Next in the roll of Horos is a vignette that we know as Facsimile 1. The facsimiles from the Book of Abraham are three illustrations floating like islands in the sea of thousands of pages of words in our scriptures; hence they draw interest. Despite that interest, there is no emphasis put on them in the church. Of the current curriculum materials, Facsimile 1 is mentioned only once, in an optional enrichment activity in a lesson for eight- through eleven-year-olds. Facsimile 2 has been mentioned only once in general conferences of the church in the last sixty-five years. I cannot help but wonder if the critics attack the facsimiles because they are relatively insignificant in the church.
The facsimiles, like all vignettes, present a number of challenges, and it is worth remembering a few things about (1) the placement of vignettes, (2) the drawing of vignettes, and (3) the identification of figures on vignettes.
(1) With regard to the placement of vignettes, I will provide a number of quotations from Egyptologists about Late Period documents in general and Ptolemaic texts in particular. The list is lengthy because it is a common thing, but everyone seems to want to treat the Joseph Smith Papyri as a special exception to a general rule, and I do not think we should do so. From Malcolm Mosher, who specializes in Late Period religious texts: "In documents from the 21st Dynasty on, misalignment of the text and vignette of a spell can occur, with the text preceding the vignette, or vice versa." "While this type of problem can be observed sporadically from the late New Kingdom on, it is more common in the Late Period." "The problem is particularly acute where more spells are textually represented for such a group than there are vignettes. . . . It can be difficult to determine which spells have a vignette and which do not." "A similar problem to misalignment frequently encountered in Late documents is where the vignette for a particular spell is associated with the wrong text and the correct text is not found in the document." From Henk Milde, probably the foremost authority on papyrus vignettes: "Unfortunately, the connection between text and picture is not always clear cut." "One has to take into account at least the following difficulties in vignette research, that are here placed in eight categories. . . . 1. Spatial discrepancy between text and vignette. . . . 2. Incorrect combination of text and vignette in the original. . . . 3. Incorrect combination of text and vignette in studies and editions of the Book of the Dead. . . . 4. Unclear relation between text and vignette. . . . 5. Transfer or omission of pictorial elements. . . . 6. Emendation of the picture. . . . 7. Combination and contamination of pictorial elements of different vignettes. . . . 8. Conglomeration of texts under a vignette." From Jean-Claude Goyon, who has published so many Late Period Papyri: The vignettes "often do not have but a very distant connection with the discussion written beneath." From Marc ƒtienne, of the Louvre: "The vignettes do not always correspond to the chapters which the text prescribes." This is particularly the case in Documents of Breathings Made by Isis: "The relation between the vignettes and the text is not straightforward. . . . The vignettes are not meant to illustrate the contents of the composition." In other words, the vignettes in the Document of Breathings Made by Isis usually do not match the text and may not even belong to it. This would explain why "the vignette of the P. Joseph Smith I" represents "new themes and contain[s] a variety of unique features."The vignette in P. Joseph Smith I is, in fact, unique. After looking at vignettes in thousands of documents from the Saite period on, I have not found any exact match or anything really very close.
(2) Furthermore, in vignettes from the Ptolemaic period, "the genders of the various figures are often incorrect. . . . The genders of priests and deities are occasionally confused."
(3) Finally, I wish to mention something about the perils of identifying iconography in vignettes. The bulk of iconographic study in Egyptology is based on New Kingdom material, and there is a danger in applying such iconographic experience to Ptolemaic materials from a millennium later. For instance, in the New Kingdom, a jackal-headed figure might be Anubis, but in the Ptolemaic period, jackal-headed figures might be Osiris, or Shesmu, or Isdes, or the Khetiu, while Anubis might have a human or lion head.
Egyptologists, and many others, point to parallels in the roof chapels of the Dendara Temple as parallels for Facsimile 1. There are over forty lion couch scenes in these chapels, most of which are labeled as local variants of the same scene. What the critics do not do, however, is read the inscriptions. In the Dendara texts, the word for the lion couch, nm.t, is either homophonous or identical with the word nm.t, "abattoir, slaughterhouse," as well as a term for "offerings." This is picked up in the inscriptions. For example, in the central scene in the innermost eastern chapel, we read, "He will not exist nor will his name exist, since you will destroy his town, cast down the walls of his house, and everyone who is in it will be set on fire, you will demolish his district, you will stab his confederates, his flesh being ashes, the evil conspirator consigned to the lion couch / slaughterhouse, so that he will no longer exist." In another scene, Bastet (who is not pictured) "is your protection every day; she has commanded her messengers to slaughter your enemies." Symmetrical with this scene we have another scene with a broken inscription that mentions "ashes" and continues, "to burn his flesh with fire." So here we have both a scene and descriptions that parallel the Book of Abraham. Furthermore, in the same chapel we have depictions of Anubis and the sons of Horus (presumably the figures under the lion couch in Facsimile 1) holding knives. Anubis is here identified as the one "who smites the adversaries with his might, since the knife is in his hand, to expel the one who treads in transgression; I am the violent one who came forth from god, after having cut off the heads of the confederates of him whose name is evil." The human-headed son of Horus is identified above his head as "the one who repulses enemies" and "who comes tearing out (šd) the enemies who butchers (tḫs) the sinners." The baboon-headed son of Horus says: "I have slaughtered those who create injuries in the house of God in his presence; I take away the breath from his nostrils." The jackal-headed son of Horus says: "I cause the hostile foreigners to retreat." Finally, the falcon-headed son of Horus says: "I have removed rebellion (ḥ3y)." So the inscriptions from Dendara associate the lion couch scene with the sacrificial slaughter of enemies. Nor are they the only depictions of lion couch scenes to do so. A papyrus in Berlin, for example, contains instructions that it is "to stab (or cut) your disobedient ones, to sacrifice your apostates, to overthrow your enemies every day." "May your flames shoot out against your enemies each and every day so that you remain while your adversaries are overthrown." Another frequently occurring lion couch scene contains the description "the lords of truth . . . cause the sacrifice of the evildoers." This is interpreted as being either "Seth and Isdes" (a knife-wielding jackal-headed deity), or "Sobek (a deity usually depicted as a crocodile), who is in the water." The Sons of Horus, "Imseti, Hapi, Duamutef, and Qebehsenuef," are described as forming "the council around (or behind) Osiris who cause the sacrifice of the evildoers" by "placing knives into the evil doers" and "incinerating the souls of the evil-doers." They are said to be "put in place by Anubis." Excluding a sacrificial dimension to lion couch scenes is un-Egyptian, even if we cannot come up with one definitive reading at this time.
Edited by Pedro A. Olavarria, 26 October 2011 - 10:35 AM.