member of the Council of the Fifty. Benjamin Johnson was in his late teens when the papyrus came to Kirtland. Later he became a church patriarch. This account of the papyrus and the age of the mummies is recorded in his journal and was published after his death in his autobiography:

     

    “In the course of that year, the Egyptian mummies were bought from Mr. Chandler, by whom they were received from Egypt. Great was our wonder in looking upon the bodies of those who, 4,000 years ago, were living princes and queens. And when the writings of Abraham upon papyrus, which accompanied them were taken from its ancient casket, it seemed marvelous indeed. And all rejoiced when the Prophet told us these writings would be translated, which are now, in part, in the Pearl of Great Price.” (Autobiography of Benjamin F Johnson, My Life’s Review, Chapter 2, p. 19,20)

     

    Recall earlier how a reporter for the Quincy Whig newspaper related his personal experience with Joseph Smith by examining firsthand the papyrus fragments covered in glass frames and how Smith agreed it would be a wonderful idea to hang them up in the temple as a testament to the translation:

     

    “What an ornament it would be to have these ancient manuscripts handsomely set, in appropriate frames, and hung up around the walls of the temple which you are about to erect in this place.

     

    ‘Yes’, replied the prophet, ‘and the translation hung up with them’.” (Quincy Whig)

     

     

    Original Papyrus Fragments of the Book of Abraham

     

    The 4,000 year old Abrahamic papyrus roll in possession of the Mormons was translated by Joseph Smith and published as the “Book of Abraham”, printed serially in the Times and Seasons in three installments, each supplied with a Facsimile. The first half of the Book of Abraham (consisting of 13 verses) was published March, 1, 1842 and Facsimile No. 1 was the illustration including the Explanations. Congratulations to the staff leaders (Joseph Smith, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff) of the Times and Seasons for getting it done and making the deadline. Special thanks to Reuben Hedlock for his craftmanship in supplying the printing plate featuring Abraham being sacrificed on the altar.

     

    Then followed the second publication March, 15, 1842. The second half of the story of Abraham (verses 14-32) was revealed including the illustration fabricated by Hedlock of the disc-shaped Hypocephalus, presented as Facsimile No. 2 with its accompanying Explanations. Again, congratulations were in order to all those who worked the printing press for their achievement in completing the second installment.

     

    Months later, on May 16, 1842 the final installment of the Book of Abraham was published and featured the Facsimile No. 3 with its accompanying Explanations. The staff at the Times and Seasons must have been excited about the new publication pending the approval of the editor-in-chief, Joseph Smith. The Book of Abraham was published to completion and as might be expected the details contained in the storyline of the book are agreeable with Smith’s claims that the papyrus was a genuine ancient manuscript penned by Abraham himself – an original record having been preserved through millennia by the providence of God. The Book of Abraham published serially in the Times and Seasons consisted of a total of 32 verses. The text is very express about how ancient records are made and preserved:

     

    “But the records of the fathers, even the Patriarchs, concerning the right of Priesthood, the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands, therefore a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day, and I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shall come after me.” (Times and Seasons, Book of Abraham publication, verse 9)

     

    Abraham claimed to have records of his forefathers that provide information on priesthood and astronomy. He noted that the records were “preserved” as they were original documents passed down from his ancestors, old documents that had been kept in the family line. We are told that Abraham had original writings or genuine autographs that had been handed down. Abraham expressed his wish to add to the record when he said: “I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record”, in effect he’s going to add his autograph and write with his own hand upon the family archive. It makes perfect sense to assume that Abraham's grandfathers passed records down through the sons in a patriarchal manner. How hardly would they have thought to dispose of them just to make copies. Why would they do that seeing the sacred records were preserved by the Lord? Whatever media these records were written on (tablets, plates, papyrus), Abraham is clear that the records of the fathers were preserved and that he himself is going to write some things upon the record by his own hand.

     

    Positive identification of the original papyrus crafted by Abraham and translated by Joseph Smith is easily obtained by matching the text of the story to illustrations described therein. A surviving papyrus fragment featuring the original vignette of Facsimile No. 1 matches perfectly with Abraham’s description:

     

    “And it come to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me, also, as they did those virgins, upon this alter; and that you might have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record. It was made after the form of a bedstead, such as was had among the Chaldeans, and it stood before the gods of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, & also a God like unto that of Pharaoh King of Egypt. That you may have an understanding of these Gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures, at the beginning, which manner of the figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos, which signifies Hyeroglyphics [Hieroglyphics].” (Times and Seasons, Book of Abraham publication, verse 4)

     

    Facsimile No. 1 vignette of Abraham depicted at the “beginning” of the so-called 4,000 year old Abrahamic papyrus roll:

     

     

     

    According to the faith promoting explanation of the above cut provided by Joseph Smith, we are given to understand The Idolatrous Priest of Elkenah attempting to offer up Abraham as a sacrifice illustrates Abraham, fastened upon an Altar. Under the form of a bedstead or Altar for sacrifice are the figures of gods which Abraham personally fashioned for our understanding. Miraculously, the Angel of the Lord was sent to deliver Abraham from certain death. But is this really a scene depicting murder and sacrifice?

     

    Where are the shackles to bind him fast? Where are the cords? Where are the bonds? Where are the implements to bind a prisoner and hold him down? The arms and hands are free, not fastened in any manner. The legs and feet are in a classic Egyptian pose, free to move at will. The man appears to be serenely suspended above the altar, there is no broken contour in the lines between body and altar, no bonds, no fastening devices used to mark one who is bound captive under Egyptian authority! Something else other than a human sacrifice is being manifest.

     

    Modern Egyptology confirms that the original papyrus vignette (illustration of Facsimile No. 1) is directly associated with the message and content of the hieroglyphic writing that flanks the illustration. Thus, the hieroglyphic content bears a direct relationship with the vignette; the text supports the image, and vice versa. Egyptology is clear that this is how Egyptian iconographic text is portrayed:

     

    “Iconography is of little value without the written text to give meaning” (Ancient Gods Speak, A Guide to Egyptian Religion; edited by Donald Redford, p.245)

     

    Modern Egyptologists know the true meaning of the hieroglyphic texts surrounding the vignette contained on the so-called Abrahamic fragment of Facsimile No. 1. Egyptologists also understand the true meaning of the vignette. The surviving papyrus fragments owned by the Mormons has been correctly translated by means of modern Egyptology in revealing Egyptian funerary rituals that have nothing to do with Joseph Smith's translation.

     

    Joseph Smith's papyrus has also been correctly dated by science and Egyptology notwithstanding Smith's authoritative statements that the mummies were nearly "three thousand five hundred years" old. This declaration was made publicly in the Times and Seasons:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Here Comes

    The Book of Abraham

    Part II

     

     

     

    The Two Rolls

     

     

    The acquisition of mummies and subsequent discovery of the papyrus rolls of Abraham and Joseph rocked THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS! What could be more fantastic than the discovery of original documents penned by biblical prophets of old? According to Smith, both rolls contained the writing of biblical patriarchs:

     

    “Soon after this, some of the saints in Kirtland purchased the mummies and papyrus, a description of which will appear hereafter, and with W.W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to my joy found that one of the rolls contained the writing of Abraham, another the writing of Joseph of Egypt, etc., -- a more full account of which will appear in its place, as I proceed to examine or unfold them.” (Joseph Smith, HC 2:236)

     

    Joseph Smith utilized W.W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes and included them in the translation process in unfolding mysteries of the papyrus. They learned how the Lord had preserved them anciently for the purpose of bringing them to THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS whereby sacred records could be restored. Phelps wrote his wife Sally informing her that the rolls of Abraham and Joseph were revealed to President Smith:

     

    “The last of June four Egyptian mummies were brought here; there were two papyrus rolls, besides some other ancient Egyptian writings with them. As no one could translate these writings, they were presented to President Smith. He soon knew what they were and said they, the 'rolls of papyrus,' contained the sacred record kept of Joseph in Pharaoh’s Court in Egypt, and the teachings of Father Abraham. God has so ordered it that these mummies and writings have been brought in the Church, and the sacred writing I have just locked up in Brother Joseph’s house” (W.W. Phelp's Letter to Sally July 1835)

     

    Recall earlier that Parley P Pratt went on record and testified that the church believed the original records of Abraham and Joseph were preserved through Pharaoh’s family line being hid up and interred with a mummy:

     

    “The record is now in course of translation by the means of the Urim and Thummim, and proves to be a record written partly by the father of the faithful, Abraham, and finished by Joseph when in Egypt. After his death, it is supposed they were preserved in the family of the Pharaohs and afterwards hid up with the embalmed body of the female with whom they were found.” (Parley P Pratt, Millennial Star, July 1842, p.47)

     

    Recall how Orson Pratt testified that it was revealed to Smith that the writings of Abraham and Joseph were deposited with the mummies in which they were found.

     

    “The Lord told him they were sacred records, containing the inspired writings of Abraham when he was in Egypt, and also those of Joseph, while he was in Egypt; and they had been deposited, with these mummies, which had been exhumed.” (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses by President John Taylor, 1880, 20:64,65)

     

    Important aspects involving chronology of the patriarchs must not be overlooked. It is understood that according to the story, ABRAM took his wife SARIAH to Egypt and penned a record upon papyrus by his own hand and according to Joseph Smith this papyrus roll was found on the bosom of a mummy. Abram’s sojourn into Egypt was temporary, a visit to escape famine in Canaan. Biblical narrative informs us that after Abram returned to the land of Canaan at age 99, his name was changed to ABRAHAM and a year later Isaac was born. But what happened to Abram’s original Egyptian papyrus roll? Where did it go and where did it end up? The Book of Abraham informs us that Abram had chronological records of his fathers on his very person saying, “The records have come into my hands; which I hold unto this present time.” Moreover, the records of the fathers were preserved in his own hands in which he declared, “have I kept even unto this day, and I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record.”

     

    With that said, it seems that Abram was busy writing his own story upon family records to include details about his personal journey leading from his native homeland and finally into Egypt. That is where the Book of Abraham story ends. It’s reasonable in every respect to assume that Abram took his sacred family records with him when he left Egypt. But what of the roll consisting of the Book of Abraham that was written by his own hand upon papyrus, what happened to it? At some point according to Smith it ended up in the arms of the mummy that was excavated in Thebes of Upper Egypt. Pointedly, it should be noted that the tombs of Thebes are hundreds of miles south of the Nile Delta where the Israelites dwelt. In addition, Abraham’s roll would join up with Joseph’s roll who according to the bible was sold into Egypt at the age of 17 and by age 40 became Pharaoh’s vizier some 190 years after Isaac was born in the land of Canaan — many years after Abraham’s Egyptian sojourn. All this raises huge questions and massive chronological gaps in Egyptian time and space.

     

    There are two possible outcomes to what may have happened to Abram’s papyrus after he left Egypt:

     

    1. The original papyrus remained in Egypt

     

    2. The original papyrus was taken by Abram to Canaan and later returned to Egypt presumably by Jacob to remain with Joseph

     

    Either way, there is a separation of over 200 years between the time Abram penned his roll and when Joseph penned his sometime after his release from Pharaoh’s prison. Assume Abram’s roll remained in Egypt, it’s difficult to fathom how it managed to end up with Joseph’s person hundreds of years later! Abram’s era in Egyptian dynastic history is within the 12th Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom and Joseph’s era approaches the Second Intermediate Period. It’s difficult to conceive how Abram’s papyri detailing the hostility of an Asiatic god (Jehovah) towards Pharaoh’s priesthood could be tolerated in the powerful 12th Dynasty and preserved in the archives. The Mormons chalked it up as a miracle under God’s divine providence and publicized fantastic claims. Modern Egyptology would have to fantasize and break with convention in order to accommodate the joining of the Two Rolls in dynastic Egypt under those circumstances. To conclude that Asiatic records were shipped south and buried in the catacombs of Thebes cannot be substantiated by any evidence.

     

    But what if Abram took his roll with him and it was later returned by his grandson Jacob when retiring to Egypt to live with his sons? Would this provide a way for the joining of the Two Rolls? The answer is, yes! If that were the case then it’s easy to imagine Joseph assuming custody of his great grandfather’s papyrus and placing it in a chest with his own records. The Two Rolls would lay side by side as a testimony of God’s patriarchs in Egypt! But this solution doesn’t come without problems, in fact, it’s dead on arrival. Here’s why:

     

    According to the bible, Israel’s sojourn in Egypt began with Jacob when he stood before Pharaoh and blessed the king. The children of Israel were given the land of Goshen in the eastern Delta of the Nile of Lower Egypt. Joseph lived an additional 70 years and was embalmed: “So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Gen 50:26). The tribes of Israel resided in Goshen until the Exodus. Joseph’s sons (Manasseh and Ephraim) carried on his bloodline. The house of Levi descended with Kohath, Amram, and Moses who assumed authority over all the tribes. Moses led the Exodus and took charge of Joseph’s mummy:

     

    “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.” (Ex 13:19)

     

    Here we learn that Joseph’s bones, his very mummy, were carried home in a coffin in which he lay. It’s certainly reasonable to think that the Two Rolls were with Joseph’s mummy including the sacred records had by the patriarchs of old. It’s incredible if not unthinkable that sacred scrolls penned by the hands of Abraham and Joseph would have been left behind to waste in a musty catacomb of Egypt! The idea that the rolls were shipped to Thebes some 300 miles south of where Israel dwelt stretches the imagination to the breaking point. The claimed historical narrative is like a far-fetched story that can’t be substantiated by known historical records.

     

     

     

    ROYAL MUMMIES

     

    In light of everything we know about the mummies purchased by THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS, we may be assured that Smith was confident that revelation was key to identifying who the mummies were in ancient times. None of the mummies are presently known to exist and it’s generally assumed they were destroyed in the Chicago fire. There has never been, even to this day, any professional opinion to indicate or demonstrate that the mummies were from a royal family. Egyptologists affirm that the original papyri (five separate documents owned by the Mormons) in possession of the mummies are dated to the Late Period and all surviving fragments thereof are funerary literature and spells. Thus, the mummies were individuals who lived during the end of Dynastic Egypt rather than the famous dynasties of a much earlier date. In short, the mummies were not royal.

     

    Many kings have been discovered from various dynasties after Smith dabbled in his own brand of Egyptology. Hundreds of mummies have been uncovered and studied. Professional evaluation performed by experts in the 1830's would easily be able to determine if a mummy was a pharaoh. Royal insignia and artifacts to certify a king of Egypt being excavated out of a royal tomb would be manifest. Regarding Smith’s mummies, all evidence proves that they were from Egypt’s Late Period and the papyri were made in Greco-Roman times. This has been confirmed by specialists of our day. But what did the early members of the church think about the mummies? How about Joseph Smith? Evidence from several witnesses attest that the elders of the church including Smith’s mother and wife claimed the mummies were royal and much older than they really were. Faithful members of the church today may find it problematic to accept that the prophet was wrong in his belief regarding the age and origin of the mummies.

     

    So, how did the Mormons come up with the idea that their mummies were royal family of a house of Pharaoh? A look at statements made to that effect will prove interesting and demonstrate exactly how it happened. The first testimonial I’d like to present is an 1840 news article testifying of the prophet's contemplation of royal connections with the mummies. A reporter for the Quincy Whig newspaper was favored to tour the Egyptian exhibit and personally interview Joseph Smith. Here we learn that Smith was willing to assert that the mummies were royal ― perhaps as far back as Moses himself!

     

    “After he had shown us the fine grounds around his dwelling; he conducted us, at our request, to an upper room, where he drew aside the curtains of a case, and showed us several Egyptian Mummies, which we were told that the church had purchased, at his suggestion, some time before, for a large sum of money.

     

    ‘The embalmed body that stands near the center of the case’, said he, ‘is one of the Pharaohs, who sat on the throne of Egypt, and the female figure by it was probably one of the daughters.’

     

    It may have been the Princess Thermutis, I replied, the same that rescued Moses from the waters of the Nile.

     

    ‘It is not improbable’, answered the Prophet, ‘but time has not yet allowed fully to examine and decide that point’.”

     

    Let’s summarize Smith's viewpoint of the antiquities as interviewed by the reporter of the Quincy Whig:

     

    1. Smith uncovered the mummies in a room where the ancient relics were kept. He specifically identified one of the mummies as a Pharaoh “who sat on the throne of Egypt”. This language is somewhat reminiscent of “Abraham sitting upon Pharaoh’s throne” as described in the Book of Abraham, Facsimile No. 3. Both accounts attest that someone is sitting upon Pharaoh’s throne — whether the Egyptian king or a foreigner such as Asiatic Abraham.

     

    2. Smith pointed out that another mummy was probably the king's daughter.

     

    3. Smith was open to the idea that the princess may have been the same who rescued Moses from the Nile but couldn't commit to that conclusion and needed more time to decide the identity of the royal lady.

     

     

    Nonmember Charlotte Haven had the opportunity to see the Egyptian antiquities firsthand with the prophet's mother. Charlotte retells this experience in a letter she wrote to her mother in 1843. The letter is lengthy but we will focus only on the part of the mummies as she gleaned information from mother Smith. Judging from the contents of the letter we can determine that to the best of her knowledge, Charlotte gave an honest and accurate account. It was for the most part a courteous report of her visit to Nauvoo. Charlotte claimed that the prophet’s mother believed one of the mummies was a king of Egypt:

     

    Nauvoo, Feb. 19, 1843.

     

    “Madame Smith's residence is a log house very near her son's. She opened the door and received us cordially. She is a motherly kind of woman of about sixty years. She receives a little pittance by exhibiting The Mummies to strangers. When we asked to see them, she lit a candle and conducted us up a short, narrow stairway to a low, dark room under the roof. On one side were standing half a dozen mummies, to whom she introduced us, King Onitus and his royal household, one she did not know. Then she took up what seemed to be a club wrapped in a dark cloth, and said ‘This is the leg of Pharaoh's daughter, the one that saved Moses.’ Repressing a smile, I looked from the mummies to the old lady, but could detect nothing but earnestness and sincerity on her countenance . . . . she said she read it through the inspiration of her son Joseph, in whom she seemed to have perfect confidence.”

     

    Let’s summarize what Charlotte learned from mother Smith regarding the mummies:

     

    1. Charlotte’s description of Mrs. Smith is kind and thoughtful in every way. Her report is another witness that the Smith’s claimed the mummies were royal.

     

    2. Charlotte recalls there were half a dozen mummies but this may account for mummy cases too ― there were four mummies in the collection that were purchased by the church. “Half a dozen” was probably a figure of speech to signify a handful. Mrs. Smith explained that the mummies were a royal family and one of them was “King Onitus” which may be directly related to the name “Onitah”, an Egyptian king mentioned in the text of the Book of Abraham.

     

    3. Charlotte describes mother Smith picking up what looked like a club but was really a mummy leg. It was heralded as the very leg of the princess that saved baby Moses from the Nile! At this juncture, Charlotte notes that Mrs. Smith was smiling, was earnest in revealing her knowledge, and had a sincere countenance in believing what she said was true “through the inspiration of her son Joseph”.

     

    4. Two years earlier the prophet confessed to the Quincy Whig news reporter that he had not yet fully examined the identity of the princess but was committed to decide that point when time allowed. Apparently, it seems, Joseph made up his mind and his mother vouched for “the inspiration of her son” in testifying that the princess was the same who rescued Moses from the waters off the Nile.

     

    Recall earlier that the distinguished Josiah Quincy visited Nauvoo in May of 1844. This was about a year after Charlotte Haven’s visit. His encounter and instructions regarding the Egyptian curiosities was given personally by Joseph Smith. Mr. Quincy records the experience in his journal which was later published in 1883, Figures of the Past:

     

    “‘And now come with me,’ said the prophet, ‘and I will show you the curiosities.’ So saying, he led the way to a lower room where sat a venerable and respectable-looking lady. ‘This is my mother, gentlemen. The curiosities we shall see belong to her. They were purchased with her own money, at a cost of six thousand dollars;’ and then, with deep feeling, were added the words, ‘And that woman was turned out upon the prairie in the dead of night by a mob.’ There were some pine presses fixed against the wall of the room. These receptacles Smith opened, and disclosed four human bodies, shrunken and black with age. ‘These are mummies,’ said the exhibitor. ‘I want you to look at that little runt of a fellow over there. He was a great man in his day. Why that was Pharaoh Necho, King of Egypt!’ Some parchments inscribed with hieroglyphics were then offered us. They were preserved under glass and handled with great respect. That is the handwriting of Abraham, the Father of the Faithful,’ said the prophet. ‘This is the autograph of Moses, and these lines were written by his brother Aaron’.”

     

    Let’s summarize what Josiah Quincy learned about the royal mummy:

     

    1. Mr. Quincy gave what seems an honest report of what he saw and heard. There is no reason to doubt him or lend suspicion that he exaggerated his account.

     

    2. The reported sum of $6,000 for purchase of the mummies is incorrect. Whether it was an assumed appraisal on the future value of the artifacts vs. the actual purchase price or simply a discrepancy in reporting is a moot point.

     

    3. Mr. Quincy enjoyed a personal conversation with the prophet who claimed one of the mummies was a “King of Egypt”. It’s rather curious that he named his mummy after an Egyptian king who killed Josiah a Jewish king in the bible some 600 BC. Regardless of the name, the main point to be stressed is that Smith affirmed his mummy was a Pharaoh.

     

    A nonbeliever and critic of the church by the name of Reverend Henry Caswall visited the city of Nauvoo in 1842 soon after the Book of Abraham was published in the Times and Seasons. He too was privileged to see the Egyptian curiosities and converse with mother Smith. As should be expected, his testimony about Smith’s claims agree with those we have already examined. Mr. Caswall returned to England and wrote a book about his experience in Nauvoo, (The City of the Mormons Or Three Days at Nauvoo, in 1842), the following is a clip from his book about the mummies:

     

    Mrs. Smith testified that her son received knowledge about the mummy being a king of Egypt through the “mighty power of God”. Imagine for the sake of argument if Reverend Caswall had told mother Smith that her son was wrong about the mummy and that it was not an Egyptian king! What if Caswall had confronted Joseph Smith and challenged his so-called God given ability to translate ancient Egyptian? Suppose the Reverend had attributed Smith’s power to identify and name Egyptian mummies with that of a false spirit!

     

    Now that we have examined combined eye-witness testimony given by credible nonmembers of the Church, it's time to take a look at what faithful Latter-day Saints said about Smith’s supposed royal mummies. Robert Horn also had the opportunity to journey from England and visit Nauvoo. He personally saw the mummies and published his story in the English Church periodical called the Millennial Star on September 4th, 1893:

     

     

    1. Horne handled the papyrus and mummy with his bare hands.

     

    2. Horne learned that the papyrus contained the writings of Abraham and Joseph.

     

    3. Horne was told that one of the mummies was an Egyptian Pharaoh.

     

    Let’s turn our attention again to the testimony of Benjamin Johnson who was in his late teens when the papyrus was in Kirtland and later became a Church patriarch. His account of the papyrus recorded in his journal was published after his death:

     

    “In the course of that year, the Egyptian mummies were bought from Mr. Chandler, by whom they were received from Egypt. Great was our wonder in looking upon the bodies of those who, 4,000 years ago, were living princes and queens. And when the writings of Abraham upon papyrus, which accompanied them were taken from its ancient casket, it seemed marvelous indeed. And all rejoiced when the Prophet told us these writings would be translated, which are now, in part, in the Pearl of Great Price.” (Autobiography of Benjamin F Johnson, My Life’s Review, Chapter 2, p. 19,20)

     

    No faithful Latter-day Saint in Nauvoo would have publicly disagreed with Joseph Smith’s testimony of the mummies! The Mormons claimed to have in their possession the very writings of Abraham upon papyrus and royal mummies who lived some 4,000 years ago as “princesses and queens” of Egypt. The fact that the Mormons claimed this as divine truth is absolutely indisputable.

     

    Let’s return to William Appleby's testimony. He was privileged to meet the prophet and examine the mummies and papyrus firsthand. An excerpt from his journal, 1841, p. 72, distinctively states that a mummy in the Nauvoo Book of Abraham exhibit was designated as an ancient Pharaoh of Egypt:

     

     

    “Book of Abraham”

    The male mummy was one of the Ancient –

    Pharaoh’s of Egypt, and a Priest, as he is embalmed with his tongue

     

     

    Furthermore, positive confirmation from the prophet that the mummies were of a royal family of the house of Pharaoh comes from a small notebook dated from Kirtland era of 1835. It bears remarkable, yet fictitious details of Egyptian history translated from hieroglyphs copied from Mormon papyri. This information was probably material Smith intended to use in his upcoming Book of Abraham and Book of Joseph publications. The manuscript is written in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery and the front cover is signed by Joseph Smith Jr. as follows:

     

    "Valuable Discovery of

    hidden records that have

    been obtained from the ancient

    burial place of the Egyptians,

    Joseph Smith Jr."

     

     

     

    The hieroglyphic characters that were copied into the manuscript were specific to the “figures of two persons” (male and female mummies) in which the papyrus was taken:

     

    The above were taken

    From beneath the figures

    of two persons – one the ap

    pearance of a male and

    the other a female.

     

    The above was taken from beneath

    figures like the first, standing

    a little to the left, and a little

    below.

     

    Specific details about the royal nature of the mummies are revealed through translations of the hieroglyphs and include names, ages, and dates:

     

    Katumin, Princess, daughter of On-i-tos Pharaoh- King

    of Egypt, who began to reign in the year of the

    World 2962

     

    Katumin was born in the 30th year of the reign of her

    father, and died when she was 28 years old, which was

    the year 3020.

     

    Finally, legal documentation positively confirms (or seals the deal) that Smith formerly announced his mummy was indeed a king of Egypt. This is verified in the bill of sale dated May 26th 1856. It is signed by his wife Emma Smith and their 23 year old son, Joseph Smith III:

     

    “NAUVOO CITY, May 26, 1856.

     

    This to certify that we have sold to Mr. A. Combs four Egyptian Mumies with the records of them.

     

    These mummies were obtained from the catacombs of Egypt, sixty feet below the surface of the earth, by the antiquarian society of Paris, and forwarded to New York, and purchased by the mormon prophet Joseph Smith, at the price of twenty-four hundred dollars in the year 1835. -- They were highly prized by Mr. Smith on account of the importance attached to the records, which were accidentally found enclosed in the breast of one of the mummies. From translations by Mr. Smith of the records, these mummies were found to be the family of Pharo, king of Egypt. They were kept exclusively by Mr. Smith until his death, and since by the mother of Mr. Smith -- notwithstanding we have had repeated offers to purchase, which have invariably been refused, until her death, which occurred on the 14th day of this month.

     

    NAUVOO, HANCOCK CO., ILL. May 26th, 1856.

     

    (Signed) L. C. BIDAMON.

     

    EMMA BIDAMON,

     

    former wife of Joseph Smith.

     

    JOSEPH SMITH,

     

    son of the mormon prophet Joseph Smith.”

     

    In conclusion, five years after the Book of Abraham was canonized under the direction of President John Taylor, the Brigham Young Academy published a statement clarifying the identity of the four mummies purchased by the Mormons. This declaration was made while Taylor was Church President, a key person who worked personally with Smith in publishing the Book of Abraham in the Times and Seasons. The President of the Church (John Taylor) got his information about the identity of the mummies and the papyrus rolls from the President of the Church (Joseph Smith) and nobody in the church then or today can refute that fact. The statement is final and stands even today.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Here Comes

    The Book of Abraham

    Part III

     

     

    ORIGINS OF EGYPT

     

    According to Joseph Smith, civilization began after Adam left the Garden of Eden in what is now the land of Missouri, USA:

     

    D&C 107:53 “Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all high priests, with the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing.”

     

    D&C 116:1 “Spring Hill is named by the Lord Adam-ondi-Ahman, because, said he, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet.”

    However, things ultimately did not go so well with Adam’s descendants:

     

    Moses 8:26 “And the Lord said: I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Noah that I have created them, and that I have made them; and he hath called upon me; for they have sought his life.”

     

    Noah (age 600) floats away from the Old World of Adam-ondi-Ahman (Missouri) to reach the New World and rests upon the mountains of Ararat , Turkey. Gen (JST) 10:1, 3, 11; 11:1:

    1. “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood” 
    2. “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands, every one after the same tongue, after their families, in their nations”
    3. “These were the sons of Ham, after their families, after the same tongue, in their countries, and in their nations”
    4. “And the whole earth was of the same language and of the same speech”
     
    Abraham 1:23, 24
     
    “The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden; When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.”
     
    This declaration states that the land under water (naturally the wet Delta) was first discovered by the daughter of Ham who was also the daughter of Egyptus (Ham’s wife), but this is an anachronistic name derived from the Greek Aegyptos in reference to the patron god Ptah of the city called Memphis by the Greeks. The terminology Aegyptos translated in Egyptian is Hwt-Ka-Ptah which signifies Temple of the Spirit of Ptah located at Memphis in the Delta. The names Egypt/Egyptus used in the Book of Abraham as origin names are anachronisms because this terminology was used by other peoples of later history to describe the name of the original people who first inhabited the Red Land (Upper Desert) and Black Land (Lower Delta) that comprised what was later called “Egypt”, a modern English form of the name. Thus, the name “Egyptus” is a modernized form of a name that never existed at the time it refers to, hence, Egyptus was a futuristic word that had not yet been invented. Details from Wikipedia help better understand the derivatives in understanding the name and how it was related in historical context:
     
    “The English name "Egypt" is derived from the Ancient Greek "Aígyptos" ("Αἴγυπτος"), via Middle French "Egypte" and Latin "Aegyptus". It is reflected in early Greek Linear B tablets as "a-ku-pi-ti-yo". The adjective "aigýpti-"/"aigýptios" was borrowed into Coptic as "gyptios", and from there into Arabic as "qubṭī", back formed into "قبط" ("qubṭ"), whence English "Copt". The Greek forms were borrowed from Late Egyptian (Amarna) Hikuptah "Memphis", a corruption of the earlier Egyptian name (⟨ḥwt-kȝ-ptḥ⟩), meaning "home of the ka (soul) of Ptah", the name of a temple to the god Ptah at Memphis.”
     
    In light of this understanding it must be made perfectly clear that according to biblical narrative when Noah exited the ark the world was of the same language and the same speech one language and speech! The words Egypt and Egyptus in that form had not yet been invented, hence the anachronism! The name employed to describe the matriarch (Egyptus) whose daughter founded Egypt is entirely a modern construct. This of course begs the question of what was the actual original name of Ham’s wife? Therefore, it can be concluded that the name for Ham’s wife given by Smith is a crude substitute of convenience used by Smith while inventing his story of the origin of Egypt. With this in mind, it’s very reasonable in every way to assume that the origin of Egypt would pay reference to the name of Egypt in its original form. It’s more or less a no-brainer. Therefore, the very word EGYPT must have something to do with Egypt’s Making! And what would Smith know about that? But the name Egypt is a modern construct of late history. A proper name relating to the god Ptah is necessary in order to make a valid connection between historical Egypt and Smith’s origin of Egypt as told in his story.
     
    But lo and behold, Smith is saved by the name, so to speak. Original Church manuscripts pertaining to the Book of Abraham do provide an important name although not used in the final publication of the Times and Seasons but might just as well had been although ultimately the name Zeptah was crossed out (Zep-tah) and replaced with Egyptus. The following cuts are from the four manuscripts in question that contain the name Zeptah.
     
    Book of Abraham Manuscript A, Handwriting by Frederick G. Williams, Second Counselor in First Presidency:
     
    “The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who
    was the daughter of Ham; and the daughter of Zep-tah.
    which in the Chaldea signifies Egypt, which sign[i]fies that
    which is forbidden. When this woman discovered the land”

     

    Book of Abraham Manuscript B, Handwriting by Warren Parrish:

     

    “The land of Egypt. being first disco-

    vered, by a woman, who was the daugh-

    ter of Ham, and the daughter of

    Zeptah, which in the Chaldea, signif-

    ies Egypt, which signifies that which

    is forbidden. When this woman disco”

     

    Book of Abraham Manuscript C, Handwriting by Warren Parrish:

     

    “The land of Egypt being first discovered,

    by a woman, who was the daughter of

    Ham, and the daughter of Zeptah, which

    in the chaldea, signifies Egypt, which sig-

    nifies that which is forbidden. When this”

     

    Book of Abraham Printer’s Manuscript 1842, Handwriting Willard Richards:

     

    was prerevd <​preserved​> in the land. The land of Egypt

    being fir[s]t discoverd by a woman, who was th[e]

    daughter of Ham, & the Daughter of Zep-tah

    Egeptah <​Egyptus​>, which, in the Chaldea, signifies

    Egypt, which signifies, that which is forbidden.”

     

    Clearly, the translation manuscripts reveal that the name ZePTAHis descriptive of the original name of Egypt when referencing it directly back to Aegyptos which is translated in the Egyptian as ‘Hwt-Ka-PTAH. With respect and regard to the god’s name, it appears Smith hit a bullseye in demonstrating his translation was authentic. However, the remainder of the signification that Smith claims was handed down by the Chaldeans attached a negative connotation: “which signifies that which is forbidden”, this is at odds with the balance of the meaning of Aegyptos signifying: Ptah’s spirit is in the Temple. What Egyptian edict suggest the temple of Ptah’s spirit is forbidden to those who worship him? The Chaldeans (anachronism to be examined shortly) came on the scene much later and essentially were Akkadianized by Babylonia and embraced polytheistic Mesopotamian religion. It makes no sense whatsoever to apply a restriction to Egyptian Ptah as something forbidden within the limitless bounds of polytheism. The name of the God is correctly applied but the definition in describing the name is all wrong.

     

    Assuming Zeptah is a real Egyptian word or combination thereof which in fact it is, what does it really mean? The common verbiage in this case in Egyptian was: ‘son of Ptah’. A key factor in understanding the nature of the name is that Zeptah is in fact a masculine name. In order to quality the name as feminine the word must have a ‘t’ as in the biliteral word for Zetptah or Satptah. Without the ‘t’ the word Ze or Sa indicates son. If the biliteral word included a ‘t’ it could signify either daughter or woman of Ptah but in this case the name Zeptah is a masculine Egyptian name. There is no getting around this because it's one of the most basic Egyptians conventions of their language. Other variations of (Ze or Sa) used in conjunction with Ptah (depending on the hieroglyphic determinative sign used) theoretically could indicate: cattle of Ptah, amulet of Ptah, protection of Ptah, and priestly phyle of Ptah.

     

    Similarly, the name expressed in English as Siptah (The son of Ptah) was a pharaonic name used by kings in both Old and New Kingdom Egypt. Hence, it's a royal masculine name for a king!

    Siptah

    19 Dynasty king, 1193 BC

     

    This leads us to question how it was that Smith obtained a bullseye in connecting Egyptus with Ptah. Was it inspiration or just dumb luck? If Smith had said Ham’s wife was Zetptah which the Egyptians signified as daughter of Ptah, then we could have been doubly impressed!! That would have been a true bullseye! But as it is, Smith only got the name right but applied it to the wrong sex and affixed an erroneous meaning to it. So how did Smith manage to at least get the name right, in connecting Ptah with Egypt? Is that impressive or was it just a lucky guess?

     

    Smith loved to play with words and mix them up and connect them to form meanings. This is abundantly made clear in the Grammar & Alphabet of the Egyptian Language and other documents pertaining to his Egyptian translations of the Book of Abraham. Recall above that the name Zeptah written in the manuscript is not scripted in a uniform fashion by the scribes but is expressed as a whole and as a conjunction. Two of the manuscripts including the printer’s manuscript, the final version, separate the letters in the name and actually split the god Ptah in two parts (Zep-tah) dividing it asunder. But in the end, the editor (Joseph Smith) of the printer’s manuscript abandoned Zep-tah and opted for Egypt.

     

    But how can you justifiably split the name Ptah? Doing that destroys the name which is proof that Smith wasn’t translating Egyptian correctly but was playing with words and if you play enough times sooner or later, you’ll get a hit, so to speak. The Egyptian papers in which Smith and his scribes wrote are riddled with conjunctions and some of those actually include “Tah” in conjunction with other invented words including: Tah-e-Ta-e, Iota ni tah, and tou=ee tah es. Next to Zep-tah, the most interesting application of “Tah” is expressed in the handwriting of William W. Phelps Egyptian Counting wherein "Tah" represents the value for number 10 and is used in combination with other invented words to increase values on the decimal number line:

     

    Another possible consideration for Smith’s ‘Tah’ is the biblical Egyptian city Tahpanhes which is mentioned 5 times in the book of Jeremiah. It’s reasonable to assume that Smith was familiar with this name and perhaps the ‘Tah’ stuck in his head as an Egyptian term that had many uses. Interesting to note that in all of Mormon scripture the use of ‘Tah’ in any form is only found once, an Egyptian name in the Book of Abraham 1:11: Onitah! This may also suggest that the ‘On’ in Smith’s Egyptian Onitah may have originated from: “priest of On” (Gen 41:45,50) which undoubtedly Smith was very familiar. Could it be as simple as On + Tah with the letter ‘i’ tossed in the middle and voila – a new Egyptian name? It certainly seems so.

     

    It’s safe to conclude that Smith’s use of the name Zeptah was not a correct application and his interpretation was wrong. In spite of what has already been demonstrated in showing that Smith’s translation of associating Egyptus with the patron god Ptah doesn’t hold water – there are Book of Abraham apologists that insist Smith got it right and that the name Zeptah is a bullseye in proving Smith knew how to translate on a level beyond conventional means. This insistence takes Book of Abraham origins into uncharted waters in which there is no going back or no point of return. If Zeptah was a representation of the original name Ptah, then the implications of what must follow take a course which apologists won’t be able to navigate. Therefore, if Zeptah and Ptah are a direct correlation, it can only be concluded that Ham’s wife was originally named in honor of a pre-flood idolatrous god called Ptah. But this begs the question of how the name Ptah was had in the first place if EGYPT, had not yet been born! The Book of Abraham narrative is quite clear that EGYPTUS is from the other side of the flood. This implies that she brought a knowledge of pre-flood Ptah with her to the New World and perpetuated the name of this idolatrous god in her family lineage, beginning with her daughter. It also implies that the name Ptah must be from the original Adamic language because the so-called confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel had not yet occurred. So, putting the links together means that Ham’s wife descended from a pre-Egyptian people who worshipped the god Ptah prior to the flood! This is a sheer fantasy that falls apart when plugging known historical facts into Smith’s Book of Abraham in order to determine the historicity of his claims. The notion of Egyptus and Ptah predating the flood raises chronological problems with earth’s history that are not just unsurmountable, but utterly impossible. This will be explored later, but further examination of the interpretation given for Egyptus will prove helpful in exposing a faulty assumption.

     

    Smith’s use of the name Chaldea for the interpretation given of the name Egyptus is an anachronism because Chaldea is a name for a nation that existed a thousand years after Abraham’s time. There were no Chaldeans alive during Abraham’s time or earlier. Chaldea came much later, beginning in the Third Intermediate Period of Egyptian history! The name does not belong in an Abrahamic setting – it’s anachronistic, an application of something that doesn’t yet exist. This from Wikipedia:

     

    “Unlike the East Semitic Akkadian-speaking Akkadians, Assyrians and Babylonians, whose ancestors had been established in Mesopotamia since at least the 30th century BCE, the Chaldeans were not a native Mesopotamian people, but were late 10th or early 9th century BCE West Semitic Levantine migrants to the southeastern corner of the region, who had played no part in the previous 3,000 years or so of Sumero-Akkadian and Assyro-Babylonian Mesopotamian civilization and history.”

     

    The Chaldean anachronism used by Smith in dating Abraham’s time can be construed as technical error on his part, but what of the strange assertion that the name Egyptus which signifies that which is forbidden was taken on Noah’s ark and saved of God? To partake of something forbidden seems rather ominous and is reminiscent of God’s anger towards the human family when he said, “The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves; for behold mine anger is kindled against the sons of men, for they will not hearken to my voice” (Moses 8:15). Yet, simultaneously, Smith’s Mosaic account clears Noah’s sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) of impropriety in stating that “Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called the sons of God” (Moses 8:13). But the rest of humanity were found guilty and condemned for their wickedness and perished in the flood. Why was a forbidden wife with a background in idolatry granted passage on Noah’s ark while at the same time her entire family and race were condemned to die? The ark was God’s floating temple, a house of salvation for the worthy, and yet apparently according to the Abrahamic account was polluted by a forbidden woman, namely Egyptus. The Book of Moses makes no reference to Ham’s impropriety in taking a forbidden wife but states that Ham walked with God, “And thus Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; for Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and he walked with God, as did also his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (Moses 8:27).

     

    Smith’s accounts suggest something racial associated with the forbidden nature of Egyptus and that the curse of the Canaanites included black skin:

    1. “For behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat, and the barrenness thereof shall go forth forever; and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.” (Moses 7:8).
    2. “And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.” (Moses 7:22)
    3. “from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land” (BofA 1:24)
    4. “a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth” (BofA 1:21)

    Suffice it to say, according to the Book of Abraham, the newly founded Egyptian nation was off to a bad start simply because of their race wherein the mother of the race (Egyptus) was a “partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth”, or in other words her lineage made her a woman forbidden of God including her children who were also cursed! Apparently this curse was so severe that the rights to the priesthood administered through Noah was denied to all descendants of Egyptus to include the entire Egyptian race leading up to Abraham’s time. The grandson of Egyptus was said to become the first Pharaoh “a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations” (Abr 1:26), but Noah “cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood” strictly on the basis that his grandmother was descended from the black Canaanites on the other side of the flood. What a horrible, horrible, story! This awful racist tale was the basis in which Mormons banned blacked from holding the priesthood.

     

    Joseph Smith is on record for justifying slavery in the USA and defended it because it was practiced by the ancients in the bible; he succinctly said ,“I do not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall.” A letter from Smith addressing abolitionism was addressed to Oliver Cowdery and printed in the official Church periodical; here is a snippet from that discourse:

     

    “And when I see persons in the free states signing documents against slavery, it is no less, in my mind, than an array of influence, and a declaration of hostilities against the people of the South! What can divide our Union sooner, God only knows!

     

    After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject, I do not doubt but those who have been forward in raising their voice against the South, will cry out against me as being uncharitable, unfeeling and unkind—wholly unacquainted with the gospel of Christ. It is my privilege then, to name certain passages from the bible, and examine the teachings of the ancients upon this matter, as the fact is uncontrovertable, that the first mention we have of slavery is found in the holy bible, pronounced by a man who was perfect in his generation and walked with God. And so far from that prediction’s being averse from the mind of God it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude!

     

    ‘And he said cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.— God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. —Gen, 8:25, 26, 27.

     

    Trace the history of the world from this notable event down to this day, and you will find the fulfilment of this singular prophecy. What could have been the design of the Almighty in this wonderful occurrence is not for me to say; but I can say, that the curse is not yet taken off the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least with the decrees and purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before him; and those who are determined to pursue a course which shows an opposition and a feverish restlessness against the designs of the Lord, will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do his own work without the aid of those who are not dictated by his counsel.”

     

     

     

    Here Comes

    The Book of Abraham

    Part IV