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Internal Evidence For Or Against The Book Of Abraham


maupayman

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Hey all, I have been reading through some great threads on here about the Book of Abraham. I have found that most of them have strictly dealt with the translation process and pieces of recovered papyri. I am interested in some insight to internal evidences. What elements internally show support for it's authenticity? Are there anachronisms found within the text that indicate it was written by someone other than Abraham. I have heard read a little about the astronomy within the text, but I am interested in gaining some additional insight to this issue. Thank you all in advance for your help.

Maupayman.

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My favorite is by our own Kerry Shirts.

http://www2.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/papyri.htm

I think this site has a whole bunch of good nuggets. Tons to read upon here. I spent many an hour reading from here. I hate to read too.

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There was a series on BYU channel regarding the POGP and of course the scholarly panel discussed the much maligned Book of Abraham. Their discussion centered on just how doctrinally in line the BOA is with not only the OT but the time period and how much the BOA gives us insight into the eternal nature of man and his relationship to God. It was very enlightening and made me even more convinced than I was that whatever the source the BOA is the word of God.

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  • 1 month later...

There was a series on BYU channel regarding the POGP and of course the scholarly panel discussed the much maligned Book of Abraham. Their discussion centered on just how doctrinally in line the BOA is with not only the OT but the time period and how much the BOA gives us insight into the eternal nature of man and his relationship to God. It was very enlightening and made me even more convinced than I was that whatever the source the BOA is the word of God.

No insight from any critics on this one huh? Nothing from the Chris Smith's etc. of the MADB?

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No insight from any critics on this one huh? Nothing from the Chris Smith's etc. of the MADB?

Don't worry, they will find their way here eventualy. I do a lot of reading but I honestly can't get my self excited about the Book of Abraham research. It's too technical and abstract.

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Hi maupayman,

I have occasionally written against specific parallels that are cited in the BoA's defense. For example, the Abraham-as-evangelist parallel, the parallels to the Apocalypse of Abraham, and the Terah-as-idolater parallel are some that I have addressed. I've also written on the subject of "Ulisum" and the "Chaldeans", the latter of which is an anachronism borrowed from the Bible. Definitely read the OP by John W in that last thread, too.

You might also want to check out the following posts on my blog:

The System of Astronomy and Joseph Smith's Study of Hebrew

Korash in the Book of Abraham... or Not?

"I, Nephi"..."They, the Gods"

A Smoking Gun in the Book of Abraham: Could Joseph Smith Translate Egyptian?

For some other perspectives, see Sam Brown's recent Sunstone presentation, which I condensed here, and chapter 8 of Kevin Mathie's book, here.

There is of course plenty more to be said on the subject, and I hope to participate in the saying of it. Best,

-Chris

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Hi maupayman,

I have occasionally written against specific parallels that are cited in the BoA's defense. For example, the Abraham-as-evangelist parallel, the parallels to the Apocalypse of Abraham, and the Terah-as-idolater parallel are some that I have addressed. I've also written on the subject of "Ulisum" and the "Chaldeans", the latter of which is an anachronism borrowed from the Bible. Definitely read the OP by John W in that last thread, too.

You might also want to check out the following posts on my blog:

The System of Astronomy and Joseph Smith's Study of Hebrew

Korash in the Book of Abraham... or Not?

"I, Nephi"..."They, the Gods"

A Smoking Gun in the Book of Abraham: Could Joseph Smith Translate Egyptian?

For some other perspectives, see Sam Brown's recent Sunstone presentation, which I condensed here, and chapter 8 of Kevin Mathie's book, here.

There is of course plenty more to be said on the subject, and I hope to participate in the saying of it. Best,

-Chris

Thank you Chris, that was a very quick response. I did not mean to call you out, but in most of the threads you seem to be the critic with the most knowledge regarding the book of abraham. Thanks again all for the posts. Feel free to add more if anyone would like to.

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Hi maupayman,

I have occasionally written against specific parallels that are cited in the BoA's defense. For example, the Abraham-as-evangelist parallel, the parallels to the Apocalypse of Abraham, and the Terah-as-idolater parallel are some that I have addressed. I've also written on the subject of "Ulisum" and the "Chaldeans", the latter of which is an anachronism borrowed from the Bible. Definitely read the OP by John W in that last thread, too.

You might also want to check out the following posts on my blog:

The System of Astronomy and Joseph Smith's Study of Hebrew

Korash in the Book of Abraham... or Not?

"I, Nephi"..."They, the Gods"

A Smoking Gun in the Book of Abraham: Could Joseph Smith Translate Egyptian?

For some other perspectives, see Sam Brown's recent Sunstone presentation, which I condensed here, and chapter 8 of Kevin Mathie's book, here.

There is of course plenty more to be said on the subject, and I hope to participate in the saying of it. Best,

-Chris

So I am wondering Chris, is Ur of the Chaldees the main anachronism that critics point out in the text? If so is anyone aware of an explanation of its presence within the Book of Abraham? Thanks again in advance.

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So I am wondering Chris, is Ur of the Chaldees the main anachronism that critics point out in the text? If so is anyone aware of an explanation of its presence within the Book of Abraham? Thanks again in advance.

Two other anachronisms that are sometimes pointed out are "Pharaoh" (which Kevin Mathie calls a "borderline" anachronism) and "Egyptus". About Egyptus Stephen E. Thompson says,

First, Egyptus is not a Chaldean word, but Greek, and does not mean 'forbidden' in any language. The Greek "Egyptus" apparently derives from Egyptian hwt-k3-pth, "the house of the ka of Ptah," which was the name of a temple of Ptah in Memphis. During the New Kingdom, this term came to designate the town of Memphis, the capital of Egypt, in which the temple was located. Also there is some evidence that foreigners referred to the country of Egypt by this term as is attested in a Mycenaean Linear B tablet from Knossos, which is usually dated to around 1375 BC, i.e., 125 years after Abraham, as a man's name, presupposing that it was already a name for Egypt. Note also that the text (Abr. 1:22-25) implies that Egypt derived its name from an eponymous ancestor, Egyptus. Given the facts concerning the origin of the word Egyptus, however, this cannot represent historical reality.

Attempts have been made by the likes of Gee to explain "Ur of the Chaldees". Gee advocates a North Syrian location for Ur, and thinks that maybe the Chaldean ethnic group originated there before migrating to Mesopotamia, even though this group doesn't appear in the historical record until about 700 years after Abraham. But as best I can tell, this is complete speculation. Everything I've seen says that the Chaldeans arrived in Mesopotamia from the south, and probably had Arabian origins. It also seems a little convenient to suggest that there might just happen to be another Ur of the Chaldees somewhere other than the obvious location.

Best,

-Chris

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Yes, that is all well and good, Chris, but Abraham sends his servant to get a wife from his relatives in the land of his nativity (in point of fact, "land of my nativity" or "my native land" or "the place where I came from" or "land of my birthplace" is the specific phrase used by Abraham, depending, of course, upon the translation). But, where did the servant go? To Ur in the south? Nope. The Bible is clear that he went to the region of Aram Naharaim, which is where the postulated Ur in the north was located. Aram Naharaim is hundreds of miles north of the commonly accepted Ur in the south.

Genesis 24:7 and the context of those verses and elsewhere favor a northern Ur, if you follow the chronology, the travel directions, the names of the places, and check back with the roads that were used in those times. Postulating a southern Ur makes all sorts of directional turns and backtracking that would have lengthened the journey and caused other problems, including passing through Babylon itself and Nineveh, neither of which gets so much as a mention.

Postulating a northern Ur of the Chaldees before the Chaldees migrated down to what we now call Chaldea, eliminates a number of difficulties with the Bible account and makes a course that is straightforward, is out of the area of Babylon and Nineveh entirely, and which is much shorter in distance and travel, and is the more direct route through the mountain passes and such as are there, following a road that takes them right down into those listed in the Bible inn the correct order. Not so with the southern postulation. There is a lot of backtracking needed that is unnecessary with the northern postulation.

Just a few thoughts you might want to consider before doggedly holding to one view or another.

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Yes, that is all well and good, Chris, but Abraham sends his servant to get a wife from his relatives in the land of his nativity (in point of fact, "land of my nativity" or "my native land" or "the place where I came from" or "land of my birthplace" is the specific phrase used by Abraham, depending, of course, upon the translation). But, where did the servant go? To Ur in the south? Nope. The Bible is clear that he went to the region of Aram Naharaim, which is where the postulated Ur in the north was located. Aram Naharaim is hundreds of miles north of the commonly accepted Ur in the south.

Genesis 24:7 and the context of those verses and elsewhere favor a northern Ur, if you follow the chronology, the travel directions, the names of the places, and check back with the roads that were used in those times. Postulating a southern Ur makes all sorts of directional turns and backtracking that would have lengthened the journey and caused other problems, including passing through Babylon itself and Nineveh, neither of which gets so much as a mention.

Postulating a northern Ur of the Chaldees before the Chaldees migrated down to what we now call Chaldea, eliminates a number of difficulties with the Bible account and makes a course that is straightforward, is out of the area of Babylon and Nineveh entirely, and which is much shorter in distance and travel, and is the more direct route through the mountain passes and such as are there, following a road that takes them right down into those listed in the Bible inn the correct order. Not so with the southern postulation. There is a lot of backtracking needed that is unnecessary with the northern postulation.

Just a few thoughts you might want to consider before doggedly holding to one view or another.

Thank you MM, I appreciate the insight. Are you aware of the Egyptus anachronism? Any insight into that one?

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Yes, that is all well and good, Chris, but Abraham sends his servant to get a wife from his relatives in the land of his nativity (in point of fact, "land of my nativity" or "my native land" or "the place where I came from" or "land of my birthplace" is the specific phrase used by Abraham, depending, of course, upon the translation). But, where did the servant go? To Ur in the south? Nope. The Bible is clear that he went to the region of Aram Naharaim, which is where the postulated Ur in the north was located. Aram Naharaim is hundreds of miles north of the commonly accepted Ur in the south.

Genesis 24:7 and the context of those verses and elsewhere favor a northern Ur, if you follow the chronology, the travel directions, the names of the places, and check back with the roads that were used in those times. Postulating a southern Ur makes all sorts of directional turns and backtracking that would have lengthened the journey and caused other problems, including passing through Babylon itself and Nineveh, neither of which gets so much as a mention.

MormonMason,

I am aware of that argument. However, those who originally made it (before it was adapted for LDS purposes) held that there was an earlier version of Genesis that just said "Ur" (referring to a northern city) and that a post-exilic redactor decided to "clarify" it by adding "of the Chaldees". The problem in the BoA is exacerbated by the fact that not only does it follow the Bible in identifying Ur as being "of the Chaldees", it has also actually woven the Chaldeans into its narrative.

-Chris

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Are you aware of the Egyptus anachronism? Any insight into that one?
I found it very interesting that Joseph Smith did not use "Egyptus" as the name for the wife of Ham in the first drafts of the Book of Abraham, but Mizraim. This is, of course, the Hebrew word for Egypt.

At this time, Joseph knew some Hebrew, but one wonders why he changed it from what Abraham had written to what was essentially a neologism.

As I (among many) have said, when a good translator moves the ideas from one linguistic medium (Egyptian to English in this case), he uses words the target-language reader will be familiar with; the goal is not to make the reader into a speaker of the original tongue, but to give him the account so he can understand it.

Joseph did just that, in spite of the accusations of anachronism.

Lehi

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I found it very interesting that Joseph Smith did not use "Egyptus" as the name for the wife of Ham in the first drafts of the Book of Abraham, but Mizraim. This is, of course, the Hebrew word for Egypt.

At this time, Joseph knew some Hebrew, but one wonders why he changed it from what Abraham had written to what was essentially a neologism.

As I (among many) have said, when a good translator moves the ideas from one linguistic medium (Egyptian to English in this case), he uses words the target-language reader will be familiar with; the goal is not to make the reader into a speaker of the original tongue, but to give him the account so he can understand it.

Joseph did just that, in spite of the accusations of anachronism.

Lehi

I'm afraid you're mistaken. The earliest BoA manuscripts say Egypt was discovered by "Egyptes", a daughter of Ham. Her mother's name is said to have been "Zeptah" which is said to signify "Egypt" and "forbidden" in Chaldean.

Best,

-Chris

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I'm afraid you're mistaken. The earliest BoA manuscripts say Egypt was discovered by "Egyptes", a daughter of Ham. Her mother's name is said to have been "Zeptah" which is said to signify "Egypt" and "forbidden" in Chaldean.
Okeh, now I have to go find the source. (Sometimes these things take, literally, years.)

OT

Once in a different forum, I recalled that Joseph Smith, Sen., was not the first Patriarch in the church, although the first General Church Patriarch. I had recalled that first man as being "Brown". It turned out I was wrong, but had read just about what I had remembered: it was John Young, Brigham's father, that my source had identified — the book was incorrect. But it took me three years to find that passage. Please do not hold your breaths as I research this.

Lehi

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I came across a document called "Why I no Longer Believe" (or something like that) on the internet recently which mentioned some internal things in the "against" category that I hadn't come across before. I believe that the Book of Abraham really was written by Abraham and is scripture, but I haven't studied the background of it much, so I wondered if this guy is way off base or what -- here's a quote:

Many things in the Book of Abraham itself

are incompatible with what we know about ancient Egypt â?? it is extremely unlikely that

the name Pharaoh was used when Abraham lived, and it was not used as a personal

name; Chaldea was not used as the name of a place until after Abrahamâ??s time; and

sacrifices as described by Abraham were not performed in Egypt at that time.

(In fact, while I was still a believer I was disturbed by a book on the Old Testament I was

reading, which discussed Abraham and dated the name of Chaldea well after the time

Abraham would have lived).

Even the word Egypt was not used by Egyptians at the time in contrast to what is stated

in the book (see Abraham1:23). This word is derived from a much later Greek word

(Persuitte 2000, p. 282; Ritner 2003). The Book of Abraham says â??The land of Egypt

being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of

Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden

â?¦â? (Abraham 1:23). This is a big linguistic blunder; itâ??s as if someone claimed they had

a document which dated to the 8th century AD, and which said Germany was founded

by a man named â??Germanoâ??, meaning â??one who makes sausages.â?? Many words Joseph

says are Egyptian in the book are actually Hebrew.

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I think the best internal evidences of whether something is right or not are in the consequences manifest. For example, when people start becoming liars, I think that is evidence that they have made bad choices and are veering into a dark place.

On that note, you might be interested in the following essay:

Staker, Susan. "'The Lord Said, Thy Wife Is a Very Fair Woman to Look Upon': The Book of Abraham, Secrets, and Lying for the Lord." In The Prophet Puzzle: Interpretive Essays on Joseph Smith, edited by Bryan Waterman, 289-318. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1999.

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I think the best internal evidences of whether something is right or not are in the consequences manifest. For example, when people start becoming liars, I think that is evidence that they have made bad choices and are veering into a dark place.

Well California, good to hear from you. I am still awaiting your response to my email.... If indeed the answer is no than your post here would be particularly ironic.

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