The IlElusive Kirtland Papyrus
Rerolled in a Hypothesis Proposed by Ryan Larsen

Bastet, The Book of Abraham, And The Restoration Theory



Book of the Dead

Above: A portion of a Book of the Dead (Semminis - B fragment) from the Joseph Smith papyri. Joseph Smith’s colleague Oliver Cowdery saw in the image above “Enoch’s Pillar, as mentioned by Josephus”. See Oliver Cowdery’s “Egyptian Mummies – Ancient Records”, LATTER DAY SAINTS' MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE, pg. 236. The account recorded by Josephus attributes the antediluvian “pillar of brick” and “the pillar of stone” to descendents of Seth. (Antiquities of the Jews, Ch. II.3) Elder Cowdery further imagined that he saw many Hebrew letters in the Egyptian text, though “not quite so square” as the present form of Hebrew. Elder Cowdery was mistaken. The writing on the papyrus is Hieratic Egyptian. While it is true that Elder Cowdery was given the opportunity to “assist to translate”, this does not mean that his opinions should receive the same weight as those of the Prophet Joseph Smith. (LDS D & C 9:2-6) See Book of Joseph Scroll or Book of the Dead for Ta-Sherit-Min (or Semminis or Tshenmin)?

Responses to Brother Larsen's ten hypothesis points in rubric. Quotes from LDS scripture in bold:

1) Abraham wrote a history, on papyrus

Abram’s ancient record was the Sepher Avram, ספר אברם. The original “representation at the commencement of” the Sepher Avram featured an altar “made in the form of a bedstead”. According to Joseph Smith, this bedstead was made of iron (Heb. barzel, ברזל; T&S, Vol. 3, pg. 902; Consider also Deut. 3:11).

According to scripture, bedsteads of this sort were had among certain Semitic people of the Levant. (Abr. 1:13) These people came to be known as the Kasdim, כשדים. (Chaldeans are Arphaxadites according to Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Ch. VI.4; Gen. 11:10)

The altar was portrayed standing before the figures of five false gods. There was more than one priest involved in the attempted slaying of Abram. (Abr. 1:12, 15) In addition to “figures” representing the false gods, other “hieroglyphics” likely appeared on Abram’s original “representation”. Some of these symbols called “Rahleenos” could have been used to write ancient Hebrew. In fact, the entire Sepher Avram may have been originally written in a form of pictographic/phonetic Hebrew “for the benefit of [Abram’s] posterity …” (Abr. 1:31)

Joseph Smith may have told his mother that the writings of Abraham and Isaac were “written in Hebrew ...” because that was a form of writing that the Prophet saw when the ancient text was revealed to him. It may also have been revealed to Joseph that there were other histories of Abram written in other languages. See Josephus on the historical writings of Berosus and Hecateaus concerning Abram; Antiquities of the Jews, Chapter VII.2.

The Sepher Avram included a creation account of “the Gods” (the Elohim) comparable to the one found in Hebrew Bereshit (Genesis). At the end of Abram’s book there was a genealogical history now missing from the English translation. (Abr. 1:28, 31) His testimony and priesthood was intended to be a blessing to his posterity and “all the families of the earth”. (Abr. 2:8-11, Gal. 3:7-9)

Unlike the Book of Breathings vignette that Joseph Smith revised and used as a substitute, Abram’s original “representation” at the beginning of his book, was probably more of a Semitic work featuring “Rahleenos” (ראה- ל- נס). “Rahleenos” (ראה- ל- נס) can be interpreted to mean “see a sign”, or spelled with an arm and hand hieroglyph (yad), “raah-li-nes” (ראה- לי- נס), “show to me a sign”. Egyptians of Abram’s day were obviously able to communicate with him and Sarai (Gen. 12:18), and were undoubtedly familiar with the Semitic use of these “hieroglyphics” or pictographs which borrowed, or paralleled in many cases, Egyptian hieroglyphs:

Rahleenos = Look for a sign

Though familiar in English, the translated term “Egyptians” is ambiguous. Hamites, Hyksos, and Ptolemaic Greeks all qualify historically as Egyptians. Which Egyptians do we mean? “the Egyptians” (ha-Mitsrim) referred to in Joseph Smith’s explanation of Facsimile 1, are identified with greater specificity in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. The Sepher Avram may have been intended not only for Abram’s posterity, but as a missionary missive to certain Egyptians, a people whom Abram’s God referred to as “Ah-meh-strah-ans”; possibly deriving from Am-Matsor-ah, עם- מצור- ה or Am-Mitsraymah. (Gen. 12:10, Abr. 3:15)

2) Joseph of Egypt redacted that history, focusing on Abraham's experiences with Egypt

Joseph could have received a copy of the Sepher Avram either from his father, or from the Ah-meh-strah-ans of his day. In fact, Joseph could have added to the knowledge of the Ah-meh-strah-an order by sharing with them “the writings of Abraham and Isaac, written in Hebrew ...” The esoteric Egyptian enclave was tied to the Egyptians to whom Abram preached Besorah (Glad Tidings, translated “Gospel”; Gal. 3:8), and to whom he had also been directed to teach divine mathematics and astronomy. (Abr. 3:15) Thus, the tah rule counting principle; and the extraordinary cosmological notes in the Kirtland Egyptian papers [in particular the Ah-meh-strah-an book of symbol pronunciations, meanings (see etymology of grammar), and Aleph-Beth by degrees]. As an example of notes on divine cosmology, see the 2nd part of the 4th Degree. See also Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Ch. II.3 wherein it is noted that the fathers had a knowledge of “heavenly bodies, and their orders”, Ch. VII.2 relates “among the Chaldeans a man righteous and great, and skillful in celestial science”; and makes mention of a book concerning Abram, Ch. VIII.2 notes that Abram conferred with the Egyptians, confuting their reasoning. “He communicated to them arithmetic, and delivered to them the science of astronomy ...”

We should therefore not expect the prophetic Ah-meh-strah-an “Egyptian” counting system and cosmological understanding to be identical to any other Egyptian counting system and cosmology. The Ptolemaic Ah-meh-strah-an understanding of these subjects was ascribed to Abram’s visit and principles that he revealed.

If Joseph of Egypt redacted or added to the Sepher Avram (as Joseph Smith later did) this would have suited a prophetic meaning of his name - Yoseph (from yasaph).

It stands to reason that an important part of the record of Joseph was a record of Abraham.

3) Joseph of Egypt gave the redacted history to Pharaoh, who kept it in his court, until it eventually went into storage

We don’t know who the Egyptian custodians of the Sepher Avram were, except to say they were likely Ah-meh-strah-an converts.

Yoseph could have entrusted the Egyptian king with a Sepher Yoseph which contained writings of Avraham. But in time “... there arose up an new king over Egypt, which new not Joseph.” (Ex. 1:8) The Ah-meh-strah-ans were likely the ones who kept and preserved copies of both prophetic works.

Yoseph’s inspired augmentations (Gen. 44:15) could have set a precedence for later redactions performed by members of the Ah-meh-strah-an society. This begs a question: why didn't the Ah-meh-strah-ans join the mixed company of liberated peoples that came out of Egypt with the Israelites (Ex. 12:37-38)? Well, perhaps some of them did join with the Israelites! We may as well ask why Joseph Smith’s mother (Lucy Mack Smith) didn't go west with Brigham Young and other Saints? The answer in both cases may simply have stemmed from a need to be near family left behind.

4) When Onias became friends with Ptolemy, and Ptolemy helped him build his temple and celebrated it, Ptolemy gave him, among other things, the roll which Joseph of Egypt had written which contained the teachings of Abraham

Certainly, there could have been communication and cooperation between the Ah-meh-strah-an sect and Jews in Ptolemaic times. Some Egyptian Jews could have been members of the sect. Jews in the land of Egypt, had in the past become ensnared in the worship of the “queen of heaven”. (Jer. 44:25-27)

On the topic of the “writings of Abraham and Joseph”, Oliver Cowdery described two different records accompanying the mummies, one containing the writings of Abraham, the other a record of Joseph of Egypt. Elder Cowdery gave detailed descriptions of what he saw on some of the papyri. His descriptions allow us to retrospectively identify what Egyptian documents he was referring to.

Elder Cowdery associated “Joseph’s record”, with what we now know are books of the dead. Oliver also imagined that he saw Hebrew letters that to him looked somewhat like the Hebrew characters that the brethren studied at Kirtland, except “not quite so square”. Oliver Cowdery probably did not know that the kind of Hebrew letters that he thought he saw on a papyrus scroll, did not exist in the days of Abraham or Joseph. See O. Cowdery, “Egyptian Mummies – Ancient Records” published in the LATTER DAY SAINTS' MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE, December 1835, pp. 233 - 237; and compare his descriptions and interpretations of “Joseph’s record” with the Semminis - A, Semminis - B, Semminis - C and Nefir-ir-nebu books of the dead fragments (Kirtland Papyri). See also Book of Joseph Scroll or Book of the Dead for Ta-Sherit-Min (Semminis) and Book of the Dead for Nefir-ir-nebu?

When Oliver Cowdery saw the following Egyptian markings on the papyrus scroll

J.S. Book of the Dead Hieratic_1 J.S. Book of the Dead Hieratic_2 J.S. Book of the Dead Hieratic_3 J.S. Book of the Dead Hieratic_4 J.S. Book of the Dead Hieratic_5 J.S. Book of the Dead Hieratic_6 J.S. Book of the Dead Hieratic_7 J.S. Book of the Dead Hieratic_8 J.S. Book of the Dead Hieratic_9

did Elder Cowdery think he was looking at the following Hebrew letters?

J. Seixas Hebrew Grammar_1 J. Seixas Hebrew Grammar_2 J. Seixas Hebrew Grammar_3 J. Seixas Hebrew Grammar_4 J. Seixas Hebrew Grammar_5 J. Seixas Hebrew Grammar_6 J. Seixas Hebrew Grammar_7 J. Seixas Hebrew Grammar_8 J. Seixas Hebrew Grammar_9

Letters from Manual Hebrew Grammar (1833) by Joshua Seixas compared to hieratic Egyptian.

In time, the contents of Elder Cowdery’s “Egyptian Mummies – Ancient Records” newspaper piece were spliced into History of the Church (HC, Thursday, Dec. 31, 1835; 2:347-351) in such a way that readers got the impression that it was a continuation of Joseph Smith’s Journal entry for Thursday, December 31, 1835. As a result, Oliver Cowdery’s opinions have been, and continue to be misattributed to Joseph Smith. Elder Cowdery’s views and presumptions have contributed significantly to the Mormon tradition that papyrus scrolls belonging to Joseph and Abraham came to Kirtland with mummies.

But I have found no verifiable statement by Joseph Smith (e.g. Joseph Smith Papers) indicating that he actually held the papyrus document written by Abraham in his hands. History of the Church statements HC 2:236 and 2:347-351 cited by both Mormons and antagonists, are not original statements by Joseph Smith. These are well-meaning extrapolations by other brethren. Please note that since the 2013 edition, the words “See History of the Church, vol. 2, pp. 235, 236, 348-351” no longer appear in the Book of Abraham’s introduction.

The “record of Abraham” that Joseph Smith showed (along with the scrolls) to his Hebrew instructor Joshua (James) Seixas, was likely the 1835 manuscripts of the Book of Abraham. (Joseph Smith Journal, 30 January 1836 - Saturday) These manuscripts featured copied Hieratic Egyptian characters in the left margins transcribed from the Hor Book of Breathings. The selections of Hieratic characters were arguably copied shortly after the manuscript had been written down. (Joseph Smith Journal, 26 November 1835 - Thursday)

The “records [plural] of Abraham” that Joseph Smith showed visitors, could refer to the Ah-meh-strah-an Aleph-Beth (אב) revelatory notes relating to the Book of Abraham, in addition to the 1835 Book of Abraham manuscripts. Moreover, a revealed record of Yoseph probably contained a record of Avraham alongside accounts of other patriarchs and prophets such as Hanokh (Enoch). (Joseph Smith Journal, 3 February 1836 - Wednesday) No mention is made by Joseph Smith of a papyrus scroll of Abraham among the “ancient records” that he showed numerous visitors. (Joseph Smith Journal, 19 October 1835 - Monday, 24 October 1835 - Saturday) See Abraham in Egypt and the Papyrus Solar Ferry, Notes and References [4].

Did the Prophet Joseph Smith not elaborate on how scripture was derived from the papyri? Initially he may have just been a conduit for a greater intelligence that understood such details better than he.

5) The beginning of Joseph's record contained a vignette depicting Abraham being sacrificed on an altar. However, since it was on the very outside of the roll, it had deteriorated over the centuries and was by then in tatters

Why should “Joseph's record” begin with Abraham (as alleged by Larsen)? An interview with Mother Smith regarding the contents of a papyrus roll that Oliver Cowdery identified as “Joseph’s record” describes “... more particular accounts than our Bible gives us, of Noah, the Ark and the flood - of Abraham and Melchizedec - of Joseph and Pharaoh - and of various other distinguished characters.” Brother Cowdery’s description does not mention a vignette like Facsimile No. 1 associated with “Joseph’s record”.

Early Mormon descriptions of “Joseph’s record” call to mind the Book of MosesBereshit (In beginning)” called “Genesis”. Perhaps we are to understand that “Joseph’s record” influenced the inspired writings of Moses. “Joseph’s record” likely contained the prophecies of Joseph as restored by Joseph Smith in his inspired translation of Genesis (JST, Gen. 50:24-38). A papyrus roll containing the Sepher Yoseph was likely brought out of Egypt with the patriarch’s mummy (JST, Gen. 50:37-38, Ex. 13:19; consider the wordplay between Ezek. 37:7 and Ezek. 37:17). This would explain why the first Book of Moses (which renders the  account of Joseph in the third person) ends with the story of Joseph. Moses had the Book of Joseph and the Book of Abram. Compare Gen. 11:28-29; 12:1-6, KJV, with Abr. 2:1-18.

The original Book of Abramaltar ... representation” was likely long ago lost, and perhaps only a copy or redacted copies of the Sepher Avram survived to Ptolemaic times.

Larsen’s position is that “... there was one record, which was passed down in Egypt. ... Joseph wrote a record for his friend, the Pharaoh, who we know from scripture had shown interest in Joseph’s religious beliefs.” Ryan adds that “The record was ... a redacted version of Abraham’s writings. That’s why it focused on Egypt and astronomy - i.e. things the Pharaoh would find of interest. ... the record was returned to the seed of Abraham, when Onias built his temple.” Ryan Larsen attempts to deal with Oliver Cowdery’s description of “Joseph’s record” in Ryan’s “Fourth Meditation”.

But was the king of Egypt, the alleged recipient of “the one record“, truly Joseph’s friend, or was the king mostly using Joseph in a cunning plan to acquire property and enthrall (subjugate) the common people of the land? (Gen. 47:13-26, KJV)

While it is likely that “Joseph’s record” featured an account of Abraham and possibly selections of his writings, Oliver Cowdery’s newspaper article seems to indicate that there was an Abraham record on a separate papyrus roll (i.e. Hor Book of Breathings) accompanying a different mummy than the record of Joseph (allegedly associated with a conflation of the lady Semminis Book of the Dead, and the lady Nefir-ir-nebu Book of the Dead):

“On opening the coffins he [Michael H. Chandler] discovered that in connection with two of the bodies [mummies], were something rolled up with the same kind of linen [as wrapped the mummies], saturated with the same bitumen, which, when examined, proved to be two rolls of papyrus, previously mentioned {“Egyptian records, or rather the writings of Abraham and Joseph”}. I may add that two or three other small pieces of papyrus, with astronomical calculations [i.e. Sheshonq (Shishaq) Book of the Dead Hypocephalus], epitaphs [e.g. Amenhotep Book of the Dead fragment], &c. were found with others of the Mummies. ... I might continue my communication to a great length upon the different figures and characters represented upon the two rolls, but I have no doubt my subject has already become sufficiently prolix for your patience: I will therefore soon cease for the present.-When the translation of these valuable documents will be completed, I am unable to say; neither can I give you a probable idea how large volumes they will make; but judging from their size, and the comprehensiveness of the language, one might reasonable expect to see a sufficient to develop much upon the mighty acts of the ancient men of God [e.g. Enoch, Melchizedek and others], and of his dealing with the children of men when they saw him face to face. Be there little or much, it must be an inestimable acquisition to our present scriptures, fulfilling, in a small degree, the word of the prophet: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. [Isa. 11:9]

P. S. ... Though the Mummies themselves are a curiosity, and an astonishment, well calculated to arouse the mind to a reflection of past ages, when men strove, as at this day, to immortalize their names, though in another manner, yet I do not consider them of much value compared with those records which were deposited with them. If Providence permits, I will, ere long, write you again upon the propriety of looking for additions to our present scriptures, according to their own literal reading. Believe me to be, sir, sincerely and truly, your brother in the bonds of the new and everlasting covenant. Oliver Cowdery.” (LATTER DAY SAINTS' MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE, December 1835, pp. 233 - 237)

Oliver Cowdery does not say that the record of Joseph contained astronomical revelations (as Larsen asserts). Elder Cowdery explains that “other small pieces of papyrus, with astronomical calculations [i.e. Sheshonq (Shishaq) Hypocephalus], epitaphs [e.g. Amenhotep Book of the Dead fragment], &c. were found with others of the Mummies.”

Abraham 3:15 states that “... I [God] show these things [details of revealed cosmology, and the Lord as the greatest intelligence - concluded by inductive reasoning] unto thee [Abram] before ye go into Egypt, that ye may declare all these words.” The Eternal’s words to Avram did not guarantee that a King of Egypt would be interested and converted. In fact, Abram’s audience while “reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the king’s court” was a prince imbued with truth, and humble apron wearers (Ah-meh-strah-ans).

6) Using the description of it in Abraham 1:12-14, which Joseph of Egypt had written in reference to his original vignette, Onias restored it, by adapting contemporary Egyptian symbols to represent the elements which Joseph of Egypt described on the roll, and Onias put it as a relief on the temple wall, as well as being an adapted relief honoring Ptolemy and showing appreciation for his help with the temple and the roll of Abraham (Facsimile 3). The figure of Abraham in Facsimile 3 may very well be symbolic of the teachings of Abraham which Pharaoh had allowed to stay in his court for a time.

According to scripture, Abram himself was the one who described the altar in his “representation at the commencement”. The altar made in the form of a “bedstead” (ערש) was most likely described in the original Abram writing. The use of the words “Chaldeans” and “Pharaoh” in Abraham 1:13 seem to be anachronisms, but the description of the altar is arguably authentic.

Let’s envision that Onias (חוניו), High Priest of the LORD (Jehovah) in Egypt, used a depiction of the Egyptian god Set to represent the wicked priest of an Egyptian king. In the depiction below, the wicked being is set to slay Osiris (representing Abram) according to the Osiris myth. Let us also envision that Onias included in his depiction anachronistic sons of Horus canopic jars (used to double for four idols of the Levant), with possibly the pharaonic crocodile representing Horus. Horus is seen below in the waters where Set intends to toss the remains of Osiris. (Ezek. 29:3) An important thing to realize here, is that such a scene, though it unites the Osiris myth with the Book of Abraham, does not constitute a restoration of Abram’s original “representation” – only an Ah-meh-strah-an styled replacement:

Set and Osiris

1. Living Ba, personage, spirit (ruah) spelled with a resh  2. Osiris  3. Set  4. lion couch (bedstead)  5., 6., 7., 8. Sons of Horus canopic jars 9. Horus as crocodile 10. lotus and papyrus plant bouquet, symbol of Upper and Lower Egypt 11. papyrus pillars of heaven 12. waters. Compare with Book of Abraham Facsimile No. 1

Ryan Larsen also envisions Facsimile 3 of the Book of Abraham as possibly originating from a scene depicted on a relief in the House of the LORD (Jehovah) at Leontopolis - a scene honoring Pharaoh for politely tolerating Abram’s teachings (for a while, for Sarai’s (Isis') sake) in his household. Facsimile 3 is in fact an addendum to the English Book of Abraham. It is taken from the Hor Book of Breathings and reinterpreted. There is no specific reference to it in the main Book of Abraham text. What Ryan calls a “restoration” is at best an intermediate restoration. All of the Book of Abraham facsimiles are anachronisms and cannot possibly come from the original Sepher Avram.

Though Facsimile 3 is not best described as a “restoration”, something similar to it may have long ago featured the lion goddess Bastet instead of, or perhaps in addition to Anubis.

Facsimile 3 of the Book of Abraham demonstrates inspired Ah-meh-strah-an styled methods of adaptation, augmentation, and reinterpretation that the Prophet Joseph Smith learned by revelation. The facsimiles help attract the attention of certain readers – among whom are those touched by egyptomania.

In Joseph Smith’s day, as in ancient times, the people “sought for things that they could not understand.” The Prophet Joseph Smith was keen to, if not urged by his American community’s 19th century Egyptian interest (fixation). See Hauglid, Brian M. “THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM AND THE EGYPTIAN PROJECT: “A KNOWLEDGE OF HIDDEN LANGUAGES”, See in particular the section “Nineteenth-Century Egyptomania and the Joseph Smith Papyri”, pp. 477-481.

The interests and fixations of the times probably had some influence in motivating the Prophet to perform a feat of translation from ancient Egyptian. Even so, the real pearl of the Book of Abraham remains the revealed Semitic text apart from the quasi-Egyptian clam shell and “funny round thing”.

7) Copies of the vignettes made their way to Hor's family vault, along with a copy of the contents of Abraham's record (or, since Hor was powerful and well-connected, he may have even obtained the original)

1842 Intro to Book of Abraham

Joseph Smith’s original introduction to the Book of Abraham published in the March 1, 1842 edition of the Times and Seasons newspaper. The Prophet purports that the published Book of Abraham is a “TRANSLATION of some ancient Records [plural] that have fallen into our hands, from the Catecombs [catacombs] of Egypt ...” The Prophet’s reinterpretation and explanation of the symbols appearing on the three facsimiles (which he appended to the revealed text of the Book of Abraham), constitute what the Prophet means by “TRANSLATION”. Similarly, his reinterpretation and explanation of biblical verses were deemed a work of “translation”. (LDS D&C 73:3-4; 90:13; 93:53; 94:10) The adapted and reinterpreted symbols on the facsimiles come from more than one Egyptian scroll - thus Joseph Smith’s mention of “Records” plural in connection with “the BOOK OF ABRAHAM”. But none of the original papyrus documents from which Joseph obtained the symbolic facsimiles were “written by his [Abram’s] own hand, upon papyrus.” How can Joseph Smith’s statement, about a translation “purporting to be the writings of Abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the BOOK OF ABRAHAM, written by his own hand, upon papyrus” be true? The obvious answer is that Abram in fact wrote the original Sepher Avram by his own hand while he was in Egypt; but none of the works from Egyptian funerary papyri appearing in the published Book of Abraham, come from that papyrus scroll. The act of “translation” that brought forth the main text of the Book of Abraham (the scriptural text correlating with lines from the Hor Book of Breathings) was, according to Joseph Smith, an act of “present revelation”. (T&S, “Persecution of the Prophets”, Sept. 1, 1842, Vol. 3, pg. 902)

We don’t know that Hor the Egyptian priest, had the original, or even an Ah-meh-strah-an copy of the Sepher Avram.

As previously stated, it is likely that the original Sepher Avram had long since perished, and that only redacted copies of the sacred work survived to Ptolemaic times, in the hands of the Ah-meh-strah-ans. Why should we suppose this to be the case? Because some terminology appearing in the English version of the Book of Abraham indicates that it, like the biblical Abraham account, comes from a later version, and not the original text. The use of the term “Chaldees” (Gen. 11:31), for instance, is a forgivable anachronism, as is the use of the title “Pharaoh” (Gen. 12:15) to describe an Egyptian king. See Berlyn, Patricia, “The Journey of Terah: To Ur-Kasdim or Urkesh?”, Jewish Bible Quarterly. See also Hoskisson, Paul Y., “Where Was the Ur of Abraham? ”, Ensign, July 1991, pp. 62-63.

The title “the Book of Abraham” is itself something of an anachronism, since the work was originally written in Egypt while the prophet went by the name “Avram”. Early Kirtland manuscripts of the Book of Abraham in fact use the name “Abram” in places where “Abraham” now appears. It is fitting to call a redacted version of the original Book of Abram, the Sepher Avraham, or Book of Abraham (directed to a world wide audience).

Yes, there are correlations between the Book of Breathings and the Sepher Avraham. But, why would Hor the pagan priest and prophet desire to plant esoteric ties to a Semitic work of scripture in his personal Breathings permit (pseudonymously authored by Isis)? Was he secretly a member of the Ah-meh-strah-an order? Hor descended from a line of priests and prophets of Amon-Re in the cult of “Min who massacres his enemies”.

Was the scribe that Hor commissioned to prepare the book for him (in Isis’ name), a member of the Ah-meh-strah-an society? Hor may have had no interest in being found with any version of the Sepher Avram or reconstituted Sepher Avraham.

Perhaps the unknown scribe was the one who cast aside Set (from a previous depiction) and put instead the ever watchful and protecting Anubis. Standing between the lion couch and Osiris, Anubis guards and helps Osiris to rise from the dead in the Hor document. This scene, the Egyptologist Ritner says, is common in Egyptian funerary art. (Ritner, Robert K. The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri - A Complete Edition, pp. 115 - 117)

Perhaps the Ah-meh-strah-an scribe was the one who, under inspiration transtextually wove into the lines of the Hor Book of Breathings inferences to the sacred Sepher Avram, a work which the scribe studied and privately adored.

Whether Hor was consciously involved or not, the main text of the Book of Abraham came to us by way of “present revelation”; without the Prophet handling and peering at a tangible copy of the ancient papyrus. The situation was much like Joseph Smith’s translation of the parchment of John revealed in section 7 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants.

The Prophet’s understanding was not limited to the written text. Producing the scriptural text in English was only part of a more comprehensive revelatory experience. The Prophet Joseph Smith received and revealed things beyond what appear in the scriptural text. E.g. the fact that the “bedstead” (altar), on which Abram was to be sacrificed, was made of iron:

“ ... if we believe in present revelation, as published in the Times and Seasons last spring, Abraham, the prophet of the Lord, was laid upon the iron bedstead for slaughter ... -ED” (Joseph Smith, Editor, T&S, Vol. 3 pg 902. See also an 1846 account recollecting Joseph’s ability to reveal “parts that were destroyed”, missing, or lost from the scrolls.)

Hor Book of Breathings first vignette

Proposed restoration of the first vignette of the Hor papyrus: 1. Living Ba, personage  2. Osiris  3. Anubis stretching forth his hand to assist  4. lion couch (bedstead)  5., 6., 7., 8. Sons of Horus canopic jars 9. Horus as crocodile 10. lotus and papyrus plant bouquet, symbol of Upper and Lower Egypt 11. papyrus pillars of heaven 12. primordial waters.

As a continuation and finale to the scene of the first vignette in the Hor papyrus, Anubis again appears (last) in the final vignette. His role is mentioned in the main text of the papyrus. All of the characters appearing in the Book of Breathings vignettes are mentioned in the main text. There is no mention of the feline goddess Bastet in the Book of Breathings, and yet the profile of a cat (as Larsen cogently contends) seems to appear in the T&S version of the last vignette. Did the feline goddess (commandeered as an emblem of the lioness of Judah) appear in a somewhat similar scene on a wall of the Jewish temple at Leontopolis, as Larsen proposes? This could have been; but Anubis features in both Hor vignettes.

The printing plate for T&S Facsimile No. 3 was derived from a wood cut. The identification of Anubis in the Hor vignettes does not depend on Egyptologists discerning a reference to Anubis in this facsimile. The role of Anubis is described in the main body of the Sensen papyrus - the Breathing(s) document - so there is little doubt that Anubis features in both vignettes.

In front of the god-slave Anubis In front of Olimlah

Proposed Hieroglyphic transcription of the Hieratic in front of Fig. 6, Facsimile 3. M. Rhodes translates: “(1) Words spoken by Anubis who make protection (2) Lord of heaven. Foremost of (3) the Westerners.” Comparison is made with the T&S version of the Hieratic characters in front of the slave “Olimlah” (Fig. 6).

There is in the first vignette the face of a lion (possibly lioness, devourer of the lives of men) facing east - towards sunrise. Did the Ah-meh-strah-an scribe give Anubis the face of a beloved cat (facing west) in the final vignette to complement the lion face in the first vignette? Or did this truncation/adaptation of Anubis’ snout come about by the Prophet Joseph Smith exercising his inspired prerogative to amend the ancient document (for which there is precedence)? The context of this Ah-meh-strah-ans styled enhancement may suggest that we need not fear to face death if we are true and faithful. What is in mortality the face of a dread lion, becomes in immortality a loving cat!

An Onias temple relief featuring Bastet as a lioness (her most ancient representation) might have conveyed to Jewish and Ah-meh-strah-ans minds God’s play on words with the name Avraham. “Avraham” is tied to the word “hamon” meaning roar, but also meaning crowd or multitude - hence Exalted Father of Roaring Multitudes. The name Avraham is transformed from Avram with a covenant hey from God’s Eternal name. (Gen. 17:5; 21:33) What is more, the names Sarai and Sarah sound like they include a word for lion. The striving hand (yad) removed from Sarai can be seen to reappear in the names of her children Isaac, Jacob (Israel) etc. In place of the hand in Sarai, God placed a hey from his own name, making the new name Sarah, Princess [of Yah].

The Bastet like profile of Anubis in the last vignette serves the character of Olimlah the slave in T&S Facsimile No. 3, Fig. 6. A possible Hebrew meaning of “Olimlah” is “forever yoked to her [Maat / “the prince”, Fig. 4]”; see Abraham in Egypt and the Papyrus Solar Ferry, Note [4], section: “Joseph Smith Learns to Think Like an Ah-meh-strah-an”.

Facsimile No. 3

Copy of the last Hor vignette: 1. Osiris  2. Isis/Hathor  3. lotus and papyrus bouquet, Hor’s peace offering (שלם)  4. Maat  5. Resurrected Osiris Hor  6. Anubis with a truncated snout, cat-like profile  

According to Rhodes the column immediately above the right hand of Maat, goddess of truth and justice (Fig. 4) reads:

just above the hand = “Words spoken by |Osiris,| the Foremost of the Westerners” (Rhodes, Michael D., The Hor Book of Breathings, pp. 24-25, read top to bottom, right to left)

Next consider Shulem (Fig. 5) in the sted of the upright Osiris Hor. Shulem may represent the faithful asking for greater light and knowledge. Having had his inquiries answered by Abram (Osiris seated, Fig. 1), Shulem may represent an early Egyptian/Semitic convert – an Ah-meh-strah-an. (1 Sam. 8:10)

Osiris Hor is depicted in the first vignette (Facsimile 1, Fig. 2) with his two arms “held up in the classical gesture of praising or asking” (Rhodes cites the Egyptology Lexicon of Wolfgang Helck and Eberhard Otto: 2:575-576). But in Facsimile 3, Joseph Smith interprets Osiris Hor as “Shulem”, a principal waiter. Could the upraised, opened armed gesture of Osiris Hor in the first vignette have something to do with the name “Shulem” assigned to the risen apron wearing Osiris Hor in the last vignette? Consider the words of Joseph (Yoseph) in Gen. 43:27: “sh'al lahem le'shalom”. Is the meaning of “Shulem” related to this Hebrew expression? See Abraham in Egypt and the Papyrus Solar Ferry, Note [4], section: “Joseph Smith Learns to Think Like an Ah-meh-strah-an”.

Ryan Larsen sees in Osiris Hor’s endowment of enduring “health” (Hor Book of Breathings, paragraph 9, verse 6), the Egyptian equivalent of the Hebrew word “שלם” or rather “shalom”, meaning in this case, “health”. Thus a possible connection to the character named “Shulem” substituting for Osiris Hor in Facsimile 3. But if “Shulem” is spelled with an aleph, the name could be related to the biblical name “Sha-ul”, meaning asked of [Yah].

8) Hor, when deciding what to be buried with, liked the vignettes and adapted them to his purposes. Hor wanted his Book of Breathings to be special, because it was probably the first ever "Book of Breathings made by Isis" and the depiction of Cleopatra as Isis would have been very special for a Book of Breathings made by Isis.

But Abram did not worship Isis (sister and wife to Osiris)! Abram angered the Egyptian ruler regarding Sarai, Abram’s sister and wife. (Gen. 12:17-20, KJV) Abram likely succeeded in converting many of the king’s great house to the worship of YAH (Jehovah Elohim the most high God of Abram and Melchizedek, Abr. 1:16-18; 2:8-11 Gen. 14:22; 21:33, Ex. 34:6, Ps. 92:1; see possible “Jah” theonym in, for instance, Ah-meh-strah-an 2nd part 5th Degree, pg. 24); who thereafter kept their conversion under wraps. Consider Isa. 19:21 (which ends with shilemu = שִׁלֵּֽמוּ) in connection with the shelem of Shulem, Fig. 3. Fig. 3 also signifies “Abraham in Egypt”. The seed of Abraham among the Ah-meh-strah-ans is a fulfillment of “Abraham [his seed] in Egypt”. Hence the Hebraic names of the apron wearers, Fig. 5 and 6. (Abr. 2:10)

9) Because they were related and derived from the same source, Hor bound together Abraham's record with the Book of Breathings, in the same linen (creating a "roll" - remember, Joseph Smith's eyewitness contemporaries wouldn't have known what constituted a "roll" and, like a newspaper "roll," they may have thought it was okay for a papyrus roll to have different parts, thinking what made it a roll was that the parts came wrapped together. Just as they would not have known what the word "long" means in "long roll," they also wouldn't have known what the second word, "roll," means in "long roll."

Ryan Larsen has subsequently clarified his intent:

“The analogy of a newspaper roll is only to demonstrate that the word “roll” can be used in broader ways than people might be inclined to realize. As I explained in a previous email not too long ago, my position was never that it was rolled up like a newspaper. Although that’s one possibility, it’s not what I ever pictures[d] in my mind.”

To thoroughly treat the subject of the elusive Kirtland papyrus, we should exhaust all the possibilities, starting with the two papyri, one laid on top of the other, then rolled up together in one, constituting a “papyrus roll”, independent of packaging:

Assuming the two scrolls were rolled together like a newspaper before being wrapped in linen, the outer diameter and circumference of the roll would have been much larger than if the Hor scroll was rolled up on itself. Is there evidence of this? Is there evidence that Hor’s Book of Breathings papyrus was not entirely rolled up on itself?

The Hor scroll underwent damage that penetrated into the inner layers of the spiral (coil) roll, causing periodic missing portions of papyrus, called lacunae within the roll. As a result, the distance (curve length W) between periodic lacunae along the spiral of the scroll is somewhat mathematically predictable, and depends on the mean effective thickness of each papyrus wrap or winding.

A second papyrus scroll rolled up with the Hor Breathings Permit would affect the thickness of the papyrus wrap, and the curve length between lacunae features. Wrapping up a written source of the Sepher Avram with the Hor Breathings Permit could effectively double the thickness of a wrap or winding. But the thickness of the Hor papyrus can be determined by direct (visual), and indirect means:

Scroll Thickness

Average thickness (T, difference in radius) of a papyrus roll between the outer n and inner m winding, having curve length (W) that changes with radius. n = θ/(2π), where 0 ≤ θ ≤ 2Nπ is the spiral angle in radians. Inner m > n is similarly expressed. N is the total number of windings or wraps in the roll. The actual limit for the formula above, however, does not range from n = 0. (Cook, Smith, DIALOGUE, The Original Length of the Scroll of Hor)

The accepted mean winding thickness (T) of the Hor papyrus based on the geometry of the roll and periodic lacunae, was found to be about 0.701 mm. This is much thicker than an ordinary piece of modern paper, but the effective thickness is reportedly in good agreement with the measured thickness of other ancient papyrus scrolls. The Hor papyrus is “about twice as thick as the Tshenmîn [Ta-sherit-min (Semminis)] papyrus” which Oliver Cowdery and others tied to the record of Joseph.

“N is the total number of windings or revolutions from beginning to end.” The curve length of the outer wrap of the scroll (Wouter) can be derived from equation (3): Wouter = [4πLtotalT + WN2]1/2, where Ltotal is the total length (150 cm to 155 cm) of the scroll, and “WN is the winding length at the innermost end of the scroll.” WN could be “over 3 cm” according to Note 21. So we might estimate the inner diameter of the scroll to be about 3 cm/π, or about a centimeter minimum. The outer diameter of the scroll (Wouter/π) then ranges from 3.78 cm to 3.84 cm - about 4 cm in diameter. Raising the quantity in square brackets to the 1/2 power (i.e. [...]1/2) is the same as taking the square root of the quantity. The papyrus width (some call it height) measures about 10 cm.

Let us briefly digress from the newspaper roll scenario and consider a phantom papyrus roll of comparable dimensions to the Hor roll, bound side by side with the Hor roll in the linen package. The phantom roll in this case should provide significant protection to one side of the Hor roll. But because we don’t know how the start of the Hor scroll might have been turned with respect to the proposed phantom papyrus bound next to it, the shielding effect (about 4 cm of outer papyrus protection) could have started anywhere along the outer wrap (Wouter). The length Wouter of the outer Hor scroll ranges from 11.88 cm to 12.06 cm. See spreadsheet calculations for Hor Papyrus Roll.

The basic dimensions of the Hor papyrus document are as follows:

Papyrus Length (cm):

150 to 155

Papyrus Width (cm):


Average Papyrus Thickness (cm):


Papyrus Roll Inner Diameter (cm):

~ 1

Papyrus Roll Outer Diameter (cm):


Given the diameter of the Hor roll bound next to the imagined phantom roll of comparable dimensions, the resulting linen package (holding the two rolls side by side), would have been rather rectangular, or trapezoidal and not like a roll. It hardly seems appropriate to refer to such a package as a “roll”.

Returning to the Cook and Smith analysis: An “anomalously high winding length” was discovered in analyzing data from the damaged scroll, but this mathematical result was attributed to “extra damage” to the papyrus.

The geometric study of the scroll concluded that “there was simply no room on the papyrus for anything besides the Breathing text.”

I would add, based on the determined average thickness of the internally damaged Hor papyrus, that there was likewise no room for a phantom papyrus insert between windings. (Andrew W. Cook, Christopher C. Smith, DIALOGUE, The Original Length of the Scroll of Hor)

Besides, if the Prophet Joseph had Abram’s original, or even an Ah-meh-strah-ans copy, where is the ancient text (or at least transcriptions from it among the Kirtland Egyptian Papers)? Instead, we find Ah-meh-strah-an styled amateur copies and revisions of symbols from Egyptian funerary texts (e.g. the Hor Book of Breathings). No “Rahleenos” (ראה- לי- נס) from a Sepher Avram!

Ryan pictures “the two documents wrapped together perhaps in the same linen [not necessarily like a newspaper]. If they came as a package deal like that, wrapped/rolled up in the same linen, I could see some people referring to them together as parts of a single roll. While other people may refer to them as two rolls. The key here is that there was no set standard whatsoever regarding how to use the word “roll” in the US midwest in 1835, when it came to ancient papyrus.”

But problems persist with Ryan’s argument. It is not at all clear to me that calling a papyrus scroll a “roll” depends on packaging. As explained previously, the packaging in one case hardly resembles a roll.

In every instance that I have found in early Mormon sources, the use of “roll” describing an Egyptian scroll, describes a document that had been rolled up; e.g. “Some difficulty having been found in unrolling the papyrus ...” The fact that the papyrus rolls were bound in linen seems irrelevant to the description “rolls of papyrus”.

Two papyrus scrolls or rolls independently rolled up and placed next to each other and then packaged in linen, does not clearly constitute one roll. It constitutes two papyrus rolls packaged in linen. A mummy similarly wrapped in linen is also not a roll. But this begs the question: If you really do have two associated papyri that you want to keep together in linen, why not roll them up together like a newspaper? The fact that the evidence does not support this, casts doubt on the proposition that there was a phantom Abraham papyrus with the Hor Book of Breathings.

Oliver Cowdery knew that Michael Chandler had “discovered that in connection with two of the bodies [mummies], was something rolled up [bound] with the same kind of linen [as wrapped the mummies], saturated with the same bitumen, which, when examined, proved to be two rolls of papyrus, previously mentioned [alleged “record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies”].” (HC 2:348-349, “Egyptian Mummies – Ancient Records”, LATTER DAY SAINTS' MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE)

When Brother Cowdery described a papyrus roll as “something rolled up with the same kind of linen”, was he describing a linen package that still resembled a roll? In other words, was he describing one cylindrical papyrus roll inside a cylindrical wrapping? Did Oliver Cowdery not know that the antiquities exhibitor, Mr. Chandler, found on at least one mummy, two papyrus rolls bound in linen? In actuality, a Book of Breathing and a Book of the Dead (the latter separated and sold elsewhere). Did Cowdery misunderstand Chandler?

In his book The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri, Egyptologist Robert Ritner states, “In Ptolemaic Thebes, a well-to-do Egyptian could be buried with various funerary papyri in order to ensure a life in the hereafter free of care. Horos [Hor], ... had at least one other funerary composition at his disposal in the underworld, for in 1998 his abbreviated copy of the Book of the Dead surfaced in Paris, France. Several parts of Horos’s badly damaged copy of the Book of the Dead are kept at the Louvre Museum under inventory numbers N 3207, N 3208, and N 3209. ... The manuscript as a whole is about 148 centimeters (58 inches) long; the height varies between 31.5 and 33.5 centimeters (12˝ and 13 inches).” (The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri - A Complete Edition; see chapter by Mark Coenen, “The Ownership and Dating of Certain Joseph Smith Papyri”, sections “Another Funerary Papyrus Belonging to Horos”, and “A Priestly Family of Prophets”, hardcover pp. 59 - 60, paperback pp. 72 - 74)

As with Oliver Cowdery’s use of the word “roll”, the use of “roll” in “she turned to a long table, set her candle-stick down, and opened a long roll of manuscript, saying it was "the writings of Abraham and Isaac, written in Hebrew and Sanscrit," and she read ...”, “The "long roll of manuscript" had evidently been cut into shorter pieces to preserve it and make it easier to handle.”, “... hieroglyphics from another roll”, “writings and hieroglyphics which were found rolled up in the breast of one” all have reference to rolled papyrus documents, and not to the sealed linen wrappings that Chandler violated.

Likewise, in the posthumous redaction of History of the Church 2:236 we read, “one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc.” It should be noted, however, that the Book of Joseph was likely perceived to include accounts of other prophets including Abraham. We could interpret the following quote from Oliver Cowdery to indicate this: “The record [singular] of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies, is beautifully written on papyrus, with black, and a small part red, ink or paint, in perfect preservation”. The Book of the Dead of Ta-sherit-min is described in this case.

In contrast to the above statements (by Oliver Cowdery and others), verifiable statements by the Prophet Joseph Smith seem, in some respects, to be more carefully worded, and likely refer to the revealed manuscript “record” or “records of Abraham”. These revealed records featured copied characters. But, there is no verifiable mention by Joseph Smith of a roll or rolls of Abraham. See Book of Abraham manuscripts A, B, and C (circa July–circa November 1835).

Regarding “the record of Abraham” (manuscripts with characters), Joseph Smith’s journal records, “Mr Seixas our hebrew teacher examined them [early manuscripts of the Book of Abraham] with deep interest & pronouncd them to be original beyound all doubt ...” (30 January 1836 • Saturday).

Joseph also likely showed his Hebrew teacher the papyrus roll (the Hor papyrus) from which the characters were transcribed. Not long before this event, Joseph’s journal records, 26 November 1835 • Thursday “... at home, we spent the day in transcribing Egyptian characters from the papyrus. ...”

Yes, it was revealed to Joseph that symbols from the Hor Book of Breathings correlate with the Abram narrative, but this does not mean that the Book of Breathings is the written source of the Book of Abraham. It is now clear to scholars of ancient Egyptian that it is not. Early members of the Church supposed otherwise.

Did Joseph tolerate the leaps in logic made by his associates regarding the papyrus and the Book of Abraham? He may have. He couldn’t correct every misconception or overgeneralization. He himself was a rough stone on the roll. Thus the Mormon tradition about a physical papyrus in Kirtland containing the record of Abraham, and thus the desperate elusive papyrus defense upon learning that the Hor papyrus (containing the vignettes, and lines of Book of Abraham manuscript characters) couldn’t be the written Abrahamic source. But is a phantom papyrus really needed? Is there a reasonable place for it? Or does it get in the way of the truth and cause spiritual harm?

Let’s continue to exhaust the options: A phantom papyrus could not have been placed at the end or the Book of Breathings, nor added in the midst of it, nor wrapped up with it (like a newspaper insert) because if it were, it would have changed the repeating spiral pattern as observed in the lacunae of the Hor papyrus.

Could a phantom papyrus have been added at the beginning of the Hor papyrus, before the first Anubis and Osiris vignette? Not likely! The considerable damage at the leading edge of the papyrus was probably caused when the antiquities exhibitor Michael H. Chandler, roughly handled the linen packaging. The damage seems to indicate that there was no phantom papyrus wrapped around the Book of Breathings protecting the leading edge of the Breathing permit as the package was harshly opened.

This leaves us to consider a separate but elusive papyrus roll for which there are no transcriptions or copies of characters made in the busy Kirtland Egyptian Papers.

Hor Book of Breathings Fragment A

Book of Breathings Fragment A. The roll written in Hieratic Egyptian reads left to right, top to bottom - like Hebrew. Fragment A (shown above) measures ~36 cm long by ~10 cm wide max. The total length of the Hor papyrus, including missing portions, is estimated to be about 150 cm to 155 cm. The average thickness of the roll (T) is about 0.07 cm. What if the papyrus roll was bound with another papyrus roll of comparable size; what effect would that have had on the damage pattern? Let us consider two scenarios: One scenario 9a) in which the rolls are stacked end on end, and a second scenario 9b) in which the rolls are bound side by side. In both scenarios the phantom roll renders some protection to the Hor roll when the linen packaging is roughly handled and opened. Do the patterns of visible damage to the Hor papyrus indicate the presence of a phantom roll according to either scenario? If not, the phantom roll is likely illusive - a figment - not real! The fact that the Hor papyrus shows significant damage on both its upper and lower edges indicates that both ends of the roll were covered with linen and then harshly opened. In other words, one end of the roll was probably not placed against another roll. Both ends were likely covered with linen packaging. So 9a) should probably be discounted. It is important to keep in mind that not all of the missing papyrus was the result of Chandler’s mishandling. This complicates the problem. The protection given by one roll to another in the case of 9b) could possibly manifest as a ~4 cm (lengthwise) undamaged portion, spanning top and bottom (~10 cm), on the outer wrap of the roll, somewhere within ~12 cm from the leading edge. 12 cm from the beginning of the Hor papyrus is at the waist of Osiris rising. If we imagine that we see what was an undamaged portion near the start of the papyrus, we should keep in mind that this undamaged pattern should repeat about 11.5 cm to the left of it, and thereafter at shorter and shorter leftward intervals (following a diminishing spiral curve length). The fact that both the upper and lower edges of the outer papyrus exhibit significant damage, with no definite sign of the presence of another roll partially shielding the Hor scroll, is evidence that 9b) should also, possibly be discounted. Only the Hor Book of Breathings seems to have been rolled up in the linen. Thus, the Hor papyrus appears to have taken all the damage - top, bottom, and on the leading edge. See calculations on spreadsheet for Hor Papyrus Roll. Questions however remain: Where was the Hor Book of the Dead roll on the mummy with respect to his Book of Breathings? Could the Hor Book of Breathings have been side by side with a Book of the Dead in the same linen wrap? The additional damage to the Joseph Smith papyrus makes the evidence difficult to discern.

My colleague Ryan and I can agree that the Hor Book of Breathings and the Book of Abraham are sort of a “package deal”, although the Book of Abraham actually incorporates papyrus parts from more than the Book of Breathings. The Sheshonq (Shishaq) Hypocephalus converted into Facsimile 2, is missing from the “package deal” proposed by Ryan. But, since Ah-meh-strah-ans interpretted the center of a hypocephalus as representing a cosmic center, or Holy of Holies of the Heavenly Temple, all three anachronistic Book of Abraham facsimiles, converted from Egyptian funerary art, can be seen to relate to the Jewish temple.

I’m convinced that one of the documents in the “package deal” was palpable (the Hor papyrus) while the other was virtual – delivered to us by revelation. The wonder is that there are correlations between symbols from the first lines of the Book of Breathings Made By Isis and the narrative of the Book of Abraham. The situation is somewhat analogues to how the Hebrew aleph-bet correlates with Psalm 119; except that in the case of the Book of Abraham and Book of Breathings, the correlations do not constitute a simple abecedarius.

Consider the 1835 Book of Abraham manuscripts A, B, and C. These clearly demonstrate why Mormons presumed that the Egyptian papyrus that contained the vignettes (repurposed by Joseph Smith as the first and last facsimiles of the published Book of Abraham), must have, in their view, contained the Abrahamic text. Of course we now know, that the text is the Book of Breathings Made By Isis written in Hieratic not Hieroglyphic Egyptian. The Isis text is certainly not a Hebrew text, though it makes abundant sense that certain pictographs or “hieroglyphics” (ראה- לי- נס) in the original Book of Abram were an early form of Hebrew writing.

10) Eventually, the roll came to Joseph Smith. Sometimes people would refer to it as one roll, other times as two rolls. But it was the record of Joseph and the teachings of Abraham. Joseph Smith penetrated through any changes Hor may have made, giving us, in Joseph Smith's own words, the interpretations of Onias (who likely had himself, rather than Hor, featured as Figure 5, and Joseph's mother may have confused the name Onias with King Onitah/Onitas as well as complications arising from Osiris being king and the Hor papyrus declaring that Hor is Osiris and thus king)

Onitas does sound similar to Onias in English, but ancient versions of these names are spelled and pronounced quite differently: Onias is a Ptolemaic Greek version of the Hebrew name HoniYo (חוניו) spelled with a het. The name Onitas, is possibly a Ptolemaic (Greek) Ah-meh-strah-an version of the more ancient name Oni-Ptah (Onitah) spelled with an aleph. (Gen. 41:45)

As a rule, I tend to not give much weight to second and third-hand statements attributed to Joseph Smith even if they come from family members. The idea that there may have been some confusion between the title “King Onitus” (quoting Mother Smith) and “Osiris Horus” (the priest, but arguably an endowed godlike king in the afterlife) is an interesting hypothesis. (“Lucy Mack Smith on Mummies and Papyri”, compiled by H. Michael Marquardt, 2013) Did Joseph Smith believe that one of the female mummies was a daughter of Onitah?

Ryan Larsen acknowledges that, “... I'm undoubtedly leaving some loose ends and unanswered questions ...” Indeed, the Phantom Papyrus Hypothesis fails to account for the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.

If the Prophet Joseph held the characters of the Sepher Avram in his hand, why go to the trouble of transcribing characters from the pagan Book of Breathings - making amateur copies of symbols to appear to correlate with portions of the revealed English translation of the Book of Abraham? Why do that if the ancient Abraham text is right there in your hands to transcribe from? For Heaven’s sake correlate the available ancient Abraham text with the translated English narrative. Why go to the pedagogic effort (wild-goose chase) of producing an esoteric Ah-meh-strah-an Aleph-Beth and vocabulary index that draws on the characters of funerary texts, when the text of the Sepher Avram is right there before your eyes and the eyes of your amateur scribes? Set the heathen stuff aside for another time, and copy the characters, words and sentences directly from the Avraham papyrus!

Moreover, why burden the sacred Book of Abraham with phallic symbol laden talismanic art from a Book of the Dead? The clam shell vignettes and uncircumcised “funny round thing” were never part of the Hebrew’s original scripture. Why go outside the “package deal”? Unless, like an Ah-meh-strah-an of old, it was incumbent upon the Latter-day Seer to Abramize and circumcise the hypocephalus in an ordinance of conversion. (Gen. 17:24, Ps. 46:10, Abr. 2:10)

Well, clearly these things were done because no Hebrew prophet’s book, or version thereof, was rolled up with, or in any physical way present with the assortment of Egyptian funerary papyri that made it to Kirtland. The Prophet Joseph Smith not only participated with, but in all likelihood led the funerary scroll transcription effort. Apologetic efforts to distance Joseph Smith from the Ah-meh-strah-an (“Egyptian”) Aleph-Beth project in which he was clearly involved, are frankly poltroon.

In the end, Latter-day Saints have gotten the work “purported to be the writings of Abraham” (T&S, March 1, 1842) that they deserve. Those who love and devote themselves to the Standard Works, including the Book of Abraham, appreciate the teachings of the revealed scripture. They come to grasp the iron rod, “the word of God”. Egyptian enthusiasts with their hand reaching ever so near the rod, dote on the enigmatic clamshell vignettes and ostensible pearl. But a true restoration of the Sepher Avram is likely to come more from a study of Hebrew scripture, than from Egyptology. After all, the professional training that Joseph Smith and his Kirtland brethren sought and received in their poverty, was not imparted to them by an Egyptologist.

As if Church tradition and saving face are as important as defending scripture, contending for cherished Mormon myth continues. The myth for instance, that the Prophet Joseph Smith held the Book of Abraham papyrus in his hands at Kirtland.

Is it not enough that this tradition has disappointed even injured the convictions of those who have earnestly sought greater light and knowledge? (Abr. 1:2) Yes, I believe it is enough! The aforementioned tradition in my opinion is false. What the Prophet Joseph Smith literally held in his hands was the book of Isis, restorer of Osiris, and  portions of individualized books of the dead.


Things that helped the Prophet Joseph Smith to bring forth an Ah-meh-strah-ans styled version of the Sepher Avram - “called the BOOK OF ABRAHAM”:

Sinai Aleph Joseph’s diligent study of the scriptures guided his divine ability to bring forth an English version of the Book of Abraham. The Prophet drew in large measure upon the content and customary language of the Authorized King James Bible, and to some degree upon his training in Hebrew. (Ps. 105:8-23, KJV)

Sinai Bet The Prophet effectively became a seer stone, or the living embodiment of one. As such he was able to bring forth the scriptural text of the Book of Abraham without a physical copy of the ancient text in his hands. By use of Urim and Thummim, he had previously revealed the contents of an ancient document written on parchment by the Apostle John (LDS D&C 7:1-8), a document that Joseph also did not hold in his hands.

 Sinai Gimel The Prophet and his colleagues were initiated in degrees, by prayer and meditation, into the study of Ah-meh-strah-an symbols and methods of interpretation. This prepared the Prophet, and to a lesser degree Oliver Cowdery, to reinterpret the Egyptian funerary documents in esoteric ways as had the Ah-meh-strah-ans of old. See for instance the Ptolemaic Ah-meh-strah-an “Aleph” in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s handwriting JS Ptolemaic Ahmehstrahan Aleph, and compare it to other historical versions of the hieroglyph/letter. One interpretive method was to connect Egyptian symbols with symbols from other written languages. Elder Cowdery may have been inspired after all, when like an Ah-meh-strah-an, he thought he saw Hebrew letters in Hieratic Egyptian script. The Ptolemaic Ah-meh-strah-an also dissected, revised and redefined Egyptian symbols in abstruse ways, assigning mystical meanings to their work. Their work is somewhat comparable to that of rabbinical mystics on the subject of ketarim assigned to certain postexilic Aramaic/Hebrew letters.

 Sinai Dalet Finally there is the possibility that the arcane correlations between symbols appearing in the Hor Book of Breathings, and the Sepher Avram narrative are no coincidence. The Ptolemaic scribe that Hor commissioned to compose a personal Breathings permit (overtly ascribed to Isis throne goddess, but perhaps covertly Sarah mother of kings, Gen. 12:13; 17:15-16) may have been an Ah-meh-strah-an. It may have been the Ptolemaic scribe who placed literary DNA from a Sepher Avraham in the Book of Isis (Sarah) known to scholars as the Book of Breathing(s) belonging to Hor (Horus) the priest.


The Sepher Yoseph   ספר יוסף 

Above the hand of Maat From Nefir-ir-nabu Vignette

“Words spoken by Osiris ...” above the hand of the goddess of truth and justice. Vignette from the lady Nefir-ir-nebu’s Book of the Dead (upper right-hand corner of the vignette, Joseph Smith Papyri collection). Conflating this vignette with the lady Ta-sherit-min’s (Semminis’) Book of the Dead, Oliver Cowdery alleged the scene to be part of the biblical patriarch “Joseph's record ... a representation of the judgment: … the Savior [resurrected Osiris] seated upon his throne, crowned, and holding the sceptres [scepters] of righteousness and power, before whom also, are assembled the twelve tribes of Israel, the nations, languages and tongues of the earth, the kingdoms of the world over which satan [Ammit, devourer of the dead, מות] is represented as reigning. [Prince] Michael the archangel [Maat, goddess of truth and justice, above whose hand is written "words spoken by Osiris ..."], holding the key [ankh] of the bottomless pit, and at the same time the devil as being chained and shut up in the bottomless pit.” (Messenger and Advocate, “Egyptian Mummies and Ancient Records”, December 1835, pg. 236)

In Egyptian religion, Osiris sits as judge and lord of the dead. The role of Osiris is comparable to that of Abraham in the Jewish spirit world - Sheol. (Luke 16:22-31) To an Ah-meh-strah-an “words spoken by Osiris ...” is esoterically equivalent to “words spoken by Avram (Exalted Father) ...” In this and many ways, it can be said that the Book of Abraham, correlating with Osiris texts, purports to be the writings of Abram during his sojourn in Egypt (Ah-meh-strah).

Rich in possible interpretations, Ah-meh-strah (Egypt) also sounds like “Amat-sitrah” (אמת-סתרה) meaning hidden cubit, forearm of secrecy, arm of hiding place, mother of protection, secret truth. (LDS D&C 121:4)

And so the present Book of Abraham was derived by revelation from a lost Sepher Avraham (lost like the body of Osiris), and from more than one Egyptian funerary scroll; principally the Hor Book of Breathings; but also from portions of more than one Book of the Dead.

Gardiner A19 "Great" Ancient of DaysGardiner A43 King of Upper Egypt Great King of Upper EgyptKi-ah-bram, Ki-ah-bra-oam-Zub-sool-oan

Left: Transcribed hieroglyphic equivalent of the Hieratic Egyptian symbols (middle). The symbols are Gardiner A19, 20 + Gardiner A43. The hieratic versions of these symbols appear in column 2 of the preamble to the Hor Book of Breathings Made By Isis, Fragment A (JSP 1). These standard Egyptian symbols correspond to the Ah-meh-strah-an expressions “Ki-ah-bram, Ki-ah-bra-oam - Zub-sool-oan”. The standard Egyptian symbols may be interpreted to signify great (elder) king of upper Egypt, or Osiris the Great. An Ah-meh-strah-an may see in the symbols, Exalted Father (Avram) back to an “Ancient of Days” (Dan. 7:9) - “first born, or the first man, or father of fathers. (Abr. 1:2-3, 8-10, LDS D&C 107:54-56)

So what is the Book of Breathings with respect to the Book of Abraham? It is the papyrus scroll that many Mormons thought contained the ancient writings of Abraham, until it was academically shown to be an Egyptian funerary text. After that, some concocted the missing, or elusive papyrus defense (fiction) - a disservice, I believe, to the Spirit of Truth. But to an Ah-meh-strah-an the unique Book of Breathings is the Book of Isis (Sarah) which contains esoteric keys for reassembling by revelation that lost and scattered body of text, the Book of Osiris (Abraham) - breathing into its “restoration” new inspiration. (Matt. 13:52) Hence the correlations between pieces from the Book of Breathings Made By Isis (who helped restore Osiris, and bore his seed) and the Book of Abraham.

Had the Prophet Joseph Smith handed to us a revealed English translation of the Sepher Yoseph (as he had obtained by revelation the writing on parchment of John, significant portions of the Book of Moses, and the Book of Abraham text), we might discover that esoteric correlations exist between the Sepher Yoseph and the Book of the Dead of the lady Semminis and the lady Nefir-ir-nebu. In this sense, correlating these later papyri (from Ptolemaic times) with “Joseph’s record” may be justified.

Embellishing the revealed scripture with vignettes from these Egyptian funerary papyri, the Prophet Joseph Smith might well have called the Ah-meh-strah-an styled work, purporting to be the writings of Joseph, the BOOK OF ZAPHNATH-PAANEAH. (Gen. 41:45)


“The roll was as dark as the bones of the Mummies, and bore very much the same appearance; but the opened sheets were exceedingly like thin parchment, and of quite a light color. There were birds, and fishes, and fantastic looking people, interspersed amidst hyeroglyphics [hieroglyphics, actually hieratic script]; but the old lady explained the meaning of them all, as Joseph had interpreted them to her.

The stories appeared to be more particular accounts than our Bible gives us, of Noah, the Ark and the flood - of Abraham and Melchizedec - of Joseph and Pharaoh - and of various other distinguished characters. She said that when Joseph was reading the papyrus, he closed his eyes, and held a hat over his face, and that the revelation came to him; and that where the papyrus was torn, he could read the parts that were destroyed equally as well as those that were there; and that scribes sat by him writing, as he expounded.” (Correspondence dated September 1846 in the Friends' Weekly Intelligence 3 (October 3, 1846), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Joseph - Face of the Sphynx



Esoteric Egyptian in the Margins of the Book of Abraham


Joseph Smith’s Book of the Dead Hypocephalus


Esoteric Egyptian in Facsimile No. 2


TETRAGRAMMATEarth in her four quartersN and EARTH    


Ahmehstrahan Counting and Gematria

Ahmehstrahan 1000


Princess of On



feather, Shu

The Name of the King

tall bread loaf, Thoth


Vincent Coon וִינְסֶנט כּוּן © Copyright 2023

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