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Proofs of the Book of Abraham?

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Human Sacrifice in the Book of Abraham

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/2671/Kerry5.html

by Kerry Shirts

In Abraham 1:7, Abraham complains that his relatives tried to have him sacrificed to their gods. In this essay I wanted to make a few quick comments on some historical sources that shed light on the historicity of this particular aspect of the Book of Abraham.

In the days of Terah, we are told that people began to sacrifice their children and to worship images. It was in the days of Serug, Abraham's great-grandfather, that the people began to look upon the stars, and prognosticate by them and to make divination, and to make their sons and daughters pass through the fire. (Nibley - "The Unknown Abraham" in the "Improvement Era", Feb. 1969 - quoting "Philo's Biblical Antiquities".) Another source says "Serug is said to have discovered the art of coining gold and silver money. In his days men erected many idols into which demons entered and wrought great signs by them." (Rev. S. Baring Gould, "Legends of the Patriarchs and Prophets", John B. Alden, 1884, p. 147). So here they were, as the BofA reports "offering up their children unto their dumb idols." (Abr 1:7) with Abraham protesting and nearly getting himself in serious trouble. Nimrod's sacrifice of 70,000 babies may well be an echo of the practice and have nothing to do with Herod. This idea of Nibley's is confirmed in S. Baring Gould's book again, on p. 170 where Nimrod, after seeing the star in the East devour the other stars at Abraham's birth, is said to have built a huge tower and housed all the pregnant women in it. He killed 70,000 male babies and left the females alive. This is very much in line with the information presented in the BofA by Joseph Smith. Children were being sacrificed! That is historic ritual, we might say. S. Baring Gould also notes the other idea that Abraham was against - "At this time idolatry was commonly practised by all." (p. 177). The BofA says this also. Joseph Smith is exactly accurate on these points according to both of these legends (which he couldn't have known about), as well as what is known of the history of Abraham's time.

Classical writers have described Egyptian sacrificial rites as witnessed in various lands. What is so very interesting is that in Ethiopia, Achilles Tatius reports, a virgin with hands bound behind was led around an altar by a priest chanting an Egyptian hymn; then "all retired from the altar at a distance," the maiden was tied down, and a sword was first plunged into her heart and then her lower abdomen was slashed from side to side. The remains were burned, cut to pieces, and eaten. (Nibley, "IE", Feb. 1969). Note also that Robert Graves in his "Greek Myths" says that among the Scythian Taurians "a princely stranger ... is killed with a sword by the goddess' virgin priestess; and she throws the corpse into the sacred fire." (Vol. 2, p. 74, 77). We know, thanks to the earlier labors of Dr. Jos. L. Saalschutz that "Aristomenes von Messene opfert dem Jupiter dreihundert Menschen, unter welchen sich Theopompous, der lacedamonische Konig befand. Dergleichen geschah in den altesten Zeiten bei den Lustrationen und Expiationen haufig.

Ausserdem hatte Bachus einen Altar in Arkadien, auf wlechem sehr viel junge Madchen mit zusammengebundenen Ruthen so lange gebauen wurden, bis sie starben. Die Lacedamonier hatten einen ahnlichen Gebrauch, indem sie ihre Kinder zur Ehre der Diana Orthia so sehr geisselten, dass sie bisweilen ihr Leben einbussten." ("Archaologie der Hebraer", 1855, p. 180). Here again we see the same theme, the maidens and children offered for sacrifice and in no small measure!

The Pseudo-Plutarch tells how the first Pharoah in bad years was ordered by the oracle to sacrifice his own daughter and in grief threw himself in the Nile (Nibley, Feb. 1969). Heliodorus explained that the Egyptians of the late period selected their sacrificial virgins from among people of non-Egyptian birth, the rule being the men were sacrificed to the sun, women to the moon, and virgins to Osiris, equated here to Bacchus. This is precisely and exactly what we read of in Abr. 1:9! Here the girls are plainly meant as consorts of the god, in the usual ritual marriage of the year-rite, common to Egypt and Syria. Indeed, in a legend we learn that Nimrod's own daughter Radha fell in love with Abraham and tried to come to him in the sacrificial fire! The name is interesting since Rodha, Rhodopis, is a name popularly given to the Sphinx in late times, which was the Egyptians sacred hierodule. And Alan Gardiner reminds us that from the 21st dynasty onwards, the title "God's wife", formerly reserved for the Pharoah's wife, was "transferred to his daughter who became the consecrated wife of the Theban god and to whom human intercourse was strictly forbidden." (Gardiner "Egypt of the Pharoahs", p. 343). This was the line of virgin priestesses which enjoyed a royalty line at Thebes. So here we have the august virgins of the royal line set apart as spouses of the god, and as such, expected to engage in those activities which would make them ritual hierodules. Strabo says that the Egyptians sacrificed the fairest princess, a virgin of the royal line, to be a hierodule until her physical purification, after which she could marry. Here is a plain indication that such princesses "of the royal descent" as described in Abraham 1:11, were expected to jeopardize their virtue, and if they refused to do so they would forcibly be dispatched in the manner of the hierodules. Wainwright says the ladies represent the spirit of fertility, an adulteress is one in whom this spirit is emphatically incarnate. In the annual year rites, Wainwright explains that royal princesses, even the queen herself, were expected to function as courtesans. In short, as Joseph Smith's marvelous BofA says after the manner of the Egyptians, royal princesses were sacrificed both for their virtue and their lives on ritual occassions. (Wainwright - "The Egyptian Sky Religion", pp. 55, 89).

In other words, the historicity and ritual aspects of the first chapter of the BofA dealing with virgins who are chaste and so are sacrificed, the idolatry and wickedness of sacrifices unauthorized is exactly and precisely correct. Abr. 1:9-11 is strictly historically correct in each and every sense of the word.

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You have proven that there were legends about Abraham which are echoed in the BOA. This is hardly new. Why do you assume that Joseph Smith never heard these legends? Most Biblical scholars do not believe Abraham was a historic figure. And if similar legebds appear in different sources (whether by coincidence or by copying) they do not somehow make it more likely that Abraham was a hostoric figure.

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Most Biblical scholars do not believe Abraham was a historic figure.

Is that true?

I wonder.

I realize that there are a number of biblical scholars who deny or at least doubt the historicity of Abraham, but I've never seen any survey or statistics indicating that a majority reject it. I'm inclined to think it unlikely that they do.

Do you have a source for your claim?

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I'm reeling. My entire worldview is tumbling down like a house of cards. How could I have been so foolish? How could I have been so blind? What was I thinking?

Oh....that's right. The book of abraham has been thoroughly debunked. The papyri that smith pretended to translate has been analyzed by REAL egyptologists. In fact, the first egyptiologist to look at the papyri was handpicked by none other than the famous Hugh Nibley himself. Unfortunately for Hugh, every reputable egyptologist (including the LDS egyptologist that Nibley himself picked) have stated that the papyri rediscovered in 1967 bear absolutely no resemblance to the fantasy Smith concocted and named "the book of Abraham". Egyptologists consistently and repeatedly recognize the papyri as common funerary texts, known as the book of breathings.

But wait! The papyri that exist now aren't the papyri that Smith translated!

Sorry, that dog won't hunt (as is a popular saying 'round dees parts). That hypothesis has ALSO been thoroughly debunked in Charles Larson's "By his own hand upon papyrus". In fact, so thoroughly, and I mean THOROUGHLY does Larson expose the BoA as a fraud that attempts at making vague connections to known historic events to prove the BoA authentic are downright laughable. Before you go looking for chaismus, or doing wordprint studies, or trying to morph Smith's "egyptian" words into real egyptian words, or any peripheral "evidence" of authenticity, ya gotta deal with the papyri. Otherwise you're just polishing the chrome on the titanic.

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I'm glad that MC can have such a simplistic world view and yet stil be able to hold down a job.

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The book of abraham has been thoroughly debunked.  The papyri that smith pretended to translate has been analyzed by REAL egyptologists.  In fact, the first egyptiologist to look at the papyri was handpicked by none other than the famous Hugh Nibley himself.  Unfortunately for Hugh, every reputable egyptologist (including  the  LDS egyptologist that Nibley himself picked) have stated that the papyri rediscovered in 1967 bears absolutely no resemblance to the fantasy Smith concocted and named "the book of Abraham".  Egyptologists consistently and repeatedly recognize the papyri as common funerary texts, known as the book of breathings. 

You wouldn't -- oh please please let it be true! -- happen to have the late Professor Dr. Dr. Dee Jay Nelson in mind when you allude to that "reputable . . . LDS egyptologist [sic]" who was "handpicked" by Hugh Nibley? Would you? (Please say that you do!) Is he the one you're lionizing while, at the same time, implicitly dismissing not only Nibley (postdoctoral studies in Egyptology at the University of Chicago) but Michael Rhodes (graduate studies in Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University and the Freie Universit

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I was wondering which tactic you'd decide to use. At least by choosing character assassination you'll be keeping in line with the proud tradition of Mormon apologetics. Maybe you could throw in a few anecdotes about the Tanners, AKA "The Embodiment of Pure Evil."

I thought maybe you'd try something more entertaining, like Nibley's own personal favorite BoA defense: "We don't really know anything about Egyptology anyway, so disregard anything so-called Egyptologists say about this here papyrus." I WOULD use Nibley as an authority, but I think it would be a little odd to use an expert who claims that experts in his field are irrelevant and can't be trusted to translate Egyptian with any degree of certainty.

But with respect to Dr Nelson, swing away Brother Peterson, swing away. If Nelson was the only Egyptologist who determined the BoA papyri to be common funerary texts, you might be doing some good for your cause by attacking his character.

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Most Biblical scholars do not believe Abraham was a historic figure.

Is that true?

I wonder.

I realize that there are a number of biblical scholars who deny or at least doubt the historicity of Abraham, but I've never seen any survey or statistics indicating that a majority reject it. I'm inclined to think it unlikely that they do.

Do you have a source for your claim?

I agree with Daniel Peterson, 100% (on this issue).

I think Louis is certainly obligated to produce the evidence to support his claim that most Bible scholars regard Abraham as myth.

If he can produce legitimate statistics he will begin to lend some credibility to his posts. Otherwise, reader beware.

Paul O

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Sorry, that dog won't hunt (as is a popular saying 'round dees parts). That hypothesis has ALSO been thoroughly debunked in Charles Larson's "By his own hand upon papyrus". In fact, so thoroughly, and I mean THOROUGHLY does Larson expose the BoA as a fraud that attempts at making vague connections to known historic events to prove the BoA authentic are downright laughable. Before you go looking for chaismus, or doing wordprint studies, or trying to morph Smith's "egyptian" words into real egyptian words, or any peripheral "evidence" of authenticity, ya gotta deal with the papyri. Otherwise you're just polishing the chrome on the titanic.

Egyptologists can

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Why do you assume that Joseph Smith never heard these legends?

Why do you assume he did?

One wearies of claims amounting to nothing more than naysaying which presuppose sources' availability where there is no evidence of their availability to JSJr. or anybody he knew before 1830.

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We can assume that Joseph Smith had not heard of most of the legends because we know when they were first published in various languages. All of this information is available from Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham, ed. John A Tvedtnes, Brian M. Hauglid, and John Gee (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2001).

1500s 4 Ezra English

1500s Judith English

1544 Anonymous Work French

1544 Artapanus French

1544 Eupolemus French

1544 Orphica French

1544 Philo the Epic Poet French

1602 Josephus English

1734 Qur

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I was wondering which tactic you'd decide to use.  At least by choosing character assassination you'll be keeping in line with the proud tradition of Mormon apologetics.  Maybe you could throw in a few anecdotes about the Tanners, AKA "The Embodiment of Pure Evil."

Ah yes. The character-assassinating insinuation that all we "apologists" do is assassinate character.

But with respect to Dr Nelson, swing away Brother Peterson, swing away.  If Nelson was the only Egyptologist who determined the BoA papyri to be common funerary texts, you might be doing some good for your cause by attacking his character.

Here's a clue, M. LeCurelom: Your respectable Egyptologist Dee Jay Nelson wasn't an Egyptologist at all, and his two doctorates were fraudulent. You can turn that into an assault on his character if you wish, and you can blame me, the messenger. But you were the one who cited him as somehow authoritative.

A useful study of the late "Professor" "Dr." "Dr." Nelson's illustrious career can be found at

http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/liw/liwv1.html

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The reason I posted this is that I was reading in Abraham last night and had my interest piqued by the reference of the three virgins being sacrificed after the manner of the Egyptians. So, I began researching Egyptian sacrifice and found the statement I pasted in the first post. I got me to wondering how on earth Joseph would be familiar with those ancient gods and the manner of Egyptian sacrifice? I don't think he would have had a clue or would have included such detail on his own.

The whole idea an uneducated young man in that time managed to create the entire Book of Mormon history, with its place names, history, government, religion, etc., and the Book of Moses, and the Book of Abraham, and the D&C is just ludicrous. Divine guidance was there, period.

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Are there any non-lds egyptologists who have reviewed the papyri found in the 60s and concluded that they are anything more than funeral text ceremoinies?

Have any non-lds egyptologists reviewed the BoA inscriptions and reached the same conclusion that the lds claim?

I can't remember, but somewhere I thought Nibley studied under a well known egyptologist who had reviewed both the above and had concluded that they had nothing to do with what the lds church claims. Does this sound right?

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But with respect to Dr Nelson, swing away Brother Peterson, swing away.  If Nelson was the only Egyptologist who determined the BoA papyri to be common funerary texts, you might be doing some good for your cause by attacking his character.

Actually, it was Hugh Nibley who pointed out that not all the papyri were just Book of the Dead documents.

I thought maybe you'd try something more entertaining, like Nibley's own personal favorite BoA defense: "We don't really know anything about Egyptology anyway, so disregard anything so-called Egyptologists say about this here papyrus."

I have read Nibley's works extensively and I have never seen him use this argument although Charles Larson claims that he does. Nibley has both a helathy respect for Egyptology and for its limitations.

Nibley instead asks that if a translation of a text makes no sense, in what sense can it be said to be translated. To give an example, take Book of the Dead 5 in the translations of various Egyptologists.

Egyptologist A: "I am the glutton of the Torpid Ones, who came forth from Hermopolis. Mine is every soul, and I live on the baboon's entrails."

Egyptologist B: "It is I who lift up the arm of Him who is inert; I have gone out of Hermopolis, I am a living soul, I have been initiated into the hearts of the baboons."

Egyptologist C: "Ich bin es, der die 'M

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DCP said: (Is that a target on your back, M. LeCurelom? Bummer of a birthmark.)

==Wow! You are quite an afficianado of The Far Side.

38m.jpg

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Are there any non-lds egyptologists who have reviewed the papyri found in the 60s and concluded that they are anything more than funeral text ceremoinies?

What do you mean by "funeral text ceremonies"? Do you mean ceremonial texts used in the funeral? J. F. Champollion made that claim, which was denied in turn by R. Lepsius. As far as I can tell, there is still no universal agreement among Egyptologists as to what either the Book of the Dead or the Document of Breathings Made by Isis are. They only agree that they are often found on mummies (but they are also found in temples and tombs).

Have any non-lds egyptologists reviewed the BoA inscriptions and reached the same conclusion that the lds claim?

What do the LDS claim? To the best of my knowledge, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no official position on the issue. According to a survey here most LDS claim that Joseph Smith got the Book of Abraham from direct inspiration and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the papyri; some LDS claim that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from papyri that he had but we do not. Apparently only a small minority believe that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from papyri documents currently in the possession of the Church. Oddly enough, it is this minority position that is put forward as the LDS position by most critics.

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Critics always get so excited about the external evidences (or lack thereof) that they never bother to consider the internal qualities.

While I am not an Egyptologist, and therefore rely solely upon the observations of such competent scholars as those mentioned previously by Dan for an understanding of the facsimiles, I can comment on the internal content of the Book of Abraham; in my humble opinion, the book has many internal qualities that suggest a strong literary connection with the ancient Semitic world.

The Book of Abraham refers to multiple deities involved in the creation of the earth:

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I am not going to buy into this parrallomania as i find it unneccesary. I think the source of the BOA Smith pretended was from the BOB. Little did some guy called Hor know what his body with its accompanying papyri would cause so many centuries later. Its interesting how much of the BOA shows the influence of Smith's hebrew studies.

Also i have my own theory of BOM geography called the LPT (the limited Puffin theory). Evidence of Mormons living off the Atlantic seaboard of the US.

www.abirdshome.com/Audubon/VolVII/00764.html

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I am not going to buy into this parrallomania as i find it unneccesary.

Noel Brother!!!!! Did you read your thread? You're going to be famous, as I know at least one FARMS Insights is gonna come from it! :P

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I am not sure what you mean? If you mean your thread about the the BOM not reading the same as the Bible. The Bible shows many flawed people even the heroes, Samson, David and Jonah. The characters in the BOM look very wooden. Sexual flaws of many in the OT become their downfall. How much mention of sex in the BOM. Does it mention anyone "knowing" anyone? Does anyone struggle with God like Jonah did?

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The Bible shows many flawed people even the heroes, Samson, David and Jonah. The characters in the BOM look very wooden. Sexual flaws of many in the OT become their downfall. How much mention of sex in the BOM. Does it mention anyone "knowing" anyone? Does anyone struggle with God like Jonah did?

I don't KNOW!! You probably got me on the sex part, but I appreciate the challenge. :P

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I think the source of the BOA Smith pretended was from the BOB.

Thank you for your insightful mind-reading. I am interested in knowing how you read the mind of someone who has been dead for 160 years.

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Guest johnny_cat

Hmmm. There's a bit of a focus on sex when Corianton goes after the "harlot Isabel."

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