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The Explanation-Defying Book of Abraham

Author: Kerry Muhlestein

Joseph Smith acquired papyri and other Egyptian artifacts while living in Kirtland, Ohio, in the mid-1830s. A partial translation of what was thought to be the ancient writings found on the papyri were printed in the Church newspaper, the Times and Seasons, in 1842. 

Later this translation was published in the Pearl of Great Price. It is a primary source for information on the life of Abraham, the preexistence, and the purpose of our earthly existence, much of which is doctrine singular to the LDS faith.

The only known extant pieces of the papyri, which comprised only a very small portion of the original papyri, were acquired by the Church in the 1960s. At that time, it was determined that Joseph's translations of the text did not match those of Egyptologists who identify it as a funerary text. 

The origins of the Book of Abraham, once thought absolute, now became a mystery. As scholars study the Book of Abraham, they not only continue to learn more about the ancient world but also the process by which Joseph translated. Both of which remain fascinating, unsolved mysteries. 

Learn more about this topic in A Reason for Faith: Navigating LDS Doctrine and Church History