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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]

HNow I Abram, built an altar unto  the Lord, in the land of Jurshon  and made an offiring unto the Lord  and prayed that the famine, mig ht be turned away from my fathers  house, that they might not perish;  and then we passed from jurshon thr ough the land unto the place of Sich em, it was situated in the plains of  Moreh, and we had already, come  into the land <borders> of the <land of the> Canaanites, and  I offered sacrifice there, in the plains  of Moreh, and called on the Lord devo utly because we <[we]> had already come into  the land of this Idolitrous nation.
[p. 10]
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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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