The Prophet Joseph Smith said that the Book of Abraham exhibited “Mormonism in its true light” (History of the Church 5:11) and the Lord Himself warned that, “the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people” Doctrine and Covenants 1:14 The Book (sustained as scripture) testifies that it is the words of the Lords Prophet Abraham and it was restored to us through the Lords Prophet Joseph Smith. Sadly, as we have pointed out before, FAIR is at it again undermining the Book of Abraham, the words of “the father of the faithful”.
In his presentation at this year’s FAIR conference, John Gee starts off with a diversionary tactic claiming,
“There are three different points of view here. One, that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from the papyri that we have. Almost no one really believes this. But to hear the critics tell it this is the official position of the church. It’s not. Nor do most members of the church subscribe to this so far as I can tell. So, it’s a strawman. The second one is that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from papyri that we do not currently have and this is the position that most accords with the historical evidence. And the third one is that Joseph Smith received the Book of Abraham strictly by revelation and it did not come from the papyri at all. ”
What people believe is immaterial to the point. We know what at least three of the images are on the papyri, making what people believe the rest of the papyri are or are not more than a distraction.
The attacks against the Church by critics focus heavily on the facsimiles found in the Book of Abraham and their explanations given by the Prophet Joseph. It seems it is “Brother” Gee that is putting up the strawman, a strawman he goes on for most of the article trying to dissect. After his long winded rant in irrelevancy he comes to the actual text of the Book of Abraham, and in an effort to distance the papyri from the text he claims,
“Now, finally we need to actually consider the text of the Book of Abraham itself. So, for Latter-Day Saints, the rest of these issues are peripheral. You go sit down at random in sacrament meeting and ask the person next to you about the Book of Abraham and they will only think of the text. “
Clearly when someone asks about the Book of Abraham you think of the text, but that is also true of the Book of Mormon, and I would never call the translation of the Book of Mormon “peripheral”. The prophet had 11 witnesses of the plates and there were witnesses to the translation as well. How the text of the Book of Mormon was brought to us was a witness to the prophet’s status as seer and translator as is the Book of Abraham. This fact he tries to deny when he says,
“The Book of Abraham is not like the Book of Mormon. It has no equivalent of Moroni’s promise. It is not a sign of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith”
This is a clear attempt to say that it doesn’t matter if the Book of Abraham is true or not, and insinuating that it might not be. His statement that the Book of Abraham is not like the Book of Mormon because there is no verse in it that says, “if you pray about it you can find out if it is true or not” is laughable. By that logic, the First Vision in Joseph Smith History doesn’t have the promise that we can know if it is true or not through personal revelation and is not a sign of Josephs prophetic calling! Let’s take a look at “Moroni’s promise though and see if we can see if the Book of Abraham has the same promise.
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” Moroni 10:4–5
He is correct, verse 4 is clearly talking about the Book of Mormon. However, verse 5 says it applies to “all things”! We can all have a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Abraham.
Unfortunatly, he says,
“I do not have a testimony of the Book of Abraham.”
That is sad, but clear. Allowing Gee to defend something he admittedly does not have a testimony of is quite revealing of FAIR, not to mention allowing his comments to be posted on their website, which purports to defend LDS doctrine.
Going back to John Gee’s statement that the Book of Abraham is not a sign of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith, it seems he is either deluding himself because of his lack of testimony or he doesn’t understand what it means to be a “prophet, seer & revelator” as the prophet claimed and proved to be.
This is what the prophet said about the translation,
“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.” History of the Church 2:238
This describes a method much more in accordance with a more traditional translation process than was even used with the Book of Mormon. Additionally, the facimilies we have in our scriptures have his direct interpretation associated with each image, as seen here:
One portion of the translated papyri, which bears witness to the Temple endowment is found in the second facsimile:
Joseph clearly translated the papyri many today associate with the Egyptian Book of Breathings and/or Book of the Dead (depending on the pet theory of the day). Whither he did it accurately or not will depend on your preconceived notions for or against, or your being humble enough to do as Moroni promised to “learn the truth of all things. For FAIR to utilize a non-believer as their “defender” of the Book of Abraham shows, in this authors opinion, a desire for popularity instead of a desire to defend the Restoration.