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Switch to Forum Live View Joseph Smith and the translation of the Book of Abraham
6 years ago  ::  May 14, 2012 - 12:55AM #11
Posts: 289

May 13, 2012 -- 10:56PM, Habala?! wrote:

You should bring this over to the Discuss Mormonism board. I should warn you that we've debated it many times before over there. Seems kind of silly considering that its obvious as to what the answer to all of this is. Joseph Smith was a fraud.

I think the mods frown on cross posting threads so it is posted where it is posted.  In any case there doesn’t seem to be much to discuss. Every Egyptologist – even LDS Egyptologists – say that the BoA text has nothing to do with the Egyptian papyri.  No university in the world teaches the BoA as a legit ancient document – except those affiliated with the LDS church.

 I have family members who are Mormon and we have gone from the “dual meaning” theory to the “not the right text” theory to the “revelation from God” theory (all of which have been shot down) to a "change the subject" tactic. 

I just put this out here to see if a LDS has some sort reasonable explanation as to why they think the BoA is legit or if they don’t why they still support Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. In the video the LDS church was asked for a response to these facts and they declined comment. This is their very own scriptures and they decline comment on the charges it is a fraud based on the imagination of Joseph Smith? Really, no comment? Amazing.

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6 years ago  ::  May 14, 2012 - 12:59AM #12
Posts: 16,084

May 13, 2012 -- 10:56PM, Habala?! wrote:

You should bring this over to the Discuss Mormonism board. I should warn you that we've debated it many times before over there. Seems kind of silly considering that its obvious as to what the answer to all of this is. Joseph Smith was a fraud.

The BoA might have validity in the sense that it reveals that JS worshiped the gods and that LDS are polytheistic, at least in the sense of classical Greco-Roman paganism, and their belief that there was a larger God who birthed the gods and these gods run the earth, at least just that, and that God still has other humans becoming gods, much as those who experienced apotheosis (Heracles).


"Wesley told the early Methodists to gain all they could and save all they could so that they could give all they could. It means that I consider my money to belong to God and I see myself as one of the hungry people who needs to get fed with God’s money. If I really have put all my trust in Jesus Christ as savior and Lord, then nothing I have is really my own anymore."
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6 years ago  ::  May 20, 2012 - 12:21PM #13
Posts: 6,091

The Book of Abraham is important to Mormonism because it gives us some of our most valued doctrine; our pre-earth life, the concept of intelligences, the priesthood’s patriarchal order, the reason for the war in heaven, our pre earth callings and the council of gods in the heavens. It kind of explains a lot about what was going on in the Bible.

The question is did Abraham write anything to be past down to us? The Bible doesn’t say that he did but if we look outside of normal Christian canonized scripture to the Book of the Jubilees we read;

“But he (Joseph) did not surrender his soul, and he remembered the Lord and the words which Jacob, his father, used to read from amongst the words of Abraham, that no man should commit fornication…” 39:6

“And he(Jacob) slept with his fathers … And he gave all his books and the books of his fathers to Levi his son that he might preserve them and renew them for his children until this day” 45:15

Jubilees dates from before Christ and some copies were found with the Dead Sea Scrolls. I don’t know if Joseph Smith ever read the Jubilees but this shows that he wasn’t the first one by a long way to say that Abraham wrote his story down.

There are some obvious problems with the arguments the antis have put forth. A slickly made movie does not always tell the truth and with a question or two one can put some very large holes in their theories.

Why do they spend so much time trying to show that Joseph bought a ripped and the incomplete scrap that they show in their movie? They cost him $2,400 and that was a lot of money back then, does anyone think he would have paid that much for a torn bit of papyrus.

There are people who saw the papyrus before it fell apart and they describe it this way;

“In 1841, before the facsimiles were made, William I. Appleby described Joseph Smith Papyrus I thus: "There are likewise representations of an Altar erected, with a man bound and laid thereon, and a Priest with a knife in his hand, standing at the foot, with a dove over the person bound on the Altar with several Idol gods standing around it" (Gee, "Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence," 184). In 1842 Reverend Henry Caswall described the same papyrus as containing "'the figure of a man lying on a table' accompanied by a 'man standing by him with a drawn knife'" (185).” (The Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham, John Gee Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute Foot note 13)

So all the hoopla over what was and wasn’t on those torn pages is nothing but smoke and mirrors.

Secondly trying to say what the scraps they have is what Joseph used to translate the Book of Abraham is just more smoke and mirrors. People who saw the actual papyrus say he had a lot of them and he rolled them out across the floor. John Gee the man who knows all when it comes to these scrolls says there were at least 5 scrolls and they were very long. He says about 40% of the time the Book of Breathings which facsimile 1 was attached to will have other documents attached to it. So it may have several different documents all attached to the same scroll. By the description given of those who actually saw the scrolls Joseph had were very long and so must of contained more than just the Book of Breathings.

He also says the term Book of Breathings is wrong it should be known as “the Sensen Text”.

I suggest you read this paper by Mike Ashton

I’m editing here from what I original posted because there are some interesting thoughts from the paper writen by Michael D. Rhodes which Iron sited.

1, "the Kirtland Egyptian Papers."

This are some papers which have characters taken from the Book of Breathing or the Sensen Text with an attempt to translate them. Critics have tried to show this is a faulty attempt of Joseph’s to somehow demonstrate to his followers he was translating.

The problem is none of it is in Joseph Smith’s handwriting.

“They are mostly in the handwriting of William W. Phelps, with a few short sections written by Warren Parrish. Nowhere in the documents is Joseph Smith designated as the author. Moreover, the Egyptian characters in the left hand margin were clearly written in after the English text had been written. These cannot be the working papers of a translation process. Instead, Phelps and Parrish seemed to have copied down the text of the book of Abraham and were then attempting to correlate that translation with some of the scrolls in the Church's possession…. these same men shortly after this began to turn away from the Prophet Joseph and fell into apostasy. If they had been parties to some fraudulent process of producing the book of Abraham, they would surely have denounced Joseph Smith for this, but they never did.”

Phelps later returned to the Church and wrote the hymn ‘If You Could Hie to Kolob’ which is based on the revelations found in the Book of Abraham.

2, There is another important reason why the critics Joe sites are wrong about the fragments we have now being what Joseph used to produce the Book of Abraham. Propagandist tend to ignore actual facts and in this case they clearly did.

“In 1842, the fragments we now have were described as being mounted in "a number of glazed slides, like picture frames, containing sheets of papyrus, with Egyptian inscriptions and hieroglyphics."

So they were cut and placed in glass so to save them from falling apart anymore than they already had.  There is another description by someone who saw these and is what probably saved them from the fire.

But a year later ; “…. in 1843, Charlotte Haven, a nonmember, visited Joseph Smith's mother, Lucy Mack Smith, and wrote a letter to her own mother about it, saying: "Then she [Mother Smith] turned to a long table, set her candlestick down, and opened a long role of manuscript [italics added], saying it was "the writing of Abraham and Isaac written in Hebrew and Sanskrit…”

So the fragments which were kept under class and we have today is not what the Book of Abraham was translated from.

Years and years ago I went through the Book of Abraham facsimiles looking up the different symbols and then comparing what Joseph said and what today’s Egyptologist say. I tried to stay away from Church scholars so I could point out non Mormons opinions.

But alas since that time my computer crashed and I lost most of what I had, I’ve tried here to put it all back together.

1, Differences

Facsimile 1 is an Egyptian vignette which were mass produced on a factory line. The buyers would then have a professional fill in with their own story line.

Abraham writes;
"….that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record…..That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning"

Gee’s point was that 40% of all Sensen Text which have been found are attached to other writings as this implies.

So Abraham took something which was familiar to himself and those living at that time and filled in what he wanted to represent. There are some major differences between his vignette and all others so we’ll take a look at some of it.

Now I think it’s probable Abraham did not draw out this particular vignette but that someone copied it and passed it down perhaps several times. Most of these vignettes are highly stylized, with very precise clean lines but the BA looks like an amateur did it.

The bird for one thing has wings that kind of droop instead of the straight precise lines of a professionally done one.

In the original vignette the priest stands in front of the bed with Abraham placed over the top of him. But in the professionally done ones the priest always stands behind the couch or alter.

Also in the vignettes I’ve seen the person on the alter or bed is either all bundled up or naked. I’ll quote Kerry A. Shirts

"On all other lion couches to date, there is none that show the figure on the couch fully clothed in a garment as our facsimile No. 1. They are either mummies, or nude, but none have the garment and slippers as Abraham does."

Shirts goes into some detail about what the garment represents, I suppose there is no way to prove it one way or another, but it is interesting.

These vignettes are suppose to be showing a dead person either being prepared for embalming or being resurrected.

In this case Abraham is very much alive with his arms stretched upward, I’ve read that is an Egyptian sign of prayer. The critics have tried to claim theses fingers must be the wings from another bird that’s why the emphasis on Joseph having filled in the picture but in no other similar vignette are there two birds.

The vignette is trying to show Abraham’s legs spread across a flat surface of four corners. You’ll note there appears to be something wrapped around his ankles. Once again in no other vignette is there anything like this. Nor do there appear the wavy lines with a crocodile running around in them.

So yes at first glance it appears to be a classic funerary scene and it probably was but Abraham filled in a lot of items which were much different and telling a different story.

2, The gods

The sons of Horus are represented in the jars under the bed or placed at the four corners of the bed. In Egyptian mythology they also became connected to the four points of the compass;

Hapi (Baboon) was the north,
Imsety (human) the south,
Duamutef (jackel) the east
and Qebehsenuef (hawk) the west.

In the second vignette of the Book of Abraham these figures also appear and Joseph writes "Represents this earth in its four quarters" so he was right.

This is my opinion and other Mormons and all of the scholars of the world might disagree with me but Abraham does not say the god Elkenah but "the god of Elkenah". I don’t believe that Abraham through Joseph meant to call the gods by their names. Elkenah and the rest mentioned are not gods themselves but are either a place name or person.

Abraham writes;

My fathers, having turned from their righteousness, …unto the worshiping of the gods of the heathen…For their hearts were set to do evil, and were wholly turned to the god of Elkenah, and the god of Libnah, and the god of Mahmackrah, and the god of Korash, and the god of Pharaoh, king of Egypt;

Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah and Korash were the heathens who worshiped the false gods which we know as the sons of Horus.

Note that in chapter 1 verse 7 it says "The priest of Elkenah was also the priest of Pharaoh" Pharaoh was a person thus Elkenah was person who shared a priest with Pharaoh. It is a personal name in the Bible, Hannah’s husband.

In Joshua 10:20 it says;

"Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah"

These are places names I even read they are doing some archeology at Libnah these days which would have been occupied at the time of Abraham by non Jews, for there weren’t any as yet.

Figure 9 in the vignette makes my point. It is a crocodile and Joseph writes;

"The idolatrous god of Pharaoh"

He’s not calling the Pharaoh a crocodile but that the crocodile was the god the different Pharaohs worshiped or represented the pharaohs power. Sobek as the Egyptians called him was the crocodile god and Abraham traveling through Egypt would have been familiar with him.

" The crocodile's power to snatch and destroy it's prey was thought to be symbolic of the might of the pharaoh - the strength and energy of the reptile was a manifestation of the pharaoh's own power"

In fact the word sovereign was drawn using a picture of a crocodile.

There is no way Joseph could have known this at all.

But there is more; In verse 9 of chapter 1 it says’

"And it came to pass that the priest made an offering unto the god of Pharaoh (the crocodile), and also unto the god of Shagreel, even after the manner of the Egyptians. Now the god of Shagreel was the sun.

The god known as Ra was the Sun god but there was a time when these two gods actually merged into one

"Sobek-Ra was an entity who combined the essence of two deities: the crocodile god and the sun god. This dual god is depicted as part animal to convey his strange and awesome divine powers. In particular, he has the strength, cunning, and longevity of the crocodile and power over the life-giving waters of the Nile. The solar disc in the headdress conveys that Ra, god of life-giving light, is manifesting himself in his form of Sobek…."

Editing: the link no long works so I'm removing it and trying a new one;

Note the disc above his head, this is the symbol of the sun god Ra placed on the head of Sobek.

3, other symbols

He calls the lines at the bottom "the pillars of heaven"

I found this at Rediscover Ancient Egypt with Tehuti Research Foundation

As described in various Ancient Egyptian texts, the temple or pylon is: the pillars of heaven, [a temple] like the heavens, abiding upon their four pillars ... shining like the horizon of heaven ... a place of rest for the lord of neteru [gods], made like his throne that is in heaven Ra when he rises in the horizon ... like Atum’s great house of heaven.

And Figure 12 there are wavy lines which surround the crocodile Joseph says this "signifying expanse, or the firmament over our heads… to be high, or the heavens …"

This from the same website as above;
"This wall isolated the temple from its surroundings which, symbolically, represented the forces of chaos. Metaphorically, the mud resulted from the union of heaven and earth. The brick wall itself was therefore set in wavy courses to symbolize the primeval waters, representing the first stage of creation."

The crocodile came from the waters so somehow they thought the waters as heaven. I think it comes from Gen 1:6-7. The ancient peoples did share their myths back and forth a lot.

Abraham wrote “Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, …. Pharaoh, being 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, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father…”

It wasn’t until later that the succeeding Pharaohs turned to idolatry twisting the truths they originally had.

So it doesn’t surprise a Mormon that Egyptians believed in the resurrection, or thought they could become gods, it’s all part of the basic plan.

Wise men still seek him.
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6 years ago  ::  May 20, 2012 - 12:23PM #14
Posts: 6,091

Now the next item here is kind of out in left field but I want to turn to the Apocalypse of Abraham which years ago I read through. It made me think if Joseph was a phony how did he get so much right?

No one is sure where the Apocalypse came from except it was preserved only in Slavonic and not translated into English until 1898.

Now the secular scholars will pinpoint the age between 70 ad and 150 ad same time our scrolls which were used by Joseph to obtain our Book of Abraham have been dated. But the reasons they give this date is because it talks about the destruction of the temple and of course no one could have a revelation or prophesize about anything could they.

I believe in revelation and prophecy so I can accept it dating back to Abraham and then being passed down outside of canonized scripture through stories and legends. But like any good story it would become embellished and change over time.

It does appear to have been originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic and then translated into Slavonic. My own pondering leads me to believe some Jews had escaped northward (Isa 43:6) during the Roman Empire and carried these writings containing the legends of Abraham with them. The written Slavonic langue was developed by Byzantine Missionaries so someone found this and translated it into this new Christian developed langue. Then too it could be some early Jewish Christian had this and carried it northward as they did missionary work. In any case it has a mixture of Jewish folklore with a sprinkling of early Medieval Christian poetry thrown in.

What I’m going to do is compare our Book of Abraham with this Apocalypse. What you have to remember is that Joseph Smith never saw this Apocalypse it wasn’t translated into English until 50 years after his death.

1, Book of Abraham 2:9
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;

The Apocalypse of Abraham
“44 And He said, "Hear Abraham, for that which you see is the Temple, a copy of that which is in the heavens, glorious in its aspect and beauty, even as I shall give it to the sons of men to ordain a priesthood for my glorious name, and in which the prayers of man shall be uttered, and sacrifices offered as I ordain to your people, even those who shall arise out of your generation.

2, Book of Abraham; 1:5
“My fathers, having turned from their righteousness, and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them, unto the worshiping of the gods of the heathen, utterly refused to hearken to my voice;

From The Apocalypse of Abraham
45 ….And He said to me, "Hear Abraham, and understand what I say to you, and answer my question. Why did your father Terah not listen to your voice, and why did he not cease from his idolatrous practices, together with his whole house?" And I said, "0 Eternal One! It was entirely because he did not choose to listen to my voice, and likewise I did not choose to listen to his counsel."

3, Book of Abraham 3: 22-23
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones…

From The Apocalypse of Abraham
25; I saw upon the seventh firmament upon which I stood a fire widely extended….and the spirits of the departed righteous, and the spirits of those souls who have yet to be born,

4, In our Abraham he sees in vision a time when Yahweh is chosen to be the future Savior. There are gathered together many of the noble and great ones/spirits. In this group there is one like unto the Son of Man.

Abraham 3
“And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.

The first is of course Yahweh who becomes Jesus, the second is Satan who becomes the accuser or tempter and then rebels to the point he is thrown out of heaven.

In The Apocalypse of Abraham there is a similar vision of the future Savior

“And I looked and saw a Man going out from the left side of the nations (spirits not born yet) and there went out men and women and children, from the side of nations, many hosts, and worshipped Him. And while I still looked, there came many from the right side, and some of these insulted Him, and some of them even struck Him, but others however worshipped Him. And as I watched, I saw Azazel (Satan) approach Him and he kissed Him on the face and then stood behind Him. And I said, "0 Eternal One! Who is the Man insulted and beaten, who is worshipped by the nations and kissed by Azazel?" And He answered and said, "Hear Abraham! The Man you saw insulted and beaten and yet worshipped by many, He is the 'Relief' granted by the nations to the people …”

5, The Book of Abraham 3:12
And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.

From The Apocalypse of Abraham
And a voice came to me out of the midst of the fire, saying, "Abraham! Abraham!" and I answered saying "Here am I!" And he said, "Consider the expanses which are under the firmament on which you are now placed and see how on no single expanse is there any other than the One whom you have sought, even the One who loves you!" And while he was yet speaking, the expanses opened, and there below me were the heavens, and I saw upon the seventh firmament upon which I stood a fire widely extended…

6, Now this is not from our Book of Abraham but from our Doctrine and Covenants sec 131

“There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.”

From The Apocalypse of Abraham
And I looked downwards from the mountain on which I stood to the sixth firmament, and there I saw a multitude of angels of pure spirit, without bodies, whose duty was to carry out the commands of the fiery angels who were upon the seventh firmament,

It just can not be coincidence, things like this don’t happen.

I have more concerning facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham but that will be for a later date.

Wise men still seek him.
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6 years ago  ::  May 30, 2012 - 12:28PM #15
Posts: 289

WWA - Why do they spend so much time trying to show that Joseph bought a ripped and the incomplete scrap that they show in their movie? They cost him $2,400 and that was a lot of money back then, does anyone think he would have paid that much for a torn bit of papyrus.


If he thought it was “missing Scripture” that you just admitted was "important to Mormonism because it gives us some of our most valued doctrine", seems $2,400 is kinda cheap for “most valued doctrine”.

You can’t have it both ways, WWA. You try to dismiss it as a “torn bit of papyrus”, an “incomplete scrap” but then say that it contained some of the LDS church’s “most valued doctrine”.

Additionally when the BoA papyrus was discovered they were glued onto backing paper with the reverse containing architectural drawing of a temple and map of Kirkland Ohio; which is a pretty good indicator that it was the Joseph Smith papyrus. When these were presented to the LDS church on Nov 27, 1967 not one official LDS person raised any question about their authenticity. In fact the LDS church has never officially questioned the authenticity of the JS papyrus. Nor has any LDS prophet -past or present - has questioned its authenticity . 

Secondly, Joseph Smith produced what he called an “Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar”. Two pages of Joseph Smith’s this document contains part of the translation of the BoA. When examined by Egyptologists they were deemed to be “nonsensical gibberish” which “bore no resemblance to any correct understanding to the Egyptian language”. Not one qualified Egyptologists has ever supported Joseph Smith’s translation, not even LDS Egyptologists.

Thirdly, there is a ten page manuscript, in the handwriting of Joseph Smith’s known scribes, which has Egyptian characters on the left and the “translated” BoA passages on the right. And the Egyptian characters on the left correspond, in the exact same order, to the characters on what is called the “small sensen” papyrus.

Fourthly, Dr. Klaus Baer of the University of Chicago examined the fiber patterns of the both the Small Sensen papyrus and the JS papyrus #1 (which includes facsimile 1) they were an exact match, i.e. they were originally a single piece.

Lastly, we have Joseph Smith’s diaries where he admits that he was “translating” the BoA from Egyptian and of “arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients”.  And how he “labored on the Egyptian language

So there is enough evidence that the papyrus the LDS church has is the papyrus that Joseph Smith used to “translate” the BoA. And there is enough evidence that Joseph Smith got it all very wrong. Which must be very disturbing to any LDS since, as WWA admits, the BoA is important to Mormonism because it gives us some of our most valued doctrine.

The Book of Abraham wasn’t given by revelation, it was derived by Joseph Smith translating the Egyptian text from papyrus that we can now examine to check his translation. And by all accounts from trained Egyptologists, Smith failed miserably. And this is where the LDS get their some of [their] most valued doctrine from?


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6 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2012 - 11:47PM #16
Posts: 6,091

Joe; If he thought it was “missing Scripture” that you just admitted was "important to Mormonism because it gives us some of our most valued doctrine", seems $2,400 is kinda cheap for “most valued doctrine”.

But Joe you think he’s a fraud, would a fraud pay $2,400 for a scrap of torn paper? No! He paid for some mummies and 5 long scrolls.

Joe; In fact the LDS church has never officially questioned the authenticity of the JS papyrus.

That’s right but when he bought them facsimile 1 was more complete according to eyewitnesses who actually saw them.

Joe; Secondly, Joseph Smith produced what he called an “Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar”…Joe; Lastly, we have Joseph Smith’s diaries where he admits that he was "translating" the BoA from Egyptian and of "arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients".

From his diary; 
Late July, 1835 – "The remainder of this month, I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet of the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients."

This sounds like a lot of work, there should be volumes and they simply are not there, whatever he was working on has been lost!

There is one small piece which appears to be in his handwriting. (I think it’s the title on the page is all.) All the rest are in someone else’s handwriting.

When Joseph mentions transcribing or working on an Alphabet Warren Parish hasn’t started working for him yet but a great deal of the Egyptian alphabet is in his handwriting.

Plus he never mentions the some of the others whose handwriting is there; Willard Richards and Frederick G. Williams.

Once again we do not have what Joseph himself was working on!

Now this is from his diary dated Saturday, November 14, 1835 – :

‘Verily thus saith the Lord unto my …. servant Warren Parrish …. …He shall see much of my ancient records and shall know of hidden things and shall be endowed with a knowledge of hidden languages. And if he desires and shall seek it at my hand, he shall be privileged with writing much of my word as a scribe unto me for the benefit of my people.’"

Much of the "Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar" was done in the hand writing of Warren Parrish and William W. Phelps. So obviously the papers are Parrish’s attempt at copying what he knew was the Book of Abraham and lining it up with some of the other scrolls. All blessings are predicated upon obedience, within a year Warren was stealing money out of the church funds so his promised blessing of translation never came to pass.

What I’ve noticed is that he makes a difference between transcribing, which I take to mean copying down some of the symbols and actual translating.

First day;
Sunday, July 5, 1835 – "… with W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the scrolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt – 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." (History of the Church, 2:236)

October 1, 1835 – "This afternoon I labored on the Egyptian alphabet, in company with Brothers Oliver Cowdery and W. W. Phelps, and during the research, the principles of astronomy as understood by Father Abraham and the ancients unfolded to our understanding, the particulars of which will appear hereafter." (History of the Church, 2:286).

As I read that quote it feels like they struggled for a period of time and then a revelation came to them and they translated.

We have to go back to D&C 9 when Oliver Cowdery who saw and handled the Book of Mormon plates wanted to translate the Book of Mormon but could not.

“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must cask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.”

It seems they went through the same process.

Wise men still seek him.
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2012 - 10:57AM #17
Posts: 289

I think it is too simplistic to blame both the creation of the Grammar material and the placement of the Sensen symbols beside the Book of Abraham text in three separate manuscripts, entirely on the well-meaning but uninspired efforts of Joseph Smith's scribes. And remember four pages of the Egyptian Alphabet material is in Joseph Smith's own handwriting. If the excuse is, “the scribes did it”, then you’d have to explain how this happened. Is it more likely that Smith was “translating” the BoA to his scribes and decided to handwrite a portion himself when a scibe wasn’t available or that these scribes did it on their own but JS mixed his “inspirited translation” with theirs?   

Your Prophet is directly to the production of the Book of Abraham and the Grammar. Consider, for instance, Joseph Smith's own words as recorded in B. H. Roberts' History of the Church:

[July, 1835] -- The remainder of this month I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients. (History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 238)

Notice that Joseph is not saying he would some day like to put together an alphabet and grammar of the Egyptian language, but that he claims that he actually is, in 1835, "engaged in translating an alphabet" and "arranging a grammar." Again, from Smith's diary account: 

October 1 [, 1835] -- This afternoon labored on the Egyptian alphabet, in company with Brothers O. Cowdery and W. W. Phelps, and during the research, the principles of astronomy as understood by Father Abraham and the ancients unfolded to our understanding, the particulars of which will appear hereafter. (Ibid, p. 286) 

Notice also that the "astronomy" Smith describes (a significant factor within both the Grammar material and the Book of Abraham subject matter) was "unfolded ... during the research" -- not "received by inspiration".

Edward H. Ashment, a respected LDS Egyptologist, who wrote that the available evidence all points to the fact that "the Prophet has some positive connection with the production of the Joseph Smith Egyptian Papers. Therefore, even though involvement with them on his part has been disputed, thoughtful reexamination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the Prophet was connected with the entire project" (Sunstone, December 1979, p. 42).

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6 years ago  ::  Jul 13, 2012 - 4:26PM #18
Posts: 12,363

If anyone's been wondering, the argument has long since moved elsewhere, during which a certain someone basically no-showed.

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