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By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri Paperback – March 1, 1992
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Charles Larson does an excellent job of presenting the facts about how drastically different Egyptomologists and Joseph Smith translate the same hieroglyphics, while maintaining an attitude of Christian love toward those who have trusted Joseph Smith. His purpose is to spread the knowledge of the truth, and draw all his readers closer to Christ. He's obviously done a tremendous amount of research. I was very impressed with every aspect of this book. The photos are wonderful. The papyrus speak for themselves. I would recommend this book to anyone who cares if "The Book of Abraham" is truly from God. In the words of Christ, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." May God bless your search for truth. -- email@example.com from Marysville, WA, U.S.A. , September 15, 1998
From the Publisher
This book examines one of the most significant events in modern Mormon history - the rediscovery in 1967 of the Egyptian papyri from which Joseph Smith claimed to translate the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price.
In the first two chapters of By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus, former Mormon and Brigham Young University graduate Charles M. Larson, recounts the circumstances under which Joseph Smith acquired the two Egyptian scrolls, and his claim to have identified one of them as an account by the Biblical patriarch Abraham of his sojourn in Egypt (as described in Genesis 12:10-20). Then in chapters 3-10 Larson steps the reader through a detailed array of primary physical evidences which establish four major points: (1) the papyri which came to public attention in 1967 (color photographs of which are reproduced in the book) are indisputably those which Joseph had in his possession when he produced the Book of Abraham, (2) Joseph Smith did purport that the Book of Abraham was a translation from one of these papyrus scrolls, (3) the scrolls are now known to date from around the time of Christ, some 2,000 years after the time of Abraham, and (4) the scrolls have been identified by Egyptologists - including LDS scholars - as common, pagan Egyptian burial documents, that do not mention Abraham and have no connection to the contents of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price.
By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus includes an impressive foldout panel with the first published full-color photographs of the Joseph Smith papyri. It also includes photographs of Joseph Smith's original translation manuscripts for the Book of Abraham, and translations by modern Egyptologists of the Egyptian text of the Joseph Smith papyri.
Later chapters of the book provide an up-to-the-minute examination of the various theories which Mormon scholars have put forth to defend the integrity of the Book of Abraham.
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Mormon reviewers naturally tend to take issue with the book, but I find it telling that the LDS church has not taken an official position on it . I live in Utah, where the church is all-pervasive, and it is almost inconceivable that the church would not have demolished a book such as this - unless, of course, it can't. It seems that this is another case where the church has stuck to its doctrine that faith is to be more relied upon than facts (other examples being DNA data about the origin of Native Americans, or the lack of archaeological evidence for the societies described in the Book of Mormon).
I believe that the book is essential reading for anyone living in Utah, whether as a defense against proselytizing by pairs of Elders (now even younger and more brain-washed) or as a means of better understanding a church that is an enormous force for good but which seems to have been founded upon delusion (but which nevertheless modestly claims to have made obsolete 2,000 years of more orthodox Christianity). People living elsewhere may find it of less interest.
I should explain the title of my review. I was originally going to give the book a lower rating, because it ends with a quite unnecessary chapter touting the virtues of "biblical Christianity", but then I read the explanation (in a comment on a review) by the author's son: this final chapter was forced on the author as a condition of obtaining funding for printing, and it is hoped that one day it will be removed (however, it's now 14 years later, and the copyright is now held by a religious organization, so don't hold your breath...). I consider the basic thesis well worth 5 stars.
Let's start with the pros:
* A full color foldout of the papyri, with captions and labels
* A detailed history of the papyri (how they were acquired, how JS supposedly translated them, and their history post-1960s)
* Extremely authoritative listing of criticisms and apologetic rebuttals
* Good index and appendix (somethings that Robert Ritner's excellent 2013 book "The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition" are missing)
* Rather biased. I don't mean this in the "it's anti-Mormon" sense, but rather in the sense that it is approaching these papyri from a decidedly Evangelical Christian perspective. Some arguments, thus, hinge entirely (and only) on the use of Biblical passages and interpretations thereof
Overall: I would recommend getting this book. It has its flaws, but it is a good overview of the Joseph Smith Papyri, and provides quite a bit of evidence, both textual and in the way of pictures, to support what it is trying to say. I would recommend purchasing this with the aforementioned book by Ritner if one wants to develop a really solid and rigorous understanding of the Book of Abraham.