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Parallels With the Book of Abraham

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Ancient Parallels With the Book of Abraham

And of course, still more showing us just how far we have to get to in order
to start drawing hard and fast negative conclusions against Joseph Smith.
The critics want fast, pat answers, as long as they end up negative. But the
information available demonstrate there is more to this than meets the eye.

***If the Book of Abraham is so phony and simply made up in the cranium of
Joseph Smith, how is it that it fits so well into the ancient scheme of
things which Joseph Smith certainly did not only not have access to, but did
not have the time to research into all this? I have found this stuff, but it
has taken me several years of quiet and careful study and the purusing
through many university libraries. Can it be shown that Smith had this kind
of time and access to this type of careful Egyptological research?***

As more and more scholars gather information on the ancient scriptures
they find texts which deal with areas that the Mormon scriptures also
deal with. In many ways Joseph Smith is being confirmed as being correct
which is no surprise to us Mormons. It is necessary to deal with all the
information which is coming out on the Book of Abraham. While the issues
with the papyri are interesting, it is to the text of the Book of Abraham
that
we turn to in order to see if Smith had anything. He had everything!

Ancient sources verify that Abraham saw God's creations as recorded in
the Book of Abraham - translated by Joseph Smith.

The Bible does not deal with the following detail: "And [God] said unto
me: My son, my son (and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show
you all these. And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things
which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before
my eyes, and I could not see the end thereof." (Abr. 3:12).

The Apocalypse of Abraham makes the same claim, where Abraham is
carried aloft to heaven to view the wonders of the universe. The Lord
tells Abraham that he [the Lord] would "show [him] that which is in
heaven, and upon the earth, and in the sea, and in the abysses, in the
underworld, and in the Garden of Eden and its rivers, and in the fullness
of the circuit of the whole world; for you shall behold all."

Daniel C. Peterson points out that the above quotation "is almost an
exact translation of the Egyptian words in the left middle portion
of Fac. #2 of the Book of Abraham. (figures 9 and 10). "News From
Antiquity," Ensign, Jan. 1994, p. 19.

When we look further into this in Charlesworth's text, "Old Test.
Pseudepigrapha," Vol. 1, we note that the angel which visits Abraham
takes him to heaven and tells him to look (cf. the angel with
Nephi who during his interview and vision tells him to "look")
and shows him a picture of the cosmos (p. 694-698).

In the picture Abraham sees half of humanity on one side of the circle
and the other half on the other side (note how hypocephali are divided
in two halves, usually the solar half or male half on top and the lunar
or female half underneath). Notice also how the heavens are layered,
which correlates to the Mormons claiming there are more than just
one heaven and one hell. Other ancient religions also have three heavens
and various layers in the underworld.

The hypocephalus is a cosmic map so to speak. The Apocalypse of
Abraham definitely has this conception of the circular heavens with
all the animals, people and wars, peace, etc. Abraham is given a
guided tour, exactly as Nephi is in the Book of Mormon. One of the
most striking things to me the very first time through the BofMormon
was how Nephi was just talking and asking and receiving answers from
his heavenly visitor and guide. We now know that this type of interviewing
does take place, and in fact, as in the Bof Abraham, in other ancient
literatures, there is the pre-existence of souls taught, as in the "Prayer
of Joseph" fragment A, which states clearly: " I, Jacob [notice how Jacob
starts his text as Nephi does, "I, Nephi..."] who is speaking to you, am
also Israel, an angel of God and a ruling spirit [cf. Abraham who is also
chosen as one of the leaders in the Bof Abraham] Abraham and Isaac
were created before any work." (Charlesworth, "O.T. Pseud." Vol. 2,
p. 713). Note the idea of preexistence and ruling spirits above others and
being called with a holy calling, etc. All this is ALSO in our Book of Abra-
ham, but NOT in the Bible, but now known to be authentic. Joseph Smith
was exactly correct in his text. This does seem to be an authentic
ancient book.

In fact when we look further in James H. Charlesworth's incredible texts,
"The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha," Vol. 1, pp. 694-701, we find that
the Apocalypse of Abraham states that Abraham beheld the "hosts of
stars, and the orders they were commanded to carry out, and the elements
of the earth obeying them."

Ancient sources now verify that Abraham was also almost sacrificed, al-
though in the Bible we only have the almost sacrifice of Isaac, in the
BofA, Smith also noted that Abraham was sacrificed. This used to be
thought a blatant bungle of Smith's supposedly showing he was too
stupid to read the Bible carefully and confused Isaac's sacrifice with
Abraham's, but now the fuller picture is out and Smith is verified to the T.

In the Book of Jasher, chapter 12 we find the attempted killing of
Abraham and his deliverance through divine intervention.
In the "Pseudo-Philo" we read of the arch-rival of Abraham, Nimrod and
his followers trying to dispose of Abraham in the furnace of fire, but
through divine intervention, Abraham is saved. ("O.T. Pseudepigrapha,"
Vol. 2, pp. 310-312)

The explanations and ideas expressed in the facsimiles in the BofA are
eternal and represent concepts which we Mormons claim have been taught
since the creation of the world. Milton R. Hunter's book "The Gospel
Through the Ages" demonstrated that many ideas such as the belief in
immortality, the Messianic Hope, the one Divine Savior-God, the Atonement
through sacrifice, the ordinance of baptism, the sacrament, etc. have
been in the world.

Some critics have blindly insisted that each figure in each facsimile
can have only one meaning, and hence that Joseph Smith was incorrect in
each and every instance. For instance, Bishop Spaulding in 1912 said that
Smith's explanations are obviously nothing more than "fraud" and
"fabrication." For instance, the figure on the lion couch cannot be
Abraham as Smith insisted, but it is Osiris, and hence Smith was wrong.
But this exclusiveness is now known to be incorrect, with the Egyptians
having many meanings in EACH figure. Smith was correct in this, his
critics were not. The Egyptians did not think in Aristotilean terms,
such as since A is A, it cannot be B. But to the Egyptians, they thought
in multiplicity of meanings for each figure. If the figure on the lion
couch is Osiris, it can also be Abraham, or Anubis, or anyone who they
could get to be on the lion couch! This has only been discovered since
the 1950's. Because Smith disagrees with what his critics say, does
nothing to prove that Smith was wrong. The Egyptians are always sur-
prising us, but not more so than here with their multiple meanings to
one figure and multiple meanings to another figure, and to every figure
in the facsimiles.

The multiple meanings of Egyptian symbols is nowhere more perfectly
exemplified than in Richard H. Wilkinson's book "Symbol & Magic in Egyptian
Art," Thames & Hudson, 1994. He notes that even the Egyptian Hieroglyphics
have two types of information embedded in them, (p. 155). Egyptian art, oh
much of the art is designed to work on a number of different levels
according to Wilkinson, p. 183. In fact, form symbolism can have HUNDREDS of
different meanings and contexts! P. 16.

But John A. Wilson an Egyptologist out of Chicago, who was well qualified
to caution critics, noted that scholarship requires a more responsible
analysis than "a lot of indignant snorts" ("Thousands of Years: An
Archaeologists Search For Ancient Egypt", p. 176) Wilson added that
"the Mormons will survive this criticism because: Egyptologists can claim
no inspiration. We can only scrape the surface meaning. If Joseph Smith
was a prophet, he was an instrument of divine authority, so that he
might find the deepest meaning." (Wilson, "Ibid"., p.174, 176).

In fact, Eberhard Otto differentiated between the non-mythological
"primary" symbolism and the secondary mythology in the Book of the Dead
(Otto, "Das Verhaeltnis von Rite und Mythus im Aegyptischen" "Sitzung-
berichte der Heildelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften ]Heidelberg:
Carl Winter, Universitaetsverlag, 1958, p. 28). Gertrud Thausing, "Das
Gross Aegyptische Totenbuch" [ Cairo: Oesterreichisches Kulturinstitut,
1969,] p. 67 noted "loftier realities" above and beyond the external
appearances. In other words there is not just one and only one meaning
with Egyptian Symbolism. If Joseph Smith says its Abraham and the Egypt-
ologists say its Osiris, that isn't a necessary contradiction at all.

An ancient source verifies that Abraham saw children sacrificed as record
ed in the BofA, yet unknown in the Bible. "I saw there the likeness of
an idol of wrath, an image made of material like unto that which my
father had made... Before it stood a man, and he worshipped it, and there
was an altar opposite, and BOYS were butchered upon it in full view of
the idol. (Apocalypse of Abraham in Hugh Nibley, "Abraham in Egypt,"
p. 18).

In light of this, Eugen Strouhal’s book "Life of the Ancient Egyptians," Univ. of Oklahoma Press, (1992) is remarkable in that the lion couch on p. 232 is used as a sacrificial alter! It is sloped downwards toward the back as a basin to hold the blood. Hugh Nibley in his book "The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri," p. 155 shows a mummy on the lion couch with no Anubis but it does have a sun shining its rays on the mummy. The inscription above it says his body is being preserved against decay (the hieroglyph is that of a stinking fish). This is the same idea of the hypocaphalus (Fac. 2) which was put under the head of the mummy to preserve its body for the time when the spirit would inhabit it again. In fact, the very idea of mummifying was to transform the corpse itself into a new eternal body, according to John H. Taylor, "Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt," Univ. of Chicago Press, 2001, p. 16. The ba or ka of the individual we are told, was believed to come back to unite with the body. He says later that Books of Breathings were kept under the mummy to be presented to the deities in the afterlife, and to give the corpse life for eternity, (p. 199f), the exact same idea found in Hugh Nibley’s "Message of Joseph Smith Papyri."

Nibley also shows on p. 157 a depiction of the dead in the grave awaiting the resurrection, and the sun shining on it. It is obviously a mummy. Nibley notes it is from the womb of the earth and the place of incubation from which the dead will be reborn. How this ties in is also found in Nibley "Message," p. 214 where he notes that the idea of sacrifice came from the earliest times in Egypt when it was flooding. The idea of sacrifice was to preserve life and guarantee the prosperity of the human race. This was why Pharaoh used a substitute (which is exactly what Abraham was in the ancient myths and rites, as depicted in our own Book of Abraham!), in his place.

Nibley also noted in his book "Abraham in Egypt," (FARMS/Deseret edition, 2000) that Rosenberg noted the substitute sacrifice in place of the king was an institution all over the ancient world, whether in Persia, Babylon, or Egypt. The star Sirius (named in the Book of Abraham as Shagreel!) was known as Saturn! This was the god, who, of course, demanded human sacrifice. (p. 338). The background ideas for the Book of Abraham story is coming out like never before.
(See also Richardson and Bentley, "1,000 Evidences," pp. 67f).

I think its rather obvious that Smith knew whereof he spoke. That he got
any of this correct is astronomically against him. He not only got the
overall concepts of Abraham's life correct, he got many of the details
that simply were unknown to his world of the 1830's. In fact, all facets
of the story of Abraham the way Joseph Smith told it can now be accounted
for.

The idolatrous God of Pharoah being the crocodile as Smith says in Fac.
#1, is strictly correct, since we now know that Unas or Wenis, the last
king of the 5th dynasty, 2356-2323 B.C., had Pyramid Texts reading:
"The King Appears as the Crocodile-god Sobek. In fact, Sobek is viewed
as a manifestation of Horus, the god most closely associated with
kingship in Egypt, during 2040-1640 B.C., the time of Abraham according
to current scholarship. The last king of the 12th dynasty adopted the
name of the crocodile-god calling himself, "Nefru-sobk (Beautiful is
Sobek), and 5 pharoahs of the next dynasty, the 13th, took the name
Sebek-hotpe (Sobek is content).
Lichtheim, "Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings," Berkeley
Univ. of Calif. Press, 1975, p.40.

The Pillars of Heaven and Firmament Over Our Heads:

Ancient texts support Joseph Smith in claiming these represented these
concepts. Smith said that the strange vertical lines at the bottom of
Fac. #1 (Fig. 11) are identified as "designed to represent the pillars
of heaven, as understood by the Egyptians." This phrase occurs several
times in Egyptian literature. Adriaan De Buck, "The Egyptian Coffin
Texts," 61 I 263.


Similarly, the angled lines above the Pillars of Heaven in the Fac. 1
are interpreted as representing the "firmament over our heads."
Daniel C. Peterson explains that this identification only makes sense
when we realize, in light of recent research, that the lines represents
the waves of water in which the crocodile is swimming, and that the one
way the ancient Egyptians conceived of heaven was as a heavenly ocean!
So things make emminent sense from the Egyptian point of view, exactly
as Smith said he was taking as Abraham anciently took, that is, the
Egyptian point of view. Remember, in the book of Abraham, Abraham is not
propounding his own religion, but is telling about the ancient Egyptian
thinking in religious terms, ideas, and philosophy. We are now learning
that in ancient Egypt were the same terms in and of religion as in Joseph
Smith's Book of Abraham.

Joseph Smith claimed that the earth was created out of already existing
matter, such as the ancient Egyptians taught. They taught that "Nun was
chaos, or the primordial waste of waters in which all creation was
imminent." The ancient Egyptians copied the ancient gospel from the
patriarchs. (see Veronica Ions, "Egyptian Mythology, N.Y.: Peter Bedrick
Books, 1986], p. 34; E.A.E. Raymond, "The Mystical Origin of the Egyptian
Temple," Manchester Univ. Press, 1969, p. 187; Cf. Hugh Nibley, "Timely
and the Timeless," 1978, pp. 57fff.

And so it goes. Once one begins an honest exporation into the ancient
Egyptian ideas, one sees all sorts of relevant information for the study of
the Joseph Smith interpretations of the Facsimiles in the Book of Abraham.
But one MUST look.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2010 13:26  

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