John Gee is a professor of Egyptology and a senior research fellow at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute at BYU. He previously taught at Yale and worked in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Met in New York. He is one of the leading Egyptologists.
The relationship of the papyri to the Book of Abraham.
1)Book of Abraham was translated from the papyri. Almost no knowledgeable people in the Church believe this. This is a straw man.
2)Book of Abraham was translated from papyri that we no longer have. This seems to be the most likely.
3)Book of Abraham was translated using revelation only. This has less evidence.
The contents of the current fragments are irrelevant to the debate because of point 1.
Eyewitnesses mentioned other scrolls that Joseph Smith had. The “long roll of manuscripts” was probably the source of the Book of Abraham, and we don’t know where that “long roll” is.
Many discussions on this issue concentrate on the straw man of point 1, when almost no knowledgeable latter-day Saints believe this.
New sources of eyewitnesses have been discovered. One eyewitness says the Book of Abraham was on a large scroll. None of the fragments we have are related to the Book of Abraham.
The text of the Book of Abraham. There is an ancient Egyptian story about Pharoah wanting to sacrifice Abraham that corresponds well to the Book of Abraham. There are three clear cases of Egyptian human sacrifice similar to what is described in the Book of Abraham. The historical sacrifices are very similar to Abraham’s sacrifice. (Remember, that Ur was under Egyptian influence in Abraham’s day).
Why should we care about the Book of Abraham? It has had a deep and lasting effect on LDS culture. Only the Book of Abraham deals specifically and clearly with the pre-existence. (Abraham 3:22-23). Other scriptures can be interpreted other ways.
However, you do not need a spiritual confirmation of the Book of Abraham. You need a spiritual confirmation of the Book of Mormon and modern-day prophets. Gee says he trusts God but does not trust dissenters and anti-Mormons. He has had too many experiences with the latter.