1. Do I understand correctly that the existing Abraham translation is only 25% of what Joseph Smith produced? How did Gee determine that? How do we know the quantity of something we do not have or have ever seen?

    In any case, I am looking forward to reading your series on the Book of Abraham.

  2. Yes. According to Gee, we only have 25% of the text that Joseph translated of the Book of Abraham. The rest is lost. We don’t know where the manuscripts are of the original translation. The only reason we have the text we do is because it was published in the Times and Seasons. The rest of it wasn’t published in the newspaper, unfortunately. I’m not sure where Gee got his information on how long the text was. What we do know is that Joseph spent several more days after July 1835 on the translation, and none of that translation is extant today. I’ll see if I can find out more.

  3. Not only are we missing the rest of the Book of Abraham (which, if you see how the text ends in the P of GP– rather abruptly — you’ll know that Gee was right), but we are also missing the entire Book of Joseph that the Prophet had too.
    I’m interested in your stuff on the Facsimiles. I think it is highly under-appreciated.

  4. All of the Book of Abraham that we have now was published in the Times and Seasons in March and May of 1842. However, a year later, the February 1, 1843 issue of the Times and Seasons states that “we had the promise of Br. Joseph, to furnish us with further extracts from the Book of Abraham.” But these were never published in the newspaper.

    Oliver Cowdery noted in December 1835 that he thought the book would take up volumes – “When the translation of these valuable documents will be completed, I am unable to say; neither can I give you a probably idea how large volumes they will make; but judging from their size, and the comprehensiveness of the language, one might reasonable expect to see a sufficient to develop much upon the mighty acts of the ancient men of God…” (Oliver Cowdery, Messenger and Advocate, 2, no. 15 (Dec. 1835): 234-236.). On the same occasion Oliver described the text as relating the stories of the fall of man, Enoch’s pillar, and Seth, subjects which are not treated in our current Book of Abraham.

    H. Donl Peterson also notes, “If Anson Call’s account is accurate that some brethren in Missouri read from the writings of Abraham for nearly two hours, the Prophet translated considerably more of the papyri than is currently printed in the Pearl of Great Price. An average reader can read aloud the published Book of Abraham account in approximately thirty to thirty-five minutes” (Peterson, The Story of the Book of Abraham, 156.).

    A non-member once recalled, “The Mormons have four mummies, and a quantity of records, written on papyrus, in Egyptian hierogliphics, which were brought from the catacombs near Thebes, in Egypt. They say that the mummies were Egyptian, but the records are those of Abraham and Joseph, and contain important information respecting the creation, the fall of man, the deluge, the patriarchs, the book of Mormon, the lost tribe, the gathering, the end of the world, the judgment, &c. &c. This is as near as I can recollect; if there is an error I hope some of the Mormons will point it out, and I will recall it. These records were torn by being taken from the roll of embalming salve which contained them, and some parts entirely lost but Smith is to translate the whole by divine inspiration, and that which is lost, like Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, can be interpreted as well as that which is preserved; and a larger volume than the Bible will be required to contain them” (HC 5:293).

    I’ll have to do some more digging, but perhaps Gee is going off of Call’s account that the book took the brethren two hours to read. If our text takes a half-hour to read today, then the early saints might have had four times as much text originally. In any case, from these quotes we get a picture that the text was much longer than what we have printed today. It gets hard to track down exactly how much he translated, and when he translated which parts, however.

    I don’t think the “writings of Joseph of Egypt” were ever translated. The last journal entry from Joseph that mentions translating on March 9, 1842 says that he was continuing to translate and revise the Book of Abraham. So while he may have had the papyri of the Book of Joseph, he probably didn’t get a chance to translate it.

  5. Well, many members don’t pay attention to the fourth that we have, maybe the Lord withheld the rest so as to prevent us from greater condemnation for not take that seriously as well! It’s really too bad that we didn’t get at least some of the writings of Joseph as well, though. Great post, Bryce!

  6. It’s certainly possible. We probably won’t receive the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon until we are worthy for it as well. Joseph’s writings would have been great! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *