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Location Of Book Of Abraham Facsimiles


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Right up front, I want to say that I'm up-to-date on maybe 3% of the Book of Abraham research, so I apologize if 50 other people have already said this.

I'm aware that there is a controversy because one (at least) of the existing facsimiles was apparently attached to the Book of Breathings scroll. Yet, the Book of Abraham in 1:14 says, "I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning," presumably referring to the beginning of the scroll that the Book of Abraham is written upon.

Helix in another thread points out that Nibley pointed out that "vignettes frequently refer to text on completely different rolls." That's all well and good, but of course the BoA actually says that at least one of them is at the beginning of that roll.

Or does it?

The heading of the BoA says, "... written by his own hand, upon papyrus..." It has often been explained that while Abraham may have written the original copy of the BoA (or perhaps a scribe, but that's a whole 'nuther topic), the scroll that Joseph Smith had was almost certainly a copy, not the original. Thus, Abraham did actually write that original scroll "by his own hand", but the copyist who made Joseph Smith's copy would have retained Abraham's original statement.

Regarding the facsimiles, the copyist likewise would have copied verbatim 1:14, stating that the drawing was at the "beginning", even if they had actually been placed somewhere else, such as on a different roll.

Thus, I see that any argument that the Book of Abraham text must have been the text that actually contains the Book of Breathings is weak at best, because there is nothing that requires that both the Book of Abraham text and the associated drawings were on the same roll.

Indeed, Joseph Smith indicated that there was a great deal more Abraham material in his possession, and, IIRC, some Joseph material as well. If that was all written on one roll, it is quite possible that all that text exhausted the space available on the roll of papyrus. The Book of Breathings, being a fairly short text, quite possibly had room left over, so the copyist simply copied the drawings where he had space for them, which was on the Book of Breathings roll.

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If my memory serves me well, William Schryver pointed out that this particular phrasing in Abraham 1:14 has apparently undergone a wording change. If I remember right, the other wording didn't refer to the illustration at the "beginning", but instead mentioned the illustration's location with the phrase "that lies before you".

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If my memory serves me well, William Schryver pointed out that this particular phrasing in Abraham 1:14 has apparently undergone a wording change. If I remember right, the other wording didn't refer to the illustration at the "beginning", but instead mentioned the illustration's location with the phrase "that lies before you".

It's actually the phrasing in Abr. 1:12 that was altered in both the Williams and Parrish KEP manuscripts. It seems as though there was some confusion about how to refer to the illustration in terms of its relationship to the text itself.

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It's actually the phrasing in Abr. 1:12 that was altered in both the Williams and Parrish KEP manuscripts. It seems as though there was some confusion about how to refer to the illustration in terms of its relationship to the text itself.

That's quite interesting. That doesn't strike me as something you would find in a forgery, but is does stike me as something that you would find in a genuine translation from another language.

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Regarding my original point, I note that the copy of the BoA on the Church's web site does not have a "representation at the commencement of this record", even though that is what the text on the web site says. The "representation" is actually on a completely different web page. I think this illustrates the principle that someone making a copy of the BoA could quite reasonably have put the "representations" somewhere other than where the text says that they should be located.

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That's quite interesting. That doesn't strike me as something you would find in a forgery, but is does stike me as something that you would find in a genuine translation from another language.

I tend to agree with your observation. I also think that this is something that would be consistent with the theory that neither Joseph Smith nor his scribes were certain as to the actual origin of the "translation" of the Book of Abraham. In other words, if Joseph Smith had received the "translation" via revelation, he may have not necessarily have known which Egyptian text on the papyri corresponded to the revelation he had received via the Urim and Thummim. And therefore it is not unreasonable to suppose that he may have assumed that it was the text immediately adjacent to the illustration we know as Facsimile #1. And, as John Gee noted in his most recent address at the FAIR conference, it was not unusual in Egyptian funerary scrolls to find illustrations misplaced in terms of their correspondence to the actual text.

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That's quite interesting. That doesn't strike me as something you would find in a forgery, but is does stike me as something that you would find in a genuine translation from another language.

I'm unclear what you're insinuating here. Has someone suggested that the KEP are forgeries? I thought the arguments were wether they were concurrently scribed translations or copies of one another and wether the characters were added later to the english text.

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I'm unclear what you're insinuating here. Has someone suggested that the KEP are forgeries? I thought the arguments were wether they were concurrently scribed translations or copies of one another and wether the characters were added later to the english text.

What I was referring to is the "anti-Mormon" position on the Book of Abraham that Joseph Smith invented the book out of whole cloth. I.E., that the book is a forgery. My observation is that bobbling around between "that lies before you" and "at the commencement of this record" sounds to me like two valid translations of the same text in a language that is quite different from English. Whereas, if the Book of Abraham were a forgery, that doesn't seem like something that he would fiddle around with.

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What I was referring to is the "anti-Mormon" position on the Book of Abraham that Joseph Smith invented the book out of whole cloth. I.E., that the book is a forgery. My observation is that bobbling around between "that lies before you" and "at the commencement of this record" sounds to me like two valid translations of the same text in a language that is quite different from English. Whereas, if the Book of Abraham were a forgery, that doesn't seem like something that he would fiddle around with.

These two BoA verses are only one small piece of a very complicated tapestry of evidence indicating that the BoA was derived from the fragment known as PJS XI.

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These two BoA verses are only one small piece of a very complicated tapestry of evidence indicating that the BoA was derived from the fragment known as PJS XI.

OK, you've piqued my curiosity. What is "PJS XI", and what do recent translations say that it says? Also, where did it come from, and where is it, and how did it get there?

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I think the BoA issues are very problematic.

I could totally accept that the BoA was in another non-extant roll or even that it wasn't there at all and God allowed JS to believe that it was there so he would have the faith or power or whatever to receive the inspired translation if (and this is the kicker) the facsimiles had never been translated and included.

I think the entire case of the BoA really rests on whether or not the facsimiles are translated correctly. I can even accept that perhaps the redactors who associated the drawings with the text interpreted them as JS's translation even though they may have had other possible Egyptian meaning. Although I think thats a real stretch.

As Gee points out (IIRC): Let A = the way JS translated the facsimiles, Let B = the way modern Egyptologists translate them, Let C = the correct translation. If we assume B=C then A <> C but if we assume that A=C then B <> C. Add one more and Let D = the way the redactors interpreted the drawings and if A = D then we have no problem. Now we just have to solve for D. Good Luck

Class dismissed.

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I think the entire case of the BoA really rests on whether or not the facsimiles are translated correctly. I can even accept that perhaps the redactors who associated the drawings with the text interpreted them as JS's translation even though they may have had other possible Egyptian meaning. Although I think thats a real stretch.

My take is that there is a great deal of other evidence that the BoA text is authentic Abraham literature. For example, google "Apocalypse of Abraham", read it, and then tell me that the AoA and BoA don't originate from the same source.

The "slam dunk" is this catagory is the FARMS research project that resulted in the book Traditions About the Early Life of Abraham. The researchers first went through the Book of Abraham and identified every theme that appeared in the book that does not appear in the Bible. IIRC, they identified over 100 such themes. They then went searching for untranslated works about Abraham, and found quite a number of them. Studying these works, they found that every single one of the BoA themes they'd identified were to be found in these works, most of them many, many times.

In my personal opinion, it is now incontrovertable that the text of the Book of Abraham was translated from a genuine ancient record about Abraham.

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My take is that there is a great deal of other evidence that the BoA text is authentic Abraham literature. For example, google "Apocalypse of Abraham", read it, and then tell me that the AoA and BoA don't originate from the same source.

The "slam dunk" is this catagory is the FARMS research project that resulted in the book Traditions About the Early Life of Abraham. The researchers first went through the Book of Abraham and identified every theme that appeared in the book that does not appear in the Bible. IIRC, they identified over 100 such themes. They then went searching for untranslated works about Abraham, and found quite a number of them. Studying these works, they found that every single one of the BoA themes they'd identified were to be found in these works, most of them many, many times.

In my personal opinion, it is now incontrovertable that the text of the Book of Abraham was translated from a genuine ancient record about Abraham.

Sounds like a good idea. I'll read both the google hits and the FARMS info. Thanks.

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As Gee points out (IIRC): Let A = the way JS translated the facsimiles, Let B = the way modern Egyptologists translate them, Let C = the correct translation. If we assume B=C then A <> C but if we assume that A=C then B <> C. Add one more and Let D = the way the redactors interpreted the drawings and if A = D then we have no problem. Now we just have to solve for D. Good Luck

Class dismissed.

Why would we assume that hypothetical early roman period/late ptolemaic period redactors would interpret the facsimiles as pertaining to Abraham, and yet place them in Hor's copy of the Book of Breathings in the places they would ordinarily be found in a copy of the Book of Breathings?

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the text of the Book of Abraham is not to be found on PJS X, PJS XI, or PJS I. I would suggest though that neither are the representation of the bedstead altar or the figures of the gods that are mentioned in the Book of Abraham, because the text accompanying the facsimiles has nothing to do with Abraham's story, and I'm not aware of any evidence that would suggest that Egyptian scribes at that late time would happen to regard the funeral documents they prepared for one particular dead guy as illustrating scenes from Abraham's life as (we presume were) written on another scroll, rather than "spells" to assure the association of the deceased with the gods, etc.

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OK, you've piqued my curiosity. What is "PJS XI", and what do recent translations say that it says? Also, where did it come from, and where is it, and how did it get there?

PJS XI is the fragment that immediately followed facsimile 1 on the Book of Breathings roll. It gives instructions for burying the Book of Breathings with the body of the deceased. You can read a basic primer on the evidence connecting this fragment with the BoA here:

http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/BOA/BOA_5.html

In any case, the missing roll theory doesn't account for things like the mistranslation of the characters above the figures' heads in facsimile 3 or the document in the KEP that gives information about one Princess Katumin and indicates that it is a "translation of the next page" (where we find characters from Amenophis' Book of the Dead). If JS didn't produce a conventional translation of those characters, why should we presume that he did so with the Book of Abraham?

There's more, but it will wait for another day.

-CK

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PJS XI is the fragment that immediately followed facsimile 1 on the Book of Breathings roll. It gives instructions for burying the Book of Breathings with the body of the deceased. You can read a basic primer on the evidence connecting this fragment with the BoA here:

http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/BOA/BOA_5.html

In any case, the missing roll theory doesn't account for things like the mistranslation of the characters above the figures' heads in facsimile 3 or the document in the KEP that gives information about one Princess Katumin and indicates that it is a "translation of the next page" (where we find characters from Amenophis' Book of the Dead). If JS didn't produce a conventional translation of those characters, why should we presume that he did so with the Book of Abraham?

There's more, but it will wait for another day.

-CK

So why can't you believe that the KEP & facsimile explanations were a speculative attempt to understand the written Egyptian language and vignettes after the text of the Book of Abraham had already been "translated" through the gift and power of God?

Also, I noticed on the page you linked to, some of the characters from PJS XI drawn in the margin of the paper with the text from the BOA are labeled as "invented" because they weren't on the papyri. Couldn't they have flaked off of the papyri later, after being read and copied in Kirtland?

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Why would we assume that hypothetical early roman period/late ptolemaic period redactors would interpret the facsimiles as pertaining to Abraham, and yet place them in Hor's copy of the Book of Breathings in the places they would ordinarily be found in a copy of the Book of Breathings?

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the text of the Book of Abraham is not to be found on PJS X, PJS XI, or PJS I. I would suggest though that neither are the representation of the bedstead altar or the figures of the gods that are mentioned in the Book of Abraham, because the text accompanying the facsimiles has nothing to do with Abraham's story, and I'm not aware of any evidence that would suggest that Egyptian scribes at that late time would happen to regard the funeral documents they prepared for one particular dead guy as illustrating scenes from Abraham's life as (we presume were) written on another scroll, rather than "spells" to assure the association of the deceased with the gods, etc.

Well thats where you have to employ Nibley's argument that vignettes where not always adjacent to the accompanying text.

Why would JS have translated the facsimiles if they had nothing to do with Abraham? Am I missing something? Clearly Facsimile 1 has to do with the text according to the translation.

EDIT: KR are you saying that the translation of the facsimiles were speculative? On whose part?

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Because it keeps coming up, here's Nibley's argument:

Since this is an illustration to the Book of Abraham, it has naturally been assumed that the text that follows the drawing could only be that of the Book of Abraham--even the brethren at Kirtland assumed that. But that fits to take into account the common Egyptian practice of matching vignettes with texts in general and with the Book of Breathings texts in particular. In his edition of the Book of Breathings based on Papyrus Louvre N. 3279, Jean-Claude Goyon warns the student that the vignettes that accompany the text "have often only a very remote connection with the substance (le developpement) of the writing" (cf. p. 77 fig 16). For example, illustration 2 of this Breathings text actually belongs "to the illustrations of the Chapters of the Gates of Hades, in the Book of the Dead," and it is only "as an exception" that "the title of the text [under illustration 4] corresponds to the drawing that adorns" it.

...

For a demonstration of the strange practice of putting the illustrations to one story with the text of another, we need look no further than the Joseph Smith Book of Breathings itself, where the scene depicted so vividly in the facsimile is nowhere mentioned in the text that immediately follows. Only by matching up the fibers of the writing and the drawing is it possible to show that the two presentations, which at first glance have nothing to do with each other, were actually side by side one the same strip of papyrus.

Hugh Nibley, "The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 2nd edition", Deseret Books, 2005, pp 4-5
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So why can't you believe that the KEP & facsimile explanations were a speculative attempt to understand the written Egyptian language and vignettes after the text of the Book of Abraham had already been "translated" through the gift and power of God?

That's not the order things happened, at least in the case of chapter 3 and the system of astronomy. In any case, it's not that I can't believe this. It's that I don't.

Also, I noticed on the page you linked to, some of the characters from PJS XI drawn in the margin of the paper with the text from the BOA are labeled as "invented" because they weren't on the papyri. Couldn't they have flaked off of the papyri later, after being read and copied in Kirtland?

This probably did happen with the first symbol or two. The rest, however, are not correct.

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EDIT: KR are you saying that the translation of the facsimiles were speculative? On whose part?

That depends -- whose translation are you referring to?

Do you consider the explanations of the facsimiles in the Pearl of Great Price to be accurate translations?

Do the characters above the hand of "Shulem" in facsimile 3, for instance, mention that name, or do they mention "Osiris Hor, justified forever"? You tell me.

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