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William W. Phelps and Warren Parrish Copy of Abraham Manuscript, Summer–Fall 1835 [Abraham 1:1–2:18]

William W. Phelps and Warren Parrish Copy of Abraham Manuscript, Summer–Fall 1835 [Abraham 1:1–2:18]

Mahmackrah and the god of Koash  and the god of Pharaoh King of Egypt,  therefore they turned their hearts to the  sacrafice of the heathens, in offering up  their Children unto these dum Idols,  and hearkened not unto my voice,  but endeavoured to take away <my> life  by the hand of the priest of Elkkener.
HThe priest of Elkkener was also the pri est of Pharaoh, now at this time it was  the custom of the priest of Pharaoh the  King of Egypt to offer up upon the altar  which was built in the land of cha ldea for the offering unto these stran ge gods, both men women and chi ldren, and it came to pass, that the  priest made an offering unto the  god of Pharaoh, and also unto the god  of Shagreel, even after the manner  of the Egyptians.
(now the god of Shagreel was the  Sun) even a thank offering of a  child did the priest of Pharaoh  offer upon the altar which stood  by the hill called Potiphers hill at  the head of the plain of Olishem.
Hnow this priest had offered upon  this altar three Virgins at one time  who were the daughters of Onitah,  one of the royal descent directly fro[m]  the loins of Ham; these Virgins were  offered up because of their virtue,  they would not bow down to worsh ip gods of wood and <or of> stone,
[p. 2]
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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 the second half of 1835 engaged in two separate yet related endeavors: the translation of the Book of Abraham, which yielded several Abraham manuscripts; and a language-study effort that produced a number of Egyptian alphabet and grammar manuscripts. Both types of manuscripts exhibit connections to the papyri in JS’s possession and, according to the historical record, both projects occurred roughly concurrently. However, there is presently not enough information to definitively ascertain how these two projects are related to each other or to the revelatory process. The particular text featured here, consisting of a draft of what is currently designated Abraham 1:1−2:18, was inscribed by William W. Phelps and Warren Parrish, apparently between mid-1835 and late-spring 1836.
Phelps’s hand appears on the first twenty-one lines on the initial page, with Parrish’s handwriting on the remainder of the document. Phelps evidently copied this text from an earlier Book of Abraham document that is no longer extant (Hauglid, Textual History of the Book of Abraham, 7, 58−59). His contribution, covering passages now associated with Abraham 1:1−3, is not paragraphed but is lightly edited and punctuated and has three hieratic characters appearing in the left margin.
Warren Parrish began copying a text he had worked on earlier (see Warren Parrish Copy of Abraham Manuscript, Fall 1835 [Abraham 1:4–2:2]) onto the first page sometime after Phelps’s entry, probably between 29 October 1835, when he was called to be a scribe for JS, and spring 1836, when he left Kirtland, Ohio, on a mission to Tennessee (Hauglid, Textual History of the Book of Abraham, 22, 110; JS, Journal, 29 Oct. 1835; Woodruff, Journal, 19 Apr. 1836). He began his portion of Abraham’s account where Phelps left off and produced a draft of the text of what is now referenced in Latter-day Saint scripture as Abraham 1:4−2:18. Parrish’s nine and one-third pages of transcription is paragraphed and punctuated, with twenty-five hieratic characters in the left margin.
The Phelps/Parrish manuscript was probably available for reference when the Book of Abraham was prepared for publication in the Times and Seasons in Nauvoo, Illinois, beginning with the 1 March 1842 issue. It was in the possession of JS’s widow Emma Smith Bidamon at the time of her death in 1879. The document was inherited by Emma’s second husband, Lewis Bidamon, and at his death by his son Charles, who sold it to collector Wilford Wood in summer 1937. Subsequently that same year, Wood donated the document to the Church Historian’s Office, now the Church History Library (Wilford Wood, Woods Cross, UT, to Heber J. Grant, Salt Lake City, UT, 24 Dec. 1837, microfilm, Wilford Wood, Collection of Church Historical Materials, CHL; Hauglid, Textual History of the Book of Abraham, 110−111; Peterson, Story of the Book of Abraham, 229).
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 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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