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Explanation of Facsimile of Papyrus Drawing, Early 1842

As discussed in the general introduction to the Book of Abraham manuscripts on this website, JS and his scribes Oliver Cowdery, William W. Phelps, Frederick G. Williams, and Warren Parrish spent considerable time in 1835 engaged in two separate yet related endeavors: a language-study effort that produced a number of Egyptian alphabet and grammar manuscripts; and the translation of the Book of Abraham, which yielded several Abraham manuscripts. However, none of their work related to the Book of Abraham appeared in print until 1842. At that time a portion, if not all, of the Abraham material available was published at Nauvoo, Illinois, in three installments of the Times and Seasons, two in March and one in May of that year as the Book of Abraham.
The Willard Richards document featured here, one of three Abraham texts in Richards’s handwriting, was likely inscribed sometime between late 1841 and early 1842. It may constitute the printer’s manuscript for the explanation of the papyrus “cut” (facsimile 2) published in the second installment of the Book of Abraham under date of 15 March but actually printed on 19 March (Woodruff, Journal, 19 Mar. 1842), which also included verses 14–32 (currently Abraham 2:19–5:21). Richards’s text was inscribed on three pages. Though no earlier iteration has survived, several corrections made to the text suggest it may have been copied from a prior draft. (Hauglid, Textual History of the Book of Abraham, 5–6, 22, 150–151.)
Richards’s manuscripts likely were included in the Egyptian papers that were listed on a manifest compiled by Richards or Thomas Bullock as they were prepared for transport west in 1846 (“Schedule of Church Records. Nauvoo 1846,” [1]; “Historian’s Office Catalogue 1858,” 1, Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL).
Note: The transcript of the Explanation presented here is used with 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), 184–193.