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1 They had been brought to the attention of Aziz S. Atiya, professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Utah, while he was researching at the Egyptian section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in May 1966; he arranged for them to be donated to the LDS Church.2 These eleven pages of the Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri were numbered and named as follows:3 Joseph Smith Papyrus IFacsimile No. 1, Joseph Smith Papyrus IIPlowing Scene, Joseph Smith Papyrus IIIACourt of Osiris (on throne), Joseph Smith Papyrus IIIBCourt of Osiris (Thoth recording), Joseph Smith Papyrus IVFramed ("Trinity") Papyrus, Joseph Smith Papyrus VThe Serpent with Legs, Joseph Smith Papyrus VIThe Swallow, Joseph Smith Papyrus VIIMan with Staff (entering into glory), Joseph Smith Papyrus VIII Inverted Triangle, Joseph Smith Papyrus IXChurch Historian's Fragment,4 Joseph Smith Papyrus Xthe "Sensen" Papyrus, and Joseph Smith Papyrus XISmall "Sensen" Papyrus.

By far the most significant item was the original papyrus of what is generally known as Facsimile No. 1 (fig. 18), an "explanation" of which, along with a translation of the Egyptian text, Joseph Smith gave in the Book of Abraham, now part of the LDS scriptural book, the Pearl of Great Price. Hugh Nibley, professor of history and religion at Brigham Young University, placed the importance of this discovery into perspective:

This [announcement] was a far more momentous transaction than might appear on the surface, for it brought back into play for the first time since the angel Moroni took back the golden plates a tangible link between the worlds. What we have here is more than a few routine scribblings of ill-trained scribes of long ago; at least one of these very documents was presented to the world by Joseph Smith as offering a brief and privileged insight into the strange world of the Patriarchs.5

That "tangible link" is the original Egyptian papyrus of Facsimile No. 1. In order to appreciate what was announced in 1967 it is necessary to understand clearly what materials were originally in the possession of Joseph Smith. In the mid-1820s Antonio Lebolo, an Italian excavator and adventurer, discovered a number of mummies with associated papyri in catacombs near Thebes.6 These were later acquired by Michael H. Chandler, an antiquities dealer, who in 1835 brought the four remaining mummies to Kirtland, Ohio, and showed them to Joseph Smith and the Mormon leaders. Joseph Coe, Simeon Andrews, and some other individuals provided $2,400 to enable Joseph Smith to purchase the mummies and papyri from Chandler.7

W. W. Phelps, who served as scribe to Joseph Smith during this period, provided a contemporary account of this episode:

The last of June [1835] four Egyptian mummies were brought here: there were two papyrus rolls, besides some other ancient Egyptian writings with them. As no one could translate these writings, they were presented to President [Joseph Smith. He soon knew wheat they were and said they, the "rolls of paperus," contained the sacred record kept of Joseph in Pharaoh's Court in Egypt, and the teachings of Father Abraham.8

The History of the Church, this part of which was dictated by Joseph Smith in 1843, presented the following as his account concerning the Egyptian papyri in July 1835:

There were four human figures [mummies], together with some two or more rolls of papyrus covered with hieroglyphic figures and devices.

. . . with W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham. another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etca more full account of which will appear in its place, as I proceed to examine or unfold them. Truly we can say, the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of peace and truth.9

Joseph Smith here clearly stated that it was his translation of the hieroglyphic charactersnot just looking at the illustrationsthat led to the surprising discovery that one scroll was the writing of Abraham and the other scroll contained the writing of his great-grandson, Joseph, both of whom lived sometime in the period from 2000 to 1500 B.C.10 In January 1836 Joseph Smith showed his Hebrew teacher, Joshua Seixas, the Egyptian scroll of the Book of Abraham and he "pronounced them [Abraham's records] to be original beyond all doubt."11 Present day scholars agree that these documents are genuine Egyptian papyri.

When the four Egyptian mummies were being exhibited a few months earlier in Cleveland, a Mr. Farmer described the mummies and the associated documents in a contemporary newspaper, the Painesville Telegraph.

No. 1[a human figure] 4 feet 11 inches [long], female supposed age 60; arms extended, hands side by side in front; the head indicating motherly goodness. There was found with this person a roll or boole, having a little resemblance to birch bark; language unknown. Some linguists, however, say they can decipher 13-36, in what they term an epitaph; ink black and red; many female figures.

No. 2Height 5 ft. 1 1/2 inch; female; supposed age 40. Arms suspended by the side; hands brought in contact; head damaged by accident; found with a roll as No. 1, filled with hieroglyphics, rudely executed.

No. 34 ft. 4 1/2 [inches]; male, very old, say 80; arms crossing on the breast, each hand on its opposite shoulder: had a roll of writing as No. 1 and 2; superior head, it will compare in the ]region of the sentiments with any in our land; passions mild.

No. 4Height 4 ft. 9 [inches]; female. I am inclined to put her age at about 20 or 25, others call her an old woman; arms extended, hands by her side; auburn hair, short as girls at present in their new fashion. Found with her a braid of hair, three stran[d]s of the color of that on her head and 18 inches long.12

Commenting on this 1835 list, Klaus Baer, professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, suggested that the first mummy (whose scroll Joseph Smith identified as being the Book of Joseph) is "almost certainly Tshenmn" and proposed that the male mummy (whose scroll Smith identified as the Book of Abraham) is perhaps Hr.13 The Painesville Telegraph account, with its indication of three scrolls, helps to clarify the statement in the History of the Church that with the four mummies were "some two or more rolls of papyrus." Oliver Cowdery also mentions that when Chandler opened the coffins in New York he found not only the two scrolls already mentioned but also "two or three other small pieces of papyrus, with astronomical calculations, epitaphs, etc."14 The most likely resolution of the differing numbers is that there were two fairly complete scrolls, damaged parts of a third scroll with the third mummy, and perhaps fragments from other mummies.

After careful examination of the new papyri Baer concluded that they are from three separate documents: (1) the Breathing Permit of the priest Hr, the son of Osorwr and Tikhebyt; (2) the Book of the Dead of the lady Tshenmn, daughter of Skhons; and (3) the Book of the Dead of the female musician of Amon-Re Neferirnb.15 There is evidence of at least two other Egyptian documents. Facsimile No. 2, the original of which has not survived, belonged to Sheshonq. In the "Valuable Discovery" booklet, which has Joseph Smith's signature on the title page, there are transcribed characters from the Egyptian papyrus which belonged to Amenhotep, the son of Hr, but again the original is not available.16 Certainly the Egyptian papyri that Joseph Smith possessed from 1835 to 1844 were more numerous than the papyri fragments that have survived.

Joseph Smith's Ability to Translate Egyptian

Orthodox Mormons believe that Joseph Smith's acquisition of Egyptian mummies with scrolls containing the Book of Abraham and the Book of Joseph demonstrate conclusively the hand of God in their preservation. Non-Mormons, on the other hand, skeptically question the likelihood of the story. For example, a Gentile observer in 1837 expressed his opinion:

Is it possible that a record written by Abraham, and another by Joseph, containing the most important revelation that God ever gave to man, should be entirely lost by the tenacious Israelites, and preserved by the unbelieving Egyptians, and by them embalmed and deposited in the catacombs with an Egyptian priest. . . I venture to say no, it is not possible. It is more likely that the records are those of the Egyptians.17

It is, however, not the theoretical probability or improbability of the account about the mummies and papyri that is important, but rather whether the translation of the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri by Egyptologists provides dramatic confirmation of Joseph Smith's translations and explanations, or whether the translation of Egyptologists reveals texts with no connection to either Abraham or Joseph. To Ferguson this was the key issue. One needs to examine the actual Egyptian papyri (both text and illustration), not just printed woodcuts of the three facsimiles published in 1842, before being warranted to draw conclusions about the accuracy of Joseph Smith's translation. Consequently, the discovery of any of the original Egyptian papyri once in Smith's possession would be immensely significant to the LDS people and provide a chance to vindicate his claim.

This unexpected discovery allowed an independent test of the accuracy of Joseph Smith's interpretation of the papyri. Ferguson, the seeker after truth, considered this to be the acid test of Smith's ability to translate ancient documents, and he seized the opportunity to verify the prophet's translation of the Book of Abraham. The announcement issued in November 1967 and the developments which ensued not only required a radical change in Ferguson's thinking, but also affected how Mormons viewed the Book of Abraham. Its impact on the study of Mormon scriptures continues to the present. Richard D. Poll, emeritus professor of history at Western Illinois University, explained the effect of this discovery:

I turn now to a case of more traumatic dissonancea case in which the discovery of documents has had substantial impact upon an important faith-related historical myth. . . . It is "The Case of the Book of Abraham." The rediscovery of some of the Egyptian papyri associated with the Pearl of Great Price certainly. challenged the LDS traditionthe historical myththat the Book of Abraham is a literal translation of an ancient document.18

Ferguson did not wait for further information to filter down through official church channels. As soon as the announcement came out he wrote letters to various LDS leaders in Salt Lake City. Ferguson asked Milton R. Hunter, a member of the LDS Church's First Council of the Seventy, to tell him anything he could and inquired whether the Church would release information about the papyri. He also specifically asked Hunter whether any non-Mormon scholar had translated the papyri, and if so, whether such a translation resembled the Book of Abraham.19 Hunter answered that Hugh Nibley had told him that "the scholars wouldn't touch them [the papyri] with a ten-foot pole."20 As to whether the Church would release information about the papyri, Hunter responded that President N. Eldon Tanner said that they would when the documents were translated.

Ferguson immediately set out to put these new discoveries to the test. Since Aziz S. Atiya was mentioned in the newspaper announcements, Ferguson decided to write directly to him about the discovery:

I am a Mormon and recognize immediately that your discovery has a strong bearing upon the validity of the foundations of the Mormon Church. Since today Egyptologists can read and translate the documents on which the Book of Abraham is based, we can readily determine whether, as of July 3, 1835 (the date when Joseph Smith claimed the manuscripts included writings of Abraham and Joseph) Joseph Smith was fabricating, lying, and conjuring up "scripture" for the Church. If the manuscript material which you found is nothing more nor less than a bit of one of the Book of the Dead, such would be the required deduction as to Joseph Smith as of 1835. . . The Book of Abraham has been suspect to me for some time. On the other hand, 99.99% of the Book of Mormon has held up wonderfully wellin my opinion. This now presents a strange quandary to me. And it is interesting that the foundation for the policy of the church toward the Negro [i.e., barring black males from priesthood ordination] is predicated upon the validity of the Book of Abraham and it appears to be in direct conflict with the Book of Mormon.21

This letter provides insight into Ferguson's thinking about the Book of Abraham and reveals that in early December 1967 Ferguson already had some doubt about its authenticity, due mainly to the denial of priesthood authority to blacks, who were believed to have inherited the curse of Ham (Abr. 1:25-27). Ferguson was still 99.99 percent in favor of the historicity of the Book of Mormon, and even considered seriously the possibility that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God in 1829 when he translated the Book of Mormon, but had become a fallen prophet by 1835.

Scholars Translate the Egyptian Papyri

Because no Egyptologist had yet studied the papyri, Ferguson made his own arrangements to have them examined and translated by Egyptologists who were available to him in the San Francisco Bay area. The day after Christmas in 1967, Ferguson tried to contact Leonard H. Lesko, an instructor in Egyptology at the University of California at Berkeley. Not reaching him, he left a note, saying that he wanted him to translate some Egyptian hieroglyphs.22 The next day Ferguson tried again and this time met Henry L. F. Lutz, emeritus professor of Egyptology at the University of California at Berkeley. Ferguson asked him to examine some Egyptian hieroglyphs he had clipped from the "Church Section" of the Deseret News for 2 December 1967.23 They spent one and a half hours together, and Fergusonbeing careful not to influence his opinion in any waydid not indicate where the hieroglyphs "came from or that they had any significance to the LDS people. He [Lutz] gave me a perfectly candid and honest opinion, that all are from the Book of the Dead."24 This identification of the papyri caused Ferguson to become "very upset specificallynot at the Church, of course, but at Joseph Smith especially."25

Not content with just one Egyptologist's opinion, Ferguson again approached Lesko to translate the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Newspaper reproductions were unsatisfactory, so Ferguson contacted Hugh B. Brown, first counselor in the LDS First Presidency, and received from him enlarged photographs of the papyri.26 Ferguson sent these photos to Lesko with a request that he translate them.27 After having the material for a month, Lesko gave his opinion that "all of these are spells [magical incantations] from the Egyptian Book of the Dead."28

In November 1968 Ferguson ordered a copy of the controversial publication The Joseph Smith Papyri from Modern Microfilm Company of Salt Lake City, complimenting the "gentlemen" there for "doing a great thinggetting out some truth on the Book of Abraham."29 At this point Ferguson was not aware that this company was run by a husband and wife team of former Mormons, Jerald and Sandra Tanneronly distantly related to N. Eldon Tanner. Other than the two Egyptologists whom Ferguson contacted directly, he studied the published translations of two others who worked on the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri: Klaus Baer, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago,30 and Dee Jay Nelson of Billings, Montana, a member of the LDS Church and a self-taught translator of Egyptian.31 This procedure provided Ferguson with four independent assessments of the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri, particularly Facsimile No. 1 with Abraham shown on a lion couch. In the 1970s Ferguson distributed photocopies of Baer's article to people with whom he discussed the Book of Abraham. Summarizing the disparity between Joseph Smith and the Egyptologists, Ferguson discussed the problem from the standpoint of a lawyer examining the credibility of evidence and witnesses:

Joseph Smith announced, in print (History of the Church, Vol. II, page 236) that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt. . . " Since four scholars, who have established that they can read Egyptian, say that the manuscripts deal with neither Abraham nor Josephand since the four reputable men tell us exactly what the manuscripts do sayI must conclude that Joseph Smith had not the remotest skill in things Egyptian-hierglyphics.32

The contact that amateur Dee Jay Nelson had with the papyri cost him his membership in the LDS Church. In January 1968 at BYU Hugh Nibley showed Nelson new color photographs of the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri and they compared them with the original papyri.33 Then Nibley wrote a note of introduction, which Nelson was to take to N. Eldon Tanner.34 That same day Nelson traveled to Salt Lake City and talked to Tanner, who had some 8 by 10 photographs made for Nelson to use to make his translation. Even though he was not a professional Egyptologist, the amateur Dee Jay Nelson was able to finish his translation about two months later. Since his translation did not support the Book of Abraham, Tanner suggested to Nelson that it was his duty as an Elder in the Church to handle the matter in a way that would be sympathetic to LDS doctrine, but Nelson refused to make any alterations to his translation. Because N. Eldon Tanner would not publish his translation, Nelson had it published by Jerald and Sandra Tanner through their Modern Microfilm Company as a booklet entitled The Joseph Smith Papyri. Nibley hailed Nelson's translation as "a conscientious and courageous piece of work . . . supplying students with a usable and reliable translation." Nibley had become aware that translations of the papyri were not confirming the Book of Abraham, and commented that "it is doubtful whether any translation [of the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri] could do as much good as harm."35 In December 1975 Nelson resigned from the LDS Church. Nelson earned his place in Mormon history as the first to translate any of the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri discovered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.36

Facsimile No. 1 of the Book of Abraham

Of all the newly discovered Egyptian papyri, Ferguson's main interest focused on Facsimile No. 1. Joseph Smith had been proud of the illustration of Abraham on the lion couch, displaying it and its associated text to many Nauvoo visitorsboth members of the Church and nonmembersin the early 1840s. In April 1840 Smith showed the Egyptian papyri to a newspaper correspondent, and then, pointing at a particular hieroglyph, he said, "That is the signature of the patriarch Abraham."37 In May 1844 Smith showed the papyri to two distinguished visitors, Charles Francis Adams, a member of the Massachusetts legislature and a son of John Quincy Adams, and Josiah Quincy, who the following year would become the mayor of Boston. Adams quoted Smith as saying: "This . . . was written by the hand of Abraham and means so and so. If anyone denies it, let him prove the contrary. I say it."38 Quincy reported Smith's words as: "That is the handwriting of Abraham, the Father of the Faithful."39

In the March 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons Joseph Smith gave the following twelve "explanations" concerning Facsimile No. I (fig. 19):

Fig. 1. The Angel of the Lord.
2. Abraham, fastened upon an Altar.
3. The Idolatrous Priest of Elkenah attempting to offer up Abraham as a sacrifice.
4. The Altar for sacrifice, by the Idolatrous Priests, standing before the gods of Elkenah, Libnab, Mahmachrah, Korash, and Pharaoh.
5. The Idolatrous God of Elkenah.
6. The Idolatrous God of Libnah.
7. The Idolatrous God of Mahmachrah.
8. The Idolatrous God of Korash.
9. The Idolatrous God of Pharaoh.
10. Abraham in Egypt.
11. Designed to represent the pillars of Heaven, as understood by the Egyptians.
12. Raukeeyang, signifying expanse, or the firmament, over our heads; but in this case, in relation to this subject, the Egyptians meant it to signify Shaumau, to be high, or the heavens: answering to the Hebrew word, Shaumah-yeem.40

In order to make a comparison with Joseph Smith's explanations, Ferguson asked Leonard H. Lesko particularly concerning the papyrus original of Facsimile No. 1, without indicating "any relationship of the manuscript material to the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, Book of Abrahamor whatever."41 In response to this, Lesko gave the following explanation concerning the lion-couch scene, or Facsimile No. 1:


Fig. 18Book of Abraham papyrus, lion couch illustration, Joseph Smith Papyrus I, discovery announced in 1967. Courtesy of Deseret News.


Fig. 19Facsimile No. 1, Book of Abraham. Reproduced from "The Book of Abraham," Times and Seasons (1842).

The scene in which you are most interested is darker and being surrounded by often poor hieroglyphic rather than hieratic signs should be the only piece in this group of a very late copy of the Book of the Dead. The owner of this was a man whereas the owner of the others was a woman. The vignette [illustration] should be related to spell 151the deceased [2] on a bier [4] on whom Anubis[3] lays hands. The restoration is incorrect as the god should be the jackal-headed Anubis (god of embalming). I have not been able to find the deceased depicted so elsewhere though it is not too unexpected; usually the figure is a mummified human or fish. The Ba (soul) bird [1] can be more easily explained from spells 85 and 89, also cf. L. V. Zabkar's book.42 to appear this year in the series: Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization. Canopic jars beneath the bier contained the deceased's internal organs and represent the four sons of the god Horus, i.e., Imesti [i.e., Imseti] [8], Hapi [7], Duamutef [6], and Khebeksenuef [5].43

No statement has been located which was written by Henry L. F. Lutz, who was the first Egyptologist that Ferguson met. However, the following is the explanation given by Richard A. Parker, professor of Egyptology at Brown Universitywhich undoubtedly was read by Ferguson since it was published in Dialogue:

This is a well-known scene from the Osiris mysteries, with Anubis [3], the jackal-headed god, on the left ministering to the dead Osiris [2] on the bier [4]. The penciled (?) restoration is incorrect. Anubis should be jackal-headed. The left arm of Osiris is in reality lying at his side under him. The apparent upper hand is part of the wing of a second bird which is hovering over the erect phallus of Osiris (now broken away). The second bird is Isis and she is magically impregnated by the dead Osiris and then later gives birth to Horus who avenges his father and takes over his inheritance. The complete bird represents Nephthys [1], sister of Osiris and Isis. Beneath the bier are the four canopic jars with heads representative of the four sons of Horus, human-headed Imseti [8], baboon-headed Hapy [7], jackal-headed Duamutef [6], and falcon-headed Kebehsenuf [5]. The hieroglyphs refer to burial, etc., but I have found no exact parallel in the time at my disposal and the poor photography precludes easy reading of the whole. I see no obvious personal name.44

Dee Jay Nelson, who published the first translation of these documents, said the following concerning the original papyrus of Facsimile No. 1, which he incorrectly referred to as Ter Papyrus, Fragment No. 3:45

It shows Osiris [2], lying upon a funeral bier [4], being embalmed by Anubis[3] The ba or soul of Osiris flies above his head in the form of a hawk [1]. Below the bier are four canopic jars [5-8] which will receive the viscera of Osiris. In the waters below the bier Set, the brother and murderer of Osiris, waits in the form of a crocodile [9].46

Klaus Baer said the following concerning the original papyrus of Facsimile No. 1:

The vignette shows the resurrection of Osiris (who is also the deceased owner of the papyrus) and the conception of Horus. Osiris (2) is represented as a man on a lion-couch (4) attended by Anubis (3), the jackal-headed god who embalmed the dead and thereby assured their resurrection and existence in the hereafter. Below the couch are the canopic jars for the embalmed internal organs. The lids are the four sons of Horus, from left to right Imset (8), Hapi (7), .Qebeh-senuwef (6), and Duwa-mutef (5),47 who protect the liver, lungs, intestines, and stomach, respectively. At the head of the couch is a small offering stand (10) with a jug and some flowers on it. The ba of Osiris (1) is hovering above his head.48

John A. Wilson, professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, wrote the following about Facsimile No. 1: "About the embalming scene . . . I am comforted to see that the standing figure has no head. I am sure that it never had a human head, as all of these illustrations show an animal head. In Ryerson, Pl. xlviii, the vignette for B.D. [Book of the Dead] 151 shows the jackal-god Anubis bending over a couch, with his hands on a recumbent human figure."49 Four years later Wilson summarized the situation: "What Egyptologists see as the god Anubis embalming a corpse, he [Joseph Smith] declared to be 'the idolatrous priest of Elkenah attempting to offer up Abraham as a sacrifice.'"50 More recently Stephen E. Thompson, an LDS Egyptologist at Brown University, confirmed the opinions of the earlier Egyptologists:

Papyrus Joseph Smith 1 . . . depicts the god Anubis [3] . . . Officiating in the embalming rites for the deceased individual, Horus [2]. . . , shown lying on the bier. This scene does not portray a sacrifice of any sort. To note just a few instances in which Joseph Smith's interpretations of these figures differ from the way they are to be understood in their original context, consider the fact that Figure 11 . . . which Joseph Smith interprets as "designed to represent the pillars of Heaven, as understood by the Egyptians," is actually a palace facade, called a serekh, which was a frequent decoration on funerary objects. The serekh originally depicted "the front of a fortified palace. . . with its narrow gateway, floral tracery above the gates, clerestories, and recessed buttresses." . . In fact, these strokes [of Fig. 12] represent water in which the crocodile [9], symbolizing the god Horus . . . , swims.51

Improper Restorations to the Book of Abraham Papyrus

The original of Joseph Smith Papyrus I has missing material along the top edge of the papyrus and a controversy rages over the restorations of two heads in Facsimile No. 1. It involves the head of the bird known as Figure 1 and the head of the standing person known as Figure 3. Ordinary logic would suggest that a bird's body has a bird's head and a human body has a human head, but conventional canons of Egyptian art require a human head for the babird and a jackal head or mask for the god Anubis.

BYU professor Hugh Nibley argued that in the background of an old painting of Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith's mother, is her "most prized possessionthe original of Facsimile 1. . . . It [the painting] matches our printed reproductions, and not the proposed restoration."52 Countering Nibley's view James Boyack of Marblehead, Massachusetts, pointed out that "the standing figure is behind the couch in the painting and the facsimile but [it is] between the couch and the legs of the reclining figure in the original." Boyack noticed several other details, all of which align the painting and facsimile together against the original papyrus.53

Joseph Smith identified Figure 3 in Facsimile No. 1 as "the idolatrous priest of Elkenah," but Egyptologists identified that individual as the jackal-headed god Anubis. Nibley admitted: "Well, you do go so far as to assume without question that the priest in Facsimile No. 1 should have a jackal's mask. And you are quite righthe should have, and the human head is an error."54 Nibley later argued that the human head on Figure 3 was "not missing when the Mormons still had the thing in their possession."55 Egyptologists identified Figure 3 as Anubis, and Baer, Lesko, Parker, and Wilson specifically indicated that Anubis should be jackal-headed, not human-headed. Edward H. Ashment, a doctoral candidate in Egyptology at the University of Chicago, found clues that the standing person is the god Anubis: "The narrow stripes clearly are the bottom edge of Anubis's headdress."56 Some clues still survive to help discern a bearded human head on the bird identified as Figure 1 of Facsimile No. 1.57

Commenting on the opposing viewpoints of Nibley and Ashment, Richard D. Poll said:

So let me say that I find Ed [Ashment]'s arguments persuasive, both as to the relationship between the Prophet's work with the sn-sn text [Joseph Smith Papyrus XI] and the Book of Abraham and the limitations of Dr. Hugh Nibley's effort to handle the dissonances involved. Collection, Accession 1472, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.58

Klaus Baer concluded that the papyri "neither say nor depict what Joseph Smith claimed they did, and . . . they were damaged and Joseph Smith supplied restorations, apparently from his imagination in some cases."59 Thus, Facsimile No. 1 shows Horus (the owner of the papyrus) in the form of Osiris with his human-headed babird above his head being embalmed for the next life on a funerary lion-couch by a jackal-headed Anubis, and not Abraham with an attending angel of the Lord being sacrificed on an altar by the idolatrous priest of Elkenah. In spite of these discrepancies one Mormon writer inexplicably affirmed that "the Prophet's explanations of each of the facsimiles accord with present understanding of Egyptian religious practices,"60 but such an assertion does not survive scrutiny.61

The Importance of the Book of Breathings Papyrus

Joseph Smith Papyrus XI is the second most significant piece among the recovered papyri. The Joseph Smith Papyri X and XI are two parts of the Sensen Papyrus. The Egyptian word "sensen," which is more properly transliterated without vowels as "sn-sn," means "breathing," and this text is known as the Book of Breathings, or the Breathing Permit of Hr.62 The Book of Breathings, which is a later and shortened version of the Book of the Dead, was composed about the third or fourth century B.C., but this manuscript dates to the two-hundred-year period covering the first century B.C. through the first century A.D.63

In 1968 Hugh Nibley conceded that "Joseph Smith had them [the papyri], that he studied them, and that the smallest and most insignificant-looking of them [Joseph Smith Papyrus XI] is connected in some mysterious way to the Pearl of Great Price."64 It is helpful to understand how these pieces of Egyptian papyri were originally connected. Klaus Baer's study demonstrated how the original of Facsimile No. 1 and the papyrus of the Book of Breathings (Joseph Smith Papyrus XI) fit together as the beginning sections of a single scroll.65 The fragile papyrus roll had first been glued to the backing paper and then later cut into individual pieces. The cut edges match perfectly when they are placed next to each other. Just before Baer's article was published he had the opportunity to examine the actual papyri, permitting him to state: "The fiber patterns show that the papyri were adjoining parts of the same scroll and not simply mounted on adjoining pieces of paper."66 Utilizing the published findings of Baer, Charles M. Larson in his book, By His Own Hand upon Papyrus, provided a visual demonstration of how the available papyri of the Book of Abraham scroll fit together. The long foldout sheet, entitled "The Book of Abraham Papyrus Scroll," shows how (from right to left) three papyri were connected: Joseph Smith Papyrus I, then Joseph Smith Papyrus XI, then a small section missing, then Joseph Smith Papyrus X (fig. 20).67

Hr or Horus, the son of Osorwr and Tikhebyt, was the priest-owner of this papyrus roll, and his name occurs six times in the hieratic text of Joseph Smith Papyri X and XI. The identity of the owner is important to determine. Facsimile No. 3 is the only place in the Book of Abraham in which Joseph Smith identified and translated specific Egyptian hieroglyphs. In the explanation to that facsimile Joseph Smith asserted that Figure 5 is "Shulem, one of the king's principal waiters, as represented by the characters above his hand."68 The first professional Egyptologist to interpret the illustrations in Facsimiles No. 1-3 and translate their hieroglyphs and hieratic characters was Thodule Devria, a young French scholar, who in the late 1850s translated the indicated hieroglyphs as Horusnot Shulem.69 Likewise, over a century later Klaus Baer, professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, translated these particular hieroglyphs as identifying and describing the owner of the papyrus as "Osiris Hr, justified forever."70 This identification supports the conclusion that Facsimile No. 3 was located at the end of the same Book of Breathings scroll of which Facsimile No. 1 was the beginning.

Consequently, we now know that the original of Facsimile No. 1 was at the beginning of the scroll and adjoined to it was the Book of Breathings papyrus (Joseph Smith Papyrus XI). Thus, when this lion-couch scene is described in 1842 as "A Facsimile from the Book of Abraham," it implies a connection between the illustration and the text of the Book of Abraham.71 This implied connection is supported by the text of the Book of Abraham, for in the first chapter Abraham makes the following statement:

And . . . that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I [Abraham] will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record. It was made after the form of a bedstead, . . . and it stood before the gods of Elkenah, Libnab, Mahmackrah, Korash, and also a god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning (Abr. 1:12-14).


Fig 20The Reconstructed Scroll of the Book of Abraham. Reproduced from Charles M. Larson, By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus (1992), courtesy of Institiute for Religious Research

Only Facsimile No. 1 contains a representation of the altar and the gods Elkenah, Libnab, Mahmackrah, and Korash, so this statement strikingly confirms that that particular illustration was located at the beginning of the scroll before the hieratic text of Joseph Smith Papyrus XI.72

Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar

The available documents associated with Joseph Smith's work on the Egyptian papyri in Kirtland were published in 1966 as Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar.73 This publication contains two manuscript copies of most of the first chapter and the beginning of the second chapter of the Book of Abraham, one in the handwriting of W. W. Phelps and the other in the handwriting of Warren Parrish. In 1937 Wilford C. Wood gave the LDS Church another Book of Abraham manuscript, containing the text of Abr. 1:12:18 in the handwritings of W. W. Phelps and Warren Parrish.74 All three of these manuscripts have associated Egyptian hieratic characters in the left column.75 The first to publish the fact that these characters, in exactly the same order, were also located in the first two rows of the first column of the papyrus of the Book of Breathings (Joseph Smith Papyrus XI) were two non-Egyptologists, Grant S. Heward and Jerald Tanner.76 Hugh Nibley admitted that the arrangement of hieratic characters on the left and paragraphs of the English text of the Book of Abraham on the right indicated "a definite connection" between the two, but he was unsure exactly what was intended.77 Nibley later clarified his position that, though the exact connection was unknown, he was sure that "the relationship between the two texts was never meant to be that of a direct translation."78

To avoid problematic evidence of which there exists genuine differences of interpretation, one can examine an instance in Book of Abraham Manuscript #1 which identifies precisely the Egyptian character and the corresponding English translation.79 It so happens that it is an appropriate example for the study of the Book of Abraham, since it is Abraham's own name. W. W. Phelps, Joseph Smith's scribe, attached a number 2 to the Egyptian wloop character and likewise to the word "Abraham" in the associated English text.80 However, the wloop character does not refer to Abraham and has no meaning on its own, since it is simply a consonantal letter functioning as part of thousands of Egyptian words. Now that all the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri have been translated, it can be stated that neither the story found in the Book of Abraham nor even the name of Abraham is found anywhere among the papyri.81

Ferguson suggested to James Boyack that he read the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar,82 which was made by Joseph Smith "during his struggle with the Egyptian papyrus."83 Smith's diary for 1 October 1835 indicated that he "labored on the Egyptian alphabet in company with Brs. O[liver] Cowdery and W[illiam] W. Phelps."84 The beginning of Egyptian Manuscript #1 illustrates a grammatical explanation in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar:

This [character] is called Za ki-on hish, < or > chalsidon hish. This character is in the fifth degree, independent and arbitrary. It may be preseved [perceived] in the fifth degree while it stands independent and arbitrary: That is, without a straight mark inserted above or below it. By inserting a straight mark over it thus (2), it increases its signification five degrees: by inserting two straight lines thus: (3), its signification is increased five times more. By inserting three straight lines thus (4), its signification is again increased five times more than the last. By counting the number of straight lines, or considering them as qualifying adjectives, we have the degrees of comparison. There are five connecting parts of speech in the above character, called Zaki on hish. These five connecting parts of speech [are] for verbs, participles, prepositions, conjunctions, and adverbs. In Translating this character, the subject must be continued until there are as many of these connecting parts of speech used as there are connections or connecting points found in the character.85

Reading distinctions of meaning into mere horizontal lines either above or below a character is not true for the Egyptian language, nor has it ever been encountered in any known human language. The pure speculation in this document is in no sense a grammar of the Egyptian language.86 Hugh Nibley asked a rhetorical question about the relation of the Book of Abraham to the hieratic characters of the Sensen Papyrus: "How on earth could Joseph Smith or anybody else have derived a condensed and detailed account of fifty [rather, eleven] pages from less than twenty hieratic signs?"87 If the rule which states "in Translating this character, the subject must be continued until there are as many of these connecting parts of speech used as there are connections or connecting points found in the character" were followed, then it is certainly conceivable that a very expanded translation would be the result. Also, Oliver Cowdery, one of Smith's scribes during this period, expressed his opinion that the Egyptian language "in which this record is written is very comprehensive."88

While most of the pages in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar are in the handwriting of Joseph Smith's scribes, some parts are written by Smith himself. His handwriting occurs throughout the "Egyptian Alphabet" known as Egyptian Manuscript #4 (fig. 21).89 Joseph Smith used the names "Kolob," "Jah-oh-eh," "Flo-ees," and "Kli-flos-isis" from this manuscript in an 1843 display of erudition in which he quoted phrases from six foreign languages, and as a seventh instance of his learning quoted what purport to be Egyptian words describing a solar eclipse followed by his translation: "Were I an Egyptian, I would exclaim Jah-oh-eh, Enish-go-on-dosh, Flo-ees-Flos-is-is; [O the earth! the power of attraction, and the moon passing between her and the suni."90 Some of these words also appear in the explanation to Facsimile No. 2.91 Joseph Smith's signature appears on the title page to a little booklet entitled "Valuable Discovery of hid[d]en records that have been obtained from the ancient bur[y]ing place of the Egyptians."92

I. E. S. Edwards, keeper of the Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum, said that the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar "is largely a piece of imagination and lacking in any kind of scientific value."93 In a similar way Egyptologist Richard A. Parker expressed the opinion that "the interpretation of signs purported to be Egyptian have no resemblance to the meanings ascribed to them by Egyptologists."94 Tom Ferguson claimed that by study of the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar and the recently discovered papyri "it is perfectly obvious that we now have the original manuscript material used by Jos. Smith in working up the Book of Abraham."95


Fig, 21Egyption Alpahabet, Egyption Manuscript #4, in the handwriting of Joseph Smith, with the names, "Kolob," "Jah-oh-eh," Flo-ees, " and "Kli-flos-isis" appearing in Facscile No. 2. Reproduced from Jerald Tanner and Sandra Tanner, Joseph Smith's Egyption Alphabet and Grammar (1966), courtesy of Utah Lighthouse Ministry.

The Book of Joseph among the Egyptian Papyri

In 1835 W. W. Phelps stated that Joseph Smith identified one of the scrolls as being "the sacred record kept of Joseph in Pharaoh's Court in Egypt."96 Some of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's donation of papyri appear to be from this long-lost Book of Joseph. Milton R. Hunter told N. Eldon Tanner, second counselor in the First Presidency, how some of the newly discovered papyri seemed to be from the Book of Joseph, and then reported that conversation back to Ferguson:

One plate [i.e., illustration on the papyrus] was very interesting to me. Look at it in the Deseret News. It has the serpent walking on two tall legs. I told President Tanner that Oliver Cowdery wrote to William Fry[e] and told him that the Book of Joseph told the best story of the creation that he had ever seen and that it depicted the serpent walking on its legs before it had to crawl on its belly. I suggested [to Tanner] that that page might be from the Book of Joseph. He [Tanner] didn't want that suggestion made and that information to get out, so I wouldn't say that (if I were you) to anybody, but just for your own curiosity look at it.97

Consequently, as early as December 1967 both Tanner and Hunter were aware of the relationship between the Book of Joseph and some of these Egyptian papyri that were once in the possession of Joseph Smith. However, the advice of a member of the First Presidency was that he did not want it even suggested that some of the papyri may be from the Book of Joseph.


Fig. 22Illustration of the Serpent with Legs (top) and illustration of Enoch's Pillar (bottom), Joseph Smith Papyrus V, from the document Joseph Smith identified as the Book of Joseph. Reproduced from Thomas Stuart Ferguson Collection, courtesy of Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Oliver Cowdery said that with the Egyptian mummies were two papyrus scrolls, which he identified as "the writings of Abraham and Joseph."98 From Cowdery's description at least three illustrations in the newly discovered papyri can be identified as part of the Book of Joseph. Cowdery said concerning the Serpent on Legs (fig. 22, top) that "the serpent, represented as walking, or formed in a manner to be able to walk, standing in front of and near a female figure, is to me one of the substance."99 In May 1844 when Josiah Quincy asked Joseph Smith about a serpent having legs, Smith is reported to have made the following comment: "Before the Fall snakes always went about on legs, just like chickens. They were deprived of them, in punishment for their agency in the ruin of man."100

The representation of the serpent walking on legs is located in chapter or spell 74 of the Book of the Dead. John A. Wilson explained that in the illustration "the dead woman stands beside a two-legged serpent, a symbol of earth, since snakes live underground."101 Wilson translated the associated text as:

The speech for stretching the legs [and going forth from earth. Words to be spoken] by the Osiris T-N:102 You will do what you should do [against him], O Sokar, Sokar, who is in his cave, who is the obstructor in the necropolis. I shine as the one who is over this district of heaven. I climb upon the sun's rays, being weary, weary. I have gone, being weary, weary in the necropolis, upon the banks of taking away their speech in the necropolis. My soul is triumphant in the house of Atum, lord of Heliopolis.103

Wilson also commented concerning "The Serpent with Legs":

One of the illustrations . . . shows a walking snake. It is just above three other illustrations all of which occur in regular order in late Books of the Dead. Papyrus Ryerson (about 500-200 B.c.) and Papyrus Milbank (about 350-100 B.C.), both in the Oriental Institute, published by T. George Allen, The Egyptian Book of the Dead (Chicago, 1960),104 with the texts here noted on plates xxiv-xxv and lxviii. In each papyrus, vignette of a man with a stick, along with a snake walking on two legsvignette for Book of the Dead, chapter 72 [74].105

Richard A. Parker said concerning this same illustration:

The fragment with the snake walking on two legs is surely from some chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. I doubt that the name Joseph occurs anywhere in it. It could, of course, be claimed that it was written by someone named Joseph.106

Parker's comments were made in January 1968, and now that all the hieratic characters have been read it can be stated that the name Joseph was never located in the papyri.

Cowdery said concerning Enoch's Pillar (fig. 22, bottom) that "Enoch's Pillar, as mentioned by Josephus, is upon the same scroll. . . . Josephus says . . . that, in consequence of the prophecy of Adam that the world should be destroyed once by water and again by fire, Enoch wrote a history or an account of the same, and put [it] into two pillars one of brick and the other of stone."107 Wilson explained that the text adjacent to this illustration is the Book of the Dead, spell 75, which "shows the dead person standing beside a column, which is the hieroglyph for Heliopolis." Wilson translated the associated text as follows:

The speech for going forth to Heliopolis and taking a place there. Words to be spoken by the Osiris T-N: "I have gone forth from the underworld. I have come from the limits of the earth. I shine upon the water. I understand about the entrails of a baboon. I have taken the ways to the holy gates. I occupy the places [of the pure ones] who are in [shrouds]. I break into the houses of Remrem. I have reached the seat of Ikhsesfi. I have penetrated the sacred areas upon which Thoth stepped in pacifying the two warriors. I go, I go to Pe; I come to Dep."108


Fig. 23Illustration of the Trinity, Joseph Smith Papyrus IV, from the document Joseph Smith identified as the Book of Joseph. Reproduced from Thomas Stuart Ferguson Collection, courtesy of Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Concerning the illustration of the Trinity (fig. 23) Cowdery said that "the representation of the god-headthree, yet in oneis curiously drawn to give simply, though impressively, the writer's views of that exalted personage."109 This fragment was described as the "Framed ('Trinity') Papyrus," because at the time of the donation by the Metropolitan Museum of Art this papyrus was in a frame, which possibly had been done during Joseph Smith's lifetime.110 Wilson explained that this illustration, which is a part of spell 104 in the Book of the Dead, "shows a normal vignette of the deceased sitting with the gods." The associated Egyptian text refers to "the great gods," as shown by Wilson's translation:

[The speech for sitting among] the great gods. Words to be spoken [by the Osiris] T-[N: "I sit among] the great gods. [I] have passed [by] the house of the evening-barque. It is a butler, the porter of Horus, son of Isis, who comes to me on business of Re. Food and sustenance are at the proper place, to provision the offering bread for the great gods. It is a fowler whom he has brought." As for the one who knows this speech, he sits among the [great] gods.111

Jay M. Todd, editor of The Improvement Era, after quoting from these descriptions of parts of the Book of Joseph by Oliver Cowdery, admitted that "scenes somewhat similar to these verbal descriptions [of Cowdery] seem to be on the papyri rediscovered by Dr. Atiya."112 Though Joseph Smith identified one of the two main scrolls as being the Book of Joseph, he never produced a translation of the Book of Joseph, as he did for the Book of Abraham. On the back of his photograph of Joseph Smith Papyrus V, Ferguson expressed his opinion that this illustration is "clearly . . . part of the hieroglyphic manuscript described by Joseph Smith as the Book of Joseph. . . It is part of the Book of the Dead and has nothing to do with 'Joseph.'"113 Egyptologists have read all these papyri and find nothing about the life or writings of Joseph.

Denial That the Book of Abraham Papyrus Has Been Found

Ferguson insisted strongly that the original papyri used by Joseph Smith had been found and competent translations were available, but he predicted that "of course the dodge as to the Book of Abraham must be: 'We don't have the original manuscript from which the Book of Abraham was translated.'"114 Interestingly Nibley used precisely this argument, claiming that the Book of Breathings papyri discovered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art were not used by Joseph Smith in translating the Book of Abraham:

Whatever exercises, discreet or indiscreet, the brethren in Kirtland may have engaged in, the Prophet Joseph himself has supplied us with the most conclusive evidence that the manuscript today identified as the Book of Breathings, J.S. Papyri X and XI, was not in his opinion the source of the Book of Abraham. For he has furnished a clear and specific description of the latter: "The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies is (1) beautifully written on papyrus, with black, and (2) a small part red, ink or paint, (3) in perfect preservation."115

Nibley's source for this purported quotation from Joseph Smith is the History of the Church, which at this point is actually derived from Oliver Cowdery's 1835 account.116 Cowdery's Messenger and Advocate account contains an important sentence previous to the one quoted by Nibley, showing that Cowdery was speaking about the works of both Abraham and Joseph: "Upon the subject of the Egyptian records, or rather the writings of Abraham and Joseph, I may say a few words."117 One must examine Nibley's three points. The first can be disposed of quickly, since how beautiful the Egyptian hieratic characters are was based upon the personal opinion of Cowdery. Likewise, the third point represented Cowdery's estimation of the papyrus's physical condition, which was reworded from an earlier certificate written by five medical doctors in Philadelphia. In this case Cowdery added the adjective "beautiful" and upgraded the condition of the papyrus from their description of "excellent" to "perfect."118

The hieroglyphs and hieratic characters in Egyptian papyri are written in black or red ink, with the black ink being made from soot and the red ink from finely ground burnet ochre, both mixed with papyrus juice.119 Nibley expanded on his second point about the red ink by saying:

In the second place, the text which Joseph Smith [actually, Oliver Cowdery] relates, directly or indirectly, to Abraham contained the rubrics or brief notations in red ink common to Egyptian manuscripts. He is plainly describing a real manuscript and a rather typical one; and since no one could read it, there is no reason why he should not have described it correctly. Hence, the face that there is not the slightest indication of rubrics in the J. S. Papyri X and XInot so much as a speck of red ink, though such rubrics are common in the other Joseph Smith manuscriptsis alone enough to disqualify it as a candidate for the Abraham source.120

Nibley misinterpreted the Cowdery quotation since the discussion is about both scrollsthe Book of Abraham and the Book of Joseph. Cowdery indicated that these documents as a group contain both black and red ink, not that each page of both scrolls contain both colors. At this point it is appropriate to reexamine the 1835 description in the Painesville Telegraph, which stated that the first mummy, a female, had a scroll with "ink black and red" and with "many female figures."121 This matches the two colors and many illustrations found in Joseph Smith Papyri II and IV-VIII, which have been titled "The Untranslated Book of Joseph Papyrus Scroll."122 The third mummy, a male, had a scroll, but the Painesville Telegraph mentioned no special ink color. This was the only male mummy and Klaus Baer translated his name as Hr as it is found in Joseph Smith Papyri I, X, and XI, and concluded that "Joseph Smith thought that this papyrus contained the Book of Abraham."123

John Gee claimed that the first color photographs of the newly discovered papyri were published in the February 1968 issue of The Improvement Era.124 It is, indeed, to the credit of the LDS Church that good reproductions were soon published of all the papyri. However, for some reason they were not color but two-toned sepia reproductions. Accordingly, there is no way for a reader to see where the distinctive red ink occurred in the originals. Twenty-five years after the announcement about the papyri Charles M. Larson published color photographs of the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri. This book, By His Own Hand upon Papyrus, is unique for the beautiful full-color foldout, providing reproductions of the papyri measuring 9 by 22 inches.125 Examination of this publication shows the Book of Joseph with sets of red-ink characters scattered throughout the black text and the surviving parts of the Book of Abraham solely in black ink. Thus, the evidence does not support Nibley's theory that the Book of Abraham papyrus had red ink.126

Another tactic is to claim that Joseph Smith's Book of Abraham was not a translation of Egyptian papyri but rather is an inspired document produced by revelation from God. Nibley admitted that the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri contain hieroglyphs, hieratic characters, and pictorial illustrations that have symbolic meanings, but asserted that Joseph Smith in the Book of Abraham "dealt only with the third type," that is, with the symbolic pictures.127 This strategy effectively denies a connection between any of the hieratic texts and the Book of Abraham. Nibley ignored Joseph Smith's assertions about translating the Egyptian characters on the papyri and claimed that the Book of Abraham was produced "by direct revelation."128 Ferguson was not impressed with Nibley's arguments.

Ferguson's Opinion of Nibley's Interpretations

Hugh Nibley, though not an Egyptologist, is a wide-ranging polyglot who took upon himself the role of defender of the faith with respect to the Book of Abraham. From 1968 to 1970 Nibley published in The Improvement Era a series of twenty-seven erudite articles on the Book of Abraham.129 In March 1971 Ferguson expressed his opinion to James Boyack about these articles written by Nibley:

Nibley's Era articles on the Book of Abraham aren't worth a tinkerfirst, because he is not impartial, being the commissioned and paid defender of the faith. Second, because he could not, he dared not, he did not, face the true issue: "Could Joseph Smith translate Egyptian?" I clipped every one of His articles and have them in a single fileand I have reviewed themlooking in vain for that issue.130

Ferguson charged that Nibley unfailingly reached the pre-established conclusion about Joseph Smith. Ferguson was convinced that Nibley deliberately avoided the central question and his articles in The Improvement Era were simply a smoke screen to divert attention from the real issues. This perception was not in Ferguson's imagination, for Nibley admitted that in his articles written during the late 1960s he "frankly skirmished and sparred for time."131 Ferguson is not the only one to criticize Nibley's methodology. Stephen E. Thompson said:

The approach taken in attempting to support Joseph's interpretations of these figures is to compare them with figures found in other historical and textual contexts. It is simply not valid, however, to search through 3.000 years of Egyptian religious iconography to find parallels which can be pushed, prodded, squeezed, or linked in an attempt to justify Joseph's interpretations.132

Ferguson felt that Nibley's attempt "to explain away and dodge the trap into which Joseph Smith fell" was absurd.133 Samuel W. Taylor, a free-lance writer on Mormon topics, remembered what Ferguson told him concerning Nibley's effort:

Nibley's articles in the Era were beautifully written, making an impressive display of literary erudition, bolstered by voluminous footnotes. Yet as Ferguson studied the pyrotechnics of Nibley's articles, he was puzzled. Amid the rocket's red glare and the bombs bursting in air, Tom Ferguson failed to find authentic facts to support the splendid literary fireworks, and his faith wasn't still there. In fact, Ferguson suspected it was all stonewalling.134

Nibley has espoused conflicting explanations about the Book of Abraham. It is surely significant that previous to the discovery of the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri at the Metropolitan Museum of Art there was a consistent explanation in Mormonism that Joseph Smiththrough the gift and power of Godtranslated Egyptian characters into the English language resulting in a modern-day restoration of Abraham's record. Only after the 1967 announcement of the discovery of the papyri and their subsequent translation has the traditional explanation been replaced by a variety of contradictory theories.135

Ferguson's Conclusions on the Book of Abraham

In December 1967 before the papyri had been translated, N. Eldon Tanner of the LDS First Presidency was cautious about not overstating exactly what the Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri were. However, he told Milton R. Hunter that "the important thing was that we have part of the manuscript of the Book of Abraham which certainly sustains the fact that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Abraham from ancient papyri manuscripts."136 Now that all the papyri have been translated and not a single trace of Abraham has been found, even Tanner's minimal position has been abandoned. In 1970 Ferguson told some friends that he "entirely repudiated the Book of Abraham."137

Michael D. Rhodes, a researcher in ancient scriptures at BYU, offered two different explanations as to why the translation of these Egyptian papyri does not coincide with the text of the Book of Abraham: either the Book of Abraham "may have been taken from a different portion of the papyrus rolls in Joseph Smith's possession" or "instead of making a literal translation, as scholars would use the term, he used the Urim and Thummim as a means of receiving revelation."138 Rhodes's first suggested explanation ignored three facts: (1) Baer's reconstruction of how the original of Facsimile No. 1 and the Small Sensen Papyrus of the Book of Breathings (Joseph Smith Papyri I and XI, respectively) are now known to have fitted together, (2) the hieratic characters from the first two lines of the Book of Breathings papyrus being discovered in the left column of the three earliest manuscripts of the Book of Abraham (Book of Abraham Manuscripts #1, #2, and #3), and (3) the hieroglyphics surrounding the original of Facsimile No. I being found in Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. Rhodes's second explanation reversed the consistent claim of Joseph Smith that he was, with the inspiration of God, translating the characters on the ancient scroll, not just receiving inspired revelation in response to looking at the Egyptian characters or illustrations. Joseph Smith dictated that "with W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt."139 Rhodes's proposed explanation presents a seemingly faith-promoting alternative, but it does so at the expense of Joseph Smith's clear statement that he was in fact translating Egyptian characters.

A third possibility existsthough unstated by Rhodes which is that the first two parts (i.e., Joseph Smith Papyri I and XI) of the actual papyrus utilized by Joseph Smith have been found, but that his interpretation concerning Abraham has no relationship to the now-translatable Egyptian text. As a result of investigations using four independent witnesses, Ferguson, the lawyer, decided that the third option was correct, since these Egyptian authorities "all agree that the original manuscript Egyptian text translates into the Breathing Permit of Hr."140

In the summer of 1970 an LDS scholar felt that the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri "may well represent the potentially most damaging case against Mormonism since its foundation."141 According to one of Ferguson's friends, the discovery and translation of these Egyptian documents was absolutely devastating to his faith.142 Ferguson concluded that there was no real connection between these Egyptian papyri and the Book of Abraham. He was "very upset by the discovery that it was only a [copy of the] Book of the Dead."143 Ferguson wrote to a non-Mormon friend that "the Egyptian papyri showed that Joseph Smith could not read Egyptian and simply faked it when he was presented with a MS."144

In March 1976 John W. Fitzgerald, a retired elementary school principal, wrote Ferguson a letter concerning Dee Jay Nelson, who first translated the Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri. Fitzgerald claimed that N. Eldon Tanner, second counselor in the First Presidency, first requested Nelson to translate these papyri with the commitment that the Church would publish his translation, and then reputedly, when the LDS church leader learned that Nelson's translation "was not supportive of Joseph Smith's rendition of the Egyptian, they refused to publish it."145 The developments concerning the translation of these papyri were close to Ferguson's heart and he promptly replied: "I wonder what really goes on in the minds of church leadership who know of the data concerning the Book of Abraham, the new data on the First Vision, etc. I guess we'll never know. It would tend to devastate the church if a top leader were to announce the facts."146 A forthright attitude by the LDS Church leaders about the Book of Abraham and the First Vision would radically alter the perceptions of most members, but Ferguson probably overestimated the reaction when he suggested that such admissions "would tend to devastate" the LDS Church. When Ferguson was asked if it was true that most Egyptologists "agree that a correct translation of the ancient papyri owned by Joseph Smith has absolutely no connection or similarity" to the Book of Abraham, he answered succinctly, "Yes."147

Wesley P. Waiters, a Presbyterian minister in Illinois, obtained Ferguson's permission to relate the story of his disillusionment concerning Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham,148 but Ferguson did not allow Walters to divulge his name:

One life-long defender of Joseph Smith made his own independent investigation of Joseph's ability as a translator of Egyptian records, utilizing recognized Egyptologists without telling them a word about the issues that were at stake. Their verdict agreed with the findings of Mr. [Dee Jay] Nelson and Dr. [K]aus] Baer. Consequently, he came to reject the Book of Abraham and the claims put forth by Joseph Smith as a translator of ancient languages.149

Ferguson concluded that Facsimile No. 1 did not depict the biblical Abraham being sacrificed on an altar by the idolatrous priest of Elkenah but rather the Egyptian god Osiris being embalmed by jackal-headed Anubis for the next life of Egyptian mythology. In January 1983just two months before he passed awayFerguson told an LDS Church employee that the Joseph Smith papyri were nothing more than various kinds of Egyptian "funeral texts."150 Thus, Ferguson's original excitement in 1967 about the opportunity of authenticating the Book of Abraham turned into a nightmare. Ferguson's former belief system nurtured and sustained from childhoodcould not withstand the shock of this disillusionment. Everything in his theological world came crashing down. This forced Ferguson to reexamine his assumptions not only about the Book of Abraham, but also concerning Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. This process thrust Ferguson into a completely new approach to religious questions in his life.

Footnotes
1. Jack E. Jarrard, "Rare Papyri Presented to Church," Deseret News, 27 November 1967, A-1, A-3.
2. Glen Wade, "A Conversation with Professor Atiya," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 2 (Winter 1967): 51-53. Keith Terry and Walter L. Whipple, rom the Dust of Decades: A Saga of the Papyri and Mummies (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968), 104, pointed out that in 1962 Whipple received photos of the Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but "he did little with his discovery and is now at a loss as to why."
3. Hugh Nibley provided the names and numbering to the papyri illustrations associated with Jay M. Todd, Background of the Church Historian's Fragment, The Improvement Era 71 (February 1968): 40a-40i, 41.
4. By the time Hugh Nibley assigned the numbering for the papyri the two pages of the Court of Osiris were given the same number (J.S. Pap. IIIa and IIIB) and the Church Historian's Fragment (which was not part of the donation from the Metropolitan Museum of Art) was designated as J.S. Pap. IX. See Hugh Nibley, Fragment Found in Salt Lake City," Brigham Young University Studies 8 (Winter 1968): 191-94.
5. Hugh Nibley, "Prolegomena to Any Study of the Book of Abraham," Brigham Young University. Studies 8 (Winter 1968): 171.
6. H. Donl Peterson, The Story of the Book of Abraham: Mummies, Manuscripts, and Mormonism (SaltLake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995), 36-75. Cf. Warren R. Dawson and Eric P. Uphill, Who Was Who in Egyptology, 2d ed. (London: The Egypt Exploration Society, 1972), 166.
7. Milton V. Backman, Jr., The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830-1838 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983), 218.
8. William W. Phelps, letter to Sally Phelps, 19-20 July 1835, partially printed in Leah Y. Phelps, "Letters of Faith from Kirtland," The Improvement Era 45 (August 1942): 529. Oliver Cowdery, writing in the Latter Day Saints Messenger and Advocate, described the materials as follows: "Upon the subiect of the Egyptian records, or rather the writings of Abraham and Joseph, I may say a few words. This record is beautifully written on papyrus with black, and a small part, red ink or paint, in perfect preservation. The characters are such as you find upon the coffins of mummies, hieroglyphics, etc. with many characters or letters exactly like the present (though probably not quite so square) form of the Hebrew without points.
9. B. H. Roberts, ed., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Period I: History of Joseph Smith, the Prophet by Himself. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1904), 2:235-36.
10. Stephen E. Thompson, "Egyptology and the Book of Abraham," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 28 (Spring 1995): 153-54, said: The answer to this [i.e., when Abraham lived] is by no means simple, and scholarly estimates for the age of the patriarchs range from 2200 to 1200 B.C. . . Others would argue that while it is not possible to assign a date to the lifetime of Abraham, it is possible to situate chronologically the so-called 'Patriarchal Age.' Many scholars would place this sometime during the first half of the second millennium, i.e., 2000-1500 B.C., while others would narrow the time frame within this period." Thompson's suggested five-hundred-year period encompasses the dates given m the LDS Bible Dictionary, where Abraham's birth is 1996 B.C. and Joseph's death is 1635 B.C. Some scholars consider Abraham to be a mythical character. See Henry J. Flanders, Jr., Robert W. Crapps, and David A. Smith, People of the Covenant: An Introduction to the Old Testament, 3d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 116-28.
11. Scott H. Faulring, ed., An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1987), 127.
12. The Painesville, Ohio, Telegraph, 27 March 1835, quoted in John A. Larson, Joseph Smith and Eyptology: An Early Episode in the History of American Speculation about Ancient Egypt, 1835-1844," in For His Ka: Essays Offered in Memory of Klaus Baer, ed. David P. Silverman, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization, no. 55 (Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1994), 162. James R. Harris, The Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham: A Study of the Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri (Payson, UT: Harris House Publication, 1990), 19, incorrectly gave the date as July 1835.
13. Klaus Baer, letter to [Jay M.] Todd, 20 December 1968, in the H. Michael Marquardt Collection, Accession 900, Box 78, Fd 1, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City; hereafter abbreviated to Marquardt Collection.
14. Cowdery, letter to Frye, 234.
15. Klaus Baer, "The Breathing Permit of Hr: A Translation of the Apparent Source of the Book of Abraham," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3 (Autumn 1968): 111, with the Breathing Permit of Hot being found in J.S. Pap. I, X, and XI, the Book of the Dead of the Tshenmn being found in J.S. Pap. II, IV-IX, and most of IV, and the Book of the Dead of Neferirnb being found in J.S. Pap. IIIA and IIIB. See Raymond O. Faulkner, trans., The Ancient Egyptian Book of theDead, ed. Carol Andrews, rev. ed. (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1985).
16. John Gee, "A Tragedy of Errors," review of By His Own Hand upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri, by Charles M. Larson, in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 4 (1992): 94.
17. William S. West, A Few Interesting Facts respecting the Rise, Progress, and Pretensions of the Mormons ([Warren, OH], 1837), 6.
18. Richard D. Poll, "Dealing with Dissonance: Myths, Documents, and Faith," Sunstone 12 (May 1988): 20.
19. Thomas Stuart Ferguson, letter to Milton [R. Hunter], 30 November 1967, in the Thomas Stuart Ferguson Collection, Accession 1350, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City; hereafter abbreviated to Ferguson Collection, UU.
20. Milton R. Hunter, letter to Ferguson, 4 December 1967, in Ferguson Collection, UU.
21. Ferguson, letter to Aziz S. Atiya, 4 December 1967, in the Aziz S. Atiya Collection, Accession 480, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.
22. Ferguson, note to Leonard H. Lesko, 26 December 1967, in Ferguson Collection, UU.
23. Jack E. Jarrard, "Church Receives Joseph Smith Papyri," Deseret News, Church News, 2 December 1967, 7-10.
24. Ferguson, letter to [addressee unknown], 28 December 1967, partially printed in Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology, no. 105 (1 March 1968): 9.
25. Pierre Agrinier Bach, interview with author, 25 May 1993, transcript in Everett L. Cooley Oral History Project, Accession 814, Manuscripts Division. J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah. Salt Lake City; hereafter abbreviated to Bach Interview in Cooley Oral History Project. Bach remembered this as being maybe a week after the announcement, but it is more likely. about a month.
26. Ferguson, letter to James Boyack, 13 March 1971, in Ferguson Collection, UU.
27. Ferguson, letter to Leonard H. Lesko, 31 January 1968, in Ferguson Collection, UU.
28. Leonard H. Lesko, memorandum to Ferguson, 4 March 1968, in Ferguson Collection, UU.
29. Ferguson, letter to Modern Microfilm Co., 12 November 1968, in Ferguson Collection, UU.
30. Baer, "Breathing Permit," 109-34.
31. Dee Jay Nelson, The Joseph Smith Papyri: A Translation and Preliminary Survey of the Ta-shert-Min and Ter Papyri (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., 1968); The Joseph Smith Papyri, Part 2: Additional Translations and a Supplemental Survey of the Ta-shert-Min, Hor and Amen-Terp Papyri (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., 1968); Joseph Smith's "Eye of Ra": A Preliminary Survey and First Translation of Facsimile No. 2 in the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., 1968); and A Translation and Study of Facsimile No. 3 in the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., 1969).
32. Ferguson, letter to Boyack, 13 March 1971.
33. Dee Jay Nelson, letter to Mr. [Jerald] Tanner, 17 April 1968, in Box 72, Fd 2. Marquardt Collection.
34. Hugh Nibley, note [to N. Eldon Tanner], 4 January 1968, in Box 72, Fd 2, Marquardt Collection.
35. Hugh Nibley, "Getting Ready to Begin: An Editorial," Brigham Young University Studies 8 (Spring 1968): 247, 251. Nibley, ibid., 254, concluded his article with the comment that "to Mr. Dee Jay Nelson goes the credit of being the first to make the plunge."
36. In May 1978 Nelson purchased for $195 a spurious Philosophiae Doctor degree from a Seattle diploma mill known as Pacific North-Western University, and for his false claim of having a Ph.D. degree Nelson has been justifiably condemned. See Robert L. Brown and Rosemary Brown, They Lie in Wait to Deceive: "A Study of Anti-Mormon Deception" (Mesa, AZ: Brownsworth Publishing Co., 1981), 1:1-44, and Jerald Tanner and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, 5th ed. (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987), 309-11. The Browns are orthodox defenders of Mormonism, while the Tanners are anti-Mormon publishers.
37. "A Glance at the Mormons," The Quincy Whig 3 (17 October 1840): 1, quoted in Jay M. Todd, The Saga of the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, Co., 1969), 211.
38. Henry. Adams, "Charles Francis Adams Visits the Mormons in 1844," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 68 (1952): 285, transcribing Charles Francis Adams's diary entries, with emphasis in original. By ignoring all contemporary evidence of those who were shown the papyri by Joseph Smith, Hugh Nibley, "A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price, The lmprovement Era 71 (February 1968): 20, can assert that "Joseph Smith never claimed that they [the Facsimiles] were autographic manuscripts or that they dated from the time of Abraham."
39. Josiah Quincy, Figures of the Past from the Leaves of Old Journals (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1883), 386.
40. "A Fac-Simile from the Book of Abraham, No. 1," Times and Seasons 3 (1 March 1842): 703. According to Louis C. Zucker, "Joseph Smith as a Student of Hebrew," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3 (Summer 1968): 51, Joseph Smith's formal Hebrew classes from 26 January to 31 March 1836 affected the text of the Book of Abraham, where one finds the following Hebrew words (usually according to the transliteration of Seixas) and the correct English meanings: Kokob "star," Kokaubeam "stars," Hah-ko-kau-beam "the stars," Raukeeeyang "firmament" or "expanse," Shaumahyeem "heavens," and gnolaum '"eternal." These four different Hebrew words and numerous other Hebrew-like names which Zucker cited to show the influence of Smith's instruction in Hebrew are located in the first three chapters of the Book of Abraham and Facsimiles No. 1 and 2. Zucker, ibid., 52, indicated that this contrasts with the polytheism found numerous times in the Book of Abraham, chapt, ers four and five, which probably date to the Nauvoo period. Zucker's essay in Dialogue is reprinted as the introduction to J[oshua] Seixas, A Manual Hebrew Grammar for the Use of Beginners, 2d ed. enl. and improved (Andover, MA: Gould and Newman, 1834; reprint, Salt Lake City: Sunstone Foundation, 1981).
41. Ferguson, letter to Boyack, 13 March 1971.
42. Louis V. Zabkar, A Study of the Ba Concept in Ancient Egyptian Texts, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization Series, no. 34 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968).
43. Lesko, memorandum, 1968, in Ferguson Collection, UU. Bracketed numbers are added in this and the following quotations in order to more easily compare with Facsimile No. 1 of the Book of Abraham.
44. Richard A. Parker, "The Joseph Smith Papyri: A Preliminary Report," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3 (Summer 1968): 86.
45. Nelson, Smith Papyri, Part 2, 2, following the translation of Richard A. Parker, corrected his mistaken "Ter" to the name "Hor."
46. Nelson, Smith Papyri, 24; cf. 42-45.
47. Baer here reversed the identifications of Qebeh-senuwef and Duwa-mutef, but John Gee, Notes on the Sons of Horus (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), 43-44, pointed out that such variation is known.
48. Baer, "Breathing Permit" 118. Baer added the numbers in parentheses in order to allow comparison with Joseph Smith's explanation, but Baer did not explain number 9.
49. John A. Wilson, letter to Marvin Cowan, 5 January 1968, in Box 78, Fd 7, Marquardt Collection.
50. John A. Wilson, Thousands of Years: An Archaeologist's Search for Ancient Egypt (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1972), 174. In a noncommittal statement John A. Wilson, "A Summary Report," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3 (Summer 1968): 68, said only that J.S. Pap. I "shows a scene of a man lying upon a bed, while another figure leans over him."
51. Thompson, "Egyptology," 144-45. Cf. Daniel C. Peterson, "News from Antiquity," The Ensign 24 (January 1994): 18.
52. Nibley, "New Look," 71 (September 1968): 78. Nibley felt that the artist provided "a rapid, fairly accurate, and unbiased sketch of what the papyrus looked like before it was damaged."
53. James Boyack, letter, quoted in Todd, Saga, 214. Boyack also indicated that the artist copied the numbers designating the different figures in the published Facsimile No. 1, none of which appear on the original papyrus.
54. Hugh Nibley, "As Things Stand at the Moment," Brigham Young University Studies 9 (Autumn 1968): 98, with emphasis in original. Nibley attributed the lack of a jackal's mask to the original Egyptian artist of J.S. Pap. I, not to Joseph Smith or anyone else in the early nineteenth century.
55. Nibley, "New Look," 71 (September 1968): 72. Nibley, ibid., 80n32, suggested that the "pencilled restoration" of Figure 3 was done sometime during the 111 years of the "post-Mormon" periodthat is, from 1856 to 1967.
56. Edward H. Ashment, "The Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham: A Reappraisal," Sunstone 4 (December 1979): 36. For a response to Ashment's analysis, see Hugh Nibley, "The Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham: A Response [to Edward H. Ashment]," Sunstone 4 (December 1979): 49-51.
57. Ashment, "Facsimiles," 38; also, cf. his illustrations 20, 21, and 22 on p. 43. In a last-minute addition between footnotes 34 and 35, Baer, "Breathing Permit," 118n34*, explained: "One tends to see what one expects to see. So far as I know, Nelson, The Joseph Smith Papyri, p. 42, was the first to point out that the bird above the head of Osiris clearly, has a human head and therefore must be his ba. In 'Facsimile No. 1,' it is drawn with a falcon's head, and I must confess with some embarrassment that I also 'saw' the falcon's head before reading Nelson's study."
58. Richard D. Poll, "Dealing with Dissonance: The Book of Abraham as a Case Study," typescript, 1984, 1, in the Richard D. Poll Collection, Accession 1472, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.
59. Klaus Baer, letter to Mr. [Jerald] Tanner, 8 August 1968, in Box 78, Fd 1, Marquardt Collection.
60. Michael D. Rhodes, "Facsimiles from the Book of Abraham," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992), 1:136-37. Cf. Michael D. Rhodes, "The Book of Abraham: Divinely Inspired Scripture," review of By His Own Hand upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri, by Charles M. Larson, in Review of Books on the Book Of Mormon 4 (1992): 126.
61. Thompson, "Egyptology," 160, responded to Rhodes's assertion by saying: "I sere no evidence that Joseph Smith had a correct conception of 'Egyptian religious practices or that a knowledge of such was essential to the production of the Book of Abraham."
62. Baer, "Breathing Permit," 109-34. Cf. Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: an Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975), 75.
63. Baer, "Breathing Permit," 111, gave a date of about 100 B.C.
64. Hugh Nibley, "Phase One," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3 (Summer 1968): 102.
65. Baer, "Breathing Permit," 112-13.
66. Ibid., 134.
67. Charles M. Larson, By His Own Hand upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Institute for Religious Research, 1992), 33.
68. That Joseph Smith is indicating the characters he is translating is further supported by his wording for fig. 2 "whose name is given in the characters above his head" and fig. 4 "as written above the hand."
69. Thodule Devria, "Fragments of Egyptian Funerary Mss. Considered by the Mormons to be Autograph memoirs of Abraham," in Jules Remy and Julius Brenchley, A Journey to Great-Salt-Lake City (London: W. Jeffs, 1861), 2:546.
70. Baer, "Breathing Permit," 127. Baer is understandably a little tentative, since the original to Facsimile No. 3 is not available. Baer continued that this facsimile "shows a man (5), his hand raised in adoration and a cone of perfumed grease and a lotus flower on his head (ancient Egyptian festival attire), being introduced by Maat (4), the goddess off justice, and Anubis (6), the guide of the dead, into the presence of Osiris (1), enthroned as king of the Netherworld. Behind Osiris stands Isis (2), and in front of him is an offering-stand (3) with a jug and some flowers on it." Baer's identifications should be compared with the six explanations offered by Joseph Smith for Facsimile No. 3.
71. "A Fac-Simile from the Book of Abraham, No. 1," Times and Seasons 3 (1 March 1842): 703, with emphasis added.
72. In an attempt to overcome the problem of the illustration of J.S. Pap. I being at least fifteen hundred years later than Abraham, Nibley, "As Things Stand," 78, suggested that "in fact, the remark [at Abr. 1:14] may well be the insertion of a later scribe." Concerning Nibley's explanation of this difficulty, Wesley P. Walters, "Joseph Smith among the Egyptians: An Examination of the Source of Joseph Smith's Book of ABraham," The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 16 (Winter 1973): 39, responded that this leaves the reader wondering how a scribe could insert a remark into the Egyptian manuscripts of the Book of Abraham when Dr. Nibley has already concluded that the papyri 'did not contain any of the text of the Book Abraham as we have it.'"
73. Jerald Tanner and Sandra Tanner, eds., Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar (Salt,,Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., 1966).
74. Richard L. Evans, "Illinois Yields Church Documents," The Improvement Era 40 (September 1937): 543, 565, 573, though the handwriting is incorrectly identified as Joseph Smith's.
75. Harris, Facsimiles, 31, incorrectly stated that the fourth Book of Abraham manuscript, in the handwriting of Willard Richards and dated to 1841, also has hieratic signs in the left column.
76. Grant S. Heward and Jerald Tanner, "The Source of the Book of Abraham Identified," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3 (Summer 1968): 92-98. Nibley, "Getting Ready," 246-47, rightly criticized the inadequacies of Heward's translation of Egyptian, as published in the March 1968 issue of The Salt Lake City Messenger.
77. Nibley, "Phase One," 100.
78. Nibley, "As Things Stand," 102.
79. This page is reproduced in Evans, "Church Documents," 543.
80. The currelation of this wloop character with the name Abraham is further supported by Egyptian Manuscripts #1, #3, #4, and #5, where the character is identified as "Ah-brah-oam" (with slightly varying spelling and hyphenation). Confirming this connection to Abraham, Hugh Nibley, "The Meaning of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers," Brigham Young University Studies 11 (Summer 1971): 384, said: "Throughout all the Grammar and Alphabet papers . . . the loop or 'w' symbol is always said in some way or other to refer to Abraham."
81. Bruce A. Van Orden, "The Book of Abraham and the Joseph Smith Papyri," typescript, 1983, 1, in the Max H. Parkin Collection, Accession 1539, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, admitted that "the Book of Abraham is not a direct translation from any of the existing twelve papyri. In fact there appears to be very little, if anything, that relates in a direct textual way to the Book of Abraham. The name Abraham does not ear on any of the papyri." John Gee, "References to Abraham found in Two Egyptian Texts," Insights: An Ancient Window, no. 5 (September 1991): l, a doctoral student in Egyptology, proclaimed the discovery of Abraham s name in Egyptian documents and put forth an example which hints at Abraham on a lion couch, for "immediately below the scene are written the Greek words, 'Let Abraham who . . . upon . . . wonder marvelously." Gee also stated that "much of this compares closely with Joseph Smith's indication that Facsimile 1 from the Book of Abraham is an illustration of 'Abraham fastened upon an altar' to be sacrificed by idolatrous priests." In his next publication on this Ragan text Gee, Horus, 28n168, repeated the same translation of the Greek words, adding his wonderment in a footnote: Oddly enough, this is considered a love charm!" In his third publication John Gee, "Abraham in Ancient Egyptian Texts," The Ensign 22 (July 1992): 60, explained that this reference occurs in a love spell and it is a woman lying on the lion couch and translated the same passage as: "Let Abraham who . . . I adjure you by . . . and incinerate so-and-so daughter of so-and-so." In contrast to Gee's view, Edward H. Ashment, The Use of Egyptian Magical Papyri to Authenticate the Book of Abraham: A Critical Review (Salt Lake City: Resource Communications, 1993), 14), another doctoral candidate in Egyptology, argued that this lion-couch scene does not illustrate a sacrificeeither of Abraham or of the womansince its real purpose was intended to inflame a woman with passion." This magical incantation, among its abracadabra words, does indeed contain the name of Abraham, but there is no connection with the Book of Abraham, and the love charm intends that the woman will burn with passion, not literally be incinerated.
82. Ferguson was referring to the 1966 edition of Tanner and Tanner, Egyptian Alphabet. For a more up-to-date edition of these documents, see H. Michael Marquardt, comp., The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papers (Cullman, AL: Printing Service, 1981). For a transcription of the English texts, see William S. Harwell, ed., Joseph Smith's Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language, Doctrine of the Priesthood, vol. 5, no. 10 (Salt Lake City: Collier's Publishing Co., 1992). For an effort to make sense of the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, see Joe Sampson, Written by the Finger of God: Decoding Ancient Languages, A Testimony of Joseph Smith's Translations (Sandy, UT: Wellspring Publishing, 1993).
83. Ferguson, letter to Boyack, 13 March 1971. Dean C. Jessee, comp. and ed., The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984), 650n16, described the "Grammar and A[l]phabet of the Egyptian Language" as "the product of early study of these ancient materials."
84. Faulring, Prophet's Record, 35. Joseph Smith also mentioned the alphabet and grammar of the Egyptian language at 17 November 1835 and 13 November 1843 (Faulring, ibid., 65, 427).
85. "Grammar and A[l]phabet of the Egyptian Language," 1, in the handwriting of W. W. Phelps, reproduced in Tanner and Tanner, Egyptian Alphabet and Marquardt, Egyptian Papers. The word "or" enclosed in angle brackets was added above the line in the manuscript. The words "and preseving [perceiving] them" were written and then deleted from the sixth sentence of the manuscript.
86. Walters, "Egyptians," 42-43, presented an example of interpretation from pages 5 and 21 of the "Grammar and A[l]phabet of the Egyptian Language" to its developed form on p. 5 of Book of Abraham Manuscript #1: "The EAG [Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar] says that a straight horizontal line is pronounced 'Zip Zi' and means a woman married or unmarried, or daughter; signifies all or any woman.' A ,curved line like a smiling mouth signifies 'beneath' and is pronounced 'tou es,' while a dot is 'iota' and means either 'the eye, or I see.' When the three are joined together it is pronounced 'Iota tou es Zip Zi' and comes to mean the land of Egypt which was first discovered by a woman while under water, and afterwards settled by her sons, she being a daughter of Ham.' Consequently when this sign combination is found in the margin of the Book of Abraham manuscripts, the following translation occurs: 'The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Zeptah which in the Chaldea signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden. When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who after settled her sons in it, and thus from Ham sprang that race, which preserved the curse in the land' [cf. Abr. 1:23]. With the Prophet utilizing such an erroneous method of Egyptian translating, it is quite pointless to try to show that he actually understood the Egyptian text and derived the correct meaning from it."
87. Nibley, Smith Papyri, 1. Cf. H. Michael Marquardt, The Book of Abraham Papyrus Found: An Answer to Dr. Hugh Nibley's Book "The Message of the Joseph Smith Pqpyri: An Egyptian Endowment" As It Relates to the Source of the Book of Abraham, 2d ed., rev. and enl. (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., 1981).
88. Cowdery, letter to Frye, 236. Cowdery explained: "Neither can I give you a probable idea how large volumes they [the translation of the Book of Abraham and the Book of Joseph] will make; but judging from their size, and the comprehensiveness of the language, one might reasonably expect to see a sufficient [volume] to develop much upon the mighty acts of the ancient men of God."
89. Nibley, "As Things Stand," 70, and Nibley "New Look" 73 (May 1970): 83, denied that any of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers included Joseph Smith's handwriting. Nibley, "Egyptian Papers," 351, corrected these earlier statements.
90. Joseph Smith, "Reply" [to James Arlington Bennett], 13 November 1843, in Times anal Seasons 4 (1 November 1843): 373, with Smith placing his translation in square brackets.
91. Walter L. Whipple, A Concordance and Dictionary to the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar in Parallel with the Book of Abraham (Glendale, CA, 1972), 167, said that "there is more than a passing relationship between the Book of Abraham and the Egyptian Alphabet, especially for Abraham chapters 1 and 3 and Facsime number 2."
92. Nibley, "Egyptian Papers," 351, indicated that the entire title is in the handwriting of Joseph Smith, but probably only the signature is by Joseph Smith.
93. I. E. S. Edwards, letter to Grant S. Heward, 9 June 1966, in Box 78, Fd 2, Marquardt Collection. Edwards added that the whole documents [the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar] reminds me of the writings of psychic practitioners which are sometimes sent to me."
94. Richard A. Parker, letter to Marvin Cowan, 9 January 1968, in Box 78, Fd 7, Marquardt Collection Nibley "Egyptian Papers" 367, stated that Smith s efforts in Egyptian Manuscrlpt #4 were "a perfectly sane and rational approach to a problem."
95. Ferguson, letter to Boyack, 13 March 1971.
96. W. W. Phelps, letter to S. Phelps, 529.
97. Milton R. Hunter, letter to Ferguson, 4 December 1967, in Ferguson Collection, UU.
98. Cowdery, letter to Frye, 234.
99. Ibid., 236.
100. Quincy, Figures, 387.
101. Wilson, "Summary Report," 77.
102. Wilson's abbreviation "T-N" used the initials in the constantly recurring formula "Tashere-Mm, triumphant, born to NesKhonsu, triumphant."
103. Wilson, "Summary Report," 77.
104. T. George Allen, ed., The Egyptian Book of the Dead: Documents in the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago, Oriental Institute Publications, vol. 82 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960).
105. Wilson, letter to Cowan, 5 January 1968. The top part of the page is from the Book of the Dead, spell 72, but the section next to the serpent illustration is spell 74, as corrected in brackets in the quotation.
106. Parker, letter to Cowan, 9 January 1968.
107. Cowdery, letter to Frye, 236.
108. Wilson, "Summary Report," 77-78. The biblical 'n, On, which is the Hebrew name for Heliopolis, is mentioned in Gen. 41:45, 50; 46:20.
109. Cowdery, letter to Frye, 236. Cowdery also said that the hieroglyphics were written by persons acquainted with the history of the creation, the fall of man, and more or less of the correct ideas of notions of the Deity."
110. D[oyle] L. G[reen], "New Light on Joseph Smith's Egyptian Papyri: Additional Fr