“A Most Remarkable Book”: Supplementary Reading

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A Most Remarkable Book – Trailer

This week FAIR has released a new DVD exploring the issues surrounding the Book of Abraham. “A Most Remarkable Book: Evidence for the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Abraham” puts forth answers to various criticisms directed against the Book of Abraham, as well as provides evidence favorable to the Book of Abraham’s ancient authenticity.

Footage of this new video was viewed at the FAIR Conference in August 2011, and many of the viewers afterwords came up and spoke to myself and Tyler Livingston concerning some of the things mentioned in the video. What is this talk of a “Jewish Redactor”? How old are the Joseph Smith Papyri? What is the “Egyptian Endowment” mentioned in the video? What about the notion of a council of gods? For those interested in the subjects touched upon by the DVD, or who may have similar questions, the following supplementary reading may prove useful. The following bibliography is a collection of resources for those interested in further delving into the Book of Abraham controversy.

Also note that this DVD is not meant to be an exhaustive rebuttal to every anti-Mormon criticism against the Book of Abraham. Nor is it meant to be an exhaustive analysis of all the relevant evidence for the Book of Abraham. (For instance, due to time constraints and other factors, as badly as we wanted to we were unable to include a discussion of the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar in the video.) Rather, it is a general overview of the Book of Abraham controversy from a faithful, apologetic perspective. The critics have had their day in court to present their case against the Book of Abraham (a case, incidentally, which has substantially remained the same for the last thirty some-odd years). This DVD is the case of the defense. As such, it is overtly apologetic. It is readily conceded that the controversy surrounding the Book of Abraham is still very active, and many questions remained unanswered. Thus, this DVD is not an attempt to end the discussion or declare conclusive victory. Rather, it is meant to give viewers a resource that brings together the faithful, scholarly LDS response to the critics’ allegations.

Furthermore, it is acknowledged that over time aspects of this DVD will become outdated. The scholarly investigation surrounding the Book of Abraham continues unabated to this day. Both LDS and non-LDS scholars are producing fascinating research on the textual history of the Book of Abraham and the doctrines contained therein, the Book of Abraham’s historicity as a ancient text, the Joseph Smith Papyri, the so-called “Kirtland Egyptian Papers”, the facsimiles, and 19th century eyewitness accounts of those involved with the handling of the JSP and the production of the Book of Abraham. Thus, the information presented in this DVD, while current, must not be taken as the final word on the matter. New discoveries and insights await to be made as eager investigators of truth feast upon the Book of Abraham, which is truly a most remarkable book.*


Hugh Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, 2nd ed. (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2000), online here.

Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, 2nd ed. (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2005).

Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Abraham (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2009).

Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2010).

Michael D. Rhodes, “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus…. Twenty Years Later”, online here.

Michael D. Rhodes, “The Book of Abraham: Dealing with the Critics”, online here.

Michael D. Rhodes, “The Book of Abraham: Divinely Inspired Scripture”, FARMS Review 4/1 (1992), 120-126, online here.

Michael D. Rhodes, “Teaching the Book of Abraham Facsimiles”, Religious Educator 4/2 (2003), 115-123, online here.

Michael D. Rhodes, The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002).

Michael D. Rhodes, Books of the Dead Belonging to Tshemmin and Neferirnub: A Translation and Commentary (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2011).

John Gee, “A Tragedy of Errors”, FARMS Review 4/1 (1992), 93-119, online here.

John Gee, “Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri”, FARMS Review 20/1 (2008), 113-137, online here.

John Gee, “Abracadabra, Isaac, and Jacob”, FARMS Review 7/1 (1995), 19-84, online here.

John Gee, “A Method for Studying the Facsimiles”, FARMS Review 19/1 (2007), 347-53, online here.

John Gee, “New Light on the Joseph Smith Papyri”, FARMS Review 19/2 (2007), 245-260, online here.

John Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2000), online here. (Note: Because this is a photo-rich text, the published version is recommended.)

John Gee and Stephen D. Ricks, “Historical Plausibility: The Historicity of the Book of Abraham as a Case Study,” in Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2001), 63–98, online here.

John Gee, “Eyewitness, Hearsay and Physical Evidence of the Joseph Smith Papyri,” in Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew W. Hedges, eds., The Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2000), 175-217, online here.

John Gee and Brian Hauglid, eds., Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2005), online here.

Kerry Muhlestein, “Egyptian Papyri and the Book of Abraham: Some Questions and Answers,” Religious Educator 11/1 (2010), 91–108, online here.

Kerry Muhlestein, “Encircling Astronomy and the Egyptians: An Approach to Abraham 3,” in Religious Educator 10/1 (2009), 33-50, online here.

Kerry Muhlestein, “The Book of Breathings in its Place”, FARMS Review 17/2 (2005), 471-486, online here.

Kerry Muhlestein, “Approaching Understandings in the Book of Abraham”, FARMS Review 18/2 (2006), 229-246, online here.

Kerry Muhlestein, “Prelude to the Pearl: Sweeping Events Leading To The Discovery of the Book of Abraham,” in Prelude to the Restoration: From Apostasy to the Restored Church (Provo, UT and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University and Deseret Book, 2004), 130–141, online here.

Michael Ash and Kevin Barney, “The ABCs of the Book of Abraham”, online here.

Michael Ash, “Joseph Smith, Abraham, and Modern Egyptology”, in Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening Oneʼs Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt (Redding, CA: Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 2008), 113-128.

Michael Ash, “Book of Abraham 201”, online here.

Larry E. Morris, “The Book of Abraham: Ask the Right Questions and Keep on Looking”, FARMS Review 16/2 (2004), 355-380, online here.

Daniel C. Peterson, “News From Antiquity”, Ensign (January 1994), 16-21, online here.

Daniel C. Peterson, “Mormonism as a Restoration”, FARMS Review 18/1 (2006), 406-409, online here.

Matthew Porter Wilcox, “The Coming Forth of the Book of Abraham,” in BYU Religious Education 2009 Student Symposium (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009), 105–121, online here.

Brian M. Hauglid, A Textual History of the Book of Abraham: Manuscripts and Editions (Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2010).

Brian M. Hauglid, “Investigating the Kirtland Egyptian Papers”, online here.

John A. Tvedtnes, Brian M. Hauglid, and John Gee, eds., Traditions About the Early Life of Abraham (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2001).

John A. Tvedtnes, “Authentic Ancient Names and Words in the Book of Abraham and Related Kirtland Egyptian Papers”, online here.

Paul Y. Hoskisson, “Where Was Ur of the Chaldees?” in The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations from God, ed. H. Donl Peterson and Charles D. Tate Jr. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1989), 119–36, online here.

David E. Bokovoy, “Ye Really Are Gods”: A Response to Michael Heiser concerning the LDS Use of Psalm 82 and the Gospel of John”, FARMS Review 19/1 (2007), 267-313, online here.

David E. Bokovoy, “Joseph Smith and the Biblical Council of Gods”, online here.

William Schryver, “The Meaning and Purpose of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers”, online here, text here.

Other helpful resources include:

FAIR Wiki, “Book of Abraham”, online here.

Val Sederholm’s blog, online here.

Jeff Lindsay’s Book of Abraham webpage, online here.

The Book of Abraham Project, online here.

Edwin Goble, The Nail of Heaven: LDS Cosmology, Metaphysics, and Science (CreateSpace, 2011).

* For those who may have been wondering, the title of this DVD is indeed a deliberate play off the Institute for Religious Research’s 2002 video The Lost Book of Abraham: Investigating a Remarkable Mormon Claim.

18 thoughts on ““A Most Remarkable Book”: Supplementary Reading

  1. Chris

    Were you involved in putting this together, Steve? How well would you say the video does in accurately representing the critics’ arguments? And is there anything new here that isn’t published in the literature?

  2. Stephen Smoot Post author

    Chris –

    “Were you involved in putting this together, Steve?”

    Yes, I contributed to the production of the DVD. I believe I am credited as giving “General Assistance” or something along those lines. I helped primarily with the narration/script, hunting down sources, and some editorial suggestions.

    “How well would you say the video does in accurately representing the critics’ arguments?”

    I believe it reports the critics’ arguments just fine. Not a whole lot of time is spent looking over specific criticisms, since this video is intentionally general and meant to convey the basics of the controversy. Again, the purpose of the DVD is to introduce viewers to the LDS apologetic response, not nit pick minutia and argue extensively against anti-Mormon claims.

    However, we do address some specific criticisms, such as the “by his own hand upon papyrus” statement, lacuna in the vignettes, Joseph Smith’s interpretations of the facsimiles, and some other issues.

    “And is there anything new here that isn’t published in the literature?”

    Not really. We weren’t attempting to provide any breathtaking breakthroughs that will settle the controversy. As explain before, we mainly were trying to inform general LDS viewership of what current Book of Abraham apologetics has produced.

    However, new stuff is on the horizon. Tyler Livingston and I had a chat with John Gee the other day when we dropped off a copy of the DVD to him, and he has some fun stuff cooking that should be coming out in the future. I’m not at liberty to say much more, other than Gee and other scholars (including Kerry Muhlestein and Matt Roper) have some cool stuff in the works that should keep this subject alive and interesting.

  3. iamse7en

    Was there any discussion to making this documentary on the Book of Abraham free? Just sticking it on YouTube?

  4. Stephen Smoot Post author

    iamse7en –

    I am not sure. However, considering that FAIR has put portions of previous video productions up on YouTube in the past, I am sure that sooner or later something, if only certain portions, will be put online. Only time will tell. Sorry I don’t have more info for you on that. Someone else besides me is in charge of FAIR’s YouTube channel, so ultimately it is not my decision.

    But for now, probably don’t hold your breath. If anything does goes online I would guess it will be a little while.

  5. SteveDensleyJr

    I just finished watching the DVD. I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is very well done and very informative.

  6. Ed Goble

    I find it interesting that the certain minority opinions among apologists on the issues of the Book of Abraham Translation issues and the KEP are not represented, not only in your video, but also in your bibliography, when you yourself Steven, and the rest of you at FAIR are well aware of their existence.

  7. Stephen Smoot Post author

    Ed –

    Thanks for stopping by and posting your thoughts. If you will permit, I would like to say just a few words of clarification.

    First, Tyler Livingston collected over two hours of footage while filming the interviewees. We wanted to keep the DVD to about an hour, so that meant cutting a lot of material. The stuff in the Bonus Features was put there because we had to cut it from the main video due to time constraints, but felt it important to keep the information in the video somehow. As such, it was impossible for us to include a discussion of every theory and every apologetic argument. We had to pick what we felt to be the most important/compelling arguments for the Book of Abraham.

    Second, we unfortunately were unable to include a discussion of the KEP/GAEL in the video. That is one of those things that we both wanted to include in the video, but were unable to. Tyler asked both Brian Hauglid and Will Schryver if they could be interviewed, but for various reasons they weren’t able to be interviewed. So we had to drop our plans to include the KEP in the discussion. Kerry Muhlestein said a few remarks concerning the KEP, but not enough to justify putting it in the DVD as a separate section.

    Third, you will notice that the majority of the sources I have collected here are from academic publications and journals. I did that on purpose. I feel that the best apologetic material on the Book of Abraham is that which has been published by FARMS and the RSC. As such, I heavily lean towards that material.

    So it boils down to this: Tyler and I had to be selective of what we included on the DVD for time constraints and other reasons. We were fully aware of other apologetic arguments for the Book of Abraham, including your own, but felt it necessary to restrict what material we decided to cover in the DVD. And, to be frank, besides the time factor we also decided to cover only those arguments which we felt were most compelling and effective in answering the critics.

    With that said, if you have a link or URL to a website I would be happy to include your material in the bibliography on this blog post.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

  8. Ed Goble

    Good try at excuses Stephen, but I know you guys too well. My continual beef with FAIR is deliberate and calculated lack of representation for minority viewpoints. You already know the name of the book to include in your bibliography, that is if you really had the intent to include it. Have a great day.

  9. Stephen Smoot Post author

    Ed –

    I can assure you that there was no conspiracy to suppress your views. As I said, it was a matter of choosing what we felt to be the best information to include in our very limited time. If we were producing a multi-part Ken Burns documentary on the Book of Abraham then we would probably have explored “minority” views and gone more in-depth. But that was not the intent of the DVD. The intent of the DVD was to summarize current Book of Abraham scholarship for a general LDS viewership that both Tyler and I feel are woefully unaware of what this exciting scholarship has produced.

    As such, there was nothing “deliberate” or “calculated” in not including your ideas in the DVD, insofar as we did not purposely suppress your ideas simply because they are a “minority” view.

    As a token of good will, I would be happy to include your book in the bibliography. I will have to post it later this evening, as I am currently not near my library. However, check back later in the evening and you will see it there.

    Thanks again.

  10. S Goodman

    Ed, I haven’t been on this forum for very long at all so I don’t know all the players but it seems to me that every time I see your name turn up it’s in a post complaining that your views are being given short shrift. You may recallour last exchange over your views of Book of Mormon geography.

    It might help you to realize that nobody owes you a hearing. If you have ideas that you want aired it’s up to you to find a medium and present them. It’s up to you convince others that your idea has merit.

    A complaint that Mr. Smoot failed to include your views shows the a priori assumption that he has an obligation to do so. I’m not suggesting that your ideas have no value. I’m just reminding you that, at the outset, your ideas have value only to you…until you succeed in convincing enough of the rest of us. And that’s your job, not his.

  11. Ed Goble

    Wrong. You popularize your own and take care of your own in your own old boys club. I have no allies or friends among you. I have no mentors, no friends, no editors. John Lynch is a liar saying that he tried to get my ideas a hearing. That is a lie. You are all liars, and you were never my friends. You were all throwing me bones to keep me quiet. You censored my theory when I put it on the FAIR wiki that I put there to go along with the rest of the theories on the Book of Abraham.


    See how all the text that I put there is wiped out? Deliberate censorship.

    Stephen Smoot has had my book for months, and is a liar. He had copies of the rough drafts of the astronomical and other sections for years, as did other FAIR members. Tyler Livingston said that I should do something to publicize my theory on the KEP/Book of Abraham. There is no way to do that outside of help from you, but you are un-emphathetic and unsympathetic. You guys are my enemies. Goodbye.

  12. S Goodman


    “You popularize your own and take care of your own”

    Of course they do. Why would they not?

    “I have no mentors, no friends, no editors.”

    I take your word for that. You can have any or all of these things for the asking. They are easy to come by.

    “John Lynch is a liar” “You are all liars, and you were never my friends.” “Stephen Smoot has had my book for months, and is a liar.” “You guys are my enemies. Goodbye.”

    I have a six year old and this is the sort of thing I hear from her when she’s frustrated and angry. I assume she’s going to grow out of it over the next few years. I can’t remember the last time I heard this sort of childishness from an adult.

  13. Ed Goble

    Actually, no, they are not easy to come by. They all give their excuses. They all do not keep their promises. It is an easy thing for people in the old boys’ club to come by, not for the “little guy.”

    So that is how you deal with people that you want to make look bad. You call them childish. I have unresolved issues with your organization, and that is why I walked away from it. Because my concerns fell on deaf ears, and because people patronize me and condescend to me when I voice these concerns.

  14. Stephen Smoot Post author

    Ed –

    I am trying really hard to be patient here, but you gotta help me out.

    “Stephen Smoot has had my book for months, and is a liar.”

    First of all, I am not lying. Those are really the reasons why we didn’t include your stuff in the DVD. I can’t speak for John Lynch, but I can tell you I am not lying. Whatever certain people did with your FAIR Wiki articles, I had nothing to do with that. So I will defer that point. Of course I own your book, but that doesn’t make a liar when I say that it was decided not to include your material because of time restraints.

    Now this is more than you deserve to know, but since you are insisting on calling me a liar, I think it is appropriate to inform you. From what Tyler Livingston has reminded me (I came pretty late into the project) we actually had footage which promoted your theory in the video, but because of time restraints, removed it. Also, we actually had about 12 hours of footage and narrowed it down to what we thought would be a great video (including your theory), but that turned out to be 2 hours long. So we had to cut it down even more. We cut it heavily and got it down to what we have now. We put some extra stuff in the bonus features since we thought those were especially important. However, we couldn’t create another hour of bonus footage since that would take more time and defeat the purpose of having a “bonus features” section.

    There was a lot of stuff besides your theory that we had to ax, Ed. Again, we didn’t do this to spite you or because we hate your guts and don’t want anyone being exposed to your ideas, but for reasons of practicality. We just couldn’t include everything in the video that we wanted to include, so we had to pick and choose what was the best material to include. And we decided to pick stuff that wasn’t yours. Sorry. It was nothing personal, nothing vindictive, and we (that is, Tyler Livingston and I) are not on a vendetta to suppress your ideas.

    Incidentally, Ed, it really doesn’t do much for your credibility to start calling people liars and making them out to be “your enemy”, which, incidentally, is really unfortunate since I consider you a friend and a brother in the Gospel.

    Hope that helps in clarifying things.

    p.s. you will notice that you book is listed in the bibliography.

  15. Ed Goble

    If what Tyler is saying turns out to be true, I owe you an apology. It doesn’t change my deep mistrust that I have developed with the apologetic establishment.

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