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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rev. Franklin S. Spalding - Joseph Smith as a Translator

As I noted in a previous posting on the Reverend Franklin Spalding: "Almost 100 years ago, Reverend Franklin Spencer Spalding, an Episcopalian Bishop in Utah, published a 36 page booklet that was circulated amongst LDS officials, college professors, high school teachers, and students. The pamphlet was meant to discredit the Book of Mormon by illustrating that Joseph Smith's ability to translate the facsimiles contained in the Book of Abraham could not hold up to the scrutiny of Egyptologists. If Reverend Spalding could successfully illustrate that Joseph did not translate Egyptian accurately, than it may be inferred that his translation of the Book of Mormon should not only be called into question, but dismissed altogether. Apparently it did not occur to Reverend Spalding that the success of his experiment was dependent on some logical fallacies, a subject that will be addressed in a later posting; nevertheless, Spalding's efforts elicited quite a response in relation to some potentially serious implications for the Book of Abraham." 

The response to Spalding's pamphlet came from B.H. Roberts, Janne Sjodahl, and other prominent Latter-day Saints, including the Prophet Joseph F. Smith, as well as non-Mormon R.C. Webb (alias for James Edward Homans). These responses were published in the Deseret News, and subsequently in the Improvement Era. The main points discussed in these responses include the contradictory claims made by the Egyptologists as well as not only their lack of objectivity, but their strong bias opposing Joseph Smith and Mormonism (also see Nibley's, Joseph Smith and the Critics), the conspicuously missing cover letter sent by Spalding to his secular authorities, the deceitful approach taken by Spalding (see The Ulterior Motives of Reverend Franklin S. Spalding), as well as identification of some positive support stemming from George Reynolds apologetic study of the Book of Abraham. In connection with this, it was also acknowledged that the Saints were ill-equipped to handle such technical issues with a scholarly response; however, it was sufficiently demonstrated that the Egyptologists were collectively unreliable, since accepting the interpretations by one Egyptologist would be opposed by the interpretations of another. At any rate, Spalding's pamphlet had limited success within Mormonism while being lauded as a raving success by other Protestants. Bishop Spalding's pamphlet is provided below.

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