Probably all of you have already read Richard Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, so this isn’t anything new to you. But I wanted to replicate his discussion and explanation for the Book of Abraham in its entirety here. If I merely summarize, I’ll run the risk of interpreting and I want to avoid that risk. Later on I’ll use this as the basis for future discussion that I can refer back to. So here it is: Richard Bushman’s take on the Joseph Smith Papyri and the Book of Abraham that it inspired.
The Abraham texts gave Joseph another chance to let his followers try translating. While working on the Book of Mormon in 1829, Joseph invited Oliver Cowdery to translate: he tried and failed. Now with the Egyptian papyri before them, Joseph again let the men with the greatest interest in such undertakings – Cowdery, William W. Phelps, Warren Parrish, and Fredrick G. Williams – attempt translations. … Continue reading