"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

Friday, August 6, 2010

FAIR Conference 2010: Will Schryver and the Kirtland Egyptian Papers

My sincere appreciation to Brother Schryver for his remarkable presentation today at the 2010 FAIR Conference.  He has brought us up to new heights to take a fresh, more informed look at the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.  I have embedded his public video (linked below) for convenience (two parts).

The Kirtland Egyptian Papers - Part 1 from William Schryver on Vimeo.

The Kirtland Egyptian Papers - Part 2 from William Schryver on Vimeo.

A couple comments and questions for consideration:
  • Regarding "Egyptian" as the "pure language." I inferred from the presentation that the cypher (in the KEP) may have been used to safeguard the text of the Book of Abraham, the cypher being part of the "Egyptian," or the "pure language."  Interestingly, as mentioned in the presentation, code names were used in the published D&C revelations around this time to protect identities.  From the text of the Book of Abraham is the following statement: "Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden" (Abr 1:23).
    • Perhaps there is a connection here, in that the cyphers were intended to protect the Book of Abraham from outsiders, as it may have been forbidden, similar to Moses 1:41-42.
  • It was commented (in the Q&A at the FAIR Conference), that there are 5 or 6 letters that are arguably comparable with the Deseret Alphabet? I think this possibility deserves some investigation.
  • William W.Phelps was strongly Anti-Masonic prior to joining the church.  It is interesting that he used the Masonic Cypher in writing a letter to his wife.  It appears that since joining the church, he reveresed his opinions on the Freemasons, perhaps because some influential members like Heber C. Kimball and Hyrum Smith were Masons.  I think a study of W.W. Phelps' connection with Masonry and Mormonism deserves further attention.
  • It seems that Joseph Smith's writings amongst the Kirtland Egyptian Papers has been given little attention.  Since his scribes were heavily involved in the KEP, it may be interesting to study the little participation that Joseph Smith had in the matter.  I would like to see further attention given to what was written by others, vs. what was written by Joseph.
  • When is a full treatment of this study going to be available?  These findings need further dissemination, especially in print. 
While these questions deviate from the presentation, the greatness of Brother Schryver's research and presentation opens doors for consideration of other indirectly related subjects.


  1. Incredible. Thanks so much for posting!

  2. Schryver is on a fishing expedition and his method won't stand the test of scrutiny. Nor has it thus far, as it has been dismantled on various forums.

  3. Hugh Nibley excepted, Will Schryver is the only person who has ever given the Kirtland Egyptian Papers any serious consideration. He has provided considerable evidence that The Book of Abraham was not dependent on these documents. What you call "fishing" would be more appropriate for what the Tanners and Grant Heward did. They, along with all other critics, have never given the KEP any real consideration other than a superficial glance. As far as dismantling Schryver's methodology, disagreement is not quite the same as dismantling.

  4. Extremely grateful for this insightful presentation and contribution to my initial efforts to plumb more deeply the writings of Abraham

  5. Re: Anonymous' "fishing expedition" comment, would that I had ever been so successful in landing so many attractive and substantial "fish" on my own expeditions. Kudos, kudos, kudos.

  6. Anonymous - How will it not stand up to scrutiny? He just demonstrated that 1) Not all of the characters were Egyptian, and 2) That this cryptography was ACTUALLY USED in various documents.