Joseph Smith and the Papyri

I am looking for more background, from our ex-mormon friends, about this subject. Namely, what importance does it hold in the Mormon faith? It seems to me that it proves, withouf a doubt, that Joseph Smith lied about translating it. So what effect does this have on the rest of Joseph Smith’s ability to “translate” and how damaging is this situation to the Mormon faith?

Thanks in advance.

Ah, the Mormons have a way around that false translating thing. You see,
for a while the papyri was lost, people thinking that it was burnt away in
the Chicago Fire that destroyed the museum in which it was held. The
facsimiles match those illustrated in the “Book of Abraham”, but not
the text, so the LDS had to answer.
They say that the papyri we have now isn’t really the Book of Abraham, but rather
the facsimiles were only used for their pictures, and that the portions that actually
did contain the text of Abraham was burnt away in Chicago.

Others will say that Joseph Smith was INSPIRED to write the Book of Abraham, that
there was no translating “per ce”, so even if the papyri read something different (AND
IT DOES, the Book of Breathings), Smith wasn’t actually translating from the papyri.
Is it wrong of me to get amused by the
LDS struggling to explain these issues

Never mind that the facsimiles and Smith’s erroneous translation of them are the Book of Abraham. Taken with the Kinderhook plates, you get a picture of the truth.

Also, the importance of the Book of Abraham is that unlike the Book of Mormon, it explains much of
the LDS cosmology, including astronomy, the godS, premortal existence, etc. The Book of Mormon
is really just a snare to gain converts, I don’t think the Mormons actually have any use for it in their
“inner-circle,” and it is the Book of Abraham they need to desperately preserve for their more core

OH! and by the way, people seem to forget that before the months of “translating” the
papyri, Joseph Smith said also that papyri contained the “BOOK OF JOSEPH” (that
is, the Old Testament Joseph in Egypt), where did that go Mormons, hmm?

To me this is the absolute achilles heel of the LDS church. Why dont the modern day apostle seers and revelators translate the untranslated portions? Why…well we know why
The LDS leaders absolutely know that mormonism is totally false, but stand to lose too much. to admit it

Two of the major nails in the coffin of the BoA are:

  1. Joseph claimed that the Book of Abraham was “written by his (Abraham’s) own hand, upon papyrus” and included that claim in the initial publication of his “translation”. It is still there in the current publication. The papyri have been dated by experts to the late Ptolemaic period - about 1500 years after Abraham died, so Abraham could not possibly have written them “by his own hand”.

  2. Joseph mis-identified every single one of the characters represented in the “facsimiles” (drawings) depicted in the papyri and reproduced in the BoA. The missing portions of the facsimiles were filled in erroneously by Joseph himself or someone he got to draw in the missing portions. Egyptologists unanimously agree that the filled-in portions are ridiculous.

Joseph the con artist simply did not realize that there would come a day when the actual meaning of the papyri would be deciphered, so he felt emboldened to pull off this astoundingly bold deception with no fear of being found out.

Paul (formerly LDS, now happily Catholic)

I agree that the BOA is a huge issue. Lots of people leave over the BOA because the fraud is so very clear. It is important from a LDS cosmology perspective but other than a couple of key scriptures about the premortal existence that are discussed once every four years in Sunday School, it is completely ignored.

The Book of Mormon is heavily stressed even though it does not contain any uniquely Mormon doctrines. I know Mormons from Utah who know the Book of Mormon well but have barely cracked open the Bible. And then these young men are sent on missions to the Bible Belt and other places where the people know the Bible. They are thrown to the wolves and end up looking like idiots if they ever have the guts to Bible bash.

Would be great if some current members of the LDS would jump in here too, and let us know how they think.

Hi iepuras,
Though the BoA is not heavily taught these days, it was when I was LDS (1975-1986). The LDS org is now trying to gradually distance itself from its more distasteful elements (like racism and misogyny). But the doctrine of pre-existence is one of the most important of LDS doctrines and influences everything else they believe.

For instance, the racism against blacks was justified by the BoA doctrine of pre-existence, and the teaching that some did not perfectly keep their “first estate”. The idea that those born into black families were somehow less “valiant” in the pre-existence than their non-black counterparts comes straight from the Book of Abraham, along with its teaching that blacks are the seed of Cain and are denied the priesthood because of it.

Also, the current favorable attitude among young Mormons toward abortion comes from the belief in pre-existence. Many young Mormons believe that since spirits are already existing, just waiting for the opportunity to be born, then if a woman aborts a baby, that spirit just goes back to the “waiting room” and gets the chance to be born into another family - perhaps to even better parents.

When I was LDS, many women (like my sister) married very bad LDS “elders” who told them they had had a revelation that when he and she were in the pre-existence, they had made a “covenant” to wed in mortal life. These gullible young girls had been taught to “follow the priesthood” (even when that priesthood holder was some creepy 22 year-old boy), so they accepted his “revelation” about their “covenant in the pre-existence” and married the creep, only to live a life of misery and betrayal. I am quite certain that this still happens, since my LDS nieces seem just as clueless and gullible as my sister was.

My point is that, even though the BoA is not stressed or taught as much as it was 30 years ago, the doctrines that Joseph Smith used the BoA to introduce to the LDS org have colored all of its teachings and culture to this day. That is the reason why this abomination disguised as scripture must be unmasked and, like a vampire, dragged into the sunlight to be destroyed.

Paul (formerly LDS, now happily Catholic)

I remember the thought that everybody needs a body (run at being on earth) so infant death and now abortion is just all those exceptionally good souls that needed to check the box on having a body.

My thoughts exactly. I would be very curious what the rationale and thought process is concerning that. I am seriously considering joining a mormon forum to ask some of my questions, because our mormon friends here don’t seem to want to dialogue anymore.

LivingWaters or anyone else: What is a good mormon board for mormon apologetics? And I want a good one. I want to get their very best.

Hi Paul,

I am 35 and grew up in Texas so I never heard the odious doctrines you describe above while growing up. I agree that the pre-mortal existence, along with the whole plan of salvation, is vital to Mormon theology. Without it, Mormonism doesn’t have anything unique to offer. Those doctrines come from BOA, so they really cannot abandon it completely without throwing out one of their key doctrines.

It was when I went to BYU that I learned of all the racist doctrine regarding the pre-mortal existence and blacks. I was taught a more sanitized version where race wasn’t explicitly mentioned (it was implicit) in a BYU Book of Mormon religion class. I was shocked. I mentioned to some others in my student ward, who were from Utah, about all the “false doctrine” that I had been taught in BYU religion classes and in Sunday School. They were very condensending towards me, and basically because I was from “the mission field” I didn’t know anything. Silly me, believing that God’s true church shouldn’t teach racist doctrines and should be loving to everyone! I very much agree that BOA needs lots of sunshine so that it will be destroyed. A friend of mine who was a close friend to my sister left Mormonism quite a while ago over the BOA and racism. The issue that lead me out was polygamy, wife stealing/polyandry and Section 132.

The Mormon church needs to lose the BOA and Section 132 to sanitize their doctrines and make them more palatable to regular people. However by doing so, they remove what makes Mormonism different. There would be no compelling reason to be Mormon without the plan of salvation which relies on the BOA for “validity”.

The best forum would be Mormon Dialogue and Discussion Board. I like this forum because you can discuss doctrines and practices in depth, and they try to keep it to that. Most posters are LDS, and there are a few Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox, inactive LDS, etc.

There is also Mormon Discussions Board. This board is also good, though it isn’t really a “Mormon forum”, as there are more non-LDS/inactive LDS there than actual active LDS.

oh boy…
You’ll get kicked out, I’m sure.

Mormon Orson Pratt did once said “If we cannot convince you by reason nor by the word of God, that your religion is wrong, we will not persecute you…we ask you the same generosity…convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God and we will be forever grateful for the information.”
(The Seer, pg.15)
I think Pratt was very honest and sincere himself in saying that, and it may be used by some Mormons today to fake humbleness, but really they don’t want to be convinced, because "They Know" the LDS Church is true. Break their faith and you break them so I think they want to avoid shaking things up.

you do join such a forum, God go with you.

This is my prediction.

On Mormon Dialogue, you’ll get the same answers you can read here:

Beyond that, if you push, you’ll be informed that you’ve been given the information, nothing more to discuss. If you push more, you’ll be labeled an “anti-Mormon”. If you push more, you’ll be banned.

On Mormon Discussions, you’ll find the former LDS will agree with you, and the active LDS will refer to FAIR, again. You’ll also find Mormon “scholars” who have written copiously on “could’ve been” ideas, that are wayyyy out there on the fringes.

For the average Mormon, the answer is “I believe”, and it doesn’t really matter to them that there is evidence that conflicts with what is believed. The beginning point for a believing Mormon is Joseph Smith, who in this view, never did anything wrong. Any conflicts are “persecution”, and any historical evidence contrary to belief is “anti-Mormon”.

Wow…I have spent the better part of my day reading FAIR material. They definitely do put alot of time into their apologetics. I can see how they could convince someone from birth that mormonism is true. I have a new sense of sympathy for those stuck in mormonism.

(So glad of being out of Mormonism…nothing like leaving spiritual “hoop jumping” behind…I have better things to do with my life…)

And it all is incredibly dopey…and the real sad part is, a TBM lines up, hook line and sinker…

A person can have both critical thinking skills AND faith, and not have to jump thru hoops while ignoring the very obvious…

Hello Paul,

There are other belief systems which believe in a preexistence, namely those who believe in r***********n.  Some beliefs would be considered distasteful and some commendable. I would just like to point out that the above views are only the LDS view of the preexistence.

Good luck!

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