53992015

Book of Abraham Excerpt, circa October 1835 [Abraham 1:4–2:6]

Book of Abraham Excerpt, circa October 1835 [Abraham 1:4–2:6]

HSign of the fifth degree of the Second part
HI sought for mine appointment unto the priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed
Hmy fathers having turned from their righteousness and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them unto the worshiping of the Gods of the hethens
Hutterly refused to harken to my voice for their hearts were set to do evil and were wholly turned to the God of Elk=Kener and the God of Libnah and the God of Mah–mackrah and the God of Pharoah King of Egypt therefore they turned their hearts to the sacrafice of the heathens in offering up their children unto their dumb Idols and harkened not unto my voice but indeovered to take away my life by the hand of the priest of Elk=Kener
HThe priest of Elk=Keenah was also the priest of Pharoah, now at this time it was the custom of the priest of Pharaoh the King of Egypt to offer up upon the Alter which was built in the land of Chaldea for the offering unto these strange Gods both men, women, and children– and it came to pass that the priest made an offering unto the god of Pharaoh and also unto the god of Shag=reel even after the manner of the Egyptians now the god of Shag–reel was the Sun- even a thank offering of a child did the priest of Pharaoh offer upon the Alter which Stood by the hill called Potiphers hill at the head of the plain of Olishem
HNow this priest had offered upon this alter three virgins at one time who were the daughters of Onitah–one of the royal discent directly from the loins of Ham these virgins were offered up because of their virtue they would not bow down to worship Gods of wood, or of stone therefore they were Killed upon this alter
HAnd it was done after the manner of the Egyptians and it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this alter, and that you might have a knowledge of this alter I will refer you [t]o the representation that is at the commencement of this record
HIt was made after, the form of a bedsted such as was had among the Chaldeans and it stood before the Gods of Elk-keenZibnah Mah-Mach-rah–and also a God like unto that of pharaoh King of Egypt
[p. 1]
HSign of the fifth degree of the first <Seccond> part
HI sought for <mine> the appointment whereunto unto the priesthood  according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concer ning the seed
Hmy fathers having turned from their righteousness and from  the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given  unto them unto the worshiping of the Gods of the hethens
Hutterly refused to harken to my voice for their hearts were set to  do evil and were wholly turned to the God of Elk<=>Kener and the  God of Libnah and the God of Mah–mackrah and  the God of Pharoah King of Egypt therefore they turned their  hearts to the sacrafice of the heathens in offering up their  children unto their dumb Idols and harkened not unto  my voice but indeovered to take away my life by the hand  of the priest of Elk=Kener
HThe priest of Elk=Keenah was also the priest of Pharoah, now at  this time it was the custom of the priest of Pharaoh the King of Egypt  to offer up upon the Alter which was built in the land of Chaldea  for the offering unto there these strange Gods both men, women,  and children– and it came to pass that the priest made  an offering unto the god of Pharaoh and also unto the  god of Shag=reel even after the manner of the Egyptians  now the god of Shag–reel was the Sun- even a thank offering  of a child did the priest of Pharaoh offer upon the Alter  which Stood by the hill called Potipher<s> hill at the head of the  plains of Olishem
HNow this priest had offered upon this alter three virgins  at one time who were the daughters of Onitah–one of the  regular royal discent directly from the loins of Ham  these virgins were offered up because of their virtue they  would not bow down to worship Gods of wood, or of stone  therefore they were Killed upon this alter
HAnd it was done after the manner of the Egyptians and it  came to pass the that the priests laid violence upon me  that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins  upon this alter, and that you might have a knowl edge of this alter <I will refer you [t]o the representation that is at the  com[men]cement of this record>
HIt was made after, the form of a bedsted such as was had  among the Chaldeans and it stood before the Gods of Elk-keen Zibnah Mah-Mach-rah–and als[o] a God like unto that of  pharaoh King of Egypt
[p. 1]
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Napoleon Bonaparte’s late-eighteenth-century adventures, depredations, and exploits unintentionally inaugurated an age of exploration and inquiry into Egyptian antiquities. Subsequently, sometime between 1817 and 1821, an Italian explorer, Antonio Lebolo, uncovered a tomb near Thebes, Egypt, containing a large cache of mummies and papyri. Later, eleven of the mummies were sent to New York City

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

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under what remain curious circumstances. In late June or early July 1835 some of the Saints in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Ohio, purchased four Lebolo mummies and associated papyri from Michael Chandler, an antiquities dealer visiting the area. (Hauglid, Textual History of the Book of Abraham, 1.) JS’s close associate William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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reported on these events to his wife, Sally, then in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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: “On the last of June four Egyptian mummies were brought here. With them were two papyrus rolls, besides some other ancient Egyptian writings. . . . They were presented to President Smith. He soon knew what they were and said that the rolls of papyrus contained a sacred record kept by Joseph in Pharaoh’s court in Egypt and the teachings of Father Abraham.” Phelps added, “These records of old times when we translate and print them in a book will make a good witness for the Book of Mormon.” (William W. Phelps, Kirtland, OH, to Sally Phelps, Liberty, MO, 20 July 1835, in Journal History of the Church, 20 July 1835, CHL.)
Later that year, in response to public excitement prompted by “erroneous statements” circulating in the press concerning the Egyptian artifacts, correspondence between Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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, another close associate of JS, and a William Frye of Illinois

Became part of Northwest Territory of U.S., 1787. Admitted as state, 1818. Population in 1840 about 480,000. Population in 1845 about 660,000. Plentiful, inexpensive land attracted settlers from northern and southern states. Following expulsion from Missouri...

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was printed in the December 1835 issue of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Published under the heading “Egyptian Mummies – Ancient Records,” Cowdery’s letter to Frye endeavored to set the record straight concerning “a quantity of ancient records.” After reviewing the circumstances surrounding acquisition of the artifacts and describing some papyri in detail, Cowdery observed in closing, “When the translation of these valuable documents will be completed I am unable to say; neither can I give you a probable idea how large volumes they will make. . . . Be they little or much, it must be an inestimable acquisition to our present scriptures.” (“Egyptian Mummies – Ancient Records,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1835, 2:223–227.)
By the time the Messenger and Advocate account was published, JS, Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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, Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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, and JS’s scribes Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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and Warren Parrish

10 Jan. 1803–3 Jan. 1877. Clergyman, gardener. Born in New York. Son of John Parrish and Ruth Farr. Married first Elizabeth (Betsey) Patten of Westmoreland Co., New Hampshire, ca. 1822. Lived at Alexandria, Jefferson Co., New York, 1830. Purchased land at...

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had invested portions of the previous six months working with the Egyptian materials. JS’s journal for the period from October to December 1835 contains nine entries recording activity directly associated with the Egyptian documents. One product of their endeavors was a draft transcription of what was designated the Book of Abraham, a first-person narrative recounting a portion of the life of the biblical patriarch Abraham.
The text featured here represents the Abraham text drafted in fall 1835 and is in the hand of Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, who served as one of JS’s scribes at that time. It consists of two pages, front and back, covering what is now referred to as Abraham 1:4−2:6 in the Pearl of Great Price. The text of the first line may be related to the Egyptian materials acquired from Chandler, but nothing definitive has been determined. The manuscript also contains nineteen Egyptian hieratic characters (a cursive form of hieroglyphics) in the left margins. These hieratic characters were taken from the papyri purchased from Chandler, but their exact significance and relationship to the text remains undetermined.
That the text is organized into paragraphs with some punctuation, and that it contains several cancellations and insertions of the sort often associated with recopying a document, suggests that it may have been transcribed from an earlier draft. The manuscript has been in the possession of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the Nauvoo period. (Hauglid, Textual History of the Book of Abraham, 64–65.)
Note: When an Egyptian hieratic character appears on the manuscript, it is represented by a stylized “H” in the transcript. The transcript of the Book of Abraham excerpt presented here is used with generous permission of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. It was published earlier, with some differences in style, in Brian M. Hauglid, A Textual History of the Book of Abraham: Manuscripts and Editions (Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, 2010), 66–81.

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