– I don’t know why anyone would be shocked that the Facsimiles are Egyptian. They certainly look Egyptian to me! Joseph Smith said they contain Egyptian writing
: “The characters are such as you find upon the coffins of mummies–hieroglyphs.” They were found with an Egyptian mummy. Why wouldn’t they be Egyptian?
CES Letter holds the Facsimiles to a strict Egyptian context, while Joseph Smith provided a different kind of context. Joseph explained that the Egyptian meaning was different than the Abrahamic meaning. He focused on how the Facsimiles related to Abraham instead of giving the text translation or the Egyptian funerary meaning.
This is important to understand for Facsimile 3 because it shows Egyptian gods in an afterlife judgement scene while Joseph Smith interpreted it as a scene involving Abraham and the king of Egypt. That’s perfectly alright. Egyptian funerary literature is all about mortal humans assuming the characters of gods. In the Facsimile 1 sed-festival scene, the king played out the character of Osiris in an Egyptian ritual: “In the Sed-Feast the king assumed the costume of Osiris and impersonated the life of the resurrected god. The king then became identified with Osiris.” The same thing happens in Facsimile 3. The deceased mummy that was found with this papyrus relates to the gods portrayed in the scene, and Abraham relates in some other document derived from the Egyptian scene.
Egyptian & Abrahamic Meanings Relate – The cemetery cross may hold a different meaning but it derives from the original Christian meaning. Likewise, we should expect the Egyptian meaning to be similar to Joseph Smith’s interpretation for Abraham. After all, why would “Pagan” Egypt be totally incongruent with the gospel? Couldn’t this judgement scene of Egyptian gods be derived from an earlier document that involved Abraham? Or couldn’t Abraham have derived a similar scene from the Egyptian document? Or they both derived from a common source? There is plenty of similarity between the literal Egyptian translation and Joseph’s Abrahamic translation to indicate one derived from the other.
Of the three facsimiles, this one differs the most between what Joseph Smith said and what Egyptologists give as the Egyptian meaning. This is a scene near the end of the Book of Breathings that shows the deceased mummy being judged for his sins. Joseph Smith says in Abraham’s context it is: “Abraham is reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the king’s court.”
How do these two relate? Simple. Abraham reasoned upon astronomy in a ritual preparatory for judgement in the afterlife. Abraham matches Pharaoh with Isis, who was “the mistress of the beginning of the year” who circles in heaven near the stars of Orion. In this scene, Isis (Pharoah) says:
“I am Isis… I made manifest the paths of the stars. I prescribed the course of the sun and the moon.”
Osiris, the judge in this scene, was associated with Orion, “his abode in the sky,” and this scene shows the heavenly Duat aferlife, which is represented by the row of stars at the top. Those stars represent the souls of the dead, and the deceased mummy must pass through it all to be judged. Ancient astronomy was all about preparing for their path in the afterlife and the basic “triumph of good over evil.”
The deceased prays that he may be justified “against his enemies in the sky, in the earth, and in these seven councils of Osiris.” As with the other facsimiles, Joseph Smith interpreted their earthly significance as relating to Abraham, while the Egyptian funerary context related to the afterlife. But Abraham’s earthly studies of astronomy was a study of justice and divine judgement, the Egyptian context.
Egyptian vs. Abraham Meanings
This is Osiris sitting as judge. The crown on his head indeed represents divine authority of the heavenly grand presidency: “His head is adorned with the atef crown, symbol of supreme authority… Ra, the sun god, originally wore the crown.” He says, look at “my great atef crowns, which Ra has given me, which Atum (has established for) me.” With Atum being the more-or-less Egyptian equivalent of the LDS Adam/Michael, it is interesting, then, that Michael/Adam appeared to Abraham to initiate him through the mysteries.
The feather in the crown represents justice and the ram’s horns power. Osiris declares “Ra has give me” the crown, as a “visible emblem of his legitimate rule and authority; it represents his rule over earth as well as the Netherworld.” It is interesting that this crown relates to the “god of the dawn” and his “solar barque,” as Joseph Smith uses the same kind language here as he does for the solar barque in Facsimile 2. “Representing the Priesthood, as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven.”
The crook in his hand indeed represents “justice and judgement” like Joseph Smith said. The Osiris crook and flail are “emblems of majesty and dominion” that allow Osiris to judge the deceased against the truth found in his crown’s feather. It is telling that Joseph Smith said Abraham as Osiris was executing “justice and judgement.” This tells us why he was “reasoning” on astronomy at all. It was all about justice and judgement by holding the keys of dominion, which is also what this judgement scene is all about in the Egyptian context. The shepherd’s crook represent’s the king “who secures food, protection, and justice for the people under his care… representation of authority.” It is, of course, a symbol for Jesus Christ, who gathers lost sheep and provides grace to all. Interestingly, Joseph Smith focused on the crook’s aspect as it relates to dominion and justice, which is a perfect bullseye for the facsimile’s Egyptian context.
Abraham assumes a role as Osiris the judge in this scene. In the Book of Abraham we read all about astronomy in the context of divine judgement and dominions. In the Testament Of Abraham, we read about how Abraham inherited the role of judge over the people from his patriarchal fathers, and how he learned to judge righteously.
It is quite impressive that Joseph Smith identifies Abraham with Osiris consistently in all of the facsimiles. This comes naturally to the LDS, who associate certain people with certain characters in their LDS ordinances, and it is also natural for Egyptians.
The hieroglyphic writing above the figure’s hand associates it with the goddess Isis. But the symbol above the figure’s head, which Joseph Smith says is the name of King Pharaoh, is the Horus sun disk. Now, if Joseph Smith were guessing, wouldn’t he have said the hieroglyphic writing was a name rather than the figure’s crown? How is a crown a name? But he is actually correct.
“Pharaoh” was a title, not a name. Each king of Egypt had a special “Horus” name–actually two Horus names: one that “designated the pharaoh as the god Horus on earth” and one that linked “pharaoh to the sun, divinity, eternity, earthly gold, and perhaps to Horus’ victory over Seth.” Now, we already saw how Osiris in figure 1 wore a “sign of his earthly rulership.” But astronomy was not just about earthly judgement, but judgement in the afterlife as well. The second Horus name is called the the Golden Horus Name and “ypically featured the image of a Horus falcon perched above or beside the hieroglyph for gold.” The hieroglyph for gold is nebu, which is a half-disk with rays between two hills.
Compare nebu with the sun disk atop Isis’s head in figure 2. Perfect match! Joseph Smith was right. There is no falcon in the name, but that’s alright because the falcon represents “the final victory of Horus over Seth” and that was already ritualized in Facsimile 1. Other contexts did not need this element in the Golden Horus name. “The gold sign, without the Horus falcon, appeared in conjunction with the royal names from the time of Djer onwards.”
It’s not surprising that the king’s Horus name was snuck into Isis’ crown. Egyptians did this kind of thing all the time. Illustrations and shapes were often arranged or drawn to spell out names. As the mother of Horus, Isis was the personification of Pharaoh’s throne and seat of power, as Gail Corrington explains:
“Isis was the incarnation of the pharaoh’s ‘throne’. As the throne symbolically ‘created’ or ‘gave birth to’ the pharaoh, so Isis, the incarnate throne, was the mother of the pharoah.”
Notice that Joseph Smith placed the maker “2” at Isis’ crown, not Isis herself. It is totally appropriate to associate her crown with the Horus name of Pharaoh. We see Isis aiding in Abraham’s assumption of justice and dominion “by the politeness of the king,” in a similar way she gives birth to Pharaoh’s position as king. This suggests Pharaoh allowed Abraham to study astronomy and be ordained through Egyptian religious rites to gain the divine governing powers that were meant for Egyptian rulers, which Pharoah’s were known to do for foreigners.
The offering table is identified as “Abraham in Egypt” (this time shown without the annointing jars). This time it is Abraham sharing knowledge of ordinances to others. So, this gives us more explanation for what Abraham in Egypt is: Abraham “reasoning” and officiating sacrifice to gain knowledge of astronomy. In Facsimile 1, he is the one being sacrificed–and saved–and then in Facsimile 2, he is offering sacrifices upon an altar while in Egypt to gain redemption and priesthood authority.
We see these three differing motifs for lotus offering tables frequently in Egypt. Likewise, different offering tables for different gods, for different reasons. As for earthly judgement and dominions, offerings were provided to Osiris daily “to sanctify the land,” and to solidify his status of “universal kingship… god as ruler over everything.” The libation table stands between Abraham with Pharoah and the people, facing Abraham and Pharoah, suggesting they are the ones being affected by the libation rituals, they are the ones achieving dominion.
In a ritual bowl from early Athens, we see all three of the “Abraham in Egypt” offering tables portrayed one after the other. First, we see “two male figures with spears attack a griffin,” like the sacrifice of a Seth character in Facsimile 1. Next, we see “a seated figure nurses a baby as a standing figure performs a sacrifice before an offering table,” just like the rebirth ritual shown here in Facsimile 2. Finally, we see “a figure sits on a throne before an offering table as another stands and performs a sacrifice,” exactly like in Facsimile 3
This figure is Maat, the goddess of truth and moral justice. Maat led the deceased to judgement, not really as a guide but as a standard to be judged by: “Only those judged to be in tune with Maat are sustained and revitalised.” One tries to assume the character of Maat by following the commandments necessary for salvation. So in Abraham’s context, the royal prince took the role of Maat to present the initiate in a righteous way or in proper order.
Joseph Smith identifies this figure with “Prince of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, as written above the hand.” Unlike figure 2, he does not claim the “name is given” in the characters, but just that his is the prince “as written” there. What does that mean?
A seal of Maat even has been found that identifies the royal prince with Maat: “The prince and royal seal-bearer from Lower Egypt, great in favor, great in love.” Royalty often incorporated Maat into their name, such as the father of Tuthmose, to assume this role. That is because royalty had to be the ones assuming the role of Maat in the presentation, to give their stamp of approval: “As the royal successor, Remesses II presents Maat, the duty of the living king… Scenes that show a non-royal individual presenting or transporting Maat are rare.” Another text identifies the priest of Maat with the governing prince: “Priest of Maat, city governor, vizier.” Indeed, the Book of the Dead identifies the temple in Heliopolis, the sun capital, “House of the Prince.”
So this figure is the “prince” of Egypt as performing the role of “Maat, Lady of the West.”
This figure is the character being initiated through the rite of judgement. The characters above his hand identify him as: “The Osiris Hor, justified forever.” Joseph Smith interprets it as: “Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters, as represented by the characters above his hand.” We don’t know much about Hor, the mummy who this breathing permit was for, but we do know he was a temple priest. As priest, Hor could certainly be considered a “principal waiter” for the king or god. The hieroglyph for “waiter or attendant” is very close to “priest.”
Actually, the apostrophe in “king’s waiter” was added in the 1842 printing, and originally it said “kings waiter,” which means it could be plural rulers or gods for whom this figure was an attendant.
Joseph Smith labels the figure “Shulem” which could be the Hebrew “Shalom,” which means harmony, complete, or whole. This describes the entire point of this figure Hor going through the rite, to become complete, whole, and in harmony with truth. He was going through this trial to be resurrected and whole, and in harmony with the commandments, Maat. Shulem is therefore his title, a very appropriate one, and the specific person Hor was the priest, or “waiter” of the king. To be “justified forever” was to be “whole.”
This figure is Anubis, who is a “guide between worlds… associated with the transitions between states… accompanies the deceased.” The figure 5 needs Anubis to help him through the transition between death, judgement, and resurrection. I find it funny that CES Letter insists Anubis cannot be shown with a human head in Facsimile 1, but makes no such protestation with the same thing in Facsimile 3. Here, he is shown with a round head, and CES Letter claims he is “not a slave, this is Anubis, guide of the dead, who is there to support the deceased.” Well, he is much more than just a buddy who helps out, Anubis represents the transition between states of being. The writings above his head say he “makes protection.”
But is it possible that a slave filled the role of Anubis in the Egyptian judgement ceremony? Well yeah, slaves played the role of Anubis as well as priests. In the Temple of Anubis we find a slave contract of “monthly rent for divine protection”:
“I am your servant from this day onwards, and I shall give you 2 1/2 kite [copper pieces] every month for my rent of service before Anubis the great god.”
H.S. Versnel claims this contract “makes a slave free by ‘consecrating’ him to a god or goddess.” Researchers have found “slaves were freed by religious dedication to” gods including “Isis and Anubis.” So we know temple workers who assumed the character of Anubis were indeed often slaves, who got paid. It could have been either a priest or assistant slave performing that role in the ceremony.
Olim in Hebrew means “ascending, going up,” making Joseph Smith’s label for this figure Olim-lah appropriate in describing Anubis’ role in this judgement scene, from the Pyramid Texts:
“…you come forth at the voice of Anubis, he makes a spirit of you like Thoth, you judge the gods, you set bounds to the celestial expanses between the Two Wands in this your spiritualized state which Anubis commanded… I ascend to the sky, my wing-feathers are those of a great bird. My entrails have been washed by Anubis.” (Richey Waugh)
By guiding the path of ascension, Anubis helps the deceased character, Osiris, or Abraham–depending on the context–become judge among the gods and navigate to the celestial world.
One last thing…
Facsimile 3 In The Book Of Mormon
I want to thank CES Letter for pointing out the translation of the bottom line of hieroglyphics. Joseph Smith included them in the facsimile, so they must have been important, but he does not say anything about them. Here is the translation, according to CES Letter:
“O gods of the necropolis, gods of the caverns, gods of the south, north, west, and east, grant salvation to the Osiris Hor, the justified, born by Talkhibit.”
The gods of the caverns guard the gate to reach exaltation, the “Great Mansion of the Duat.” Again, Abraham reasoned upon astronomy for the same reason as the Egyptians, to discover the path of righteousness to heaven.
But notice the next part: “gods of the south, north, west, and east.” The Sons of Horus show up, just like they take prominent position in Facsimiles 1 and 2.
The central figure 1 of Facsimile 2 is always shown with four heads (and very well could have had four heads on the original papyrus) instead of the two we see there, to represent the four quarters of the earth that will be affected by its power. In Facsimile 1, they are the four quarters, lands, and peoples who support and help in the sed festival revivification of the king. In Facsimile 2, they appear to be represent the delivering of the power, authority, and governance of god to the four quarters, lands, and peoples–symbolized by the four heads of the River Eden that the Book of Abraham talks about. It also is symbolized in the “four directions” in God’s covenant to “walk the land” that he and his posterity would inherit. We know also, “Abraham’s tent was open in four directions to allow strangers to enter freely into his home.” This is why it is so important that the four quarters of the earth play such a prominent role in these Facsimiles, suggesting their universal significance to the entire world:
“Abraham is at a crossroads… people come from the four points of the compass. Similarly in T. Job 8:6-7, they come from all regions, ‘and the four doors of my house were open’… presents Abraham as suprassing Job: the patriarch went looking for wayfarers.” (Dale Allison)
Not only did Abraham make himself the center of the four quarters of the earth, he went out and actively sought for people in need.
Now take a look at what the Book of Mormon has to say about God and Abraham:
“I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath… For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south… I will judge the world every man according to their works, according to that which is written… I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.” (2 Nephi 29)
The order of cardinal directions are flipped exactly backwards from what we read in the Facsimile. The Facsimile is a judgement scene, and also notice that the chapter is about the covenant of Abraham. The order of cardinal directions seem random, but actually they are the same (flipped backwards):
Facsimile 3: south, north, west, east
Book of Mormon: east, west, north, south
How could Joseph Smith possibly have known to put the same order of directions when writing the Book of Mormon? Again, I want to thank CES Letter for pointing this bottom text of Facsimile 3 out so that I could uncover this parallel.
CES Letter Logical Fallacies
||CES Letter identifies figure 2 by the writing above the character Isis’s hand “Isis the great, the god’s mother.” But Joseph Smith was concerned with “the characters above his head” not the hand.
CES Letter calls this vignette a “breathing permit.” The overall Book of Breathings was a breathing permit, yes, but this particular vignette is about judgement, not breathing. Why does CES Letter avoid talking about judgement?
|Argument From Ignorance
CES Letter omits explanations of the Egyptian gods and their meanings, such as Ma’at representing truth and the Horus sun-disk on Isis’ head. They simply put the name and “Male-prince” across from “Female-Maat,” as if that were an apples to apples comparison. It isn’t. Essentially, CES Letter is telling us that because these figures are Egyptian they couldn’t possibly mean anything religious, which is of course ridiculously ignorant.
CES Letter completely omits the entire purpose of this vignette in the Egyptian context: a judgement scene. Probably because Joseph Smith interpreted it as “justice and judgment.” CES Letter also takes the writing at the bottom out of context. It clearly has to do with a royal court and astronomy: “O gods… grant salvation to the Osiris Hor, the justified.” The Book of the Dead further says further:
“Adoration of Ra when he riseth in horizon eastern of heaven, Behold Osiris… … embrace thee Maat… Hail gods all of the soul Temple, weighers of heaven and earth in the balance… adore ye him in his Presence beautiful in his rising in the atet boat… The House of the Prince is in festival.”
House of the Prince? Remember, House of the Prince is the temple in Heliopolis and the “prince” is the royal vizier who officiates as the Maat role. Anyway, so Joseph Smith was right. This entire section dealing with this vignette in the Book of the Dead is all about astronomy in a theological context of judgement. But CES Letter omits Joseph Smith’s explanation of the entire vignette: “Abraham is reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the king’s court.”
CES Letter assumes incorrectly that the Anubis figure couldn’t possibly be a slave. They incorrectly assume that he is “guide of the dead.” Yes, he is a guide elsewhere, but in this vignette he is protection during a transition of states. The human helper who played his role during the rites was often indeed a slave.
In Facsimile 1, CES Letter said Anubis is “consistent in every funerary scene” as embalmer. But well, he sure isn’t embalming in this scene! Nor do they claim him to be embalming. They say (incorrectly) that he is a guide. Also, CES Letter doesn’t say anything this time about Anubis being portrayed with a human head rather than a jackal’s.
CES Letter lists “Joseph Smith’s interpretation” opposite “Modern Egyptological [is that a word?] Interpretation,” falsely suggesting they should be the same. Why would they be the same? Joseph Smith did not literally translate most symbols or words but gave their meaning in a different context. In fact, he made it perfectly clear that there was the Abraham context and then there was the Egyptian context. Different subject. Different meaning.
CES Letter puts the Egyptian text translation in red text to emphasize their false characterization that Joseph Smith’s interpretation was meant to be a literal text translation. We walk away thinking he tried to give a word-for-word text translation, but that is totally false.
CES Letter says Joseph Smith “misidentified–twice–a female as a male.” Well, both female figures obviously look female, with long hair, long dresses, and feminine clothes. Why would Joseph Smith make such an obvious blunder? Well actually, kings and initiates were identified with female gods, including Maat, all the time. They even included the name Maat in their name. CES Letter pretends like for some reason this wasn’t allowed.
Actually, I find CES Letter‘s polar gender-conformity here to be very problematic. How do we know these female-looking figures were actually female? It’s, like, the 21st century, man. Why is this still a thing?!
“Egyptologists and Modern Egyptology.” Redundant.
CES Letter repeats their claims on p. 28. This time they list out every single figure and claims Joseph Smith “misidentifies,” five in total. This perpetuates the incorrect assumption that Joseph Smith was interpreting the Egyptian context, and ignores the stunning parallels. It wasn’t about translating the names of the Egyptian gods! Then CES Letter repeats the male/female discrepancy they pointed out before in the chart, which is false.
|Appeal To Novelty
“Modern Egyptological.” Actually, these interpretations have been around for a very long time. And I don’t think Egyptological is a word.
In previous arguments, CES Letter set up a phony frame that “modern” discoveries invalidate Joseph Smith’s claims. Anachronisms, bible errors, etc. But CES Letter has not substantiated a single one of these arguments.
By providing only the names of the Egyptian gods and not what they represent, CES Letter covers up the stunning correlation between what Joseph Smith interpreted and what Egyptologists give as the Egyptian meanings. CES Letter makes it sound like the gods are just walking around and sitting on chairs, but really their context closely matches what Joseph Smith said.
It’s like a magician making a rabbit disappear. First, they show the empty box, and then they take a rabbit and put it in a new context, the magic disappearing box. CES Letter introduces Joseph Smith’s interpretations in the strict context of Egyptian theology. But they cherry-pick Joseph Smith’s interpretations so that they never match, and they omit any meaning behind the Egyptian context. Then they sneak the rabbit out of the back of the box in a secret door. They point out what Joseph Smith “misidentified” in the facsimiles and call the whole thing gibberish. Before we know it, we went from a story about Abraham sojourning in Egypt and participating in some rituals, to merely the names of Egyptian gods in funerary documents, as they appear in the Book of Breathings. Presto! The box is empty!
|Big Lie Tactic – Most anti-Mormons agree that the Book of Abraham is the “smoking gun” that disproves Mormonism. But that is just because they assume that the recovered papyri fragments are the source for the Book of Abraham. It is a big lie that compounds as we delve into further investigation and leads to other lies. This is why CES Letter frames the discussion where the small fragment is definitely what Joseph Smith claimed to use–not a different scroll or different part of that scroll.
Every argument about the Book of Abraham hinges on the lie that Joseph Smith’s translation was based on the recovered fragment of papyrus.
This lie is easier for the CES Letter reader to believe after all those earlier arguments that attached the same narrative about the Book of Mormon. If Joseph Smith used the same “peep stone” that he used to look for buried treasure to translate the Book of Mormon, doesn’t that make it easier to believe Joseph used a “common funerary document,” as anti-Mormons incorrectly call the fragment, to create the Book of Mormon? CES Letter says in both cases science disproves the claim of prophesy:
“This is a testable claim. Joseph failed the test with the Book of Abraham. He failed the test with the Kinderhook Plates. With this modus operandi and track record, I’m now supposed to believe that Joseph has the credibility of translating the keystone Book of Mormon? With a rock in a hat?”
This big lie is very dishonest because CES Letter is approaching from the point of view that Joseph Smith made the whole thing up. So then, how could they logically restrict which document Joseph Smith pretended to translate from? They further frame the discussion that this particular fragment must completely resemble the English translation or it is totally invalid. No in-between; the “pagan” Egyptian book either contains the exact text or it is totally unrelated. This frame allows CES Letter in further arguments to make the ridiculous claim that a hieroglyph of Osiris couldn’t possibly be interpreted to stand for Abraham.
CES Letter emphasizes their false characterization that Joseph Smith’s interpretation was meant to be a literal text translation when they point out “Joseph offered no translation of Lower Vignette.” First of all, the bottom row of writing is not a “vignette.” Secondly, he never tried to translate any of the text! It wasn’t about translating text! But I’m grateful CES Letter pointed out the translation of this bottom row, because now we can see how it parallels with the Book of Mormon. CES Letter just kicked the ball into their own goal.
Creating Superstition – CES Letter reinforces their narrative that Mormons need science to validate every single detail of their faith. Suddenly, they can go back in time and tell us exactly what the artist of this Facsimile was thinking. They frame the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham as a “model” that has no evidence for it–an easy trick for them to play when it comes to ancient history as they discount every piece of evidence as coincidence, forged, or unfounded.
This kind of narrative led the crusaders to seek out physical objects from the holy land to validate the bible, pieces of the cross or the cup of Jesus Christ. It always leads to superstition, because no amount of science can prove without reasonable doubt that a historical object is what it purports to be. The Shroud of Turin? I mean, there is a mountain of evidence that correlates the Book of Abraham. Since the day of Joseph Smith, ancient book after ancient book has been discovered and translated into English that says the same thing as the Book of Abraham. No amount of scientific testing would convince the anti-Mormons. Even if the legitimacy of the claim were proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, they would pass it off as coincidence.
After all, that’s what they do with the copy of the Facsimile 1 diagram which was discovered by archaeologists with the name “Abraham” under it. Anti-Mormons reply, “well that doesn’t really say ‘Abraham.’ Just a name very similar to Abraham.” Yeah, uh huh.
Actually, I think it would be detrimental to Mormonism if undeniable evidence were found, because it would shift our narrative away from matters of faith toward unspiritual confirmation of a historical event from physical evidence. And that’s what CES Letter is trying to do. The shift away from faith serves Satan’s intentions because a person who relies on superstition is not practicing personal agency, but being total reliant on others for his beliefs and actions.
CES Letter can get away with this Big Lie claim because it is the consensus among so many people that Abraham did not write this book, and because it takes so long to explain the evidence. It is like claiming that the Library of Alexandria never really existed because we have no physical evidence today, apart from some alleged ancient tales. An archaeologist can give plenty of convincing evidence, but it would take hours.
Joseph Smith explained:
“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft.
…Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, is truth. … The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.”
Contradiction Strategy – In the previous arguments, CES Letter cherry-picked evidence to contradict the Book of Mormon. In this argument they cherry-pick parts of the Egyptian meaning in Facsimile 3 and ignore meanings that are parallel or perfectly match Joseph Smith’s interpretations.
This is how CES Letter works. They frame any discussion in a very narrow context where Joseph Smith must give a completely literal translation and do not allow for a non-Egyptian context. So, they set an impossible standard where Joseph Smith needs to know everything about the Egyptian context and explain it perfectly, even though it is irrelevant to the point he was getting across. By treating Joseph Smith like some kind of wizard who either knows everything about everything or is a fraud, CES Letter sets up an unrealistic standard. Anyone who expects absolute perfection and a perfect magic trick is going to lose their testimony of the gospel.
It is stunning that Joseph Smith hit a bullseye with every single figure in this Facsimile. He couldn’t have known Egyptian, yet he provided a meaning that closely aligns with what we now know is the Egyptian meaning, and proves that one derived from the other. He did this all before the Egyptian language was deciphered with the Rosetta Stone, and very little was known about Egyptians. Modern Mormons take for granted just how much we know about Egyptians and how easy it is for us to see meanings. Nobody knew that in the 19th century, none of it. It is stunning that Joseph Smith told the story of Abraham that is not found in the bible but which appears in ancient texts that have recently been discovered.
CES Letter really poisons the well by using a rigid and unfair frame of what “translating” means to invalidate the facsimiles. Actually, exploration of the Egyptian context brings new and important understanding to the Abraham story. Clearly, one context derived from the other.
They also pass off Facsimile 3 as a mere “breathing permit” which is false. This vignette is part of the Book of Breathings, yes, but it is actually an Egyptian scene about judgement in the afterlife, and Joseph Smith correctly identified it as ” justice and judgment.” Their shockingly manipulative portrayal of Facsimile 3 completely misrepresents what Joseph Smith said and what the Egyptian meaning actually is according to Egyptologists. The truth is, Joseph Smith was right about each detail of the Facsimile.
CES Letter gives a few bits of incorrect leading evidence; the reader connects to dots in their mind; and CES Letter pushes it to a sweeping generalization. If there were any evidence for the Book of Abraham, why is this Egyptian papyrus talking about Egyptian stuff instead of Abraham? Um, maybe because it’s Egyptian?! People are much more likely to believe CES Letter‘s incredibly insensible string of logic because hey connected the dots out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods.
CES Letter uses fake science–or in this case a ridiculous assumption–to point out an inconsistency regarding LDS belief, and then presents science as the superior alternative source for truth. CES Letter uses the Marxist contradiction strategy by narrowing a physical issue down to a binary context: either this recovered papyri fragment talks about Abraham or the Book of Abraham was made up. No other choices. They then appeal to “science” and deconstruct the outdated Mormon belief.
Anti-Mormons typically present evidence for their binary context as self-evident and irrefutable, with no need for further explanation, and then they rapidly move on to other attacks that bolster the constrained definition. The purpose is not really to discuss Book of Abraham evidences, which would actually be an interesting discussion, but to shift the narrative from faith to binary science, and quickly move on to more effective attacks to strengthen this narrative.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with exploring and critically investigating physical evidence, such as the recovered papyri from Joseph Smith’s Egyptian collection that have survived. It is an exciting opportunity. The danger is when minds use faulty logic and leap to wild, simplistic conclusions.There is a smart and vibrant group of LDS scholars investigating the evidence and making great discoveries, which will increase what we learn from the Book of Abraham. They are careful not to become superstitious and search for holy grails to confirm their faith. They do not replace faith with a dependence on only what we can see.
CES Letter‘s attack on the Book of Abraham invalidates all ancient writing, which is quite convenient for Satan’s followers. Archaeology and historical science is only as useful as it can invalidate faith for them and momentarily be twisted to support Marxist ideas, such as the idea that mankind evolved from monkeys without a spark of divinity in them. They hold religions to the highest standards of skepticism, yet place blind faith in Marxism.
The Satanic substitute for religious scripture is the national-standard science textbook that jumps to wild politically correct conclusions and requires revising every year. It is the Bill Nye Science show that one day teaches kids that chromosomes determine your sex identity, rather than eternal spirit nature, and then the next day erases that segment from Netflix and teaches kids that sex identity is totally fluid. Or in the case of anti-Mormons, one day they attack us for teaching young women to embrace their femininity, for not teaching that gender is “fluid,” and the next day they say female-looking characters couldn’t possibly be a “prince” or “pharaoh”–very close-minded if you ask me. But you see, for followers of Satan, truth is only the narrative, and the narrative changes however it needs to in order to support the ideology in new circumstances.
By invalidating the Book of Breathing as just some common Pagan funerary text, and totally ignoring its sacred and profound spiritual context, CES Letter further pours gasoline on any kind of faith in ancient scripture. Actually, the fact is the Book of Breathing is one of the most important books ever made. It was one of the first Egyptian writings, one of the first translated into English, and was immediately an object of wide fascination. LDS can glean powerful wisdom by pondering why it was deposited alongside the Book of Abraham scroll.