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Saints: The Standard of Truth Part 13: Book of Abraham

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
February 18, 2020 8:53 pm

Saints: The Standard of Truth Part 13: Book of Abraham

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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February 18, 2020 8:53 pm

This is the third week of this series on issues discussed in the LDS Church-published book Saints. Today we will discuss the ever famous Book of Abraham. This is a crucial historical issue, for if Joseph Smith really could translation from ancient scripture (such as this book supposedly from Abraham), then we ought to take … Continue reading Saints: The Standard of Truth Part 13: Book of Abraham →

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Reason 101 for teams is a valuable resource for anyone wanting a simplified view of the Mormon religion from a Christian perspective.

Is it one-on-one for teens is available at the Utah lighthouse bookstore in Salt Lake City or MRM.org's commandment examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint when 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. Why does the book of Abraham get so little attention in the new history book titled Saints the standard of truth. Welcome to this edition of viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson.

My colleague at M. R.

M.

We continue our look at the book Saints.

The standard of truth. It was published in 2018 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It's meant to be an overall history, at least in this volume between the years 1815 and 1846.

Today we look at chapter 20. Do not cast me off and I might mention. We are not going through this book chapter by chapter more by various subjects and today were going to be looking at the topic of the book of Abraham that is found in Mormon scripture called the pearl of great price. What is it say on page 219 Eric during the summer of 1835 all the apostles left on missions to the Eastern states and Canada. The things work together to finish the temple and prepare for the endowment of power that we should mention that this is speaking of the Kirtland Temple, not the Nauvoo Temple because at this time the church would be headquartered in Ohio in July a poster advertising Egyptian antiquities appeared in town.

It told of the discovery of hundreds of mommies and Egyptian tomb. Some of the mommies as well as several ancient papyrus scrolls had been exhibited throughout the United States attracting large crowds of spectators. Michael Chandler, the man showcasing the artifacts had heard of Joseph and come to Kirtland to see if he wanted to purchase them. Joseph the examine the mommies but he was more interested in the scrolls. They were covered with strange writing and curious images of people, boats, birds and snakes. Chandler permitted the prophet to take the scrolls home and study them overnight.

Joseph new Egypt played an important role in the lives of several prophets in the Bible. He also knew Nephi Mormon and other writers of the book of Mormon had recorded their words and what Moron I called reformed Egyptian only stop you there because when it mentions Joseph new Egypt played an important role in the lives of several prophets in the Bible, don't you think that's kind of a stretch to say several perhaps a few I mean in the context of Mormonism. Of course they would look at Moses as a prophet Abraham, of course, and perhaps even Joseph but other than those three do we really have a long list of several prophets mentioned in the Bible that had anything to do with the country of Egypt, and especially what kind of influence did Egypt have on those men because Egypt stood for everything against what the monotheistic Israelite people believed.

I mean, Deuteronomy 64 there's only one God.

That's not what the Egyptians believed him when he goes on in this paragraph to say that Smith also knew Nephi Mormon and other writers in the book of Mormon had recorded their words and what Moron I called reformed Egyptian what is reformed Egyptian it it's a nonexistent language. Nobody knows anything about reformed Egyptian. The only time he gets any mention that always in the context of Mormonism and for all we know it has nothing at all to do with Egyptian, but certainly I can. They would see. Of course this connection with the ancient country of Egypt goes on and says as he examine the writings on the scrolls. He discerned that they contain vital teachings from the Old Testament patriarch Abraham meeting with Chandler the next day Joseph asked how much he wanted for the scrolls.

Chandler said he would only sell the scrolls and mommies together for $2400. Let's go back to the beginning that paragraph, because this is one area where I thought the writers of this book were very clever in the wording as he examine the writings on the scrolls. He discerned not so much that he really learned because Joseph Smith cannot read Egyptian. The church is admitted that, and yet they say that he discerned that they contain vital teachings from the Old Testament patriarch Abraham. The big question is though doesn't really. And of course we would argue no it doesn't.

And even though the Mormon church is often use the word translated or translated, or Joseph Smith translating these Egyptian texts.

They're not really a translation in the traditional understanding of the word and that is important but before we discuss that I think we need also look at the last sentence of that paragraph your courses.

Chandler said he would only sell the scrolls and mommies together for $2400.

Can you imagine in 1835. How much $2400 would be tens of thousands of dollars to tens of thousands easily tens of thousands of dollars but yet I think the only reason why the followers of Joseph Smith would pool their resources together to come up with this $2400 because we understand that that's where the money came from Joseph Smith didn't have that kind of money, but his followers apparently did. They had to believe that what Joseph Smith was about to purchase was entirely significant and of course in the early years of the Mormon church. When this comes about.

Mormons are led to believe that these Egyptian proprietary or written by Abraham himself by his hand and that would make it worth the price and that's what the book says get Joseph believe the scrolls were worth the price and he and others quickly raise enough money to buy the artifacts not either. These are scrolls that Abraham had something to do with or they are not. You can't have it both ways and so if he discerns and if he's going to translate using his prophetic power to interpret and yet it's nothing like the original says, then I would say were talking apples and oranges. What is the purpose of translating something that the original author if it were Abraham himself didn't intend to convey. Will this story about the book of Abraham ends on the next page in another very short paragraph with is that say when Joseph was not pouring over the scrolls. He put them in the mommies on display for visitors. Emma took a keen interest in the artifacts and listen carefully as Joseph explained his understanding of the writings of Abraham. When curious people asked to see the mommies.

She often exhibited them herself sharing what Joseph had taught her again.

I would give credit to the clever language found in this book when it says that Joseph explained his understanding of the writings of Abraham. In other words, he's not really explaining what the text actually is saying it's what Joseph Smith wants to say they are saying which the two are not the same and I think that's important to note now what I want to bring out here is this starts around halfway down page 219 and it finishes at the top of page 221. You would think that for a portion of Mormon scripture like the book of Abraham is that there would be much more talked about no later on in the book were going to find a few more paragraphs that mention the book of Abraham, but it's very brief. Why is that and it's interesting because this came out this book came out in 2018 will on November 18, 2019 Jana Reese who was a Mormon blogger we mention Jana Reese a number of times on the show wrote an article titled why do Mormons ignore the pearl of great price and of course the book of Abraham is found in the pearl of great price and I think the reason why is because the Mormon leadership has been caught flat-footed trying to explain how this became a part of Mormon scripture when the translation quote unquote is not as I mentioned earlier, a traditional understanding of the translation. The church came out with the gospel topics essay on this very subject and I want to read a portion of it to you showing that what the text said on the Pyro and what Joseph Smith said the text said, are not really one and the same.

This is what it says in the gospel topics essay dealing with the translation and historicity of the book of Abraham.

It says the book of Abraham was the last of Joseph Smith translation efforts and then the next sentence has this in these inns pioneered translations.

Joseph Smith did not claim to know the ancient languages of the records he was translating. Did you catch the wording there. The inspired translations. Another words, we cannot expect we should not expect we better not expect that what is on the actual papyrus is what Joseph Smith claimed those characters to mean and that is become an embarrassment for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Joseph Smith was faking it. Now we know that he was faking it at the time he produces this. It was difficult to prove him wrong but since that time. It's now become very easy to prove that his translation is inaccurate.

The question is what does translation actually mean.

And if you look at the very beginning of Abraham.

Chapter 1 the introduction to it.

This is what it says a translation of some records that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt. The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt called the book of Abraham, written by his own hand upon papyrus bill to say once again if what Abraham wrote and Joseph Smith was not able to take what Abraham wrote and to put it together in what it was actually saying what's the meaning of it.

If he comes up with a spiritual translation because you have to understand the book of Abraham is still in the canon today, and it gives us the idea that the early chapters of Genesis is referring to God's plural completely contradicting the Jewish way of thinking about who God was and as I mentioned Deuteronomy 6 for here oh Israel, the Lord thy God, the Lord is one.

That's not what Abraham says Abraham refers to the multiplicity of of gods and so a translation of some ancient records.

It's not accurate.

From what it was originally intended, and I think the gospel topics essay that deals with this topic, admits that because in that essay. It also says none of the characters on the papyrus fragments mentioned Abraham's name any of the events recorded in the book of Abraham. So what you read in the book of Abraham, which, as you mentioned is still a part of Mormon scripture.

To this day what it says in this modern text, the translation quote unquote is not what was actually written on the papyrus that becomes important. This is why they had to go with this phrase inspired translation which basically gives Joseph Smith carte blanche to say whatever he wants.

Regarding his alleged translation and that could go for the book of Mormon as well. Remember, he's not reading off the reformed Egyptian text on the goal plates for much of it. We know that he was reading off a seer stone in a hat.

How much trust do you have to put into a man like Joseph Smith to believe the story of Mormonism. I would say you have to put all your marbles into the pot and if Joseph Smith is wrong. You're going to lose, but if Joseph Smith is right at you and I guess or something to win, but the indications are. If he does not know how as a prophet to be able to take the words off of this papyrus and make it into what Abraham really said then it's meaningless to me.

I think it should be meaningless to everyone.

Thank you for listening you would like more information regarding his research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website at www.mrm.org you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you join us again as we look at another viewpoint is


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