Defending the Faith: How could Joseph know all of this?

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  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    May 20, 2014 7:50 p.m.

    Different people arrive at different conclusions. As long as someone doesn't bury their head in their hat and is willing to look at the evidence, we should respect the different conclusions people reach.

  • questions everything west valley city, UT
    Jan. 12, 2013 6:53 a.m.

    I am an old lady with a passion for history and have seen much, read much, thought much, and watched others much. My take on the matter is this: the Church may or may not have the exact papyri used in the Book of Mormon. That is not the question raised here. The question was: How could Joseph have been so spot on accurate? To say that Hebrew scholars teaching Joseph told him is injecting unsubstantiated knowledge on early Hebrew scholars that didn't have the Dead Sea Scrolls, for instance, available to them. Hebrew scholars didn't like the idea of a physically made God and universe anymore then than modern day ones do today.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 30, 2012 6:32 p.m.

    RE: Bill in Nebraska, For instance the Bible states "in our image" for creating man. Sharrona passes this off as singular as it should read "in their image". You misunderstood, Check,

    (Gen 1:26 KJV) …Let us make man in Our own image and likeness…”verse 27 ..”So God created man in His own image…”. If there more than one God this would read, in “Their image”. The trinity in the O.T.
    JS,” In the very beginning the bible shows there is a plurality of Gods. Beyond the power of refutation”.(Hof C v. 6 p.476)Wrong:
    Genesis 1:1 Greek Septuagint In the beginning=(Arche, Grk. 746) God(*o Theos, Grk. 2316). Clearly God,singular. *Nominative singular article.

    John 1:1,”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God’.

    1 John1:1,”That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    July 30, 2012 4:48 p.m.

    "I choose to look at the Book of Abraham the way scientists look at it."

    That is like looking at Shakespeare's writings from a mathematician's point of view. I choose to look at the Book of Abraham from a religious point of view - that is what the book's intentions are, and that is how it is best understood. Then, the evidences fall in place after that.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    July 30, 2012 1:09 p.m.

    I talked a few days ago to a good friend of mine who has recently removed his name from the records of the LDS church.

    He told me in no uncertain terms that "logic" is the only way to understand truth. When I spoke of God teaching or affirming truth via the Spirt of the Holy Ghost, he just scoffed.


    Here's a guy who claims "logic" is his only guide but still believes that a man (Jesus) rose from the dead, a prophet (Elijah) made an axe float on the water, another prophet (Moses) parted a sea and walked across the sea floor on dry ground, a man (Jesus) walked on water, and on and on the "absurdities" go. However, he belives those "illogical" things but discounts the whisperings of the Spirit.

    I say all this because it doesn't matter 2 cents what appears to make sense or what does not appear to make sense; all that REALLY matters is whether God says it is true or not. In reference to the Book of Abraham, I know what God says on the matter.

    The caravan moves on....

  • zabivka Orem, UT
    July 30, 2012 11:14 a.m.

    When it comes to LDS doctrine, there are apologists, anti-Mormons, and scientists.

    Apologists begin with the assumption that a doctrine is true, and then work backwards to show how that might be possible.

    Anti-Mormons begin with the assumption that a doctrine is false, and then work backwards to show how that might be possible.

    Scientists begin with no assumptions other than what evidence shows them, and try to build a model that explains what is happening. When new evidence is presented that changes the model, they accept it.

    I choose to look at the Book of Abraham the way scientists look at it.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    July 29, 2012 9:00 p.m.

    @Bill in Nebraska,

    "in our image": that is the Father speaking to the Son thru the Holy Ghost which is the mind of the Father and the Son (per 1 Cor.2:10-16 and Philippians 2:5). Nothing mysterious about that. Nothing about many different Gods (plurality of Gods).

    "Separate beings": Correct. Two eternal Personages and/or Beings but eternally connected together by one Spirit - the Holy Ghost.

    Joseph Smith was only a prophet when his prophecies and/or teachings agreed with the the word of God (the KJV and the BoM). The BoA does not meet this criteria and never will.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    July 29, 2012 8:37 p.m.

    Sharrona continually tries to bring up what the Bible says and then passes their own translation. Just as Michigander has a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon but denies Joseph Smith as a prophet. The two do not and can not coexist.

    For instance the Bible states "in our image" for creating man. Sharrona passes this off as singular as it should read "in their image". I'm not sure what English class they attended but I was always taught that our is a plural for more than two. Since, this is true the rest of their comments can also not be true.

    Michigander says their is only ONE GOD, The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Yet, if you ask many Christians they will tell you no, they are separate beings until they talk to their ministers. Why, because the creeds that Joseph Smith preached against changed mans image of who God is. Jesus Christ taught over and over again that if you have seen him, you have seen the father. This is especially true in the Gospel of John and Matthew.

    Everything in the Book of Abraham testifies completely of us as well.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    July 29, 2012 12:28 p.m.

    The fatal flaws in the BoA remain the pre-existance of spirits (only Jesus Christ pre-existed) and the plurality of Gods (only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the One true God).

  • nick humphrey kent, WA
    July 29, 2012 8:05 a.m.

    "the Genesis Apocryphon, found seven decades ago among the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, also testifies that the patriarch's behavior was divinely ordained."

    In the Genesis Apocryphon, "Abram" has a dream of an interesting parable about trees. There is absolutely no "testimony" of "the Lord" or any divine inspiration behind the dream. The GA account is nowhere similar to JS's translation.

    14. Now I, Abram, dreamt a dream in the night of my entry into Egypt. I saw in my dream that there was a single cedar and a single date palm
    15. on a mountain, having sprouted together from [one] roo[t]. And m[e]n came seeking to cut down and uproot the [ce]dar, thereby leaving the date palm by itself.
    16. But the date palm cried out and said, "Do not cut down the cedar, for the two of us are sp[rung] from o[ne] root!" So the cedar was left on account of the date palm,
    17. and they did not cut me down. Then I awoke in the night from my sleep, and I said to my wife Sarai, "I dreamt
    18. a dream...

  • joshmo Midway, UT
    July 28, 2012 7:35 p.m.

    I encourage everyone to read John 6. After reading the chapter ponder and think about Verses 65-68. The Lord teaches by using Spiritual methods. He tried to explain to those that were a part of the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 that he was the Son of God. They witnessed a miracle but they still were "offended" by what the Savior taught them. The left and never came back because they were seeking physical witnesses (touch, feel, see, etc...). They unfortunately didn't recognize the importance of spiritual matters and missed out on recognizing their personal Savior.

    I can only imagine the sadness that the Savior felt when they "walked no more with him."

    Please remember how the Savior teaches us, which in turn will help remember how he doesn't teach us.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 28, 2012 1:16 p.m.

    RE Sparky, the greek word for beginning is Xaos? The Greek version agrees far more with the JS version of the universe being "organized". Wrong,
    In the beginning=(*Arche,Grk. 746) was the Word, and the Word was with God(Theos,2316) and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning=(*Arche). 3 Through him all things were made*= (Grk.1096 ginomai, receive being); without him nothing was made*that has been made*. (John 1:1-3). The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us(John 1:14) God (Jesus) becomes man not man becomes God.

    RE; Coltakashi, how did Joseph come up with the concept of our pre-mortal lives. Several church councils condemned pre-existence, Joseph had access as a Freemason.

    RE; Mister J, If God did not want us to think, reason, etc... then why did he gives us brains & the capacity to ponder. True ,
    Luke 10:27 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your MIND’…(dianoia, 1271). I don’t, do you?

  • Straitpath PROVO, UT
    July 28, 2012 8:17 a.m.

    Thank you, Dr. Peterson and Deserwt News for this very interesting article. At one point in my life I was faced with what seemed to be evidence that Joseph Smith was a fraud. I made a conscious choice at that time to have faith in Joseph Smith. The so called evidence was proven false. It is our choice and I choose to believe.

  • Mister J SLC, UT
    July 27, 2012 6:35 p.m.

    @ LValfre 10:51 a.m. July 26

    "Isn't are logic and reasoning from God? Why would we set it aside? Seems counter intuitive."

    Agreed. If God did not want us to think, reason, etc... then why did he gives us brains & the capacity to ponder?

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    July 27, 2012 5:28 p.m.

    Wool Free:

    Agreed...all of the facsimiles are problematic for the church.

    My point about figure #7 in facsimile #2 is that many LDS members are simply not aware of what the image really represents...they have never examined it carefully and they don't really understand the conspicuous "phallic" representation of the Egyptian fertility god Min.

    My sense is that many LDS members would be aghast if they examined it closely and understood its correct translation. I'm quite certain that most would even consider the image "indecent" by today's LDS standards with many more finding it very uncomfortable that such a coarse image is displayed in their personal set of LDS scriptures, especially after having been erroneously told that it represents God revealing the grand key-words of the priesthood.

  • lib1 Provo, UT
    July 27, 2012 3:40 p.m.

    I don't see any of the critics take on Dr. Peterson's question-- how did Joseph Smith know the details (i.e., the plains of Olishem, Abraham as astronomer, etc.) that appear in the Book of Abraham and that modern findings of ancient texts have corroborated?

    So, how did he know? Did he simply "guess right?" (Hel. 16:16).

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 27, 2012 3:38 p.m.


    I've read your posts on this before several times. I simply think you are wrong. But either way that is not what I was referring to here. We were talking about Peterson's article and the Book of Abraham.

    A Scientist,

    I don't think your examples are great corollaries. I agree that the fact that there is no explanation for the presence or properties of physical items is generally not evidence of divine origin. We are not talking about physical items but about knowledge of them. That is, did Joseph know something and, if so, how did he know it?

    Of course, Joseph knowing these things is not perfect evidence of his being a prophet. It just suggests that he had knowledge well beyond what was generally available at the time. How you explain that is still a matter for the individual to wrestle with. However, it does open the door to at least consider his claims.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    July 27, 2012 3:34 p.m.

    In any case, those who argue about the Book of Breathings scroll miss the entire point of this article: No matter what was on the Egyptian artifacts Joseph Smith once owned, the TEXT he published as the Book of Abraham contains information that is an accurate description of ancient records about Abraham, but are NOT in the Bible, and which Joseph Smith was unlikely to have been aware of, since he was not a scholar who studied at Oxford and read old Hebrew manuscripts in the British Museum, but a farmer who lived in frontier America in the 1830s. Indeed, there is no evidence that Joseph ever saw any of these sources, and many of them were not available anywhere in English during his lifetime. So HOW did Joseph Smith know enough about Abraham to write down ACCURATE information about him, including the names of places or other things not appearing in the Bible? And how did Joseph come up with the concept of our pre-mortal lives, which was not taught in the Bible or any contemporary Christian doctrine? Joseph prophesied 20th Century scholarship!

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    July 27, 2012 3:24 p.m.

    The critics who claim that the Book of Abraham was intended to be a translation of the Book of Breathings, but is different from the text of the Book of Breathings which was recovered from the New York Metropolican Museum collection, are the ones who have an evidentiary problem. Since the BofA does not match the Book of Breathings, on what basis do they claim the Book of Breathings was the source of the BofA? There is a single reference in the text of the BofA to an illustration which sounds like Facsimile 1, but Egyptologists (and critics) love to tell us that Facsimile 1 is very much a standardized scene, so a similar depiction could have been associated with another papyrus document that did not survive the Chicago Fire (where most of the papyrus was lost, including the original of the hypocephalus, Facsimile 2, and Facsimile 3). Contemporary descriptions of the papyrus describe a much longer scroll which does NOT match the surviving Book of Breathings.

  • terra nova Park City, UT
    July 27, 2012 2:34 p.m.

    Sigh. After reading a really wonderful article, I thought I'd find additional insight on these boards. Unfortunately, it feels more like I've just descended into a sewage holding tank. With few exceptions, the comments stink.

    The critics have no clue how revelation works. Zero, zip, nada. Daniel Peterson - thank you for writing. I would like to see a link to the same article with embedded links to the underlying source of the analysis. It would be interesting reading.

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    July 27, 2012 1:16 p.m.

    LValfre said, "And if you think the BYU studies and DNews studies posted aren't supporting agendas ... then why aren't studies posted on here that aren't supportive of the church? Like coffee benefit studies, wine benefit studies, etc? Other news outlets share them ..."

    For your reference, so does DNews, please see the following in the D-News archives:

    "Redwine helps fat mice stay healthy" DNews - 11/02/2006

    "Coffee buzz: Study finds java drinkers live longer" DNews - 05/16/2012

    All it took was a simple online search. Guess you can't say DNews only prints things supportive of the church.

    Anything else?

  • SparkyVA Winchester, VA
    July 27, 2012 12:27 p.m.

    To say that the term Elohim is an exception to the standard rule of Hebrew grammar is falling into the orthodoxy trap. If it disagrees with our orthodoxy, it must be wrong for our orthodoxy can never be wrong. This is how errors have crept into our scriptures. Some transcriber looks at the old text, compares it with his own orthodoxy, and then fixes the problem by changing the new copy to agree with his orthodoxy.

    I remember reading Martin Luther's translation of baptism for the dead. He states simply that this practice was for the 'benefit' of the dead, but then honestly reports he has no other information about this practice. Luther did not try to change this scripture to agree with the then current practice.

    In other cases it was more difficult. The Hebrew of David's time was very dense without vowels and without word breaks. Multiple interpretations could easily be made. Add in the different outlooks and the innuendos of past times, it is very difficult to render a perfect translation of the thoughts expressed in the scriptures. Don't assume that the modern translations are all that good.

  • SparkyVA Winchester, VA
    July 27, 2012 12:10 p.m.

    As to the creation of the universe from nothing, the original Greek starts John out saying "In the beginning was the Word". Interesting enough, the greek word for beginning is Xaos the X being the Ch symbol, or our modern word Chaos. If you assume that the term beginning is equivalent to the term Chaos, there is no way to leap to the conclusion that creation happened from nothing. The Greek version agrees far more with the JS version of the universe being "organized".

  • Wool Free LA, CA
    July 27, 2012 12:09 p.m.

    @ Weber State Graduate.

    Even more so are the problems with Joseph Smith's translations of Facsimile #3. In #3 Joseph Smith provided incorrect translations of the text above the head of the characters. So in this case we know exactly what text Joseph Smith is trying to translate. As someone else has put it.

    "The Facsimile 3 explanation is the only canonized LDS scripture that purports to be a translation of specific ancient characters which are published alongside the translated text. This is thus the only completely unambiguous test-case of Joseph's translation abilities."

    Dr Peterson may point out a few tenuous instances of where Joseph Smith may have got it right but those are few and far between compared to rest of the translation.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    July 27, 2012 11:47 a.m.

    "The problem is that the Church doesn't have all of the papyri"

    Perhaps not, but the facsimiles are available for the whole world to see.

    I'm not sure the church wants to draw attention to facsimile 2, which by the way is nothing more than an image of an Egyptian magic amulet that is placed under the head of a deceased mummy to keep the body warm.

    Joseph claims figure 7 represents "God sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand key-words of the Priesthood." Egyptian scholars are unanimous in their conclusion that figure 7 is the ithyphallic Egyptian god Min, the primary fertility deity of ancient Egypt. Mormons should study this image very closely and learn what it really means.

    What concerns me about an ostensible academic like Peterson is his defense of something that's been clearly debunked by mainstream Egyptian scholars. Allowing Petersen to continue with such an untenable diatribe in a public forum like the Deseret News does a huge disservice for the church.

  • CT98 Saint George, UT
    July 27, 2012 11:44 a.m.

    Its called Revelation folks. If you have faith that Joseph was an inspired man, God could reveal anything to him. I accept the Funerary scrolls as simply a Catalyst for the inspired work that comprises the Pearl of Great Price. Joseph rarely used the Golden Plates to translate the BOM. Its the same concept.

    Its called Revelation folks.

  • timpClimber Provo, UT
    July 27, 2012 11:33 a.m.

    As a youth (1940s) I loved to visit my great uncle, Horace Cutler, who was an assistant to Joseph Fielding Smith in the small Church Historian's office in the old Church Headquarters. Uncle Horace showed me many artifacts among them pressed under glass was part of the Abrahamic scrolls the writings of Joseph of Egypt. Uncle Horace told me there were many more pieces of the scrolls. Attending the University of Wisconsin in the 60s I attended a symposium called the Book and the Spade and became friends with a Coptic scholar. He told me that I should make friends with the smartest biblical scholar he knew, Hugh Nibley. I did and for years had many fine chats with him. Several times he told me that both the Book of Abraham and the Book of Moses had so much evidence connecting them to the ancient world that they alone made Joseph Smith the most knowledgeable man of his day or our day on the teachings of those two ancient prophets. They are a joy to read and contemplate the eternal truths they open to my mind.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 27, 2012 10:46 a.m.

    RE: Twin Sister, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God;
    The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.(1 Cor 15:46 NIV) Yet, Brigham Young spiritual first[pre-existence]afterward temporal).

    Paul) was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter(2 Cor 12:4) Paul is told not to talk about paradise(heaven)
    In Testament of Abraham 9–10 (first or second century), the patriarch is caught up into heaven and shown the earth and all its inhabitants?

    RE: Twin lights: an extremely lucky guesser?

    Joseph Smith,“Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God is singular number; and by adding the word heim ,it renders it Gods.” ( H of C, 1844),Wrong.
    In Hebrew the form of the word Elohim, with the ending -im, which normally indicates a masculine plural, however with Elohim the construction is usually grammatically SINGULAR, (i.e. it governs a singular verb or adjective) when referring to the Hebrew God, grammatically plural when used of pagan divinities. “In the beginning God”. (Genesis 1:1 Greek Septuagint)

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    July 27, 2012 10:28 a.m.

    @ Joel in Yuma:
    You may want to redefine what a 'perfect match' really is.
    The papyrus and the BoA have nothing in common. Not one part is even similar. The papyrus is a funerary text from Egypt. Nothing more.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    July 27, 2012 9:28 a.m.

    If one is to follow the logic and thinking of those who are posting their mis-understandings of quotes from Corinthians, etc. then there is no reason for higher education or learning just go along with beleiving every superstition and deluded preacher. Heaven is as close as your TV.

  • Wool Free LA, CA
    July 27, 2012 9:14 a.m.

    @ skeptic.

    Actually there is evidence of missing middle portion of the extant Breathing Permit of Hor also known as the Book of Abraham scroll. There is a missing section between extant fragments PJS XI and PJS X. As I noted above there are several problems in suggesting that this section contained the Book of Abraham, the biggest of which is that there is no evidence that it is about Abraham other than the rest of the scroll is not. For all anyone knows the missing portion could be about anything, though most likely it is just a continuation of what is written on either side of it in the extant portions.

  • Twin Sister LINDON, UT
    July 27, 2012 8:43 a.m.

    To all the skeptics concerning the Book of Abraham, I quote from Paul: "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:14-16. Again from Paul: "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. . . ." 1 Corinthians 3:19. You don't throw the baby out with the bath water unless you are looking for a reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. Those who are skeptical about the Book of Abraham are those who are looking for a reason to criticize, discredit, or otherwise attempt to disprove the validity of the the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Book of Abraham is true and Joseph Smith was a true prophet.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    July 26, 2012 11:28 p.m.

    There is no lost scroll, that is just another amateur cover up. The church has the scroll JS worked from and it is clearly marked with his notes and interpretations. The simple problem is that JS's reading of the scroll has been proven incorrect as to his literal interpretation.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    July 26, 2012 11:00 p.m.

    fools mocked Noah until the rains came...oh come on.

  • San Diego Orem, UT
    July 26, 2012 9:17 p.m.


    I think Isaiah explained it pretty well: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

    Most of us don't know more than God, so we have to rely on his spiritual guidance and understanding.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    July 26, 2012 8:44 p.m.

    There is no adequate explanation for Stonehenge. That fact cannot be used as evidence that Stonehenge is of divine origin.

    There are no adequate explanations for how L. Ron Hubbard was able to produce as much literature as he did in such a short time. That fact cannot be taken as evidence that Scientology is "true".

    There are no adequate explanations for how 190 clotted blood samples of various saints become liquefied, especially during ceremonies. This does not prove the vials contain authentic blood, nor that these "miracles" are true.

    Peterson's arguments are arguments based on ignorance. The form of these arguments is that lack of knowledge about "how Joseph could have known" is given as evidence that the BoA, BoM, etc. are of divine origin.

    This is fundamentally fallacious argument.

    There is no reason to believe, and every reason to disbelieve.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 26, 2012 8:34 p.m.

    If you do not believe Joseph's version of events, then you have to conclude that he was super smart, educated WAY beyond the norm (no matter how he got that education), and an extremely lucky guesser.

  • Wool Free LA, CA
    July 26, 2012 6:48 p.m.

    @ atl134

    There are various problems with the lost scroll argument. Since it is lost no one knows what is on it. The assumption that it contains the Book of Abraham also means conceding that the extant portions don't. In order for the lost portion to contain the Book of Abraham it has to be unusually long and quite out of the ordinary from what one would expect in the middle of a normal Book of Breathings papyri. And the KEP points toward the extant papyri fragment PJS XI as the text that Joseph Smith translated for Abr 1-2:13.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2012 6:17 p.m.

    "The one that contained the Book of Abraham is lost."

    Is that actually known with surety or is that just an assumption made on the basis of what is left not matching up with the Book of Abraham? I sincerely don't know the answer to that and am curious.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    July 26, 2012 5:11 p.m.


    We need to trust Joseph Smith?

    How about we verify with evidence before giving our lives, our fortune and our minds over to a religion that we just have to trust?

  • Eichendorff Olathe, Kansas
    July 26, 2012 5:11 p.m.

    *The Apostle John taught creation from nothing.*

    He taught nothing of the sort. His point was that no creation took place without Christ, not that everything was created out of nothing. This is a clear example of projection onto the text of the New Testament.

    Creation ex nihilo is a false doctrine.

    *The papyri from which Joseph Smith Jr. claimed to have translated the Book of Abraham exist today and have been shown by modern science to comprise a common Egyptian funerary text...*

    This is a false statement in the sense that the papyri that contained the funerary text are not the ones from which Joseph Smith claimed to have translated the Book of Abraham. He possessed several different papyri during his lifetime. The one that contained the Book of Abraham is lost.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    July 26, 2012 5:00 p.m.

    First, I sought for a spiritual confirmation of the truth of the Book of Abraham, and I recieved it. As I have said before, the Spirit trumps all other evidence of the truth of something. For this reason, I have a pre-established bias in favor of the book.

    Second, I am not an Egyptologist, but I have a PhD in text analysis, and enjoy reading and understanding texts on a purely intellectual level with or without a conscious invoking of spiritual truths. (I also acknowledge that my understanding of a particular text--especially scriptural text--may or may not be Heavenly Father's intention.)

    Third, I have read a good deal, pro and con, about the Book of Abraham. (By a "good deal," I mean thousands of pages.)

    Given those three admissions, I believe I can say that Daniel Petersen's very brief summary of some things that are incorporated into the Book of Abraham which are highly unlikely for Joseph Smith to know is very good and has not been answered by any of the critics on this thread.

    The Spirit says it's true, and there is strong corroborative evidence. There is no reason to disbelieve.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 26, 2012 4:31 p.m.

    @Bill in Nebraska, Abraham 2:8, My is name is Jehovah.
    “From LDS revelation, we learn that Jehovah is the English form of the actual name by which the Lord Jesus was known ANCIETLY (D&C 110:3 Jehovah appears at the Kirtland Temple ).Mormon Doctrine. s/b YHWH. JS was unaware of the poor KJV and didn’t know the Personal name of God(LORD)YHWH.
    Jude 1:6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home… Fallen angels(devils) Nothing to with pre mortal being.

    RE; pmccombs, Ex Nihlio: For in him all things[including angels] were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Col 1:16,
    For in him we live and move and have our Being...(Acts 17:28)Creation is dependent on God for it’s very existence.
    In (2Tim 1:9 & Titus 1:2)God existed before time, implying he created time.

    .(Ecc 12:7)… the spirit shall return unto God who gave it)

  • Joe1 YUMA, AZ
    July 26, 2012 3:36 p.m.

    A good analogy is that we are like little children compared to Heavenly Father. Joseph Smith was like unto a smart child who understand and obeyed his father. To poke fun at the Book of Abraham or Book of Mormon is like making fun of your smart brother's science project that he and your father worked on because you don't understand it. We need to trust that Joseph Smith understood the papyri and what the symbols represented better than we do and not use our limited knowledge to second guess the Lord's prophet. In the scriptures we learn what happens when people challenge the prophet. Don't be one of those wicked people. I bear testimony to all, that I know the church is true. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know Thomas S. Monson is a prophet today. I know with every fiber of my being that the Book of Abraham is true, like unto the Book of Mormon, and we can get closer to God by reading it. I challenge those who question the Book of Abraham to speak to your Bishop and work through your issues before it is too late.

  • Nephi Goodmansen Orem, UT
    July 26, 2012 3:35 p.m.


    , in terms of the restored gospel, determining the truth is secondary to, and a means to, accomplishing the ultimate objective of becoming like Christ.

    As such, the right exploratory questions are those designed to determine if the various scriptures, and the gospel of which they are a part, work as intended in best accomplishing the intended objective.

    This involves not only correctly figuring out the right questions to ask, but also correctly figuring out to whom to rightly ask the questions.

    For some excellent pointers on asking the right questions, please see Moroni 10 and Alma 32.

    Also, your appear to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the restored gospel. For example, the priesthood ban was not based on "race." It was based on lineage. Thus no "racism" qua racism was involved.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 26, 2012 3:33 p.m.

    With regards to the papyrus manuscript, Joseph Smith and the modern Egyptologists who examined the surviving fragment are in agreement that it is indeed a genuine document from ancient Egypt. Let's leave it at that.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    July 26, 2012 3:09 p.m.

    @Nephi Goodmansen

    "The restored gospel is the place we can find unchanging truths." - Since when? I've seen many things change.

    "if man-made theories appear to contradict the teachings of the Church, it is the world, not the Church, that needs to change." - Funny, I've seen the church change to fit man's view of racism and polygamy.


    "Pride and too much learning are great stumbling blocks preventing us from having the Spirit with us at all times." - At least you admit it. The more you learn, the more stumbling blocks you'll have with your faith. Since when is education a bad thing?

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    July 26, 2012 3:01 p.m.

    @Wool Free

    Well said, that is the answer!

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    July 26, 2012 3:00 p.m.

    In the analogy of chess, attacking the Book of Abraham is like observing a grandmaster open with 1 a3, calling him an idiot that does not know how to play (doesn't he know you are supposed to capture the center?), and going after his position with full force hoping for a quick win. Instead he punishes you for attacking prematurely a position that looked weak but was not, and you get checkmated in 12 moves. Daniel Peterson shows you in this article how you possibly might. Be thankful for his advice.

  • grumpygramps YUCCA, AZ
    July 26, 2012 2:48 p.m.

    A professor at the BYU has argued that people with a degree in Egypt, and only such people, have the knowledge to discuss the translation of the Book of Abraham. I think he is right. People without the proper background should stop acting like they know something about the translation process when they really are just pontificating.

    Pride and too much learning are great stumbling blocks preventing us from having the Spirit with us at all times.

    I pray that we all will keep to the manuals and follow the Prophet, or now his counselors. Crocodiles are for the birds.

  • Nephi Goodmansen Orem, UT
    July 26, 2012 2:48 p.m.

    Scientific knowledge is constantly changing. Just because a person chooses to have faith in scientific theories does not disprove the gospel. The restored gospel is the place we can find unchanging truths.

    The only problem with the Book of Abraham is that our scientific knowledge is incomplete and changing. Scientists claiming that they know what the facsimiles in the Book of Abraham really said does not mean that someday they will not change their understanding of Egyptian. We can be confident that if man-made theories appear to contradict the teachings of the Church, it is the world, not the Church, that needs to change.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    July 26, 2012 2:29 p.m.

    It's amazing what Joseph Smith was able to pick up on the western frontier. ~ article


    And at the ripe old age and decodes of experience at only 29 years.

    BTW --

    All this discussion about the papyra being "Book of Breathings" funerary scolls ect. makes no bit of difference to me.
    [And I'm Liberal, and seek for hard facts and evidnece to sway my opinions.]

    I really don't care if Joesph Smith used funerary scolls, read tea leaves, used a hat and peep stones, gave diving rods to early missionaries, was a treasure hunter, praticed polygamy, created defunct banks, or threw blades of grass in the air to recieve revelation.

    I read the words, and decide for myself.

    If it improve me as a person, or helps me raise my children better, it's just fine by me.

    I know - Pretty unorthoxed for a Liberal.

  • GK Willington SLC, UT
    July 26, 2012 2:23 p.m.

    Simple really...

    Did not JS hang out w/ professors of Religion who more than likely went to Ivy League divinity schools?

    Aforementioned professors probably learned something about the history, culture, & surroundings of the fertile crescent, Israel, Egypt, etc...

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    July 26, 2012 2:06 p.m.

    There is a lot that could be said about this, the common arguments against the Book of Abraham come to mind. Still, there is even another point that Peterson is implying which is very disingenuous of him. His closing comments are to wonder how Joseph Smith could have picked any of this up on the "western frontier". First, doesn't indicate that nobody knew these things in the 1830's, just that it is remarkable that Joseph Smith could have. Let's entertain that for a moment. Assuming that Joseph Smith really did get all of these things correct, it is still far from remarkable. Most people familiar with Church history know that Joseph Smith was employing Rabbi's to educate he and the brethren at the school of the Prophets. Joseph Smith wasn't your typical frontier farmer who had deep thoughts while cutting hay. He may have had little formal education during his childhood, but he was directly tutored by a number scriptural experts during his adult years. Peterson knows this.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    July 26, 2012 1:50 p.m.

    I'm impressed by the over confidence of the skeptics and Wikipedia experts here on Egyptology. From the comments (and locations), my guess is most have never traveled to Egypt or the Middle East, they do not understand how stories and information were recorded or preserved, nor do they speak any languages other than English (key to understanding how meaning is communicated).

    For me, I see many things in the Book of Abraham and other Joseph Smith originated texts that he could not have known, but which correlate with later discoveries. Add to that the fact that we have only scratched the surface of knowledge about ancient civilization and texts. To conclusively say "it didn't happen" is quite a stretch. Peterson seems to be saying there are interesting correlations and for the rest that doesn't correlate, a smart scientist can safely say "we don't know."

    The value that I see in the Pearl of Great Price (perhaps why it is so named) is that the Gospel was preached in all dispensations. We see the mercy of God toward his children. We also see how men in each age listen to the voice that
    says: "believe it not."

  • gemery324 Madison, WI
    July 26, 2012 12:59 p.m.

    Well, while I have faith in the Book of Abraham, I'll admit that its origins trouble me. I think that the common understanding of them as a direct translation is incorrect, but I'm not totally ruling out its truthfulness (though it seems I might be the only middle-of-the-road person commenting here).

    First of all, to those arguing that we need to just take it on faith and not doubt prophets, I would say that my faith is strengthened as I address difficult subjects. The D&C tells us to search to understand by learning AND also by faith.

    On the other side, @Thinkman, I'd like to point out that your question is poorly constructed. You've got to understand that God is not Joseph Smith, nor vice versa. God didn't need a prop but chose to use one. Joseph Smith couldn't translate the BoM without a prop (if that's what it was), because that's how God chose to give the scripture. God can do what he wants; Joseph can't always.

    Overall, though, I was disappointed with the article, because I am looking for a truly balanced analysis.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    July 26, 2012 12:29 p.m.


    So if we follow your logic about God not needing an earthly prop (which is what Maxwell asserted in the early 1990s) then why did Joseph Smith need the Golden Plates to bring forth the Book of Mormon?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2012 12:09 p.m.

    "If you are struggling to know the truth of the Book of Abraham, set aside your man made logic and reason"

    So i should be illogical and unreasonable?

    "We cannot trust men who fight against the church using scientific theories and agendas."

    You don't trust anyone who disagrees because you believe you have to be right on the matter no matter what. At least I still keep open the idea that the church could be true, though I find the odds of it to be pretty low.

    "LDS scholars who have actually studied the papyri and compared it to the Book of Abraham have discovered it is a perfect match."

    Perfect match? Every other institution disagrees.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    July 26, 2012 12:08 p.m.


    "LDS scholars who have actually studied the papyri and compared it to the Book of Abraham have discovered it is a perfect match."

    Note how it's always BYU scholars and LDS scholars who find evidence mildly supporting things. But all other scholars and scientists are not worthy of trust, right? Even when they're not biased and don't have an agenda?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2012 12:00 p.m.

    @Utes Fan
    "If at times it appears to deviate from an ancient text (if that is the case), is simply God adding revelation that is needed for our day."

    Or you know... it could just be wrong.

    "God can give revelation without any earthly props, if he wants to."

    And you're just making excuses...

  • Joe1 YUMA, AZ
    July 26, 2012 11:45 a.m.

    The papyri only disproves the Book of Abraham to anti-mormons with an agenda. LDS scholars who have actually studied the papyri and compared it to the Book of Abraham have discovered it is a perfect match. We don't need evidence to have faith. But it is nice to know that the evidence the church has in its possession verifies that our faith is correct.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    July 26, 2012 11:34 a.m.

    The problem is that the Church doesn't have all of the papyri. This is a pretty known fact which the critics and anti-Mormons don't want to be known. Secondly, read the article carefully and he disputes many of the critics and the so called funeral texts. In fact, from other research that this could quite possibly be true.

    There is little doubt that what Joseph Smith has translated would overwhelmingly change the critics minds and even many evaglecal beliefs based on the Book of Abraham. We will know the truth of it all when the Lord wants us to but currently just as the Book of Mormon is solely on faith. Just because one wants to use logic and science to prove points again the Lord stipulates that he will defeat the wisdom of the world. Faith and the power of the Holy Ghost is much stronger evidence than any scientists can generate.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    July 26, 2012 11:09 a.m.

    If the papyri the LDS Church is in possession of has been proven to discredit the Book of Abraham, why did the church not simply destroy it when they first got their hands on it?

    It seems to me if I had gone around making wild claims about something, only to come into possession of evidence which refuted my claims, I would want to destroy that evidence ASAP.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    July 26, 2012 10:51 a.m.


    "If you are struggling to know the truth of the Book of Abraham, set aside your man made logic and reason" - Isn't are logic and reasoning from God? Why would we set it aside? Seems counter intuitive.

    "We cannot trust men who fight against the church using scientific theories and agendas."
    You wouldn't trust any man who fights against the church regardless of what reasoning they're using. And if you think the BYU studies and DNews studies posted aren't supporting agendas ... then why aren't studies posted on here that aren't supportive of the church? Like coffee benefit studies, wine benefit studies, etc? Other news outlets share them ...

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    July 26, 2012 10:45 a.m.

    It appears Mr. Peterson is again using the Mormon missionary tool of: if the square peg cannot fit in the round hole, use a bigger hammer. This is not typical of reasoning and logic taught at a university level. What merit does it have to intelligent learning.

  • DonP Sainte Genevieve, MO
    July 26, 2012 10:38 a.m.

    Thank you for your testimony Joel. I add mine to yours. The Book of Abraham is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

  • Joe1 YUMA, AZ
    July 26, 2012 10:24 a.m.

    The Book of Abraham is true. I bear my testimony of that fact. If you are struggling to know the truth of the Book of Abraham, set aside your man made logic and reason and follow Moroni 10:4 by asking God if it is true. I promise you that the spirit will confirm the truthfulness of it to you as He has to me. We cannot trust men who fight against the church using scientific theories and agendas. Turn away from man and put your trust in the Lord and his anointed leaders.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    July 26, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    Those who mock Joseph Smith have no understanding of the words, "Prophet", "Seer", and "Revelator". They know that THEY could not have written what Joseph Smith wrote, so they tell us that HE could not have written it either.

    Dan Peterson did an excellent job of showing that Joseph Smith could not possibly have had the training or exposure to ancient history to have ever written the Book of Abraham without divine help. Either Joseph Smith was the most educated man in America concerning ancient history, or he was who he said he was, a "Prophet", "Seer" and "Revelator".

    Just like in ancient times, fools mock prophets. Fools mocked Noah - until the rains came. Fools will mock the prophets - until the fire comes. It's just the nature of fools to mock, i.e. Ether 12:27.

  • Wool Free LA, CA
    July 26, 2012 9:35 a.m.

    For a more accurate representation of what Joseph Smith got right and what he got wrong I would suggest reading Robert Ritner's "The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri".

  • John20000 Cedar Hills, UT
    July 26, 2012 9:27 a.m.

    Interesting article. It sounds like a rebuttal to previously made claims against the Book of Abraham and it looks like a good deal of research went into it.

    Of course, it would be silly to think an omnipotent God needed ancient papyri to reveal to Joseph Smith the text of Abraham. God can give revelation without any earthly props, if he wants to. I don't know why God wanted there to be an association between the Book of Abraham and the papyri drawings, but he did and so there is.

  • jskains Orem, UT
    July 26, 2012 9:27 a.m.

    The humor is critics are selective. There are references to the scrolls being extremely long, covering multiple floors, but since it doesn't fit the goals of the anti-LDS, they immediately discount it. IMHO, the KEP was a Joseph Smith project to reverse engineer what he already had translated and got the location wrong. And also IMHO, the facimilies were reused.

  • Richard Hitchens Layton, UT
    July 26, 2012 9:15 a.m.

    I encourage people to do their homework on the Book of Abraham translation. Dan Peterson is only telling a very narrow part of the whole story.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    July 26, 2012 9:03 a.m.

    Articles such as this one defending the Book of Abraham should be required to carry the following advisory:

    "The papyri from which Joseph Smith Jr. claimed to have translated the Book of Abraham exist today and have been shown by modern science to comprise a common Egyptian funerary text that was written many centuries after Abraham was purported to have lived, were therefore not written by his own hand and, in fact, have nothing whatsoever to do with Abraham."

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2012 8:58 a.m.

    I find the Book of Abraham to be a combination of a translation of ancient texts and modern religious revelation. It appears to me that Joseph used the papyri to translate but also added religious revelation. If at times it appears to deviate from an ancient text (if that is the case), is simply God adding revelation that is needed for our day. To dismiss it as a fluke is to miss out on the many items that are indeed fascinating, only a very few Dr. Peterson has touched on (there are dozens). To claim it is the great "slam dunk" against the Church is much worse, and is just an appeal to the emotions of critics. I find such black and white thinking distasteful and a waste of my time.

    The fact that it doesn't match what critics say it should is to be expected. God doesn't convince critics but the faithful. God would only give us something that absolutely has evidence and yet also requires faith - such is the Book of Abraham.

  • pmccombs Orem, UT
    July 26, 2012 8:45 a.m.


    While it has been demonstrated that the Book of Abraham could not have been on the extant scrolls, the fact of the matter is that Joseph didn't know how to read the ancient texts anyway. Even his translation of the Book of Mormon took place while his face was buried in a hat. Joseph thought he had books of ancient scripture, and that was enough for him to produce the work.


    I know a violin maker who showed me a collection of violins. He told me that "all those things" were made by him. I in no way interpreted that to mean that he had made the instruments from nothing. When we think of "made" things, we think of complex objects, not of their building blocks. I don't think that John 1:3 remotely suggests creation from nothing. Also, I don't think we have a copy of the book of John from the time period you suggest and have no way of knowing if what we do have was even written by the person it alleges to have been written by in that time period.

  • megen Truth or Consequences, NM
    July 26, 2012 8:12 a.m.

    Peterson says, "Christian thinkers, influenced by Greek philosophy, began to teach creation from nothing only in the second century"

    The Apostle John taught creation from nothing. John 1:3 says "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." John died before the second century. John was written prior to John's exile to Patmos and after the destruction of the temple- between 70-90 AD.

    I could comment on the Book of Abraham, but I'll let people do their own research.

  • mightymite DRAPER, UT
    July 26, 2012 6:56 a.m.

    Streching thing a little bit Dan? I guess if your going to put yourselve out there then you have to put in in a ggod effort but come on with this one.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    July 26, 2012 6:35 a.m.


    Dr. Peterson HAS to know that the LDS Church has the papyrii that Joseph supposedly translated! They've been shown to be nothing more than common funerary rolls and from a time well after the life of Abraham.

    Simply unbelievable that the Deseret News would print this nonsense.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    July 26, 2012 5:40 a.m.

    This is an article that the Church and the Deseret News should stay away from.
    Defending the Book of Abraham based on what the Church teaches is touchy ground.
    Fasten your seat belts.