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The Book of Abraham

In 1835, Joseph Smith and his followers purchased a collection of ancient Egyptian papyri from a Mr. Michael Chandler, after Smith had identified them as the writings of Abraham and Joseph of Egypt:

"I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc." (History of the Church, Vol 2:236)

Joseph Smith worked on translating the ancient texts between 1835 and 1844, finally producing the Book of Abraham, which was printed in serial fashion in the Times and Seasons magazine. Some of the papyri used by Joseph Smith were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but amazingly, others survived and were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1966 and returned to the LDS Church. 

At the time of Joseph Smith's work in translating the ancient Egyptian papyrus, Egyptian hieroglyphics had only recently been deciphered and this fact was not known in America, and thus, Smith's translation went unchallenged.  With the discovery and cracking of the Rosetta Stone and the later rediscovery of the papyri, Egyptologists have translated the actual text of the extant papyri and found them to be Egyptian funerary texts, the Book of the Dead and the Book of Breathings.

So what is the relationship between the surviving papyri and the Book of Abraham? The most significant papyrus is labeled as Joseph Smith Papyrus I and is the source of Facsimile 1 (both shown below). Joseph Smith described the scene as showing the attempted human sacrifice of Abraham by the "idolatrous priest of Elkenah." 

Facsimile 1

Facsimile 1

Move your mouse over the image to see an overlay and compare them.

The actual text surrounding the vignette is funerary in nature and contains prayers for the mummy with whom the papyrus was entombed, named Hor.

According to a Mormon Egyptologist, Michael Rhodes, the text to the right of the papyrus reads:

"[The Osiris, God's father, ] priest of Amon-Re, king of the gods, priest of Min, who massacres his enemies, priest of Khonsu, who is powerful in Thebes...Hor, justified, the son of one of like titles, master of the secrets, god's priest, Usirwer, justified, [born of the house wife, the musician of Amon-Re,] Taykhebyt. May your soul live in their midst. May you be buried at the head of the West...May you give to him beautiful and useful things on the west [of Thebes] like the mountains of Manu."

The text immediately following the vignette (on the left), according to Michael Rhodes, continues in the same way:

"[Osiris shall be brought in]to the great pool of Khonsu, and likewise [the Osiris Hor, justified] born of Taykhebyt, justified, after his two hands have been clasped to his heart. The Document of Breathing which <Isis> made shall (also) be buried, which is written on both the inside and outside of it, (and wrapped) in royal linen, being placed <under> his left arm near his heart, while the bearer of his coffin works on its outside..."

The Book of Breathings Made by Isis, alluded to above, was connected to this papyrus, so this papyrus has also been called the Hor Book of Breathings. The vignette has features found in numerous scenes depicting the death and resurrection of Osiris, such as the figure on the lion couch with his leg in the air, which is common in resurrection scenes. The canopic jars are more commonly found on scenes showing the embalming of Osiris. The canopic jars and lion couch were not only common in depictions of Osiris' death and resurrection, but used in the Egyptian mummification rituals. The images below show the physical manifestation of these elements and also include an embalming scene, found on a wooden sarcophagus, and a resurrection scene, found in a relief carving. In Facsimile 1, the standing figure is actually the Egyptian god Anubis, and should be depicted with a jackal's head.

Canopic Jars in the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto. The description below the jars reads: "Egypt, about 600 BC. Ancient Egyptians mummified the internal organs of the body and placed them in a set of four jars. The lids of the jars represent the four 'Sons of Horus', gods who protected the precious vital organs of the dead person."

The Funerary Bed of Herty on display at the ROM. From the Roman Period, AD 100-300

The Funerary Bed of Herty (front). Take note of the lion heads near the top of each leg.

Similar scene on a wooden sarcophagus, Circa 400BC. Photo taken by andrevanb

Relief wall carving found in the Dendera Hathor Temple Complex in Qena, Egypt, depicting the Resurrection of Osiris.

Another Osiris resurrection wall relief carving can be found here at Egyptology.com.

Egyptology.com also shows the following scene from the Temple of Isis at Philae, which captures several stages of Osiris' death and resurrection. Take note of the scene on the bottom right, with Anubis performing the embalming of Osiris on the lion couch. On the bottom left, we see the four canopic jars beneath the lion couch supporting Osiris. Just above that scene, we see the resurrection of Osiris by Isis and Nephthys, with Osiris' legs in similar position as in Facsimile 1. Hover over the image to see an animation to illustrate the combination of the three scenes.

Temple of Isis at Philae wall relief

(images After H. Rosellini, Monumenti dell'Egitto e della Nubia, Vol. III (Pisa, 1844), Pl. XXIII.)

Though Joseph Smith Papyrus I is damaged, it is clear from the remaining elements in the vignette, the numerous similarly depicted scenes, and the surrounding Egyptian text, that it is simply a depiction of Osiris on the lion couch in the act of regaining consciousness with Anubis standing over him. It is not a scene depicting the attempted sacrifice of Abraham, as Joseph Smith claimed.

Smith's errant claim about the vignette is not independent of the text in the Book of Abraham, which Mormon apologists suggest came from a different part of the papyrus. Very near to the beginning of the Book of Abraham, Chapter 1, verse 12, we see the Facsimile 1 scene referenced:  "And it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar; and that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record."  If these were actually Abraham's words, then Abraham is saying that the Hor Book of Breathings is part of his record, even though none of it appears in Joseph Smith's translation.

Smith's usage of this papyrus is not isolated to the vignette in Facsimile 1 either. The Kirtland Egyptian Papers, which contain notes by Smith and his scribes from their translation efforts, have hieratic symbols immediately following the embalming scene in the papyrus sequentially listed next to English translations of the Book of Abraham.  This clearly demonstrates that, regardless of Smith's method of translation, he considered the text from this papyrus, and not just the vignette, to also be part of the Book of Abraham.

Since Facsimiles 2 and 3 are not among the extant papyri, it is clear that not all of the original papyri survived. However, these facsimiles are easily identified by Egyptologists as a hypocephalus and a scene depicting the judgement hall of Osiris, respectively.

The Egyptian burial rituals included placing the hypocephalus "under the head of the deceased in case he forgot some of the personalized detail needed to know what to say and how to behave in relation to 'gods' and trials after death." (3)

Joseph Smith claimed that the hypocephalus depicted scenes of Kolob, the celestial residence of God, among other things.

The picture below shows a side by side comparison of Facsimile 2 with the Leiden Hypocephalus (photo by koopmanrob), which is dated to around 300 BC. Notice the striking similarities in both hypocephali designs, with near identical representations of the Egyptian gods in both design and placement. The red portions indicate my estimate of the areas that were faded or missing from the hypocephalus while it was in Joseph Smith's possession, based on an early sketch in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.

Facsimile 2

Facsimile 2

Move your mouse over the image to see an overlay of the preliminary sketch of the hypocephalus.

Michael Rhodes, a Mormon Egyptologist, has made a full translation of the hypocephalus. While his analysis is clearly biased by an attempt to defend Joseph Smith, his translations agree with other Egyptologists. The pictures below show the individually numbered scenes from Facsimile 2 compared to the matching scenes in the Leiden Hypocephalus. Below the pictures, Joseph Smith's interpretation is provided in comparison with that of Michael Rhodes.

Scene 1
Joseph Smith: "Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God."
Michael Rhodes: "A seated deity with two (or in most hypocephali, four) ram's heads. He is holding in his hand the symbols of life, dominion and stability...This seated figure represents god as the creator, either Amon-Re or Khnum. When thus depicted with four heads, this god united within himself the attributes of the gods Re (the sun), Shu (light), Geb (the earth), and Osiris (god of the next world and the resurrection), and represented the primeval creative force."
Commentary: Take note that the head of the Egyptian god was restored incorrectly, separated from the body, and using the head from scene 2.
Scene 2
Joseph Smith: "Stands next to Kolob, called by the Egyptians Oliblish, which is the next grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides: holding the key of power."
Michael Rhodes: "This is Amon-Re, the chief god of the Egyptian pantheon; the two heads illustrate the hidden and mysterious power of Amon (his name in Egyptian means “the Hidden One”) combined with the visible and luminous power of Re. This is clearly the god mentioned in chapter 162 of the Book of the Dead..."
Commentary: A god referenced in the Book of the Dead and not in the Book of Abraham?
Scene 3
Joseph Smith: "Is made to represent God, sitting upon his throne, clothed with power and authority; with a crown of eternal light upon his head; representing also the grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood, as revealed to Adam in the Garden of Eden, as also to Seth, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, and all to whom the Priesthood was revealed."
Michael Rhodes: "A hawk-headed god Re with the sun disk on his head, seated on the solar bark. On either side of him is a Wedjat-eye. In his hand he holds the was-scepter, symbol of dominion, and in front of him is an altar with a lotus blossom on it."
Commentary: Notice that this scene was completely missing from the hypocephalus in Joseph Smith's possession...
Scene 3 and the Book of the Dead
On the left is scene 3 from Facsimile 2. On the right is the apparent source for this scene, which is located on a page from the Book of the Dead, labeled as Joseph Smith Papyrus IV and shown below.
Scene 4
Joseph Smith: "Answers to the Hebrew word Raukeeyang, signifying expanse, or the firmament of the heavens; also a numerical figure, in Egyptian signifying one thousand; answering to the measuring of the time of Oliblish, which is equal with Kolob in its revolution and in its measuring of time."
Michael Rhodes: "A hawk in mummy wrappings with outspread wings, seated upon a boat. This can represent either Horus-Soped or Sokar, both hawk gods, which are symbolized by a mummiform hawk."
Scene 5
Joseph Smith: "Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, as also Floeese or the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions. This planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob."
Michael Rhodes: "This is the cow Ihet mentioned in chapter 162 of the Book of the Dead, which should be drawn on a piece of new papyrus to make a hypocephalus."
Commentary: Yet another reference to the Book of the Dead.
Scene 6
Joseph Smith: "Represents this earth in its four quarters."
Michael Rhodes: "These four standing, mummy-like figures are the four Sons of Horus. They were the gods of the four quarters of the earth and later came to be regarded as presiding over the four cardinal points. They also were guardians of the viscera of the dead, and their images were carved on the four canopic jars into which the internal organs of the dead were placed."
Commentary: In this setting, the "guardians of the viscera of the dead" is clearly the more appropriate description for these Egyptian gods.
Scene 7
Joseph Smith: "Represents God sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood; as, also, the sign of the Holy Ghost unto Abraham, in the form of a dove."
Michael Rhodes: "A seated ithyphallic god with a hawk's tail, holding aloft a flail. This is a form of Min, the god of the regenerative, procreative forces of nature, perhaps combined with Horus, as the hawk's tail would seem to indicate. Before the god is what appears to be a bird presenting him with a Wedjat-eye, the symbol of all good gifts. In other hypocephali it can also be an ape, a snake, or a hawk-headed snake that is presenting the eye. This figure represents Nehebka, a snake god and one of the judges of the dead in the 125th chapter of the Book of the Dead."
Commentary: Note that the figure that Joseph Smith describes as "God sitting upon his throne" has an erect penis. Smith also turned a snake god into a dove to fit his incorrect interpretation.
Scene 8-15
Joseph Smith: For sections 8-11: "Contains writings that cannot be revealed unto the world; but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God..."
For sections 12-15: "will be given in the own due time of the Lord."
Michael Rhodes: Line 8 reads: "Grant that the soul of the Osiris, Shishaq, may live (eternally)."
Sections 12-15 "are hieratic, not hieroglyphic, and are inverted, or upside down, to the rest of the text. In fact, they are a fairly accurate copy of lines 2, 3, and 4 of the Joseph Smith Papyrus XI, which contains a portion of the Book of Breathings."
Commentary: Not only did Smith make a false prophecy here, he also demonstrated his true lack of understanding of the Egyptian language by incorrectly copying characters from the extant Book of Breathings papyrus.

Facsimile 2 and the Source for Scene 3

As both the translation of Facsimile 2 and the comparison to the Leiden Hypocephalus demonstrate, the hypocephalus had a singular purpose, which was to assist the deceased Egyptian in the afterlife. By its very nature, it would have nothing to do with the Book of Abraham, as Joseph Smith claimed. Smith's inclusion of it as part of the Book of Abraham and his restoration of the missing or faded parts using a scene from the Book of the Dead and text (incorrectly transcribed) from the Book of Breathings papyrus clearly demonstrate that Joseph Smith had no idea what was in front of him. To complicate things even further for the Mormons, the hypocephalus was buried with a mummy named Shishaq, and not with the Egyptian priest named Hor, for whom the Hor Book of Breathings was prepared, and from which Facsimiles 1 and 3 come.

Facsimile 3, according to Smith, depicts "Abraham sitting upon Pharaoh's throne, by the politeness of the king, with a crown upon his head, representing the Priesthood, as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven; with the scepter of justice and judgment in his hand." (4)   Smith's interpretation that a Pharaoh, someone who considered himself to be a god on earth, would allow someone else, especially a Hebrew, to sit on his throne is absurd.  To betray his ignorance even further, Smith claimed that the woman standing behind the throne was Pharaoh, when Egyptologists can easily identify the figure as Isis. Also note that Hor, the individual second from the right, is the center of attention in this scene, as you'd expect in a vignette prepared for him. If this scene were about Abraham, wouldn't the focus be on him?

Facsimile 3

Facsimile 3

Egyptologists identify this scene as the judgement hall of Osiris, who is seated on the throne and serves as the god of the underworld and judge of the dead. According to Egyptologists, this scene is commonly found at the end of the Book of Breathings. Here is link to a full translation of the extant papyrus and Facsimile 3 by the Mormon Egypologist, Michael Rhodes. Note that the translations of the text above the figures' heads identify them, from left to right, as Isis, Osiris, Ma'at, Hor and Anubis, which directly contradicts Joseph Smith's identification of the figures as Pharoah, Abraham, a prince, a waiter, and a slave. The text does not stand alone in identifying the figures, as the scenes below have Osiris and Isis in nearly identical dress and position.

Below is the Book of Breathings of Ousirour, on display in the Louvre. Photo courtesy of Amberinsea.

Here is a judgement scene from the book of the dead of Hunefer, 19th Dynasty. This papyrus is on display in the British Museum. Behind Osiris stands Isis and Nephthys. See the source and full description at Wikimedia.

Looking at only the depictions of Osiris and Isis in both scenes, we see both figures in almost identical positions and dress. In Facsimile 3, you can see a thin line representing Osiris's flail, next to Isis's arm. Osiris's crook is also shown up by his face, which you might otherwise think is a hand.

With the Judgement scene of Hunefer flipped, it is easy to see the striking similarities between the depictions of Osiris in both scenes...even the thrones are similar. Isis also stands in near identical position, this time with a different crown and with Nephthys by her side.

Judgement scene painted on the Funerary Bed of Herty. The ROM description of the scene: "The god of the underworld and judge of the dead, Osiris, sits in his judgement hall while other gods approach him with offerings. In the middle of the procession are Herty and his wife.

This judgement scene is found on the mummy-case of Djedmaatesankh, a musician of the temple of Amun-Re at Thebes, on display at the ROM.

Statues of Osiris and Isis on display at the ROM. Notice the signature crowns on both figures' heads and Osiris' throne.

Egyptian Stela of Djed-inhert-iuf-ankh, depicting Osiris and Isis in near identical dress and position.

Some other excellent examples of judgement hall scenes, showing Isis with the same crown as Facsimile 3 as well as Osiris in the same pose, can be found here:

Clearly, Facsimile 3 has nothing to do with Abraham or the Book of Abraham. If this were baseball, Smith would have struck out swinging at each of the three facsimiles. But it isn't baseball and Mormon apologists have concocted numerous theories in an attempt to explain away these significant errors.

While these theories are all fundamentally flawed and easily debunked, they have provided Mormons confronted with these errors with explanations that are rarely challenged, and that is all that most Mormons need to maintain their faith. I intend to break that cycle by taking the time to quickly debunk each of the Mormon theories, which are addressed below.

Mormon Theory of Revelation

Joseph Smith did not "translate" the Book of Abraham in the traditional sense, it was revealed to him.  Part of the discussion around translation involves the Kirtland Egyptian Papers (KEP), which contains the work of Joseph Smith and some of his scribes in developing an Egyptian alphabet and grammar.  LDS scholars suggest that these papers are the result of backwards translation.  "Joseph translated the Book of Abraham prior to the creation of the KEP and then he, and other early LDS brethren, tried to match the translated text to what they believed were the characters that were used to elicit the translation." (See The Kirtland Egyptian Papers section of Book of Abraham article on fairmormon.org)

This theory is easily debunked using Joseph Smith's own words from his journal entries and the History of the Church:

  1. "I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc." (History of the Church, Vol 2:236)
  2. "The remainder of this month, I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients." (DHC Vol. 2:238 for July 1835; written in the year 1843)
  3. "This after noon labored on the Egyptian alphabet, in company with bro. O. Cowdery and W. W. Phelps: the System of astronomy was unfolded." (Diary of Joseph Smith, October 1, 1835, p.3; also in DHC Vol. 2:286)
  4. "exhibited the alphabet of the ancient records to Mr Holmes and some others" (Diary of Joseph Smith, November 17, 1835, p. 45; DHC Vol. 2:316)

(Note: these quotes were found on the Tanner's website)

Note that Joseph Smith acquired the papyrus in July of 1835 and that the Book of Abraham was not published until the "early 1840s in serial fashion in the LDS newspaper Times and Seasons." (Intro of fairmormon.org Book of Abraham article)  His comments above were dated to within months of receiving the papyrus.  In the first statement, Smith made it clear that he could translate hieroglyphics with enough skill to recognize the writings of Abraham and Joseph of Egypt.  Smith also makes it clear that "the System of astronomy was unfolded" as a result of his and his scribes' work on the Egyptian alphabet, and not the other way around.

Clearly, Joseph Smith's statements indicate efforts toward translating an alphabet and grammar from which he could later translate the Book of Abraham. Even if reverse translation was in play, Smith and his scribes' efforts show that they considered the Hor Book of Breathings text to be part of the Book of Abraham, when it clearly is not.

Mormon Theory Regarding Missing Papyri

The extant papyri were not used in the translation and the actual Book of Abraham text most likely is in the missing portions (See Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri by John Gee).

Since Facsimiles 2 and 3 are not among the extant papyri, it is clear that not all of the original papyri survived.  However, all of the evidence demonstrates that Joseph Smith clearly believed that the extant portion of the papyrus was the commencement of the Book of Abraham.  He claimed he was able to identify which rolls contained the writings of Abraham, as stated in quote 1 above.  He then incorrectly described Facsimile 1 as a scene showing the attempted human sacrifice of Abraham by the "idolatrous priest of Elkenah." This same scene was referenced within the text of the Book of Abraham, identifying it as being at the commencement of the record. From our previous analysis, we know that Facsimile 1 is a scene depicting the resurrection of Osiris, originating from the Hor Book of Breathings. Smith also used characters from the extant Book of Breathings papyrus to restore lines 12-15 on Facsimile 2 as well as a scene from an extant Book of the Dead papyrus segment to restore scene 3 of the hypocephalus.

Given that Joseph Smith used the extant papyri to such a great extent and incorrectly included the resurrection scene (Facsimile 1), a hypocephalus (Facsimile 2), and a judgement hall scene (Facsimile 3) as parts of the alleged Book of Abraham, how can anyone have any confidence at all in Smith's abilities to translate or even identify a Book of Abraham text? Moreover, there is not a single reference to Abraham among any of the extant papyri, nor in any of the facsimiles that Smith claimed were part of the Book of Abraham.

Mormon Theory of Semitic Adaptation

The Egyptian funerary texts were adopted by an ancient Jewish redactor to illustrate the Book of Abraham (See The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources).

This theory is the easiest to debunk. First, there is absolutely no evidence of adoption or adaptation outside of Joseph Smith's "restorations". More importantly, there is simply no plausible explanation for the hypothetical Jewish redactor to gain access to the sources of the facsimiles, two of which (Facs 1 and 3) would have been buried with one Egyptian mummy, named Hor, and the hypocephalus (Facs 2) with another mummy named Shishaq. There are only two ways in which a Jewish scribe could gain access to the vignettes from the Hor Book of Breathings and the hypocephalus...he could do a little grave digging after the burials were complete or he could gain access to the papyrus and hypocephalus before they were buried, and this would require the knowledge and cooperation of the Egyptian priests preparing the burial texts. Neither of these are plausible scenarios in my view, nor would any reasonable person go to such lengths to avoid drawing their own vignettes.

Mormon Theory of Parallelism

The Book of Abraham must be true because of parallels to other ancient texts (See The Book of Abraham: Ask the Right Questions and Keep On Looking Larry E. Morris).

This theory really shows the lengths that some Mormons will go to in order to defend Joseph Smith. It ignores all of the evidence against Smith and focuses on the text of the Book of Abraham, as if it is in a vacuum.

The parallels the authors draw to support their theory include links to a fictional Islamic text from the 13th century. There is simply no merit to this theory.

I did learn one valuable piece of information from the authors' article though, which is that half of the Book of Abraham's verses have counterparts in the Book of Genesis. While the authors dismissed this information, it certainly provides a source for any ancient parallels and explains how Joseph Smith produced the Book of Abraham story...as a combination of stories from Genesis and his imagination running wild with the vignettes from the Hor Book of Breathings.

I recently noticed a very curious oversight by Joseph Smith, however, which completely undermines the authenticity of the Book of Abraham based on the text itself, which Smith claimed was written by Abraham while he was in Egypt. At the time Abraham was in Egypt, he had not yet been given the name "Abraham"...he was still known by his birth name, "Abram". And the Book of Genesis is not ambiguous about when Abraham was given his name.

Let's do a few quick calculations:

In Genesis 17:1-5, we learn that Abram was 99 years old when God gave him the name Abraham:  "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him...Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee."

In Genesis 16:16, we learn that Abram was 86 years old when Abram's 2nd wife Hagar bore him Ishmael. We also learn in Genesis 16:3-4 that Sarai gave her maid, Hagar, to Abram after they had lived 10 years in the land of Canaan and that is also when Hagar conceived Ishmael.  This would mean that Abram was either 85 or 86 years old when Ishmael was conceived.  Subtracting 10 years for their time in Canaan, we realize that Abram was no older than 76 years old when they settled in Canaan.

We read in Genesis 12:4 that Abram was 75 years old when he departed Haran for Egypt: "So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him: and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran." We also read in Genesis 13:1-12 that Abram left Egypt and eventually settled in Canaan.  This means that Abram spent no more than a year and a few months in Egypt at the age of 75-76, when he allegedly penned the Book of Abraham.  Yet he did not earn the name Abraham until at least 23 years later, at the age of 99.  This is not the only anachronism found in the Book of Abraham, but is the most serious in my opinion.  For more examples, see Equality Time, a blog that does an excellent job of explaining other anachronisms.  

A Mormon apologist has informed me that many of the original references to Abraham in the first publishing of the Book of Abraham were "Abram", but that they were changed to "Abraham" when it was published by the Latter Day Saints' publication, the Millennial Star, in England. That version, according to him, is what is used today, but he had no explanation as to why it was changed. I emphasized "many" above, because the first reference to "Abraham", allegedly by Abram himself, was in Chapter 1, verse 1 of the original printing of the Book of Abraham in the Times and Seasons. After further digging, I found that the original printing had the name "Abraham" in verses 2:2, 2:20, 2:21, 2:25, 3:1, 3:6, 3:11, 3:15, 3:22, and 3:23, while "Abram" was only used in verses 1:16, 1:17, 2:3, 2:6, 2:14, and 2:17, or roughly 1/3rd of the total number of verses with his name. I speculate that the name change was made in the Millennial Star to make the name consistent and cover up the irregularities in Joseph Smith's "translation." It shows that even the early Mormon church recognized errors in Smith's work and took efforts to conceal it rather than accept their prophet's flawed work.

CONCLUSION

What does all of this add up to?  I have shown that the extant papyrus was deemed by Joseph Smith to be, in the very least, the beginning of the Book of Abraham.  Facsimiles 2 and 3, which have not survived, clearly demonstrate that other parts of the alleged Book of Abraham were actually from the Book of Breathings, the Book of the Dead, or just part of Egyptian burial practices.  Every piece, in fact, has a proper place and translation in Egyptian burial practices and texts, as one would expect given that they were found with a set of Egyptian mummies.

Despite desperate attempts and wild theories by Mormon apologists who claim that the text came from a different part of the papyrus or that the papyrus was not really used at all, we can easily see that the text itself is fraudulent, given the many anachronisms within it.

Clearly, Joseph Smith had no idea how to translate Egyptian or even to identify the nature of the Egyptian papyri before him. Hence, his "translation" of the Book of Abraham is fraudulent. Only a false prophet would fabricate scriptures, therefore Joseph Smith is a false prophet.

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