A REFERENCE TO THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
Joseph Smith and his five scribes (Oliver Cowdery, William W. Phelps, Warren Parrish, Willard Richards, and Frederick G. Williams) created the Kirtland Egyptian Papers (KEP) as working documents for translating the Egyptian papyri. The KEP served as a source for the Book of Abraham.
In addition to the published facsimiles in the Book of Abraham, we can examine Joseph’s translation of some portions of the surviving papyri.
The remainder of the month, I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients.
— Joseph Smith
The manuscripts copy characters from the ‘Abraham Roll’—inventing characters where the papyrus is damaged or missing—along with Joseph’s translation of them. This section highlighted below comprises the text of Abraham 1:1-2:18.
The 'Abraham Roll'. Joseph Smith translated from this roll and said it "contained the writings of Abraham". It is the source of Abraham 1:1 - 2:18, Facsimiles 1 and 3. This roll is from the Egyptian Book of Breathing, for the deceased named Hor.
|The 'Abraham Roll' →||to the Translation Manuscripts →||to the Book of Abraham|
[v. 11] therefore they were killed upon this altar.
[v. 13] It was made after the form of a bed-stead such as was had among the Chaldeans, and it stood before the gods, of Elkkener. Zibnah Mahmachrah and also, a god like unto that of Pharaoh King of Egypt
[v. 15] And as they lifted up their hands, upon me, that they might offer me up, and take away my life, behold I lifted up my voice, unto the Lord my God, and the Lord hearkened, and heard, and he filled me with a vision of the Almighty and the Angel of his presence, stood by my feet, and immediately loosed my bands.
[v. 16] And his voice was unto me, Abram, Abram, behold my name is Jehovah, and I have heard thee, and have come down to deliver thee, and to take thee, away from thy fathers house, and from all thy kins-folks, into a strange land,
In addition to the Book of Abraham facsimile translations, the Kirtland Egyptian Papers (KEP) allow us to examine Joseph Smith’s accuracy in translating Egyptian characters.
The whole work was, "largely a piece of imagination and lacking in any kind of scientific a value."
— I. E. Stephen Edwards
Vice President, Egypt Exploration Society