Last Updated on June 24, 2022 by Jason Harris
Just woke up from a dream of a man (me) tearfully trying to share his perspective to his siblings and parents (who weren’t really listening) about the Book of Abraham: How the facsimiles are mistranslated per LDS and non-LDS Egyptologists. How the Egyptian figures correlating with the text of the BofA are mistranslated per LDS and non-LDS Egyptologists as shown in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. How Joseph referenced numerous times in journals, etc. how he thought these were actual translations. How the distances of the lacunae at the edges of the papyrus roll prove there can’t possibly be enough of the Egyptian scroll missing to account for Joseph’s translation from another portion.
The man in my dream tried sharing how he had read so many of Hugh Nibley’s works, John Gee and others for ten years to try to make sense of the issue. To see where ancient Egyptians had perhaps had their own temple ceremony, etc. The dream didn’t even get into masonic origins, etc…
It was odd, as dreams can be. I was simultaneously trying to share my perspective and observing this man trying to share his perspective.
And you know what I felt just prior to waking that persisted as I woke?
A deep and tremendous overwhelming sense of compassion, empathy and love. I just wanted to take that man and embrace him in my arms and cry with him for his sense of integrity and humility in being willing to change course when the evidence did not support his prior views. I wanted to embrace him and accept him fully for the shunning he was experiencing, viewed as being deceived. I wanted to validate him and let him know he was seen and understood.
This faith transition stuff is some tough shit. Many of us are not going to get any real compassion, empathy or understanding from those we want it most from. Hopefully we can have it for ourselves.
Hat’s off to all of you who are on a similar path. You are seen. Your reasons are understood. And I think you’re awesome!
Addendum, Aug 18, 2020:
Several useful references for understanding different perspectives of the Book of Abraham further.
Book of Abraham Project A private site that seeks to reconcile and defend the Book of Abraham. It also has many other useful links to include Journals, Diaries, Biographies, Autobiographies and Letters of early Latter-day Saints.
The Book of Abraham, Revelation and You, by Kerry Muhlestein, PhD, Professor of Ancient Scripture, BYU (an Egyptologist)
An Introduction to the Book of Abraham. by John Gee, PhD (Orthodox LDS Egyptologist at BYU)
The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment. by Hugh Nibley, PhD (some training in Egyptology but not an Egyptologist), John Gee, PhD (An Egyptologist), Michael Rhodes, PhD (some training in Egyptology but not an Egyptologist).
Most Remarkable Book: Evidences of the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Abraham (LDS apologetic video produced by FAIR)
Traditions About the Early Life of Abraham By John Tvedtnes, PhD (some background in Egyptology but not an Egyptologist), Brian Hauglid, PhD (now an emeritus professor of Ancient Scripture from BYU but not an Egyptologist), and John Gee, PhD (an Egyptologist). Many traditions about the Early Life of Abraham are documented here. Some of these are argued not to have been known at the time of Joseph Smith (but still documented in the Book of Abraham).
Of note, Brian Hauglid (whom the LDS Church has also employed in a major role in the assimilation and analysis of the Joseph Smith Papers and who has also played major roles for the LDS Church in Book of Mormon studies) no longer holds some of the views he advocates in this book and other works about the Book of Abraham to include his 2010 book, “A Textual History of the Book of Abraham: Manuscripts and Editions.” Further details about how he came to change some of his views can be found: HERE which discusses amongst other things, a November 2018 quote on Dan Vogel’s facebook (FB) page by Dr. Hauglid about Vogel’s videos , (specifically about part 6) regarding the Joseph Smith Abraham/Egyptian documents.
This specific FB comment was subsequently deleted by Dr. Hauglid, though he recently re-iterated similar views in his Radio Free Mormon interview (see below).
Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis- Deuteronomy by David Bokovoy, PhD. Geared towards an LDS audience. Historical Criticism of Genesis- Deuteronomy as well as the Book of Moses, Abraham and Book of Mormon. David Bokovoy is not an Egyptologist but has a PhD in the Hebrew Bible and is an expert in Higher Textual Criticism. He was active LDS at the time of authoring this book, but has since stepped away from the Mormon Church.
Radio Free Mormon: 184: The Brian Hauglid Interview Landmark interview about the Book of Abraham with Brian Hauglid, PhD, professor emeritus of ancient scripture at BYU. Hauglid granted this interview days after formally retiring. Dr. Hauglid was instrumental in writing the LDS Church’s essay about the Book of Abraham (see link below) and believes the evidence does not support a literal translation from the papyri that were in Joseph Smith’s possession. At present, he states his relationship with the LDS Church is “complicated.”
Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham. Official essay from the Mormon Church, approved by LDS First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “None of the characters on the papyrus fragments mentioned Abraham’s name or any of the events recorded in the book of Abraham. Mormon and non-Mormon Egyptologists agree that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the book of Abraham…”
A Window Into Joseph Smith’s Translation, Brian Hauglid, PhD and Robin Jensen, PhD LDS Scholars expressing their opinions that the Book of Abraham doesn’t match the Joseph Smith papyri.
Many Secular Links could be shared but I am including mostly some of the most recent works. Professional Egyptologists have commented on the Joseph Smith Papyri since the 1850’s and a consensus of several Egyptologists about the facsimiles was published in the early 1900’s. Some details of interpretation have varied between Egyptologists, but the overall message and translations between them has remained remarkably consistent to this day. As an institution, the LDS Church has known for well over 100 years that translations of Joseph Smith’s Egyptian Papyri by professional Egyptologists do not match the Book of Abraham.
The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition. by Robert Ritner, PhD (one of world’s pre-eminent Egyptologists)
Original Length of the Scroll of Hor. by Andrew Cook and Christopher Smith. John Gee’s response to this article followed by the authors’ response back to Gee. Of note, similar funerary texts to the Scroll of Hor are about six feet long (see Robert Ritner interview below), NOT the much longer lengths Gee proposes (which would be necessary to account for sufficient “missing manuscript” hypothetically containing text of the Book of Abraham.)
Dr. Robert Ritner- An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Landmark series of interviews (over 12 hours total) by John Dehlin, PhD and Radio Free Mormon with Robert Ritner, PhD. Dr. Ritner is one of the foremost Egyptologists in the world and an expert in Egyptology from the time period the Joseph Smith papyri were written. He currently teaches at the University of Chicago, the oldest school of Egyptology in the Western Hemisphere. Of note, Dr. Ritner was one of the professors at Yale in the 1990’s and helped educate Dr. John Gee (an orthodox LDS Egyptologist) in Egyptology.
Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham A direct response to the LDS essay about the Book of Abraham (see above). Around 20 pages, written by famed non-LDS Egyptologist Robert Ritner, PhD. Strikes at the heart of many of the Joseph Smith Papyri issues and avoids much of the obfuscation (and frankly sometimes academic dishonesty) by some Mormon apologists often surrounding this topic.
Jason Harris lived as an orthodox Mormon for forty years. He writes about his experiences leaving the Mormon Church and reconstructing a new World-View. He believes all religions and scripture are man-made, potentially helpful and harmful. He believes there is Divinity in all of them and everywhere.