FAIR Mormon's New Video War on the CES Letter: The Book of Abraham vs the CES Letter

This past Thanksgiving, the FAIR Mormon YouTube channel launched a series of videos that 'declared war on the CES Letter.' The video series features Kwaku, who is a young church apologist from other video series such as Saints Unscripted, and has recently been in the news for holding underground dance parties in Provo, UT during the global pandemic under the name 'Young and Dumb.'

They named the series This Is The Show, which has the acronym TITS. If you don't think that's intentional, just reread the above paragraph and look at the coverage from the 'Young and Dumb' parties. Kwaku has always been someone who wants to entertain, self promote, and build a brand, and this is certainly one way to do it.


The videos are very aggressive and condescending towards those with doubts, which seems to undercut the very point of the channel: To help those with doubts not believe the information in the CES Letter. The tone in many of these videos is one of outright mockery towards those who leave the church, and heavily loaded with attacks on both Jeremy Runnells, other well known people who have left the church and spoken about the truth claims of the church, and the CES Letter itself. They call the CES Letter "trash" in one video and suggest throughout the series that any ideas that come from the ex-Mormon community are somehow not trustworthy, even though many apologists have moved to that community after realizing that the evidence is clear that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not true.

 

We recently covered the new FAIR Mormon "This is the show" (TITS) video on the Seer Stone, and I wanted to cover one more of their videos just to show how blatantly dishonest these FAIR Mormon 'TITS' videos are. Today we're going to review their video titled 'The Book of Abraham vs. the CES Letter.'

These videos are attempting to be edgy for the youth, which was never more apparent than from a comment made by John Lynch, the chairman of the board of directors at FAIR Mormon, when asked about the tone and content of the TITS videos:
 

"There is something remarkable in how these videos have helped us reach the youth with solid information. Previous videos of our typical dry,  scholarly content has had zero views from anyone under 25, and only about 10% from those under 35. Also,  a typical video would get at best 2-3,000 views in a couple years.  The least popular of these videos have garnered that many views in only hours. And 37% are from those under 35 and 10% from those under 25.

Clearly this content is reaching people who need it."


A friend of mine had a back and forth with another FAIR contributor and they made similar comments, effectively saying that this approach is getting more views so therefore it is worth the ridiculous tone and personal attacks if it gets the youth of the church to watch.

That response alone tells you everything you need to know: This video series is intentionally controversial because it generates views.

Furthermore, these videos are absolutely not intended to create conversation about these topics as they have repeatedly disabled comments, deleted comments, and even turned off the 'thumbs up/thumbs down' counts on the videos. In other words, they are looking to create an echo chamber that where the only comments allowed are about how great these videos are while censoring anyone who actually links to credible sources that explain why they are being intentionally dishonest.

We are not going to spend a ton of time on this response because I just recently finished a two part overview on the Book of Abraham that addresses all of this in much greater detail, but I want to highlight how FAIR Mormon distorts, deflects, and deceives in this video on the Book of Abraham, and does so with the sole intention of inoculating members with dishonest information with the goal of keeping them from reading the CES Letter or doing their own research.

With that out of the way, let's get to the video:
 

The CES Letter makes a number of claims about the book of Abraham. The majority of them come from a presupposition specifically crafted so the answer must be flawed. This manipulative tactic is very easy to identify.

(Look, this is FAIR Mormon trying to poison the well at the outset, but I just want to note here that if you're going to claim the CES Letter is being manipulative, you had better get your facts right in the video. Let's see how they did in that regard below...)

The first claim is that because the Book of Abraham states that it was written by the hand of Abraham, that means the exact the papyrus Joseph translated must have been the exact paper Abraham used since the papyrus post-dates the life of Abraham. The letter insinuates this means the scripture is a fake. This is flawed logic.


The reason that the CES Letter makes this "claim" is because the Book of Abraham declares it to be the case. Since FAIR Mormon did not put the intro to the Book of Abraham here, I'll do it for them:

"a translation of some ancient records that have fallen into [Joseph Smith’s] hands from the catacombs of Egypt, purporting to be the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called ‘The Book of Abraham, Written by his Own Hand, upon Papyrus.’"

It would seem the one making the claim that the papyri was "the exact paper Abraham used" is from the Book of Abraham and not the CES Letter.

Back to the video:
 

For example, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is written by J. K. Rowling or C. S. Lewis or some nonsense. However, this book projected, was printed in 2006. Yes, she is the author, but not the literal copyist of this book.


The difference is that we have a paper trail for JK Rowling, and we know that she wrote Harry Potter. No one doubts that JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter because it's a fictional book with her fingerprints all over it.

For the Book of Abraham we can show that Joseph Smith wrote it, and not Abraham, C.S. Lewis, or JK Rowling. Joseph Smith's fingerprints are all over the Book of Abraham as we outlined in our textual overview, including the use of a patriarchal blessing given just a year before Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Abraham and the use of Hebrew phrases that he learned in 1836, which just happen to be absent from the early parts of Abraham written before that lesson, but littered in the Book of Abraham material written in Nauvoo. That's the difference, and that's what FAIR Mormon is working so hard to divert members from piecing together.

To be clear, what FAIR Mormon is doing here is to distract from the problem of Book of Abraham authorship by making a specious argument on process, but ignoring and omitting that the content itself is much more damning. That is a tactic we're going to see coming up as well in this video.

Back to the video:


The Book of Abraham as a scripture and story was written by the hand of Abraham. The paper Joseph Smith translated from doesn't have to be, especially since God makes weak things strong, and he could literally make Joseph translate a ramen noodle packet and get a new scripture from it. I tried that once they asked me to leave the Walmart.


FAIR Mormon here is effectively stating that Joseph Smith used the "catalyst theory" here for translation, which means that the papyri never had any writings of Abraham on it (and we know through Egyptian scholarship that the papyri did not contain any link to Abraham whatsoever), but that Joseph Smith received the revelation of the Book of Abraham from God even as he believed he was translating ancient writing.

This is a problem as we discuss on our overviews, and the catalyst theory is indistinguishable from outright fraud. But more importantly, this is not only unsupported by the text of the Book of Abraham, but is actually contradicted by it.

By utilizing the catalyst theory for the Book of Abraham, the church seeks to alleviate the problem of why the papyrus has nothing to do with Abraham and why the translations of the facsimiles are incorrect including the Egyptian characters that Joseph Smith claimed to translate in Facsimile 3. But this theory runs into the same problems we find with the long/lost scroll theory (we will get to that briefly), particularly Abraham 1:12-14.
 

12 And it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar; and that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record. [emphasis added]

13 It was made after the form of a bedstead, such as was had among the Chaldeans, and it stood before the gods of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, and also a god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

14 That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos, which signifies hieroglyphics. [emphasis added]


Those verses make clear that the text of the Book of Abraham is directly related to the facsimiles (in this instance, Facsimile 1). I know we covered this above, but it is so important that I want to look at it again with different images of the extant papyrus fragment showing that the text of the Book of Abraham is quite literal here:

You can see with your own eyes above that the characters being translated are literally right next to Facsimile 1, just as Joseph Smith tells us they would be in the text of the Book of Abraham. This is indisputable unless you want to change the meaning of words such as "translation," which apologists have done with the catalyst theory.

Again, FAIR Mormon is omitting this information because they know it undercuts their attacks on the CES Letter, but the moment you take a deeper look into FAIR Mormon's attacks you find that not only are the baseless, but that FAIR knows exactly what they are doing when crafting this video.

Now back to the video:


Now the CES Letter quotes a church essay, which tells us that certain characters on the fragments discovered in which the Book of Abraham was translated from do not match the words written in the translation. However, the church also makes clear that Joseph Smith claimed no expertise in any language. He readily acknowledged that he was one of the weak things of the world called to speak words sent from heaven. Speaking of the translation of the Book of Mormon, the Lord said, "you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me."


This is again a deflection from the problem that Joseph Smith could not translate Egyptian. It's really that simple, and the church's essay makes a claim that Joseph Smith "claimed no expertise in any language" when the historical record states quite the opposite.

Here is Joseph Smith in his own words:

 

"Were I a Chaldean I would exclaim, Keed'nauh to-me-roon lehoam elauhayauh dey - ahemayana veh aur'hau lau gnaubadoo, yabadoo ma-ar'gnau comeen tehoat sheamyauh allah (Thus shall ye say unto them: The gods that have not made the heaven and the earth, they shall perish from the earth, and from these heavens.) An Egyptian, Su-e-eh-ni (What other persons are those?) A Grecian, Diabolos basileuei (The Devil reigns.) A Frenchman, Messieurs sans Dieu (Gentlemen without God.) . . .”(The Voice of Truth published by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, 1844) Joseph goes on, quoting phrases of Turkish, German, Syrian, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Danish, Latin, and other languages.


If that's not enough, here's another one:


"Were I an Egyptian, I would exclaim Jah-oh-eh, Enish-go-on-dosh, Flo-ees-Flos-is-is; [O the earth! the power of attraction, and the moon passing between her and the sun.]” (Times and Seasons, November 13, 1843, Joseph Smith, editor)


Just to make this perfectly clear, here's one more:


“I have now preached a little Latin, a little Hebrew, Greek, and German; and I have fulfilled all. I am not so big a fool as many have taken me to be. The Germans know that I read the German correctly.” (Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse)


The “Egyptian” words Joseph uses here are from his own Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, which he created in the process of translating the Book of Abraham. The problem is that these words are not Egyptian at all, they are nonsensical words invented by Joseph Smith. Whether or not Joseph thought they actually meant something is impossible to determine, but the essay’s (and FAIR Mormon's) insistence that Joseph claimed no knowledge of ancient languages is patently false. He may not have actually known any other languages but he liked to pretend that he did and he went to great lengths to convince other people that he really could read ancient languages.

So when FAIR Mormon parrots the church's essay that Joseph Smith never claimed expertise in any language, they are leaving out the simple fact that Joseph Smith absolutely believed and proclaimed that he could translate ancient languages.

Back to the video:


The same principle could be applied to the Book of Abraham. The Lord did not require Joseph Smith to have any knowledge of Egyptian by the gift and power of God. Joseph received knowledge about the life and teachings of Abraham.

This deliberate quote of the church's essay out of context is just the beginning, the (CES) letter says "For decades, many thought the papyri were lost in a fire. The original papyrus Joseph translated has since been found." This is not true.


This is absolutely true, and the church knows that it's true. Below are more photos (in addition to the photos above) of the manuscript against the symbols on the papyrus fragment that was located. You can see for yourself that they match, and FAIR Mormon knows of this problem and chooses to proclaim that "this is not true." It is true, and you can see it with your own eyes.

This is the problem with apologetics - they sound great in isolation, but when you actually look at their claims, things fall apart quickly.

In fact, after I personally read the CES Letter for the first time I made all of the same mistakes that I've come to learn that most people make, which was to blurt it all out to my believing spouse/family before doing my own research. My spouse asked me to read the FAIR Mormon response to the CES Letter, and when I read their response I actually did think they had a lot of good arguments and that the CES Letter was leaving a lot of information out.

Then I read the CES Letter again through the eyes of the FAIR rebuttal, and then I read the FAIR rebuttal again through the eyes of the CES Letter's rebuttal to the rebuttal (confusing, I know). It was after the second reading that I saw  how FAIR was intentionally cherry picking data or leaving out important evidence to create their counter arguments, and once I began looking at it in totality I could see that their arguments simply do not hold up to the historical evidence, much of which is found within the church's own records.

These videos are not much different than FAIR Mormon's initial rebuttal to the CES Letter, but they are done more aggressively and with more personal attacks. While that might be helpful to believing members now, it will backfire if those members ever decide to dive into the claims being made in these videos by FAIR.

With that said, we're getting to the most ridiculous part of the video:


The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is the likely culprit of the destruction of the papyri. Only fragments of it survived. The letter is trying to paint a different picture. The letter makes the case that Egyptologists have translated a source material for the Book of Abraham and found that it matches nothing even related to the book, but rather that it is an Egyptian funerary text.

 

We just posted the images above, so I'm not sure what more to add. I guess I'll just note again that you can see the photos above with your own eyes, and then look at Abraham, 1:12-14 again:


12 And it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar; and that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record. [emphasis added]

13 It was made after the form of a bedstead, such as was had among the Chaldeans, and it stood before the gods of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, and also a god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

14 That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos, which signifies hieroglyphics. [emphasis added]


The Book of Abraham tells us where the source text is, and the manuscripts confirm that the symbols are exactly where the author of the Book of Abraham tells us they are.

I hope this is clear from the photos above, because this is an area where the church and its apologists have been outright deceptive on, because if the translation had been in any way correct they would have the manuscripts framed in museums as proof that Joseph Smith could translate Egyptian.

Instead we're being told that translation doesn't mean translation, and that manuscripts showing us symbols from a papyri fragment that tell us exactly where to look aren't actually telling us where to look, but that the scribes decided to randomly match up symbols afterwards in a crude attempt of "reverse translation." The idea that Joseph Smith's scribes decided to mess with the manuscripts on their own not only goes against the evidence, but is absolutely nonsensical that I can't believe it is made by apologists, but it is absolutely used to deflect from Joseph Smith's translation problems.

Back to the video:
 

Well, first off the Book of Abraham fragments are not one text. The letter states the papyri contained excerpts from the Book of the Dead and The Book of Breathings, which are not the same text. Now, before we tackle the evidence for the Book of Abraham, let's dive into the CES Letter's terrible translations of the text of the papyri fragments it criticizes Joseph Smith of falsely translating.


This is true - they are not all from one scroll. While the church uses this to attack the CES Letter, they are ignoring the problem this presents.

For example, Facsimile 2 is a hypocephalus for an individual named Sheshonq. Not only are Joseph Smith's translations of this facsimile incorrect, but it cannot be a part of the Book of Abraham because this hypocephalus was buried with another person altogether.

Yet in the Pearl of Great Price, this is labeled as "A FACSIMILE FROM THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM No. 2." Joseph Smith did not understand that all of these fragments did not belong together, and by incorporating this as part of the Book of Abraham, shows that he could not translate Egyptian nor could he understand how these documents related to each other.

This is just another problem with the Book of Abraham that FAIR Mormon inadvertently introduced here as they attempt a slam dunk on the CES Letter.

And now for my favorite part of the video:

 

The letter says that the filled in images inside of the red circles are seen as nonsense by modern Egyptologists. However, we track down the person he is quoting a man named Kevin Mathie. Now the letter quotes an article by him, but the website is down. So the link redirects back to the CES Letter's own website. So we needed to look up this respected Egyptologist, Kevin Mathie. Turns out he isn't an Egyptologist. He is a composer and pianist. I kid you not. His awards in Egyptology include the best behind the scenes musical theater MVPs in the 2013 Salt Lake City already awards, which is a wonderful accomplishment but has literally nothing to do with Abraham or religion. He's a pianist. He's about as credible as me. When I played Puss and Boots and Shrek the Musical, the letter is going to give three lists of contradictions between Joseph Smith translations and the modern Egyptologists. But again, the modern Egyptologists letters referencing is literally just some guy named Kevin Mathie who has nothing to do with Egyptology. If you read the CES Letter, keep that in mind. It isn't a Joseph Smith versus the truth. It's Joseph Smith versus a random guys opinion, and you have no reason to accept this random guy's translation.


This is 100% a distraction and FAIR knows it. We mentioned in our review of FAIR's "Seer Stone" video that they are either being dishonest or lazy, and this is another example of that.

To be perfectly clear, Kevin Mathie never claimed to translate the Facsimiles himself. He created infographics citing the work of Egyptologists who told us what the Facsimiles actually said.

FAIR Mormon in the video says that they looked up Kevin Mathie, yet what they don't tell you is that a quick Google search will show you his archived website, which includes not only the infographics beig mocked in the FAIR Mormon video, but the citations for the translations.

If you look at that website, you can see he is pulling these translations from Egyptologists, notably Dr. Robert Ritner, a worldwide respected Egyptologist who actually wrote a book about the Joseph Smith translations.

Do you notice what FAIR Mormon does not do here? They don't tell you what the translations actually are, because if they were to do that, you would see that Kevin Mathie's work is actually using those Egyptologists information and that Joseph Smith could not translate Egyptian.

Instead FAIR Mormon puts up personal attack photos like this, because they are absolutely terrified of showing the members of this church how completely wrong the self-proclaimed prophet Joseph Smith got the translations of the Book of Abraham.

Again, I want this to be crystal clear: FAIR Mormon is using this video to deliberately lie about Kevin Mathie's infographic on the translations so that they can deceive members into thinking that the translations in the CES Letter are wrong. Kevin Mathie's explanations of what the papyri says are not in any significant way incorrect, and if you do not believe me, please listen to the three part series with Dr. Robert Ritner going over this material. He is a world respected Egyptologist, and you will learn so much through this series.

FAIR Mormon is terrified of members watching someone like Dr. Ritner go over these facsimiles, and if you watch the videos you will see why they are deliberately deceiving members here.

In fact, if you look at Facsimile 3, you can see that not only did Joseph Smith get the translations of the images wrong, but he got the Egyptian characters wrong too, which is a true smoking gun against Joseph Smith's prophetic abilities. Honestly that should be all you need to know because we unquestionably have the source material there, and Joseph Smith got it wrong.

Instead FAIR uses really mean spirited photos to attack Kevin Mathie instead of just showing what Joseph Smith's translations are against what the papyri actually says. That tells you all you need to know, because if Joseph Smith got it right that would be the first thing they show you. Instead they use personal attacks to hope you don't notice that they never actually address the issue of the translations, and it is dishonest, shameful, and absolutely pathetic.

Now that we've established just how deceptive this video is designed to be, let's get back to the video:
 

The letter gives a side by side comparison of the church's drawn inversion of facsimile one and what the real version is supposed to look like. The only problem is the real version is a modern creation. If it was in fact the correct version, as verified by other Egyptian manuscript, why doesn't the CES Letter show those exact Egyptian manuscript? It's because there's an incredible dishonesty to the idea that the CES Letter's facsimile is the end all be all the funerary couch scenes. We do have looked like this and this and this. If Kevin Mathie is really making the case that Joseph's recreation is off and looks different from the original, why can't he show us the original?
 

Look at the photos they quickly show, and we have a screencap here for you below:

As Dr. Robert Ritner stated regarding Joseph Smith's reconstruction of Facsimile 1: "If you took a painting of Madonna and Child and you tore off the heads of both figures and you replaced them with a dog and a cat, it would be as obvious to us now that this is as wrong as the replacing of the clearly jackal head with a human head on this Egyptian piece because we know what these images actually look like. In the same way, we know that those figures (from Facsimile 1) would – never under any circumstance – hold a knife. And that’s critical to the text itself (Book of Abraham) because it’s not merely decoration for this text. It goes to the core of the supposed story that accompanies it. If you take the knife away, you take away the story as well. And clearly the knife had no reason to be there." (Interview with Dr. Robert Ritner)

What we're saying is that the differences in the lion couch scenes that FAIR Mormon is showing here don't solve the problems with Joseph Smith's recreation of Facsimile 1: The human head that was drawn over what should've been Anubis is simply wrong, and holding a knife as if an act of sacrifice is never a part of these funerary texts. Neither of those problems are shown in any of FAIR Mormon's alternate images, and the reason is because Joseph Smith incorrectly drew them in. It's really just that simple, which is why FAIR is working so hard to distract you from the actual problems.


Back to the video:

 

The letter claims that the Egyptian Book of the Dead in the Book of Abraham have no thematic ties, and that's false. The entire Egyptian Book of the Dead is online free for you to read and will even link it in the description below the letter claims, the church admits that they have no connection in the Gospel Topics essay. That's a lie. The church claims the literal exact opposite.

For one interesting part of the CES Letter is that it constantly cites non-LDS Egyptologists without actually citing these Egyptologists, only if you are cited and one is a musical theater director, some of the other three are Egyptologist who died two centuries ago. It's likely that modern Egyptologists wouldn't agree with their work, given they're outdated.


If I haven't made it clear yet, FAIR Mormon's commissioned TITS video here has spent the entire video distracting members from the problems by attacking a guy who decided to create an infographic, and their scholarship is an absolute dumpster fire of stale apologetics combined with an arrogance that can only come from a deep insecurity in the product they are selling to unsuspecting members.

And that becomes even more clear here, because they are purposefully ignoring that the advances in Egyptian scholarship have not helped the Book of Abraham's authenticity one bit. Not only that, but biblical scholarship's advancements have also helped to show us that it is 100% a 19th century work by Joseph Smith.

It's not "likely that modern Egyptologists wouldn't agree with their work, given they're outdated" because Dr. Robert Ritner just gave a three part series of interviews detailing not just the current scholarship but the evolution of the study on the Book of Abraham.

I want to be perfectly clear here: FAIR Mormon is lying here, they are knowingly lying here, and they are using the most abrasive and condescending tone to lie to you. This would be laughed at by any Egyptologist not employed by the church, because it is so insultingly dishonest that it would never, ever pass the church's own definition of honesty:

 

Lying is intentionally deceiving others. Bearing false witness is one form of lying. The Lord gave this commandment to the children of Israel: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16). Jesus also taught this when He was on earth (see Matthew 19:18). There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.
 

If I seem annoyed here, it's because I value and want honest conversation, and FAIR has made clear with these videos that they have abandoned any pretense of even trying to approach these issues honestly, and are now turning their platform over to the worst kind of apologetics. I'm showing my work here, which is something that FAIR Mormon's TITS not only fail to do, but censor when others try to point it out in the comments.

Back to the video:
 

Also, these three Egyptologists quoted by Jeremy Runnells were literally open white supremacists. Hail our people! Hail Victory! No joke. Archibald Saysi thought African people were midway between white people and apes. James Breasted was a white supremacist who called Mediterranean's barbarians, who are holding back society. And Flinders Petrie was one of the founders of the eugenics movement. I kid you not. The CES Letter quotes modern Egyptologists that are either A: not Egyptologists but award winning pianist from the Salt Lake City area or B: were Egyptologist who died 200 years ago with discredited work or see people who were basically Nazi? Hi eso a musician and three Nazis Sounds like a weird sitcom. Hitler.


Does FAIR Mormon really want to go here? I mean, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints literally has, by the very definition, white supremacy embedded in their scriptures. The Book of Abraham is incorporating the Curse of Ham, which was used to rationalize slavery in America because black skin was a curse from God. Or this gem from the Book of Moses:
 

Book of Moses 7:8: For behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat, and the bareness thereof shall go forth forever; and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.


It is just insane to me that FAIR Mormon is trying to discredit Egyptologists by pointing out their racism, when Brigham Young literally brought slavery to Utah and said some of the most damning things you'll ever hear from a prophet of God:
 

"You must not think, from what I say, that I am opposed to slavery. No! The negro is damned, and is to serve his master till God chooses to remove the curse of Ham." (Prophet Brigham Young, New York Herald, May 4, 1855)

"The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain the Church must go to destruction, - we should receive the curse which has been placed upon the seed of Cain, and never more be numbered with the children of Adam who are heirs to the priesthood until that curse be removed." (Prophet Brigham Young, Brigham Young Addresses, Feb. 5, 1852)

"Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a sin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death." (Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 11, p. 272)

"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, 1863, p. 110.)


It is absolutely rich that FAIR Mormon is attacking Egyptologists by saying they are white supremacists, when the church itself has white supremacy in the scriptures today and for 140 years taught as doctrine that black skin was a curse from God.

This is embarrassing, but this is what apologists do to throw squirrels out there to keep you from looking at the problems.

And now we get to the evidences for the Book of Abraham. Back to the video:

 

Here to comment more is Stephen Smoot. Yes, hello, I am Stephen Smoot, another dude in a gray blazer. The Book of Abraham claims that human sacrifice was practiced in order the Chaldees after the manner of the Egyptians. While many scholars believe Abraham's Ur was in southern Iraq, others believe it was near the border of Turkey and Syria.

Evidence shows that this border area saw some influence from Egyptian culture in Abraham's day. It is also now an accepted fact that Egyptians during Abraham's Day did in fact practice human sacrifice during the life of Joseph Smith. This was not an accepted claim, however, Joseph was right.


We cover this in our Book of Abraham overview, but this is simply incorrect, and we'll let Egyptologist Dr. Robert Ritner explain the problem here:
 

“Kerry wrote his dissertation on this very topic, and he was very careful to describe these as political executions rather than human sacrifices. So he walked a careful line that passed muster with Egyptologists. He did not prove that there was human sacrifice. He in fact, just pointed these out as being human, as being political execution…

It's a death penalty for committing a crime. This is not for failing to worship the gods or failing to respect a deity or a ritual. It's if you commit a crime, there will be capital punishment that is not sacrifice. And yet this is the kind of example they want to choose. This is like saying, ‘If you kill someone and we hang you for it, it's a human sacrifice.’ If that's the way you want to understand it, fine. Any execution could be taken in a religious way and given a connotation, and we execute people now. Is that human sacrifice? For some, you would say yes, but it's a question of ‘Is this how the Egyptians are understanding it?’ And the answer is certainly not

So all of the examples that they like to point to, the so called recent ones, are in fact either criminal published punishment or military activity. It's not a question of human sacrifice on an altar. There's no altar that's been found at this site. In the Delta, there's no altar that is found in mere guesses. There is no altar found adjacent to the never Hotel Stella, so all of that is smoke and mirrors and confusion of terms and attempting to juggle anything in order to make it all makes sense. But the bigger question is so what if the Egyptians practiced human sacrifice? Would the Egyptians have practiced human sacrifice in north Syria, where they didn't have any physical control? Would they have looked like that on that illustration [Facsimile 1], which we know is doctored and therefore cannot be an illustration of it? So it's not a question of finding one little thing that might work. You have to make all the pieces fit. And that is the continual problem with the apologists is they find one small aspect which, if you squint your eyes and look, you know, slightly to the left, you can say, ‘Well, it sort of looks like this,’ but then it doesn't fit the entire picture because you're asked to ignore all of that, and you can't ignore all of it. If the story is true, then all parts of it have to be true. Not just one aspect of one picture or two lines.” (Dr. Robert Ritner, Mormon Stories Part Two)


I know that's a long quote, but it shows the game apologists play with these issues, which will continue on through these evidences. Back to the video:
 

This infected occur much of this new scholarship, even as archaeologists moving proposed excavation sites. When I learned the book of Abraham wasn't taking place in Iraq, I guess you could say Iran well, Stephen. There are many correlations between the Book of Abraham and ancient accounts of Abraham not recorded in the Bible, such as Abraham learning the cosmos and a vision from God and Abraham being saved by an angel from Sacrifice and others.


The Book of Abraham literally contradicts itself when it comes to astrology, because it reworks Genesis while also adding new material. If you want to dig into this more, please listen to biblical scholar and former CES instructor Dr. David Bokovoy's interview that covers the astrology in the Book of Abraham. It is an excellent listen and shows why this apologetic is factually absurd.

Back to the video:
 

But do you really have any good correlation between ancient Abrahamic traditions in the Book of Abraham? Oh yes, the evidences are in fact, as endless as Abraham's descendants. See, that's that's funny, right? Because, you know, God promised Abraham and his descendants would, you know, be his numbered as many as the stars and the grains of sand, right? You know, the vital and and the humorous conceit of that joke is, you know, relies on the fact right, right, right.

So the Book of Abraham names the number of paying gods worshiped in Abraham's Day. Many people assume Joseph Smith simply made up these names like the God of Elkenah. However, in the last century, archaeologists have discovered information about the God El koneh aratz. This God was a Canaanite deity and was worshiped in Turkey and Syria. From the time of Abraham, all the way down to the time of Christ. In the Book of Abraham, the priest offers three virgins on the altar to the god of Elkenah. Little writing about El koneh aratz remains, But from the little that we do know, a narrative involving sexuality is present in one tablet. So the name of the God is correct. The time period is correct. The location is correct on, even though almost nothing remains regarding the specific myths of this God, a story involving sexuality is hinted at, um, as you see, for example, in the virgins that were sacrificed with the Book of Abraham. Hey, Stephen, can you explain it without putting me to sleep? Oh, quick. Oh, heavens, no.


Elkenah is simply not a recognized name from anywhere in antiquity and is only mentioned the Book of Abraham. A very quick Google search will confirm this very important detail, because FAIR Mormon here seeks to give the impression that scholars outside of the church have since found Elkenah to be an ancient evidence for the Book of Abraham where this clearly is none.

This claim is disingenuous and it is made on very shaky ground because if they want to tell the whole story they might also point out that Yahweh (Jehovah) made his first appearance as a pagan god in the pantheon of this same El.

Again, just a quick read above tells us that Elkenah, just like Olishem (which is coming up), is a name created by Joseph Smith for the Book of Abraham with no use validity outside of Mormon scholars. The name Elkanah is in the Bible, which is Joseph Smith’s Elkenah with the first “a” swapped out for “e.” Furthermore, what Joseph Smith translated as Elkenah was actually Qebehsenuef in Egyptian.

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Stephen. One name might be a coincidence. Any others? Yes. In fact, the book of Abraham's plane of Olishem, um, has very likely been verified. A place named Ulisim, in an inscription from the ancient Akkadian King NorAm since seems to correlate with this. The city of Olishem was located somewhere in southern Turkey or northern Syria.


This is often cited by church Egyptologist John Gee as a “bullseye” for the Book of Abraham, but it is not only problematic, but impossible to be a true connection between the Book of Abraham and the ancient world.

First, Joseph Smith puts Abraham in a Southern location by citing Ur of the Chaldees, but the “Ulisum” referenced as an ancient proof is in northwestern Syria. So right off the bat the location tells us these two are not connection, but the language itself is a bigger problem.

The word “Ulisum” is Akkadian, and this presents very basic problems for this connection that church apologists would absolutely be aware of when they present this as a bullseye. According to Dr. Bokovoy, the transliteration of Ulisum from the original cuneiform tablets would read “u-li-si-im.” There is no "sh" sound in there, and furthermore, there is no “O” sign in Akkadian, making it impossible that Olishem would be represented by the Akkadian word Ulisum.

Last, the entire premise of including the Olishem connection to Ulisum is from apologist John Gee, which was confirmed by Brian Hauglid in his interview with Radio Free Mormon. But when you dig into John Gee’s own statements about this connection, even he is way more tentative than the essay implies. From John Gee:
 

“At present, given the many uncertainties, we can regard this identification [Of Ulisim being the actual Olishem] as promising but not proven.” (John Gee)


Furthermore, in a recent interview that John Gee gave in response to the recent scholarship by Brian Hauglid and Dr. Robert Ritner about the Book of Abraham, he concedes that even he doesn’t believe that the areas that people are looking for Olishem are correct, but that the very idea that it might exist gives him a better understanding of the connection. That, of course, could be used for any idea such as Bigfoot, the Lochness Monster, or any other phenomenon that has had proposed sites, which is why this "evidence" for Olishem is so incredibly weak and misleading.

To be clear, John Gee is conceding that this connection is “promising but not proven” and that he knows they aren’t even looking in the right place (because the location does not fit the text), but he still put it in the church’s essay as a bullseye anyway. You can listen to this broken down in detail on a recent Radio Free Mormon podcast going over this John Gee interview.

We’ve discussed in other sections how many church apologists have been guilty of parallelomania, which is looking for anything that can give plausibility to something that simply does not hold up to evidence. In this case, John Gee and other apologists have clung to the Ulisum word to try and find something, anything that can make Olishem plausible. The problem, however, is that this connection doesn’t work not just for the location, but the language itself.

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Hmm. What about Shinehah Yes. Shinehah is attested in the ancient Egyptian pyramid texts and the coffin texts in these text of the path of the sun or the ecliptic eyes described as a celestial waterway. This description of the motion of the sun in the ecliptic is interesting because the Book of Abraham names the sun Shinehah on the ancient names for the sun's ecliptic in these texts is shen and neh in Egyptian.

The Book of Abraham also depicts the sun and a tiered cosmos, which is also consistent with ancient geo centric astronomy from the time of Abraham.


The problem again is that this is another example of parallelomania, where apologists are trying to find anything that could possibly connect the Book of Abraham to being an ancient source, but again it simply is not there.

According to Dr. Robert Ritner, the problem is that Shinehah is not a single word as the Book of Mormon, but two words: Shen (šn-(sh)n ) Neh (or nhh or eneh). When you put those two words, it means “the circle of eternity” in Egyptian.

Dr. Robert Ritner said the following about these two words:
 

“If you throw enough sounds together, you could get accidental sounds that sound like something Egyptian. So the question is not as the apologists proposed(?) it: If we make this sound, could it sound like something cobbled together in Egyptian? The question is, does such an Egyptian term even exist? You know, where is the proof? They [apologists] don't go there because they don't. And so I asked one of my colleagues to search in the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae, otherwise known as the TLA, our reference work that includes all of the published Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions. So he did a global search for the number of times that the words Shen (circle) and Neh are put next to each other. Then he did a search to see the number of times that they are closer than 10 words apart. The number of hits he got was zero.

What I'm saying is there is not a single case of where ‘Shen neha’ occurs as a combination, not one. There's not even a case where Shen is 10 words next to Neh, So the combination of Shen next to represent the sun or anything else is a total fabrication. It's an accidental coincidence of sounds, but it's unsupported by any evidence whatsoever.” (Dr. Robert Ritner Interview Part 2, Mormon Stories Podcast)


To be clear, what apologists are doing here is to take two words that form something that sounds like Shinehah and then they mold the meaning of these words to fit the claim. In this case, Shen Neh means the circle of eternity, where in the Book of Abraham it is simply the sun. That’s a stretch to begin with, but when you realize those two words are never used next to each other in the history of Egyptian inscriptions, it becomes clear that just like the Olishem and Ulisum “bullseye,” this is a manufactured parallel.

In this case not only is Shinehah not an ancient term, but the terms within the same verse (Kolob, Olea, and Kokaubeam) have nothing to do with ancient Egyptian either. Often times the apologetic argument is to cherry pick a supposed “bullseye” while ignoring all of the problems surrounding it, and these two problems (Shinehah and Olishem) are examples of that strategy.

Back to the video:
 

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. So you're telling me that a Joseph Smith made up the book of Abraham? He gets a pagan god named Elkenah that matches up in name possible theme and supposed area of Elkana ARATS. He correctly guessed that Olishem was a plane that existed. He got the correct name of the sun's path the sky in the pyramid texts that line up with the description of the cosmos. He was right that ancient Egyptians in Abraham's Day performed human sacrifice. He correctly guessed that Abraham was rescued by an angel. That God showed Abraham the pre-existence and that he was taught astronomy in relation to the heavens.


As we outlined above, none of this is actually evidence but parallels that the church has clung to over the years to ignore that the translation is wrong, we have the source material, and these connections do not hold up to the evidence.

But the FAIR Mormon video ignores those pesky facts and presents them so confidently, even as John Gee himself has had to back off of the Olishem connection in interviews because even he knows that it's far from evidence based.

Let's wrap this up:
 

Yes, Just from that, it sounds like it would be literally impossible for Joseph Smith to have made up the book of Abraham. Well, one might say that with certain a priority paradigms assumed at the outset that one might reasonably affirmed such a conclusion. Does anyone know what this guy's? In other words, Yes. Okay, Stephen, people think that because the fragments we have of the papyri don't fully match up with the text written in the book that Joseph Smith just made it all up.

Okay. Okay. Quake. You okay? Listen up. Listen up, guys. Here, here. Here's the Okay. Okay. Ready? Look, look. This is God we're talking about here, right? So if you want to Joseph Smith to translate a ramen noodle packet if you find the Book of Abraham would still be true. Wait. You've been here the whole time. I can neither confirm nor deny that I have been sitting 3 ft away from you this whole time. It is a small budget. Back to you, Brad and Kwaku.

 

When I did the Seer Stone video, I wasn't sure if I would do another one or not, but this video again highlights just how dishonest FAIR Mormon is with these new TITS videos.

I hope we explained why the videos are deliberately dishonest, because FAIR Mormon is deleting every attempt from others to comment with links to Egyptologists who confirm this information. Like I said in other write-ups on our site, no one who is confident in the product they are presenting (in this case the Book of Abraham) would then delete every comment that corrects misinformation or disable the ratings.

The tone of this video is condescending and mean spirited, and they use that tone to distract members from the very real and confirmed problems with Joseph Smith's translation of the papyri fragments. That they spend so much time mocking Kevin Mathie, who simply put together an infographic of what Egyptoligists say the fascimiles actually mean, is just further proof that the entire intention of these videos is to discredit the CES Letter by any means necessary.

And while they're throwing the Kevin Mathie squirrel out there, they are very carefully finding a way to not discuss what the papyri fragments actually say, because the moment that they actually show members what they say, the game is over.

I don't know what more to say. These videos are mean spirited from the start, and the scholarship is so bad that they can't even allow for comments. That really tells you all you need to know, and FAIR's comments that we outlined at the top show you that their priority isn't honest research, but getting views no matter the cost.

Thanks for reading this, and I hope it was at least helpful in outlining how dishonest this video is with regards to not just the translation, but the evidences cited by apologists that would never pass peer review. If you found it helpful, please let us know on Twitter or Facebook, and share with those who might watch these videos and not understand that they are being outright lied to.