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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

1835 - Improvement Era (1942) - W.W. Phelps

In the August 1942 issue of the Improvement Era, under the title of "Genealogy," the Church published an excerpted transcript from a letter written by W.W. Phelps to his wife Sally in July 1835.1 This letter references the work being done on the papyri, providing some historical insights into the matter. The article also included an image of a letter written by Joseph Smith to Sally, essentially thanking her as W.W. Phelps spent a "short season" with him away from her and the family. Both letters have relevance to the history of the papyri and the Book of Abraham. The images are provided below, as well as a typescript of some of the contents. 

[From W.W. Phelps to Sally Phelps:]
Kirtland, Ohio
July 19 and 20, 1835

Beloved Sally:

...Brother Joseph remarked that it was as easy to shed tears while reading that letter [letter from Sally Phelps to W.W. Phelps] as it was when reading the History of Joseph in Egypt....
The last of June four Egyptian mummies were brought here; there were two papyrus rolls, besides some other ancient Egyptian writings with them. As no one could translate these writings, they were presented to President Smith. He soon knew what they were and said they, the "rolls of papyrus," contained the sacred record kept of Joseph in Pharaoh's Court in Egypt, and the teachings of Father Abraham. God has so ordered it that these mummies and writings have been brought in the church, and the sacred writing I had just locked up in Brother Joseph's house when your letter came, so I had two consolations of good things in one day. These records of old times, when we translate and print them in a book, will make a good witness for the Book of Mormon. There is nothing secret or hidden that  shall not be revealed, and they come to the Saints....
Forever yours,
W.W. Phelps

[From Joseph Smith to Sally Phelps (spelling standardized):]

Sister Phelps as Brother Phelps has given me an opportunity in his letter...
...you may rest with a firm reliance that God will so order it that you may not be separated [from W.W. Phelps] only but for a short season, and then your joy will be full, and if faithful he will return and teach you things that have been hid from the wise and prudent, hidden things of old times, as Moses said in Deut. 33rd chapter, 19th verse, "for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas and of the treasures hid in the sand. Some of these things have begun to come forth, therefore lift up your heart and be glad...
J. Smith Jr.

1 Leah Y. Phelps, "Genealogy. Letters of Faith From Kirtland," Improvement Era 45/8 (August 1942):529; see also, Bruce A. Van Orden, "Writing to Zion: the William W. Phelps Kirtland Letters (1835-1836)," BYU Studies 33/3 (1993):542-593, esp. see 548, 554-556; for a better image and transcript of the letter from Joseph to Sally, see "Letter to Sally Waterman Phelps, 20 July 1835," Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 17, 2016, http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-sally-waterman-phelps-20-july-1835/1?highlight=sally%20phelps 

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