Translations by Joseph Smith

Can we place our faith on his word?
Jesus founded his Church on a “rock” named Peter and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

What makes JS the new rock?
1)

The “Kinderhook Plates,” a group of six metal plates with strange engraved characters, unearthed in 1843 near Kinderhook, Illinois, and examined by Smith, who began a “translation” of them. He never completed the translation, but he identified the plates as an “ancient record,” and translated enough to identify the author as a descendant of Pharaoh. Local farmers later confessed that they had manufactured, engraved and buried the plates themselves as a hoax. They had apparently copied the characters from a Chinese tea box. *

utlm.org/topicalindexb.htm#Kinderhook%20Plates*

The Book of Abraham, from Egyptian papyrus scrolls which came into his possession in 1835. He stated that the scrolls were written by the biblical Abraham “by his own hand.” Smith’s translation is now accepted as scripture by the LDS church, as part of its Pearl of Great Price. Smith also produced an “Egyptian Grammar” based on his translation. Modern scholars of ancient Egyptian agree that the scrolls are common Egyptian funeral scrolls, entirely pagan in nature, having nothing to do with Abraham, and from a period 2000 years later than Abraham. The “Grammar” has been said by Egyptologists to prove that Smith had no notion of the Egyptian language. It is pure fantasy: he made it up.

mrm.org/multimedia/text/abraham.html

We’ve already covered the Kinkerhook Plates hoax in other threads and the case for JS translating it is pretty weak so I’ll refer you to past threads.

If you want to cover the Book of Abraham here I’ll try to respond when I get a chance. In the interim there are several articles that respond to anti-mormon claims about it over at Fairlds.org.

[quote=Casen]We’ve already covered the Kinkerhook Plates hoax in other threads and the case for JS translating it is pretty weak so I’ll refer you to past threads.

If you want to cover the Book of Abraham here I’ll try to respond when I get a chance. In the interim there are several articles that respond to anti-mormon claims about it over at Fairlds.org.
[/quote]

Yeah, I have read some of the Fairlds.org responses and I have to say they are pretty lame. One argument I read was that the fragments we have really are fragments of the Book of the Dead but what Smith translated are no longer extant. Or since the original papyrus contains nothing about Abraham, some Mormon apologists have suggested that Joseph Smith may have obtained the Book of Abraham by way of direct revelation and not from the papyrus. However, we have in Smith’s own handwritting his attempts at translating the text. In one case Smith derived 177 English words out of the word “Khons” - the name of an Egyptian moon god! It is impossible to escape the conclusion that the Book of Abraham is a product of Joseph Smith’s imagination.

[quote=arieh0310]Yeah, I have read some of the Fairlds.org responses and I have to say they are pretty lame. One argument I read was that the fragments we have really are fragments of the Book of the Dead but what Smith translated are no longer extant. Or since the original papyrus contains nothing about Abraham, some Mormon apologists have suggested that Joseph Smith may have obtained the Book of Abraham by way of direct revelation and not from the papyrus. However, we have in Smith’s own handwritting his attempts at translating the text. In one case Smith derived 177 English words out of the word “Khons” - the name of an Egyptian moon god! It is impossible to escape the conclusion that the Book of Abraham is a product of Joseph Smith’s imagination.
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Actually the argument that we don’t have what JS translated is pretty compelling to me. I recall a journal entry where the Abrahamic scrolls were said to stretch from one end of the Kirtland temple to the other when unrolled. And since most were destroyed in the Chicago fire and today we only have a few fragments I don’t know how you can conclude that JS invented them. There were lots of witnesses of the original scrolls.

[quote=Casen]Actually the argument that we don’t have what JS translated is pretty compelling to me. I recall a journal entry where the Abrahamic scrolls were said to stretch from one end of the Kirtland temple to the other when unrolled. And since most were destroyed in the Chicago fire and today we only have a few fragments I don’t know how you can conclude that JS invented them. There were lots of witnesses of the original scrolls.
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So, lack of evidence is evidence of his correct translation of the scroll? How about the ridiculously inaccurate translations he did? All of the first two rows of characters on the papyrus fragment can he found in the manuscript of the Book of Abraham that is published in Joseph Smith’s Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. On the cover of this tract is a photograph of the original fragment of papyrus from which Joseph Smith was supposed to have translated the Book of Abraham. A careful examination of the original manuscripts in the handwriting of Joseph Smith’s scribes reveals that Smith used less than four lines from this papyrus to make forty-nine verses in the book of Abraham. These forty-nine verses are composed of more than 2,000 English words. His translation of “Reformed Eqyptian” (which doesn’t exist) is not even close to accurate.

Please… The facsimiles that are published in the Pearl of Great Price are themselves sufficient to show that Joseph did not accurately translate these scrolls.

The scrolls that are in existence today clearly include those exact portions. It should be noted that there are damaged portions that Joseph “filled in” as well. This is where the facsimiles change from heiroglyphics to heiratic in midsentence.

We can see his translation in the LDS scriptures and compare this with the actual translation available to us today.

I find the LDS apologists answers to this to be very unsatisfactory. There is ample evidence from strictly LDS sources that Joseph Smith claimed that this was a literal translation of a record that Abraham wrote “in his own hand”.

We can easily see right now from the LDS scriptures themselves that this is not correct.

If the only objectively verifiable translation from Smith has been proven to be a complete fabrication how can we trust any translation were it is impossible to get the original source material?

On May 1, 1843, the Mormon Church’s own publication, Times and Seasons, reprinted an article which claimed that a “resident in Kinderhook” dreamed “three nights in succession” that in a mound near his home “there were treasures concealed.” Ten or twelve men dug into the mound and “found SIX BRASS PLATES.” The plates were later brought to Nauvoo. In a letter written from that city, dated May 2, 1843, Charlotte Haven said that when Joshua Moore “showed them to Joseph, the latter said that the figures or writing on them was similar to that in which the Book of Mormon was written, and if Mr. Moore could leave them, he thought that by the help of revelation he would be able to translate them.” (Overland Monthly, Dec. 1890, page 630)

There is definite proof that Joseph Smim claimed he had translated a portion of the plates. The evidence comes from the diary of William Clayton, Joseph Smith’s private secretary. Clayton wrote the following:

“I have seen 6 brass plates… covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. Prest J. has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.” (William Clayton’s Journal, May 1, 1843, as cited in Trials of Discipleship -*The Story of William Clayton, a Mormon, page 117)

The information in Clayton’s journal was deemed so important that it was used as a basis for the story of the Kinderhook plates which is printed in the History of the Church. The following is attributed to Joseph Smith:

"I insert facsimiles of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook…

“I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth.” (History of the Church, Vol. 5 page 372)

[quote=majick275]Please… The facsimiles that are published in the Pearl of Great Price are themselves sufficient to show that Joseph did not accurately translate these scrolls.

The scrolls that are in existence today clearly include those exact portions. It should be noted that there are damaged portions that Joseph “filled in” as well. This is where the facsimiles change from heiroglyphics to heiratic in midsentence.

We can see his translation in the LDS scriptures and compare this with the actual translation available to us today.

I find the LDS apologists answers to this to be very unsatisfactory. There is ample evidence from strictly LDS sources that Joseph Smith claimed that this was a literal translation of a record that Abraham wrote “in his own hand”.

We can easily see right now from the LDS scriptures themselves that this is not correct.
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Abraham wrote? Did he read as well? For heaven’s sakes people, this is getting more preposterous daily! 99.9% of the population in Abraham’s time did not read or write. Can we at least stay a little grounded in truth here, if not for the sake of God, but for the sake of sanity?

[quote=stillsearching]Abraham wrote? Did he read as well? For heaven’s sakes people, this is getting more preposterous daily! 99.9% of the population in Abraham’s time did not read or write. Can we at least stay a little grounded in truth here, if not for the sake of God, but for the sake of sanity?
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Good point. The idea of Abraham writing anything is rather absurd.

Let me refer you to another discusson on the Book of Abraham here at CA: Book of Abraham

When I first joined the LDS church 24 years ago I could tell even then that the plate was very wrong and should not be included in the BOM, but until I started researching it I never realized that it’s as fake as a 3 dollar bill.

God Bless

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