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An Introduction to the Book of Abraham Hardcover – October 2, 2017
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About the Author
- Publisher : RSC/BYU Deseret Book Company (October 2, 2017)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 160 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1944394060
- ISBN-13 : 978-1944394066
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
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#1,358,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gee explains extremely well why there is not certainty on many aspects of the Book's origin and source--which in turn describes why so few people have virtually any background knowledge in this area. On the other hand, the plausibility and feasibility of the BoA's historicity is laid out quite neatly. I personally learned a great deal and was fascinated. In several places we are left to wonder how Joseph Smith could have possibly spun this story on his own--given extensive historical and textual parallels and alignment, of which he was not aware.
This is an "introduction" for a PhD (and under 200 pages), but for most it serves as a deep investigative guide from a highly studious scholar. I would certainly recommend it to anyone curious about the Book's history or background, which is too often debated or questioned without a foundation of understanding.
The Egyptian papyri that have come to be known as the Joseph Smith Papyri are NOT the source for one of the LDS church's (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) scriptures called the "Book of Abraham" found in a volume of LDS scripture called "The Pearl of Great Price". The Joseph Smith Papyri fragments found in the 1960's are a few pieces of other papyri that were part of a collection of mummies and papyri bought and given to Joseph Smith in 1835 from an artifact collector. Gee outlines the provenance of this from their purchase to their demise as all but a few pieces were destroyed in the great Chicago Fire of 1871 that destroyed the museum where they were kept. The introductory chapters of the book coherently explain the difference between the full papyri collection (4 scrolls) and the fragments that fell off of 2 of the scrolls and were kept separate and mounted. So the only part of the few extant fragments that is part of the Book of Abraham is a single vignette/illustration that was not found within the text of the scroll from which the Book of Abraham was translated. Gee is the best there is at explaining the convoluted history of these papyri.
His previous book explained these same things quite well, but this book departs into what was exactly in the Book of Abraham and how it fit in context anciently, at the time of the writing of these papyri during the Ptolemaic period, and modern times.
I found the footnotes and suggested readings to be fascinating and it took me so long to read this book and comment because I was reading the source material also. I strongly urge those interested to do the same and I found, as did Gee, that the out-of-print The Words of Joseph Smith: The contemporary accounts of the Nauvoo discourses of the Prophet Joseph (Religious studies monograph series) contained a wealth of material regarding the contents of the Book of Abraham.
Gee explains that we don't have the original of the Book of Abraham or even the original translation. What was published was only a part of what Joseph Smith translated that was copied by other interested parties. So the source material seems to be copies of a translation of a copy of some previous copy of the Book of Abraham.
Excellent as the first few chapters were, I enjoyed the latter part of the book the most as Gee explored the contents and doctrine of the Book of Abraham. In a number of speeches given by Joseph Smith prior to his assassination in 1844, Smith noted that he had learned important doctrines such as how and why this world was created from his translation of the Book of Abraham. Gee cites these addresses and if you haven't studied them, you will be amazed at the depth of Joseph Smith's teachings.
A rare 5-star religious book that, though brief, is profound. Highly recommended.
Aside from laying out all the historical background regarding the Joseph Smith papyri, Dr. Gee includes a FAQ section in which he addresses the most controversial queries critics and skeptics have. This is super, because he delivers clear, concise and reasonable answers based on his extensive research and expertise in Egyptology. And, yes, Dr. Gee is still a faithful member of the Church!
So I’m very glad to have this book in my library! It makes the whole Book of Abraham topic a little easier to comprehend. And it would be good recommended reading to anyone considering rushing to exit the Church over this issue.