Book of Abraham

Beautifully Written Upon Papyrus: An Historical Narrative of the Joseph Smith Papyri

By Kerry Muhlestein, RyceeJo Nordstrom, and Kelsey Murdoch

In 1967, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City presented the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with a number of papyri fragments, which had been glued to drawings of the plans for the Kirtland Temple and illustrated plates of Kirtland and other townships in Ohio plates of Kirtland and other townships in Ohio. That—coupled with the presence of Facsimile One on one of the fragments—convinced many that these were some of the papyri Joseph Smith once owned. The existence of these fragments came as a surprise, since it was previously believed all of the papyri had burned in the Great Chicago Fire.

pit tomb 33 mormonTo understand the significance of this discovery, we must first know something of the more recent history of the papyri. Shortly after Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1798campaign in Egypt, European countries began a fierce competition to bring the most spectacular artifacts back from Egypt into their museums. One of the people employed by the French government for this undertaking was Antonio Lebolo, who sent a great number of Egyptian artifacts from the area around Thebes to various places throughout Europe. Among those things he shipped out of Egypt was a collection that included eleven mummies and several papyri.

Lebolo died before he could sell the collection, so its disposal was turned over to a shipping company which sold it in the U.S. It was the first large group of Egyptian antiquities to come to this country. This collection eventually ended up in the hands of a man named Michael Chandler, who, in 1835, traveled from town to town in 1835, displaying the mummies and charging admission to see them. After some time, he started to sell pieces from the collection to bolster his income and meet debts. By the time he had worked his way down the Eerie Canal to Kirtland Ohio, only four mummies, two rolls of papyrus, and a few other papyrus fragments remained of the original hoard.

In Kirtland, Chandler showed the collection to Joseph Smith. President Smith felt that the Church needed to purchase the papyri, but Chandler refused to sell them separately from the mummies. The Prophet was able to raise $2400 to purchase the collection. Soon after the purchase, Joseph announced that the papyri contained the writings of Joseph of Egypt and Father Abraham. As Joseph worked with the papyri, he dictated to his scribes the text of the book of Abraham. We do not know the exact process of translation, other than that it was enabled by inspiration from God.

Years later, in March of 1842, the Prophet published part of this book of Abraham dictation in three installments in the Church’s newspaper, The Times and Seasons. Many years later in 1851, Elder Franklin Richards copied these publications into a booklet he produced for the Saints residing in England, which he called The Pearl of Great Price. Nearly thirty years had passed when the Church took much of Elder Richard’s booklet and published it for all members of the Church, using the same title. In 1880 The Pearl of Great Price was accepted as canon by the general church membership, and has been part of the LDS Standard Works ever since.

But what has happened to the papyri in the years since the Prophet had them? We have long known that when Joseph Smith died his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, had possession of the papyri. Shortly after Lucy’s death, Emma Smith and her new husband, Louis Biddamon, sold the papyri to a man named Abel Combs. Most scholars believed that the entire Combs collection ended up in a museum in Chicago in 1863, where it had been destroyed by fire. Thus, the existence of the fragments in the Metropolitan Museum was a surprise to everyone.

Instead,, a portion of the collection had been given to the Huesser family before the rest of the papyri was sold to the museum in Chicago. Alice Huesser eventually offered to sell them to the Metroplitan Museum but had been turned down. When that museum later decided to build up its Egyptian collection they contacted Alice’s surviving widower, who sold the papyri to them in 1946; the museum subsequently presented the surviving papyri to the LDS Church in 1967.

Today we know that these papyri fragments date from about 200 BC. This is nearly 2,000 years after Abraham lived. Therefore, the papyrus containing the book of Abraham, like every ancient Biblical manuscript now in existence, is a copy of a copy of the original. It is impossible to tell how many copies lie between that which the Prophet had and the original as written or dictated by Abraham.

Scholars, students, and curious readers alike recognize we can learn much by examining the existing papyri fragments, thus, their appearance has spawned a tremendous amount of research. One of the lines of research that we are currently pursuing is comparing the fragments we have today to the accounts of those who saw the papyri before it was sold to museums. Doing this allows us to learn something of how much of the original collection we are missing, and perhaps even sheds light on the source of the book of Abraham.

A number of eyewitnesses contemporary with Joseph Smith have cast light on the source of the book of Abraham; the recent discovery, collection, and analysis of these accounts was made possible by a Susan and Harvey Black Mentored Research Grant for studies on the life of Joseph Smith. The researchers, Dr. Kerry Muhlestein and his mentored student RyceeJo Nordstrom, attempted to gather every known eyewitness account of the papyri after Joseph Smith obtained them. After years of tracking down sources, our collection tripled what we had expected to find, not including many hearsay (and therefore less reliable) accounts. Organizing the sources chronologically, we assembled a papyrus timeline that helped us better understand when the papyri and mummies were at each location, when the fragments were separated from the rolls of papyrus, how the mummies were displayed, and when Joseph Smith was involved in translation efforts.

When Joseph Smith originally purchased the papyri, the collection contained two scrolls, one larger than the other, as well as an unknown number of fragments of papyri, one of which must have been Facsimile Two. Sometime before the Saints left Ohio, someone cut the more damaged portions of these rolls off, glued them to scratch paper, and mounted them under glass.

Soon after Joseph acquired the scrolls, Oliver Cowdrey described the “records of Abraham and Joseph,” saying they were “beautifully written on papyrus with black, and a small part, red ink or paint, in perfect preservation. The characters are such as you find upon the coffins of mummies, hieroglyphics, &c. with many of the characters exactly like the present, (though probably not quite so square,) form of the Hebrew without the points.” Unfortunately, Oliver did not differentiate between the writings of Abraham and Joseph, so we cannot tell which of the writings had Hebrew characters on it. All of the papyri we have now contain only Egyptian writing; we have no Hebrew on the extant fragments. This indicates that we do not have all of the papyri Oliver was describing.

Oliver also spoke of a representation of the god head “three, yet in one, is curiously drawn to give simply, though impressively, the writer’s views of that exalted personage.” He also described a walking serpent that he felt was part of the Garden of Eden story, and mentioned a representation of “Enoch’s Pillar.” A few of the papyrus fragments we have today contain pictures that may be those to which Oliver was referring.

Oliver also wrote that “the inner end of the same roll, [Joseph of Egypt’s record] presents a representation of the judgment: At one view you behold the Savior seated upon his throne, crowned, and holding the 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 is represented as reigning. Michael the archangel, holding the key of the bottomless pit, and at the same time the devil as being chained and shut up in the bottomless pit.” While one of the fragments we now have may possibly show the scene Oliver Cowdery was describing, it is more likely that we do not have the portion of the roll Oliver referenced. From Oliver’s descriptions we learn that the book of Abraham and the book of Joseph were on two different rolls of papyri. We also confirm that we no longer have some parts of the papyri he described, in particular the portions with Hebrew writing.

In 1840, S. M. Bartlett, who was not a believer of the LDS Faith, visited Joseph Smith in Nauvoo and published an account of his visit in a newspaper. After the Prophet showed Bartlett the mummies, Joseph went to a drawer “and drew out several frames, covered with glass, under which were numerous fragments of Egyptian papyrs [sic], on which, as usual, a great variety of hieroglyphical characters had been imprinted.” Bartlett recounted how Joseph Smith spoke of wanting to spend more time translating these fragments that had been “unrolled and preserved with great labor and care.” He then pointed to a part of one fragment and said “that is the signature of the patriarch Abraham.” Presumably at least some of the papyri that Bartlett saw cut off and mounted under glass are the framed papyri that the Metropolitan Museum gave to the Church. Since the papyri the LDS Church now owns are from a much later time period than Abraham, we surmise that Joseph Smith must have assumed that since the writings originated from Abraham, the account on the papyrus must have written by Abraham’s own hand. Joseph’s misconception may cause some raised eyebrows, but there is no reason to suppose that the Prophet’s ability to translate by inspiration meant that he was divinely tutored in methods of accurately dating papyrus.

In 1848, William I. Appleby wrote an account of the Prophet showing him the mummies and scrolls seven years earlier. Appleby says these were the writings of Abraham and Joseph from biblical times; he stated, “The writings are chiefly in the Egyptian language, with the exception of a little Hebrew, I believe.” He continued, “The writings are beautiful and plain, composed of red, and black ink. There is a percepeble [sic] difference between the writings. Joseph [of Egypt] appears to have been the best scribe.” Appleby’s journal entry provides valuable information because he helps us realize that the more beautiful writing Oliver Cowdery described belonged to the scroll with Joseph of Egypt’s book on it. He also confirms that there was some Hebrew writing on one of the scrolls.

For many years, Lucy Mack Smith made a small living for herself by showing the mummies and papyri to visitors. Some of the stories regarding Mother Smith are quite charming. For example, one unnamed author wrote in a newspaper of his visit with Joseph Smith. While he and his friends were waiting to meet the Prophet, Lucy Mack Smith came to them and offered to show them some ancient records. They followed her and saw the four mummies and “a large number of framed sheets of papyrus covered with hieroglyphics, which had been taken from the bandages about the mummies, and these were the ‘interesting records’ which the old lady had invited us to see.” Mother Smith regaled the men with stories from the Bible which were on the records. As they tired of this, they “begged her to excuse us from hearing more. Just as we were on the point of retiring, however, our eyes fell upon a placard, inscribed as follows: ‘Egyptian Mummies and Ancient Records to be seen here – Price 25 cents.’ Of course we paid the score without a word, and bowed ourselves out of the residence of the Prophet.”

One of the most interesting accounts of the papyri was found in letters written by Charlotte Haven, a young girl who visited Nauvoo with some friends in 1843. They were also shown the mummies and papyri by Lucy Mack Smith. Mother Smith “opened a long roll of manuscript, saying it was ‘the writing of Abraham and Isaac, written in Hebrew and Sanscrit.’” Because we do not have any fragments today that contain Hebrew, this likely source of the book of Abraham must be missing. Charlotte also described scenes from the other roll, including “Mother Eve being tempted by the serpent, who—the serpent, I mean—was standing on the tip of his tail, which with his two legs formed a tripod, and had his head in Eve’s ear.”

Charlotte was not the only child to see the mummies, but not all of the young visitors were invited. In his old age, Solomon Hale said, “I have always carried clearly in memory, somewhat to my embarrassment, certain cautions and uninvited visits to an upstairs room in [Joseph Smith’s] home, where I would take boys to see the mummies. They were set upright in a kind of cabinet against the wall, behind a curtain. I can see to this day the startled looks on the boys’ faces when I would jerk the curtain to one side and reveal those awful looking mummies. But one day the Prophet Joseph caught us at it and gave us a well-deserved reprimand. We never did it again.”

Another account was given many years later by one of Hyrum Smith’s granddaughters, Jerusha. She fondly recounted her girlhood adventures, including frequently playing hide and seek among the mummies, between 1852 and 1856. Some 65 years later she recalled that “in the arms of the Old King lay the roll of papyrus from which our prophet translated the book of Abraham.” Jerusha had at least been told by either Lucy Mack Smith or Emma Smith that the long roll was the source of the book of Abraham.

By synthesizing the above accounts, we can reach some firm conclusions. The Saints possessed two scrolls, one shorter and written in a more beautiful visual style, the other longer and written with a less-able hand. The style of writing allows us to identify that the well-written scroll was apparently the book of Joseph of Egypt. Much—and perhaps all—of what eyewitnesses described as being on this scroll has been lost. It appears that the longer scroll, written with less visual appeal, did contain Hebraic characters as well as Egyptian writing; we believe this wasthis seems to be a the source of the book of Abraham. Since the papyri in the LDS Church archives contain no examples of Hebraic characters the majority of the longer scroll must have been lost. However, it seems that some parts of this longer scroll were cut off, mounted, and framed at some point, though we cannot be positive of this. though we do not know for sure that fragments we now have were originally part of the long scroll. These framed and mounted fragments are likely the same pieces of papyri we have today. Oliver Cowdery and Lucy Mack Smith describe seeing Hebrew on the scroll that was the source of the book of Abraham, while Jerusha Smith and Charlotte Haven’s accounts point to the long roll as the source even after it seems portions of it had been mounted under glass; these four accounts, corroborate that the source of the book of Abraham is no longer extant. That source, the long roll of papyrusi, must have been destroyed in the Great Chicago Ffire.

But despite the loss of many of these ancient sources, we are fortunate to have some fragments as we further study the accounts describing the papyri. We are continuing our study of both sources and accounts as we try to learn more about the collection Joseph Smith had, how he used them, and how they fit into the history of the Church. Together, these ancient and modern sources have revealed that we cannot look to the existing fragments as the source of the book of Abraham. They have also highlighted how much more we have to learn about the role of the mummies and papyri in the life and learning of the early Saints.

To read more about the Joseph Smith Papyri, please look for Dr. Muhlestein’s article appearing in articles to appear in the Journal of Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture.…

Additional Resources:

Learn more about Joseph Smith at the official site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths as the “Mormon Church”).

God speaks to his children in modern days.

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Request a free copy of the Book of Mormon.

Notes

See Kerry Muhlestein, “Prelude to the Pearl: Sweeping Events Leading to the Discovery of the Joseph Smith Papyri,@ in Prelude to the Restoration: from Apostasy to the Restored Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book/BYU Religious Studies Center, 2004), 130 141.

Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 2:236.

For a slightly outdated but excellent description of how the papyri got to the Church, see H. Donl Peterson, The Story of the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1995).

See Marc Coenen, “The Dating of the Papyri Joseph Smith I, X and XI and Min Who Massacres His Enemies,” in Egyptian Religion the Last Thousand Years, Part II. . Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Jan Quaegebeur, Willy Clarysse, Antoon Schoors and Harco Willems, eds. (Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters, 1998); Robert K. Ritner, “The ‘Breathing Permit of Hôr’ Thirty-Four Years Later,” Dialogue 33, no. 4 (2000), 99; Marc Coenen, “Horos, Prophet of Min Who Massacres His Enemies,” Chronique d’Égypte 74 (1999), 257-59; John Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2000), 25-27, John Gee, “History of a Theban Priesthood,” in Proceedings of “Et maintenant ce ne sont plus que des villages…” Thèbes et sa région aux époques hellénistique, romaine et Byzantine (Brussell, forthcoming); Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975), 4-6; and Jan Quaegebeur, “Books of Thoth Belonging to Owners of Portraits? On Dating Later Hieratic Funerary Papyri,” in Portraits and Masks: Burial Customs in Roman Egypt, ed. Morris L. Bierbrier (London: British Museum, 1997), 74. . While Nibley prefers the later Roman period date, the earlier date espoused by Gee, Quaegebeur, and Coenen is almost certainly correct.

For recent examples, see Kerry Muhlestein, “Egyptian Papyri and the Book of Abraham,@ in The Religious Educator 11/1 (2010): 90-106; and Kerry Muhlestein, “Egyptian Papyri and the Book of Abraham B A Faithful, Egyptological Point of View@ in No Weapon Shall Prosper, Robert L. Millett, ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 217-241. For the earliest studies see Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975); and for the latest edition of this publication see Hugh W. Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, 2nd ed., Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 16 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2005). For the best edition and translation of the papyri see Michael D. Rhodes, The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary, Studies in the Book of Abraham 2, ed. John Gee (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002) and Michael D. Rhodes, Books of the Dead Belonging to Tshemmin and Neferirnub, a Translation and Commentary, Studies in the Book of Abraham 4, ed. John Gee (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2010).

Oliver Cowdery, “Egyptian Mummies,” in Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2, no. 3, p. 234. Parenthetical statement in the original.

Ibid., p. 236.

Ibid.

Ibid.

S.M.Bartlett, “A Glance at the Mormons,” in Quincy Whig, October 17, 1840, vol. 3, no. 25, p. 1.

Ibid.

Ibid.

Autobiography and Journal of William I. Appleby, 1848-1856, p. 71.

“The Mormons,” New Yourk Daily Times, 28 September 1852. Reprinted in several other newspapers.

Charlotte Haven to her mother, 19 February 1843, cited in “A Girl’s Letters from Nauvoo,” Overland Monthly (December, 1890), 624.

Ibid.

“Solomon Henry Hale – Noble and Brave Hero,” in Heber Q. Hale, Bishop Jonathan H. Hale of Nauvoo, His Life and Ministry (1938), 219-220.

Jerusha W. Blanchard, “Reminiscences of the Granddaughter of Hyrum Smith,” Relief Society Magazine, September 1922, 9

 

Appendix of sources about papyri:

Oliver Cowdery, “Egyptian Mummies,” in Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2, no. 3, p. 234.

The language in which this record is written is very comprehensive, and many of the hieroglyphics exceedingly striking. The evidence is apparent upon the face, that they were written by persons acquainted with the history of the creation, the fall of man, and more or less of the correct ideas of notions of the Deity. The representation of the god head- three, yet in one, is curiously drawn to give simply, though impressively, the writers views of that exalted personage. The serpent, represented as walking, or formed in a manner to be able to walk, standing in front of, and near a female figure, is to me, one of the greatest representations I have ever seen upon paper, or a writing substance; and must go so far towards convincing the rational mind of the correctness and divine authority of the holy scriptures, and especially that part which has ever been assailed by the infidel community, as being a fiction, as to carry away, with one might sweep, the whole atheistical fabric, without leaving a vestige sufficient for a foundation stone. Enoch’s Pillar, as mentioned by Josephus, is upon the same roll… The inner end of the same roll, (Joseph’s record,) presents a representation of the judgment: At one view you behold the Savior seated upon his throne, crowned, and holding the 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 is represented as reigning. Michael the archangel, holding the key of the bottomless pit, and at the same time the devil as being chained and shut up in the bottomless pit… 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 reasonably expect to see a sufficient to develop much upon the mighty acts of the ancient men of God, and of his dealing with the children of men when they saw him face to face.

S.M.Bartlett, “A Glance at the Mormons,” in Quincy Whig, October 17, 1840, vol. 3, no. 25, p. 1.

[Joseph Smith] then walked to a secretary, on the opposite side of the room, and drew out several frames, covered with glass, under which were numerous fragments of Egyptian papyrus, on which, as usual, a great variety of hieroglyphical characters had been imprinted.

These ancient records, said he, throw great light on the subject of Christianity. They have been unrolled and preserved with great labor and care. My time has been hitherto too much taken up to translate the whole of them, but I will show you how I interpret certain parts.

Autobiography and Journal of William I. Appleby, 1848-1856, p. 71.

To day I paid Br. Joseph a visit, received instruction concerning “Baptism for the Dead.’ Read the revelation as givenby (sic) the Lord last January concerning the same, and Recorded in the ‘Book of the Law of the Lord’ viewed four mummies, one male and three females, brought from Ancient Thebes in Egypt, saw the Rolls of PAPYRUS, AND THE Writings theron (sic), taken from off the bosom of the Male Mummy, being some of the writings of ancient Abrham (sic) and of Joseph, that was sold into Egypt. Thewritings (sic) are chiefly in the Egyptian language, with the exception of a little Hebrew, I believe. They give a description of some ofthe (sic) scenes in Ancient Egypt, of their worship, their Idol Gods, and cetera. Thewritings are beautiful and plain, composed of red, and black ink. There is a percepeble (sic) difference between the writings. Joseph appears to have been the best scribe. There are also representations of men, beasts, Birds, Idols, and Oxen attached to a kind of a Plough, and a female guiding it. Also the serpent when he beguiled Eve. He appears with two legs, erect in the form and appearance of man. But his head in the form, and representingtheSerpent, with his forked tongue extended. There are likewise, a representations of an Alter erected, with a man bound and laid thereon, and a Priest, with a knife in his hand, standing at the feet, with a dove over the person bound on the Altar, with several IdolGods, standing around it.

A Celestial Globe, with the planet ‘Kolob’ or first creation of the Supreme Being, a planet of light, which planet makes a revolution once in a thousand years—Also, the Lord revealing the Grand Key Words of the Holy Priesthood to Adam in the Garden of Eden, as also to Seth, Noah, Melchizedeck, Abraham, and to all who the Priesthood was revealed. Abraham also in the Court of Pharaoh sitting upon the Kings throne reasoning upon Astronomy, with a crown upon his head, representing the Priesthood as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven, with the scepter of Justice and Judgment in his hand. And King Pharaoh, standing behind him, together with a Prince—a principal Waiter, and a black slave of the King. A Genealogy of the Mummies, and Epitaphs on Their deaths &c &c, are all distinctly represented on the Papyrus, which is called the ‘Book of Abraham.’

The Male mummy was one of the Ancient Pharaohs of Egypt, and a Priest, as he is embalmed with his tongue extended, representing a speaker. The females were his wife and two daughters, as part of the writing haS BEEN TRANSLATED, AND INFORMS US, WHO THEY WERE, ALSO WHEn writings it is, and when those mummies were embalmed, which is nearly four thousand years ago. There is also a VIVID DESCRIPTION GIVEN ON THE Papyrus, of the Creation, far more accurately or minutely, than the account given in the Bible. Likewise, when the Idolatrous Priest, ‘Elkenah,’ attempted to offer up Abraham as a sacrifice, to their Idol Gods, in Egypt, (as represented by the Altar &C, before refered [sic] to) But was delivered by the interposition of Almighty p[o]wer, broke the cords by which he was bound, tore down the Altar, and killed the Priest.

We had not been seated more than half an hour when his mother entered the room, and informed us that in the next apartment there were some very interesting ancient records which she would be glad to show us. We accepted her invitation, when we were introduced to some half a dozen Egyptian mummies, who, we were informed, constituted the family of Pharaoh. We were then shown a large number of framed sheets of papyrus covered with hieroglyphics, which had been taken from the bandages about the mummies, and these were the “interesting records,” which the old lady had invited us to see, and which-Gideon like- she undertook to explain to us. We soon found that the thread of her discourse was simply a rehearsal of the bible history of the creation and the end of man, the deluge, and the subsequent history of the Isrealites (sic). As we were all more or less familiar with this, we soon wearied of the discourse, and, to our great scandal in the good woman’s estimations, begged her to excuse us from hearing more. Just as we were on the point of retiring, however, our eyes fell upon a placard, inscribed as follows: “EGYPTIAN MUMMIES AND ANCIENT RECRODS TO BE SEEN HERE.- PRICE 25 cents.” Of course we paid the score without a word, and bowed ourselves out of the residence of the Prophet.

Charlotte Haven to her mother, 19 February 1843, cited in “A Girl’s Letters from Nauvoo,” Overland Monthly (December, 1890), 624.

…She receives a little pittance by exhibiting The Mummies to strangers…On one side were standing half a dozen mummies, to whom she introduced us, King Onitus and his royal household,- one she did not know. Then she took up what seemed to be a club wrapped in a dark cloth, and said “This is the leg of Pharaoh’s daughter, the one that saved Moses.” Repressing a smile, I looked from the mummies to the old lady, but could detect nothing but earnestness and sincerity on her countenance. Then she turned to a long table, set her candle stick down, and opened a long roll of manuscript, saying it was “the writing of Abraham and Isaac, written in Hebrew and Sanscrit,”… but she said she read it through the inspiration of her son Joseph, in whom she seemed to have perfect confidence. Then in the same way she interpreted to us hieroglyphics from another roll. One was Mother Eve being tempted by the serpent, who- the serpent, I mean- was standing on the tip of his tail, which with his two legs formed a tripod, and had his head in Eve’s ear. I said, “But serpents don’t have legs.” “They did before the fall,” she asserted with perfect confidence.

“Solomon Henry Hale – Noble and Brave Hero,” in Heber Q. Hale, Bishop Jonathan H. Hale of Nauvoo, His Life and Ministry (1938), 219-220.

And I have always carried clearly in memory, somewhat to my embarrassment, certain cautious and uninvited visits to an upstairs room in his home, where I would take boys to see the mummies. They were set upright in a kind of cabinet against the wall, behind a curtain. I can see to this day the startled looks on the boys’ faces when I would jerk the curtain to one side and reveal those awful looking mummies. But one day the Prophet Joseph caught us at it and gave us a well-deserved reprimand. We never did it again.

Jerusha W. Blanchard, “Reminiscences of the Granddaughter of Hyrum Smith,” Relief Society Magazine, September 1922, 9.

How we raced through the house playing hide and seek. My favorite hiding place was in an old wardrobe which contained the mummies, and it was in here that I would creep while the others searched the house. There were three mummies: The old Egyptian king, the queen and their daughter. The bodies were wrapped in seven layers of linen cut in thin strips. In the arms of the Old King, lay the roll of papyrus from which our prophet translated the Book of Abraham.

 


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