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Home Book of Abraham Special Section What of the Text in the Facsimiles?

What of the Text in the Facsimiles?

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Joseph Smith gave his version for some of the writings contained within the registers of No. 2 & No. 3 Facsimiles. The critics smugly, if not gleefully, point out that the explanations of the prophet have no correspondence whatsoever with modern Egyptology and in this thought they are somewhat right. It is obvious that the prophet did not translate the hieroglyphs according to Egyptologist' understanding of the deciphered language. The prophet's work deviated from conventional translation and even referred to some of the text as numbers and almost tantalized us by not revealing the values but left that task to the world scholars. That particular text is not really numbers per se, but simply more of the written word in ancient Egyptian. That in itself leaves a big question mark. It is obvious that Joseph Smith had something else in mind and modern Egyptology would not come to terms with the prophet. I think everyone can agree with that conclusion, whether one sees the prophet's work  in a positive light or a negative one-- we all agree that Joseph Smith was doing things differently and walking down his own path of Egyptology.

Nevertheless, the critics insist that Joseph Smith led his people to believe that he was performing a real translation of the text which was out of reach of the scientists of the day and that he represented his work as if it was a genuine conventional translation that even the world would come to accept in due time, pending further light and knowledge in cracking the code. This is one reason why critics are upset with LDS apologists who offer a different explanation for Joseph Smith's work as they steer it away from a conventional translation. The critics contend that the prophet was outright deceiving the people with a spoof translation and that LDS apologists simply try to cover it up by pleading to alternative forms of translation and  lending it to some sort of spiritual explanation which is nothing more than a big fat excuse for something that has squarely been proven wrong.

Have the explanations to the Facsimiles really been proven wrong? That will depend on who you talk to. Almost every Egyptologist will tell you that Joseph Smith got it wrong and they base this on their understanding of modern Egyptology and all the conventions that go with it. On the other hand, if you talk to an LDS apologist such as myself or Kerry Shirts, you will quickly learn that there is more to this story than meets the eye and mere conventional Egyptology is not enough to explain Joseph Smith's work.

So with that; how do I explain the problematic mystery to the satisfaction of the critics? I start by introducing that long word called, "representationalism" and remind the reader that this work involves symbolism and mystery produced by the prophet Joseph Smith that we do not yet fully understand. But this brief explanation is not enough to satisfy anyone who demands answers, let alone myself. It certainly is preferable to come up with answers raised by legitimate questions that cast doubt on the truth of Joseph Smith's revelations. So why did Joseph Smith call it a "translation" when it fact it was something else other than a real translation that Egyptologist could later accept?

First, we need to consider the prophet's motives and understanding of the whole affair. Joseph Smith knew that the ancient Egyptian language was dead and was not known to the world in modern times. The prophet was free to assign meaning and symbolic definition to the signs for religious purposes and not for the purpose to serve the world. Nevertheless, my website and Kerry Shirt's website has clearly demonstrated that Joseph Smith miraculously steered his way into Egyptian imagery with absolute success. By the grace of God he declared many things that conformed exactly to modern Egyptology when making his interpretations and that is a sign to all the world that the Book of Abraham is true.

It may startle most critics to learn that virtually none of the written text in the Facsimiles was translated by Joseph Smith! When it comes strictly to the texts Joseph Smith had very little to say. Let us now examine the prophet's direct translation of the text found in both Facsimiles and make some observations:

FACSIMILE NO. 2 (Hypocephalus)

Fig. 8. Contains writings that cannot be revealed unto the world; but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God.

Fig. 9. Ought not be revealed at the present time.

Fig. 10. Also.

Fig. 11. Also. If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be. Amen.

Figures 12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20, and 21 will be given in the own due time of the Lord.

The above translation is given as far as we have any right to give at the present time.


What exactly did Joseph Smith specifically translate?


Absolutely nothing! The translations mentioned are those pertaining to the pictures only! I have made plenty of commentary to those matters throughout my website. Joseph Smith didn't translate any of the hieroglyphs in the Hypocephalus but only made some general observations which are:

  1. Writings can't be revealed but are had in the Holy Temple.

  2. Not to be revealed at present.

  3. Let the world take a stab at those numbers and figure it out if they care to.

  4. Will be given when the Lord wills it.

The writings of Fig. 8. (that are had in the Mormon temple) are appropriately translated as:

"Lo, the soul of Osiris Shoshenq will live."; ti anx bA Wsir SAs(nq).

The conventional translation of the characters in this register certainly finds direct relation to the Mormon temple wherein a priesthood bearer becomes anointed just like the god-king Osiris with the promise and hope of living forever in the resurrection! The connection made by Joseph Smith is remarkable and cannot be refuted by the critics. It is a perfect bull's-eye!

The second matter which may be somewhat considered as a partial translation are the characters found in register 11 and are called numbers by the prophet. The actual translation of these characters along with a conjunction of the first character of the second row in conventional Egyptology is:

"O God of those who sleep in death from the beginning of time i.nTr.i sDrw m sp tpii.

Although these characters are not numbers in the strictest sense of the word they do however lend themselves to numbers in a round about way. The "beginning" (tepy) means "first" and since the paragraph is talking about death and resurrection we may liken it to Christian theology where there are two resurrections, namely the first and second. Hence, we have "numbers" 1 & 2. Again, Joseph Smith was right on when he called the characters numbers when bringing the Egyptian doctrine into the Christian light.


Fig. 2. King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters above his head.

Fig. 4. Prince of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, as written above the hand.

Fig. 5. Shulem, one of the king's principal waiters, as represented by the characters above the hand.

Here we see that the only thing Joseph Smith translated was absolutely nothing! Other than assigning three of the figures to the characters above them there is no translation given and certainly no names are called out by the prophet. Amazingly Joseph Smith pointed out that names of royal persons in a court setting would appropriately be placed above their heads and hands. Joseph Smith got a dead ringer on that one! The characters as well as the signs above them in the scene are given their appointment by the principle of representationalism. This funerary scene is completely interchangeable with the story of Abraham for illustration purposes only. Joseph Smith knew this and he simply used the Facsimile No. 3 to tell the story of Abraham.


Joseph Smith did not mistranslate any thing from the Facsimiles. He used them to help restore the lost story of Abraham and in doing so he proved his skills as a prophet and as one who received revelation from the Lord.

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise because if they do they don't know what they're talking about.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2010 13:36  

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