213–214: The Book of Abraham as Scripture

BofA Facsimile 1For many struggling Latter-day Saints, a pivotal moment in their transitioning faith comes when they are confronted with the mismatch between traditional teachings about the Book of Abraham being an ancient text written by the patriarch Abraham and a nearly universal scholarly consensus that it is based upon much later, and quite ordinary funerary documents that have nothing to do with the biblical figure. Further exacerbating the difficulty is the tenor and often strained mindset behind apologetic efforts to defend a traditional view of the texts,  translation processes,  interpretations of the book’s three facsimiles, and the general relevance of Egyptian studies in understanding them as possibly still relating to Abraham. As many Latter-day Saints confront these issues, they find themselves in the difficult position of having to rethink their views about scripture in general, the nature of prophetic revelation, and the type of “translating” in which Joseph Smith engaged if they are going to be able to continue thinking of the Book of Abraham as “scripture” or “inspired.”

In this two-part episode, Brian Hauglid, David Bokovoy, and Charley Harrell join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon in a discussion about all of these issues. Part I focuses primarily on the historical background of the various papyri that came into Smith’s hands, his and other early leaders’ efforts to translate them, the eventual production of the Book of Abraham, and the various scholarly views and angles of argument presented by defenders of traditional understandings. Part II then turns to the meta-questions of “scripture,” revelation, translation, how Smith might have been so wrong about the nature of the papyri and yet still genuinely moved by the Spirit in the text he produced and presented as from Abraham, “written by his own hand upon papyrus.” The panelists each share some of his own journey to reorient his thinking about the Book of Abraham and these wider issues of prophetic inspiration and the production of scripture both in ancient and latter days.

Please listen and then share you thoughts in the comments section below!

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 Links:

David Bokovoy. Authoring the Old Testament–Genesis – Deuteronomy (Kofford Books, 2014)

Brian M. Hauglid, “Thoughts on the Book of Abraham,” Religious Studies Center publication.

Kevin Barney, “The Book of Abraham,” By Common Consent blog, 27 June 2013 (Brian Hauglid suggests this for someone looking for an excellent overview of Book of Abraham issues.”

Kevin L. Barney, “The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources,” Neal A. Maxwell Institute publication. (Mentioned in the podcast as presenting what has been called the J-Red hypothesis.)

Charley Harrell interview on Mormon Stories that contains a good discussion of the expansive views of revelation as a divine-human hybrid that he also shares about in this episode. (25 January 2012, Episodes 317 and 318)

Community of Christ affirmations about the nature of scripture and its role in human faith (mentioned by Charley Harrell in this podcast).

Dan Wotherspoon, “Reaching, Calling, Hungry, Thirsty: Imagining Abrahamic Creation,” published under the title  “Keepers of the Stories” in Irreantum 4, no.2 (Summer 2002), 46-51.

Comments

comments

55 comments for “213–214: The Book of Abraham as Scripture

  1. David Sigmon
    February 22, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Once I came to realize that the Book of Abraham was in no way what Joseph claimed it to be, I began to wonder was Joseph himself misunderstanding the situation thinking he was translating the papyri when he wasn’t, or did he know what he was doing and purposefully deceiving us. Although I don’t believe I know for certain, I do believe existing evidence strongly suggests he knowingly deceived us. I put my argument on my blog many years ago. If I were to rewrite it know I’d be a little more careful in my choice of words, but I still believe the gist of what I was saying there. http://entreated.blogspot.com/2007/02/book-of-abraham-joseph-knowingly.html

  2. Ed
    February 23, 2014 at 1:35 am

    I disagree with you David. You just have to have faith and take Joseph Smith at his word, and time vindicates him.

    http://egyptianalphabetandgrammar.blogspot.com/

    • PJ
      May 21, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      I would say time has far from vindicated JS so far (almost 200 years). The more information available, the shadier JS looks. Good luck reconciling your beliefs with what is highly likely the true facts. Yours’ is a textbook example of “Confirmation Bias”!

  3. Zo-ma-rah
    February 23, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Great podcast. I really love the work presented here in moving away from the literalist view of scripture. The first part of the podcast was great and I learned a lot about the history of the Egyptian documents. However I disagree that the Abraham manuscript documents with the symbols in the margins have nothing to do with the text of the Book of Abraham. In my studies of the documents I have found a very close correlation between the symbol on the left, their meaning in the “dictionaries”, and the Book of Abraham text. I wrote a post a couple years ago on my blog that touches on the connection I believe is there. While my views have evolved from when I wrote this, especially the introduction, I have found even more connection with these symbols and the text.

    http://zomarah.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/decoding-the-book-of-abraham-part-1/

  4. Paul M
    February 24, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Mental gymnastics… It amazes me the lengths people will go to defend Joseph Smith. The Book of Abraham is obviously not what JS and every other Mormon claimed it was until the ugly evidence became available.

    BOA = Smoking Gun

    I don’t know what his intentions were when JS wrote the book. I will let God be the judge when that day comes, but I just don’t see it as scripture.

    • Zo-ma-rah
      February 25, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      It’s not mental gymnastics. The hard part is realizing the faulty paradigm thousands of years of Christianity have left us with. Once this is realized and eliminated we are free to open up to a much greater understanding of God, scripture, and our relationship with Him. The idea that the Book of Abraham is somehow evidence of Joseph Smith being a fraud is based on a false dichotomy and overly simplistic worldview.

      • Blorg Jorgensson
        March 5, 2014 at 9:58 am

        More like the faulty paradigm that MORMONISM left me with for my whole life. Perhaps if Smith himself, along with every prophets, seer, and revelator since him, had not been 100% wrong about the BOA and so many other topics, this “overly simplistic worldview” wouldn’t exist for so many Mormons.

        Call it false dichotomy all you want, but every time the church has a nearly unequivocal chance to “prove” that God speaks to the Mormon prophet, he gets it thoroughly wrong. Every testable claim: woefully mistaken. At what point in ongoing paradigm shifts about
        every problematic LDS doctrine that is increasingly exposed — despite
        prophets, seers, and revelators clinging to the traditional view, or at
        least failing to dispel it — is it acceptable for a church member to
        come to the conclusion that it’s all just another religion?

        Personally, I understand my relationship with God much more than ever before: it doesn’t exist. And if other people have that relationship, that’s fine with me. But I reject the notion that I just don’t get it or am not trying hard enough.

  5. Wade
    February 25, 2014 at 12:42 am

    Interesting comment thread about this episode over in the Mormon Hub:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/themormonhub/permalink/636697096366951/?stream_ref=2

    Must be a member of the group to see thread.

  6. Leanne G
    February 25, 2014 at 4:39 am

    It’s crazy to just “have faith” that Joseph Smith translated this correctly when there is significant evidence this wasn’t the Book of Abraham. When we look at the Bible we have hundreds of scrolls and historical documents (divine and not divine!) which points to the OT & NT being at least sound historical fact, even if you don’t believe it as a holy book. Prophecy of the OT is fulfilled in the NT.

    In me dwelleth no good thing – you can’t trust your own feelings or any other persons for that matter because we are sinful in nature! All we can trust is God’s word in the Bible as truth.

  7. Ed
    February 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    It’s not crazy to make a choice to have faith. Its a very rational one. Mental gymnastics as you call it is actual mental work. Its not my problem that you are mentally lazy and unwilling. Your denialism and doubt is mental laziness, and lack of willingness. I’ve done my work, and enjoy the fruit of my labor. You see no fruit, and that’s only natural, because you have planted no trees, and that’s your own fault. Its a perfectly natural outcome of mental laziness.

    • Leanne G
      February 25, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      Ed, your whole duty in this world is to earnestly seek out God and follow His son- the Lord Jesus Christ. To seek out truth!

      Too often in history people have been scared into following men over God. Be it through fear of death, fear of excommunication from one of the many “one true Churches”, or just peer pressure.

      It is a childish and primitive faith that sits in an enclosed room without looking out the window let alone opening the door for fear of it closing behind him.

      When God inspired the Bible (66 books), what was made was an irrefutable, timeless and an unchanging beacon to His sheep. If a man searches for matching history, he will find it. For archaeology or genetic evidence, it is there. For fulfilled prophecy, it is there!!! For 2000 years the new testament has been able to stand before the scorners of this world without having to just take it on faith. Faith in Jesus- YES! Faith in written accounts no. Else the Apocrypha would still be there and the Gnostic texts. God doesn’t ask us to take all His word on faith- He doesn’t need to. We are to discern, earnestly! Open all the doors and look so that what is left at the end is a truth that before God, not men, you can stand by.

      How many men are asked to take things on faith? Muslims killing themselves and others, armed forces sent to war, the little child told to enter the strangers car because the man says he knows his mummy.

      No! Have faith in something that stands up under all weather, all observation. Be careful of falsehood! Search all its parts that when you stand before The Lord you can say “Lord many were the lies of men but I earnestly sought the TRUTH”.

      Do not be afraid because God is truth.

      Your brother in Christ Jesus our Lord,

      John (Leanne G’s husband)

      • Ed
        February 28, 2014 at 1:56 am

        I agree with a lot that you are saying. Some of it I do not. But yes, peace to you, my brother in Jesus Christ.

    • HuskySouth
      February 26, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      Ed, I can see the Jehovah’s Witnesses responding very similar. Based off your view, their belief is equally as credible and “Rationale” as yours.

      • Ed
        February 28, 2014 at 1:58 am

        Actually not. My religion is compatible with modern science and Transhumanism. It is science friendly. JW’s are young earth creationist.

        • Blorg Jorgensson
          March 5, 2014 at 10:01 am

          Oh. I guess HuskySouth and I assumed that you were Mormon. Our bad.

          • Ed
            March 7, 2014 at 4:40 pm

            Obviously I had assumed you would have have never heard of James E. Talmage or John Widtsoe then. My bad.

    • Blorg Jorgensson
      March 5, 2014 at 10:00 am

      Not a particularly interesting or unique take on the matter: “You disagree with me because you’re lazy. If you tried really hard, you’d inevitably come to the same conclusion I have.”

      • Ed
        March 7, 2014 at 4:38 pm

        Well, actually yes, if people try hard enough to do what it takes to be converted and get a testimony, they will. So, yeah, I guess that isn’t a particularly unique take. We have heard that in sunday school since the beginning of time.

        • Blorg Jorgensson
          March 11, 2014 at 11:17 pm

          Ah, motivated reasoning is what you describe. Well, as long as you’re acknowledging the (possibly unintentional) arrogance that leads you to defend your conclusion based solely on your subjective faith, then there’s not a whole lot more to say.

          Except: earlier on this thread, you mentioned that we “see no fruit” because we have “planted no trees.” I cite Alma 32:32 to disagree with you and accurately describe my apostasy: “[B]ut if [the seed] groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.”

          I planted the seed, Ed. Just because it didn’t grow the same way as yours doesn’t mean that I didn’t sincerely try.

          • Ed
            March 13, 2014 at 12:52 pm

            I feel bad and sad for anyone that apostatizes. However, I am not into coddling people for making the choice to not have patience and endurance to stick it out. Sorry. Of course you tried. Everybody tries. But you made a choice to stop enduring. I am not into the John Dehlin logic that people have excuses for not enduring. That is your choice, not mine. Yes, it is sad. Yes people have real reasons for leaving. Yeah, I get all that. But don’t tell me that it was not your choice to stop. You were not forced into the situation where the choice was made for you to stop. That was your agency that did that.

          • Blorg Jorgensson
            March 14, 2014 at 11:45 am

            When did I claim it wasn’t my choice? Frankly, I’d be a bit insulted if someone tried to claim that I DIDN’T make the choice. I proudly made the choice to stop giving the church the benefit of the doubt in every way and actually try to evaluate it with some level of objectivity.

            I didn’t “stick it out” because it wasn’t worth it. I believed the church was what it claimed to be; once I saw that that wasn’t true, I lost my reason for being there. Persisting in error is not a virtue; I find no value in endurance in and of itself.

            And I didn’t ask for your coddling. I’m just explaining that the assumptions you make about apostates are way off base. And at the risk of employing an overused analogy: I don’t endure in the church for the same reason your belief in Santa Claus doesn’t endure. It’s just not true.

          • Ed
            March 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm

            Uhm… You obviously don’t know who your talking to. I know all about apostates and have good friends that are ex-Mormons, without agreeing with them one bit. I have followed Mormon Stories since 2005. I watch Exmormon foundation videos for entertainment, and eat popcorn as I watch them. I bust up laughing at what John I am an avid listener and keep up to date with Mormon Expression, Mormon Expositor, Infants on thrones and the works. You really don’t know the first thing about what I know about ex-Mormons. I definitely do not live in Santa Claus world my friend. I have plenty of evidence that it is true, just not the kind that meets the standard of proof you and your kind would want, because it requires faith, and faith is not a part of your epistemology that you would subscribe to. Yes, I agree that many ex-Mormons are proud that they chose for themselves their own way, and good for you that you are among them. I have heard some tell me to my face and in messages that the lack of evidence to their satisfaction forced them to do what they did.

          • Blorg Jorgensson
            March 20, 2014 at 8:55 pm

            I guess that’s nice and everything, but I’m arguing with your statements, not your status. Listen to all the podcasts you want; your argument still sounds essentially like what any other TBM would say: “You didn’t want to put forth the effort to believe what I believe.”

            Explain to me why I should trust your personal evidence over any other subjective proof for any other religion or belief system. For every non-empirical belief, the conclusion necessarily depends upon the belief that one chooses to apply their standard of evidence to. if you chose to apply the same standard to another religion (with the same level of devotion and endurance), I’m sure you’d find it true. Again: motivated reasoning. And you’re clearly motivated to believe in the LDS Church. Fine.

            I’m motivated to assign belief proportionate to empirical evidence (to the best of my ability) — the kind of evidence that works for everyone, no matter how much they want or don’t want something to be true.

          • Ed
            March 22, 2014 at 11:19 am

            Ah, empirical evidence. Now we are talking. You shouldn’t accept my personal evidence. The very reason you should be motivated to qualify yourself is to receive empirical evidence.

            You should have stuck it out so that you could have had your own eventually. That kind of evidence is only offered to people who do stick it out to a certain point, either in this life or the next, when the empirical evidence is seen and touched.

            What do you think the kind of evidence is in the end that is available to those who stick it out? In the end, it is seeing God for yourself, and touching the marks in his hands, and seeing the Brass Plates and the plates of the Book of Mormon for yourself. That is empirical, and that is what was offered to the Brother of Jared. Sticking it out until it is offered is precisely the terms for receiving it.

            Those are the Lord’s terms for giving it. And you are not qualifying yourself to meet those terms, to break through the veil over that which is hidden from your sight. You want empirical evidence that you can touch, do you not? That evidence is veiled from you, because you refuse. Don’t sanctimoniously talk to me about empirical evidence. Empirical evidence is precisely what you are not getting precisely because you refuse God’s terms.

            I am not talking about everything that was ever correlated or every claim that was ever made about Mormonism being true. I’m talking about the core of the diamond in the rough after it is cut and all the pieces that do not belong are chipped away. It is the future state of Mormonism that I have a loyalty to, the future cut rock that is hewn out of the mountain without hands. The state of Mormonism as it is now is in a development stage with its historical problems and all. I am loyal to it because of what it will become. I am loyal to it precisely because of the promise of empirical evidence if I qualify myself.

            It is you my friend that would seem to have no interest in the empirical evidence for Mormonism, because the only way you will get it is to qualify yourself for it. That has nothing to do with me as a TBM. I am not a Chapel Mormon by any stretch. Yet I continue precisely because of my interest in that which my eyes will see and my hands will touch.

          • Blorg Jorgensson
            March 22, 2014 at 10:09 pm

            … said every religion, ever. I mean, gimme a break, Ed. Six paragraphs just to say, “You’ll all be sorry one day when you see that I was right!”

            There’s a huge difference between existing empirical evidence — or even scientific projections of it — and the promise of posthumous empirical evidence. I believe in you touching Christ’s wounded hands — for some reason, NOT in a glorified state — exactly as much as I believe that suicide bombers obtain their promise of 72 eager young virgins. And for the same reasons.

            If God asks me someday why I didn’t endure, I’ll feel absolutely comfortable saying that all of the ACTUAL evidence that he gave us pointed in the other direction.

          • Ed
            April 1, 2014 at 10:42 am

            The only difference between one and the other is that one requires faith and patience. Of course you don’t believe. That is the whole point of this conversation, because you don’t believe. That’s the whole point of the test of life, is to either pass it or fail it, to be put in a situation where you have the possibility of either success or failure. To get proof at this state would guarantee success and would not allow for the use of faith. That is why this conversation is worth nothing, because it accomplishes nothing. The problem has nothing to do with the existence of the proof. The problem has to do with your lack of willingness to earn the right to see it.

          • Blorg Jorgensson
            April 2, 2014 at 8:05 pm

            “To get proof at this state would guarantee success… ”

            What about the 1/3 of hosts that followed Lucifer? They allegedly stood in the presence of Elohim, Jehovah, and gang, and still declined to follow. This whole “faith requirement” is what people throw out to defend ALL unsubstantiated beliefs and claims.

            So I ask: Why YOUR faith? You insist that anyone with faith and patience will inevitably reach the same conclusions as you. Why should your evidence-free faith be any more compelling to anyone than any other evidence-free faith?

        • Leanne G
          March 12, 2014 at 3:59 am

          That’s a terrible thing to say!! That someone didn’t try “hard” enough?! What would God think of any of this…. well, nothing actually. Because we are but DUST. We are nothing without His grace, through Jesus……. Nothing WE do counts for our salvation. NOTHING. Otherwise the blood at the cross was for nothing. So it has nothing to do with how hard you try or what you do. We only need to know the Lord and accept Him, love Him.

          People go so far to defend their faith but what matters is our individual relationship with the Lord. Do we know Jesus?

          I know it’s very emotional to read and hear it, but the LDS church isn’t just another denomination of Christianity – because it’s not a Christian church.

          • Ed
            March 13, 2014 at 12:46 pm

            I don’t personally care if you choose to grant that it should be called Christian or not. To me, sometimes I don’t to be categorized with other things that are in an apostate state anyway. I am not into the whole categorization things of religions. Something either represents the vehicle of the dispensation of truth, or it does not.

          • Leanne G
            March 21, 2014 at 2:48 am

            It’s about following Jesus, not what category you fall into. I try not to label myself as a Christian, although I am – rather, if someone asks if I’m “religious” I tell them I follow Jesus, yes, a Christian.

            If you are not into categorising, then why on earth do you believe in the mormon church, the most organised of religions. You are using a typical Mormon retaliation – not addressing the matter at hand, just blindly blundering forward believing you are in the “true church”.

            Jesus who is God & God manifest in flesh is the truth.

          • Leanne G
            March 21, 2014 at 3:00 am

            I didn’t mean to sound harsh. And I’m sorry if I upset you. I absolutely don’t mean for that, if we lived near each other we could meet & talk normally! 🙂

            For years I was part of the LDS church and I used to feel the same, so I really do feel sensitive and sympathetic towards people in the mormon church. It’s only now my eyes have been opened that I can see it for what it is – I would have sworn blind once upon a time that it was the one true church. So I know where you are coming from.

            Please, just search for a personal relationship with Jesus. I am doing the same, I don’t claim to have done it already but I’m working in it. The LDS church is a beautiful thing on the outskirts but when you delve in you find something very different.

            God bless all of us xxxx

          • Terry Anderson
            May 5, 2014 at 9:04 am

            That’s not such a bad thing because i wouldn’t want to be associated with many of the so called Christian churches. They give Christianity a bad name. in fact, I’m glad Mormonism differs from other churches. I agree with you that we need to love the Lord and as he taught, we show this by our actions. And our individual relationship with the Lord is all that matters and I agree that religion can get in the way of that. If one is truly in that relationship, then we should be all about loving others, as he loves us. And how do we show that love to others?

  8. Bethany
    February 25, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I really really appreciate discussions like this. I have struggled to understand how to reconcile historical problems with my personal experiences with the scriptures and the temple. I have sooo many problems with the temple, but I have also been able to feel a sense of the sacred as I seek guidance from my Heavenly Parents. The issues I have with it are so heavy, though, that I have only been able to drag myself there once in the past three years. I don’t know what to do with that. Or the Book of Mormon. Its history is so problematic and women are so invisible. But my daughter wanted to be baptized when she turned eight this year, and as I tried to search and ponder so that I could better help her understand, I was able to find such a beautiful expression of the purpose of baptism in Mosiah. When I taught my Primary class last week from Moses 7, I was able to feel the Spirit as I testified of God’s love for us, but this week when I taught about Noah’s ark, I felt like I was betraying their trust.

    While I have come to believe that anything can be scripture if God can use it to help me have a new perspective or receive comfort or awareness, I have also found much of scripture to be repulsive and un-Godly. And I often wonder, am I just accepting scripture when it happens to agree with my perspective on life? But on the other hand, can’t that perspective be inspired if divine help is sought? While I agree that it makes sense that inspiration comes to the leaders of the Church the same way it comes to me, it is the leaders who have put the idea out there that there is a much more direct connection to God only they have access to. So am I rebelling against God’s servants by thinking that way? Rebellion doesn’t go so well in the scriptures.

    I think I could totally deal with these complexities if it wasn’t for the context of real life. I have three daughters and I cannot bear the thought of them going through the same damaging indoctrination that I did as a young woman. My parents can barely be in the same room with me without calling me to repentance for my feminism and belief in gay rights. My husband gets callings that take him away from his family way too much, which is especially hard because we are in the military. I feel like I have to choose between paying tithing and my daughters’ education funds. While I feel like I can resolve that by following what the D&C says about tithing, I get to hear Relief Society lessons about how anything less than 10% on gross income is robbing God. I want to do what is right, I want to seek for a follow God’s will, but I don’t want to sacrifice (and impose sacrifice on my whole family) for something that is ultimately “the philosophy of men mingled with scripture.”

    Ugh, I thought Mormonism was hard when it was just not drinking coffee (while working 12-hour night shifts at the hospital). This is so much harder!! But it does help very much to hear how other people have gone through it and come to a more peaceful place. Thank you!

  9. HuskySouth
    February 26, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Listening to you guys try to defend the BOA as legitimate scripture is as embarrissing to me as watching an American Idol singer audition that has no talent. I keep saying to myself “Please Stop”, but I can’t cut the train wreck off in the hope it will get better. I’m afraid it only got worse. How can you walk away from some of these justifications with any degree of integrity?

    • Terry Anderson
      May 5, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Hmm. not sure you were listening to the same podcast as me.

  10. slsdm
    February 27, 2014 at 11:13 am

    The panelists expressed a desire for the Church to move away from the claims of the BOA being connected with Egyptology, and instead move to toward describing it as inspired scripture that stands on its own. I tend to agree that we can view it that way, but I don’t see that as being less problematic for the Church because I look at it in the same way I look at the problem with the BOM translation.

    The Church has shied away from teaching that the translation came predominantly from JS using a seer stone in a hat. A generation or more of members then grow up never knowing that’s how it happened. Only much later do they discover the actual history of the translation process. It feels like a betrayal and a cover up to hide something harder to wrap your faith around.

    This is exactly what I fear would happen if the Church tried to change it’s understanding of the BOA. Say they did it. A generation or more of members then grow up never being taught JS’s claims of it being from Abraham, himself, written on papyri he obtained. All is well until years later when they come across actual historical documentation where JS claimed it was. The end result is the same. They feel they were betrayed, that there was a cover up by the Church to hide the truth that the BOA wasn’t in fact what JS claimed, and now you still have a faith crisis stemming from the BOA. Either way it seems like a lose-lose situation for the Church.

    And if you propose that to avoid the above scenario they inform about JS’s claims while explaining that it wasn’t really from Abraham on papyri, despite that JS said it was, then you have to deal with teaching prophetic error even with something as significant as canonized scripture. Would that be a good and healthy thing to tackle? Yeah, but I don’t see the Church putting themselves in a situation where they now have to get into that can of worms in addition to the BOA issues.

    • Mike Maxwell
      March 1, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      I don’t find the uncertainty on the source and process of production of the BOA writings to be any different than any other book of scripture. What proof is there that a person named Jesus lived and was crucified 2000 years ago and said anything that is recorded in the four gospels? I don’t have any historical account of how the writings of the old or new testament came to be recorded. Could have been dictated by a salamander, for all we know.

      What works for me is to take the writings at face value and judge them on the truths manifest in the stories they tell. My experience with the Holy Spirit leads me to the belief that the BOA is truth. It helps that there are some literary and historical consistencies to suggest that these may have been actual historical accounts. However, even if they are not, the stories have a power that helps me a better person and understand the my life in a more meaningful way.

      • Leanne G
        March 12, 2014 at 4:43 am

        Mike if you want proof of the books of the bible and the story of Jesus, as a real historical figure (like Julius Caesar, Nostradamus) it’s out there. No respectable, critical scholar will deny the existence of Jesus. And that is based on the vast array of texts which tell his story.

        Don’t just rely on your “feeling” that something is true. Evidence is there if you need that to support you. Study the gospels, pray. Above all, seek Him first, without agenda. Check Wikipedia if you don’t have access to books!

        en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

        One of the many (wooly imo) argument I’ve read for the gospels being false (or dictated by a salamander…) is that they are titled “saint”, St. Matthew etc. I’ve yet to come across a translation that calls them that. Perhaps that’s an RC thing.

        We’re not made better people by folliwing Jesus, we are changed completely. The old man/woman dies and we are made brand new. Hurrah!!!

  11. Leanne G
    February 28, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Slsdm I agree completely (in principle!) – shying away from the BoA being inspired Scripture instead of a direct translation. God can do anything! The trouble is – WHO made decisions to teach/promote the BoA being directly translated.

    To anyone else;

    I know how easy it is to gloss over negative LDS arguments. I’ve been there!! I didn’t just “fall away into the world” or become a “happy clappy Christian”. I was born to temple married grandparents and parents, returned missionaries in my family, all my family are LDS, even my cousin is currently out in the field. I went to primary, young women’s, seminary, stake camp, institute, had a temple recommend, did baptism for the dead, the list goes on…. so i have not just suddenly decided that I don’t like the LDS church anymore.

    The first time I read an “anti” mormon website I still felt like I was doing something deeply wrong and that I would be in trouble. I didn’t do it easily! Ex-mormon.org is a mixture of people who now do believe or sadly don’t accept Jesus. CARM.org is a good place for genuine LDS vs. Christian apologetics. Try also http://www.exmormonscholarstestify.org/lynn-wilder.html

    I used to think “live & let live” but I now feel it’s more important to encourage someone to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    Leanne x

  12. Chris Tyler
    March 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    As of March 3, 2014, David Bokovoy’s linked articles on Worlds Without End are not available. Can you point me to where he is?

    • Dan Wotherspoon
      March 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Thanks for the alert, Chris! I just talked with David who took those posts down in order to do some additional editing. (I’ll now also take them down from the post here.) In the meantime, he suggests his book, Authoring the Old Testament, in which he makes many of the same arguments about the direction he thinks BofA scholarship/discussion should go.

  13. Astonished
    March 6, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Thanks for a very informative and thoughtful discussion. I was astonished by this podcast (given the affiliation of 2 of the participants) and I think it will later be recognized as one of the most significant events we have seen with respect to the BoA….if they have some cover from higher ups.

    • Ed
      March 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      I agree. It was extremely important that two influential Apologists have finally parted ways with the Missing Papyrus Theory and Scribes Did It Theory advocates. That is definitely a milestone in Book of Abraham Apologetics. Now hopefully the powers that be at FAIRMormon will start to see the light on that issue, that a defense of the Book of Abraham must start where the evidence leads. A defense cannot be based on the denial of and evasion of evidence, which is the basis of the Missing Papyrus Theory.

  14. anon
    March 8, 2014 at 3:13 am

    Thank you so much for this – it gives me a lot of hope.

  15. Ryan Larsen
    March 16, 2014 at 12:25 am
  16. IK
    April 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Brian Hauglid and David Bokovoy have finally convinced me to leave the Church. I have resigned as a missionary. I did not expect to be convinced by two supposed believers — but I do not believe that what they assert they believe can be taken seriously.

  17. figuringthingsout
    April 21, 2014 at 6:49 am

    In the joseph smith paper´s website, an oficial church´s web, you can see now the whole collection of the papyri that the church has in posession. Here is the link
    http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/egyptian-papyri
    The church gave this argumentation about BOA https://www.lds.org/ensign/1988/07/i-have-a-question?lang=eng
    I don´t like the fact that is says that there is no red ink in the papyri, when there is plenty of it.
    Here is the most complete and short video where it explains all about the BOA so we can understand what is the complete collection. and it shows that JS claim that it was a literal translation, It shows a lot of quotation about it, from oficial source.

  18. UK
    April 30, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    “Pride is concerned with who is right, humility is concerned with what is right” President Ezra Taft Benson”
    “Any virtue taken to excess, becomes a vice” Elder Quentin L Cooke”
    “Any communication given with the intent to deceive is a lie” Marvin J Ashton”
    I was an active member of the church for over 40 years, and these statements above and many similar by the brethren became part of my life. Sadly as I became more aware of the dishonesty, pride, and vice within the church leadership I realised that as a group they did not live what they had taught. I believe in humility for without it we cannot inherit the kingdom of God, I believe in honesty but not as an excuse for being unkind, and Ibelieve in A balance amongst the virtues. I have no faith in religion, and have separated God from the ideas of men. I believe in God, and that he doesn’t walk in crooked paths, and in no respecter of persons. He hears and answers prayers, and does guide all those who seek him. He does not need any one to lie for him, or to cover up his actions or teachings as he only speaks truth. The works of men have to be covered up and lied about, and this has always been the case with religion.

  19. Terry Anderson
    May 5, 2014 at 8:48 am

    It’s nice to have a forum that can host an honest and open discussion on this topic. I liked the various approaches from the contributors and how they have dealt with the facts as they see them. I’ve always had a leaning toward the J-red theory, with Joseph Smith being the redactor and later trrying to fit what he saw on the papyrus into the storyline. As pointed out by David, this was not uncommon for ancient scribes. I’d never heard a description of Joseph looking into his hat during the translation of the BOA, but it is of no surprise when you know that he used the same technique when translating the Book of Mormon. I recall his nephew reporting that on one visit to the mansion, Uncle Joseph could be seen down on his knees pondering over the characters on the scroll, which had been rolled out between two rooms, such was its length, indicating Joseph made a serious attempt to actually read the text. it was maybe during this process that the revelatory juices started flowing. Anyway, I can understand why people would ditch Joseph over this, but having studied him most of my life, I still admire him and believe he brought more light and knowledge to the world than most religious founders. I’ve found many of his insights confirmed by my own spiritual journey.

  20. Rusty Jones
    May 13, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Trying to defend the church to educated intelligent non Mormons has become beyond embarrassing.

  21. Daniel Tukuafu
    May 19, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I once saw a comment about the Book of Abraham saying in gist that there was no connection to history or even a linguistic connection. However, being an Arabic speaker, there are some connections. Kolob and kokaubeam are somehow connected. Kolob would be most similar to an Arabic word meaning heart – qlb, and kokaubeam to the Arabic word for planet – kwkb. You choose what you want to believe or connections you want to make.

  22. Bill
    August 30, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I really enjoyed the second part of the pod cast, because it raised many important issues and ideas. I especially liked the idea that the source of scripture is both fully from God and fully from man. I also liked what was said about the creative nature of scripture, and I think a clue to that nature may be given in Moses 7:2-8, where the Lord tells Enoch to prophesy, but the Lord does not tell Enoch what to prophesy. Enoch prophesies, and the Lord simply listens.

    It may be far outside the scope of this web site, but I would really have liked to have heard some other issues thrown into the mix of this discussion. Specifically, I would have liked to have heard points of view about other “revelations” which are not recognized by the church as such, for example “A Course in Miracles”, and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, to name just two. With these two, there is detailed information given by the “authors” about how the “revelation” occurred. I would also have like to have heard ideas about how Karl Jung’s theory of “The Self” might fit in with the topic of revelation. Or perhaps more within the scope of this web site, there is always Peter’s “trance” that it mentioned in the New Testament. There is so much that could be talked about here.

    I really think that only the surface has been scratched on this topic of what revelation is and where it comes from. I would like to hear much more. I think it is really too bad that in the LDS church details about the process of personal revelation seem to be taboo. I think we might understand it much better if we were willing to talk about the details.

  23. Sue
    September 30, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Thanks for all you have done to help me on my own journey. As I have recovered from betrayal trauma in my life, I have developed space in my head to ask questions (before fear was my guide). As I have, your podcast has been one of my greatest places of peace and guidance. It really started with my study of the Old Testament and teaching 8 year old in primary. I think my first question was creation and evolution (and my teaching growing up). Thanks again for helping others (and me).

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