Refuting the “book of Abraham”

Posted on February 25, 2009 by Matt

I’ve developed a thorough response and refutation of the Book of Abraham which is a section in the Mormon Scripture “Pearl of Great Price.” There is a wealth of information on this subject and in order present it in a blog worth space I have presented it in bullet format. To read about this subject in full, I suggest reading, “By his own papyrus” by Charles M. Larson. This is the primary resource for this blog.

-Joseph Smith the Founder of the Mormon Church claimed to have the gift of “seer.” Mosiah 8:13 (from the Book of Mormon) defines a seer as “a man that can translate all records that are of ancient date.” Smith apparently utilized this gift to translate the book of Mormon from golden plates.

– July 4, 1835 After having somewhat of a following the “church” was delighted when a man named Michael H Chandler came to town. He had with him a mummy exhibit. This exhibit included four mummies and some ancient hieroglyphics on fragments.

– The Church was excited because they knew smith had the gift of “seer” and would be able to translate the hieroglyphics. He began to translate and a cursory glance led him to conclude, “…I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc.—a more full account of which will appear in its place, as I proceed to examine or unfold them. Truly we can say, the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of peace and truth.” Daniel H Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Vol. 1, s.c. ‘Book of Abraham—Origins of the Book of Abraham,’

-Also while translating this work Smith made a guide called, “Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar.” This never became a “holy” book like Book of Abraham, but the fact that he created it is significant.

– 40 years later a few things had occurred. The book of Abraham was completely translated and had become an official scripture of the Latter Day Saints or Mormons. However, also during this time due to the work of some dedicated scholars the Rosetta stone became fully understood and a usable tool. The Rosetta stone was an Ancient Egyptian artifact that contained a passage in Hieroglyphics and then same passage in Greek. Thus, as much as one is able to discern Greek, with the Rosetta stone he can likewise know Hieroglyphics.

-1878 Orson Pratt the Mormon Prophet (head of the church) claimed the superiority of Mormonism because of their gift of seer, “Have any of the other denominations got this gift among them? Go and inquire through all of Christendom…’Can you translate ancient records written in a language that is lost to the knowledge of man?’ No…the universal reply of the Christian denominations, numbering some 400,000,000 would be that they have not the power to do it…you must give us credit.”

Herein lies the ability to prove the validity of the cornerstone of Mormonism, Joseph Smith and his gift of “seer.” For:

The Mormons have

1. The Ancient Hieroglyphics

2. The alphabet written by Smith

3. The Rosetta stone

4. A chance to prove themselves to the world.

-1965 The alphabet was published. It was written off by experts as non-sensical and having nothing to do with the correct translating of hieroglyphics. While this caused some doubt in the eyes of some Mormons, the alphabet was never considered an official scripture, so it was not a huge deal.

-Eventually several Egyptologists were allowed to examine the Papyrus fragments, their independent conclusions were unanimous: The fragments were common funeral texts, all clearly dating after 500 B.C (which was 1,500 years or more later then when the supposed author “Abraham” lived.) Therefore, they concluded there was no connection whatsoever with the Abraham or any Biblical figure or content.

-The documents were identified as:

1. Book of Breathings

2. Book of Dead, for Lady Amon-Re Neferirnub

3. Book of Dead, for Tshenmin

They were ancient pagan texts.

– There is no consensual response from the LDS church, they vary from the comical “nobody really knows Egyptology” to views of hidden meaning. The hidden meaning response claims that there is both a literally and a spiritual interpretation. However, this response (and the many other similar ones) fail to account for Orson Pratt’s challenge nor Smith’s apparent “seer” ability. Larson discusses all the responses he knows of in his book

-If you want to know how damning this refutation is, then attempt to buy a new copy of Larsons book. The LDS church has purchased and destroyed all new copies. Outside the philosophical problems with the Mormon view of God, Jesus, and Grace, this is the greatest refutation of the cult.


  • Ed on February 26th, 2009

    Matt, this is fantastic man. The book(papyrus) has been an interesting read, almost done..

  • Ellie on March 5th, 2009

    Your knowledge came in handy when the two young Morman men came to our home yesterday. Was it a coincidence that you were there to greet them? I think not.

Leave a Reply