"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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Book of Abraham-It's Genuineness Established - Elder George Reynolds - Millennial Star 1879

The Pearl of Great Price was originally published in 1851, in London, England, by Apostle Franklin D. Richards.  It wasn't until 1878 that it was printed in the United States, and subsequently canonized by the church in 1880.  In connection with the republication of the book in 1878, Elder George Reynolds wrote a book offering "a few chapters written to prove its genuineness and divine origin."  This was believed to be beneficial as "very little has ever been said by the Elders of the Church in advocacy of its claim as an inspired record..."  Additionally, Elder Reynolds stated that "while the people of God have said or written little in its defense, there have been those opposed to the revelations of God in these days, who have vigorously attacked it, who have styled its language "gibberish," and classed it among the "pious frauds" that have so often disgraced the history of religion, Christian and heathen."1  Elder Reynolds' response to these accusations forms the first apologetic and scholarly approach to discussing the Book of Abraham and Joseph Smith's translation thereof. 

His response was published piecemeal in London, England, in the Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star.  During that same year, it was published as a booklet in Salt Lake City, Utah; all this amongst his legal difficulties relating to the practice of plural marriage.  In 1878, Reynolds noted in his journal that he was studying outside "authorities" in relation to Abraham and other subjects.2  On January 6, 1879, Elder Reynolds was convicted in the famous Reynolds v. the United States case;3 the same day the first issue of Reynolds treatment on the Book of Abraham appeared in the Millennial Star.  The publication of his book in the Millennial Star is below.

1 "The Book of Abraham--It's Genuieness Established," by Elder George Reynolds, Millennial Star 41/1 (January 6, 1879): 1.  Reynolds comment regarding criticisms of the Book of Abraham stem from Julius Remy's publication of A Journey to Great Salt Lake, and Thomas B.H. Stenhouse's publication of The Rocky Mountain States. 
2 Prisoner for Conscience' Sake: The Life of George Reynolds, by Bruce A. Van Orden (Shadow Mountain Publishing (Deseret Book), Salt Lake City, UT, 1992), 85
3 Prisoner for Conscience' Sake, 86

Jules Remy - A Journey to Great Salt Lake City

As related by Elder George Reynolds in the Millennial Star in 1879, Jules Remy and Julius Brenchley visited Utah in 1855. On their return home to Paris, France, they brought with them a copy of The Book of Abraham,1 "which they placed in the hands of "a young savant of the Museum of the Louvre, M. Theodule Deveria," with the request that he would translate it. This he attempted to do. Messrs. Remy and Brenchley afterwards published an account of their travels, and embodied therein M. Deveria's soi-disant translation."2 This translation of the facsimiles into French was published by Jules Remy in 1860 in Paris, France, being his second volume relating to his "Journey to the Land of the Mormons." The next year an English addition appeared in print, "scrupulously revised," and retitled, A Journey to Great Salt Lake City.3

The first LDS response to the French publication came from Louis Bertrand, the LDS Mission President over France at that time. Bertrand was a convert of John Taylor's, and substantially assisted Elder Taylor in translating the Book of Mormon into French. Bertrand's response to Remy was included in his book entitled Memoire's D'un Mormon (Memoirs of a Mormon), published in Paris, France, in 1862.

The extent of Remy's publication seems to have had limited circulation among the Latter-day Saints since the issue wasn't addressed in print again until George Reynold's response was published in 1879, six years following T.B.H. Stenhouse's publication of The Rocky Mountain Saints.4 Stenhouse plagairizes Remy's publication where Deveria's translation is compared with Joseph Smith's explanations of the facsimiles.  It is Stenhouse's publication that is mostly used by critics of Joseph Smith regarding his translation of the Book of Abraham (i.e., the explanations given for Facsimiles 1-3).  Whereas, Remy's book includes one illustration of the facsimiles, Stenhouse's book includes all three.  Many online and printed sources antagonistic towards Joseph Smith still use Deveria's 150 year old translations as support for criticizing Joseph's ability to translate.

The English publication of Remy's book is available below.

1 The Pearl of Great Price would have been the 1851 printing by Elder Franklin D. Richards in England, as the book was not published in the United States until 1878.
2 "The Book of Abraham--Its Genuineness Established [Continued]" by Elder George Reynolds, The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, 41/13 (March 31, 1879): 193
3 The Westminster Review (July and October 1861), New Series Vol. XX, George Manwaring, Ed. (Savill and Edwards, London, England, 1861), 76:360
4 The Rocky Mountain Saints: A Full and Complete History of the Mormons, From the First Vision of Joseph Smith to the Last Courtship of Brigham Young, by Thomas B.H. Stenhouse (D. Appleton and Company, New York City, NY, 1873), see especially, 507-522