Currently Robert Ritner, Renowned Egyptologist, is in the midst of a multi part interview with John Dehlin and Radio Free Mormon. Two parts are done and another 1 or 2 are proposed and should be published in the next day or so. The moderators here seem to dislike such links so you will need to find on your own unless someone assures me they are safe to share.
Prof. Ritner goes through in parts one and two every facet of the Book of Abraham Story and then they slow way down and go meticulously through Facsimile 1 and 2 and 3 (some of this will be further covered in part 3 and maybe 4)
Three things happen that make this series a a important part of the BOA conversation.
1.) He goes through and compares all of the Mormon/Joseph Smith assertions regarding the facsimiles and a deep discussion regarding their accuracy is discussed with perhaps two vague kinda hits and about 200 misses with the Egyptological background given to explain each in detail
2.) They go through the proposed "evidence" given by apologists and completely decimate it giving the Egyptological evidence to help contextualize the assertions with the data.
3.) They go through whether John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein are being intellectually honest and Ritner shows on numerous occasions that these two are not being intellectually honest as they present the data.
Radio Free Mormon and Bill Reel did a multi part series on the Book of Abraham as well which I think covers the issue well for an entry level dive into why the BOA is a rabbit hole of problems. Again not sharing here as it seems not welcome to do so.
Now to my point
One of the big pieces of data to come of of the conversation is that each facsimile was its own separate document unrelated and entirely disconnected from the others. They each were with their own mummy and that only in the 1800's did the purchaser Michael Chandler or someone slightly before or after (AKA Joseph Smith) grouped the documents together and treated them as interconnected. To the degree that each document is missing parts and pieces of the drawing on the facsimiles and that Joseph Smith in re-creating those partial drawing to complete them borrows from the other drawing images that simply don't belong on the document they are added to. Bill Reel on his Social Media this morning said it this way
"It is as if you took a Walmart receipt and a Burger King Receipt and claimed they came from the same document (and an unrelated document at that such as a manual for building a bicycle especially in light of Joseph Smith using characters of one to fill in missing parts of the other and getting them wrong)"
QUESTION: The interview generally and this point specifically seems to completely decimate the Book of Abraham as an ancient Document. If Ritner is right about 20% of what he says there are serious issues with an ancient interpretation that make such essentially absurd. How can we then still arrive at an ancient document when so many mental hurdles must be overcome?
And the catalyst theory while still viable has the position needing to retreat so far to allow for the evidence and data so as to be indistinguishable from a fraud. And if a faithful interpretation is indistinguishable from a fraud, why not just skip the mental gymnastics and just go with the most rational conclusion that it is just fictional psedupigripha created as a deception? (Because that conclusion requires no mental gymnastics)