LDS Apologist Undermines the Book of Abraham

The Prophet Joseph Smith said that the Book of Abraham exhibited “Mormonism in its true light” (History of the Church 5:11) and the Lord Himself warned that, “the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people” Doctrine and Covenants 1:14  The Book (sustained as scripture) testifies that it is the words of the Lords Prophet Abraham and it was restored to us through the Lords Prophet Joseph Smith.  Sadly, as we have pointed out before, FAIR is at it again undermining the Book of Abraham, the words of “the father of the faithful”.

In his presentation at this year’s FAIR conference, John Gee starts off with a diversionary tactic claiming,

“There are three different points of view here. One, that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from the papyri that we have. Almost no one really believes this. But to hear the critics tell it this is the official position of the church. It’s not. Nor do most members of the church subscribe to this so far as I can tell. So, it’s a strawman. The second one is that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from papyri that we do not currently have and this is the position that most accords with the historical evidence. And the third one is that Joseph Smith received the Book of Abraham strictly by revelation and it did not come from the papyri at all. ”

What people believe is immaterial to the point.  We know what at least three of the images are on the papyri, making what people believe the rest of the papyri are or are not more than a distraction.

The attacks against the Church by critics focus heavily on the facsimiles found in the Book of Abraham and their explanations given by the Prophet Joseph. It seems it is “Brother” Gee that is putting up the strawman, a strawman he goes on for most of the article trying to dissect.  After his long winded rant in irrelevancy he comes to the actual text of the Book of Abraham, and in an effort to distance the papyri from the text he claims,

“Now, finally we need to actually consider the text of the Book of Abraham itself. So, for Latter-Day Saints, the rest of these issues are peripheral. You go sit down at random in sacrament meeting and ask the person next to you about the Book of Abraham and they will only think of the text. “

Clearly when someone asks about the Book of Abraham you think of the text, but that is also true of the Book of Mormon, and I would never call the translation of the Book of Mormon “peripheral”.  The prophet had 11 witnesses of the plates and there were witnesses to the translation as well.  How the text of the Book of Mormon was brought to us was a witness to the prophet’s status as seer and translator as is the Book of Abraham.   This fact he tries to deny when he says,

“The Book of Abraham is not like the Book of Mormon. It has no equivalent of Moroni’s promise. It is not a sign of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith”

This is a clear attempt to say that it doesn’t matter if the Book of Abraham is true or not, and insinuating that it might not be.  His statement that the Book of Abraham is not like the Book of Mormon because there is no verse in it that says, “if you pray about it you can find out if it is true or not” is laughable. By that logic, the First Vision in Joseph Smith History doesn’t have the promise that we can know if it is true or not through personal revelation and is not a sign of Josephs prophetic calling!  Let’s take a look at “Moroni’s promise though and see if we can see if the Book of Abraham has the same promise.

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” Moroni 10:4-5

He is correct, verse 4 is clearly talking about the Book of Mormon. However, verse 5 says it applies to “all things”!  We can all have a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Abraham.

Unfortunatly, he says,

“I do not have a testimony of the Book of Abraham.”

That is sad, but clear. Allowing Gee to defend something he admittedly does not have a testimony of is quite revealing of FAIR, not to mention allowing his comments to be posted on their website, which purports to defend LDS doctrine.

Going back to John Gee’s statement that the Book of Abraham is not a sign of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith, it seems he is either deluding himself because of his lack of testimony or he doesn’t understand what it means to be a “prophet, seer & revelator” as the prophet claimed and proved to be.

This is what the prophet said about the translation,

“The remainder of this month, I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and … arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients.” History of the Church 2:238

This describes a method much more in accordance with a more traditional translation process than was even used with the Book of Mormon.  Additionally, the facimilies we have in our scriptures have his direct interpretation associated with each image, as seen here:

One portion of the translated papyri, which bears witness to the Temple endowment is found in the second facsimile:







Joseph clearly translated the papyri many today associate with the Egyptian Book of Breathings and/or Book of the Dead (depending on the pet theory of the day). Whither he did it accurately or not will depend on your preconceived notions for or against, or your being humble enough to do as Moroni promised to “learn the truth of all things.  For FAIR to utilize a non-believer as their “defender” of the Book of Abraham shows, in this authors opinion, a desire for popularity instead of a desire to defend the Restoration.


16 thoughts on “LDS Apologist Undermines the Book of Abraham”

  1. The major question the saints in Salt Lake City wanted to know was well what does the characters on the schroll actually say. It was obvious that Book of Breathing wasn’t the actual Book of Abraham used. Joseph Smith described the Book of Abraham as being written in red ink using a beautiful script.While the Joseph Smith scrolls were written in “black”writing and were certainly not beautifull. The experts of the day all said that the Book of Abraham was a fraud without lowering themselves to actually reading the text. The Book of breathing comes from the so called Egyption Book of the Dead. that is a misnomer. It should be called the Egyptian Book of Eternal Life or, The Book of Going Forth by Day. Like the LDS Temple Service it is all about Resurection!

  2. This is really important to me! I have been in a faith crisis, and this has been the biggest problem. Would you please, please link to me where I can read about the red ink. Thank You much.

    1. See the classic book by Hugh Nibley, THE MESSAGE OF THE JOSEPH SMITH PAPYRIA: An Egyptian Endowment. The red papyria are dicussed (I believe in the introduction of the book). You can also go to the index at the back of the book and look up: red ink; Book of Abraham text; Book of Abraham facsimile, meaning of. If you go to the internet Look up Hugh Nibley on google. If you have any more personal question seen them to my e-mail adress [email protected] Like you I have had my crisis of faith. It was Hugh Nibley that had the inteligent answers for me. Hugh Nibley is the best apologists for the Gospel, Christian and Church. lol cp

  3. Honestly, I feel that you are purposefully misunderstanding or misstating John Gee. You cut his full statement short and made it sound worse than what it is.
    “It will probably come as a surprise to many that I do not have a testimony of the Book of Abraham. That is, I have never received a spiritual confirmation of the truth of the Book of Abraham. I do not need one. I have those for the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the gospel, the calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the continuation of those keys and authority through the present day. If you have these things confirmed to you, you do not need to get a cold from every wind of doctrine that blows. It does not matter what some Egyptologist says about the papyri.”
    He has not had a confirmation yet.

    1. To me, you can believe in something without having a testimony of it. So I think that you are trying to strain at a gnat to find something against Gee. Whether you agree or not with the way Gee is attempting to defend the Book of Abraham or not is one thing, and criticisms based on ideology and methodology would be valid. However, to find fault with him because of the kind of faith he has in it is actually rather ad homenim.

    2. It seems to me that the rest of the context from Gee’s quote would have softened the blow.. But it still doesn’t actually change Gee’s position. Does Gee believe the book of Abraham to have come from God the way Joseph Smith said it did?
      It looks to me like he says he doesn’t. He explicitly emphasizes that he doesn’t have a spiritual confirmation of it, having presenting information that he considers to have disproved the legitimacy of what most of us believe about it.
      Whether he believes in Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon is irrelevant the this articles thesis that someone who doesn’t believe in the book of Abraham is chosen by FAIR to apologize for it.

    3. I also know plenty of people who take issues with accepted stances and/or doctrines of the church. I don’t think it makes them bad people. Heck, I’m one of them.
      If I hear that Kate Kelly is publicly selected by FAIR to argue for why only men hold the priesthood, and she instead shares an anti Mormon straw man argument, finishing it by sharing her own lack of a testimony that only men should hold the priesthood right now, I’m going to be questioning FAIR’s judgment and agenda. Even if she couples it with a sincere assurance that she believes in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

      I don’t see this as an attack on Gee, I see it as an attack on FAIR for promoting Gee’s message. Given that context of what FAIR claims to be, I think it is accurate and well deserved.

  4. I believe one needs a testimony of the book of Abraham in order to have a testimony of the temple endowment. The endowment is taken largely from the book of Abraham. You can’t say I have a testimony of one without a testimony of the other.

  5. The Book of Abraham is part of the standard work, when you take the temple prep classes a lot comes from Moses and Abraham. I don’t understand the argument, some of our deepest most beautiful doctrine comes from it….

  6. Ezra is being rather disingenuous here. He has presented a position taken by John Gee which, upon reading the full version of what Gee said in context, is unsustainable.
    It appears to me that Ezra has either failed to understand Gee’s statements, or he is deliberately presenting an alternate view for his own purposes.
    For me, this confirms a suspicion I have had for a while and devalues a number of articles on this site and I shall proceed with a great deal more caution in future.

  7. It’s interesting here the hypocrisy of those at the Mormon Chronicle. You take a person’s quote completely out of context. I agree with the man you call “apostate” or John Gee, in the fact that a testimony of the Book of Mormon and that the testimony of the restored gospel is also true. After that, the Book of Abraham is believable as well. I would honestly recommend accepting the fact that people don’t have to be archconservative or libertarian to be decent members of the church.

  8. I agree with the others who state that you are taking the words of Gee and twisting them to your own agenda. He is not at all attacking the Book of Abraham.

    Bob Gurr
    Kanab, Utah

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