"I want to say to you, read the book, the Pearl of Great Price, and read the Book of Abraham. The Pearl of Great Price I hold to be one of the most intelligent, one of the most religious books that the world has ever had; but more than that, to me the Pearl of Great Price is true in its name. It contains an ideal of life that is higher and grander and more glorious than I think is found in the pages of any other book unless it be the Holy Bible. It behooves us to read these things, understand them: and I thank God when they are attacked, because it brings to me, after a study and thought, back to the fact that what God has given He has given, and He has nothing to retract." - Levi Edgar Young, Conference Report (April 1913), 74

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gospel Topics: Book of Abraham


A new Gospel Topics page is up regarding the Book of Abraham. It provides a great summary of the salient points in BoA discussions:



Monday, May 5, 2014

Blessings of the Gospel and Compliance to the Law - Pres. Snow

Originally printed in the Journal of Discourses, this discourse was delivered by Elder Lorenzo Snow during a session of the April 1879 General Conference. While highlighting various components of the Abrahamic Covenant, Elder Snow draws attention to one of the lesser discussed events in Abraham's life as it relates to the principle of obedience. Elder Snow also discusses the relevance for us in following the example set by out great patriarch:
Abraham was called to leave his kindred and country. Had he not complied with this requirement, he would not have been approved of the Lord. But he did comply; and while he was leaving his home, he no doubt was living in obedience to this divine law of perfection. Had he failed in this, he certainly could not have obeyed the requirements of the Almighty. And while he was leaving his father’s house, while he was subjecting himself to this trial, he was doing that which his own conscience and the Spirit of God justified him in doing, and nobody could have done better, providing he was doing no wrong when he was performing this labor.

Children of the Covenant - Elder Nelson

During the April 1995 session of General Conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson delivered a talk entitled, "Children of the Covenant." This talk outlined the promises contained within the Abrahamic Covenant and he discussed its relevance and importance to us today.

"The covenant that the Lord first made to Abraham and reaffirmed to Isaac and Jacob is of transcendent significance. It contained several promises:
  • Abraham’s posterity would be numerous, entitled to eternal increase and to bear the priesthood;
  • He would become a father of many nations;
  • Christ and kings would come through Abraham’s lineage;
  • Certain lands would be inherited;
  • All nations of the earth would be blessed by his seed;
  • That covenant would be everlasting—even through “a thousand generations.”
This topic, which can occasionally be a bland repetition in Sunday School, is brought to life by Elder Nelson with thoughtful and provoking insights. Very inspiring. Read the full text here.

Identity, Priority, and Blessings - Elder Nelson

Elder Russell M. Nelson delivered this speech at Brigham Young University on September 10, 2000. He focuses upon the importance of understanding our heritage through an Abrahamic identity. He also discusses the need to prioritize the covenants of the gospel and the blessings that flow therefrom.
How do you obtain your blessings? How can you qualify for eternal blessings—even “all that [the] Father hath”? With your identity preserved and your priorities properly honored, our Father’s blessings will flow to you by virtue of the holy priesthood, which is without beginning or end.
You can lay claim to all the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, destined to be fulfilled in these latter days (see 1 Nephi 15:18). Blessings and responsibilities once extended to other nations (see Galatians 3:7–9, 14, 27, 29) have now been given to us (see D&C 110:12). Patriarchal blessings reveal our linkage to the great patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are the seed of Abraham through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed. That identity merits our precious priority, which in turn brings to us the blessings of heaven.
Read the full text of this speech here.

The Key of the Knowledge of God - Pres. Faust

President James E. Faust discussed the power of the priesthood sought and obtained by Abraham, and the blessing of the priesthood to his posterity and to the human family in the October 2004 session of General Conference:
What does it mean to be the seed of Abraham? Scripturally it has a deeper meaning than being his literal descendants. The Lord made a covenant with Abraham, the great patriarch, that all nations would be blessed through him. Any man or woman can claim the blessings of Abraham. They become his seed and heirs to the promised blessings by accepting the gospel, being baptized, entering into temple marriage, being faithful in keeping their covenants, and helping to carry the gospel to all the nations of the earth.
Read more of President Faust's inspiring talk regarding the blessings of the priesthood in the Abrahamic covenant here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Example of Abraham - Pres. Kimball

The First Presidency Message in the June 1975 Ensign was entitled, "The Example of Abraham," by President Spencer W. Kimball. An excerpt from his message is as follows:
Abraham’s desire to do God’s will in all things led him to preside over his family in righteousness. Despite all his other responsibilities, he knew that if he failed to teach and exemplify the gospel to his children he would have failed to fulfill the most important stewardship he had received. Abraham’s instruction and example in his home led the Lord to say of him: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” (Gen. 18:19.)
This excerpt provides some insight as to why Abraham was not considered just a righteous prophet, but why he was also known as the "father of the faithful" (Gal. 3:7; D&C 138:41), and why the 'covenant' was made with Abraham and is renewed through his righteous posterity. Read the rest of this great article online here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Iconotropy and the JS Abraham Facsimiles

This post was originally written and published online by Bill Hamblin at Mormon Scripture Explorations on April 7, 2013, and is reproduced here without alteration (except for slight formatting changes), courtesy of Professor Hamblin - my sincere appreciation.

Iconotropy is an English neologism from Greek, meaning literally “image turning.”  It is defined as “the accidental or deliberate misinterpretation by one culture of the images or myths of another one, especially so as to bring them into accord with those of the first culture.”   Iconotropy is, in fact, the most common ways cultures deal with images from foreign or ancient cultures.  That is to say, we almost always misunderstand and/or transform, at least to some degree, the iconography of other cultures or religions.  The further distanced we are from another culture in time, religion, ideology, or space, the more likely we are to misunderstand their iconography.

There are numerous examples of iconotropy in human history.  The most well-known is the Nazi swastika, which originally was an Indo-European good-luck symbol, possibly representing the sun, and can be found in most cultures throughout the world.  The Nazis iconotropically adopted this symbol for their Nazi ideology, and it is thus understood by most Westerners today.   But among Buddhists, the swastika is an auspicious religious symbol, often associated with images or temples of the Buddha (Below: Buddha with swastika on its chest.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Coptic Spell of the Second Century

In Kerry Muhlestein's latest article, "The Religious and Cultural Background of Joseph Smith Papyrus I,"1 he furthers the work of illustrating the cultural context of the mid-Ptolemaic period in its adaptation of Biblical figures in place of Egyptian deities that occurs within Egyptian religious texts. John Gee had previously presented a paper providing significant historical and cultural insight into the ancient owner(s) of the Joseph Smith Papyri, including the pertinent connection between the period in which the JSP emerged and the Ptolemaic Egyptian culture's usage of Biblical materials.2 Muhlestein's paper seems to be a continuation of this subject with a shift towards the culture at large, the culture in which the JSP owner(s) were situated. Also relevant to this discussion is Bill Hamblin's comments on iconotropy, which is partially defined as the "accidental or deliberate misinterpretation by one culture of the images or myths of another one...," but in this case, "the Egyptians themselves, engaged in inconotropic reinterpretations of their own symbols in different Egyptian denominations and times."3

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Millennial Star - Hypocephali in Vienna - 1903

While serving as President of the European Mission, Elder Francis M. Lyman was the general editor of the Millennial Star. A few weeks prior to the article posted below, he became the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles following the passing of Brigham Young, Jr. While editorials were likely written by the general editor, the following editorial was probably authored by "J.J.C." This article references two missionaries in the Swiss Mission, James L. Barker and  John A. Mathis, who noticed a reference to Facsimile 2 from the Book of Abraham in a catalogue for the Imperial Museum of Art History in Vienna:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Responses to Franklin Spalding - Janne Sjodahl on Kolob

In 1912, Bishop Franklin Spalding published his pamphlet, Joseph Smith, Jr., As A Translator.  While it was meant to destroy faith in the Book of Mormon, it was much more effective in raising non-Mormon awareness of the Book of Abraham and redirected much of the Latter-day Saint's attention to addressing issues raised by Spalding.  Both the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham were translated by the Prophet from various forms of Egyptian writing.  The Reverend's attempt to disprove Joseph's ability as a translator would, by inference, destroy confidence in him as a Prophet.  The responses by Latter-day Saints acknowledged Bishop Spalding's seemingly courteous approach, but also identified the deceit he employed in masking his true intentions in attacking Latter-day scriptures.  While non-Mormons believed the publication was immensely successful, most Latter-day Saints found it unconvincing.  Spalding's pamphlet was published in November 1912.  Forthcoming responses appeared in the Deseret News and were subsequently printed in the Improvement Era.  Subscribers to the Era were notified of pending responses in the January 1913 issue (V16, No 3): 280:
In the February 1913 issue, responses by B.H. Roberts, Janne Sjodahl, Frederick Pack, Junius F. Wells, John Henry Evans, Levi Edgar Young, and the Prophet Joseph F. Smith were all included to address some of the issues raised by Spalding and the Egyptologists.  In the following month (the March 1913 issue of the Era), responses included Robert C. Webb (alias for J.E. Homans), Elder John A. Widtsoe, and Richard W. Young.  The responses were summarized thus:

Subsequently, in the April 1913 issue of the Era, responses were published from Osborn J.P. Widtsoe, N.L. Nelson, as well as Spalding's response to Elder John A. Widtsoe, and Elder John A. Widtsoe's response to Spalding, and an article on Kolob by Janne M. Sjodahl.  The following extract is from Janne Sjodahl regarding "Kolob":