Old Testament - Lesson 2
Resources Notes


Note 1

Translation and Publication of the Book of Abraham
H. Donl Peterson

On October 10, 1880, in a general conference, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints voted to accept the book of Abraham as a scriptural work. Several views have been advanced concerning the process whereby the Prophet Joseph Smith produced the work. Although he and his associates began an "Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar" while they studied the papyri, the purpose of that work is obscure. It was not completed, explained, or published by Joseph Smith or any of his successors. However, it is certain that he began working in Kirtland, Ohio, on the relevant Egyptian papyri soon after purchasing them from Michael H. Chandler in 1835.

Probably no one in the United States in 1835 could interpret Egyptian hieroglyphics through ordinary translation techniques. When he translated the gold plates of the Book of Mormon from the "reformed Egyptian" text (1827-1829), the Prophet stated that he did it "by the gift and power of God." Likewise, it was principally divine inspiration rather than his knowledge of languages that produced the English text of the book of Abraham. His precise methodology remains unknown.

On July 5, 1835, the Prophet recorded, "I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abrahamů. Truly we can say, the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of peace and truth" (HC 2:236). After delays, Joseph Smith appointed two men on November 2, 1837, to raise funds to help translate and print the book of Abraham. But because of further difficulties, he was unable to begin publishing for four more years. The book of Abraham was first printed in three issues of the Times and Seasons on March 1, March 15, and May 16, 1842. These installments contained the entire current book of Abraham, including the three facsimiles. In February 1843, Joseph Smith promised that more of the book of Abraham would be published. However, continued harassment by enemies kept the Prophet from ever publishing more of the record. It did receive considerable notoriety when several prominent eastern newspapers in the United States reprinted Facsimile 1 and part of the text from the Times and Seasons publication.

In 1851 the writings of Abraham were published in England as a part of the Pearl of Great Price, a small compilation by Franklin D. Richards containing some of Joseph Smith's translations and revelations. It was this compilation that was canonized in 1880, in Salt Lake City, thereby placing it alongside three other sacred collections or standard works: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants.

In 1856 the papyri were sold by Joseph's widow to Abel Combs. With the exception of a few fragments returned to the Church in 1967, the present location of the papyri is unknown. [See also Papyri, Joseph Smith.]

Bibliography
Nibley, Hugh. "The Meaning of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers." BYU Studies 11, no. 4 (Summer 1971):350-99.
Peterson, H. Donl. The Pearl of Great Price: A History and Commentary. Salt Lake City, 1987.

(Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 134)


Note 2

Foreordination and Free Will
Brigham Young

It is a mistaken idea that God has decreed all things whatsoever that come to pass, for the volition of the creature is as free as air. You may inquire whether we believe in foreordination; we do, as strongly as any people in the world. We believe that Jesus was foreordained before the foundations of the world were built, and his mission was appointed him in eternity to be the Savior of the world, yet when he came in the flesh he was left free to choose or refuse to obey his Father. Had he refused to obey his Father, he would have become a son of perdition. We also are free to choose or refuse the principles of eternal life. God has decreed and foreordained many things that have come to pass, and he will continue to do so; but when he decrees great blessings upon a nation or upon an individual they are decreed upon certain conditions. When he decrees great plagues and overwhelming destructions upon nations or people, those decrees come to pass because those nations and people will not forsake their wickedness and turn unto the Lord. It was decreed that Nineveh should be destroyed in forty days, but the decree was stayed on the repentance of the inhabitants of Nineveh. God rules and reigns, and has made all his children as free as himself, to choose the right or the wrong, and we shall then be judged according to our works.

(Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 55.)


Note 3

Satan is Real
Harold B. Lee

Lucifer succeeded in persuading one-third of all the spirits to rebel. He and they were cast out upon the earth without mortal bodies and he became Satan. Some have seen his satanic majesty in his spiritual form, in bodily shape like a man. Some have seen individuals who have been possessed of evil spirits. Others there are who have felt the awful influence of his "hellish" suggestions. All of you have known individuals who because of their own sins are in his power and subject to his will. Make no mistake about his reality as a personality although he is not possessed of a physical body. Since the beginning of time he with his hosts, who are likewise beings in spiritual form, have waged relentless war to destroy the free agency of man and to lead captive as many as would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord (see Moses 4:4) as revealed in the teachings of the gospel.

(Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 32.)


Note 4

The War in Heaven Continues Here in Mortality
Harold B. Lee

You and I were among those who passed that first test and were given the privilege of coming to earth as mortal individuals. If we hadn't passed that test, we wouldn't be here with mortal bodies, but would have been denied this privilege and would have followed Satan or Lucifer, as he came to be known, as did one-third of the spirits created in that premortal existence who were deprived of the privilege of having mortal bodies. These are now among us, but only in their spiritual form, to make a further attempt to thwart the plan of salvation by which all who would obey would have the great glory of returning to God our Father who gave us life.

(Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 33.)


Note 5

Protecting Our Homes and Families

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