"I want to say to you, read the book, the Pearl of Great Price, and read the Book of Abraham. The Pearl of Great Price I hold to be one of the most intelligent, one of the most religious books that the world has ever had; but more than that, to me the Pearl of Great Price is true in its name. It contains an ideal of life that is higher and grander and more glorious than I think is found in the pages of any other book unless it be the Holy Bible. It behooves us to read these things, understand them: and I thank God when they are attacked, because it brings to me, after a study and thought, back to the fact that what God has given He has given, and He has nothing to retract." - Levi Edgar Young, Conference Report (April 1913), 74

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book of Abraham Facsimile Replicas

Daniel Smith has opened his Etsy store for purchasing replicas of the Book of Abraham facsimiles as well as other related products. Definitely worth checking out. These are easily the best reproductions that I've ever seen. Support his talent and purchase his work to hang in your office!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/AnicentReplicas?ref=l2-shopheader-name



Monday, March 28, 2016

Book of Abraham Manuscripts and Wood Museum (Chicago)

From the First Presidency Office Journal, dated September 2, 1878, the following minutes were recorded:
An informal meeting of the council was held after Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith had been set apart for their mission to the United States. Present-Pres[ident]. John Taylor and Elders Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Smith and A[lbert]. Carrington. 
Brother Orson Pratt spoke of the desirability of obtaining the mss. of the Books of Abraham and of Joseph now in Woods Museum, Chicago. 
Brother Taylor considered it to be well to do so though he thought it would be well not to appear too anxious, or advantage might be taken if such a feeling were manifested. He felt that anything that would throw light on the subject, embraced in the mission of Bro[ther]s. Pratt and Smith should be encouraged.1
From these minutes it is clear that LDS Church leadership either knew or believed that the Book of Abraham manuscripts (along with those of Joseph of Egypt) were held in the Wood Museum in Chicago in September 1878. This is quite interesting considering that 1) Church leadership was aware that the museum had acquired, in some way, the manuscripts from the possession of Emma Hale Smith Bidamon and/or her family, and 2) the Great Chicago Fire took place in October 1871. Church leadership, at that time, was apparently unaware that the manuscripts had actually been destroyed 7 years earlier.



_____________________
1 Minutes of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1835-1893 [Vol. 1] (Salt Lake City, UT: Privately Published, 2010), 315

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Abraham 4-5 Compared With Genesis 1-2



Kevin Barney recently wrote up a brief comparison regarding some of the differences between Abraham 4 and 5 with Genesis 1 and 2. His purpose was to further the discussion on the potential influence that Joseph's Hebrew studies had upon the Book of Abraham. This contrast is directly relevant to a paper that I've been working on for a couple of months now, and part of the research for my paper explores some of these differences. I decided to leave out the verse by verse comparison from my paper, but in connection with Barney's blog post, I thought it might be well to add that comparison here. The verses are laid out in the following format (translation: underlying text):

   King James Version (KJV): MT
   Book of Abraham (Abr)
   -
   New Revised Standard Version (NRSV): MT
   New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS): LXX

Thursday, February 11, 2016

LDS Church History Library Exhibit

The Church is currently exhibiting Joseph Smith Papyri in Salt Lake City at the Church History Museum. See here for additional details about the "Foundations of Faith" exhibit.



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mummies of Nauvoo

As published in the December 1973 issue of the New Era, Solomon Hale, a nephew to the Prophet Joseph Smith, used to show his friends the mummies while in Nauvoo. The article isn't particularly informative, but it does provide some history regarding the mummies location and the culture and atmosphere surrounding the presence of the mummies that existed at that time and place.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Girl's Letters From Nauvoo - Charlotte Haven - 1843

This letter was written by Charlotte Haven to her mother on February 19, 1843, but wasn't published until 1890 (Charlotte Haven, "A Girl's Letters From Nauvoo," Overland Monthly 16/96 (December 1890):622-624). Charlotte was born in 1819 and was 23 or 24 years old at the time of her visit to Nauvoo. She was from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Her comments are fairly critical of Joseph and the saints, for example, dubbing all residents of Nauvoo as "fanatics" (ibid, 616). Thus her characterization of her visit and her experiences are colored with some heavy skepticism; nonetheless, her remarks provide some valuable historical information.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Joseph Smith Papyri Display

Daniel Smith attended the Joseph Smith Papyri display in Salt Lake City held in March 2013. Check out his blog post to see some great pictures from the display:


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Facsimile Reproductions

Daniel Smith has created the best reproductions of the Book of Abraham facsimiles (and other hypocephali) that I've ever seen. Check them out here:


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gospel Topics: Book of Abraham

 


A new Gospel Topics page is up regarding the Book of Abraham. It provides a great summary of the salient points in BoA discussions:

https://www.lds.org/topics/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-Abraham

 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Blessings of the Gospel and Compliance to the Law - Pres. Snow



Originally printed in the Journal of Discourses, this discourse was delivered by Elder Lorenzo Snow during a session of the April 1879 General Conference. While highlighting various components of the Abrahamic Covenant, Elder Snow draws attention to one of the lesser discussed events in Abraham's life as it relates to the principle of obedience. Elder Snow also discusses the relevance for us in following the example set by out great patriarch:
Abraham was called to leave his kindred and country. Had he not complied with this requirement, he would not have been approved of the Lord. But he did comply; and while he was leaving his home, he no doubt was living in obedience to this divine law of perfection. Had he failed in this, he certainly could not have obeyed the requirements of the Almighty. And while he was leaving his father’s house, while he was subjecting himself to this trial, he was doing that which his own conscience and the Spirit of God justified him in doing, and nobody could have done better, providing he was doing no wrong when he was performing this labor.

Children of the Covenant - Elder Nelson



During the April 1995 session of General Conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson delivered a talk entitled, "Children of the Covenant." This talk outlined the promises contained within the Abrahamic Covenant and he discussed its relevance and importance to us today.

"The covenant that the Lord first made to Abraham and reaffirmed to Isaac and Jacob is of transcendent significance. It contained several promises:
  • Abraham’s posterity would be numerous, entitled to eternal increase and to bear the priesthood;
  • He would become a father of many nations;
  • Christ and kings would come through Abraham’s lineage;
  • Certain lands would be inherited;
  • All nations of the earth would be blessed by his seed;
  • That covenant would be everlasting—even through “a thousand generations.”
This topic, which can occasionally be a bland repetition in Sunday School, is brought to life by Elder Nelson with thoughtful and provoking insights. Very inspiring. Read the full text here.
 

Identity, Priority, and Blessings - Elder Nelson



Elder Russell M. Nelson delivered this speech at Brigham Young University on September 10, 2000. He focuses upon the importance of understanding our heritage through an Abrahamic identity. He also discusses the need to prioritize the covenants of the gospel and the blessings that flow therefrom.
How do you obtain your blessings? How can you qualify for eternal blessings—even “all that [the] Father hath”? With your identity preserved and your priorities properly honored, our Father’s blessings will flow to you by virtue of the holy priesthood, which is without beginning or end.
You can lay claim to all the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, destined to be fulfilled in these latter days (see 1 Nephi 15:18). Blessings and responsibilities once extended to other nations (see Galatians 3:7–9, 14, 27, 29) have now been given to us (see D&C 110:12). Patriarchal blessings reveal our linkage to the great patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are the seed of Abraham through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed. That identity merits our precious priority, which in turn brings to us the blessings of heaven.
Read the full text of this speech here.
 

The Key of the Knowledge of God - Pres. Faust


 
President James E. Faust discussed the power of the priesthood sought and obtained by Abraham, and the blessing of the priesthood to his posterity and to the human family in the October 2004 session of General Conference:
What does it mean to be the seed of Abraham? Scripturally it has a deeper meaning than being his literal descendants. The Lord made a covenant with Abraham, the great patriarch, that all nations would be blessed through him. Any man or woman can claim the blessings of Abraham. They become his seed and heirs to the promised blessings by accepting the gospel, being baptized, entering into temple marriage, being faithful in keeping their covenants, and helping to carry the gospel to all the nations of the earth.
Read more of President Faust's inspiring talk regarding the blessings of the priesthood in the Abrahamic covenant here.
 

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Example of Abraham - Pres. Kimball

 
 
The First Presidency Message in the June 1975 Ensign was entitled, "The Example of Abraham," by President Spencer W. Kimball. An excerpt from his message is as follows:
Abraham’s desire to do God’s will in all things led him to preside over his family in righteousness. Despite all his other responsibilities, he knew that if he failed to teach and exemplify the gospel to his children he would have failed to fulfill the most important stewardship he had received. Abraham’s instruction and example in his home led the Lord to say of him: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” (Gen. 18:19.)
This excerpt provides some insight as to why Abraham was not considered just a righteous prophet, but why he was also known as the "father of the faithful" (Gal. 3:7; D&C 138:41), and why the 'covenant' was made with Abraham and is renewed through his righteous posterity. Read the rest of this great article online here.
 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Iconotropy and the JS Abraham Facsimiles

This post was originally written and published online by Bill Hamblin at Mormon Scripture Explorations on April 7, 2013, and is reproduced here without alteration (except for slight formatting changes), courtesy of Professor Hamblin - my sincere appreciation.

Iconotropy is an English neologism from Greek, meaning literally “image turning.”  It is defined as “the accidental or deliberate misinterpretation by one culture of the images or myths of another one, especially so as to bring them into accord with those of the first culture.”   Iconotropy is, in fact, the most common ways cultures deal with images from foreign or ancient cultures.  That is to say, we almost always misunderstand and/or transform, at least to some degree, the iconography of other cultures or religions.  The further distanced we are from another culture in time, religion, ideology, or space, the more likely we are to misunderstand their iconography.

There are numerous examples of iconotropy in human history.  The most well-known is the Nazi swastika, which originally was an Indo-European good-luck symbol, possibly representing the sun, and can be found in most cultures throughout the world.  The Nazis iconotropically adopted this symbol for their Nazi ideology, and it is thus understood by most Westerners today.   But among Buddhists, the swastika is an auspicious religious symbol, often associated with images or temples of the Buddha (Below: Buddha with swastika on its chest.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Coptic Spell of the Second Century

In Kerry Muhlestein's latest article, "The Religious and Cultural Background of Joseph Smith Papyrus I,"1 he furthers the work of illustrating the cultural context of the mid-Ptolemaic period in its adaptation of Biblical figures in place of Egyptian deities that occurs within Egyptian religious texts. John Gee had previously presented a paper providing significant historical and cultural insight into the ancient owner(s) of the Joseph Smith Papyri, including the pertinent connection between the period in which the JSP emerged and the Ptolemaic Egyptian culture's usage of Biblical materials.2 Muhlestein's paper seems to be a continuation of this subject with a shift towards the culture at large, the culture in which the JSP owner(s) were situated. Also relevant to this discussion is Bill Hamblin's comments on iconotropy, which is partially defined as the "accidental or deliberate misinterpretation by one culture of the images or myths of another one...," but in this case, "the Egyptians themselves, engaged in inconotropic reinterpretations of their own symbols in different Egyptian denominations and times."3

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Millennial Star - Hypocephali in Vienna - 1903

While serving as President of the European Mission, Elder Francis M. Lyman was the general editor of the Millennial Star. A few weeks prior to the article posted below, he became the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles following the passing of Brigham Young, Jr. While editorials were likely written by the general editor, the following editorial was probably authored by "J.J.C." This article references two missionaries in the Swiss Mission, James L. Barker and  John A. Mathis, who noticed a reference to Facsimile 2 from the Book of Abraham in a catalogue for the Imperial Museum of Art History in Vienna:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Responses to Franklin Spalding - Janne Sjodahl on Kolob

In 1912, Bishop Franklin Spalding published his pamphlet, Joseph Smith, Jr., As A Translator.  While it was meant to destroy faith in the Book of Mormon, it was much more effective in raising non-Mormon awareness of the Book of Abraham and redirected much of the Latter-day Saint's attention to addressing issues raised by Spalding.  Both the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham were translated by the Prophet from various forms of Egyptian writing.  The Reverend's attempt to disprove Joseph's ability as a translator would, by inference, destroy confidence in him as a Prophet.  The responses by Latter-day Saints acknowledged Bishop Spalding's seemingly courteous approach, but also identified the deceit he employed in masking his true intentions in attacking Latter-day scriptures.  While non-Mormons believed the publication was immensely successful, most Latter-day Saints found it unconvincing.  Spalding's pamphlet was published in November 1912.  Forthcoming responses appeared in the Deseret News and were subsequently printed in the Improvement Era.  Subscribers to the Era were notified of pending responses in the January 1913 issue (V16, No 3): 280:
 
 
In the February 1913 issue, responses by B.H. Roberts, Janne Sjodahl, Frederick Pack, Junius F. Wells, John Henry Evans, Levi Edgar Young, and the Prophet Joseph F. Smith were all included to address some of the issues raised by Spalding and the Egyptologists.  In the following month (the March 1913 issue of the Era), responses included Robert C. Webb (alias for J.E. Homans), Elder John A. Widtsoe, and Richard W. Young.  The responses were summarized thus:


Subsequently, in the April 1913 issue of the Era, responses were published from Osborn J.P. Widtsoe, N.L. Nelson, as well as Spalding's response to Elder John A. Widtsoe, and Elder John A. Widtsoe's response to Spalding, and an article on Kolob by Janne M. Sjodahl.  The following extract is from Janne Sjodahl regarding "Kolob":

Responses to Franklin Spalding - Elder John A. Widtsoe

In 1912, Bishop Franklin Spalding published his pamphlet, Joseph Smith, Jr., As A Translator.  While it was meant to destroy faith in the Book of Mormon, it was much more effective in raising non-Mormon awareness of the Book of Abraham and redirected much of the Latter-day Saint's attention to addressing issues raised by Spalding.  Both the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham were translated by the Prophet from various forms of Egyptian writing.  The Reverend's attempt to disprove Joseph's ability as a translator would, by inference, destroy confidence in him as a Prophet.  The responses by Latter-day Saints acknowledged Bishop Spalding's seemingly courteous approach, but also identified the deceit he employed in masking his true intentions in attacking Latter-day scriptures.  While non-Mormons believed the publication was immensely successful, most Latter-day Saints found it unconvincing.  Spalding's pamphlet was published in November 1912.  Forthcoming responses appeared in the Deseret News and were subsequently printed in the Improvement Era.  Subscribers to the Era were notified of pending responses in the January 1913 issue (V16, No 3): 280:
 
 
In the February 1913 issue, responses by B.H. Roberts, Janne Sjodahl, Frederick Pack, Junius F. Wells, John Henry Evans, Levi Edgar Young, and the Prophet Joseph F. Smith were all included to address some of the issues raised by Spalding and the Egyptologists.  In the following month (the March 1913 issue of the Era), responses included Robert C. Webb (alias for J.E. Homans), Elder John A. Widtsoe, and Richard W. Young.  The responses were summarized thus:


Subsequently, in the April 1913 issue of the Era, responses were published from Osborn J.P. Widtsoe, N.L. Nelson, as well as Spalding's response to Elder John A. Widtsoe, and Elder John A. Widtsoe's response to Spalding, and an article on Kolob by Janne M. Sjodahl.  The following extract is from Elder John A. Widtsoe's response to Franklin Spalding's response:

Franklin Spalding's Response to Elder Widtsoe

In 1912, Bishop Franklin Spalding published his pamphlet, Joseph Smith, Jr., As A Translator.  While it was meant to destroy faith in the Book of Mormon, it was much more effective in raising non-Mormon awareness of the Book of Abraham and redirected much of the Latter-day Saint's attention to addressing issues raised by Spalding in regards to the Book of Abraham.  Both the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham were translated by the Prophet from various forms of Egyptian writing. The Reverend's attempt to disprove Joseph's ability as a translator would, by inference, destroy confidence in him as a Prophet. The responses by Latter-day Saints acknowledged Bishop Spalding's seemingly courteous approach, but also identified the deceit he employed in his approach to attacking Latter-day scriptures. While non-Mormons believed the publication was immensely successful, most Latter-day Saints found it unconvincing.

Spalding's pamphlet was published in November 1912. Forthcoming from responses, mostly from Latter-day Saints, appeared in the Deseret News and were subsequently printed in the Improvement Era. Church leaders such as B.H. Roberts, John A. Widtsoe, and the Prophet Joseph F. Smith contributed, as well as other notables, Janne Sjodahl, Junius F. Wells, Levi Edgar Young, and non-Mormon Robert C. Webb (alias for J.E. Homans). Franklin Spalding responded to Elder Widtsoe's comments, which was published in the April 1913 issue of the Era; included below. Elder Widtsoe subsequently responded to Spalding, and was included in the same issue: