The major­i­ty of mem­bers don’t know where the Book of Abra­ham (found in the Pearl of Great Price) comes from. Here is a brief his­to­ry from Wikipedia:

Sev­er­al papyri and eleven mum­mies were dis­cov­ered in Thebes by Anto­nio Lebo­lo between 1818 and 1822. Some­time between 1822 and his death on Feb­ru­ary 19, 1830, Lebo­lo arranged to have them sold. The mum­mies were shipped to New York, where they were pur­chased by Michael Chan­dler in 1833. Over the next two years Chan­dler toured the east­ern Unit­ed States, dis­play­ing and sell­ing some of the mum­mies.

In July 1835, Chan­dler brought the remain­ing four mum­mies and asso­ci­at­ed papyri to Kirt­land, Ohio, the then home of the Lat­ter-Day Saints. Although the Roset­ta Stone had been dis­cov­ered in 1799, the abil­i­ty to read Egypt­ian wasn’t well devel­oped until the 1850s. Chan­dler asked Joseph Smith to look at the scrolls and give some insight into what was writ­ten on them, due to Smith’s noto­ri­ety and claim to have trans­lat­ed the gold­en plates of the Book of Mor­mon. After exam­in­ing the scrolls, Smith, Joseph Coe and Sime­on Andrews pur­chased the four mum­mies and at least five papyrus doc­u­ments for $2,400.

After Joseph died and Brigham Young went west with a large por­tion of the Saints, Emma Smith didn’t like Brigham so she chose to stay behind, and with her remained the papyri Joseph had said he trans­lat­ed to pro­duce the Book of Abra­ham. She even­tu­al­ly sold them along with a cer­tifi­cate of authen­tic­i­ty to a muse­um in Chica­go.

In 1871 was the Great Chica­go Fire and the papyri were thought to have been burnt and gone. How­ev­er, in 1966, the papyri sur­faced in the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art in New York. They had luck­i­ly sur­vived the fire most­ly in tact. They were giv­en to the Church as a gift from the muse­um.

The ques­tion on everyone’s minds at this point was “Does Joseph Smith’s trans­la­tion match?” After Egyp­tol­o­gists trans­lat­ed the papyri, the answer was unan­i­mous: no. The papyri were stan­dard Egypt­ian funer­ary texts dat­ing to around 100 BC, some 2000 years after Abra­ham had already died. Abra­ham isn’t men­tioned once in any of the papyri. Many Egyp­tol­o­gists have looked at the papyri, and their trans­la­tions are schol­ar­ly.

This is quite a heat­ed top­ic among Mor­mon apol­o­gists, which I have spent a lot of time study­ing. They come up with lots of excus­es why the papyri don’t talk about Abra­ham. I find all of their rea­son­ing very weak.

Let’s take a clos­er look at parts of the papyri and how they don’t coin­cide at all with Joseph’s inter­pre­ta­tion of them. Much of this analy­sis was com­piled from oth­er sources.

Series Nav­i­ga­tion: My Search for Truth — Wes Trexler« Book of Mor­mon Issue 6+: Every­thing elseBook of Abra­ham: Fac­sim­i­le 1 »

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