A Missing Papyrus? The Reconstruction Efforts of Joseph Smith of the Original

Many people believe that the Egyptian Original for the Book of Abraham is missing.  Well, if they are referring to an original document that had the text of the Book of Abraham on it in some ancient language, then they would be right, to a degree.  The ancient document that contained the text of the Book of Abraham from ancient times is not available in our day.  The problem is, that many scholars in the Church believe that Joseph Smith had a document in some ancient language that he translated that had the text of the Book of Abraham on it.  This is not the case in the model that I believe in.  He never had any document like that in my view.  If he did, then that is still ok.  And that is a minor/lesser point that doesn't really have much to do with the ultimate outcome of this theory, about whether it works or not.  It works either way.  I'm just stating my preference.   What he did have was the Sensen Papyrus.  As the author had discussed in the previous article, the ancient missing document, from the evidence before us, was a composite/"cut-up" between the Book of Abraham text and characters from the Sensen Papyrus used as decorations in it.  In other words, it was a hybrid document between the two.  There were deliberate associations made between Sensen Papyrus characters and Abrahamic content in that document.  These Sensen characters were like a verse or section marking system.  Furthermore, some of the characters chosen to mark sections would share themes with the sections they mark.  Secondly, they were pictures that were meaningful.  Just like the letter A in the latin alphabet was derived from the picture of an ox.  The earliest version of the A was from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet, which was simply a list of Egyptian hieroglyphs used as consonantal letters.

For example, as we see in Facsimle #2, Figure 1, as I showed you, Creation was the theme there.  The symbol that was chosen for the Creation theme in Kolob was deliberately chosen to represent it because of that theme.

The same type of thing is evident with the "alphabet" characters.  For example, in the Alphabet section of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, the character for the Egyptian letter I was chosen, because it is a pictograph of a reed.  The theme that it was chosen to represent was Land of the Chaldees.  In Sumerian, Land of the Chaldees is the Land of Reeds, or in the Sumerian language, Kiengi.  Joseph Smith's name that he chose for this character was Chalsidohiash, a form of the ancient Kassite/Babylonian word Karduniash, sharing the same root word Kased or Kalsed with our word "Chaldee."  So, the character was deliberately chosen, because it shares a theme.  Here is an article on that:


Another example from the Kirtland Egyptian Papers is the Egyptian symbol that corresponds to our letter W in Egyptian heiratic, which also stands for the number 100 in Egyptian.  This was chosen to represent Abraham, because it is a pictograph of a rope coil.  The character in hieroglyphic that corresponds to it is a quail chick.  Anyway, the hieratic version, being the rope coil, is associated with words in Akkadian and other languages meaning to coil up, or to bend, or to bend the knee, or to bow.  The Hebrew word for bowing, which is an Egyptian-derived word, is Abrek.  Of course, this shows that these associations were chosen because that word sounds like the name Abraham.  Abraham, symbolized by the Egyptian god Osiris, is also associated with the Gnostic god Abrakas (Abraxas), both in Egyptian Gnostic tradition, as well as in the Greek Magical Papyri.  In fact, John Gee showed how a man on the Lion couch in one of the Greek Magical Papyri was associated with the name Abrakam, which is both a representation of the name Abraham, as well as a word-play on the name Abrakas.  Here is the article on this one:


There are numerous other examples Anyway, some of these characters, as we see here, were chosen to mark text, like in the Book of Abraham Manuscripts, as I said before.  Others were chosen to mark Abrahamic concepts, put in an arrangement on the pages like a "table," as we see in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.  So, the missing original ancient document contained a "table," where Abrahamic content was aligned or marked with a custom alphabet derived from Sensen characters.  And then there was the section that contained the actual text that was marked with Sensen characters.

So in summary, yes, the original is missing.  But the difference between the positions that this author is taking and the position that other scholars are taking are these:

(1) It was an ancient hybrid document ("collage"/"mix-up"/cut-up") between Abrahamic material and Sensen characters from the Greco-Roman era, probably the work of an Egyptian Priest.  Some of the characters were repurposed as an artistic, custom "alphabet" to represent Abrahamic themes, with an elaborate letter/word game/puzzle.  This word game had an elaborate, eclectic set of custom rules.

(2) Joseph Smith never had the original document in my view.  It was lost in ancient times.  He only had the Sensen Papyrus, and was able to reconstruct some of the contents of this original, and showed how the ancient compilers of this document artistically and religiously combined Abrahamic material with repurposed Sensen characters.  It is not clear what language the Book of Abraham text was written in, in this original document that is lost.  Perhaps the original Book of Abraham text was in Egyptian too, but it could have been in a Semitic language too, with these decorations taken from the Sensen papyrus "alphabet" that marked the sections of text like section markers.  Mormon scholars should no longer try to push for the idea of a missing papyrus that was in the hands of Joseph Smith in my opinion.  But again, that is a lesser point.  What Joseph Smith was most likely doing was reconstructing the content of that ancient document that he never had in his hands, including the ancient letter/word game.

(3) Joseph Smith was the mastermind behind the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, and those papers contain parts of these reconstruction efforts.  In essence, he is entirely responsible, and the project is ALL his idea.  W. W. Phelps and other scribes were not the masterminds behind the project, but they did have some input.  Remember, that the best way that we as a Church get revelation is by COUNCIL.  We have Church councils on the Ward and Stake level, and now the Church is putting emphasis on Family Councils.  A marriage is a council.  The Godhead is a council.  Joseph Smith and his scribes formed a Council, and they all had input in the project.  And some of the revelatory material in it may have emerged from a Council, and not entirely from the Prophet.  Nevertheless, nobody need doubt anymore that this material is revelatory, and there is no more need to explain it away as a production of the scribes of Joseph Smith only, who were just "working it out in their minds" but "got it wrong" or something.  These are real reconstructions of real ancient material.  And it is not the same type of translation as a regular Egyptian papyrus, because it was an ancient collage/mix-up/cut-up of material lifted from an Egyptian Papyrus, and employed in a different papyrus unique and artistic way for the sake of a religious offering to God and a piece of art, to accompany an already-existing text that came down from the pen of Abraham himself.  No one should doubt anymore the ancientness of what is before us in these documents.  And nobody should deride anymore the work of the ancient Egyptian Priest, or criticize the art form that he created as a sacrifice to his God.