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

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

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