Book of Abraham FACT or FICTION

As Christians, we have the responsibility to examine all the claims of prophets and we are required to hold them to a standard. We are also seekers and lovers of truth, therefore interest needs to be taken when someone says that they have a revelation from God, as Thessalonians 5:21 states, “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” In this case, we will scrutinize specifically the claims of Joseph Smith in regard to the Book of Abraham.

It is imperative that all claims from anyone who states that they have direct revelation from God need to be compared to what the Bible says about the Prophet/Seer in order to verify their legitimacy. God in His mercy did not leave us without a guide; below are two very specific tests of a Prophet in the Bible that need to be kept in mind when reviewing the following information.

Deuteronomy 13:1-5:

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

Deut 18:21-22:

“And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’ when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.”

Fundamental Assertions from Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham from

The Lord did not require Joseph Smith to have knowledge of the Egyptian language. By the gift and power of God, Joseph received knowledge about the life and teachings of Abraham.

“Neither the Lord nor Joseph Smith explained the process of translation of the book of Abraham, but some insight can be gained from the Lord’s instructions to Joseph regarding translation. In April 1829, Joseph received a revelation for Oliver Cowdery that taught that both intellectual work and revelation were essential to translating sacred records. It was necessary to “study it out in your mind” and then seek spiritual confirmation. Records indicate that Joseph and others studied the papyri and that close observers also believed that the translation came by revelation. As John Whitmer observed, “Joseph the Seer saw these Record[s] and by the revelation of Jesus Christ could translate these records.”

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. 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.

The 10th Prophet of Mormonism Joseph Fielding Smith states in Doctrines of Salvation pg. 188, Volume 1:

“Mormonism as it is called must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned or he was one of the biggest frauds the world has ever seen. There is no middle ground.”

In agreement with Joseph Fielding Smith there is no middle ground, Joseph either is a prophet or isn’t. We would argue that the recent position held by the LDS organization has diminished Smith’s claim that the Book of Abraham is an actual translation of the Egyptian papyri. The LDS modern position view also contradicts exactly what Joseph wrote the very beginning of the 1842 Times and Seasons publishing of the Book of Abraham which states:

“A Translation of some Ancient Records, that have fallen into our hands from the Catacombs of Egypt, the Writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham written by his own hand, upon Papyrus.”– Times and Seasons, Vol. III pg. 704

After reading this excerpt, one can clearly see that Joseph states that this is a translation. One can clearly see that A TRANSLATION is all in BOLD, again there is no confusion here on whether this is a ‘translation’ or ‘revelation’ at-least not on Joseph’s part.

Furthermore, here is a link to “Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language”

This is a journal where Joseph and his scribes wrote down actual translations for hieroglyphs.  This shows that he indeed was translating not reveling the Book of Abraham. This document is from 1835, and the hieroglyphs can be compared to the hieroglyphs from the scrolls that were available.

Quotes from Joseph Smith’s Journal

Spent the day in translation Egyptian characters from the papyrus” HOC 2:320, 26 Nov 1835”

The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies, is beautifully written on papyrus” HOC 2:348, 350-351. 31 Dec 1835

“As Mr. Chandler had been told I [JS] could translate them, he brought me some of the characters, andI gave him the interpretation” HOC 2:235. July 3-6, 1835

“The remainder of this month, I [JS] was continually engaged in translating an alphabet of the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients” HOC 2:238, July 1835

Before we dig into the translation of the facsimile for the Egyptian papyri, I want it to be made known that the only historical significance to the Book of Abraham was borrowed from Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews. Even if the LDS claim the revelation given from God gave Jospeh divine context, it can be shown that during this time frame that Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews was known to be read and kept by Mormons. Especially Mormons heavily involved in free-masonry, similarities include:

  •  The Bible doesn’t tell us that Abraham had astronomical knowledge, but again, both Josephus and Joseph do.

    • In the tenth generation after the Flood there was among the Chaldeans a man [Abraham] righteous and great, and skillful in Celestial Science. (Antiquities of the Jews 1:7:2)

    • And it is given unto thee [Abraham] to know the set time of all the stars that are set to give light, until thou come near unto the throne of God. (Abraham 3:10)

Hit the jump – Similarities Between Josephus and Joseph Smith to see several examples of extra biblical context that Joseph drew from Josephus. You can also hit this jump – Masonic Book of Abraham which goes into great detail about the Josephus and Masonic connections to Joseph Smith and sources Joseph typically pulled from.

Book of Abraham Facts and Challenging the Facsimiles

Facts to know about the Book of Abraham:

  • Joseph Smith translated Facsimile #1 to represent a time when Abraham was almost sacrificed by an idolatrous Priest of the current Pharaoh. Abraham Chapter 1 speaks of this occasion directly.

  • Joseph Smith translated Facsimile #2 as a vague collection of pictures that all depicted the Hebrew God, the star/planet Kolob, an Egyptian God named “Oliblish”. Other depictions are pictures to represent other creations or “governing planets” that borrow light from Kolob.

  • Facsimile #3 is explained to be Abraham sitting on the Pharaoh’s throne with the king’s permission. The headdress Abraham is wearing is supposedly to signify Priesthood and Presidency over heaven. These two are accompanied by the Prince of Egypt, the Prince’s Waiter, and a slave with the name Olimlah. The occasion of this facsimile is that Abraham is reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy in the King’s Court.

  • The preface of the book of Abraham states that these are the “writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the book of Abraham, written by his own hand upon papyrus.”

  • There were many other documents that are believed to be lost in the Chicago fire.

The next couple of pages are where I am going to take the facsimiles piece by piece and show the actual Egyptian meanings. I’m also going to show what the church records that Joseph initially purchased. This is key evidence knowing what Joseph had, and what he drew in himself according to what he claimed God had shown to him.

 Facsimile 1:

The bottom left shows the rediscovered papyrus and what was penciled in by Joseph Smith. This picture was pulled from the Joseph Smith Papers, a book on Joseph Smith’s life published by the Church. The right is the final draft that’s included in the canonized Book of Abraham. The Book of Abraham defines this as a time that Abraham was caught by an idolatrous priest who attempted to sacrifice him to an Egyptian god. The Hebrew God sent an angel to free him. The scriptures are quoted below the pictures. Abraham Chapter 1: 12-16 And it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar; and that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record [this is a reference to the Facsimile shown above] It was made after the form of a bedstead, such as was had among the Chaldeans, and it stood before the gods of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, and also a god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos, which signifies hieroglyphics. And as they lifted up their hands upon me, that they might offer me up and take away my life, behold, I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and he filled me with the vision of the Almighty, and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands; And his voice was unto me: Abraham, Abraham, behold, my name is Jehovah, and I have heard thee, and have come down to deliver thee

The following image below on the right is what Facsimile 1 is really supposed to look like, based on the same scene commonly discovered elsewhere by Egyptian funerary scribes. I have added Joseph Smith’s hand drawing to the left for comparison. Again as it is explained, the church openly agrees that these facsimiles do not have to do with Abraham, they are typical, normal, everyday depictions that are deposited into the coffins of the deceased. Joseph Smith’s copy is missing The Egyptian God Anubis’ head, and also missing another god in the form of a falcon named Sokar. To give context to this picture, I first need to explain the “Osirian Myth”, and what it has to do with the average Egyptian dead guy.

Facsimile 2:

Now here is the same facsimile after Joseph translated it, or completed it through revelation (which was then translated):

This what the papyri looked like when Joseph purchased it. The red is to point to the areas missing, and where Joseph filled in himself.

So was Joseph correct with the details he drew in? What is this disk like object anyways? We will answer the question below and then add in a photo of the actual completed disk from the British museum to compare/contrast Joseph’ revelation.

  • A hypocephalus is a small disk-shaped object generally made of stuccoed linen, but also of papyrus, bronze, gold, wood, or clay, which ancient Egyptians from the Late Period onwards placed under the heads of their dead. The circle was believed to magically protect the deceased, cause the head and body to be enveloped in light and warmth, making the deceased divine.

  • Hypocephali symbolized the Eye of Ra (Eye of Horus), which represents the sun deity. The scenes portrayed on them relate to Egyptian ideas of resurrection and life after death, connecting them with the Osirian myth. To the ancient Egyptians the daily setting and rising of the sun was a symbol of death and rebirth. The hypocephalus represented all that the sun encircles — the world of the living, over which it passed during the day, was depicted in the upper half, and that of the dead, which it crossed during the night, in the lower portion.

The photo on the right is a Hypocephalus that is held in the British Museum today.  The photo on the left is the drawings that Joseph added. Though the symbols and inscriptions are never the same because they are specific to the deceased person they were made for, the pictures and symbols of the gods is generally always the same. A simple google search of “hypocephalus” will show hundreds of different versions where you can see similarities and differences. The interesting thing as well is the spots that were empty where Joseph inserted his beliefs are actually spots that were to be the gods of the Egyptian belief system. Therefore they were typically the same from hypocephalus to hypocephalus.

Now that we’ve defined what these mysterious medallions where that were placed underneath the mummy’s heads, we’re going to pick them apart and see the true meaning.

Figures #1 and #2: Joseph Smith refers to these as an Egyptian god named “Oliblish”. Obliblish doesn’t exist in any form of Egyptian theology…

In actuality the Egyptians know this god as Khnum, who is identified with the head of a wavy horned ram. He is the creator god, molding people on a potter’s wheel. He can be represented as a two headed man, a being with a face of man and another of a ram, or a four headed ram, to symbolize his omnipotence.

Figure #3:

Joseph’s Interpretation: “God the Father sitting on his throne, clothed with power and authority.”

In Egyptian belief, the ancient god Ra, who symbolized solar light, known as the Sun God. Ra, the Supreme Solar God was believed to traverse the sky each day in a solar barque, or sun boat, and pass through the realms of the underworld (Duat) each night on another solar barge to reappear in the east every morning. These two sun boats in which Ra was supposed to sail over heaven were called the Atet, or Matet, the boat in which he journeyed from sunrise until noon, and the Sektet boat in which he journeyed from noon until sunset.

A Hymn to Ra is included in the Papyrus of Ani a Book of the Dead that includes reference to the Matet sun boat and the Sektet sun boat as follows:

“Hail, thou Disk, thou lord of rays, who risest on the horizon day by day! Shine thou with thy beams of light upon the face of Osiris Ani, who is true of voice; for he singeth hymns of praise unto thee at dawn, and he maketh thee to set at eventide with words of adoration, May the soul of Ani come forth with thee into heaven, may he go forth in the Matet boat, may he come into port in the Sektet boat, and may he cleave his path among the never-resting stars in the heavens”

Figure #4 Joseph’s Interpretation: “Raukeeyang; also the number 1,000; the measuring of time of oliblish” 

In Egyptian belief this is actually Sokar, or Seker, a falcon god. Typically shown on a coffin where the body of the deceased is represented as someone who ushers safe passage to the next life.

Figure #5 Joseph’s Interpretation: “Enish-go-on-dosh” and some other really confusing explanations….

In Egyptian belief, Hathor is an ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of joy, feminine love, and motherhood. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of ancient Egypt. Hathor was worshipped by royalty and common people alike. In tomb paintings she is often depicted as a cow, welcoming the dead into the next life.

Figure #6 Joseph’s Interpretation: “represents this earth and it’s four corners”. Joseph Smith also refers to these as idolatrous gods in Facsimile #1.

In reality this depicts four sons of Horus were a group of four gods in Egyptian religion, who were essentially the personifications of the four canopic jars, which accompanied mummified bodies. These jars are where embalming fluid and the deceased’s vital organs were kept as the rest of the body was mummified.

Imsety – human form – protected the liver – protected by Isis.

Duamutef – jackal form – protected the stomach – protected by Neith.

Hapi – baboon form – protected the lungs – protected by Nephthys.

Qebehsenuef – hawk form – protected the intestines – protected by his mother Serket

Figure #7 Joseph’s Interpretation: “represents God sitting on his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand key words to the priesthood. Also the sign of the holy ghost unto Abraham in the form of a dove.”

We’re going to have to use a bit of adult language here… but in Figure 7, this is Min, the Egyptian god of male fertility. He is identified as a god with his left hand holding his erect penis to represent fertility, and his right arm to the square holding a flail to represent his authority or provenance. Min is seen on the hypocephalus because it is symbolic of the need to have sex in order to be reborn after death, just as Osiris had sex with Isis before he actually ascended to the next life.

LThe figure on the left of Min is Nehebu-Kau, whose name is meant “he who harnesses the spirits”. Nehebu-Kau is the guardian of the underworld who is presenting the “eye of horus”. It is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power, and good health. He is identified as a snake with arms and legs, arms typically in a praying fashion. Joseph smith calls him the Holy spirit in the form of a dove because half of Nehebu’s body is missing from Joseph’s purchased Hypocephalus.

This is Nehebu-Kau on Joseph Smith’s Hypocephalus compared to the one in the British Museum. Looking back at the incomplete copy that Joseph had, it looks as though he taken a shot in the dark and just claimed that it looked like a dove because the snake was missing half its body, not to mention his own erect phallus… If you go back and look at Facsimile #1 that is suppose to be Abraham on an altar, you can visibly see the deceased man portrayed in the exact pose as Min. Right arm to the square, left hand holding his phallus.

In this picture, you can see Osiris in the middle, Isis his wife on the right, and his son Horus on the left. Why Osiris isn’t standing is because this piece of art is symbolizing that though Isis and Horus live on, they pay respect to the former King Osiris as he has passed on into the next life. So in a sense, Imagine Isis and Horus paying respect to a statue of Osiris. Isis and Osiris are always easily recognized because of their headdresses. When looking at this picture, PLEASE pay attention to their crowns. This is how you identify them in ANY hieroglyph or depiction.

Facsimile 3:  

NOW, referring to Facsimile #3 above, do you recognize anyone familiar? Isis is depicted in the far left as the woman with a circle over her head with curved horns. Her hand is resting on Osiris’s shoulder, just as she is in this picture to the left. That’s not Abraham and the current Pharaoh of the time like Joseph said.

It’s very clear that the person drawn to the far left has a bit of an hour glass shape and should be easily identified at least as a woman, but Joseph called this person the “Pharaoh”. The other 3 persons shown in this picture are not Waiter’s or Slaves as Joseph said. #4 is the Goddess Maat that Osiris brought back from the dead, #5 is the deceased man / petrified mummy that this funerary note came from, and Anubis in his human form at the very right-hand side.

It is RARE to ever see Anubis in human form. He typically is always seen bearing the head of a Jackal, a dog with a reputation of digging up buried corpses and eating the bodies for survival. Anubis is a God that measures your heart with Maat. If you do not pass their judgment, Anubis and his dogs eat your soul essentially. This funerary depiction is to wish safe passage of their judgment, showing Anubis in a non-threatening way. As a whole, once you pass their test of heart, you are then tested again to see if you are worthy of resurrection. Osiris is the only god that can grant you that. This is why you see Ma’at and Anubis bringing the deceased to Osiris for his final test.

This is the goddess Maat. She is known as the goddess of justice and truth. That feather in her hair was used to “weigh” the deceased’s heart to measure their virtue. In Facsimile 3, you can see Maat holding the deceased’s hand, with Anubis ushering them from behind. Maat is identified as the goddess with a feather in her hair in the facsimile.

I STRONGLY advise that you do simple research on any of the Egyptian names shown above. Countless articles, books, and pages will all agree on the above characters. The article clearly states that “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.”

What this means:

  • Abraham did not create “by his own hand” what Joseph Smith had in his possession.

  • Abraham was nowhere near being alive during the time these funerary rites were created.

  • The credibility of the first chapter of Abraham, testifying of his experience of almost being sacrificed on an altar, must also be false since it directly references Facsimile #1.

Joseph Smith is a false prophet, his failed translation which was also to be divine revelation has failed God’s test of a prophet in Deuteronomy 18. The hope is this, just because Joseph is wrong, does not mean that God by any means is at fault. Instead we can have hope that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – the Eternal and Unchanging God is different than the god Joseph dreamed up in a hat. Joseph’s god was never a god to begin with and it does nothing to tarnish the integrity or sovereignty of God in any way. IF you are LDS and you are reading this I want to leave you with these words.

Paul warns us in 2nd Corinthians 11:4 that there will be people who profess a different christ, a different gospel, who accept a different spirit. How do you know that the christ you believe in, is true? If it is not by His Word, which Christ calls truth in John 17:17 – but by your heart, Jeremiah warns us not to be deceived by the feelings of the flesh (Jeremiah 17:9). Instead test all things to Scripture, be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, for every word of God is pure, will never wither or ever pass way and it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Proverbs 30:5; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35; Psalm 119:105).

Jesus Christ is the Eternal, Uncreated, Unchanging God, who upholds the Universe by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1). All things have been created through Him for Him and by Him (John 1:1; Col 1:16). He alone stretched out the heavens, they are a work of His hands (Isa 44:24). He, from the beginning loved righteousness and hated lawlessness (Heb 1:9; Psalm 45:7). He is the great I AM at the burning bush, yes it was Jesus who lead the Israelites out of Egypt, who parted the Red Sea (John 8:24; Jude 1:5). IT is this God, the only God (Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 44:6) that took on flesh, not to give man the ability to become gods by their own righteous deeds. No He took on flesh, in order that he could overcome in all the ways that Adam failed. Formed from the dirt of the earth and given the breath of life it through Adam, (Gen 1, Isaiah 45) that all have failed, all have gone astray, and do not trust God at His Word (Romans 3).

In Adam we stand in a position of failure, dead in our sins with no ability to have peace with God. BUT Jesus who is fully God and fully Man offered Himself as a Sinless sacrifice. IT is ONLY the Eternal God that could become the perfect sacrifice. Only the Eternal God can appease the wrath of the Eternal God, for Him and His glory alone. The gift Christ offers you is not only the ability to have peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ but He offers a personal relationship with you; He promises that He will never leave you or forsake you. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ causes us to love his Word and humble ourselves before God. Today you can trust God, and have peace with God, but this peace only comes from the great I AM, not from a god among millions of gods. If you have the wrong Christ, one revealed to you contrary to how God revealed Himself to be, you have a christ of fiction and no atonement for your sins. Jesus stated, unless you believe the I AM you will die in your sins.