Different Contexts – I don’t know why anyone would be shocked that the Facsimiles are Egyptian. They certainly look Egyptian to me! They were found with an Egyptian mummy. Why wouldn’t they be Egyptian?
Joseph Smith and church leaders said they were Egyptian: “The characters are such as you find upon the coffins of mummies–hieroglyphs,etc.” CES Letter holds the Facsimiles to a strict Egyptian context, while Joseph Smith provided a different kind of context. Joseph even explained that the Egyptian meaning was different than the Abrahamic meaning. He said one figure was “also a numerical figure, in Egyptian.” Another figure was “said by the Egyptians to be the Sun.” Joseph Smith focused on how it related to Abraham instead of a text translation or Egyptian meaning.
|When you see a five-pointed star on the American flag do you assume it symbolizes the Duat afterlife like it did for Egyptians? Or do you assume it symbolizes the fifty states of the United States?
When you see a cross at a cemetery do you assume it is a symbol of Christian worship or do you see it as a symbol of someone’s burial? Likewise, the Facsimiles were obviously Egyptian but included symbolism in a different Abrahamic context.
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 of the facsimiles to be similar to Joseph Smith’s interpretation for Abraham. After all, why assume “Pagan” Egypt to be totally incongruent with the gospel? CES Letter says the Facsimile comes from a “common” funerary document. Well, couldn’t it 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.
Researchers have found the lion couch scene references a ritual that goes back to early Egyptian times where the king ritually “died” on the New Years sed festival and was “resurrected” to reclaim his kingship. The king played out the character of Osiris in this 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, and was assured of a like resurrection and similar privileges.” Researchers have also found that animals and even humans were sacrificed as substitutes for the king’s ritual “death.” If Abraham as a child was one of these substitute sacrifices for the sed festival, then that would explain how Joseph Smith would find an Abrahamic context for this Facsimile.
Resurrection Not Burial Scene – If this is supposed to be a funeral scene, why is the deceased character on the bed kicking up his legs and lifting his arms? We don’t see this in any of the other funeral bed scenes presented by CES Letter. Why is it drawn this way here? Egyptologists agree this is a scene about resurrection, which relates nicely to Abraham as he was delivered from death in this Joseph Smith’s interpretation.
His kicking legs were a symbol for departing to “foreign lands” to Egyptians. His arms are raised in the a symbol of prayer, with “arms raised in front of face.” This matches perfectly the Book of Abraham imagery of Abraham on the altar, where “as they lifted their hands upon me… I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God, and the Lord hearkened and heard.”
CES Letter provides examples of “similar funerary scenes,” but actually they are all sarcophagus scenes with deceased people in coffins. Facsimile 1 shows no coffin, no sarcophagus. He is alive and dynamic. That’s because it shows “the union of the sun god Amen-Re, as an ithyphallic bird, with Osiris,” not a funerary scene.
In fact, while this does show Osiris in the Egyptian context, Facsimile 1 is the only lion couch scene ever discovered with the deceased wearing ritual sacred garments and anklets, along with several other unique things.
Notice how the Anubis character to the left stands between the lying figure and the lion couch. This suggests the lying figure is being violently placed onto the lion couch. Or, Dr. Hugh Nibley suggests, the lion couch is actually a stone altar (which has been found in many places in Egypt) and the artist drew it like this because otherwise it would like like his body just disappears behind the couch.
Egyptian vs. Abraham Meanings
The Egyptian falcon represents the ba spirit of the deceased.
But the falcon is also a symbol of Horus, a god similar to Jehovah in Egyptian theology (a star in the East heralded his birth, baptized in the River Jordan, walked on water, healed the sick, etc.). The falcon was also a messenger bird sent from Horus in Ptolemaic Memphis. In one story, the falcon-god Nectanebo “thoughtfully sends a falcon as a dream messenger.”
Egyptian texts peak of the Horus falcon as an angelic messenger: “The messenger speaks: I grew and waxed mightily… and appeared as a divine Falcon.” In the Book of the Dead, which is where Facsimile 1 and the Book of Breathings derives: “The messenger quotes the command of Horus: Horus as command of Horus: Horus has commanded: Lift up your faces and look at him; he has made his appearance as a divine falcon.”
Doesn’t this perfectly describe Joseph Smith’s Abrahamic context, an angel of Jehovah?
If this figure is supposed to be the deceased mummy that the Book of the Dead scroll was made for, why isn’t he dressed like a mummy in this scene? Why are his arms and legs moving up? Doesn’t look very deceased to me.
Actually, this same character (without the ritual garments) is found in a scene from the Opet temple at Karnak: “Osiris as a young man lying upon a lion couch.” This was a scene of Osiris, to be a metaphor for the deceased resurrecting. Osiris’ “union” with the messenger Horus bird was “a central mythos in the concept of the divine kingship,” and it is “a key to understanding the pyramids as sites ‘that allowed the king to unite with the ba of the sun god.'” In the Book of the Dead, which is all about exaltation, the “accompanying text” to this scene “mentions not only Osiris, but also his protection.” So, Osiris takes the place of Hor in this Facsimile, his uniting with the Lord and giving protection.
Well, if Osiris gets to analogously fill the role of Hor, why can’t Abraham as well? In each Facsimile, Abraham is the same as Osiris and fulfills the same role. In the Book of Abraham, the messenger tells him: “Behold, I will lead thee by my hand, and I will take thee, to put upon thee my name, even the Priesthood of thy father, and my power shall be over thee.” The messenger gave Abraham divine authority and united him with the Lord. This also perfectly describes the Egyptian context of this figure.
In each of the funerary scenes provided by CES Letter, this figure is a human priest acting in the role of the god Anubis, wearing his mask, preparing the deceased body for burial. But this is a scene of exaltation, not a funeral. That’s why this figure doesn’t show up in the Osiris scene at the Opet temple at Karnak. So who is he in this context?
Which eye faces us in this scene? Horus’ right eye, the symbol of sacrifice. In other couch scenes, this spot is taken by Hathor, the goddess of life and death. Indeed, this figure is a symbol of sacrifice.
This priest stands appropriately opposite the falcon Horus messenger in figure 1, facing each other. Like the right eye and left eye oppose each other, the priest of Canaan, the bringer of death, opposes the deliverance bird of resurrection. The true God of Canaan in opposition to the idolatrous god of Canaan.
We now know human sacrifice was practiced in ancient Egypt. It was also practiced in ancient America.
The Egyptian funeral couch, shown in figure 4, is the couch of Hathor. She was the god who knew the birth and death of every person, so it was appropriate to use her couch in this scene of sacrifice and resurrection.
The Hathor couch was used to carry the body of King Tutankhamen to his burial chamber. Now, that couch had three heads: Hathor (representing exaltation), hippopotamus (final judgement), and lion (access to heaven.) But in Facsimile 1 we only see the head of a lion, access to heaven, which references a passage from the Book of the Dead:
“May I be granted power over the waters… I am the Lion of Re, I am the Slayer.”
We see the lion couch literally standing over waters (the rope-like lines with a crocodile in them), and we see Abraham indeed being granted the power of deliverance, like the Egyptian lion who delivered the sun through the waters of the night sky.
The connection between the lion couch and sacrifice is even more pronounced in Mayan altars. The jaguar throne at Chichen Itza, found in the burial chamber of the king, shows a jaguar chair (the Mayan version of a lion) with the exact same design as the Hathor couch. It is blood-colored, exactly like the Egyptian lion couch of Sekhmet the lioness, who was frequently painted red.
Altar 4 at La Venta also shows a jaguar forming the body of the altar, with the eyes, mouth, and face forming at the cornice, exactly like in Facsimile 1. It is even patterned with the same diagonal lines as Facsimile! But note the idol statue sitting under the altar, with a rope-like pattern underneath him. A very close copy of Facsimile 1.
These four jars (figures 5-9) don’t show up in the Osiris scene at the Opet temple at Karnak. In various couch scenes, a multitude of things show up under the couch: crowns, plain jars, animal jars, serpents, people, hieroglyphs. Their location under the couch suggests that they support the weight of the couch, or help with what is going on. This aligns with Joseph Smith’s claim that these gods were involved in the ritual. They represented the glory of the king spreading across the four quarters of the earth.
Figure 5 shows Nekheny, the falcon of Horus.
Joseph Smith identifies this representation with the idolatrous god Elkanah. A late Hittite tablet told of “El-Creator-of-the-Earth (El-qone-ersi, writeen El-ku-ni-ir-sa, pronounced Elkoners.) So this name for diety definitely existed.
What does the name Elkanah mean? El means “God,” either the God of Israel or some other god. Khanah is short for Khani-rabbat or Kheni-rabbat, and land in Assyria which “formed part of the kingdom of Mitanni or Aram-Naharaim.” The kingdom of Mitanni existed between 1500 and 1300 BC, the time of Abraham, and they were “in peace” with Egypt, according to letter B. 22,17.
The name “Canaan” comes from a very similar Egyptian name for that land, Kinahhi. So it makes perfect sense for Egyptians to call the priest of Canaan or Mitanni north of Canaan: “El-Kanah.”
What about the Egyptian name for this god, Nekheny? Again, Khana and Kheni are short for the same name. “El-kanah” is the same as the god “Ne-kheny.”
Figure 6 shows Duamutef, born from the white lily flower out of the primeval ocean. Duamutef wears a white crown. He was Lord of the East, which is called in the Book of the Dead the divine land full of bright light, where “thou risest on the horizon and sheddest thy beams of light upon the lands.”
Joseph Smith names this god Libah, which translates as “white.” A direct bullseye for Joseph Smith!
Joseph Smith identified this idol as Mahmackrah. Mh means “north”, and the Book of the Dead associated the Egyptian god shown here, Hapi, with the north. Mah or Mhr means “champion,” which makes sense because Hapi was the champion of the North who fought on behalf of the deceased.
Next part of the name: Mackrah. In Eastern language, Maha means “great, illustrious.” In modern Arabic maha translates as “a kind of baboon.” It also gets a glutteral sound on the “h” that sounds similar to “mackah.” This is interesting because figure 7 is Hapi, the divine baboon. In the Book of the Dead, Hapi the baboon fights as champion for the deceased/ Osiris: “I have smitten down for thee thine enemies beneath thee. I have given to thee the head forever, twice, O Osiris Ani.”
The vignette of the deceased/ Osiris adoring Hapi includes the chant: “Stand up, gods,” and is spoken “by the god Ra.” Hence, the name gets put together: “Mah-Maha-Ra” or Mahmackrah. This kind of name conjugation is not unusual for Egypt, and in fact, there are similar conjugations for burning and lion, which figure in to this Facsimile.
Joseph Smith identified this idol as Korash. The Mesopatamian name Kuras translated as “to bestow care” during Abraham’s time. It was derived from the Iranian name meaning “the young one, child.”
This is interesting because figure 8 is Imset, a name which means “the kindly one.” Imset was associated with “human emotion” and portrayed as a young human. Another direct bullseye for Joseph Smith!
Joseph Smith identified this as “god of Pharaoh.” Indeed, the king of Egypt was sometimes associated with the crocodile. King Unas of Egypt is referred to as the crocodile god. Utterance 317: “Unas has come today from the overflowing flood, Unas is Sobk [crocodile god], green-plumed, wakeful, alert… Unas has come to his streams.”
The libation table, a symbol for sacrifice, does not show up in any other lion couch scenes in all of Egypt, so Egyptologists can’t know exactly what it means in this context. The libation table, with its ritual offering jars and holy flowers, were a common symbol for sacrificial offering in Egypt to the gods.
The Book of The Dead lists a series of sacrifices to gods: “an offering of a libation of one vase upon earth by Osiris…. the soul that hearkeneth unto the words of the gods… a libation of one vase upon earth by Osiris…. may his limbs live and may his limbs be sound forever.”
Isn’t it interesting that Joseph Smith claimed that the only couch scene in history to include a symbol for sacrificial offering is, in an Abrahamic context, referring to human attempted sacrifice?
But Joseph said this figure itself means “Abraham in Egypt.” Why would this facsimile of an event that occurred in Chaldea, according to the Book of Abraham, include a figure that means Abraham in Egypt? Why would Joseph Smith make this kind of obvious contradiction? This further suggests that the entire Facsimile was never intended to be an illustration of this scene in the story, like we would expect in a modern book. Abraham said himself: “That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is… hieroglyphics.” These images are hieroglyphics words, not images. The purpose was to give some kind of explanation of who the false idols were involved in this story, so a few hieroglyphics arranged in a diagram tells the story. The sacrifice was performed “after the manner of the Egyptians.” It was performed by a “priest of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.” It was Abraham involved with Egypt, like how he was involved with Egypt in Facsimile 3 where we also see this figure.
CES Letter misplaces where figure 11 is. No, it isn’t the diagonal lines but the vertical lines below them. That’s where I see the number 11, anyway. Why does CES Letter claim figure 11 is somewhere else? Perhaps because figure 11 is the strongest evidence of correlation between the Egyptian meaning and what Joseph Smith says in the Abrahamic translation. CES Letter appears to be covering up this correlation by lying.
CES Letter calls Figure 11 a “palace facade.” Well, just from that we can see Joseph Smith correctly called this figure “pillars,” which would kinda be a shot in the dark if he were just guessing about everything. But was he correct to call them “pillars of heaven?” What Figure 11 actually shows is a Serekh: a “representation of the town or city where the king or Pharaoh lived as an incarnation of the sky god, Horus.”
First consider, why would Joseph Smith include “pillars of heaven” at the bottom of a scene of Abraham that happened on earth? The attempted sacrifice of Abraham didn’t happen in heaven, did it? Well, Joseph specified that this was “as understood by the Egyptians”–as in, this figure is entirely drawn in an Egyptian context and has nothing to do with the Abrahamic context. Again, Joseph made it clear that these Facsimiles were Egyptian and drawn for an Egyptian purpose, but that he was deriving an Abrahamic meaning that was related.
The Serekh was usually drawn in Egyptian scenes together with the Horus falcon, figure 1, to indicate spiritual implications of whatever is going on. The American Research Center in Egypt writes: “The serekh suggests that Egyptian kings served as a bridge between heaven and earth, concretely illustrated by the king’s name written between the divine falcon, designating the realm of the gods, and a palace facade, representing the earth.”
Gee, that sure sounds like heaven to me!
This was heaven in an Egyptian context–which is conveniently more similar to a Mormon understanding of heaven than a mainstream Christian understanding. The Serekh pillars (earth) held up the firmament of heaven (which Joseph Smith correctly attributes to figure 12), which indicates that Osiris in this scene is interacting with deity from heaven: “Whatever Deity surmounts the serekh, that Deity stands for the world of the Gods, the heaven that arches over all the world. The palace facade represents the earth.”
Another perfect bullseye for Joseph. Why would Joseph Smith, if he were guessing, place “pillars of heaven” under a scene of something happening on earth? They don’t really even look like pillars.
CES Letter calls this figure: “just the water that the crocodiles swims in.” Why would Egyptians take the time to draw some water with some crocodiles swimming if it didn’t mean anything? What, did the writer get bored and decide to draw a cute little crocodile? No, Egyptologists agree on the important symbolism behind the crocodile and the water, and like the rest of the figures, it closely aligns with what Joseph Smith gave as the Abrahamic context.
The crocodile is Sebek passing through the waters of Nun, which represents the sun passing through the expanse of the sky:
Yes, this figure is the “firmament over our heads” or as “the Egyptians meant it,” “the heavens” like Joseph Smith said. A perfect bullseye for Joseph Smith. Egyptologists agree figure 12 shows: “Above the firmament were the waters, the ‘ocean of heaven’… The Babylonian name for this ocean was anum or anun, and in a still shorter form nun.” But as Egyptians meant it: “If now we turn back again to Egypt we shall find that in the early pyramid texts there were three chief gods venerated: Nun, heaven’s ocean…” (Gerald Massey)
CES Letter Logical Fallacies
|Falsehoods||CES Letter misplaces where figure #11 is, the “pillars of heaven,” in order to cover up the obvious correctness of Joseph Smith’s interpretation for this figure.
CES Letter dismisses this as “a common funerary document.” Actually, the lion couch scene was used in lots of literature besides funerary documents. The full significance is actually impossible to tell, because many parts of this particular Facsimile are not to be found among any any other Egyptian literature–including the deceased figure dressed in ritual garments, the figure with raised hands, the crocodile and waters, and the sacrificial table being present.
CES Letter calls this a “funerary scene.” Not true. In the Egyptian context this is Osiris being resurrected, not an embalming, which is sometimes shown in a similar lion couch motif.
CES Letter incorrectly claims figure 3 is “not human,” but Anubis. Actually, this character was played by a human in Egyptian rituals who wore a mask of Anubis.
|Argument From Ignorance||
CES Letter omits the fact that Osiris in this scene is a role symbolic for the deceased figure 4.
CES Letter omits that the serekh in figure 11 is a symbol for heaven, effectively a lie.
CES Letter incorrectly assumes the waters in figure 12 are just water for crocodiles to swim in.
CES Letter omits the fact that Anubis in figure 3 is played by a human priest in Egyptian rituals.
CES Letter claims this figure “Anubis is consistent in every funerary scene,” but this isn’t a funerary scene!
CES Letter says figures 5 through 9 are just “canopic jars containing the deceased’s internal organs. Actually, no. The four Sons of Horus portrayed here with these jars represent the deceased’s victory over death affecting the four directions of the world. Other lion couch scenes show in this location feathers, hieroglyphs, people–whatever aids in the resurrection of the deceased.
The explanations by CES Letter for the figures are very brief, avoiding the actual symbolism of the figures, while Joseph Smith’s are long and detailed. So who looks more like the con here, CES Letter or Joseph Smith?
|Circular Argument||CES Letter points out “Anubis is consistant in every funerary scene,” and they show examples of Anubis with a sarcophagus. But Facsimile 2 isn’t a scene with a sarcophagus, but with a moving person. Also, Anubis isn’t consistent here at all, as he stands between the moving deceased figure and the lion couch, which does not happen in any other lion couch scene in Egyptian literature. Interestingly, CES Letter locates this illogical argument not at the discussion of how the scene should be filled in but at the part where they discuss what the scene means, which falsely suggests that these figures are the same as these sarcophagus examples.|
|Strawman Argument||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: ” in this case, in relation to this subject, the Egyptians meant…” Different case. Different subject. Different meaning.|
|Red Herring||CES Letter titles their diagram “Translated Correctly?” apparently in reference to the eighth article of faith: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” But this is a totally different case. Biblical translators were not prophets and did not use a Urim and Thummim.|
“Egyptologists and Modern Egyptology.” Redundant.
CES Letter repeats their claims on p. 28: “The names are wrong… scene is wrong… He names gods that are not part of the Egyptian belief system.” This perpetuates the incorrect assumption that Joseph Smith was interpreting the Egyptian context, and ignores the stunning parallels.
|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.
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 out 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.
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.
“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 1 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 give 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. 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.