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LDS Church publishes new Web essay on Book of Abraham

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  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    July 8, 2014 1:08 p.m.

    "The veracity and value of the book of Abraham cannot be settled by scholarly debate concerning the book’s translation and historicity"

    The LDS church always has these "get out of trouble free" cards they play by claiming religious matters can't be validated through scientific research whenever scientific research refutes what they claim.

    Numerous Egyptian scholars have proven the book of Abraham and its symbols do not say what Joseph Smith claimed they said.

    No doubt if scientific research supported something Joseph said about something, it would be used as "evidence" of its truthfulness. But when it refutes something - the Mormons pull out the "its spiritual so no matter what you prove it doesn't' mean anything" card.

    How convenient.

  • Manzanita Las Vegas, NV
    July 8, 2014 1:22 p.m.

    I am very pleased to see the Church shining light on some of the more controversial issues of its founding narrative and doctrine. Regardless of conclusions you personally reach on some of these difficult issues, the Church's recent effort to publicly address these tough questions is laudatory. Better late than never.

  • Apocalypse please Bluffdale, UT
    July 8, 2014 1:55 p.m.

    "The truth of the book of Abraham is ultimately found through careful study of its teachings, sincere prayer, and the confirmation of the Spirit."

    I suppose anything can be true if you are measuring with that kind of epistemological yardstick.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    July 8, 2014 1:59 p.m.

    The BofA and the BofMormon are miraculous. It is impossible for Joseph to have known all the accurate names, cultures, symbolism, places, geographic turns, etc etc of the ancient MEast and Americas. The people writing them MUST have originated in the ancient MEast. They seamlessly incorporated Lamanite Baalisms; elephants; the Tree=Mary, King, crocodile, goddess; etc. etc. and hundreds of things as peoples from the ancient MEast would have. Abraham is consistently Osiris, the seer (Shulem, the Butler) is "represented" as Hor, Jah-oh-eh is earth, Amon-Re key to open way, was-scepter is authority, wdjet is light & glory, Horus-Soped etc as firmament & ship as ship of 1000, "Olishem" now found in Naram Sin, Abraham anciently associated with sacrifice on lion couch, Kolob is heart of universe, creative center (of4) apes associated with stars etc etc etc. How did Joseph know all this plus much much more???

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    July 8, 2014 2:01 p.m.

    It is all about continuing revelation.

    "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." ...Article of Faith #9

    Joseph F. Smith received a vision on the spirit world after reading the third and fourth chapters of the first epistle of Peter. This is now in the D&C Section 138

    So, for Joseph Smith to be impressed to write the book of Abraham which is a revelation about our pre-mortal existence, after studying ancient scrolls, I can see how the revelation came in much the same way as it did to Joseph F. Smith on the subject of our post-mortal existence.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    July 8, 2014 2:01 p.m.

    Several things are clear about the BofA. 1 JS knew things about Abraham & the ancient Middle East & Egyptian & the Americas, etc. that he couldn't have known without revelation. 2 Scholars have not read the source of the BofA. 3 The facsimiles are appropriately used to portray the story. 4 The snsn text is related to Abrahamic traditions, etc.

  • Swimmer Honeyville, UT
    July 8, 2014 2:14 p.m.

    @ Chris B.

    Your assessment of the Church's approach is completely wrong. The Church has never tried to prove it was the "true" Church through empirical evidence. Never. It has always taught that any person who wants to know the truth of what Joseph Smith said or taught can do exactly what he did: Ask God.

    There is empirical evidence of the Book of Mormon's authenticity--a lot of it. Point me to any Church publication in which the Church has ever touted this evidence as proving the Book of Mormon to be true. There is none. The Church has maintained a steady course of putting the burden on the hearer to ask God.

    It has never claimed that the papyrus remnants proved the Book of Abraham was true. So, your challenge Chris B. is to ask God. The onus is on you, not the Church.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    July 8, 2014 2:23 p.m.

    This appears to be a relatively forthcoming account of the Book of Abraham. I think it appropriately places the authenticity of these writings as a matter of faith.

    There is one area that is somewhat confusing - perhaps unintentionally so. It refers to a document that contains characters from one of the scrolls followed by an explanation of what they mean. One of the documents that answers that description is the actual manuscript of the "Book of Abraham." Characters from one the scrolls in the Church's possession are listed sequentially from their position on the papyrus with the verses from the first two chapters of the Book of Abraham next to them. It appears to me that Joseph Smith felt there was a direct correspondence between the characters and what he wrote.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    July 8, 2014 2:29 p.m.

    "Written by his own hand"
    No matter how they try, they can't spin that away.

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    July 8, 2014 2:45 p.m.

    @JM,

    Amen!

    In those area's where the secular scholars may currently disagree with the Book of Abraham, given time, they will receive more light and knowledge and come, to agree with it.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    July 8, 2014 2:45 p.m.

    There will be only one God in the new heaven and new earth in eternity [JEHOVAH], with only His eternal sons and His eternal daughters to worship Him and serve Him forever with Jesus' new name written and sealed in their foreheads. Until that day occurs, Jesus Christ is the very Eternal God of heaven and earth.

  • Swimmer Honeyville, UT
    July 8, 2014 2:51 p.m.

    @ Ernest T. Bass

    Wrong again. Joseph Smith wrote little, if any, of the Book of Mormon or Abraham with his own hand. He dictated to scribes. This is such a well established fact that I am surprised you would even make that comment.

  • SuperTecmobowl Lehi, UT
    July 8, 2014 2:57 p.m.

    @Chris B.

    I have an opposing view. There are many religious accounts that cannot be scientifically proven -- immaculate conception, walking on water, raising the dead, etc. Scientifically it doesn't make sense, but I choose to believe it and I can testify as an eye witness to what I've seen. I see the gospel of Jesus Christ change people and their lives improve, what more witness do I need?

    I appreciate the efforts of the church to provide the information on the controversial topics. Rather than focusing on the scientific side, I like to ponder how Joseph Smith could have known anything about what he wrote in the Book of Abraham, let alone publish the Book of Mormon, restore the Church of Jesus Christ, etc. All with no formal religious schooling...

    I choose to doubt my doubts before I doubt my faith -- I have had too many good experiences as a follower of Jesus Christ to explain it away based on scientific proof.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    July 8, 2014 3:04 p.m.

    Exactly Ernest T. Bass, and I noticed the church didn't even try to address rather large elephant in the room in any meaningful way. Their defense of the facsimiles is also laughable. Mentioning that there are one or two things Joseph labeled that are mentioned in other writings around the ancient world completely side steps the real issue. In fact it leaps over the issue hoping that no one will bother doing any further research on the topic; this is incredibly deceptive. The fact that cannot be denied even by the church is that Egyptologists have discovered hundreds of similar facsimiles and Smith labeled every single item incorrectly. Not one or two wrong, not a few or even a majority, but every single item labeled by Smith in the four facsimiles is just plain wrong.

  • UT Brit London, England
    July 8, 2014 3:13 p.m.

    @Swimmer

    I think he was referring to the papyri being written by Abraham's hand.

  • Mack2828 Ft Thomas, KY
    July 8, 2014 3:17 p.m.

    Except for one or two well worn passages, I rarely hear anyone at any level in the church, quote from the book of Abraham.
    Maybe a better approach would be for the church to just quietly remove it from the standard works. Demote it in status to be on par with The Lectures on Faith and other similar writings from early church history.

  • Neanderthal Phoenix, AZ
    July 8, 2014 3:42 p.m.

    "The truth of the book of Abraham is ultimately found through careful study of its teachings, sincere prayer, and the confirmation of the Spirit."

    Nope. There might be truths contained in the book but the truth of the book's origin has to pass muster dealing with the claimed source... ie, the papyri. And the papyri seems to indicate a record of 'breathings' associated with the dead person with which the papyri was found.

    @iron&clay:
    "So, for Joseph Smith to be impressed to write the book of Abraham which is a revelation about our pre-mortal existence, after studying ancient scrolls, I can see how the revelation came in much the same way as it did to Joseph F. Smith on the subject of our post-mortal existence."

    That's all good and fine. But the claim is not that the BofA came from revelation. The claim is that it is a direct translation of papyri found with an ancient mummy.

  • Jack Aurora, CO
    July 8, 2014 4:13 p.m.

    @Mack2828,
    But why would they do that? There is no reason to "demote" anything. It is what it is, a part of the Standard Works, and as such must be read and studied with pondering and faith to understand. Using your flawed reasoning we could "demote" Isaiah, 2 Nephi and Revelations because we don't understand the symbolism. I think a better approach would be to study it more intently, asking God for understanding and confirmation.

  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    July 8, 2014 4:27 p.m.

    I think that some of the critics here didn't actually read the essay. Not that they would necessarily be expected to agree with everything therein, but the essay does bring up and discuss at some length many of the points being brought up in countering the claim that the BofA is (some of?) the inspired writings of Abraham. It seems that in these cases the detractors such as ChrisB are either outright and deliberately ignoring some of the salient points brought up in the essay and hoping nobody reads it, or they just didn't read it themselves. This is not a very convincing way to argue.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    July 8, 2014 4:50 p.m.

    "The truth of the book of Abraham is ultimately found through careful study of its teachings, "

    Many thousands have done so and found that the doctrine of plurality of Gods (and Goddesses) contained therein contradicts the correct and only true interpretation of both the KJV Bible and the Book of Mormon, which 2 books we regard as the word of God.

  • AndrewH Alta Sierra, CA
    July 8, 2014 5:02 p.m.

    The history of the Egyptian language stretches over many centuries, and through different dynasties. As one dynasty prevailed over the other, history was re-written and so also, certain meanings of the language changed. Figures in their history evolved, pharaohs became Gods. There is no end to the mysteries of Egypt. It is IMPOSSIBLE for ANY Egyptologist to refute the Book of Abraham, because they simply do not have all of the Papyri that was used in the translation. Period.

    What is left to study, is scanty at best. But it is rich with meaning for those interested in looking into it. The Book of Abraham -- and the Facsimiles have a mixture of Hieratic Egyptian characters, and other Logograms (hieroglyphs if you will)....

    To gain the most out of it, one must look for what is possible -- rather than what is impossible. As before stated, the history of the Egyptian language stretches over a broad period of time.. and truly there is no unique interpretation...for any open-minded, and curious student.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    July 8, 2014 5:15 p.m.

    @ swimmer
    "Written by his own hand" is the precise claim that Abraham wrote on that specific papyrus. There is no way to spin that. Abraham did not have a scribe, he wrote on that papyrus himself.
    Now of course the evidence suggests otherwise. And it is very strong evidence, not open to debate.

  • GmaxD Lehi, UT
    July 8, 2014 6:36 p.m.

    @Ernest T. Bass -- what can be debated is the meaning of the expression "Written by his own hand". Perhaps, instead of interpreting that phrase to mean "he [Abraham] wrote on that[specific and particular] papyrus himself," alternatively, it could simply mean that the narrative is autobiographical and not merely biographical. The actual document could be a copy, or a copy of a copy, and yet, as the narrative is autobiographical, the phrase "Written by his own hand" may rightly apply.

  • Lifelong Ute Salt Lake City, UT
    July 8, 2014 7:52 p.m.

    As the "other" newspaper points out, this news from the church is saying the book of Abraham may not be a literal translation. That's not what we've been taught. Why are out church leaders just now admitting this? I'm a lifelong Mormon who is shocked at this news and disappointed we have not been told the truth for do many decades.

  • Swimmer Honeyville, UT
    July 8, 2014 8:18 p.m.

    @ Ernest T. Bass

    You are right, I misconstrued your statement as referring to Joseph Smith. However, I have no doubt, none, that Abraham wrote the account translated by Joseph Smith. You rely simply on what some scholars have allegedly said about the origin and content of the remnants of papyri remaining after the fire that destroyed most of them, as I understand the history.

    The Church has never tried to prove the truth of its teachings or claims regarding the Book of Mormon or of Abraham by empirical evidence. The Church has always said that you can learn the truth of any of its claims simply by asking God. I did ask. I know with absolute surety that both books are volumes of sacred scripture revealed by God, equal with the Bible. No, I am neither a blind follower, nor ignorant. I have a law degree and am a partner in a large law firm. But I asked and received an answer. The Church has nothing to prove. The burden is on you and others who, apparently, haven't asked. Instead of mocking, try reading the books and asking God.

  • Gene Poole SLC, UT
    July 8, 2014 8:20 p.m.

    After review and careful consideration of The Pearl of Great Price, I followed the same process I did when I read the Bible, I knelt in prayer and asked God if these things which I read were true. I received a personal witness of these things. I was 18 at the time. Not a member. Could have ignored it all, but could not deny what I knew in my heart. Not by someone trying to pound it in my head but by thoughtful study and prayer. Maybe that's not the way you are "supposed" to get answers from God. Seemed to work for me. I'm not here to castigate those who don't believe. We are here because we wanted to have the freedom to choose. My responsibility is to live what I know to be true for me. If my life reflects something you want to know about, I'm happy to share. What ever you believe, I support you. There is a saying floating around: Haters gonna hate. I see that in some of the comments. I believe even if an angel of the Lord or Jesus Christ himself came down, you might still deny it.

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    July 8, 2014 8:58 p.m.

    Science could not have predicted or validated the parted Red Sea, manna from heaven, the pregnancy of the virgin Mary, the healing of the sick and afflicted, the Savior walking on water and multiplying fish and wine, let alone the unprecedented resurrection.

    Faith born of the Spirit, my friends. Fools mock, for they shall mourn.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    July 8, 2014 9:59 p.m.

    @Lifelong Ute:

    Just now admitting what? Much of this information has been available since the 1960's. Hugh Nibley discussed it widely in the 1970's. Courses on BYU's campus have dealt with the details that we know of the BofA translation process since the early 1980's. This is such old news.
    Practically every faithful student of LDS scripture and doctrine has read about this material and these concepts. This is a simple essay for investigators and the uninformed.

  • Neanderthal Phoenix, AZ
    July 8, 2014 10:01 p.m.

    @Lifelong Ute:
    "Why are out church leaders just now admitting this?"

    Most probably didn't even care to have a doubt. They take/took it on faith to be truly a translation of Abraham's own writing.

    Actually, I doubt if JS knew enough Egyptian (or whatever language it was written in) to make an actual translation.

    @Swimmer:
    "The Church has never tried to prove the truth of its teachings or claims regarding the Book of Mormon or of Abraham by empirical evidence."

    There isn't enough empirical evidence to do much research on.

    I, for one, have always been concerned that, when Smith would translate the BofM he would not allow his scribes to see the actual plates. Nor anyone else. Not his wife or children. Why so secretive? If I were a scribe I'd insist on seeing the physical item. Can you imagine how convincing the whole account would be had there been independent, outside verification? Some would counter that you need faith. Knowledge is said to be superior to faith.

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    July 8, 2014 10:04 p.m.

    Lifelong Ute - Maybe you weren't taught that by teachers you have had in your life, but their misunderstanding does not change the fact that this has always been the churches stand on the Book of Abraham. I learned the background of the translation almost 30 years ago, so its not exactly a secret, just not a common subject.

    Why are you "shocked" just because you learned something new? Are you shocked that you didn't know all that there was to know about the church or are you trying to derive some nonexistent malicious intent from the Church?

    What I find funny is the number of people that didn't know the Church's stand on many of the subjects presented in these new essays. What I find alarming is the number of people being "shocked" because the truth does not match their opinions - and they seem to think their opinions are more valid.

  • Mick Murray, Utah
    July 8, 2014 10:42 p.m.

    Neaderthal

    People did see the plates. There were 11 witness who gave recorded their witness of seeing and handling the plates. You can read their testimony in the front of the Book of Mormon. I believe Mrs. Whitmer also saw the plates.

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    July 8, 2014 10:51 p.m.

    PP stated "What I find alarming is the number of people being "shocked" because the truth does not match their opinions - and they seem to think their opinions are more valid."

    PP, You don't get it, my friend. When a person has a personal testimony of Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon or Book of Abraham from actual ancient golden plates or scrolls, and they find out the Book of Mormon was translated with a rock in a hat or BOA inspired from God but not a direct translation from scrolls, they not only do not have a testimony of that, they doubt the validity of the method they got a testimony as their testimony was in something that was wrong.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    July 8, 2014 10:52 p.m.

    Along with so many things, the "explanations" about the Book of Abraham just don't pass the smell test. It smells like Denmark!

  • brokenclay Tempe, AZ
    July 8, 2014 10:54 p.m.

    Grant S. Heward and Jerald Tanner, "The Source of the Book of Abraham Identified," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3:2 (Summer 1968): 92-97.

  • LogicalPrime Rigby, ID
    July 8, 2014 10:58 p.m.

    First word of advice to those with negative comments: read the essay all the way through and be sure you understand what it is saying. Second word of advice: consider what would happen if science did prove the Book of Mormon and all related scripture true in the way that the LDS church believes it to be true. Would this lead to any change whatever in you or the grand majority of people on the planet? What is the end result for someone who knows that God is real and still refuses to obey as contrasted with the end result for someone who has only a slight reason to believe and decides not to? I think God respects our ability to choose for ourselves and has designed this life to depend on faith to avoid condemning too many people to too harsh an ending.

  • Church member North Salt Lake, UT
    July 8, 2014 11:05 p.m.

    To: SuperTechnobowl

    I totally understand what you are saying about believing in miracles. I respect you for choosing to believe in Mormon and Christian miracles that you have read about.

    When you hear about Muslim miracles (there are hundreds) and Catholic miracles and FLDS miracles and Scientology miracles why don't you choose to believe they are real as well?

    Which miracles (supernatural beliefs) are we supposed to believe in and which ones are we supposed to laugh off as non-sense?

    If your answer is to ask God and he will tell you, it seems like he tells everyone a different answer. :)

  • Church member North Salt Lake, UT
    July 8, 2014 11:13 p.m.

    TO: Mick

    Just so you know. The 11 "witnesses" did not see the plates with their actual eyes. They have said they only saw the plates with their "spiritual eyes". Which means they saw the plates in a vision after having prayed for 3 hours in a dark room.

  • Neanderthal Phoenix, AZ
    July 8, 2014 11:26 p.m.

    @Mick:
    "People did see the plates."

    Where's his wife's statement? I would have thought the first people you'd show such an important item would be your wife and family. And even mom and dad. His son was so unimpressed that he even headed up another church.

    My point is simply this... if the good news of the gospel is to be believed and spread why not provide as much physical evidence to as many people as you can. As I indicated, faith is good but knowledge is far superior.

    Even Christ, upon His resurrected didn't keep it a secret. He went instead to His disciples and said 'handle me and see.'

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    July 9, 2014 12:07 a.m.

    I love how the church discounts that Joseph Smith said it was a 'translation' of the papyri, and now they are saying it was a 'revelation' that had nothing to do with the papyri. So if the writings didn't come from the papyri, then there would have been no need for Joseph Smith to obtain them. Sounds an awful lot like the Book of Mormon story where Joseph went to great lengths to obtain the golden plates, only to not use them during translation as they lay covered by a cloth while he 'translated' them. So he really didn't need the plates, he really didn't need the papyri... it just doesn't add up. It really proves that Joseph Smith was very good at telling stories, and not very good at translating.

  • UT Brit London, England
    July 9, 2014 3:47 a.m.

    LogicalPrime

    We are told that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". The problem we have now with the BoA, is that the evidence directly contradicts what we have been told previously.

    @PP

    This is another problem, how quick we are to blame the members for things that have not been taught to them in the church. We are strictly told to avoid reading things on the internet that may set the church in a bad light.
    You will find that the church has taught very different things about the BoA and subjects such as blacks and the priesthood over the years. These essays are a long time coming, things like this should have sunday school lessons dedicated to it and the essay about the priesthood ban should be read from the pulpit in sacrament.

    @Mick

    No they didnt actually see them, they saw it with their "spiritual" eyes. The plates were covered constantly.

  • cambodia girl Phnom Penh, Cambodia
    July 9, 2014 5:24 a.m.

    When I was young I wanted to know the answers right away. And then I there were plenty of times I thought I knew everything. I even thought I knew exactly what my parents should be doing as parents, etc.

    Life has taught me that what I knew then was minuscule compared to what I have learned now. I had to reign myself in and realize that I needed more patience and understanding. I am still learning.

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is the same. There is no way each of us will know all the answers right now. We do not have full understanding but we do have many tools to find the answers. The Church teaches us that we must have faith, study and pray on our own. Isn't that wonderful? Heavenly Father loves us so much that He will let each of us know, personally. As with anything important in life, we must do the work to appreciate the fruit of our labors. Personal revelation, is just that, Personal! Absolutely no critic, or no one can take that away.

  • 3grandslams Iowa City, IA
    July 9, 2014 5:47 a.m.

    Re:lifelong ute
    That's not news about the book of Abraham. LDS scholars have pointed that out for years.

  • TimBehrend Auckland NZ, 00
    July 9, 2014 6:18 a.m.

    JM: It is impossible for Joseph to have known all the accurate names, cultures, symbolism, places, geographic turns, etc etc of the ancient MEast and Americas.

    There are any number of texts (think Egyptian pyramids, the Kabbalah, the patterns seen in tree bark and clouds, the writings of Nostradamus, St Malachy or Ranggawarsita - to name three of thousands, conspiracy theories about aliens, Jews, Illuminati, Mormons, Kennedies, Clintons, 9-11...) in which devotees have seen unassailable proofs and prophecies that most Mormons consider to be pure imagination. Mormon apologists from Nibley to FARMS have done the same, reading into coincidental elements of sacred texts 'proofs' of their antiquity. At the same time, most Mormons reject the very solid conclusions of Biblical Higher Criticism about multiple authors and textual accretion in the canonical compilations of Christianity and Judaism. Humans create the meanings they need and want with any available material, in every region, religion, and age of the earth.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    July 9, 2014 7:10 a.m.

    What I find fascinating is that the LDS Church felt it necessary to offer this bit of apologia in the first place.

    This feeble application of a tiny bandaid merely calls attention to the larger wound.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    July 9, 2014 7:19 a.m.

    Faith, hope and charity should be in the minds of people.

    God has a plan and he is not going to force us on this testing ground of Earth to go by it. We can read and pray. His word is in scriptures to help us know what to do and even to know part of his plan. Abraham was a powerful man and recognized as an ancestral Father to many people on this earth. God knew Abraham and Abraham was faithful.

    4 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.

    5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    July 9, 2014 8:05 a.m.

    I have studied the Book of Abraham all my life from a doctrinal standpoint and can not find one passage, one sentence, one concept presented that does not serve to increase my faith and knowledge of God, His character and attributes. What more can anyone ask of any scripture? If the facsimiles do not match the text, so be it! We don't have even one of the original texts of the Bible and critics don't fuss about that! If you demand proof, you will be forced dismiss all scripture especially the Bible and will never comprehend either God or yourself!

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 9, 2014 8:45 a.m.

    RE: Mountanman,a concept? “… Abraham, Abraham, behold, my name is Jehovah… ”(Abraham 1:16) Translated from the Papyrus, by Joseph Smith.

    JS spelled the divine name of God wrong as “Jehovah”. The letter "J" doesn't even exist in Hebrew, Greek, Latin. The English language did not have a letter "J" before about 1500 AD. For example, the very first edition of the KJV printed in 1611 AD, contained no "J". Instead the letter "I" is used for Jesus, Joshua, John. AND the person pronoun "I". These words were written in 1611 AD as Iesus, Ioshua and Iohn. JS owned a 1769 KJV. RLDS archives.

    Modern scholars,"Jehovah" is "grammatically impossible" (Jewish Encyclopedia). The scholarly consensus, the English form Jehovah is an Anglicized form of Yehovah".

    RE: Swimmer, God never says to pray about truth. He says to search the Scriptures to find truth (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:16). James was written to believers and already had the truth. That is why James calls them "brothers". This verse is about wisdom, not about praying to see if the Book of Mormon is true. (1 tim 3:16): Heb 11:3).

  • Oh Really? HERRIMAN, UT
    July 9, 2014 8:54 a.m.

    @Churchmember

    I suggest you read the Testimony of the Eight Witnesses to get your facts straight. They held the plates in their hands, turned the pages (plates) leaf by leaf.

  • goosehuntr Tooele, UT
    July 9, 2014 9:27 a.m.

    And back and forth we go... Proof of anything true is in living the principles it teaches. If the principle makes a claim, and the principle is lived and the principle is verified by the results... it is true. If the principles are lived and the promises of that principle is unfulfilled, it is false. Principles are the " if...then " of divine truth. IF I do this THEN this will be the result. Proof of the Book of Abraham is in identifying and living it's principles. Then one will know the truth, "and the truth will make them free." Truth is defined as "things as they really are, were, and will be." It is light. If by living the principles found in the Book of Abraham improve your life, faith and overall goodness, it is good, and whatsoever is good cometh of Christ.

  • gittalopctbi Glendale, AZ
    July 9, 2014 9:52 a.m.

    Thank you, Gene Pool and Cambodia Girl.

    @UT Brit @Neanderthal They did see them and handle them. You do not have the correct facts. All you have to do is read "The Testimony of Eight Witnesses:

    "as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship."

    @Neanderthal Yes, knowledge *can be* superior to faith in some ways, but knowledge after faith is even more superior. You sound like Thomas of old did: "Except I shall see...I will not believe." Then after Thomas got the knowledge of which you speak (by feeling the prints in hand, feet, and side) and declared "My Lord, My God," Jesus said, "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 9, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    Some of the scriptures which have been used in the past to justify excluding blacks from the priesthood are in the P of GP. What is the modern interpretation of the following:

    "25 Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal.

    26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood."

  • Screenusnomus USA, CA
    July 9, 2014 10:09 a.m.

    Let us not be so concerned with the truthfulness of this, as much as the truthyness that it offers.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    July 9, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    Some, many actually, who have never even known that this Book of Abraham controversy existed seem to be using it as a big "gotcha" moment to try to discredit the LDS Church as a whole. Something that seems to be more important to them than finding their own faith. Why bother? Doesn't everyone know by now that proof of anything religious or spiritual is like trying to argue what the best color is.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 9, 2014 10:37 a.m.

    As improbable as the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham accounts are, they contain human interest and plausibility, slight though the plausibility may be to critical observation. Those are the key elements for taking a fantastic tale seriously. It’s what creative writers call suspension of disbelief.

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    July 9, 2014 10:39 a.m.

    2close2call - I am pretty sure I do understand. Reading your comments it seems apparent that you have chosen to believe things that aren't true or are taken completely out of context. I know these things are bandied about by the anti Mormon crowd but aside from the intentional deception from said crowd and the myopic focus on misinterpreting a singular event without the proper context everything you mentioned has a very normal and common explanation. It only seems strange when you twist things into the illogical pretzels the said crown does in order to generate controversy.

    UT Brit - There was no blame in my comment, just an observation. Another observation is this: There has not been a single thing new to me in any of these essays - especially the blacks and the priesthood one. Every single thing presented is from well known and established sources and they were available many years ago. That is why it is surprising to me that people are freaking out. I suppose the problem is sorting the misinformation from the truth sometimes, but when the truth is presented to you there is no cause to kill the messenger because of your own misunderstanding.

  • Kaladin Northern, CO
    July 9, 2014 11:16 a.m.

    I love that the Church is releasing these essays. There are incorrect teachings that have gone on for many years - not from the top but within individual wards/areas. Nothing in these essays is nor should be enough to shake my faith. To the contrary they solidify my faith as I have longed for some of these little-known facts to be addressed by the Church. I feel the reason they have not been addressed directly in the past is because they are less important than the doctrine of the Church - love of God and others being most important. Sure, many things we believe may be fantastical to many, but the most important thing to me is that the teachings of the Church and the study of its scriptures makes me a better person. That is why I will never criticize any other Church as long as they teach the love of God and others. Whether the BOA is a literal translation of lost papyri or a revelation sparked by the items Joseph received doesn't matter to me - what matters is that my life is better for studying the words.

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    July 9, 2014 11:45 a.m.

    Mountanman, - Here is a concept - if you translate YHVH (Hebrew spelling of Jehovah) into English - even in 1830 - do you know what you get? JEHOVAH. That's why its called a translation, because you are translating it into a form your contemporaries can't read to one that they can. So it doesnt matter that the "original" spelling of the Lords name was Jahvey or Jahweh or JHVH or Wahvey or Yahve or Yahveh or Yahwe or Yahweh or YHVH or YHWH - to Joseph and his contemporaries the correct translation was Jehovah.

    So if I were to translate the french phrase "Ancien Livre" into English that you could read I would not write "Auld bóc" which would be the authentic translation I would write "Old Book" so that my contemporaries could actually read and understand what I am writing.

    Sadly, these are the kind of ridiculous arguments that the anti Mormon crowd hang their hats on, and they convince many people with less secure testimonies that it is somehow a significant negative issue when in reality it is evidence that Joseph Smith did things correctly.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    July 9, 2014 11:47 a.m.

    From the existing papyri and fragments, and descriptions of the now missing pieces, Egyptologists have determined that this was a first century BCE funeral scroll. Besides not possibly being written by the hand of Abraham, it is now argued that Joseph Smith used the papyri for inspiration to write something completely different. I would ask then why did Joseph even need the papyri in the first place? And lest we forget it was passages about the curse being passed down through Ham and his wife Egyptus and the pharaoh not being able to hold the priesthood as he descended from Ham, that were used as the scriptural justifications for denying blacks the priesthood for about 140 years.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 9, 2014 11:58 a.m.

    FROM THE ESSAY ON THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM:

    "....Abraham 3:22–23 is written in a poetic structure more characteristic of Near Eastern languages than early American writing style...."
    ______________________________

    I wouldn't expect it to reflect anything else being in the idiom of the King James Bible which Bible-reading Americans of Joseph Smith’s time were familiar with.

    I carefully read the entire essay on the Church website. The conclusions it advances repeatedly strain my credulity. Especially annoying is its persistent determined effort to force an understanding of translation that is not what most people take that term to mean.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 9, 2014 12:24 p.m.

    Whether literal or not, and regardless of how, did Joseph Smith "translate" the BoA with the same skill and inspiration that he "translated" the Facsimiles?

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    July 9, 2014 1:09 p.m.

    Regarding the use of parallels that the producer of a work "could not possibly have known" as evidence that its production must be miraculous, consider the case of the Catholic mystic Maria Valtorta.

    Over a period of eight years, she wrote 122 books, totaling 15,000 pages, which compares roughly with the pages-per-day rate at which the Book of Mormon was translated. She claimed that the voice of Jesus had come to her and instructed her to fill in details about his life.

    Defenders of Valtorta's work being authentically inspired argue that she could not possibly have known details about the geography and geology of ancient Palestine she described. In one astonishing coincidence, she accurately described an arrangement of stars and planets in the year AD 33 that allegedly could not have been known without using modern computer simulations to model the ancient sky.

    I don't believe in Maria Valtorta. It would be an incredible coincidence if there were never any incredible coincidences.

  • Go2 Utah, UT
    July 9, 2014 1:12 p.m.

    Quote from the essay: "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, though there is not unanimity, even among non-Mormon scholars, about the proper interpretation of the vignettes on these fragments.27 Scholars have identified the papyrus fragments as parts of standard funerary texts that were deposited with mummified bodies. These fragments date to between the third century B.C.E. and the first century C.E., long after Abraham lived."
    YES! This is what people have been arguing about and posting online for years - unfortunately these facts have destroyed fragile testimonies. Perhaps the funerary text that is facsimile 1 should come out of the scriptures and let the Book of Abraham stand on it's own - that picture that has caused so much of the controversy. I am so grateful that the Church leadership is publishing these important truths.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 9, 2014 1:28 p.m.

    There's something quite sad happening in Mormonism here in the 21st century.

    Church-wide, according to Martinich & Stewart, the Mormon activity level is now down to about 30% and that it costs $6-7000 for every new convert who is still active at one year.

    Marlin K. Jensen has apparently acknowledged publicly that there's a crisis of apostasy in Mormonism that's not been seen since Kirtland.

    It' a good thing that the Lord re-established His Only True Church early in the 19th century rather than in the 21st since it could never even get off the ground today. That alone testifies that it is His Work and His Glory.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 9, 2014 2:01 p.m.

    Shelama,

    "There's something quite sad happening in Mormonism here in the 21st century...."
    ______________________________

    Never sell short the resilience of human faith. People experience their own private crucibles, generations pass away, new ones reinvent themselves, and faith endures. During the 16th century Protestant Reformation, it must have looked like Christianity was coming apart at the seams and might be in its death throes. What we now see in hindsight is Christianity having a rebirth infused with deeper understanding.

    Mormonism is not in crisis. It’s just experiencing growing pains.

  • Buddyroe Sherwood, OR
    July 9, 2014 2:07 p.m.

    How can JS translate supposed writings by the man Abraham while in Egypt when he was named Abram at the time?
    Abraham did not yet know his name was Abraham and what JS claims is in contradiction to Holy scripture.

    Gen 12:9-20 Abram goes to Egypt to escape famine then returns to Canaan.

    Gen 17:5 God changes Abram's name to Abraham.

    Gen 20:1 Nearest point Abraham ever again came to Egypt was Gerar, a few miles east of Gaza.

  • Gregory Hill Richboro, PA
    July 9, 2014 2:20 p.m.

    Ernest T. Bass: who wrote the phrase "written by his own hand on papyrus" and what those words betoken are not as clear as you seem to think. Hugh Nibley and BYU Egyptologist Dr. John Gee both have offered a number of explanations, in historical context, that would allow for the papyri to have been copies of copies of copies of what Abraham originally wrote.

    Look up Steven O. Smoot's article "By His Own Hand< Upon Papyrus: Another Look" in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture. I would cite you to the URL but doing so generates a "too long unwrappable line" error message.

    And, of course, the papyri we now have may well not be the papyri Joseph used as the basis for his translation. Contemporary witnesses describe those papyri differently.

    Joseph received many papyri, and said at the time that many were funerary scripts that had nothing to do with Abraham.

  • jamesallred centerville, UT
    July 9, 2014 3:49 p.m.

    I think we can find some common ground between critics and mormons alike.

    1) None of the extant papyri contain anything about Abrham. And we have at least one fragment (if not more) of the papyri he used as facsimile 1.

    2) There is great confusion today what it means to "translate". Many look at is a literal translation. The mormon church is proposing a different definition of translation to mean something closer to revelation.

    3) The three facsimiles contained with the book of Abraham are not translated correctly according mormon and non-mormon egyptologists.

    4) Early church leaders and members believed (or it is reasonable to think that they believed) that Joseph Smith was doing a literal translation (if you would like source, I would be more than happy to provide).

    5) If you want to believe, then believe.

    6) If the evidence looks like a fraud to you, then don't believe.

  • Ron Hilton Holladay, UT
    July 9, 2014 3:59 p.m.

    There is in fact a correspondence between the papyrus fragments and the Book Abraham, as outlined by Joseph Smith in his "Egyptian Grammar" referred to in the essay. Smith correctly divided the Egyptian characters on full-word and morpheme boundaries (nearly impossible for one unfamiliar with Egyptian hieroglyphics), and those words/concepts are found in the corresponding English language verses from Abraham 1-2. One theory is that these hieroglyphs were a mnemonic device for the recitation of an oral tradition of the story of Abraham, long forgotten but revealed anew to Smith in connection with the original hieroglyphics. My source is the Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology at BYU, Number 109, October 25, 1968.

  • Xyandro Orem, UT
    July 9, 2014 4:23 p.m.

    The essay failed to explain the complete mistranslation of Facsimile 3, where Joseph Smith indicated the translated text (points 2, 4, & 5).

    For example, #2 says "King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters above his head." when really it's "Isis the great, the god's mother."

    (See wikipedia.org, Book_of_Abraham)

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 9, 2014 7:58 p.m.

    RE: Mountanman " If you demand proof, you will be forced dismiss all scripture..."

    True enough. I am a Marxist, but I believe spiritual experience happens. I make it a practice to never "dis" another person's spiritual experience. The spiritual is another means of apprehending reality, not the only one, but a legitimate one.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 9, 2014 9:13 p.m.

    @ cambodia girl
    "The Church teaches us that we must have faith, study and pray on our own. Isn't that wonderful?"

    It's wonderful until you do it and come up with a different answer that the men in charge. Then you are out. So it's easier and safer to just accept the company line and not waste your time and take the personal risk of studying on your own.

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    July 9, 2014 9:28 p.m.

    PP stated "It only seems strange when you twist things into the illogical pretzels the said crown does in order to generate controversy."

    This is an interesting statement as I thought individual writers were twisting things into illogical pretzels in order to still keep their faith in the LDS church as I read fair Mormon apologetic attempts to explain the Book of Abraham!

    By the way, you never answered my comment and instead bad mouthed people that lose their faith in the LDS church by stating they are believing in "anti mormon deception"! why is that the Modus operandi instead of simply explaining what the "anti Mormon deception" is?

  • kolob1 sandy, UT
    July 9, 2014 9:38 p.m.

    Having read the BOA "essay" several times I find : 5 main excuses.

    1) "It is futile to assess Joseph's ability to translate because We don't have all of the papyri Joseph Smith used"
    2)"Ancient records are often transmitted as copies or as copies of copies."
    3) "This view assumes a broader definition of the words translator and translation. According to this view, Joseph’s translation was not a literal rendering of the papyri as a conventional translation would be. Translation doesn't really mean translation, there is a "broader meaning"
    4) "Joseph Smith did not claim to know ancient languages"
    5) "Neither the Lord nor Joseph Smith explained the process of translation of the book of Abraham,"

    These are direct quotes from the "essay", All of these excuses ignore one fact. If Joseph Smith was a Prophet ,a Seer and a Revelator why would he need to resort to an excuse. And why did they say Joseph Smith did not claim to be able to translate the papyri. He declared on the first day " his history recounts, much to our joy [we] found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham.” He declared this on his first viewing of the papyri.

  • IanW Drasco, AR
    July 9, 2014 9:40 p.m.

    I'm noticing a lot of comments from people who appear to have never actually read the essay to which this article refers, "Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham". I encourage those who haven't read the essay to read it. The essay addresses many of the concerns that have been expressed. The truth of the matter is that there is much evidence that the Book of Abraham is legitimate. The points many people have made to try to discredit it are controversial at best. But since these discrediting points can neither be confirmed nor denied conclusively at this moment in time, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has contented itself with presenting the evidence as it is, addressing both the supporting and opposing points, and leaving the final decision up to the reader. Ultimately, the decision of veracity is the reader's, regardless of what evidence anyone presents; as it is with any issue.

  • kolob1 sandy, UT
    July 9, 2014 9:59 p.m.

    @Ron Hilton "Smith correctly divided the Egyptian characters on full-word and morpheme boundaries" in re his Egyptian Grammar dictionary. All the experts that examined Joseph Smith's "dictionary" declared it to be nonsense, fantasy and gibberish. Ask the Church to release a copy to modern day Egyptologist. Even the "essay" doesn't give the dictionary much credence. It can't because all of the words and symbols were made up as if "children were playing with a schoolyard language of their own invention". In regard to multiple theories and explanation(s) of the origin of the Book of Abraham one question comes to mind. If Joseph Smith was a Prophet and had the word of God on his lips why do we need theories and explanations today? Doesn't make sense for someone so closely connected to the word of God to leave such a messy trail.

  • SamL Stansbury Park, UT
    July 9, 2014 10:21 p.m.

    A high school mythology class started my 40+ year love of all things Egyptian. I don’t claim to have mastered Egyptology beyond serious hobbiest. I can claim that I have studied just about everything pro and con about the Book of Abraham. After delving into the evidence, I find the “cons” as questionable as the “pros.” I don’t waste much time with the scientific process anymore (I am extremely well trained in the scientific process) with respect to the Book of Abraham. Rather, I find the Book of Abraham a joy to read. I learn new things every time I read it (several times a year for the last 40+ years). I am very grateful that we have it as scripture. I thought the Church’s post was well written, accurate and direct. I support the post. I look forward to many more years of learning from the Book of Abraham.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 10, 2014 8:57 a.m.

    RE: Sam, “I look forward to many more years of learning from the Book of Abraham.”

    (Abraham 3:26)”And they who keep their “first estate”=(G archē)

    (Jude 1:6 Greek N.T.) “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority Fallen angels, demons. “As translated correctly “i.e…,

    The LORD(YHWH)our God(Elohim)is one’LORD(YHWH).(Deut 6:4).Yet,

    JS said,“Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God is singular number; and by adding the word heim, it renders it Gods.” ( H of C, 1844). ,Wrong, In Hebrew the form of the word Elohim, with the ending -im, which normally indicates a masculine plural, however with Elohim the construction is usually grammatically SINGULAR, (i.e. it governs a singular verb or adjective) when referring to the Hebrew God, but grammatically plural when used of pagan divinities (Psalms 96:5; 97:7). See # 430 Strong’s Hebrew concordance translates Elohim to God in the(KJV) .

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    July 10, 2014 8:59 a.m.

    Lifelong Ute says:

    It's only the tip of the iceberg buddy.

    @LogicalPrime;

    No worries. Science isn't going to prove the BoM because it didn't happen.

  • ldsironrodder Mount Vernon, OH
    July 10, 2014 9:15 a.m.

    "Oh! ye of little faith."

    There is a source of knowledge of greater import than any penned document or verbalized opinion of fallible man. Fortunately, this source does not participate in "scholarly debate." Of course, it does have prerequisite standards which must be followed in order to gain truth from the source of absolute truth. Abraham and Joseph Smith were both recipients of this "gift." As a matter of fact, I too, know the truth about this topic of conversation. Therefore, I need not subject myself to the babble emanating from the mouths of those know not or care not where to find it.

    Hopefully, those who find fault with everything The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints submits for public consumption will remember where to find the light they seek when they are facing the darkness which is rapidly covering the earth.

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    July 10, 2014 9:15 a.m.

    @ Kolob1

    It is interesting that Joseph Smith Jr. was able to organize a Church, Write the Book of Mormon, and the numerous others things all while being persecuted and being moved from state to state.

    The amount of things that he accomplished or helped to accomplish with his lack of schooling that he had is remarkable.

    I have read the majority of the comments and a lot of them are arguing around the main point. Was Joseph Smith Jr. the prophet of the restoration or was he not?

    It really comes down to that argument. He is either a real prophet or a false prophet. In the bible it tells us how you can know a false prophet from a true prophet. It is by "by their fruits".

    Joseph Smith Jr. mission was to restore the Church of Jesus Christ in our day and time and he did what he was called to do!

    It is often easy leave out history during these discussions. Do you know how much traveling was required of the people back then? Do you know the average speed of horse, foot, etc according to the routes they travailed?

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    July 10, 2014 10:08 a.m.

    @TheProudDuck

    Compare the lives / responsibilities / accomplishments / etc of Maria Valtorta and those of Joseph Smith Jr.

    It is interesting to compare and contrast and once you do you will see that they lived very different lives.

    According to Maria Valtorta life it would be a lot more feasible to come up with / write "things God told her" than Joseph Smith Jr. simply for the fact of having time to make up stuff.

    Did Joseph Smith Jr. really have tons of time on his hands to just make up all the stuff that he translated?

    I would extrapolate further but I think you are getting my gist.

    Logistical history needs to be considered when trying to understand the feasibility of things that were accomplished back then.

    Thing such as:
    How much traveling was required of the people back then?
    What as the average speed on horseback? foot? etc according to the routes they travailed?

  • jamesallred centerville, UT
    July 10, 2014 10:16 a.m.

    @IanW - You said: "The points many people have made to try to discredit it are controversial at best."

    I am confused by these statement. There is no confusion that the three facsimiles found in the Book of Abraham have been translated incorrectly. Even mormon apologists agree that their translation is incorrect.

    Where exactly is the controversy on that particular argument?

    I would hope you could find it in your heart that there are some legitimate questions with sound reasoning, even if you want to disregard them.

    All the best.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 10, 2014 11:53 a.m.

    "....There is a source of knowledge of greater import than any penned document or verbalized opinion of fallible man. Fortunately, this source does not participate in "scholarly debate."
    ______________________________

    Any religion can hallow as scripture whatever texts it chooses. But a text that purports to be an ancient document written by a figure venerated by all three Western religions is fair game for scholarly scrutiny and criticism.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 10, 2014 12:51 p.m.

    @AerilusMaximus

    "It really comes down to that argument. He is either a real prophet or a false prophet. In the bible it tells us how you can know a false prophet from a true prophet. It is by "by their fruits".
    It is often easy leave out history during these discussions. Do you know how much traveling was required of the people back then? Do you know the average speed of horse, foot, etc according to the routes they travailed?"

    You have hit the nail on the head. However it is impossible to evaluate the fruits and the history because both of those things are actively obstructed by the Church. The church won't even admit that Joseph Smith had many many wives and who they were (and where located) so how are we to evaluate how much of his traveling time was spent visiting wives versus building the kingdom? The church keeps its finances secret, so how are we to evaluate the "fruits"? For example, how much money is spent by the church each year acquiring more agricultural land versus helping the undernourished children of the world?

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    July 10, 2014 2:08 p.m.

    @1aggie

    So because the church isn't forthright in all its operations then suddenly it is an obstructionist?

    Maybe it isn't forthright because there are many people in today's world that like to take advantage of charitable organizations?

    So you don't think the Church purchasing lands is part of their plan in helping those in poor countries?

    You don't think the food the church provides through humanitarian aid comes from these lands?

    What do you think the Church does with all the food that comes from the lands it obtains?

    The church tells us to have emergency preparedness do you not think that the church itself has a storage of food for preparedness reasons?

    The church also operates bishop storehouses across the country and at those locations I am confident some of the foods that are handed out to poorer / income challenged people in the church comes from these lands that you are talking about.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 10, 2014 2:40 p.m.

    "What do you think the Church does with all the food that comes from the lands it obtains?"

    It sells it. You clearly do not know of what you speak (and none of us really do because of the secrecy), but let me help you out directionally. The Church is the biggest nut farmer in Calif. A smaller farmer that I am aware of sold billions of pounds of nuts last year and earned profits (not gross income) of over half a billion dollars. The Church operations are larger and would drown every Bishops storehouse in the US with even a small fraction of its harvest.

    And this is just one of the Church businesses I am describing.

    The amount of food aid (in tons) delivered to foreign disaster recipients over the past 30 years (according to the Church's published statistics) is less than the amount of food (in tons) delivered to Southern California Grocery stores in a week.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    July 10, 2014 4:15 p.m.

    @Aerilus Maximus
    "Was Joseph Smith Jr. the prophet of the restoration or was he not?
    It really comes down to that argument. He is either a real prophet or a false prophet. "

    It is rather a shame that it comes to that but those pretty much are the only valid options for someone to have (aside from "I don't know" of course). Not much room for "he seems like a decent guy who I just disagree with".

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    July 10, 2014 4:19 p.m.

    I find the essay an embarrassment. The explanation for the Book of Abraham is simple. Mr. Smith made it up. There's no reason not to simply acknowledge that and move forward trying to do good in the world.

  • Old Poet Salt Lake City, UT
    July 10, 2014 6:17 p.m.

    In any discussion of the Book of Abraham, for a serious student of the Book of Abraham, one must not forget Hugh Nibley's
    THE EGYPTIAN ENDOWMENT (a sub-title suggested by Harold B. Lee), to which many have responded over the years. Still, who among any of us, or them possess or possessed Dr. Nibley's knowledge of the languages and culture out of which the ancient records came? As for Joseph Smith, Jr., the "seer"--who can see so expansively, touching so many fine points of language, suggesting the Joseph Smith, Jr. knew beyond any formal education of his time. Dr. Glade Burgon's discovery of a variety of writing styles in the Book of Mormon is a case in point. Hugh W. Pinnock's ANCIENT LITERARY FORMS IN THE BOOK OF MORMON (1999) is another. Protestant scholar James H. Charlesworth's "Messianism in the Pseudepigrapha and The Book of Mormon" is another. One must forget John Welch's discovery of Hebrew chiasmus in the Book of Mormon, and a host of publications by SEHA, FARMS, Zarahemla Record, and FRAA.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    July 10, 2014 6:55 p.m.

    @ Apocalypse please - Bluffdale, UT - "The truth of the book of Abraham is ultimately found through careful study of its teachings, sincere prayer, and the confirmation of the Spirit." I suppose anything can be true if you are measuring with that kind of epistemological yardstick."

    You would 'suppose' wrong.

    Something is either true or it isn't. Period. There is no in between.

    If it's true, then the Spirit will bear testimony of it.

    If it's not true, then the Spirit will NOT bear testimony of it, no matter what one says.

    The problem is that people believe they've felt the Spirit bear witness of something when in fact they did not.

    To discern whether one feels the Holy Spirit, honesty and critical, careful introspection are what is needed most.

    Good luck!

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    July 10, 2014 7:58 p.m.

    1aggie

    So assuming that what you say is true. I don't understand the big deal?

    Are you unaware of the increase of missionaries in the field? How about the increase of student at BYU-Idaho? There are many things the Church is doing around the world that you may or may not accept as charitable.

    I am guessing your specific beef with the Church would be that if it has a ton of why are they holding on to it and not giving it away?

    Another thing I would guess is why don't they explain in greater detail why the members don't know more about what the church invests in?

    I would direct you to the Church Auditing Department Report for the Year 2013. This report is given each year during April conference.

    "The Church Auditing Department, which consists of credentialed professionals and is independent of all other Church departments, has responsibility to perform audits for the purpose of providing reasonable assurance regarding contributions received, expenditures made, and safeguarding of Church assets."

    "The Church follows the practices taught to its members of living within a budget, avoiding debt, and saving against a time of need."

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 10, 2014 9:38 p.m.

    @AerilusMaximus

    "So assuming that what you say is true. I don't understand the big deal?"

    Since you missed the point, I will restate it. It is impossible to evaluate the fruits and the history of the Church because both of those things are actively obstructed (see my earlier post for examples). If the Church were open and forthcoming about both, then people would be more able to form educated opinions, but it appears that they do not think openness is important or useful.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 11, 2014 7:30 a.m.

    RE: The Caravan Moves On, The problem is that people believe they've felt the Spirit bear witness of something when in fact they did not.

    The Holy Spirit/Ghost Bears witness of Jesus and that Jesus sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26). The Jesus of the Bible will send the Holy Spirit. If you don't have the right Jesus they can't have the true Holy Spirit, and your testimony is invalid.

    E.g..,And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us insight to know him who is true, and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This one(Jesus) is the true God and eternal life.(1 John 5:20) The problem with sincerity is that it becomes works righteousness because the person is saying "Because of my sincerity, God will listen to me." In other words, because of what's in the person God will look favorably upon him. God does not look into a person and find something good because there is no good in anyone (Rom. 3:10-12; Eph. 2:3).

    The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9)

  • greatbam22 andrews afb, MD
    July 11, 2014 7:34 a.m.

    @1aggie

    Since you missed some of my point.

    There are 80,000 missionaries around the world helping people. If that is not a fruit of the LDS church then I don't know what is!

    Do you know of any other religion that is sending 18-19 year old to help provide peace to the people of the world?

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    July 11, 2014 10:15 a.m.

    "There are 80,000 missionaries around the world helping people. If that is not a fruit of the LDS church then I don't know what is!"

    I have probably gotten to know moe Mormon missionaries over thirty years than any regular Church member, and I have to question your definition of "helping people". In my experience, missionaries provide precious little "help" to anyone.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    July 11, 2014 12:28 p.m.

    AerilusMaximus wrote:

    "It is interesting that Joseph Smith Jr. was able to organize a Church, Write the Book of Mormon, and the numerous others things all while being persecuted and being moved from state to state. The amount of things that he accomplished or helped to accomplish with his lack of schooling that he had is remarkable."

    Have you ever heard of L. Ron Hubbard? Do a little research, then compare his accomplishments with those of Joseph Smith and then tell us how "remarkable" you think Smith was.

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    July 11, 2014 2:41 p.m.

    @TheProudDuck

    You asked "What as the average speed on horseback? " I must admit this is the first time I've heard this argument to support the position that Joseph Smith did indeed translate something.

    I think its fair to say that when the discussion has reached the point that we're discussing the average speed on horseback, there are no more arguments to support the case that Joseph was divinely inspired.

  • greatbam22 andrews afb, MD
    July 11, 2014 3:28 p.m.

    @The Scientist

    They lived in completely different time periods. It would be very difficult to compare the two of them.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    July 11, 2014 4:12 p.m.

    greatbam22,

    Not difficult at all.

    The point being that so-called "great accomplishments" (especially those listed and preached by the abject followers of the "great person") are not evidence, much less a guarantee, of the "truthfulness" of what the person has supposedly done.

  • deniron Effurun/Nigeria, 00
    July 11, 2014 11:54 p.m.

    The day I read Abraham 1:2, my soul saw the earnest desires of my heart. Leaving my father's house, seeking righteousness, knowledge, instructions until I obtained the priesthood( always saying when I see the sign post of the church,one day I will go and see what these people are doing in that church). So whatsoever any person or group of persons will say does not affect what I know to be true as far it come from Christ own church. However wherever a man gets truth from, let him invite the spirit to testify of it.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    July 12, 2014 8:37 a.m.

    The horrible events of 9/11 were recorded and can be viewed as they occurred repeatedly, yet people still disagree on what happened and why. One can watch the Zapruder film a thousand times and still swear or deny there was a 2nd assassin.

    Why would anyone expect agreement on the BoM and Pearl of Great Price? The past is another universe. It all comes down first to probability re the written testimonies we do have, and ultimately to faith.

    All other discussion is just spinning our wheels.

  • bj-hp Maryville, MO
    July 12, 2014 11:36 a.m.

    IT is always the same critics with the same arguments. The problem is that each of them is waiting for Heavenly Father to come down and tell them the truth. Funny thing is that he has already done so through his living prophets, those who continue to testify to the truth of the restoration and the validity of the Book of Abraham. The thing is that many of us have taken the challenge in the Book of Mormon and found it true. If you are getting an answer different that what is described in the Book of Mormon then you are NOT doing what is described. The testimony is fool proof. Failure to receive the correct response through the Holy Ghost is the fault of the person, not the Book or Mormon or its Challenge. Joseph Smith was a seer, a prophet and an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is a fact. Failure to understand that is the fault of the person not anyone else. The missionaries teach and speak by the Spirit as direct emassaries of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are selfless and help always. Those who fail to see this fall as reps for Satan.

  • BigCougar Bountiful, UT
    July 12, 2014 3:41 p.m.

    @Chris B
    "Numerous Egyptian scholars have proven the book of Abraham and its symbols do not say what Joseph Smith claimed they said....How convenient"

    -------------------------

    Speaking of how convenient, Anti-Mormon critics, such as yourself, are guilty of the very same tactics they accuse the church of. You make convenient, generalized statements and purposefully leave out all of the facts in order to paint as negative of a picture as you can with no interest in truth.

    The fragments recovered and referred to in the discussion amounted to less than 3% of the papyri that Joseph had. They were scraps and amounted to just a fragment of the more than 120 feet of original papyrus that Joseph Smith worked from. The majority of that is believed to be lost in the 1871 Chicago Fire. I suppose you blame that fire on the LDS Church saying they were trying to hide things.

  • Pitchfire Petersburg, AK
    July 12, 2014 10:04 p.m.

    How many of you went to a lab to find out if you first loved your spouse or they you? How many go to a lab to find out what they like to eat? The reason why is because matters of the heart are resolved by the heart, matters of taste by taste. Nasa even uses a guy to sniff parts because noses are pretty darn good instruments.

    Science has not yet replicated the human mind beyond the elementary level of complexity, aside from singular purposes and processes. I don't see how a parent can't look at their newborn child and not see the depth of character already there. Spiritual things are best confirmed spiritually. Does that means that human efforts will or will not prove the veracity of previous human efforts (relatively modern Joseph translating relatively ancient Abraham or whomever)? Actually isn't that a pretty silly question since we're not overly concerned with the men nor the earthly aspects of the papyrus, rather the truth or error they present? I think so.

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    July 12, 2014 11:47 p.m.

    Pitchfire stated "How many of you went to a lab to find out if you first loved your spouse or they you"

    Interesting how how you bring up matters of the heart and compare them to religious belief. I had what I believed was personal revelation that the girl I was dating before my mission would be my eternal wife. She married someone else 6 months into my mission. this clearly showed me that the emotional feelings I feel in regard to personal revelation had nothing to do with truth and are completely unreliable.

  • CDM1525 West Point, UT
    July 13, 2014 12:13 p.m.

    Too many coincidences is not a coincidence. If you actually believe all of the apologetics regarding the book of Abraham, you will also believe that unicorns existed as well.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    July 13, 2014 1:52 p.m.

    BigCougar

    So if the small %3 of the Papyri that we have was translated incorrectly, why would you assume that the rest is somehow translated correctly?? If the small 3% that we do have access too was translated wrong, odds are the rest was wrong as well. If it was indeed a revelation, then it should be %100 correct. And if he couldn't even get that small %3 right, he probably didn't get the rest right. It is really that simple.

  • greatbam22 andrews afb, MD
    July 13, 2014 6:11 p.m.

    @ Brahmabull

    "So if the small %3 of the Papyri that we have was translated incorrectly, why would you assume that the rest is somehow translated correctly?? If the small 3% that we do have access too was translated wrong, odds are the rest was wrong as well. If it was indeed a revelation, then it should be %100 correct. And if he couldn't even get that small %3 right, he probably didn't get the rest right. It is really that simple."

    Yes, but we don't actually know if those fragments were actually part of what Joseph Smith Jr. translated do we?

    From what I understand it is only assumed that they were from the Papyri that Joseph Smith originally translated.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 13, 2014 7:57 p.m.

    RE: Twin Lights, The father metaphor points to God as the Creator. Father captures in one word two contrasting characteristics: God's love for his creatures and his lordship over all creation

    The "Right Hand" (Hebrew idiom)is only figurative/symbolic and not literal for power and authority.

    “only begotten (mongenes G),”misleading, in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship, But it was also used of Jesus (only one of its kind, unique) . John 3:16
    “… true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is *one God, without end..”(2 Nephi 31:21)

    3Nephi 31:22, note b. (1John 5:6-9 KJV & JST) v.7 *heis, 1520=the#1. But “… we are one(en).( John 17-22). One in unity (Preposition) different Greek words.

    “…Contend for the faith that was (hapax*,G530)=Once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.(Jude 1:3 NIV). Greek, "Once" *one time. No heretical revelations to follow.

    D&C 93:33. “For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element. Platonists in general believed in a pre-existent state, and (JS) Freemasons.

  • Steve Holbrook Orem, UT
    July 14, 2014 10:27 p.m.

    I applaud the church for publishing this and the other essays.

    I'm looking forward to two more that will be published soon ("Joseph's plural marriages" and "Women's roles in the Church").

    Had most believing members confronted the content of these essays without knowing the source, they would likely think it came from anti-Mormon sites.

    This isn't anti-Mormon stuff---they are facts from the history of the church that have been kept from the membership, but are widely available on the Internet. Why were they kept from us? What were the leaders afraid of? Why don't they incorporate all this directly in our lessons and in the missionary lessons?

    Elder Steven E. Snow, the Church Historian, said in 2013:

    "I think in the past there was a tendency to keep a lot of the records closed or at least not give access to information. But the world has changed in the last generation with the access to information on the Internet, we can't continue that pattern; I think we need to continue to be more open."

    Please support the Open Letter to the Church leadership that calls for more transparency: http://www.mormonopenletter.com/

  • Serenity Manti, UT
    July 18, 2014 9:34 p.m.

    I do not understand some of the snarky remarks about the Church or its position of the Book of Abraham. The Church is kind and offers explanations when none are required. Faith is faith and if one believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet and spoke with God, then there is no reason to comment. If someone does not believe it, then their comments are completely without value. Many try to discredit the Church, but for what reason? Why does it really matter to them if the Mormon Church is right or wrong? Faith is faith and the witness of the Holy Spirit is stronger than any denigrating of the Gospel or the cannon of the LDS Church. As it says in Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But the Spirit of the Lord provides the evidence a believer needs to have and offers the gentle peace which is found in the knowledge of the truth.

  • bostero San Francisco, CA
    Aug. 15, 2014 10:22 a.m.

    In the past, the church has gotten away with telling people "pray about the matter" to get answers to difficult questions. Problem is people are now better informed, better educated and more skeptical about church history. This will be a big problem for the church in the future.

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 22, 2015 4:50 p.m.

    "According to this view, Joseph Smiths translation was not a literal rendering of the papyri as a conventional translation would be. Rather, the physical artifacts provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation. They catalyzed a process whereby God gave to Joseph Smith a revelation about the life of Abraham, even if that revelation did not directly correlate to the characters on the papyri."

    It still begs the question Why did Joseph Smith make the effort to replicate characters from the papyri and claim they were written in Abraham's own hand depicting events that no one else would ever conclude. If it were a direct revelation why did it take so long for us to come to such a conclusion.