There are 11 thoughts on “Book of Abraham Polemics: Dan Vogel’s Broad Critique of the Defense of the Book of Abraham”.

  1. Great work Jeff, as always! Thanks so much for all that you do. There is clear evidence that Vogel, Ritner, etc. have built on outdated assumptions. Your work has helped Book of Abraham research move forward in new ways.

  2. Thank you for this timely and needed review. Vogel has every right to take a position regarding the origins of the Book of Abraham and Joseph Smith. What he doesn’t have a right to do is mislead (intentional or not) regarding that effort. It is unfortunate that editors in the Joseph Smith papers project working on matters related to the Book of Abraham have been so apparently taken in by one who cannot even accurately describe his efforts to the reading public regarding the subject. Dispassionate indeed.

  3. I found an interestinig viewpoint on the site of Royal Skousen on the value of Smith’s interpretation of the facsmilies.
    The Book of Abraham was a revelation given to Joseph Smith, who later (mistakenly thinking it was a
    translation from the papyri he had in his possession) tried to connect the revealed text to the papyri by
    inserting two sentences, verse 12c and verse 14, into Abraham 1. The secondary nature of these two
    inserted sentences can be directly observed in the photos of folios 1a and 1b in the document identified
    as Ab2. Verse 12c is totally inserted intralinearly, not partially (as incorrectly represented in the
    accompanying transcription – and without comment). Verse 14 is not written on the page as are other
    portions of this part of the text (instead, it is written flush to the left), which implies that it is a comment
    on the papyri and that it was added to the revealed text. Overall, these results imply that all the
    facsimiles from the papyri (1-3 in the published Pearl of Great Price) should be considered
    extracanonical and additions to the revealed text of the Book of Abraham, not integral parts of the
    original text of the book.” page 39 https://humanities.byu.edu/wp-content/uploads/royal-skousen-J2019.pdf

    • Skousen’s view is interesting, but this peripheral comment on his website can be debated. He refers to Book of Abraham Manuscript A, p. 1, where “I will refer you to the the representation at the commencement of this record” in crammed as two short lines in one half-page width line of space, but it follows wording that suggests something of this nature is expected: “and that you might have a knowledge of this alter”. Manuscript B does not have this, but has “I will refer you to the representation” occurring in line, not as an addition. A stricken out error also immediately follows. The nature of these two manuscripts does not require the phrasing to be a late addition. It could be scribal errors in working with an existing manuscript, but there could also have been changes made in the process similar to what Skousen proposes.

      • I agree. There are a few possibilities. It may be that the original BofJ/A manuscript from July-etc. contained the references to Hor’s vignette. In that case, the reader (Phelps, or Williams, etc. the more experienced scribes), may have suggested that Parrish include v 12 & 14 in his copy. Phelps, or whoever copied the characters that went into the margins clearly had previous access to the papyri, and had probably read the translation of Abr. 1 (why else would he conclude the BofA text began just after the vignette, and not before, or etc.?).
        But, since the references to the vignette wouldn’t make sense to those without immediate access to the facsimiles (as Parrish, Williams, etc. may not have had while copying), Williams may have left the reference out (with possible gaps for insertion, as needed) until Joseph was consulted. Obviously, it was decided that the original references to the vignette should be included (perhaps less “lying before you” as the Hor papyrus would be, if Cook’s length estimates are correct and the Hor papyrus was separate from the source with red writing…but that wouldn’t be needed as displayed and eventually published), and perhaps they planned at this time to eventually publish facsimile 1, who knows…

        POINT to ponder:
        Interestingly, this hesitation to initially copy the complete reference to the vignette provides further evidence that Joseph didn’t dictate Abr. 1-2:18 in Nov. 1835, and he may not have been immediately present when these copies were made.
        Of course, you’ve probably examined ink, etc. I haven’t…actually, just did, and it may be that the “a” in “a knowledge” has new ink, indicating that it was added later. Could also be a pen flex, touch up, or etc.
        But, either way, I’ve examined further (in what little spare time I could spare), and there’s sufficient evidence that the GAEL and Nov. manuscript copies are reliant upon previously translated BofJ/A material. And, as you point out, Seyffarth reports having a large scroll in the museum, and the long roll source described by eyewitnesses is missing, and so on.
        So, no one has translated the source of “the Book of Abraham” in modern times. Those claiming it has been done are mistaken at best.

        Also, I haven’t read Vogel’s book yet. Contrary to many critics, I recall that he has insisted (perhaps for a decade) that the GAEL had “nothing to do” with translating the Book of Abraham. I’ve often wondered how he reconciles that with translating the GAEL “to” vs “for” the BofA (or anything else). This is especially so since, as you point out, the GAEL contains BofA material (it’s permeated with it, in my opinion, and draws from, at least, up to 2:18). Clearly, the GAEL is reliant upon the BofA and other previously existing materials. So, I don’t understand…has he changed his mind?
        Maybe MT or Brother Hauser could represent all of us and invite him, or etc. to share a final opinion? : ) : )

        • Lucy Mack Smith
          When Joseph was reading the papyrus he closed his eyes and held a hat over his face, and a revelation came to him and that where the papyrus was torn, he could read the parts that were destroyed equally as well as those that were there
          Friends Weekly Intelligencer 3 Oct 1846 211

          • Yes, thank you! Lucy, of course, may have assumed some things (e.g. what Joseph saw with his eyes closed) but I believe she really saw him translating with his eyes closed. This means he was not looking at the papyri. That, along with other eyewitness descriptions (including Parrish) leads me to believe that they would have been left to guess at what papyri the BofA came from. It’s seems they originally thought it was the Hor scroll, but that would only make sense if they had already read Abr. 1: 12& 14 and made assumptions about the “beginning,” (as we do). Beginning in Dec. it seems Cowdery, at least, believed the primary source was something else, now missing. JS seems to have also agreed with this, even if he still also believed some text was on the Hor scroll (and that’s questionable).

      • Hi Jeff, thanks again for all you do.
        It may be that Williams left spaces for the references to the Hor vignette.
        One possibility is, while making the copies, the reader noticed the reference to the sacrificial altar in the original manuscript (from July) and realized it wouldn’t make sense if the Hor papyrus wasn’t included for the readers.
        They may have decided to have Parrish include it in his copy, so they could have one of each. They might have consulted Joseph for a final opinion, after which Williams added them to his copy.

        The comma after “alter” appears to have been originally a mark or period. It may be that Williams left insufficient space right after this for the sentence. The “a” may show new ink.
        On pg. 2 Williams appears to have left space at the top.
        From other evidence it’s clear that they were copying existing material, and this hesitation indicates that Joseph may not have been immediately present for consultation.
        This adds more to the abundant evidence that the Nov. manuscripts are only copies.

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