« NOM Song of the Week: Am I the Only One? | Main | NOM Song of the Week: Consider Me Gone »

May 16, 2006



I knew some of the problems with the BoA, but I had no idea about these ones. Good info - and thanks for the links -- really interesting stuff!

Extremely Disaffected

So is this what you do in your free time? Equality, this is impressive. It seems that apologists want to have it both ways.

1. Anachronisms could have been introduced by scribes copying down the information with the passing of time.

2. Don't worry about the fact that the Book of Breathings has NOTHING to do wiht The Book of Abraham, because it was just a physical object that allowed JS to bring us this marvelous work.

The problem is that while each explanation makes part of the "problem" dissapear. The theories can't work together.

I almost feel guilty for calling my research on The BoA conclusive enough to call it a fraud after looking at the amount of work you have put into this.

joseph's left one

The BofA is really the smoking gun that shows Joseph's fraud for what it is. Ignore the text, and you have problems with the translation. Focus on the text, and you have something that doesn't make sense. Excellent points.


I think you are correct, J-lo. I am not sure I would go so far as to say Joseph was acting fraudulently with hsi translation activities, though. I reject the traditional orthodox view that the Book of Abraham is an ancient document depicting actual events that really happened. However, I am not convinced that Joseph Smith didn't believe that. I think he really believed in most of the "revelations" he received--the same way Russell Crowe believed he really saw Paul Bettany in A Beautiful Mind. So, is it worse to say Joseph was a fraudulent con-man or that he was mentally unhinged? I will leave that for others to judge.


Awesome logic Equality. I never examined the text myself. You make a strong argument. The translation issue is pretty damaging but this is the nail in the coffin.

Edward Casey

Hey Equality,

First time I've been on your blog though I have been a member of FLAK for over a year. It is a pleasure to read your work.

Insight Driver


Thanks for the compliment, ID. Your posts at FLAK are always, er, insightful.


I thought this post was great, but the BoA issue sometimes really makes my head spin. Has anyone read Michael D. Rhodes arguments supporting the authenticity? For example: http://home.comcast.net/~michael.rhodes/JosephSmithHypocephalus.pdf

A slightly longer (and somewhat sarcastic at times) treatment of the issue can be found here, if anyone's willing to slog through it: http://www.boap.org/LDS/critic.html

I am having a hard time correlating the arguments for and against and the rhetoric makes me dizzy.

Forgive me if I've missed more about this issue on this site or one of the ones listed in the sidebar. I endeavor to do my due diligence in researching issues ... but Egyptology doesn't come to me so easy.


David Jones

The author spends much more time on explaining why his argument is irrefutable, than on actually producing supporting evidence. The first red flag. He also introduces a "strawman" by presuming that an inspired translation would remove any anachronisms from the text. This implies that he is an expert on inspired translations and how they work. I won't launch into a detailed discussion of the "Chaldees" issue, since this doesn't really seem to be the central point of article. It's interesting to note that Joseph Smith, in his translation of the Bible, sometimes kept passages in wording closer to the KJV Bible, even when he knew that wording to be inaccurate from his language studies.

The anachronism issue is an interesting point, and it would have been more useful for the author to examine it in a more scholarly manner; rather than dwelling on why his conclusions are beyond dispute, and trying to head off all counter arguments before they come.



Thanks for commenting. The purpose of the post by the author (hey, that's me! You can call me Equality or even Eric) was not to disprove the literal historicity of the Book of Abraham in a comprehensive and scholarly manner. Others more knowledgeable and erudite than I have already accomplished that task (see my left sidebar under Book of Abraham). Rather, the purpose was to serve as a counter-argument to a specific Mormon apologetic assertion, namely, that critics of the Book of Abraham do not engage the text itself. The apologetic argument is that the text itself proves Joseph Smith's prophetic capabilities and, therefore, the "truth" of the book. In my post, I took up the apologetic challenge and pointed out some things in the text that I think could lead reasonable and open-minded people to conclude that the text of the book was not, in fact, "written by the hand of Abraham upon papyrus."

Much of my post is devoted to a simple logic exercise that, if applied to the claims made for the Book of Abraham by Mormon leaders, demonstrates that those claims cannot be true. Mormon leaders claim that the Book of Abraham was written by Abraham. They claim that the canonized scriptures are reliable; indeed, they claim that the scriptures are the "measuring rod" against which we should judge ideas, assertions, and arguments. But the text itself, and what we know about history, contradicts their claims.

You say I have set up a straw man by arguing that the Book of Abraham should be free from anachronisms. But while Mormon leaders acknowledge that there are certain errors in the Bible, they have never acknowledged errors in the Book of Abraham, have they? You criticize me for not having sufficient supporting evidence to substantiate my claims. Now I ask you for some evidence: give me a statement by a Mormon church President or Apostle or from an official church instruction manual in which errors in the Book of Abraham are acknowledged. I don't claim to be an expert on the "inspired" translation process, but the leaders of the Mormon church do. And they haven't, near as I can tell, ever said that the text that Joseph produced contains errors and anachronisms. Pray tell, how did such errors creep in? Enlighten me and my readers, please. Tell me which parts of the book are original to Abraham, and which were added later. Are you saying that Joseph Smith knew there were errors in the text but he left them in and didn't tell anyone? Or that Joseph the mighty Seer was able to translate the text miraculously with God as his guide, but God wouldn't bother to mention that there were errors that needed correcting? Mormon apologists acknowledge that the text on the papyri does not match the text Joseph translated. They have concocted a theory to explain this: that Joseph simply used the papyri as a "catalyst" to receive pure revelation (similar to the way he received revelations canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants). If that is so, then how do you explain anachronisms and errors? It is not a case of translating a copy of a copy of an original document, where textual errors could creep in. If Joseph received pure revelation, using the papyrus inexplicably as a mere catalyst, then why would God who is communicating to Joseph directly give him false information? Why would God tell him that Abraham wrote something that Abraham never wrote?

The point of the post was to show, examining the text and not the the issues with the papyrus, the facsimiles, etc. (which by themselves disprove the Book of Abraham--perhaps that is why apologists such as Hugh Nibley so desperately wanted to keep the focus only on the English translation and not on the papyri) that the text Joseph Smith produced (i.e., the ideas communicated by the words Joseph produced) could not have been written by Abraham.

Nothing in your comment dissuades me from that conclusion.

The comments to this entry are closed.