This broadcaster has 662 podcast archives available on-demand.
Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.
June 28, 2021 8:36 am
Answering mortgage questions by Bill McKeever Gary Johnson deals with 36 commonly asked questions by your LDS friends and neighbors. It's a great resource for Christians want to share their faith with friends and loved ones. Be sure to pick up your copy today at your favorite Christian bookstore viewpoint on Mormonism program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism.
What is the book of Abraham. Welcome to this edition of viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson.
My colleague at MRM we continue our look at the book the LDS gospel topics series a scholarly engagement. This book was released in late 2020.
It is edited by Matthew L.
Harris and Newell G. Bringhurst and it is meant to critique the original 13 gospel topics, essays that were originally posted on the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints between late 2013 and late 2015 today we will begin looking at chapter 11. It's a chapter titled the continuing controversy over the book of Abraham. It was written by Stephen CT, some in his biography at the back of the book, beginning on page 375 states that Mr. Tate some holds a PhD in the history of religion from Indiana University and is currently an associate professor of philosophy and comparative religion at Cleveland State University.
It doesn't mention in his bio that he is a graduate of Brigham Young University and so we can assume being from an LDS background that he is going to exhibit some of his biases, you might say, as a member of the LDS church, but we do see some of those things come up as we go through this chapter, but the book of Abraham. We have found is one of probably the leading controversies that tend to cause people to leave the LDS church. Eric you and I both have talked to many former Latter Day Saints. Many times we will make it a point to ask what was it specifically that you think started your journey out of Mormonism and many times they will tell us it was the book of Abraham and this is confirmed by Mormon blogger Jana Reese in her book called the next Mormons when she took a survey of different people who had left the church. Out of all the theological issues. This was the top theological issue why people would leave and there's good reason for that, and we hope to discuss some of those reasons as we go along in this series Mr. Tate. Some starts off talking about an Egyptologist by the name of Robert Wittner, Robert Wittner is with the University of Chicago and in 2013 Dr. written or wrote a book titled the Joseph Smith papyrus a complete addition.
It happened to be published by signature books. The same publisher that has published this book that we are going through right now but Robert Wittner had some interesting things to say about the book of Abraham and from what I understand, and I think it's even brought out in this chapter that one of the reasons why Dr. written or decided to get involved in this controversy is because he was receiving so much mail from people who were concerned over what they were finding about the book of Abraham as well as some of the responses that Mormon apologists were making written or felt to get involved in this. I'm glad he did, and his book the Joseph Smith papyrus a complete addition is mentioned in the opening lines of this chapter and I think Dr. written her offers a lot of very pertinent information that will shed more light on this, but Dr. Tate some notes that written or was not real happy was not willing to concur what most Mormons believed about the book of Abraham.
What does Stephen take some say about that. On page 281. He concluded that Smith's book of Abraham bears no resemblance to the text from which he claimed to have translated it.
Now that's important and something that we cannot overlook.
We have an expert in the field at Egyptology come to the conclusion that Joseph Smith's book of Abraham which is found in the pearl of great price is still to this day a part of Mormon scripture.
According to Stephen take some. He concludes that Robert Wittner felt that there was no resemblance to the text from which he been Joseph Smith claim to have translated no I just want to mention for those who want to learn more about the book of Abraham in this controversy.
Probably the best DVD that has come out is called the last book of Abraham that was done by IRR Institute for religious research people that we know in Michigan. That's an excellent history Channel like video but you can watch this by going to YouTube and just type in the lost book of Abraham. We encourage you to watch that but in that video.
There's about a 10 minute interview with Robert Wittner and he explains the many many problems that he sees as an Egyptologist regarding the book of Abraham, Stephen tastes and goes on to say that Robert Wittner's criticisms were not new. He talks about Episcopal Bishop Franklin S. Spalding in 1912 Episcopal Bishop Franklin S. Spalding sent the images or facsimiles accompanying that book of Abraham text along with misinterpretations of them to a panel of distinguished academics for comment that comments were harsh. Each dismiss the material as common and Smith's translations as absurd notes talk about that because you know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can't take this lying down. They have to respond to this. The problem is they really don't have anybody in the church who has the credentials or qualifications to respond adequately and take some says that the three that were chosen to, which were John Witzel and BH Roberts. We talked about John Witzel.
He was a Mormon apostle.
We have BH Roberts.
He was also a church historian and a member of the 70 take some notes that though these guys were eloquent. These men were not Egyptologist, so the church is kind of I guess you could say at a disadvantage here. They need to respond to those who have credentials in this field of expertise, but they really don't have anybody who's up to the standard taste goes on page 282 and writes in the late 1960s. Fragments of the original papyrus related to the book of Abraham were found in New York City and obtained by the LDS church. This development lead. Later defenders to learn the languages and culture of ancient Egypt the first Mormon to do so was Hugh W. Nibley, who had taken a leave of absence from BYU to study under Egyptologist class pair at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute others such as Yale trained Egyptologist John G would follow it seem like in the early years. Hugh Nibley was the go to guy but still you Nibley. I don't think would rank up there as an expert in the field of Egyptology. Not at all.
Not not at all, but taste goes on to say, given the long history of contention over the book of Abraham and the newly stoked fires. It made a great deal of sense for the church to include an essay on the book of Abraham in its online gospel topics series. This chapter Dr. Statham says explores the book of Abraham controversy by introducing the reader to the book of Abraham itself through a discussion of its history content and context then moving to a discussion on the LDS church is essay and concluding with a review of some of the major historiographical landmarks in the history of the controversy now upfront. I'm going to say to our listeners. If you're not familiar with this story at all. You are going to be bombarded with a lot of names a lot of dates and probably a lot of words that you're not quite used to bear with this we have to go through this to try to make sense of this and the reason why I think it's important is because as I said earlier, the book of Abraham has caused a lot of people to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Why, because many of them were led to believe that what Joseph Smith translated is the English equivalent of the Egyptian language on the papyrus that he obtained in 1835 from a man by the name of Michael Chandler. Let's not forget, as Dr. Robert Wittner concluded, and as stated by Stephen tastes him written or concluded that Smith's book of Abraham bears no resemblance to the text from which he claimed to have translated it.
That's important because that's why a lot of people have left the church and working to discuss how the church and respond to that and I think that is a problem with a lot of people who have been part of the LDS church for many years.
When they found that out there question was, well, how do I know that the book of Mormon is any better because here you have the manuscripts and he translated them, supposedly. And I thought that was right from the text itself, and it wasn't all we don't have the book of Mormon manuscript. The original was taken back by the angel, so how do I know that that's accurate. This causes a lot of problems very quickly though.
Before we in this show he talks about the New Testament dissertations is the concept of what constitutes scripture is a contentious one, both within and among religious traditions, not all religious traditions situate Scripture as a touchstone for doctrine, policy and ritual. Although the Abraham make fades absolutely do coarsely Abraham like face with include Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Taste goes on to say. Typically the process of deciding to include a text in the canon of Scripture is as much political as it is religious. Now this is where I really part ways with Dr. taste him because on the next page. He says the text that became what we know as the New Testament represented a tiny percentage of the documents produced and studied by various types of early Christianity. The decision about what to put in and what to keep out was driven by the need to select only those text that supported the particular theological and ecclesiastical structures of the group doing the selecting now. I have to assume when it comes to the Bible.
He's taking a position that would be much more liberal given where he teaches and pluses Mormon background. But what would you say about that portion of that paragraph. I would deftly disagree in the early third century, we have a church father called Origen of Alexandria and he said there were three categories of books that claimed apostolic authority. Those are widely acknowledged others that were disputed by some and the rest that were outright rejected by everyone because they taught false doctrine, so of the 27 New Testament books, 21 were readily accepted in the first two centuries and during the third and four centuries Christians determine that Hebrews James second Peter second and third John and Jude were also authoritatively written.
We knew this before the Council of Nicaea in 325 these were the 27 books that Athanasius lists in the 350s and by the end of the fourth century they officially put them into the canon, but they were not put in the canon to make them authoritative.
They were already authoritative and they just acknowledged which of the 27 books were accepted. The Gnostic Gospels were not accepted because they were not written by the apostles themselves or somebody who knew the apostles and I think it should be brought out because we are talking off area you would mention that the books in the New Testament was never really a conflict with Joseph Smith. Either he just felt that those particular books had been mishandled down through the years and were transmitted inaccurately, making it necessary to come up with corrections such as we find in his Joseph Smith translation thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding this research ministry.
We encourage you to visit our website www.mrm.org you can request our free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint is