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However, aside from Zenos, the only other prophet whose writings are widely quoted is Isaiah. The Book of Mormon quotes twenty complete chapters (Isaiah 2-14, 48-54). Critics have frequently pointed out that these voluminous quotations from Isaiah follow closely the wording of the King James Version. We certainly would not expect that Joseph's translation of the ancient Nephite records would match so faithfully the English of the King James Bible. However, we should not lose sight of the alterations which were made in the text of Isaiah. According to Sidney Sperry, "The text of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon is not word for word the same as that of the King James Version. Of 433 verses of Isaiah in the Nephite record, Joseph Smith modified about 233. Some of the changes made were slight, others were radical. However, 199 verses are word for word the same as the old English version" (Sperry 1968, 507).
It is not possible to review all of the modifications of Isaiah, but we can illustrate some of the types of changes that were made by considering one chapter. Let us place those portions of Isaiah 9 which were altered in the Book of Mormon next to the King James Version.
|KJV:||and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.|
|BOM:||and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.|
|KJV:||Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy|
|BOM:||Thou hast multiplied the nation, and increased the joy|
|KJV:||and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.|
|BOM:||and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor.|
|KJV:||Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.|
|BOM:||Of the increase of government and peace there is no end|
|KJV:||The Lord sent a word into Jacob|
|BOM:||The Lord sent his word unto Jacob|
|KJV:||even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria|
|BOM:||even Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria|
|KJV:||Therefore the Lord will cut off from Israel head and tail|
|BOM:||Therefore will the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail|
|KJV:||The ancient and honourable, he is the head|
|BOM:||The ancient, he is the head|
|KJV:||for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer|
|BOM:||for every one of them is a hypocrite and an evildoer|
|KJV:||and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest|
|BOM:||and shall kindle in the thickets of the forests|
|KJV:||Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah.|
|BOM:||Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh; they together shall be against Judah|
In addition, Isaiah 9 contains three repetitions of this sentence: "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still" (Isa. 9:12, 17, 21). This sentence also occurs at Isaiah 5:25 and 10:4. In every instance, the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon omitted the word "is" in the last clause of this sentence: "but his hand stretched out still." However, the word was inserted into later editions of the Book of Mormon. The omission of "is" from all five occurrences of this sentence indicates that this was not merely a mistake in copying, but was done deliberately. But, why would someone make this change? In the King James Version, the word "is" in these five instances is italicized, indicating that it is not a part of the Hebrew text, but was added by the translators to make the passages more readable or intelligible. The reviser may therefore have felt that the addition of "is" was an unnecessary interpolation and that these sentences would be closer to the original Hebrew if it were omitted. There does not seem to be any other reason for these changes. But it does not appear likely that it would have occurred to Joseph Smith to make alterations of this sort. And the fact that the Book of Mormon does not agree with the King James Version in such a minor detail suggests that Joseph was not copying directly from the Bible, but from some other manuscript. If he had been using the Bible, all five of these sentences would have included the word "is." Later, when Joseph Smith started his revision of the Bible, he used an 1828 edition of the KJV. Robert Matthews noted that italicized words were crossed out: "Throughout the Bible many italics are crossed out, even when it does violence to the sense. There seems to be little consistency in the cross-outs of italics. Many are not touched; others are crossed out and replaced by words in the manuscripts, and many are not replaced. . . . It is possible that the cross-out of italics was a preliminary step done before the other markings in the Bible, perhaps by a different person, and/or at a different time than the other markings . . ." (Matthews 1975, 59). This might indicate that Joseph Smith understood the significance of italicized words in the Bible while he was working on the Book of Mormon. However, Joseph was joined by Sidney Rigdon in December 1830, and they became collaborators in the revision of the Bible. Therefore, it may have been Sidney who crossed out the italicized words. Another piece of evidence is an account describing Joseph Smith's translation of the Nephite plates, which was printed in the Philadelphia newspaper, The Sun, on 18 August 1831: "So, in order to convince [Martin] Harris that he could read from the plates, Jo deposits them [the stones] in his hat, applies the spectacles, and refers Harris to a chapter in the Bible which he had learned by rote; and which he read from the plates, with surprising accuracy; and what astonished Harris most, was, that Jo should omit all the words in the Bible that were printed in Italic. And, if Harris attempted to correct Jo, he persisted that the plates were right, and the Bible was wrong" (Quinn 1998, 170). Again, this might indicate that Joseph understood the function of italicized words in the Bible, or it could simply mean that whatever text Joseph was using had omitted some of the italicized words, and Joseph merely asserted that his text was right. In any case, the missing words were apparently not due to Martin Harris's knowledge of italics in the Bible. A further statement made by Henry Harris in 1833 suggests that Joseph Smith did not even understand the meaning of the word "italic." In reporting a conversation with Joseph, Harris stated, "I then asked him what letters were engraved on them [the plates], he said italic letters written in an unknown language" (Vogel 1996, 76). Apparently, Joseph thought that "italic" meant something like "hieroglyphic." Dan Vogel dates this conversation between June and September of 1829, when the Book of Mormon was being prepared for printing. If Joseph Smith did not understand what italic letters were in 1829, it isn't likely that he understood the meaning of italics in the Bible when he was working on the Book of Mormon, and it is therefore difficult to believe that he made changes in scripture that were correlated with italicized words. Were such changes in the Book of Mormon made by Sidney Rigdon? This would mean that Rigdon was heavily involved in the production of the Book of Mormon long before his conversion to Mormonism in November 1830. Or, were the changes due to some other source?
It is natural to assume that Joseph Smith inserted the long extracts from Isaiah as a substitute for the 116 pages of manuscript which Martin Harris lost. However, if the chapters from Isaiah were thrown in as an expedient so that Joseph would not have to reproduce what he and Martin had already done, we would expect either that Joseph would not have thought of making any changes, or, in any case, that the alterations would have been rather haphazard. But Isaiah 9:1, which was changed to read "Red Sea," provides us with an example which seems to argue against this. This does not seem to be a casual change; it is doubtful that it would have occurred to anyone to make this modification, unless it was related in some way to the Book of Mormon. This change only begins to become intelligible when it is connected with Lehi's journey northward from Jerusalem and then south along the borders of the "Red Sea." But, I have already argued that Joseph Smith either did not understand the description of Lehi's journey and the reference to the Red Sea, or he deliberately tried to change it contrary to the text. In either case, he could not have been the one who made this modification of Isaiah.
Sidney Sperry has pointed out another important alteration. Isaiah 2:16 reads: "and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures." 2 Nephi 12:16 adds another clause to this verse: "and upon all the ships of the sea, and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures." This addition is of interest, because it agrees with the Septuagint reading of Isaiah: "and upon every ship of the sea, and upon every display of fine ships." This certainly suggests that the person who made this change in the Book of Mormon was aware of at least some of the variations in the manuscripts of the Bible. It is doubtful that Joseph Smith would have been familiar with the Septuagint reading of Isaiah 2:16. We know, in fact, that he and Oliver Cowdery purchased a copy of the King James Version, which he used in making his revision of the Bible.
It is also important to recognize that other alterations of Isaiah are not capricious, but serve to integrate Isaiah with the text of the Book of Mormon. For example, Isaiah 49 begins: "Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken ye people from far . . . ." The Book of Mormon makes additions to this chapter which stress that Isaiah is addressing people at a distance (emphasis has been added to changes in the text): "Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, O isles of the sea, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve thee, and give thee my servant for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages . . . . And then, O house of Israel, behold, these shall come from far; and lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; for the feet of those who are in the east shall be established; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for they shall be smitten no more . . . ." (1 Nephi 21:8, 12-13). Another change of this sort is made in Isaiah 14: "For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land; and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. And the people shall take them and bring them to their place; yea, from far unto the ends of the earth; and they shall return to their lands of promise" (2 Nephi 24:1-2).
Nephi read from Isaiah 49 just after quoting the words of Zenos, which also contain three references to "the isles of the sea." Zenos first describes the cataclysms which will occur at the death of Jesus, "which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel . . . . And all these things must surely come, saith the prophet Zenos. And the rocks of the earth must rend; and because of the groanings of the earth, many of the kings of the isles of the sea shall be wrought upon by the Spirit of God, to exclaim: The God of nature suffers" (1 Nephi 19:10, 12). Zenos then prophesied the dispersion of the Jews and the future renewal of their covenants with God: "Yea, then will he remember the isles of the sea; yea, and all the people who are of the house of Israel, will I gather in, saith the Lord, according to the words of the prophet Zenos, from the four quarters of the earth" (1 Nephi 19:16). The parable of Zenos concerning the tame and wild olive trees is also a representation of the scattering and gathering in of the Jews, including those who are dispersed to the "nethermost parts."
Thus, the alterations of Isaiah are not haphazard; they go hand in hand with the words of Zenos. They are intended to link Isaiah's prophecies with Lehi's posterity, and they in turn with other groups of dispersed Jews. This point is made clear to us by Jacob, the brother of Nephi: "nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea. But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren" (2 Nephi 10:20-21).
Clearly, then, the revisions of Isaiah form an integral part of the Book of Mormon; they are meant to emphasize the thesis of the Book of Mormon that groups of Jews were scattered to the far corners of the earth, including the New World. But, if Joseph Smith quoted whole chapters of Isaiah merely to save himself the time and effort required to reproduce the manuscript lost by Martin Harris, we would not expect that he would give much thought to reworking the text of Isaiah to tie it more closely to the Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith started a translation of the Bible in 1830, after the Book of Mormon was published. It has been called the Inspired Version or the Joseph Smith Translation (JST). Mormon scholars have determined that the portion of the manuscript containing Joseph's translation of Isaiah was written in the first half of 1833. We would expect that since Joseph had already worked on the plates of Nephi, his translation of the Bible would be exactly the same as those chapters of Isaiah which appear in the Book of Mormon. However, this is not the case. In many instances the JST uses the exact wording of the King James Version, instead of preserving the variant forms found in the Book of Mormon.
Let us again consider the changes in Isaiah 9 which we have already discussed. Here are the three versions of verse 1:
|KJV:||and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.|
|BOM:||and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations.|
|JST:||and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the Red sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.|
|KJV:||Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end|
|BOM:||Of the increase of government and peace there is no end|
|JST:||Of the increase of his government and peace there is no end|
We have noted that in the 1830 edition, the Book of Mormon omitted the word "is" from five different occurrences of the same sentence in Isaiah. These omissions could not have been the result of errors in copying, for in every instance the reading was exactly the same. However, the JST restores the word "is" in all five of these sentences. The purpose of these omissions seems to be to challenge the interpolations of the translators of the Bible. Why then would Joseph change his mind and follow the wording of the KJV? This again suggests that he did not make these changes.
Chapters 48 and 49 of Isaiah were heavily altered in 1 Nephi, but the JST follows the reading of the Bible word for word, with the exception of Isaiah 49:25. Among the changes in Isaiah 49 which the JST eliminates are those which tie the chapter more closely to the Book of Mormon. These include the words "O isles of the sea," "O house of Israel," and the phrase "for the feet of those who are in the east shall be established . . . for they shall be smitten no more." These changes were deliberate, and the fact that they are missing from the JST suggests that Joseph Smith was not the one who altered these chapters.
Only one verse in Isaiah 48 and 49 differs in the JST from the KJV. This verse is 49:25, and it presents an interesting problem. In 1 Nephi 21, verse 25 reads just as it does in the KJV: "But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children." 2 Nephi 6:16-18 again quotes Isaiah 49:24-26, but this time words are added to verse 25: "But thus saith the Lord: Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for the Mighty God shall deliver his covenant people. For thus saith the Lord: I will contend with them that contendeth with thee." The last clause of verse 25 is omitted. This is the reading which Joseph chose to include in the JST, but he also restored the missing clause. Thus Joseph passed over 1 Nephi 21, eliminating all of the changes which had been made in Isaiah 49, but he picked up a variant reading of verse 25 in 2 Nephi 6, where only a portion of Isaiah 49 is quoted.
Mormon scholars claim that Joseph incorporated the wording of the King James Version when he was translating Isaiah from the plates of Nephi. But Joseph's revision of the Bible follows the KJV much more closely than does the Book of Mormon. This fact is explained by saying that Joseph did not finish his translation of the Bible and that he would have made many more changes, if he had had sufficient time. But this explanation simply does not hold with regard to those chapters of Isaiah which are included in the Book of Mormon. Joseph had supposedly already done the task of comparing the plates and the Bible and had made all of the necessary changes. All that remained for him to do was to transfer the text of Isaiah from the Book of Mormon to his revision of the Bible. But there are many verses in the JST which indicate that Joseph compared the Book of Mormon with the King James Version and chose from each of them the wording which he wished to retain. We have already discussed some examples of this, but let us consider a few others.
Here are three versions of Isaiah 5:8:
|KJV:||Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place|
|BOM:||Wo unto them that join house to house, till there can be no place|
|JST:||Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there can be no place|
The three readings of Isaiah 51:12 are as follows:
|KJV:||I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass|
|BOM:||I am he; yea, I am he that comforteth you. Behold, who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of man, who shall die, and of the son of man, who shall be made like unto grass?|
|JST:||I am he, yea, I am he that comforteth you; behold, who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass|
Another clear example is Isaiah 14:2:
|KJV:||And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were|
|BOM:||And the people shall take them and bring them to their place; yea, from far unto the ends of the earth; and they shall return to their lands of promise. And the house of Israel shall possess them, and the land of the Lord shall be for servants and handmaids; and they shall take them captives unto whom they were captives|
|JST:||And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: yea, from far, unto the end of the earth, and they shall return to their land of promise, and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and hand-maids; and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were|
In the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 27 expands a few verses of Isaiah into a prophecy about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. In the opening verses of Isaiah 29, the Lord threatens the destruction of Ariel, the city of David, or Jerusalem. 2 Nephi eliminates these verses from chapter 27 and makes them a part of Nephi's speech in chapter 26. Isaiah 29:3 reads: "And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee." Nephi transforms Isaiah's warning against Jerusalem into a prophecy about his own posterity: "After my seed and the seed of my brethren shall have dwindled in unbelief, and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea, after the Lord God shall have camped against them round about, and shall have laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them . . . ." (2 Nephi 26:15). Isaiah 29:4 continues: "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." Similarly, Nephi says: "For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust" (2 Nephi 26:16). After all of these strenuous efforts in the Book of Mormon to change Isaiah 29 from a warning against Ariel to a prophecy about the destruction of the Nephites and the discovery of the plates, we find that in the JST Joseph Smith restored the words of Isaiah as they appear in the KJV.
Chapters 12,13, and 14 of 3 Nephi quote Jesus' words as recorded in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. As in the case of Isaiah, the Book of Mormon follows closely the wording of the King James Version, but with variations. Also, in some verses, the wording is changed to accommodate the fact that Jesus was addressing the Nephites. For the most part, the JST version of Matthew includes the changes which were made in the Book of Mormon, but there are some disagreements. For example, here are the three readings of Matthew 5:18:
|KJV:||For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.|
|BOM:||For verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled.|
|JST:||For verily I say unto you, heaven and earth must pass away, but one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled.|
|KJV:||Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.|
|BOM:||Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee -- go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you. Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him, lest at any time he shall get thee, and thou shalt be cast into prison.|
|JST:||Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, or if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave thou thy gift before the altar, and go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time thine adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.|
In examining the manuscripts which contain Joseph's revisions of the Bible, Mormon scholars have made some surprising discoveries. Joseph's alterations of the books of the Bible are very uneven; Genesis and Matthew received the greatest number of changes, while other books have few or no changes. It has also been determined that Joseph did not work straight through the Bible, but jumped around from one section to another. A number of revisions which he made are grouped around a specific theme, such as correcting those verses which imply that the Lord hardened someone's heart or that he repented of some action. More importantly, the manuscripts reveal that passages which were revised by Joseph sometimes received a second and even a third revision, and at times the effect was to reverse the earlier revision, or to change a passage which had been marked as correct.
As we have seen, in creating his "translation" of the Bible, Joseph Smith at times incorporated scriptural variations found in the Book of Mormon, while at other times he completely ignored changes which had important implications for the Book of Mormon. It is therefore difficult to believe that he was responsible for the original versions. In addition, in his revision of Genesis, Joseph added new material which has no parallel in the Old Testament, and seems in fact to be related to the Book of Mormon. This material includes forty-two verses dealing with Moses, 121 verses which recount the visions of Enoch, and other verses which add information about Adam and Cain.
For a more detailed examination of Isaiah, see David Wright's "Isaiah in the Book of Mormon . . . and Joseph Smith in Isaiah"
Interest in Egyptian antiquities had been reawakened at the end of the eighteenth century by the military expedition of Napoleon, who entered Cairo on 25 July 1798. Napoleon brought with him 175 civilians, including scientists, Orientalists, artists, and poets, who came to study the pyramids and other ancient artifacts. They did not know the meaning of the curious hieroglyphs which were found on statues and temple walls, but one of Napoleon's soldiers did discover by chance the key to their decipherment, a basalt stele which became known as the Rosetta Stone. Solving the mystery of the hieroglyphs had to await the work of Champollion, whose Egyptian Grammar was not published until 1836. In the meantime, there were many attempts, both educated and uneducated, to decipher the Egyptian characters.
The Book of Mormon seems to reflect this renewed interest in Egyptian artifacts. Ancient writers who referred to the hieroglyphs were not very informative, but one passage in Herodotus may have suggested the "reformed Egyptian" of the Book of Mormon: "In writing or calculating, instead of going, like the Greeks, from left to right, the Egyptians go from right to left . . . . They have two sorts of writing, the sacred and the common" (Herodotus 1972, 143). According to Tacitus, the Egyptians discovered the alphabet and introduced it to the Phoenicians, who taught the Greeks how to write. Herodotus adds, speaking of the Greeks, "At first they used the same characters as all the other Phoenicians, but as time went on, and they changed their language, they also changed the shape of their letters" (Herodotus 1972, 361).
In his 1832 history, Joseph Smith related that he made a copy of the characters which were on the plates that he had discovered and sent Martin Harris with a copy to eastern cities to see if the "learned" could read the characters. In New York City, Harris showed the characters to Charles Anthon, professor of Greek and Latin at Columbia College. Harris claimed that Anthon verified the characters as true and a translation of some of them as correct, although Anthon denied this. This trip to New York was a fulfillment of Isaiah 29:11-12, which refers to a sealed book being delivered to "one that is learned." The Book of Mormon greatly alters these few words by adding nineteen verses. However, the Anthon affair leaves some questions unanswered. Joseph and Martin could have made up a story to fulfill the prophecy without making an actual trip to New York. And if Joseph had invented the characters himself and knew that they were indecipherable, why would he ask Anthon to examine them? If, on the other hand, the characters were not Joseph's invention, Joseph may not have known whether they were genuine or not, and he certainly would not want to put forth a translation of the characters, if it was possible for someone to read them and prove him wrong. He may, therefore, have sent Martin with a copy of the characters to the learned to discover whether or not they were authentic. However, Joseph never included a copy of the characters with his publication of the Book of Mormon.
In July 1835 Joseph Smith acquired some Egyptian scrolls, which he immediately started to translate, claiming that the rolls contained the writings of Abraham and Joseph of Egypt. He also began work on an Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar and discovered that the hieroglyphs on the papyri were similar to both Hebrew and to the characters on the plates which contained the Book of Mormon.
After Joseph's death in 1844, the papyri remained in the custody of Emma Smith. In 1856 she sold them to a man named A. Combs. For many years, it was thought that they had been given to a museum in Chicago and that they had been destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871. However, they were discovered in 1966 at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and were acquired by the Mormon church the following year.
Since their discovery, the papyri have been examined by Egyptologists. Because Joseph copied characters from the papyri and wrote out his translation next to them, it has been possible to determine exactly which one of the papyri supposedly contained the writings of Abraham. This is often referred to as the small Sensen fragment. This papyrus has been translated and is nothing more than a very common funerary text, dating between 100 B.C. and A.D. 100, taken from the Book of Breathings, which is itself a shorter version of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. These texts were placed in coffins or burial chambers to assist the soul of the deceased in the afterlife.
In the first part of the Egyptian Grammar, Joseph Smith listed a number of characters and gave each of them a name and definition. Joseph's scheme included a series of five degrees, in which the meaning of the characters varies. For example, Joseph gave the name Iota to a character which looks like a dot (Iota is of course the name for the Greek letter "i"). The meaning of Iota in the five degrees is as follows:
Joseph Smith's translation of the Sensen papyrus produced a manuscript which fills eleven printed pages and consists of five chapters with a total of 136 verses. The handwritten copies of the Book of Abraham demonstrate the manner in which Joseph and his scribes worked. There are four existing manuscripts. The first two, designated as 1a and 1b, are contained in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. 1a is in the handwriting of W. W. Phelps and runs from Abraham 1:4 to 2:6; 1b was copied by Warren Parrish and runs from Abraham 1:4 to 2:2. A longer manuscript was obtained in 1937 by Wilford Wood from Charles E. Bidamon, the son of Emma Smith's second husband. This document is in the handwriting of both Phelps and Parrish; Phelps added Abraham 1:1 to 1:3, while Parrish continued the text from Abraham 1:4 to 2:18. A later manuscript copied by Willard Richards includes Abraham 1:1 to 2:18 and 3:18-26. The Sensen papyrus is damaged and portions of the right-hand side of the first three lines of hieratic script are missing. In manuscripts 1a and 1b the scribes copied three characters, which correspond to the missing portion of line one, and wrote out next to them the text of Abraham 1:4-7. They then copied the remaining six characters on line one, with the corresponding text of Abraham 1:7-19. Four more characters were inserted in place of the missing portion of line two, and were translated as Abraham 1:20-28. The remaining five characters on line two furnished the text of Abraham 1:29 to 2:6. In the longer Phelps-Parrish manuscript, Phelps copied three groups of new characters with the text of Abraham 1:1-3; the manuscript then continues with the same characters and translation as are found in 1a and 1b. Abraham 2:6 begins with the first character on line three of the papyrus. A new character was inserted to fill the missing portion of line three and was translated as Abraham 2:7-9. The remaining three characters on line three correspond to the text of Abraham 2:9-16. Finally, the translation ended with the first character on line four and the text of Abraham 2:17-18. There is evidence that the Sensen papyrus was damaged when Joseph Smith possessed it and that the portions which are missing now were missing when it was translated. In a couple of instances, the characters which were inserted appear to have been copied from another line of the papyrus, but in most cases they seem to be Joseph's own inventions. In addition, Egyptologists have been able to reconstruct the missing portions by comparing the Sensen fragment with other similar papyri, and the characters which Joseph supplied do not match the reconstructed text. We have seen that there are serious problems with the first three verses of the Book of Abraham. In manuscripts 1a and 1b, the translation began with verse four, and this was only after the scribes had added three characters to fill in the missing portion of line one. In the longer manuscript, W. W. Phelps wrote the text of Abraham 1:1-3 next to three new characters, which were inserted before the other three characters, which had already been added to the beginning of line one. Thus it does not appear that the first three verses of Abraham could have been on the papyrus. (More on the Book of Abraham)
The Book of Abraham and the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar appear to be related to another document called the Book of Enoch. When Joseph Smith made his revision of the Bible, he added visions of Enoch to chapter 7 of his Book of Moses. Joseph claimed that these visions were from the lost Book of Enoch. The next clue that Joseph had other material in his possession comes in a revelation dated March 1832: "the Lord God, the Holy One of Zion, who hath established the foundations of Adam-ondi-Ahman; who hath appointed Michael your prince . . . ." (D&C 78:15-16). Next we have a patriarchal blessing which was given on 18 December 1833. Joseph Smith's father, who had already been made a high priest, was ordained as the first patriarch of the church during this meeting. Oliver Cowdery recorded the blessing and added these remarks: "we diligently sought for the right of the fathers, and the authority of the holy priesthood, and the power to administer in the same; for we desired to be followers of righteousness and the possessors of greater knowledge" (Tanner 1982, 367). This is very similar to the wording of Abraham 1:2: "I sought for the blessings of the fathers and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge . . . ." Both the wording and content of Oliver's remarks seem to depend on the Book of Abraham. If Oliver was using material from the Book of Abraham in 1833, it would prove that Joseph Smith had the material even before he acquired the papyri. However, there are some who claim that although the blessing was given in 1833, Oliver's comments were not recorded before 1835.
Nonetheless, when Joseph Smith's father was ordained as patriarch, Joseph's blessing contained these words: "Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch and Methuselah, who were High Priests, with the residue of his posterity, who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing. And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the Prince, the Archangel" (Joseph Smith 1976a, 38-39). These same words were included in Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants, in a revelation dated 28 March 1835. And Section 107 states: "These things were all written in the book of Enoch, and are to be testified of in due time" (D&C 107:57). In June 1835 the Messenger and Advocate published the words of a hymn written by W. W. Phelps, entitled "Adam-ondi-Ahman." The first stanza reads: "This world was once a garden place,/With all her glories common;/And men did live a holy race,/And worship Jesus face to face,/In Adam-ondi-Ahman." Joseph also included the name in his Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, when he defined the character "Beth": "The place appointed of God for the residence of Adam; Adam ondi-Ahman, a garden made to be fruitful, by blessing or promise; great valley or plain given by promise; filled with fruit trees and precious flowers, made for the healing of man. . . . place of happiness -- purity, holiness, and rest; even Zomar _____ Zion." On 19 May 1838 Joseph claimed that he had found the site of Adam-ondi-Ahman in Missouri near the Grand River. It was a place "which the brethren called 'Spring Hill,' but by the mouth of the Lord it was named Adam-ondi-Ahman, because, said He, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the Prophet" (Joseph Smith 1976b, 3:35; D&C 116). This was near a spot which Joseph had named Tower Hill, because of the remains of a Nephite altar and tower that stood there.
The references to Zomar and Zion in the definition of "Beth" are also of interest. Joseph Smith had attempted to establish Zion near Independence, Missouri, and planned to build a temple there. In August 1831, Ezra Booth wrote that on the site of the temple, there was a sapling: "On the south side of the sapling will be found the letter T, which stands for Temple; and on the east side Zom! for Zomas; which Smith says is the original word for Zion" (Howe 1834, 199). Thus Joseph knew both the account of Adam-ondi-Ahman and the name Zomar or Zomas long before he prepared his Egyptian Grammar.
Section 78 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains the first mention of Adam-ondi-Ahman, also refers to Christ as "the Son Ahman" (D&C 78:20). According to Orson Pratt, this is the name of Christ in the pure language spoken by Adam:
"There is one revelation that this people are not generally acquainted with. I think it has never been published, but probably will be in the Church History. It is given in questions and answers. The first question is, 'What is the name of God in the pure language?' The answer says, 'Ahman.' 'What is the name of the son of God?' Answer, 'Son Ahman -- the greatest of all the parts of God excepting Ahman.' 'What is the name of men?' 'Sons Ahman,' is the answer. 'What is the name of angels in the pure language?' 'Angloman'" (McConkie 1966, 29).
Section 78 has some other peculiarities. As originally published in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, the revelation read: "The Lord spake unto Enoch, saying, hearken unto me saith the Lord your God, who are ordained unto the high priesthood of my church . . . . it must needs be that there be an organization of my people, in regulating and establishing the affairs of the storehouse for the poor of my people, both in this place and in the land of Zion, or in other words, the city of Enoch" (Cf. D&C 78:1-3). The revelation said further: "let my servant Ahashdah, and my servant Gazelam, or Enoch, and my servant Pelagoram, sit in council with the saints which are in Zion" (Cf. D&C 78:9). Subsequent editions inserted names of individuals in brackets after the names in the revelation. Enoch and also Gazelam were identified as Joseph Smith, Ahashdah was Newel K. Whitney, and Pelagoram was Sidney Rigdon. However, the current edition of the Doctrine and Covenants has dropped the names Enoch, Gazelam, Ahashdah, and Pelagoram, substituting the names of individuals, and has completely eliminated reference to the city of Enoch.
Other revelations also included unusual names, including the following:
The facts suggest that the Book of Enoch contained the following information: an account of the gathering at Adam-ondi-Ahman where the Lord blessed Adam, an explanation of the meanings of terms in the pure Adamic language, visions of Enoch, an exposition of the order of Enoch or the united order, and a history of the people living in the time of Enoch. Joseph had already used a considerable amount of material from the Book of Enoch by 1835. In July 1835 the Egyptian papyri fell into Joseph's hands, and he probably realized that he could link the writings of Abraham and Joseph to the scrolls.
The Enochian names almost completely disappear from the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants after 1835. However, one of these names occurs in the Book of Abraham, when the Lord shows Abraham the planets and stars: "And he said unto me: This is Shinehah, which is the sun. And he said unto me: Kokob, which is star. And he said unto me: Olea, which is the moon. And he said unto me: Kokaubeam, which signifies stars" (Abraham 3:13). Shinehah had been used in Sections 82 and 104 as a term designating Kirtland, Ohio, and Section 117 states: "Is there not room enough on the mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and on the plains of Olaha Shinehah, or the land where Adam dwelt . . . . Therefore, come up hither unto the land of my people, even Zion" (D&C 117:8-9). This was written in Far West, Missouri, and Joseph had already identified a site in Missouri as Adam-ondi-Ahman. The name Shinehah does not appear in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, but one of the fixed stars is called Shineflis. However, in Section 104, Joseph seems to have been doing something very similar to what he would later do in the Grammar. The word Laneshine was used to mean a print shop, shinelah meant "to print," and shinelane meant "printing." We have seen that in the Grammar Joseph gave the names and definitions of Egyptian characters.
We should also recall that when Joseph began work on the Book of Mormon, his first act was to copy down characters from the plates and give a translation of them. David Whitmer stated, "Frequently one character would make two lines of manuscript, while others made but a word or two words" (Lamb 1887, 240). Whitmer could not have known this unless at one time Joseph was using a system similar to that which appears in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, in which characters and the interpretation were placed side by side. Joseph Smith also derived many lines of manuscript from just one Egyptian character. According to Richard Bushman, Lucy Smith said in the Preliminary Manuscript for her Biographical Sketches that "Joseph was instructed 'to take off a facsimile of the characters composing the alphabet which were called reformed egyptian Alphabetically and send them to all the learned men that he could find and ask them for the translation of the same.' Lucy implied that once Joseph had a translation of all the basic characters, he could carry on by himself -- thus the need to copy a great number of characters" (Bushman 1984, 86). This seems to be proof that Joseph had not merely the text of the Book of Mormon, but also the basic characters of the Egyptian alphabet. This suggests that the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar really belonged to the Book of Mormon and that Joseph deleted it and then later adapted it to the Egyptian papyri.
We should take note of another indication that Joseph had unpublished material at hand, which he was waiting for an opportunity to use. In 1843 some men from Kinderhook, Illinois, claimed that they had discovered some plates covered with hieroglyphs, and the plates were taken to Joseph to translate. Joseph wrote in his history:
I insert fac-similes of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook, in Pike county, Illinois, on April 23, by Mr. Robert Wiley and others, while excavating a large mound. They found a skeleton about six feet from the surface of the earth, which must have stood nine feet high. The plates were found on the breast of the skeleton and were covered on both sides with ancient characters.
I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth. (Joseph Smith 1976b 5:372)
Joseph's interpretation of the characters on the plates sounds like a sequel to the Book of Abraham. Abraham 1 gives a brief account of the founding of Egypt by a daughter of Ham and states concerning the Pharaoh who lived in the time of Abraham: "Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth" (Abraham 1:21).
The men who brought the Kinderhook plates to Joseph were probably waiting for him to publish his translation, but this never happened. Thirty-six years later, one of the men, Wilbur Fugate, admitted that the whole thing was a hoax and that they had made the plates themselves. However, some Mormons still claim that the plates were genuine and that Joseph did translate a portion of them.
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery stated that the Egyptian papyri also contained the writings of Joseph, the son of Jacob, and it seems that the Book of Mormon provides us with a portion of this record. When Lehi blessed his son Joseph, he quoted from the prophecies of the biblical Joseph (2 Nephi 3). Joseph Smith included these prophecies in his translation of chapter 50 of the Book of Genesis, but with variations. Moroni also quoted a prophecy of the biblical Jacob concerning the seed of Joseph (Alma 46:24-25), which is not included in the JST.
The concept of a record containing ancient prophecies is found not only in the Book of Mormon, but in the Book of Moses as well. The Book of Moses states that in the days of Enos "a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration; and by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled" (Moses 6:5-6). Enoch says further: "For a book of remembrance we have written among us, according to the pattern given by the finger of God; and it is given in our own language" (Moses 6:46). The Book of Abraham seems to indicate that Abraham came into possession of the book of remembrance, for it says: "But the records of the fathers, even the patriarchs, concerning the right of Priesthood, the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands; therefore a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day" (Abraham 1:31). The Book of Mormon also states that king Benjamin taught his sons in "the language of his fathers . . . . And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass" (Mosiah 1:2-3). Benjamin says further that the brass plates were engraved in the language of the Egyptians. These brass plates had been in the possession of Laban and his ancestors, until they were taken from Laban's treasury by Nephi. Thus the concept of an ancient record, passed on from one generation to another, runs through and binds together the Book of Mormon, the Book of Moses, and the Book of Abraham. Furthermore, we are led to speculate that the Egyptian language was either the same as the language of Adam or was a modified version of it. And it seems very probable that the Book of Mormon, the Book of Moses, the Book of Abraham, and the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar all came from the same source.
Bushman, Richard L. 1984. Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Herodotus. 1972. Herodotus: The Histories. Translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt. Revised by A. R. Burn. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books.
Howe, E. D. 1834. Mormonism Unvailed. Reprint. Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, n.d.
Lamb, M. T. 1887. The Golden Bible, or, The Book of Mormon; Is it from God? New York: Ward & Drummond.
Matthews, Robert J. 1975. "A Plainer Translation": Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible, A History and Commentary. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press.
McConkie, Bruce R. 1966. Mormon Doctrine. 2d ed. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft.
Smith, Joseph. 1976a. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company.
Smith, Joseph. 1976b History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 6 vols. 2d ed. rev. Edited by B. H. Roberts. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company.
Sperry, Sidney B. 1968. Book of Mormon Compendium. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft.
Tanner, Jerald and Sandra Tanner. 1982. Mormonism -- Shadow or Reality? 4th ed. Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry.
Quinn, D. Michael. 1998. Early Mormonism and the Magic World View. Revised and Enlarged. Salt Lake City: Signature Books.
Vogel, Dan, ed. 1996-2000. Early Mormon Documents. 3 vols. Salt Lake City: Signature Books.
The first part of the Alphabet and Grammar is an initial list of terms in the first degree. This list appears in three copies, written by three different scribes, whom I have designated by the letters A, B, and C. Variations of spelling are shown with the scribe's letter. When there are minor variations between scribes in the definitions, I have given the consensus meaning; otherwise, all three definitions are listed.
Dah-tu-hah-dees; Dah tu Hahdees (A)
Flos-isis; Flosisis (A)
Gahmel (A); Gah-nel (B); Gah Mel (C)
Hah-dees; Hah dees (A)
Io-ho-hah-oop-zip-zi; Io-ho-hah oop Zip Zi (A)
Jah-ho-e-oop; Jah ho e oop (A)
Jah ni hah (A); Jah-ho-hah (B); Jah-ni-hah (C)
Jah-oh-eh; Jah oh eh (A)
Kah-tuain; Kah ta ain (A)
Kah tu ain tri ette (A); Kah-tu-ain-trieth (B); Kah-triain-trieth (C)
Kli flosisis (A); Kli-flos-isis (B); Kli flos isis (C)
Lish-Zi-ho e-oop Iota (A); Ligh zi ho-e-oop-iota (B); Lish-zi-ho-e-oop-iota (C)
Veh Kli flos-isis (A); Veh-kli-flos-isis (B); Veh-Kli flos-isis (C)
Zip Zi Iota Veh (A); Zip-zi-iota-veh (B); Zip zi-iota-aeh (C)
|Eh-Tah||10 & 1 are Eleven|
|Ni-Tah||10 & 2 are Twelve|
|Ze Tah||10 & 3 are Thirteen|
|Teh Tah||10 & 4 are Fourteen|
|Veh Tah||10 & 5 are Fifteen|
|Psi Tah||10 & 6 are Sixteen|
|Psa Tah||10 & 7 are Seventeen|
|A Tah||10 & 8 are Eighteen|
|Na Tah||10 & 9 are Nineteen|
|Tah-Ni||2 times 10 are twenty|
|Eh-Tah-Ni||twice ten and one are 21|
|Ni-Tah Ni||twice ten and two are 22|
|Ze Tah NI||twice ten and three are 23|
|Teh-Tah Ni||twice ten and four are 24|
|Veh-Tah Ni||twice ten and five are 25|
|Psi Tah Ni||twice ten and Six are 26|
|Psa Tah Ni||twice ten and Seven are 27|
|A-Tah-Ni||twice ten and eight are 28|
|Na-Tah-Ni||twice ten and eight [nine] are 29|
|Tah-Ze||three times ten are 30|
|Eh-Tah-Ze||three times ten and one are 31|
|Ni-Tah-Ze||three times ten and two are 32|
|Ze-Tah-Ze||three times ten and three are 33|
|Teh-Tah-Ze||three times ten and four are 34|
|Veh-Tah-Ze||three times ten and five are 35|
|Psi Tah Ze||three times ten and six are 36|
|Psa Tah Ze||three times ten and seven are 37|
|A-Tah-Ze||three times ten and eight are 38|
|Na-Tah-Ze||three times ten and nine are 39|
|Tah-Teh||Four times ten are 40|
|Eh-Tah-Teh||Four times ten and one are 41|
|Ni Tah Teh||Four times ten and two are 42|
|Ze-Tah-Teh||Four times ten and three are 43|
|Teh-Tah Teh||Four times ten and four are 44|
|Veh-Tah Teh||Four times ten and five are 45|
|Psi Tah-Teh||Four times ten and six are 46|
|Psa Tah Teh||Four times ten and seven are 47|
|A Tah Teh||Four times ten and eight are 48|
|Na-Tah-Teh||Four times ten and nine are 49|
|Tah-Veh||Five times ten are 50|
|Eh-Tah-Veh||Five times ten and one are 51|
|Ni-Tah-Veh||Five times ten and two are 52|
|Ze-Tah Veh||Five times ten and three are 53|
|Teh-Tah-Veh||Five times ten and four are 54|
|Veh Tah Veh||Five times ten and five are 55|
|Psi Tah-Veh||Five times ten and six are 56|
|Psa Tah-Veh||Five times ten and seven are 57|
|A-Tah-Veh||Five times ten and eight are 58|
|Na-Tah-Veh||Five times ten and eight [nine] are 59|
|Tah-Psi||Six times ten are 60|
|Eh Tah Psi||Six times ten and one are 61|
|Ni-Tah Psi||Six times ten and two are 62|
|Ze Tah Psi||Six times ten and three are 63|
|Teh Tah Psi||Six times ten and four are 64|
|Veh-Tah Psi||Six times ten and five are 65|
|Psi-Tah-Psi||Six times ten and six are 66|
|Psa Tah-Psi||Six times ten and seven are 67|
|A Tah Psi||Six times ten and eight are 68|
|Na-Tah-Psi||Six times ten and nine are 69|
|Tah-Psa||Seven times ten are 70|
|Eh-Tah-psa||Seven times ten and one are 71|
|Ni-Tah Psa||Seven times ten and two are 72|
|Ze Tah-psa||Seven times ten and three are 73|
|Teh-Tah-Psa||Seven times ten and four are 74|
|Veh-Tah Psa||Seven times ten and five are 75|
|Psi-Tah Psa||Seven times ten and six are 76|
|Psa Tah psa||Seven times ten and seven are 77|
|A-Tah psa||Seven times ten and eight are 78|
|Ni [Na] Tah psa||Seven times ten and [nine] are 79|
|Abraham||Scribe A||Scribe B|
|sign of the fifth degree of the __ __ part||Sign of the fifth degree of the second part|
|1:4||I sought for mine ---- appointment ---- unto the priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concening the seed||I sought for mine appointment [whereunto] unto the priesthood accordin to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed|
|1:5||my fathers having turned from their righteousness and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them unto the worshiping of the Gods of the hethens||my fathers having turned from their righteousness and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them unto the worshiping of the gods of the heathens|
|1:6-7||utterly refused to hearken to my voice for their hearts were set to do evil and were wholly turned to the god of Elk-Kiner and the __ of ___ and the God of Mah-mack rah and the God of Pharoah King of Egypt therefore they turned their hearts to the sacrifice of the heathens in offering up their children unto their dumb Idols and hearkened not unto my voice but endeavored to take away my life by the hand of the priest of Elk-Kiner||utterly refused to hearken to my voice for their hearts were set to do evil and were wholly turned to the God of Elk Kener and the god of Libnah and the god of Mah machrah and the god of Pharaoh King of Egypt. Therefore they turned their hearts to the sacrafice of the heathens in offering up their children u__ these dumb Idols and harkened not unto my voice, but endevoured to take away my life by the hand of the priest of Elk Ken__|
|1:8-10||__ priest of Elk-Keeneh was also the priest of Pharoah, now at this time it was the custom of the priest of Pharaoh the King of Egypt __ offer up upon the alter which was built in the land of Chaldea for the offering unto these strange Gods both men, women __ hildren And it came to pass that the priest made __ offering unto the god of Pharaoh and also unto the god of Shag-reel even after the manner of the Egyptians now the god of Shag-reel was the Sun even a thank offer__ child did the priest of Pharaoh offer upon the alter __ stood by the hill called Potiphers hill at the head of the plain of Olishem||The priest of Elk Kener was also the priest of Pharaoh now at this time it was the custom of the priest of Phar__ the King of Egypt to offer up upon the altar which was built in the land of Chaldea for the offering unto these strange gods both men women and children and it came to pass that the priest made an offering unto the god of Pharaoh and also unto the god of Shagreel, even after the manner of the Egyptians. Now the god of Shagreel was the sun, even a thank offering of a child did the priest of Pharaoh offer upon the altar which stood by the hill called Potiphers hill at the head of the plain of Olishem|
|1:11||Now this priest had offered upon this alter three virgins at one time who were the daughters of Onitah one of the ------ royal descent directly from the loins of Ham the__ virgins were offered up because of their virtue the__ would not bow down to worship gods of wood, or of stone therefore they were killed upon this alter||now this priest had offered upon this altar three virgins at one time who were the daughters of Onitah, one of the ------ royal descent directly from the loins of Ham, these virgins were offered up because of their virtue they would not bow down to worship gods of wood or of stone, therefore they were Killed upon this altar|
|1:12||And it was done after the manner of the Egyptians and it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me that they might slay me also as they did those virgin upon this alter, and that you might have knowledge of this alter I will refer ___ the representation that is at the com___ ment of this record||and it was done after the manner of the Egyptians 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 might have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representations, [that is lying before you] at the commencement of this ___|
|1:13-14||It was made after the form of a bedsted such as was ha_ _mong the Chaldeans and it stood before the gods of Elk Keen _bnah Mah Mack rah and also a god like unto that of Pharaoh King of Egypt that you may have an understanding of these gods __ hav_ given you the fashion of them in the figures at the begining which manner of figures is called by the Chaldians Rah ___ nos||it was made after the form of a bed stead such as was had amon the Chaldeans, and it stood before the Gods of Elk Kener Libnah Mahmachrah 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 fassion of them, in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is [wa] called by the [Egyptians] Chaldeans Rahleenos.|
|1:15||And as they lifted up their hands upon me that they might offer me up ----- and take away my life behold _ lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God; and the lord hearkened and heard and he filled me with a vision of the Almighty and the angel of his presence stood by my feet and immediately loosed my bands||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 a vision of the Almighty and the angel of his presence stood by my feet and immediately loosed my bands.|
|1:16-19||And his voice was unto me Abram Abram Behold my name is Jehovah and I have heard thee and have com_ down to deliver thee and to take thee away from thy fath__ house, and from all thy kinsfolks into a strange land which thou knowest not of, and this because they have turned their hearts away from me to worship the god of Elk kee-nah and __ __ of _ibnah and of Mahmach-rah and the god of Pharaoh King of Egypt. Therefore I have come down to visit them, and to destroy him who hath __ __ hand against thee. Abram my son to __ __ away thy life. Behold I will lead thee by my hand and I will take thee, to put upon thee my name even the priesthood of thy father, and my power shall be over thee; as it was with Noah so shall it be with thee that through thy ministry my name shall be known in the earth forever, for __ am thy __||And his voice was unto me Abram, Abram, behold my name is Jehovah, and I have heard thee, and have come down to deliver thee, and to take thee away from thy fathers house, and from all thy Kinsfolks, into a strange land, which thou knowest not of, and this because [their hearts are turn] they have turned their hearts away from me, to worship the god of Elk Kener, and the god of Libnah and of Mah mach rah and the god of Pharaoh King of Egypt; therefore I have come down to visit them and to destroy him who hath lifted up his hand against thee Abram my son to take away thy life; behold I will lead thee by my hand, and I will take thee, to put upon thee my name even the priesthood of thy Father, [and my] and my power shall be over thee as it was with Noah so shall it be with thee, that throug thy ministry my name shall be known in the earth forever; for I am thy God.|
|1:20-22||Behold Potipher hill was in the land of Ur of Chaldea and the Lord broke down the alter of Elk Kee nah __ __ __ god of the lands and utterly destroyed them ------ and smote the _riest that he died and there __ great morning in Chaldea and also in the court of Pharaoh which Pharaoh signifies King by royal blood. Now this King of Egypt was a descendent from the loins of Ham and was a partaker of the blood of the cananitess by birth: From this decent sprang all the Egyptians and thus the blood of the cananites was preserved in the land.||Behold Potiphers hill was in the land of Ur of Chaldea, and the Lord broke down the altar of Elk Kiner, and of the gods of the land, and utterly destroyed them, and smote the priest that he died and there was great mourning in Chaldea, and also in the court of Pharaoh which Pharaoh, signifies King by royal blood. Now this King of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the canaanites by birth from this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the canaanites was preserved in the land.|
|1:23-24||The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham; and the daughter of Zep-tah. which in the Chaldee signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden. When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who after settled her sons in it: And thus from Ham sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.||The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daugter of Ham and the daughter of Zeptah, which in the Chaldea, signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden. When this woman discovered the land, it was under water, who after settled her sons in it; and thus from Ham sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.|
|1:25-26||Now the first government of Egypt, was established by Pharaoh the eldest son of Egyptes the daughter of Ham; and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was Patriarchal. Pharaoh being a righteous man established his kingdom, and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generation in the days of the first Patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam. And also Noah his father, ----- who blessed him with the blessings of the earth and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the priesthood.||Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the Eldest son of Egyptes, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of governm__ of Ham which was patriarchal, Pharaoh being a righteous man established his Kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generation, in the days of the first patriarchal reign even in the reign of Adam; and also Noah his father, [for as his days] who blessed him with the blessings of the earth and with the blessings of wisdom but cursed him as pertaining to the priesthood.|
|1:27-28||Now Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of priesthood; not withstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah through Ham: Therefore my father was led away by their idolitry: but I shall endeaver hereafter to delliniate the chronology running back from myself to the begining of the creation, for the records have come into my hands which I hold unto this present time||Now Pharaoh being of that lineage, by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would feign claim it from Noah through Ham, therefore my father was led away, by their Idolitry but I shall endeavor here after to deliniate the chronology runing back from myself to the beginning of the creation: for the records have come into my hands which I hold unto this present time.|
|1:29-31||Now after the priest of Elk Kee nah was smitten that he died there came a fulfilment of those things which were spoken unto me conerning the land of Chaldea, that there should be a famine in the land; and accordingly a famine prevailed through out all the land of Chaldea; And my father was sorely tormented because of the famine, and he repented of the evil which he had determined against me, to take away my life: But the records of the fathers even the patriarchs concerning the right of priesth__ the lord my God preserved in mine own hand: Therefore a knowledge of the begining of creation and also of the planets, and of the stars, as it was made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day.||Now after the priest of Elk Kiner was smiten that he died there came a fulfillment of those things which were spoke unto me conserning the land of Chaldea, that there should be a famine in the land, and accordingly a famine prevailed throughout all the land of Chaldea, and my father was sorely tormented, because of the famine, and he repented of the evil which he had determined against me, to take away my life, but the records of the fathers, even the patraarch's, concerning the right of priesthood the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands, therefore a Knowledge of the beginning of creation, and also of the planets and of the stars, as it was made know unto the fathers have I kept even unto this day.|
|1:31||And I shall endeavor to write some of these things, upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shalt come after me||And I shall endeavour to write some of these things upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shall come after me.|
|2:1-2||Now the Lord God caused the famine to wax ___ in the land of Ur insomuch that Haran my brother died: but Terah my father yet lived in the land of Ur of the Chaldees. And it came to pass; that I Abram took Sarai to wife and Nehor my brother took Melkah to wife||Now the Lord God caused the famine to wax sore in the land of Ur, insomuch that Haran my brother died, but Terah my father yet lived in the land of Ur of the chaldeas. And it came to pass that I Abram took Sarai to wife and Nahor, my brother, took Milcah to wife.|
|2:2||Who was the daughter of __ron||Who was the daughter of Haran.|
|2:3-6||Now the lord had said unto me Abram get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred even from thy fathers house, unto a land that I will __ thee: Therefore I left the land of Ur of the __ to go into the land of Canaan; and I took Lot my brothers son, and his wife, and Sarai my wife; and also my father followed after me _to the land which we denominated Haran. And the famine abated, and my father tarried in Haran and dwelt there, as there were many flocks in Haran; And my father turned again unto his idolitry: Therefore he continued in Haran Now the Lord had said unto Abram __ get thee out of thy country and from thy Kindred and from thy fathers house unto a land that I will show thee Therefor __ __ the land of Ur of the chaldees to go into the land of Canaan and __ __ Lot my bro son and his wife __ Sari_ my wife and also my father f__ me into the land which we denominated Haran and the famine abated, and my father tarried in Haran and dwelt there as there __ __ flock in Haran: and my father turned again unto his idolitry Therefore he continued in Haran but I Abram __ and Lot my brothers son prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord appeared|
[Second Degree] This character, that is the character of the second degree, is designated from characters of the first degree by the manner of its being inserted in the compound: as follows - when it is connected it has the signification of the second degree; and when disconnected from the names of other places, it stands for the original sound of Kah-oan for Chaldee and it should be known as bing in the second degree, in order to vary the verbs, prepositions participles conjunctions, and adverbs: All names of rivers, & seas, of lands of hills, and of mountains should be preserved in their order according to their degrees, from the first For instance, the first connection should be called Jugos, which signifies verb or action: and the second connection should be called Kah-Jugos, which is a variation, according to the signification of the second degree: Kah Jugos should be preserved in the second degree. It signifies an action passed: The third connection is called Kah Juga-os, which signifies an action to be receved or to come to pass The fourth connection is called Ka-os-Ju which signifies connection And the fifth is called Ka-os-Juga-os and is used to qualify according to the signification of the fifth degree whether for prepositions, verbs, adverbs ___ This order should be preserved according to the signification of the degree
[Fifth Degree] This is called Za Ki-oan hiash, or chalsidon hiash. This character is in the fifth degree, independent and abitrary. It may be preseded in the fifth degree while it stands independent and arbitrary. That is, without a straight mark inserted above or below it. By inserting a straight mark over it thus, (2) it increases its signification five degrees: by inserting two straight lines, thus: (3) its signification is increased five times more. By inserting three straight lines thus (4) its signification is again increased five times more than the last. By counting the number of staight lines [and preseding them], or considering them as qualifying adjectives we have the degrees of comparison There are five connecting parts of speech in the above character, called ZaKi on hish These five connecting parts of speech, for verbs, participles-prepositions, conjunctions, and adverbs. In Translating this character, the subject must be continued until there are as many of these connecting parts of speech used as there are connections or connecting points found in the character. But whenever the character is found with one horizontal line, as at (2) the subject must be continued until [twice] five times the number of connecting parts of speech are used; or, the full sense of the writer is not conveyed. When two horizontal lines occur, the number of conneting parts of speech are continued five times further - or five degrees. And when three horizontal lines are found, the number of connections are to be increased five times further. The character alone has 5 parts of speech: increase by one straight line thus 5X5 is 25 by 2 horizontal lines thus 25X5=125; and by 3 horizontal lines thus: - 125X5=625
When this character has a horizontal line under it it reduces it into the fourth degree, consequently it has but four connecting parts of speech. When it has two horizontal lines, it is reduced into the third degree and has but three connecting parts of speech, and when it has three horizontal lines; it is reduced into the second degree and has but two connective parts of speech.
"Katumin, Princess, daughter of On-i-tos [Pharaoh] King of Egypt, who began to reign in the year of the World 2962. Katumin was born in the 30th year of the reign of her father, and died when she was 28 years old, which was the year 3020."
"Katumin, Princess, daughter of On-i-tas King of Egypt, who [reigned] began to reign in the year of the world, 2962. Katumin was born in the 30th year of the reign of her father, and deid when she was 28 years old, which was the year 3020."
|FIRST PART OF THE FIVE DEGREES|
|Ah-broam||Ah broam||Ah-broam||Ahbroam||Ah brah-oam|
|Ah lish||Ahlish||Ah lish||Ah lish||Ah lish|
|Beth-Ka||Beth Ka||Beth ka||Beth Ka||Beth Ku|
|Ho e oop||Ho e oop||Ho e oop||Ho e-oop||Ho e oop|
|Ho-e oop-hah||Ho e-oop-hah||Hoe oop hah||Ho e oop hah||Ho e oop hah|
|Ho-e-oop-hah-Phah eh||Ho e oop hah phah eh||Hoeoophahphaheh||Hoe-oop hah phaheh||Hoeoophahphaheh|
|Ho-oop hah||Ho oop hah||Ho oop hah||Ho oop hah||Ho oop hah|
|Iota Netahoch ah que||Iota nitahach ahque||Iota nitah oeh ah que||Iota nitahach ah que||Iota nitahach ah qu|
|Iota nilahoch ah que|
|Iota toues-Zip Zi||Iota toues Zip Zi||Iota toues Zip Zi||Iota toues Zip Z||Iota toues Zip Zi|
|Kah-tou-mun||Kah tou mun||Kah tou mun||Kah tou mun||Kah tou mun|
|Ki Ah broam||Kiah broam||Kiah broam||Kiahbroam||Kiah brah oam|
|Pha-ah||Pha-ah||Pha ah||Phaah||Phah oh|
|Phah-ho-e-oop||Phah ho e oop||Phah ho e oop||Phah ho e oop||Phah ho e oop|
|Su-e-eh ni||Su e-eh-ni||Sueehni||Sueehni||Su e eh ni|
|Toan, tou-ee, tah es, tou eh, tou es||Toan, tou es, tah ee, toh eh, toues||Toan, tou-ee, tah ee, taheh, tou es||Toan, tau ee, tah ee, tah eh, toues||Toan, tau ee, tahee, tahes, toues|
|Zi-oop-hah||Zi oop hah||Zi oop hah||Zi oop hah||Zi oop hah|
|Zip Zi||Zip Zi||Zip Zi||Zip Zi||Zip Zi|
|Zub eh||Zub-eh||Zub eh||Zubeh||Zub eh|
|Zub Zool||Zub Zool||Zub zool||Zub Zool||Zub Zool|
|Zub Zool eh||Zub Zool eh||Zub-zool-eh||Zub Zool eh||Zub Zool eh|
|Zub Zool-oan||Zub Zool-oan||Zub zool oan||Zub Zool oan||Zub Zool oan|
|SECOND PART OF THE FIVE DEGREES|
|Ah me-os||Aleph||Albeth||Ba eth||Beth|
|Al ki beth||Alko beth||Alkubeth||Alkabeth||Alkebeth|
|Ba eth ku||Ba eth Ki||Ba eth Ko||Ba eth Ku||Ba eth Ka|
|Beth Ka||Beth Kee||Beth Ki||Beth Ki||Beth Ku|
|Beth Ku-ain-tri-eth||E beth Ku ai tre eth||E beth Ka||Kahtu ain tri eth||Kah tu-ain|
|Dah tu Hah dees||Hah dees||De-eh|
|Flo ees||Flo ees||Flo-ees||Flo-ees||Flo-ees|
|Flos-isis||Flos isis||Flos-isis||Flos-isis||Flos isis|
|Ho-hah-oop||Io-ho-hah oop||Io-ho-hah oop Zip Zi|
|Jah ni hah||Jah-ni-hah||Jah ni hah||Jah ni hah||Jah ni hah|
|Kliflos isis||Kli flos isis||Kli flos isis||Kli floisis||Kli flosisis|
|Lish Zi ho e oop Iota|
|Veh Kli floisis||Veh Kli flos isis||Veh Kliflos isis||Veh Kli flos isis||Veh Kli flos-isis|
|Zip Zi Iota veh|
It should be noted that the first list of terms, which was strictly for the first degree, does not agree with the first degree of the five degree scheme. For convenience I will refer to these two lists as A and B. The first part of list A includes Ah, not included in list B, but does not include Ah-broam, Ah lish, Beth, Beth-Ka, Ki, or Ki Ah broam, which are contained in list B. In the second part, list A includes many terms which are placed in different degrees in B. There also appear to be some errors in the second part of the five degrees. Ba eth Ku is listed in both the first and fourth degrees, while we would expect one of them to be Ba eth Kee, which is contained in list A. Similarly, Beth Ki is listed in both the third and fourth degrees, while we would expect one of them to be Beth Ko, which is contained in list A.
This section reproduces an article written by Oliver Cowdery regarding the acquisition of the Egyptian papyri, published in the Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, December 1835.
It has been said, that the purchasers of these antiquities pretend they have the body of Abraham, Abimelech, the king of the Philistines, Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, &c. &c. for the purpose of attracting the attention of the multitude, and gulling the unwary -- which is utterly false.
For the purpose of correcting these and other erroneous statements, concerning both the mummies and also the records, we give an extract of a letter written by a friend in this place, who possesses correct knowledge concerning this matter, to a gentleman who resides at a distance.
Who these ancient inhabitants of Egypt are, we do not pretend to say, -- neither does it matter to us. We have no idea or expectation, that either of them are Abraham, Abimelech, or Joseph. Abraham was buried on his own possession, "in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre," which he purchased of the sons of Heth; Abimelech lived in the same country, and for aught we know, died there, and the children of Israel carried Joseph's bones from Egypt when they went out under Moses. Consequently, could not have been found in Egypt in the 19th century. But the records are the most important, concerning which, we refer our readers to the extract for information.
"KIRTLAND, GEAUGA CO. O.,
December 22, 1835."
* * * *
Yours of the 8th Oct. furnishes matter of importance. You say truly when you say, "Verily, this is a great and marvelous work, indeed." Others may be endowed with a superior ability to myself, and thereby be the better qualified to appreciate the great condescension of our God in lighting up this earth once more with such intelligence from his presence, by the ministering of his holy angels and by his own voice. Be this as it may, with the ability I have I endeavor to be thankful.
That the Lord should again manifest something for the benefit of man in the last days, is perfectly consistent, and so exactly accords with that written by the holy prophets and apostles, that it is apparent to me, that none can reject the fulness of the gospel, except such as are led by an influence other than heavenly, or willful blindness. -- But so it is, and yet the work spreads and prospers. And considering the weak instruments engaged to spread it, it cannot but be acknowledged that the hand of our God is put forth, to roll on his work, his strange work, in the eyes of the nations. My sincere prayer is, that I may be fully qualified, by his grace, to do the part assigned me, that I may stand when he appeareth.
Upon the subject of the Egyptian records, or rather the writings of Abraham and Joseph, I may say a few words. This record is beautifully written on papyrus with black, and a small part, red ink or paint, in perfect preservation. The characters are such as you find upon the coffins of mummies, hieroglyphics, &c. with many characters or letters exactly like the present, (though probably not quite so square,) form of the Hebrew without points.
These records were obtained from one of the catacombs in Egypt, near the place where once stood the renowned city of Thebes, by the celebrated French traveller Antonio Lebolo, in the year 1831. He procured license from Mehemet Ali, then Viceroy of Egypt, under the protection of Chevalier Drovetti, the French Consul, in the year 1828; employed 433 men four months and two days, (if I understood correctly, Egyptian or Turkish soldiers,) at from four to six cents per diem, each man; entered the catacomb June 7th, 1831, and obtained eleven Mummies. There were several hundred Mummies in the same catacomb: about one hundred embalmed after the first order, and deposited and placed in niches, and two or three hundred after the second and third order, and laid upon the floor or bottom of the grand cavity, the two last orders of embalmed were so decayed that they could not be removed, and only eleven of the first, found in the niches. On his way from Alexandria to Paris he put in at Trieste, and after ten days illness, expired. This was in the year 1832. Previous to his decease, he made a will of the whole to Mr. Michael H. Chandler, then in Philadelphia, Pa. his nephew, whom he supposed to have been in Ireland. Accordingly the whole were sent to Dublin, addressed according, and Mr. Chandler's friends ordered them sent to New York, where they were received at the custom house, in the winter or spring of 1833. In April of the same year Mr. Chandler paid the duties upon his Mummies, and took possession of the same. Up to this time they had not been taken out of the coffins nor the coffins opened. On opening the coffins he discovered that in connection with two of the bodies, were something rolled up with the same kind of linnen, saturated with the same bitumen, which, when examined, proved to be two rolls of papyrus, previously mentioned. I may add that two or three other small pieces of papyrus, with astronomical calculations, epitaphs, &c. were found with others of the Mummies.
When Mr. Chandler discovered that there was something with the Mummies, he supposed, or hoped it might be some diamonds or other valuable metal, and was no little chagrined when he saw his disappointment. He was immediately told, while yet in the Custom House, that there was no man in that city, who could translate his roll; but was referred by the same gentleman, (a stranger,) to Mr. Joseph Smith, jr. who, continued he, possesses some kind of power or gifts by which he had previously translated similar characters. Bro. Smith was then unknown to Mr. Chandler, neither did he know that such a book or work as the record of the Nephites had been brought before the public. From New York he took his collection to Philadelphia, where he exhibited them for a compensation. The following is a certificate put into my hands by Mr. Chandler, which he obtained while in Philadelphia and will show the opinion of the scientific of that city:
"Having examined with considerable attention and deep interest, a number of Mummies from the Catacombs, near Thebes, in Egypt, and now exhibiting in the Arcade, we beg leave to recommend them to the observation of the curious inquirer on subjects of a period so long elapsed; probably not less than three thousand years ago. -- The features of some of these Mummies are in perfect expression. The papyrus, covered with black or red ink, or paint, in excellent preservation, are very interesting. The undersigned, unsolicited by any person connected by interest with this exhibition, have voluntarily set their names hereunto, for the simple purpose of calling the attention of the public, to an interesting collection, not sufficiently known in this city."
JOHN REDMAN COXE, M. D.
RICHARD HARLAN, M. D.
J. PANCOAST, M. D.
WILLIAM P. C. BARTON, M. D.
E. F. RIVINUS, M. D.
SAMUEL G. MORGAN, M. D.
I concur in the above sentiments, concerning the collection of Mummies in the Philadelphia Arcade, and consider them highly deserving the attention of the curious.
W. E. HORNER, M. D.
While Mr. Chandler was in Philadelphia, he used every exertion to find some one who could give him the translation of his papyrus, but could not, satisfactorily, though from some few men of the first eminence, he obtained in a small degree, the translation of a few characters. Here he was referred to bro. Smith. From Philadelphia he visited Harrisburgh, and other places east of the mountains, and was frequently referred to bro. Smith for a translation of his Egyptian Relic.
It would be beyond my purpose to follow this gentleman in his different circuits to the time he visited this place the last of June, or first of July, at which time he presented bro. Smith with his papyrus. Till then neither myself nor brother Smith knew of such relics being in America. Mr. Chandler was told that his writings could be deciphered, and very politely gave me a privilege of copying some four or five different sentences or separate pieces, stating, at the same time, that unless he found some one who could give him a translation soon, he would carry them to London.
I am a little in advance of my narration; The morning Mr. Chandler first presented his papyrus to bro. -- Smith, he was shown, by the latter, a number of characters like those upon the writings of Mr. C. which were previously copied from the plates, containing the history of the Nephites, or book of Mormon.
Being solicited by Mr. Chandler to give an opinion concerning his antiquities, or a translation of some of the characters, bro. S. gave him the interpretation of some few for his satisfaction. For your gratification I will here annex a certificate which I hold, from under the hand of Mr. Chandler, unsolicited, however, by any person in this place, which will show how far he believed bro. Smith able to unfold from these long obscured rolls the wonders contained therein:
"Kirtland, July 6th, 1835."
"This is to make known to all who may be desirous, concerning the knowledge of Mr. Joseph Smith, jr. in deciphering the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic characters, in my possession, which I have, in many eminent cities, shown to the most learned: And, from the information that I could even learn, or meet with, I find that of Mr. Joseph Smith, jr. to correspond in the most minute matters."
"MICHAEL H. CHANDLER."
"Travelling with, and proprietor of Egyptian Mummies."
The foregoing is verbatim as given by Mr. C. excepting the addition of punctuation, and speaks sufficiently plain without requiring comment from me. It was given previous to the purchase of the antiquities, by any person here.
The language in which this record is written is very comprehensive, and many of the hieroglyphics exceedingly striking. The evidence is apparent upon the face, that they were written by persons acquainted with the history of the creation, the fall of man, and more or less of the correct ideas of notions of the Deity. The representation of the god-head -- three, yet in one, is curiously drawn to give simply, though impressively, the writers views of that exalted personage. The serpent, represented as walking, or formed in a manner to be able to walk, standing in front of, and near a female figure, is to me, one of the greatest representations I have ever seen upon paper, or a writing substance; and must go so far towards convincing the rational mind of the correctness and divine authority of the holy scriptures, and especially that part which has ever been assailed by the infidel community, as being a fiction, as to carry away, with one mighty sweep, the whole atheistical fabric, without leaving a vestage sufficient for a foundation stone. Enoch's Pillar, as mentioned by Josephus, is upon the same roll. -- True, our present version of the bible does not mention this fact, though it speaks of the righteousness of Abel and the holiness of Enoch, -- one slain because his offering was accepted of the Lord, and the other taken to the regions of everlasting day without being confined to the narrow limits of the tomb, or tasting death; but Josephus says that the descendants of Seth were virtuous, and possessed a great knowledge of the heavenly bodies, and, that, in consequence of the prophecy of Adam, that the world should be destroyed once by water and again by fire, Enoch wrote a history or an account of the same, and put into two pillars one of brick and the other of stone; and that the same were in being at his (Josephus') day. The inner end of the same roll, (Joseph's record,) presents a representation of the judgment: At one view you behold the Savior seated upon his throne, crowned, and holding the sceptres of righteousness and power, before whom also, are assembled the twelve tribes of Israel, the nations, languages and tongues of the earth, the kingdoms of the world over which satan is represented as reigning. Michael the archangel, holding the key of the bottomless pit, and at the same time the devil as being chained and shut up in the bottomless pit. But upon this last scene, I am able only to give you a shadow, to the real picture. I am certain it cannot be viewed without filling the mind with awe, unless the mind is far estranged from God: and I sincerely hope, that mine may never go so far estray, nor wander from those rational principles of the doctrine of our Savior, so much, as to become darkened in the least, and thereby fail to have that, to us, the greatest of all days, and the most sublime of all transactions, so impressively fixed upon the heart, that I become not like the beast, not knowing whither I am going, nor what shall be my final end!
I might continue my communication to a great length upon the different figures and characters represented upon the two rolls, but I have no doubt my subject has already become sufficiently prolix for your patience: I will therefore soon cease for the present. -- When the translation of these valuable documents will be completed, I am unable to say; neither can I give you a probable idea how large volumes they will make; but judging from their size, and the comprehensiveness of the language, one might reasonably expect to see a sufficient to develop much upon the mighty acts of the ancient men of God, and of his dealing with the children of men when they saw him face to face. Be there little or much, it must be an inestimable acquisition to our present scriptures, fulfilling, in a small degree, the word of the prophet: For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
P. S. You will have understood from the foregoing, that eleven Mummies were taken from the catacomb, at the time of which I have been speaking, and nothing definite having been said as to their disposal, I may, with propriety add a few words. Seven of the said eleven were purchased by gentlemen for private museums, previous to Mr. Chandler's visit to this place, with a small quantity of papyrus, similar, (as he says,) to the astronomical representation, contained with the present two rolls, of which I previously spoke, and the remaining four by gentlemen resident here.
Though the Mummies themselves are a curiosity, and an astonishment, well calculated to arouse the mind to a reflection of past ages, when men strove, as at this day, to immortalize their names, though in another manner, yet I do not consider them of much value compared with those records which were deposited with them.
If Providence permits, I will, ere long, write you again upon the propriety of looking for additions to our present scriptures, according to their own literal reading.
Believe me to be, sir, sincerely and truly, your brother in the bonds of the new and everlasting covenant.
To Wm. Frye, Esq. Gilead, Calhoon co. Ill.
Joseph's history reproduces some of the information contained in Oliver's article and then concludes: "Thus I have given a brief history of the manner in which the writings of the fathers, Abraham and Joseph, have been preserved, and how I came in possession of the same -- a correct translation of which I shall give in its proper place" (Joseph Smith 1976, 2:350-51).
The Book of Abraham was published in three issues of the Times and Seasons in 1842: Abraham 1:1 to 2:18 was printed on 1 March; Abraham 2:19 to 5:21 on 16 March; and Facsimile 3 on 16 May. The three facsimiles which Joseph published with the Book of Abraham were scenes taken from the papyri. Joseph stated that on 23 February 1842, he "gave Reuben Hedlock instruction concerning the cut for the altar and gods in the Records of Abraham, as designed for the Times and Seasons" (Joseph Smith 1976, 4:518). But he was still correcting the first facsimile on 1 March, when printing of the Book of Abraham began. On 4 March, Joseph and Reuben were working on the second facsimile: "At my office exhibiting the Book of Abraham in the original to Brother Reuben Hedlock, so that he might take the size of the several plates or cuts, and prepare the blocks for the Times and Seasons; and also gave instruction concerning the arrangement of the writing on the large cut, illustrating the principles of astronomy" (Joseph Smith 1976, 4:543).
Franklin D. Richards's edition of the Pearl of Great Price in 1851 included the Book of Abraham and the three facsimiles from the papyri, with this heading, quoted from the Times and Seasons: "A translation of some ancient records, that have fallen into our hands from the catecombs of Egypt, purporting to be the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus." The current edition of the Book of Abraham omits the words "purporting to be."
Joseph seems to have concentrated on the Grammar rather than on translating the Book of Abraham; there does not appear to be any reference in his diaries to translating Egyptian after 26 November 1835. The Grammar also indicates that Joseph stopped work after the second part of the degrees, because the third, fourth, and fifth parts are left undeveloped. Furthermore, there are indications that between 1835 and 1842 Joseph had not progressed further than Abraham 2:18; the first installment printed in the Times and Seasons on 1 March 1842 ended at this point. On 8 March, Joseph wrote: "Recommenced translating from the Records of Abraham for the tenth number of the Times and Seasons . . . ." And on 9 March, he wrote: "in the afternoon continued the translation of the Book of Abraham" (Joseph Smith 1976, 4:548). If Joseph had reached only as far as Abraham 2:18 on 1 March and did not commence translating again until 8 March, he would have to finish the rest of the Book of Abraham before 16 March, when the second installment was printed carrying the text to Abraham 5:21. Oliver stated in his article in December 1835 that the papyri related the history of the creation, the fall of man, and the correct idea of God, and he demonstrated that he had at least some knowledge of the Book of Joseph. But this information would correspond to chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the Book of Abraham. Thus Oliver seems to have had knowledge in 1835 about portions of the papyri which were not translated until 1842. In addition, on 1 March Joseph said that he was "with the Twelve and their wives at Elder Woodruff's, at which time I explained many important principles in relation to progressive improvement in the scale of intelligent existence" (Joseph Smith 1976, 4:519). This would correspond to the material in Abraham 3, but Joseph was still translating the Book of Abraham a week after his meeting with the twelve apostles.
-------. 1984. The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith. Compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company.