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

"...it must be evident to all who seriously consider the matter, that if the Book of Abraham as given to us by Joseph Smith be true, it must have been translated by a greater than human power." - George Reynolds, The Book of Abraham: Its Authenticity Established as a Divine and Ancient Record (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1879), 4

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Henry Caswall and the Book of Abraham

The Reverend Henry Caswall was an Anglican clergyman who visited Nauvoo in mid-April, 1842.  He was associated with the small Kemper College, near St. Louis, Missouri, where he actually spent most of his time officiating for Sunday services. Caswall was one of the more influential anti-Mormon writers of the 19th century, primarily because of his Greek Psalter episode with the Prophet Joseph Smith.1  During his three days visit in Nauvoo, he personally witnessed the papyri kept in a chest of drawers in the Prophet's office, and the mummies that Lucy Mack Smith maintained in her home. While in Joseph's office Caswall viewed "glazed slides, like picture frames, containing sheets of papyrus, with Egyptian inscriptions and hieroglyphics." These sheets of papyrus included Facsimile 1. In another drawer, Caswall may have seen Facsimile 2.

Caswall's account of this incident is recorded in his book, The City of the Mormons, and was summarized in his next book, The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century. The relevant portions from both books relating to the papyri and mummies are included below.

The City of the Mormons

The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century

1 Regarding the Greek Psalter incident, see the following: Unknown, "Reward of Merit," Times and Seasons 4/23 (Oct 15, 1843):364-365; John Taylor, Three Nights' Public Discussion (Liverpool, England, 1850), 5, 7-8; Craig L. Foster, "Henry Caswall: Anti-Mormon Extraordinaire," BYU Studies 35/4 (1995-1996):144-159; Hugh Nibley, Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass, ed. David J. Whittaker (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, 19 Vols.; Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, and Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies [FARMS], Brigham Young University, 1991), 23-24, 304-402

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