Top Ten Reasons I Believe The Book of Abraham

First let's start with a quick little background and the necessary disclaimer. Joseph Smith "The Mormon Prophet" obtained some Egyptian mummies and papyrus in 1835. He translated portions of these, before scholars knew how to translate Egyptian, and said they "proported to contain" writings of Abraham and Joseph. An LDS newspaper in Nauvoo published (in a serialized format) text of the Book of Abraham and 3 illustrations commonly called Facsimiles #1, 2, and 3 including explanations of certain figures in each. Although Church Leaders expected to publish more, due to the ensuing persecution in the city of Nauvoo, the rest of the the Book of Abraham, and the Book of Joseph, and any possible translations were either lost or destroyed. Some of the papyrus from the Joseph Smith collection were found in the basement of the Chicago Museum in 1967. These papyrus contained fragments of the Egyptian Book of the Dead and other documents, including the remaining portions of Facsimiles # 1 and 2. Many critics of the church have brought forth a number of commentaries on the work, expressing the belief that they have "proven" Smith to b e a false prophet. This page does not attempt to examine all claims of the critics, nor does it attempt to put forward all LDS arguments for the Book of Abraham. It is also not a scholarly paper, so it only sometimes references sources (most of them are from these web sites: Jeff Lindsay , Kerry Shirts , Barry Bickmore , Bickmore , and FARMS ). What follows is a personal statement of why I still believe that the Book of Abraham (BoA) is the Word of God. ( ^Hover Mouse HERE for Page Instructions ) ( ^Disclaimer )


10. I follow the example of my brother Christians.

9. We are not going to be able to do a handwriting analysis for Abraham.

8. I'm sure that I set down those parchments somewhere around here.

7. Many critics are excellent barbers (they have an incredible ability to split hairs)

6. Abraham really did teach astronomy courses at Nile U.

5. You actually can translate something without a dictionary.

4. Joseph Smith wasn't an Egyptologist, and wasn't trying to be.

3. Joseph Smith got many things right , far better than chance could account for.

2. We've been through this all before with the Book of Mormon.

1. Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.


10. I follow the example of my brother Christians.

Obviously critics have brought up many points about the translation of the Book of Abraham (BoA) which can't be confirmed by modern archeology. There are many legitimate questions that we can't answer about it. So What. Critics have been doing the same thing with the Bible for a very long time. They continually tell us that all things in it can't be proven by "objective" scientists and archeologists. They will challenge the Christian world to come up with one unbiased (meaning non-Christian) scientist who without use of the Bible (even as a reference) can independently and scientifically demonstrate that we came from a single set of parents some six thousand years ago, that there was a world wide flood, that the differences in languages were started at one specific place and time, that Sodom and Gomorrah existed and were miraculously destroyed, that there were hundreds of thousands of Hebrews held as slaves in Egypt, that Moses led them out and where they camped in the desert for 40 years and what their route was, or any of a number of facts about the Bible. Does the Christian world throw up its hands and say there are some problems we don't have archeological evidence for - therefore the whole thing must be false?

Often the skeptics have valid points that evidence doesn't exist. Even some conservative Bible scholars have written about the lack of archaeological confirmation of much of the Bible. John Bright insists that, "It cannot be stressed too strongly that inspite of all the light that it has cast on the patriarchal age, in spite of all that it has done to vindicate the antiquity and authenticity of the tradition, archaeology has not proved that the stories of the patriarchs happened just as the Bible tells them. In the nature of the case it cannot do so. " John Bright, A History of Israel, 3d ed. (Philadelphia: West-minster, 1981). Don't misunderstand, the LDS believe the Bible stories and the lives of the patriarchs completely, the point is the limits of archeology,

Still, how much more evidence do we have now than we had 50 years ago? Have we convinced them? No, they've gotten more vocal and brand us as oddballs. How much more evidence will we have in another 50 years? Will it be enough to convince the critics? No never, because there will never be all the evidence, what there is will never be so obvious that it is incontrovertible, and they will simply ignore the evidence there is. And this is really because they do not want to believe it, they will never allow themselves to accept the evidence, it would interfere too much with their lives. So what if we've found Jericho, and that it matches the Bible story in some details. We can only "prove" at best that the Bible is historical fiction, the history is factual but the miracles are fictional. We can prove the walls fell, but never that they fell because the Israelites marched around the city. We can never prove to them that the Red Sea opened, that Jesus walked on the water, or that He is the Christ, from the archeology of the Bible.

And the Bible has the advantage of having literally thousands of believing professional historians and archeologists using the Bible to find biblical locations and artifacts for over 150 years. Our books have only been seriously studied in this way for the last 50 to 60 years and by only a handful of scientists, we haven't had the manpower.

9. We are not going to be able to do a handwriting analysis.

Did Abraham really write the scrolls "by his own hand"? One of the more diversionary arguments used against the BoA is the claim that Abraham could not possibly have been the author of the scrolls, since they date to many centuries after Abraham's day, yet the BoA says that it was written "by his own hand." The key is understanding that this phrase, "by his own hand," is a way of attributing original authorship. It does not mean that the copy Joseph received was made by Abraham - only that Abraham was the original author of the text. ( Lindsay )

Russell C. McGregor and Kerry A. Shirts offer further light on this topic ["Letters to an Anti-Mormon," FARMS Review of Books, Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 11, no. 1 (1999): 90-298.]

It is obvious from reading the Hebrew Bible that the phrase by his own hand is a Hebrew idiom beyadh, which means "by the authority of," as we can clearly see in the Stuttsgartensian Hebrew text that Kohlenberger translates. He renders ^Exodus 9:35 as "just as the Lord said through Moses," while the Hebrew has beyadh, that is, "by the hand of."
Thus, it is possible that Abraham never even touched the original document that led to the manuscripts Joseph received. They may have been commissioned by him or authorized by him, with that authorization shown by the scribe writing "by his own hand." And that phrase could properly be reproduced in subsequent copies, no matter how far removed in time. ( Lindsay )

In addition, in the heading for the BoA (which is not scripture itself), Joseph Smith originally wrote that the Egyptian Papyrus "Proported to be the writings of Abraham...". However, after all the confusion of Nauvoo, the heading that was preserved was written by an overanxious scribe to say only "The writings of Abraham...". So Joseph Smith himself, never believed them to be actual autographs of Abraham & Joseph.

8. I'm sure that I set down those parchments somewhere around here.

The idea that they have found the original parchments from which Joseph Smith translated the BoA is wrong. The argumentation on this one can go on and on through mounds of paper (or electrons if in HTML format), but trying to sum up a bit: Those documents that have been found do not include all of the facsimiles which are in the BoA, and so the claim that all the parchments have been found is impotent. Those documents that have been found do not even come close to the eyewitness accounts (both LDS and non-LDS) of the papyrus that Joseph Smith used.

Nibley writes:

"The Prophet Joseph himself has supplied us with the most conclusive evidence that the manuscript today identified as the Book of Breathings, J.S. Papyri X and XI, was not in his opinion the source of the Book of Abraham. For he has furnished a clear and specific description of the latter: 'The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies, is (1) beautifully written on papyrus, with black, and (2) a small part red, ink or paint, (3) in perfect preservation.'...

Since Joseph Smith actually possessed quite a number of perfectly preserved, beautifully written Egyptian manuscripts adorned with rubrics [red characters], {according to many eyewitnesses both LDS and non-LDS} there is no reason to doubt that he was describing such a document as the source of 'the record of Abraham and Joseph.' And there can be no doubt whatever that the manuscript he was describing was and is an entirely different one from that badly written, poorly preserved little text, entirely devoid of rubrics, which is today identified as the Book of Breathings. One cannot insist too strongly on this point, since it is precisely the endlessly repeated claim that the Book of Breathings has been 'identified as the very source of the Book of Abraham' on which the critics of Joseph Smith have rested their whole case...."
Hugh W. Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment , (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975).

Nevertheless, what the critics really don't understand is that it doesn't matter so far as my faith goes (see reasons #5 & 4).

7. Many critics are excellent barbers (they have an incredible ability to split hairs)

The critics often don't agree among themselves about what the interpretation should be, yet still nit pick Joseph. Facsimile #1 is not Abraham being sacrificed, it is obviously a funerary embalming scene or of Osiris rising from the dead. Speaking of the bird which Joseph Smith said was the angel of the Lord, critics are unanimous in declaring that he is completely incorrect. Yet one says it is "the hawk of Horus" another "a bird, in which form Isis is represented" and another "the soul (Kos) flying away in the form of a bird". Is the guy by the Lion Couch an "officiating priest" , an "embalmer" or "The God of Anubis". When the experts disagree on what it is, how can we say with such authority that Joseph is wrong when he simply disagrees with them?

John Anthony West, as of 1993, has demonstrated that Egyptologists, when dealing with translating ancient Egyptian texts, have often contradicted each others' translations and in fact, have missed the meanings altogether. [John Anthony West, Serpent in the Sky, Quest Editions, 1993, pp. 137-145.]

In Facsimile #2 (which is technically called a hypocephalus) Joseph says that the Figure 5 (showing a cow with a woman standing behind it) "is said by the Egyptians to be the sun". One critic says "These goddesses were thought of as the Mother of Re, the sun-god.... It is important to note that, while this figure is associated with the sun, i.e., as the mother of the sun-god, it is never equated with the sun. Joseph Smith's interpretation might be adjudged close by some, but in my opinion it cannot be judged as 'generally correct.'" [Stephen E. Thompson, "Egyptology and the Book of Abraham," Dialogue, 28, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 143-162]

I find this fascinating. As a New England plough-boy Joseph should have thought of the cow in terms of milk or nutrition, possibly as a mother, but in our culture who would ever guess it had anything to do with the sun. It would have been impossible, except as a lucky guess, that he could know it had anything to do with the sun. Instead of wondering how Joseph could get anywhere close to the meaning of one of the most important and essential concepts of the hypocephalus (elsewhere this symbol is described as not only mother of the sun, but also the wife of the sun and the medium through which the sun passed at night, making her the central figure of the lower half of the hypocephalus, which deals with the sun; making it a symbol of the sun and its journey), he quibbles over a technicality. Also our critic refers only to the cow in the figure while the woman behind it is also associated with the sun, thus merely trying to muddy the waters with an incomplete analysis.

The same is true of the four figures to the left of the cow (which also equate to the four coptic jars under the Lion Couch (the bed/table) in Fac #1). Although they look like any four images (vases in Fac #1) topped with the heads of different animals, Joseph said they represent the "earth in its four quarters". This same guy Thompson goes into great detail describing how they can mean that in only one specific circumstance. Besides the fact that he's wrong and they do mean the 4 quarters of the earth in several different circumstances, how can he honestly say Joseph got it wrong. He never wondered a bit how, before the Rosetta stone, anyone could possibly make a guess that came anywhere close.

6. Abraham really did teach astronomy courses at Nile U.

Despite all the critics of Joseph's (up until the last several decades) there is a strong ancient literary connection between Abraham and Egypt. The critics initially charged that the BoA was "obviously false" because the idea of stories about Abraham appearing in Egyptian documents was unfounded. There was simply no link between Abraham and the Egyptians, they contended. These criticisms lost some of their force with the discovery of several ancient documents from Egypt, including several from the same time and place as the Joseph Smith Papyri (Thebes, about 2000 years ago), which increase the plausibility of Joseph Smith's comments. Two recently discovered ancient documents (pseudepigrapha) in particular, the Testament of Abraham and the Apocalypse of Abraham, show a relationship between Abraham and the Egyptians, refuting the claim of modern critics that there is no evidence for such a relationship.

Two pseudepigraphic texts dealing with Abraham that were discovered after Joseph Smith's time also shed interesting light on the relationship between Abraham and the Egyptians. In the Testament of Abraham, Abraham is shown a vision of the Last Judgment that is unquestionably related to the judgment scene pictured in the 125th chapter of the Book of the Dead, thus clearly associating Abraham with the Egyptian Book of the Dead. [35] One of the Joseph Smith papyri [Fac#3] is in fact a drawing of this judgment scene from the 125th chapter of the Book of the Dead.

The Apocalypse of Abraham describes a vision Abraham saw while making a sacrifice to God. In this vision he is shown the plan of the universe, "what is in the heavens, on the earth, in the sea, and in the abyss" [36] (almost the exact words used in the left middle portion of the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus). He is shown "the fullness of the whole world and its circle," in a picture with two sides. [37] The similarity with the hypocephalus is striking. There is even a description of what are clearly the four canopic figures labeled number 6 in the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus. [38] The significance of these documents is that they date from the beginning of the Christian era -- they are roughly contemporary with the hypocephalus and the other Egyptian documents purchased by Joseph Smith -- and they relate the same things about Abraham that Joseph Smith said are found in the hypocephalus and the other Egyptian papyri.

[Michael Rhodes, "The Book of Abraham: Divinely Inspired Scripture," Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 4 (1992-a): 120-126. or The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus - Seventeen Years Later ]

and also
The phenomenally interesting thing to note is that Joseph Smith in equating Abraham with Osiris, and involving Abraham with pagans, he hits the nail right on the head! The Abraham literature definitely places the Patriarch of the Faithful right in the middle of BOTH the ancient pagan Egyptian influences, as well as later Christian influences, with heavy rumblings of Jewish influences reverberating throughout. The synthesis is deliberately noted in the symposium of [non-LDS] scholars who gathered in 1976 to study just this phenomenon, with special emphasis on the Testament of Abraham, an ancient work displaying affinities and collaborations with Greek, Iranian, Arabic, Ethiopic, Jewish, Christian as well as EGYPTIAN influences and religious philosophical concepts. [ Abraham On the Lion Couch ]
and also Steven Thompson in Volume 1 of The Encyclopedia of Mormonism:
Many themes of the book appear in other ancient literatures, including Abraham's struggle against idolatry (Jubilees 12; Charlesworth, Vol. 2, pp. 79-80), the attempted sacrifice of Abraham (Pseudo-Philo 6; Charlesworth, Vol. 2, pp. 310-12), and Abraham's vision of God's dwelling place, events in the Garden of Eden, and premortal spirits (Apocalypse of Abraham 22-23; Charlesworth, Vol. 1, p. 700). God's instruction to Abraham to introduce Sarai as his sister is echoed in the Genesis Apocryphon (column 19) as having come through a dream. Abraham's teaching astronomy to Egyptians (Book of Abraham Facsimile 3) is described in Pseudo-Eupolemus 9.17.8 and 9.18.2 (Charlesworth, Vol. 2, pp. 881-82) and in Josephus (Antiquities 1.8.2).


Look at A Critical Analysis of the Book of Abraham in Light of Extra-Canonical Jewish Writings - by Rabbi Nissim Wernick. Rabbi Wernick who was a leader of the Synagogue in Salt Lake City, did a doctorate dissertation on the many similarities between the BoA and other Jewish Literature (much of which was found after Joseph's death).

Now here is Joseph Smith, an unlearned farm boy and "rouge", who somehow knows details about Abraham (the Father of the Faithful ) in Egypt, which scholars would not know about for over 100 years. The critics never hesitated to ridicule him about it before, but these contemporary verifications can not be mentioned, because it obviously must be just a coincidence.

5. You actually can translate something without a dictionary .

Critics (and sometimes members) generally do not understand what Joseph meant by the word "translation". A good dictionary gives several definitions for 'translate', only one of which (and not the first one) deals with rewriting a text from one language to another. Merriam Webster's Collegiate gives the first definition as very general " to bear, remove or change from one place, state, f orm, or appearance to another"

For Joseph who was unlearned in languages and scholarly pursuits it meant an inspired restoration of an ancient document. It was irrelevant what the source for the restoration was or the process involved in producing it. If the source was an actual document, it was less important what the document said (or how it would be literally translated by a scholar) than what the Lord inspired Joseph to understand about the document. The Egyptian language is largely irrelevant, Joseph may have known little more Egyptian at the end of this process than he did at the beginning.

Joseph Smith, through what he called translation, was able to reveal information far beyond what was in the text. For example, Joseph said he "translated" the Book of Moses. The source for the book was the English Book of Genesis. It was a question of inspiration and revelation since a great deal of material was added, far beyond what the text actually states.

Also the ability of Egyptologists to translate ancient Egyptian is often overstated. Although it is true that most can translate the words with general uniformity among themselves it is also true that,

" 'The difficulty is not in literally translating the text, but in understanding the meaning which lies concealed beneath familiar words." [Peter Le Page Renouf, The Egyptian Book of the Dead (1904)] Or as Naville put it, 'A sentence that is easy to understand philologically, whose words and grammar cause us not the slightest perplexity, may all too often present a strange and even burlesque appearance; we have understood the form but have not penetrated to the idea that lies behind it." [Edouard Henri Naville, Das Aegyptishche Todtenbuch der XVIII(1886)] ... A. De Buck in our own day has written, 'It is difficult to suppress a feeling of skepticism as to the intelligibility of the Book of the Dead version, not so much of its separate sentences, which as a rule are not difficult to translate, but before all things of the plot and story of the spell as a whole [Adrian DeBuck, The Earliest Version of the Book of the Dead (1949)]" as Quoted in Translated Correctly ? by Hugh W. Nibley in Studies in Scripture - Vol 2 - The Pearl of Great Pri ce Randol Book Co. (1985)
Joseph Smith translated the form and meaning of things far beyond the grasp of words and grammar.

4. Joseph Smith wasn't an Egyptologist, and wasn't trying to be.

His intention was not to give an accurate understanding of the Egyptian religion. Of what use would information about an apostate religion be. He was trying to describe the new and everlasting covenant using Egyptian symbols and ideas, as Abraham may have. His comments are not offered as translations of hieratic writing, but as an interpretation of what various figures symbolized. The facsimiles could very well be modifications of a conventional scene tailored by Joseph Smith to accompany the BoA text through Egyptian symbolism, and not part of the original at all. However many of Joseph Smith's commentaries are consistent with reasonable meanings of the symbols.

Now, this is NOT going to happen, but as an example, let us suppose, for the sake of illustration, that our civilization falls into complete ruin (maybe we're bombed back into the stone age) and in 5,000 years archeologists, begin to have the same level of expertise about us as we do about Egyptians, and they have a good understanding of the chief religion in our nation - Hedonism (having found a huge cache of Playboy, Redbook and Cosmopolitan magazines). Now a certain prophet (through the providence of God) finds an Xmas card which depicts several Xmas scenes: Santa Claus next to a large evergreen tree decorated with lights and bulbs, many bright presents under the tree, a table set with a feast in the background. The prophet might reinterpret this Xmas as Christmas, and tell us all about the symbolism of this scene ( as in the poem "Teach the Children" ). It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, The tree is eternal life and resurrection , topped by the star of Bethlehem - the promise of a Savior, the red balls on the tree are the blood (or drops of blood) of Christ, the lights are the Light of Christ , the feast is the promise of the bounty of eternal life, the presents are the gifts Christ gives the world, the guy in red is the giver of the gifts - Jesus the Christ.

The critics will point out that even a cursory examination reveals this prophet to be a total fraud. Although he has a beard, nowhere in Christian literature is Jesus ever depicted as being either fat or old. The Winter Solstice was the time of greatest darkness and the longest night of the year, and had been associated with the birth of a "Divine King" long before the rise of Christianity, and it was not when Christ was born (which was in the springtime. (06 April 01 BC to be exact)). Since the Sun (probably represented at the top of the tree) is considered to represent the Male Divinity in many Pagan Traditions, this time is celebrated as the "return of the Sun God" where He is reborn of the Goddess. The tree was worshiped by pagans long before Christianity existed. Gift giving seems to originate in a Roman December pagan holiday, the feast of Saturnalia (which honored the god Saturn). It was a time when masters waited on servants at mealtime, and gifts of light were given, particularly candles (this may have been in honor of the solar deity for the upcoming solstice). These candles used to be put on the tree but were later updated by the use of electric lights. Other traditional gifts exchanged were coins, honey, figs and pastry. Feasting and drunkenness were important parts of this solstice celebration, and all the other records indicate that feasting, drunkenness, and getting extravagant material gifts was the main concern of the population at the time this card was manufactured. (see Bad, Evil Christmas Stuff )

The critics would be 100% correct, and yet at the same time they would be completely wrong.

It is irrelevant that the Christmas symbolism is borrowed from Pagan elements. It is irrelevant that the majority of the population doesn't look at these Xmas objects with an appreciation of their borrowed symbolism for Christmas, and that they barely think of Christ during this holiday, and that they celebrate by having lewd, drunken office parties. The prophet reveals the deeper meanings that are important to God and that He wants to impart to the Saints, even if these meanings escaped the current population and had originally been altered from pagan symbols.

This is just an illustration and doesn't fit the particulars in all cases, nevertheless it is a closer representation to truth for us than for others. This is because of our view that the entire world has gone through many different apostasies and restorations, that most all religions are corruptions of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, based on knowledge passed on from Adam to Noah and his descendants, and then also by all the holy prophets and righteous men in all nations (whether or not the words of these prophets have ever been recorded in the Bible or elsewhere). The full doctrine of Christ as we know it is what Adam, Abraham, Enoch, and Joseph knew. It was not an evolutionary process. (The Law of Moses was a lesser law given at that time to a specific group that had apostatized from the greater truths and could not accept it all till they had a school master. Abraham could not have lived under the Law of Moses which wasn't established until many hundreds of years after his death). The Egyptian religion had taken many ideas and truths from Abraham and Joseph son of Jacob (remember Joseph became Pharoh's #1 man and had a great influence over Egypt, and would have taught his wisdom). Therefore many kernels of truth have remained from the fathers in the ancient pagan religions (even in the Egyptian Book of the Dead), The forms and particulars may have been adapted by God so different cultures could understand Him as well as they were capable of understanding. These particulars were then also altered by apostate man.

Or as another example, if this prophet were given a two inch square fragment of a newspaper page, he could correctly restore the entire newspaper. But beyond this, he could correct any bias of the journalist or even factual errors that the original contained, so that although it may not contain just what the original did (and would therefore be condemned as a false translation with incorrect historical facts by the critics), it would contain what is important in God's eyes.

3. Joseph Smith got many things right , far better than chance could account for.

The critics , of course do their best to not mention these areas, or attempt to trivialize them. Joseph's interpretation of the lines underneath the scene of action in Fac#1 (which have an alligator drawn within them) as representing the heavens and the pillars of heaven, have never been challenged since it is a common interpretation. In Fac#2, his interpretations of apes as stars receiving light from the sun, a cow and attending woman as the sun, the 4 coptic jars as representations of 4 gods and the 4 cardinal points, the correct restoration of the boat of god in the correct location and its relationship to the number 1000, the outstretched wings as the expense of heaven, with the correct placement of the hieroglyphics to the left of it that reads "the boat of god" (which boat is surrounded with restored nonsense hieroglyphs which Joseph did not attempt to interpret because he knew they were nonsense), and many more, can all be shown to be within reasonable understandings of the symbols through many examples of the Egyptologists.

According to James R. Harris in The Book of Abraham Facsimiles:

"The explanations given by the Prophet for the figures in the Facsimile [#2] are not translations of an Egyptian text but are possible interpretations of ideographic signs. An ideogram is a sign or figure that represents an idea or concept. They are usually quite flexible and can be interpreted in a variety of ways, depending in the context in which they are placed.... The Prophet did interpret appropriately nine of the eleven or so ideographic groups of signs on the Facsimile. A comparison of the original meaning of the hypocephalus illustrations with the Facsimile "explanation" demonstrates that every explanation made by Joseph Smith is both a possible and a reasonable interpretation, well within the broad scope of possible meanings for each ideogram, while conveying a meaning uniquely suited to the book of Abraham and its reveled message".
These are hits scored by Joseph Smith which fall within correct Egyptian interpretations. Now granted that any Egyptian symbol can have several different meanings, if you took someone today who is completely ignorant of the religion and language of Egypt, had him look at these pictures and make guesses as to what some of the objects may mean, it would be amazing if he got two or three of them within any of the several different possible meanings. Joseph got several of them accurately and many more with in the ballpark of possible meanings accepted by Egyptologists.

As another example the Prophet said, "the measurement according to celestial time, which celestial time signifies one day to a cubit. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth..." Now a cubit is a measure of length and a day is a measure of time. It makes no sense to equate these two separate measurements, but modern Egyptology shows that "the ancient astronomers took the earth's daily rotation on its axis as a unit of time and made 1,000 cubits the distance traveled by the earth in a second of time."[ Livio Catullo Stecchini, "Notes on the Relation of Ancient Measures to the Great Pyramid," in Peter Tompkins, Secrets of the Great Pyramid Harper and Row, 1971, p. 333.] So as Joseph said time and space are related "according to the measurement of this earth". Although he is apparently relating a different measurement of 1 cubit per celestial day, how could Joseph guess at this very un-common Western but common Egyptian derivation of the cubit idea?

Also, there are many things which the critics claim to be wrong but are not if you take more than a cursory look at it (Remember Santa Claus in reason #4 above). For example, in the center of Facsimile #2 is a seated deity with two (in most other hypocephalus there are four) ram's heads. Joseph says it represents "Kolob, signifying the first creation , nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God... first in government... first in measurement." The egyptologist says he's ignorant, first of all he restored it incorrectly (this part of the picture was apparently damaged and Joseph drew it in), the god in that location must always have 4 heads, and it's not the God of the Hebrews that Joe Smith says it is, this seated figure represents either Amon-Re or Khnum.[43] When depicted with four heads, this god united within himself the attributes of the gods Re (the sun), Shu (light), Geb (the earth), and Osiris (god of the next world and the resurrection). End of story for the critic, Smith is a fraud. But press on for a bit more, ask who was this god. First of all, within the last 50 to 60 years other hypo's with a two headed god in this center location have been found, so Joseph was not wrong about that after all. Each of the personages were involved in many different things in Egyptian mythology (although they often were meant to symbolize different characteristics of one great god), but we find that this composite of gods (when depicted with 2 heads there is an indication that it refers to a father-son symbology), along with the snakes by the baboons legs represented "the great primeval force", "who created the first egg, fashioned the first man on the potter's wheel, god par excellence of the first cataract, and it was here that the first city that ever existed, came to be" [E.A.W. Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, vol. 2, Dover, 1969, vol. 2, pp. 50, 53. (note: Budge is a well known very non-LDS expert)], making him literally the god of "the first creation". The hypocephalus itself represented all that the sun encircles, the whole world, the world of men and the day sky, the nether world and the night sky; and this god is sitting in the center. Kolob may come from the the common Semitic root QLB (it was not an Egyptian word because "Kolob [is] called by the Egyptians Oliblish"), which has the basic meaning of "heart, center, middle" (Arabic qalb "heart, center"; Hebrew qereb "middle, midst", qarab "to draw near"; Egyptian m-q3b "in the midst of").

So, just to belabor the point, we have the one god (who may be a father-son combination), who is the primeval creative force in the center of the world and skies (heaven and earth ?) or as Joseph said - the first creation, Kolob (meaning center and placed in the center of the hypocephalus), nearest to God. The concepts match though the manner of expression is different.

There are other words like Kolob which were proclaimed as nonsense by all the experts. Joseph says that this Earth is called "Jah-oh-eh" by the Egyptians. The name "Jah-oh-eh" for the earth is plausible. According to modern understanding (see Rhodes, 1992-a) , the Egyptian word for the Earth is approximately pronounced "yoh-heh". Coptic versions of the name (eiahe and ohe) are similar. Critics say that Jah-oh-eh was just guesswork based on the word "Jehovah," but there is no reason why Joseph would think that the name Jehovah would serve as an Egyptian word for the earth. And the place name "Olishem" in Abraham has now been found on an inscription dating roughly to the time of Abraham.

In the Book of Abraham ( ^Abr. 1:15-16 ) Joseph was the first to identify the "angel of his [the Lord's] presence" as Jehovah (also labeled in Fac#1 as "The Angel of the Lord"), who is to us the pre-existent Jesus. Scholars are starting to learn this also now. They are only about 160 years behind, but don't tell them. If they were ever found to be substantiating Joseph Smith's work they would lose tenure. [See An Angel You Ought To Know (non-LDS) and Barry Bickmore's LDS analysis from non-LDS scholars.]

I could go on with more examples. We know that much does not square with what scholars say about Egypt, but enough does that it's unrealistic to believe that, in an age before the Rosetta Stone was discovered when no one could read Egyptian, someone could guess accurately this often.

2. We've been through this all before with the Book of Mormon.

Why should critics fairly represent the status of archeological and textual evidence for the BoA when they have done so poorly with the Book of Mormon (BoM) evidence [This is condensed from my BoM page]. Critics still deceive with the hyperbole that "there is no archeological evidence for the BoM", when in reality there is sufficient internal and external evidence to determine that no person or persons were able to write the BoM from knowledge that existed in 1830. ( By the way, critics must use this tactic and deny or ignore all BoM evidence, because unlike the Bible, they can't take the stance that it's historical fiction. We know that it came about in modern times. Even if Joseph had simply found an ancient document without all that talk about angels, it would take almost as big a miracle to render it into English as what Joseph describes - and it just won't do to have any miracles in the modern world.) The statement is truthful if you say there is no "proof" of the BoM, but it is just as truthful to say there is no "proof" of the Bible, however both have evidences that they are authentic. As of today it is truthful if you qualify the statement by saying that there is no recognizedNew World archeological evidence, but that will probably always be true because although there is a little New World archeological evidence, it will never be "recognized". There is however a fair amount of Old World archeology which supports the BoM.

When any criticism against the BoM is proven to be invalid, the critics either drop the point without comment or completely ignore the evidence. The history of the evidence against the BoM is fascinating as point by point the BoM is proven correct despite what all the "experts" knew in the 19th century. Point by point the critics drop their strongest and most used arguments against the Book, because of the advances of archeology. Or the same old criticisms come up time and again no matter how completely and obviously they've been refuted, because most anti-Mormon works are not trying to convert the Mormon, but to frighten those who are unfamiliar with the Church and not in a very good position to find the answers. The goal is simply to get people to dismiss what we say without ever really taking any time to consider it by making it sound incredibly foolish.

For a simple example, the phrase "The Gold Bible" was given mockingly and was considered just too funny for words, because everyone knew that ancient civilizations did not write on metal plates, and the critics pushed this point for over a hundred years. Now archeology has shown, that it was not uncommon for ancient peoples to write important information on metal plates. If a critic still mocks, he must be silent on the archeological evidence. More examples are cement buildings in Meso-America, Hebrew written in Egyptian script, Authentication of non-Biblical BoM names (like Paanchi, Hermounts, Alma and about a dozen others), the role of militarism in Meso-America, Temple building by Israelites outside of Jerusalem, Bethlehem being part of the Land of Jerusalem, authentic non-Biblical ancient ceremonies recorded in the Book of Mormon, knowledge of sophisticated metal working in early Meso-America. This is a short list, but they are all examples of old criticisms of the BoM which have largely dropped by the wayside because archeology has vindicated the BoM and re-written what all the experts "knew".

Let me tell you about two of the most important evidences for the BoM (even though I've mentioned them before there's some new information), Hebrew poetry and Lehi in the desert.

Hebrew poetry - internal evidence

There are hundreds of examples of dozens of forms of Hebrew poetry which were unknown by scholars in 1830 found in the BoM. A main example is an ancient middle eastern poetry form known as chiasmus, in which the structure of the passage is arranged like the Greek letter chi (X), with parallel concepts at the beginning and end of the passage successively repeated right down to the central focal point of the passage. This form of parallelism helps bring new meaning to the passage and puts special emphasis on the turning point at the center. John Welch offers the following analysis in BYU Studies , Vol. 10, No. 1, p.75: (Lindsay)

[T]here exists no chance that Joseph Smith could have learned of this style [chiasmus] through academic channels. No one in America, let alone in western New York, fully understood chiasmus in1829. Joseph Smith had been dead ten full years before John Forbes' book was published in Scotland. Even the prominent scholars today know little about chiasmic forms beyond its name and a fewpassages where it might be found. The possibility of Joseph Smith's noticing the form accidentally is even more remote, since most biblical passages containing inverted word orders have been rearranged into natural word orders in the King James translation. And even had he known of the form, he would still have had the overwhelming task of writing original, artistic chiasmic sentences. Try writing a sonnet or multi-termed chiasm yourself: your appreciation of these forms will turn to awe. If the Book of Mormon then is found to contain true chiasmal forms, should it not be asserted without furtherqualification that the book is a product of ancient Hebrews culture?
However the critics normally do not mention them. Those that have tried simply dismiss the subject with a little bit of hand waving about the human mind's ability to find patterns. They don't try to deny that chismus exists in the Bible, other semetic writtings (that would be too formidible a task) they just pretend they are not really there in the BoM - even though many poems in the BoM are 'textbook' examples of these literary forms.In my mind it is simply impossible that any person or persons before 1830 could construct these Hebrew poems.

Lehi in the desert - external evidence

The story of Lehi's journey in the desert is almost a travelog through Arabia. Of course in the 1830's it was ridiculous and all the facts were impossibly wrong, according to the experts.

First, the latest evidence which knocks down the last impossibility. In the BoM, The prophet Lehi and his family traveled from Jerusalem into the wilderness, to the shores of the Red Sea, and then traveled 3 more days, where they camped for a long period of time in a valley with "a river of water" (which Lehi named the river of Laman and the valley of Lemuel, the names of his 2 oldest sons). According to everyone, there is not and never has been a river in this area of the world that runs even seasonally much less continuously into the Red Sea. So this story of Lehi must simply be a fantasy. Joseph Smith is obviously a false prophet.

Until in October of 1999 George D. Potter reported in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies that there is a river and valley that fits all of the criteria in the BoM for the river of Laman and the valley of Lemuel. (Vol 8, Num 1 / 1999 [The text of the article can be read here , but unfortunately there are no photos with it (but don't delay this page may not be open for long) (or Lindsay 's page with photos)] The article contains maps and photos of both the river and valley. It runs above ground for 3 3/4 miles and is essentially a drainage ditch for a 105 square mile area of desert, that is hidden by a narrow gorge cut through a massive granite mountain (firm, steadfast, and immovable). It flows continually during all parts of the year, it fits every criteria and is the only location which could fit. The fact that there is any area that fits must have been just a lucky guess, is I'm sure what the critics will say.

The BoM then records that they then proceeded in "a nearly south-southeast direction" ( ^1 Nephi 16:13 ) down the borders of the Red Sea until they reached "the place which was called Nahom" ( ^1 Nephi 16:34 ) (apparently an existing name, not a name given by Lehi). And we find from ancient documents and from three excavated altars an area named NHM (no vowels in ancient Hebrew) has been located, nearly south-southeast of the valley of Lemuel described above. It may have had a large ancient burial ground which is why they buried Ishmael there.

We learn from archeology that the valley of Jawf were the area of NHM is located, marks the point were the ancient incense trade route turns east. It is at Nahom that Nephi states that they turned "nearly eastward" ( ^1 Nephi 17:1 ) and continued straight. However, soon after leaving NHM the trade routes veer south, so the group would have left those established trails, and Nephi correctly tells us that this part of the journey was extremely difficult ( ^1 Nephi 17:1 ). They continued "nearly eastward" until they hit the seashore, where the next absolutely impossible part of this journey takes place.

Lehi found an area called Bountiful ( ^1 Nephi 17:5 ). It was a small area yielding "meat", "much fruit", "honey", a year round supply of fresh water, a prominent mountain that Nephi called 'the mount", cliffs from which Nephi's brothers could threaten to cast him into the sea, a source of ore and flint, trees big enough to build a large ship with, a suitable coast, winds, and ocean currents that could permit travel out into the ocean, reasonable access from the interior desert, and a shore that could be camped on. Bountiful was also an impossibility for over 160 years according to all the experts. It simply could not exist. It has always been well known that there is nothing but desert along the coast of Saudi Arabia. There could certainly never be an area that could be called Bountiful; no fertile area, no river, no cliffs, no honey, no way. Joseph Smith obviously just makes this stuff up with out any knowledge whatsoever of the real world.

Around 1990, Warren P. Aston located a spot on the east coat of Oman called "the bay of Khor Kharfot ('Fort Inlet' or 'Fort Port')". "This area is so isolated that even today it is almost unknown in other parts of Oman. It lies at the end of a long, narrow ravine, the Wadi Sayq ('River Valley')". "Here, as nowhere else, all the factors that Nephi mentioned were found in one place" [Journal of Book of Mormon Studies Vol 7, Num 1, 1998 (The text of the article can be read here , but unfortunately there are no photos with it), and here is Lindsay 's excellent summation of their book "In the Footsteps of Lehi"]. Also, Nahom is at 16 degrees Latitude, Khor Kharfot is at 16 degrees 45 minutes, less than 1 degree of difference, which is "nearly eastward".

How did this concise and precise data get into a book written in 1830, that was opposed to all the known data of the day, yet is extremely accurate in the light of today's archeology? Again, it is impossible that anyone could have written this book in 1830. Even the most prolific anti-Mormons have only been able to try to undermine the evidence by saying, in essence, that someone else once suggested a possible location further to the north before Khor Kharfot was found, so they must both be wrong; completely contradicting the normal scientific method of discovery.

The only logical explanation for the account of Lehi's journey is that it was written by people who traveled through the Arabian peninsula, and that means Joseph Smith did not write it. We are talking about a real ancient document that speaks to us from the dust ( ^Isaiah 29 ) and confirms that Jesus is the Christ ( Lindsay ).
Meso-America - nonexistent evidence

As far as digging in Meso-America and finding a street sign that says "Zarahemla 2 mi. ->" or an engraving that says "Nephi slept here", the fact is we still know very little about the ancient Meso-American cultures where many of the BoM events probably took place. In the first place, there are limits to archeology. From Hugh Nibley's book "There Were Jaradites":

"One might list a hundred great and mighty nations of old, the reality of whose existence and whose deeds there cannot be the slightest doubt, since literary and historical evidence for them is abundant, yet of whose deeds and buildings not the slightest physical trace remains.... Today every schoolboy knows that the city which Schliemann identified as Homer's Troy was not Homer's Troy; what is not often realized is that no city in the mound of Hissarlik has been identified as Troy...Yet Homer has described the city of Troy at far greater length and in far more detail than the Book of Mormon describes any city. In view of that, can we hope for any better luck in America?
Is it surprising that we have not found much evidence of a people who, according to the record, were wiped out, forced to convert to the other side or be killed, had all their records (which would probably include carvings on buildings or stele) sought out by their enemies and destroyed (except possibly those specifically hidden up)? When the Spanish arrived there were dozens of different groups with over 20 different languages in the area, we are only investigating the largest ones, which the BoM shows were not the believers who wrote the book.

As another recent example of what archeology does not know about the New World look at this ABC News article about metal. "Much to the surprise of archaeologists (but not to Mormons) one of the earliest civilizations in the Americas already knew how to hammer metals by 1000 B.C., centuries earlier than had been thought." And “It shows once again how little we know about the past and how there are surprises under every rock.” - Jeffrey Quilter, Dumbarton Oaks (italicized note added) . Although this is not in Meso-America most cultures are not so completely isolated that there is no sharing of technology for thousands of years.

Summary
Although it's true that there is little archeological evidence from the New World, there is some incredibly strong archeology from the Old World. The overall case for the BoM gets stronger and stronger and it can't be explained away if you use the facts. The critics do not address these issues in any significant way. It would be hard to find any anti-Mormon work that deals with the subject of chiasmus or Arabian geography at all. At most they try to dismiss the evidence and make weak comments about supposed incorrect word spellings. This is another example of simply trying to drop the subject and pretend that it isn't happening. It will never matter how much archeological evidence exits. It is an unthinkable possibility that any aspect of the BoM story can be found to be supported by facts, so it is simply not thought about and not discussed. Just as with many Bible scholars and critics this is really because they do not want to believe it, they will never allow themselves to accept the evidence, it would interfere too much with their lives. And so it is now more popular to ignore it, and beat on the admittedly weaker position of the BoA.

1. Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Everybody believes something. A great deal of bandwidth is used up in people telling each other what they believe. Something that receives less attention but is just as important is why you believe. Do you believe because of tradition? Or because your mom or dad or minister believe that way? Or because your comfortable with the majority opinion? Or because you trust in your own researched intellectual conclusions? Most people think that brainwashed Mormon missionaries are sent out to brainwash others. But I testify to you as one having served a mission, I spent 2 years teaching of Jesus Christ and His prophet Joseph Smith, and testifying of the truthfulness of the LDS church with all the energy of my soul, and then turning around and telling each of my investigators not to believe me. Do not believe or disbelieve merely because someone says so, you must find out for yourself if these things are true.

I have recently been reading the testimonies of some converts. Many of the stories follow a pattern:

They initially looked at us as something foreign and sometimes even evil.

But they had heard things about us or had questions about their life or religion that made them open up a bit and become curious to find out more.

Then they got hold of a book that claimed to be scripture - equal to (in some ways maybe better than) the scripture they already had.

The contents of the book was usually not what they were expecting.

Just possessing the book, not to mention that they were seriously studying it, would (and did) open them up to intense criticism and scorn by those in their church. Family members and leaders of the established and historic church considered that studying. praying, and asking God a question about it was tantamount to betraying the faith.

When they felt that maybe there was something to it after all, they prayed to God to know the truth of it.

They received answers to their prayers that ranged from feelings of calm assurance, to deep swellings of peace and joy.

They then had the courage to accept their new life and all the consequences it brought.


Who are these converts? Did I mention that they are former Christians fooled into joining the Mormons? No, I didn't, because they aren't. They are Jews that joined the Christians. You can read their stories from the web site of Jews for Jesus . But, there are fascinating similarities; this is the same pattern that "Mainstream" Christians often follow when converting to The Church of Jesus Christ. The only substantial difference I saw between the story patterns is that most of the Jews reading the New Testament and searching for the Messiah didn't pray until they were fairly certain that Jesus was the Messiah (which often took long periods of doubt and struggle before they were freed by the sure knowledge given to them of the Holy Ghost), wherea s we encourage people to pray about it long before that, "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy". [ ^Rev 19:10 ]. Both of these respective established churches, Jews and Mainstream Christians, emphatically teach that the heavens have closed, that this new book is full of errors and contradictions with what they already know to be scripture, and that it is foolishness to throw away the thousands of years of the orthodox and historical tradition and knowledge - based solely on a feeling!

No Christian in his right mind would say that the experiences of these Jews are not valid and that these Jews did not receive answers to their prayers, or that they should not have been praying about Christ. But many will turn around and tell us that Mormons are deceived when we do exactly the same things. Tens of millions of Christians know that Jesus is the Christ through the power of prayer, and yet will refuse to continue and find the truth of all things they believe through this same method.

I know that Jesus is the Messiah and Savior of the world, because I have studied and prayed and felt the calm assurance, peace, and indescribable joy that He gives through the Holy Spirit in answer to prayers. For the same reason I know that the Bible is the Word of God. For the same reason I have a sure testimony that the Lord Jesus Christ opened these last days through a prophet named Joseph Smith, for the restitution of all things and to prepare the world for Christ's Second Coming. I know by the power of the Holy Spirit that the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham are the Word of God to our generation. I know that Christ restored His authority to act in his name upon the Earth and that I and millions of others hold this priesthood, the Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God, given from a direct line of authority back to its restoration in our days through Peter, James and John, who received it from Jesus Christ and God the Father. I know these things because each of them have been individually revealed to me by the power of the Holy Spirit, not through any righteousness of my own, but only because I sincerely asked, and was willing to accept whatever the Lord told me. I did not receive answers, as the critics will say, just because I had a good feeling or was happy, but answers of deep abiding peace, love, and pure knowledge that have washed through my entire body, and that I have not experienced in any other way. During an outside pageant at the Hill Cumorah in New York State recently, I was deeply moved, and I wept as the actors depicted the raising of Christ on the Cross, and again at the raising of Christ from the Tomb. This was emotional, this was a deep feeling in my heart, yet it was a pale comparison to the extremes of joy and peace which filled my entire soul, both body and spirit, as I knelt quietly alone and prayed to know the truthfulness and knowledge of God and the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. God answers prayers.

If you can put away your doubts, fears, and prejudices you can ask God about all things. It may seem impossible, but it is not any more impossible than it was for these Jews to accept the New Testament as additional scripture. We are not asking you to do anything more than trust in God, as millions of Mormons have done and also hundreds of millions of mainstream Christian believers have done as they prayed to know that Jesus is the Christ and their personal Savior. The Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham are additional scripture, which testify of Jesus Christ as the Savior. Although it may seem impossible, it is true, and it is the way that God works and always has worked.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" [Mat 7:7-8]. "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" [Mat 21:22]. Whether we are wrong or right then God will reveal it, and Jesus will say to you "Blessed art thou, ____________, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" [Mat 16:17]. " And again it is written "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering..." [Jam 1:4-5]. God wants us to know His truths, and not spend 70 years studying out all the different theories and possibilities until we decide what is right. He wants us to follow, right now, what He decides is right. He loves all men and answers the prayers of those who diligently seek him. These things about our Heavenly Father, I know through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.



write us: keith@donovanites.org


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This is not an official web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The opinions expressed, although generally representing the beliefs of the Church, are my own responsibility. I do not speak for the Church as a whole or any other individual members. Any errors are mearly a reflection of my own limitations, don't condemn the things of God based on my faults.
[All quoted Bible scriptures are from the King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise indicated.]
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35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.
15 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;
16 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, and to take thee away from thy father's house, and from all thy kinsfolk, into a strange land which thou knowest not of;
13 And it came to pass that we traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction, and we did pitch our tents again; and we did call the name of the place Shazer.
34 And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom.
1 And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth. And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness.
5 And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters.
4 And thou shalt be brought down, [and] shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust. ...
11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which [men] deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it [is] sealed:
12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.
13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, [even] a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise [men] shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent [men] shall be hid. ...
18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.
10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See [thou do it] not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.